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Siren’s Call: A memoir by Yvette Wroby (Malarkey Publications) is a love story about family and footy, a story which involves both matzo balls and footballs.
Yvette, a 60+ Jewish woman from Melbourne, is a Saints tragic. In 2015, she spent the year criss-crossing Australia – and New Zealand – to attend every St Kilda Football match. Dressed in her trademark red, white and black clothes, glasses, watch, bracelets, earrings and club scarf, she spoke to hundreds of fans about why they supported their club and what it means for them.
Along the way, she finally learned how to kick a football.
“What emerged was that people made choice at a moment in time, a happenstance, something that led to the colour of someone’s footy love. It might have been the pattern on the guernsey, the family, a friend, a connection. It was across the board. It didn’t matter if they lived in the outback or by the sea, in the suburbs or the bush, whether they were men or women, younger or older, or what their ethnic heritage was. People all had a story, a way of explaining why they barrack for the team they do,” Yvette says.
Geography and family (especially her Uncle Bob) made the choice for Yvette.
“I was born in St Kilda and grew up in the nearby southern suburbs. I remember the games at Junction Oval, then Moorabbin before I was a teenager. We grew up with the Saints. In Australia, it was a way of feeling connected to something larger. Though my passion waned for a time during adulthood and while raising my children, it’s come back with ferocity in recent years,” she says.
Ultimately, Siren’s Call is a tale of Yvette’s two families: the family she was born into and the family that is the St Kilda Football Club. It’s a story about the bond between Yvette and her mother Elfie, and a wider one of how her mother’s and father’s families survived the Second World War in France to make a rich, fulfilling life in Australia; of how Yvette’s many aunts and uncles and siblings made her who she is today.
Writing the book was also Yvette’s way of dealing with her mother’s cancer treatment and eventual death.
“My mother loved all the stories I brought back from every game. It diverted her from her suffering, particularly the persistent itch which almost drove her crazy,” Yvette said.
Yvette’s other way of coping was to cook large quantities of kreplach (dumplings), matzo balls, and chicken soup (otherwise known as Jewish penicillin). Recipes are included in the book.
Siren’s Call is about how to live a positive life, about how not become overwhelmed by the harsh realities of life.
“St Kilda is known for not having won a grand final since 1966, back before I was a teenager, though there have been four close calls that I witnessed in person. Lack of success means that supporters lean on each other and make a different footy life, and live in hope. As Bron says in the book, ‘being a Saints supporter builds character but she’d like success at the cost of character’,” Yvette says.
“The Saints scarf has served as an introduction card even when I’ve travelled overseas to the US and Japan. People just come up to me and start chatting. As a result, the club song, ‘When the Saints Com Marching In’, has now been translated into Swedish, Japanese and Punjabi! After most matches, I text my friend and fellow fan, Yoshi, in Kyoto.”
Yvette Wroby trained as a psychotherapist and is an artist, cartoonist and writer. She has written over 200 stories for the Footy Almanac and other football publications. A painting by Yvette is on the cover of the book, as well as throughout. She is currently working on a Women’s Footy Almanac.
Siren’s Call: A memoir by Yvette Wroby (Malarkey Publications) RRP: $25.Available in all good bookstores or from Yvette’s website: http://cartoonswork.com.au
E-books are available from Booktopia, Amazon and other outlets.
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Quick and easy Charoset Recipe
Dates – 1 punnet – no pips – cut into small pieces
Kiddush wine or Grape Juice
Nuts – almond, walnut , hazelnut – approx half a cup of each nut – (depending on how thick you want it to be)
1. Boil water, Pour water over dates in SMALL amounts
2. Using a potato masher … mash the dates with the hot water turning into a runny jam like mixture …
adding water when you need.
3. Add 1 cup of KIDDUSH WINE or GRAPE JUICE to mixture. ( very runny jam)
Final step …
4. Add finely chopped NUTS
Once finished .. keep in fridge over night to thicken in texture. Yum yum !!
Recipe from Lanie Golbandie, Melbourne, Australia
Who makes the best hummus?
Children’s author and TV host, Alice ‘In Frames’ Zaslavsky, can’t wait to get her carrot stuck into a plate of hummus at the In One Voice Jewish street festival in Elsternwick on Sunday 19 March.
Zaslavsky, who wrote Alice’s Food A-Z and hosts Crunch Time on 9Go!, is judging the hummus competition organised by Caring Mums, the organisation which supports new mothers across Victoria.
“At last year’s In One Voice festival I judged the cheesecake competition and was consumed by cheese dreams for the following week. That’s why I suggested hummus for this year’s competition,” Zaslavsky said.
“Hummus is a great equaliser. Everyone thinks they’ve got the best recipe. Hummus is popular right across the Jewish community. It’s also something kids can whip up – hummus is such a great addition to lunch boxes – just add carrot or celery sticks.”
Zaslavsky says the key to a good hummus is getting the right balance between the ingredients.
“Hummus needs the right acidity – just enough lemon juice to cut through the richness of the tahina and chickpeas. Personally, I prefer a good hit of garlic – something that practically clears the nostrils!,” she said.
One of the many virtues of hummus is that it encourages us to eat fresh vegetables, Zaslavsky said.
“Hummus is both delicious and nutritious,” she reckons. “It encourages us to make salads and move beyond the meat and three veg approach to meals. And, remember, hummus is just one step away from a falafel ball.”
Zaslavsky found judging the 2016 cheesecake competition challenging.
“I judge a lot of cooking competitions and usually it’s behind closed doors, not in front of the entrants. Having to look all those Yiddishe mamas in the eye was quite an experience. On the other hand, it was refreshing to give real-time feedback to all of the cooks involved. Each of the cheesecakes had something special.”
It costs $15 to enter the hummus competition, with all fees going to Caring Mums: http://www.ncjwavic.org.au/event-2317024
The hummus competition will be held from 2-3.30pm in the Nosh Tent which is where festival-goers can also see demonstrations of Indian Jewish cooking by Esther and Ken Daniels, Rebecca Joseph and Ronny Judah. They’ll be joined by Linda Weidenfeld cooking vegetarian food Mish Arndt baking Irish bread.
Hummus is popular right across the Middle East. It is a common part of everyday meals in Israel. One reason for its popularity in Israel is that it is made from ingredients that, following Kashrut (Jewish dietary laws), can be combined with both meat and dairy meals. Both Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs relish the dish.
In 2012, Australian filmmaker Trevor Graham released a documentary, Make Hummus Not War, on the political and gastronomic aspects of hummus.
According to ‘Spoon University’, hummus is also rumoured to be an aphrodisiac.
The In One Voice Jewish street festival is presented by the Kadimah Jewish Cultural Centre and National Library and SKIF.
Alice ‘In Frames’ Zaslavsky @aliceinframes
In One Voice Jewish culture street festival,
11am-5pm, Sunday 19 March – Sinclair and Selwyn Streets, Elsternwick
I consider IFD (Israeli Folk Dance) to be a movement: a global movement that unites us in our love of dance, community, Israeli culture, fun and connection to Israel.
Promoting this movement has been a passion and commitment of mine for something like 45 years now.
And God willing, (“Be’ezrat Hashem“), I’m not done yet!
So my comments come from the perspective of someone who is still within the fold and desiring to leave all politics aside.
My thought has always been that the dances we do are a kind of language that has the potential to unite us all – the potential to enable us all to “speak the same language”.
Which means the ability to dance the same dances anyplace in the world that ID is done, regardless of the country language spoken locally.
In earlier times this was much easier to do when a smaller number of dances were all created in Israel and made their way around the world one way or another.
They may have morphed in translation but essentially in the 60s and into the early 70s we were all doing the same dances, thus speaking the same language.
In the 70s though and to this day, we started seeing dances being created outside Israeli as well as within.
In some cases, in the pre-internet era, we saw different dances being created to the same music, without awareness and sometimes concern about who was doing what inside and outside Israel.
The 70s were also about the time of the beginning of the flood of creation of new dances. At earlier times, it was more or less possible for everyone to more or less all know the same dances.
But at some point, there were too many dances being created for it to be possible for anyone, let alone the masses, to stay abreast of everything worthwhile that came out.
The problem has only gotten worse, thanks to the commercialization of ID, the number of people who choose to choreograph, the proliferation of ID camps and workshops, the proliferation of ID sessions, and of course the ability to instantly transmit a new dance globally through the internet.
This is all a long way of saying that it is no longer possible to enable us to globally speak the same ID language.
Because we are no longer all able to learn and know the same dances.
As a dance leader (Markid), I do the best I can to create a fun evening for my people, and I do the best I can to introduce the dances that I think they may find when they go to ID in Israel and to other groups around the world.
And at the same time, I try to reinforce what we’ve learned throughout time.
Of course, this is not physically possible because there are too many dances.
And it is also not possible because each group has its own repertoire.
Even in Israel, there is a great deal of variety of which dances are done in which groups. Still I try. But I know that to some extent I am tilting at windmills. (Do you still do Don Quixote?) J
Of course, I do what others do when it comes to selecting new dances. I try to keep track of what’s being taught and requested in Israel and various groups around the world. I network with fellow markidim throughout the world to try to get a sense of what’s working in their groups. I look at a lot of video. And so on….
But there is simply too much worthy material out there and it is not possible to get us all “speaking the same language.”
Please understand that I am not one of those who takes the position that the old stuff was all classic and great, and the new stuff is all cookie cutter and does not have staying power.
In fact, I would say that there are lots of worthy dances being created each year. Just too many of them. Further, I would say that the new dances on average are least as good as the old ones, maybe even better.
I also don’t think that “new dances” are the single cause of what I perceive to be the contracting of our movement. In fact, I believe that new stuff has helped to keep some of the excitement and vibrancy in our world. And to maybe bring in young people. Without it, I believe ID would become stale and stultified.
But the plethora of new dances comes at a cost. It increases our fragmentation.
It creates a barrier to entry both for veterans (who come and go at various times in their lives) and for newbies who have to drink from a fire hydrant in order to become regulars.
For veteran non-regulars it becomes daunting to come back and see so many dances they haven’t learned.
Unless one attends regularly, one becomes a stranger in a strange land instead of feeling comfortable when “coming home.”
I don’t think there is a realistic solution to the problem. I don’t think it is possible or desirable to try impose controls over the creative process. I don’t think it is realistically possible or desirable to create a process to jury which dances get introduced and which don’t. I’m not sure there is even any realistic way to get a consensus of which new dances are worthy of being proliferated and which are not. (I enjoy the “Dances of The Year” surveys but they have their own biases as well.) So that leaves individual session leaders having to try to navigate these waters for themselves.
We try our best to collaborate and share what’s working where, but I am not sure that this has a material impact on the problem.
The best I can come up with is this:
I encourage those who create dances, and those who enable them to be introduced, to do the best they can to select those dances that have the potential to become part of the same language that we can all speak.
I will be happy to hear all other points of view.
Best wishes to all,
This article, by Atida Lipshatz, is an edited version written during the 2016 enormously damaging fire storms throughout Israel.
Israel in Flames – one outlet to release my pain.
It is heartbreaking to see the fires raging through Israel. To see the faces of the people whose homes are no longer, and to read the estimates of the financial damage.
To think about how much Israeli citizens already have to bear and how much more they are suffering.
This is a piece to explain how I haven’t known where to put myself the last week.
Yes I have made donations.
Yes I have thought about those affected when I plaited my Challot for Shabbat.
Yes I have responded to the requests to read Tehillim.
Yes my thoughts have been consumed by the tragedy.
But still my upset is internalised and I can’t find release.
And then last night at my Israeli Dance class I finally found an avenue to express my pain and an outlet for my sorrow.
In our diverse and vibrant community, there are so many ways to engage with our Judaism and/or Zionism.
From shules to museums, from choirs to charities, from theatre groups to youth organisations – we are blessed to have so many avenues for involvement.
In our midsts, we also have a number of schools of Israeli Folk Dance offering multiple classes through the week , and a variety of workshops and camps through the year.
On any given night there are hundreds of dance enthusiasts grape-vining , yemeniting and doing cherkissiyas to the wide spectrum of music that make up the Israeli dance song lists.
There are many reasons people attend Israeli dance classes and there are a plethora of known benefits – social, fitness and even prevention of Alzheimers.
But another strong motivation for some participants, including myself, is that the music and dances allow us to link to Israel in an added dimension. The words, the sounds, the steps – all strengthen our bond to Israel in a positive and fun way.
Over the years, the story of Israel and her people has been chronicled through folk dancing.
Waves of immigration, conflicts, dreams of peace – there is an Israeli dance for every chapter of our narrative.
Last year we learnt a dance to a beautiful song whose words spoke of “Blessing you who enters/Blessing you who leaves.”
During this stressful time for Israel, every time we do that dance, I have tears in my eyes.
Of course, most of the songs aren’t political, aren’t historical and aren’t significant. They keep us connected to the rich culture and multiculturalism of Israeli society and are purely for entertainment.
Some songs have Biblical quotes or words from our prayers, and everyone can internalise them in their own way. Some are relevant to certain festivals or seasons.
But sometimes the songs can be a very effective avenue to keep us connected, and help us cope with what is going on in Israel.
I am not qualified to describe the therapeutic nature of this, or the linking of different zones of our brains when associating emotions with physical activity – but there is plenty of reading material out there.
During the fire emergency, our amazing dance teacher spoke respectfully of the current challenges in Israel and chose 2 dances for us all to dance while thinking of the fires and their impacts.
One song is named “Land of Fire, Land of Water”– and she described the use of seawater dropped from planes to extinguish the fires.
The second is called “I have no other Land” and includes words about the earth burning – and I could not help but think of how much more tragic the fires are because every square mile of Israel’s tiny country is so precious and significant.
My Judaism and Zionism are so integral to whom I am, and I thank the teachers and fellow dance enthusiasts for the opportunity to connect to my spiritual homeland and my ancestral language through this extra outlet.
I invite all readers who think it may be a nice avenue to express their feelings to Israel to join – as well as anyone simply looking for a fun way to exercise and socialise.
This version is edited from the full version that appeared in The Australian Jewish News, December 9, 2016.
Lambert House Enterprises, whose recent acclaimed productions in Sydney have included “The Credeaux Canvas”( 2015-Seymour Centre), “The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me”(Gingers and the Butterfly Club, Melbourne 2014) and “Relative Merits”(King Street Theatre) staged its latest production at the Old 505 Theatre Newtown.
Written by Chris Isaacs, “FLOOD” is a highly praised play that grew from workshops followed by a very successful season at the Black Swan Theatre Company in Perth. This production was its East Coast premiere.
The play follows the story of six young twenty-something friends who embark on an end-of-year, rite of passage holiday in the deserts of Western Australia. Finding a secluded creek they set up camp but encounter an enraged member of the local community, resulting in tragic consequences.
“FLOOD” examines the questions of race, ignorance and the naivety of the young generation and is directed by NIDA graduate, Charles Sanders, who’s worked extensively in New York and with the State Theatre Company of SA and Opera Australia as well as his own theatre company -– House of Sand.
“There are really great plays out there about the indigenous side of the picture but there aren’t really many plays about white people that talk about our relationship to Indigenous culture and our understanding – or lack of understanding, of Indigenous culture and our bias: that’s one of the reasons I was drawn to “Flood” and why we’ve put it on,” Sanders told JAO.
The Old 505 Theatre offered the right opportunity to stage this powerful production covering topical issues. In the upstairs ballroom of Newtown’s 100 year-old School Of Arts, the venue’s intimate space of around 70 seats meant the audience felt closely involved.
Sanders concurs: “Especially in a small house such as this – a piece of theatre is more similar to having a coffee with a friend than it is to a movie; having an actual interaction with someone, it’s really exciting,” he explained. “We spend so much more of our time looking at screens now, I think we yearn to gather.”
The actors agree: “Though small, when it’s filled it feels really alive,” Aaron Lucas, one of the exciting young actors featured in “FLOOD”, told JAO. “You can hear and feel the reaction… especially with the audience that close. You can really have a conversation with them.”
In addition, a clever use of Indigenous artwork and swathes of fabric by NIDA-trained set designer Stephanie Howe succeeded in creating both a versatile landscape and charged atmosphere for storytelling.
Review by Paula Towers
Rabbi Ralph Genende
“I must remember there’ll be days like this when no one steps on my dreams.
There’ll be days like this when people understand what I mean.
There’ll be days like this when you ring out the changes of how everything is.
Well my mama told me there’ll be days like this.”
The lyrics are from Van Morrison’s 1995 album by the same name. But they could have come out of the life of the young Biblical Joseph. Yes, the same Joseph of the Technicolour Dreamcoat.
At the cusp of his adulthood, full of hope and promise, supremely confident in his own capacity – as only a young man deeply loved by his parents can be – the young Joseph dreams great dreams.
He imagines this as “one of those days”, to share the dreams, to ring out the changes.
ויחלום יוסף חלום ויגד לאחיו
And Joseph dreamed and told the dream to his brothers.
Listen to this dream:
“There we were binding sheaves in the field when mine stood up and all of yours gathered around and bowed low to mine.”
Undeterred by his brother’s outraged reaction to this dream (not the best way to win friends and influence people), he dreams again and again insist on sharing it:
ויחלום עוד חלום
And Joseph dreamed another dream.
This time, the sun, the moon and eleven stars are bowing down to him…
Eminent 20th century scholar Rabbi Joseph B. Soleveichik suggests that Joseph was able to see beyond the present moment, to intuitively sense the winds of change, to grasp that different days were coming.
Of course, we know how right Joseph was, how he saved the embryonic Jewish people from destruction. If not for Joseph, Israel would have been history, just another page in an ancient document.
We adapted, we changed.
In fact, in Gandhi’s memorable phrase – we became the change. We were the change.
And we, the Jewish people, became the agent provocateurs, the game changers again and again.
Like Joseph’s brothers, we stand on the cusp of a new digital age. We have every reason to be fearful and anxious about the tsunami of change transforming our world. The rate of change in one year now eclipses the cumulative change of centuries.
Journalist and social commentator Thomas Friedman suggests that we’ve got two choices about how to react: We can become “wall people” or “web people.”
Wall people build bigger walls to keep out the chaos, to stop the unruly tides of chaos.
Web people embrace the change and focus on empowering people to compete and collaborate in a world without walls, to become more flexible, more agile, to learn how to transform yourself and your environment.
Joseph’s brothers opted for walls. Joseph chose the web.
Neat as this is, it’s a little too simplistic: The truth is, the world still needs some walls. Even the world-wide-web needs to protect itself with fire-walls. We need walls to protect our way of life.
Despite this, there’s a magic and a wonder to the web and it’s actually linking and transforming us in untold and enthralling ways.
It’s giving us more access to knowledge than the most brilliant minds that ever roamed our vast and wonderful universe ever had access to.
It’s giving us the freedom to explore ideas and identities, and to reach out to others in countless new ways, too.
It’s a disruption of centuries of behaviour, a disjunction of routine, a challenge of habit.
In a sense, it’s Teshuvah on a universal scale.
For what is Teshuvah – Repentance – if not breaking the back of the old, כח ההרגל, the rut of routine.
We Jews have always been better ‘webbers’ than ‘wallers’, disruptive rather than docile, questioning rather than quiescent.
From Abraham destroying his father’s idols to Moses taking on Pharoah, from Spinoza confronting authority to Freud challenging convention, we have been at the forefront of change, a nation that prefers to start up, rather than shut-up.
And that’s why we as Jews and Israel as a nation are ideally placed to ride this tiger into the future.
But it’s paradoxical that we can’t seem to shed our webbed feet when it comes to the critical challenges of Jewish identity today. That we lose our nerve when trying to adapt to changes in the makeup of our community.
I remember living in South Africa as the apartheid government began to realise they would never be able to stem the winds of change and freedom that were sweeping across the country.
Pik Botha, then FM of South Africa made the famous statement “adapt or die”.
We as a proud and strong diaspora community need to say to the Ultra-Orthodox (Chareidi) Rabbinate of Israel: adapt or die.
We need to join the Rabbinic Council of America in their condemnation of the Charedi men who, on pseudo-Halachic grounds, disgracefully refuse to sit next to women on El Al planes and say: “adapt or die”.
And we need to ensure that we as a community are recognizing that you can’t assume that the next generation are going to come to synagogue, support our organisations and schools, and give charity to our traditional charities.
The times they are changing and we need to become more agile and flexible in the way we keep Jews Jewish.
We need to reach out and be part of the change.
We need more openness to those who are different whether they are gay, or whether they are women seeking greater involvement in their community.
We need to ensure we’re part of the multicultural and multifaith face of Melbourne, because that’s the changing face of our globe.
As Jews we’ve always understood that to be open, doesn’t mean you stand for everything.
We’ve always known that only the sure of faith, with confidence in themselves, can afford to be open.
The stronger we are as Jews, the more we will have to offer.
So stand strong, deepen your Jewish knowledge, expand your Jewish practice, be a literate Jew, be a serious Jew, because only then can you be a serious Jewish contributor to the revolution which is already here.
Change is inevitable and change is constant.
“Change,” said John F Kennedy, “is the law of life. And those who only look to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
Stay with us, stand with us ,join us, as we help lead the change here in Melbourne.
Stay with us, stand with us, join us, as we continue as we have for the past 10 years to transform our community.
Be part of the change.
After all, my mum told me there will be days like this:
When people share the dream, when they ring out the changes.
I have to remember days like this.
Adapted from his First Day Jewish New Year sermon 2016
Rosh Hashana 5777
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