Youngsters and the Digital Age


They may be Facebook or msn Messenger addicts but when it comes to using the Internet for school youngsters are not so efficient.

Since September our school is supposed to have entered the Information Age. In short, we put the students’ grades online either after each test or once a term, some teachers (not me) make their planners available to all parents, parents and teachers can check the Internet to see abstentees and absenteeism and we can be contacted via emails by students and parents alike.

Thinking that everyone was so familiar with these new tools, I decide to use them for two different purposes.

The first idea was to send an email to all the students involved in the exchange with a high school in Sweden. I needed to check if they had all established a contact with their penffriends. I therefore sent a group email to all the students concerned; all except one who had forgotten to provide his email address. I sent out one mail to 22 students three days ago and got 8 answers so far. Should I add that I had asked to answer as quickly as they could?

The second scheme was for them to send me an essay so that I could mark it during the holidays. After we had been working on schools in Britain and the United States, my students were supposed to send an interview to an American student (whose email address I had given them), write an article thanks to the answers and send me the article once it was written. They got the instructions two weeks ago, just before the start of our spring vacation.

It seemed plain and simpe, at least from my point of view. Obviously not from theirs. Some students thought I wanted the interview beforehand or maybe that it was the questions I was marking, some apparently thought I would send the interview, some wrote to say that they had sent the interview but haven’t sent the article yet while I haven’t heard from about half of them, not at all! I have the feeling that a regular article on paper would have involved fewer difficulties.

Any idea where I went wrong?

Yom Ha’atzmaut


In French Sephardi synagogues there is no tradition of praying for the state of Israel even though most people have relatives there. In French Ashkenazi shuls however – whether they are Orthodox, Masorti or Reform – a prayer which is included in the siddurim is said each Shabbat for the welfare of the State of Israel and its defence forces.

Similarly the new Sacks siddur, a commented version of the famous Singer’s Prayer Book, includes such a prayer. As a means to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s national independence day, I have chosen to share it with you.

May He who blessed our fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, bless the State of Israel, its leaders and advisors in the land which He swore unto our father to give us. Put into their hearts the love and fear of You to uphold it with justice and righteousness, and may we be worthy in our days to witness the fulfilment of the words of Your Servants, the prophets: “For out of Zion shall go forth the Law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” Heavenly Father: Remember the Israel Defence Forces, guardians of your Holy Land. Protect them from all distress and anguish, and send blessing and success to all the work of their hands. Grant peace in Your Holy land and everlasting happiness to all its inhabitants, so that Jacob shall again have peace and tranquillity, with none to make him afraid. Spread the tabernacle of Your peace over all the dwellers on earth. May this be your will and let us say, Amen.

Grilled Zucchini


I was served this dish on Friday night, it is light and tasty and doesn’t take long to make.

1 zucchini per serving
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
thyme, basil or rosemary

Wash and peel the zucchini lenghtwise. In a small bowl, mix 3 tbsps olive oil, 1 tbsp vinegar, salt to taste and the herb of your choice. Brush the zucchini slices with the mixture.

Put the zucchini slices in a baking tray and bake at 480° F for about 20 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn over the zucchini. Serve with the remaining sauce.

Discovering Zhou Gang


What do you do on wet days when you are on vacation? We like to visit museums. So as today is very rainy, we went to Toulon this afternoon to visit the Museum of Asian Arts (Musée des arts asiatiques).

Located in a house with garden which once belonged to the son and later the grandson of author Jules Verne, the museum contains a small but interesting collection of art objects, many donated by naval officers from the time of the French colonization of Southeast Asia. It includes objects and paintings from India, China, Southeast Asia, Tibet and Japan. (Wikipedia)

Apart from the permanent exhibition, the museum hosts temporary exhibitions. At the moment it features Chinese painter Zhou Gang. Zhou Gang was born in Shangai in 1958. He graduated there before moving to Japan and then Paris to study fine art. He now resides in the French capital.

Zhou Gang uses traditional techniques: ink on rice paper and was influenced by Chinese old masters. Yet, after 20 years in France, his art has become a fine combination of Eastern and Western influences and his paintings are full of energy and vitality.

Taking photos was forbidden but you can see some of Zhou Gang’s paintings on the artist’s website.

The Holocaust and Jewish Demography


Demographer Professor Sergio Della Pergola reckons that were it not for the Holocaust, there would be as many as 32 million Jews worldwide, instead of the current 13 million.

In an article soon to be published for a Yad Vashem periodical, he writes: “This was the destruction of a generation, and what we are lacking now is not only that generation, it is their children and their children.”

As a result there are relatively fewer Jews worldwide. “At present, the percentage of Jews in the world is constantly in decline. Before the Holocaust, the rate was eight Jews per thousand people in the world; today it is two per thousand.”

You can read the full Haaretz article here.

Weekly Round-Up


On My Blog

Photo memes:
Latest Flowers for Today’s Flowers
Red Hungarian Building for Ruby Tuesday
Sepia Neptune for Sepia Scenes

Weekly Recipe: Vegetable Lasagna

Recipe Feedback

Books in Nazi-Occupied France

Yom HaShoah

Who Is A Jew?

Elsewhere in the JBlogosphere

The Kosher Cooking Carnival is up at Mom in Israel

Shimshonit reminds us that the Shoah-Israel connection is a myth

Leora has drawn up a list of links about Yom HaShoah and about the Holocaust in general

Jewwishes reviews The Way into Judaism And the Environment

Who Is A Jew?


This short post arose after a conversation I had last night with the mother of one of my friends.

My friend who was brought up in a French secular family married in Antwerp a year ago and has been living on the fringe of the Hassidim community since then. My friend’s mother was sharing news about her son’s various friends, some of whom I have met or at least heard of. She announced that one was getting married (to a Moroccon Jew) but that her son would not attend the wedding as this boy was not marrying a real Jew.

Later on in the conversation, she also mentioned that the same son had no desire to visit Israel since it is inhabited by people who are not real Jews.

I know Hassidic logic is not always easy to grasp but tese remarks left me with two questions.
– For a Hassid, who is a Jew?
– When the subject comes up with my friend, what can I answer him? I do not wish to argue for the sake of arguing but I do not want my silence to be interpretred as agreement.