Giving Names

b”h

What I’ve observed lately is, that many people surprisingly carry very similiar names. Not that I haven’t known this before, it’s just that now I pay more attention to the importance of names. And what do I see?

People are being randomly named. The criteria for namig one’s babies are often quite trivial. Very often the most persuading reason for a mum or a dad to name their childern XYZ is cause they themselves like the name.

Now, it’s not that one should feel uncomfortable with his child’s name, never!

The question is whether this should be the only criteria.

Haven’t this occured to you at least once in your life that a person’s name seemed unfitting or even senseless to you? Lately, my friend who’d been named the same as hundreds of thousands of other girls in the same city and having as at least 5 of her friends being called the same, told me that this name (Anya) is not a name but rather a collective term.

Which is a remarkable statement – remarkably sad.

I feel there is an inflation of  names taking place, hand in hand with an inflation of meaning. Names, for example in Judaism, are supposed to be reflections of a person’s being, “summarising” the personality of someone in a word. Hebrew, the Jewish language, is a very compressed and accurate language. If you name a person in Hebrew, it doesn’t go after how lovely or strong the syllables sound. The name says its meaning out loud without compromise. And since its meaning is compressed in it, you can have various persons with the same name and still they would all be individual.

In an “inflation of names”, the individuality and importance of the person carrying the name becomes absolete. A carelessly given name implifies the carelessness for a person’s being. 

It happens when parents, giving names to their children, rather focus on their own taste, therefore “directing” their intentions towards themselves and not towards the child and its future being.

No doubt, this also happens with Hebrew names in our time when a certain name trend overthrows traditional ways of name-giving. Shortcuts,  senseless variations and unisex names all diminish the meaningfulness of a name. Yet still, in the most cases, Hebrew names more than others have retained their original meanings while names in other languages and cultures have often lost  or forgotten theirs by now.

Isralike

Ten years without Ofra. A story of its own kind.

b”h


Ofra Haza. Worth noticing.

Ofra, as usual, this entry follows your yearly anniversary date after it has already passed.

As usual, and I am glad about it, this day had been remembered the way it should be.

This time, the 10th for the world and the 5th for me, my main focus was drawn to feelings, reflections and insights.

A reconciliation to find with your passing. A love to feel while remembering. A sadness to experience, from within and not artificial at all. A recollection to make of what it has always meant to me to concentrate on you, to live my dreams within your music and to mirror myself in your eyes.

This is not an ode to an idol I prefer to worship because I am somehow too lazy for a prayer to G-d.

It’s an a little dramatic expression of gratitude, one of the main teachings in Judaism.

Ofra herself was a strong believer, turning to her Creator in good and bad times.

Once, after an especially urgent appeal by her, He just called her back to where she had always belonged to.

– We were left behind, some feeling empty and wretched and full of despair on account of her loss for this world.

But others understood the message well, the message that not the person was the main focus in this story of hers; it’s what she had to share, to  g i v e .

Ofra hadn’t been a taker that much. She received – and gave back. Gave back without hesitation. She gave her love, dreams, music, appreciation, time, devotion, ideas.

She gave us her soul and finally, her life, being honest to her Creator who had blessed her with the gift of life; and us, with the gift of having known her.

“Why, why crazy mind”, why so much appreciation to a singer, a simple Israeli woman who died ten years ago at age of 40+? Why so many exalted words, such a lofty atmosphere being created in this post?

Again, it’s a feeling of gratitude which forces me to write.

An unshakeable feeling of closeness, of brotherhood. And finally, of deep love. The way I’ve become, apart from my mother’s life-time work, was very much influenced by Ofra Haza. It’s part of her merit that I know where I belong to.I think it’s just naturally that I see it as my assignment to contribute to my friend’s long-lasting memory.

This time it has not been too much done on my behalf, but many thoughts have gone through my heart. I don’t consider Ofra being a world star. She is rather… a star of the world.

A very special treasure, to be discovered.

May her memory remain imprinted on the minds of those who knew of  Ofra.

May her merit be the good impact she made on her fellow human beings by the belief she taught, the values she was faithful to, the music she loved and lived, the treasures she gave to us.

תהיי נשמתך צרורה בצרור החיים.

Isralike

In my Capital – Berlinian impressions 1

b”h

Making myself familiar with Berlin. Berlin…

So here I am – and very soon the time will have arrived for me to leave – in my capital city. In Berlin, in the North-Eastern part of Germany.

Far away from Cologne.

And my thoughts wander and I’m glad to experience this new corner of the world.

Berlin! A superlative in all its respects. Wide streets, endless boulevards, high, old-fashioned houses. As I haven’t seen so many big European cities so far, for me Berlin represents the ultimate fusion of Old World and attempts of Modern Age. As I said, I haven’t seen too many metropolises. Yet there are certain ones I can compare Berlin with.  I like them all. So I must admit, Berlin didn’t fascinate people for nothing.

It’s Germany’s heart, for sure a Northern one yet still the source of energy for this country. In its own way.

Somehow I perceive Berlin in another way as it happens to me with Cologne. The elements and remains of the previous generations of which this town and its inhabitants are undoubtly proud of – or at least content with  – it’s astonishing. Highly admirable for me. Cologne, the town I’ve spent most of my life in, never seemed to me striving to preserve nor make use of the prudence of previous generations, it didn’t really care for its own spirit or atmosphere . Now that I have Berlin around me, I realise that Cologne’s way of life – if I only knew why! – has too often been to look forward and never “backward”, as if to feel free of the former burdens such as old-fashioned houses and worn-out looking streets. So-called modernity, either because of the present multiculturalism in Cologne, or because nothing  of the older kind remained after the war – this is present Cologne’s direction, goal and god.

And it seems to me so artificial.

Not the like in Berlin. And this makes me, personally, feel good here. Somehow it’s a town which is not ashamed of its own. Not ashamed to maintain a certain image and not to change it year after year. It is respectable and loves details.  Berlin does not need any Roman ruins to gain historical importance. Almost like in Jerusalem, you may feel in Berlin the history of countries, states and lives clouded around you. Sometimes it seems overweighted, at certain places. I recomment to avoid them from time to time.

I’ve been longing a lot in Cologne for buildings, equipment and everyday life which would allow you to feel connected also to the past and not only to the future which never seems futuristical enough. To some, high stone buildings in beige, brown and grey with sometimes only one window side might seem depressing. I  enjoy them. It’s only reasonable that Berlin and sorroundings are considered a federal state on its own. There’s indeed no lack in space in this town.

The Wall, the Brandenburg Gate  -and I’ve even visited the Reichstag with the last visitors’ group at night – lovely places actually. I had been eager to see the East  -and discovered that there isn’t nowadays so much difference between the two. Now, after 20 years of unification.

I wonder whether the people here who lived in West or East before 1989 can understand the Jerusalemites and what the War of 1967 meant to them. I wonder whether a person who had felt his heart torn apart when the wall separated him from his beloved ones between ’61 and ’89 now thinks with compassion of Palestinians whose land was used to build the security fence in Betlehem and West Bank.  There are many walls on the earth. But not all cause hearts to melt, hate and danger to disappear and people to unite, once they fall.

My aim here for these 3 days was to understand a bit the spirit of this city. For this, I made use of busses (2 floors like in London! I am impressed!), trams, city trains and underground rail. My daily ticket covered all areas I had the time to visit. Walking and eating and phoning at the least comfortable places belongs to this “hunt for Berlin spirit” just like entering backyards of houses and visiting a “Room of Silence” and the like. And sometimes I just had to stop and breath through.

And it has been only 20% of the town area I’ve run through, or even less!!

Today afternoon (30/12) I’m gonna leave.

But I hope very much to come back when nature’s returned to the town. Means in summer. There are various lakes in and around Berlin. I haven’t seen even one. It’s winter time.

So, what?

I love Berlin.

No.

I feel good in Berlin.

I’ve bought a coffee cup there.

Meanwhile a visitor. Isralike