POEM OF THE MONTH:
A HANUKAH MIRACLE IN CAIRO
By Ada Aharoni
On the eve of Hanukah
I climb the staircase
Of what used to be my home -
In El Tahrir Square in Cairo
In my faraway Egyptian past.
After thirty fleeting years
With trembling hand
I ring the bell of my former home.
A woman with a kind round smile
Opens the door, hears my story and cries:
"You lived in this house thirty years ago?
Come in, come in, ahlan wesahlan, welcome,
I am so glad you came!
I have kept something of yours
For thirty years, which I think
But first, coffee and sharbat,
And my bassboussa
dipped in golden honey…
I sip the honey, sharbat and coffee
While happy, hurting memories
Flamboyant pictures of the past
Flow down my spine
Like the turbid copper waters
Of the Nile.
Then with a round secretive smile
Monira places on the table
A white nylon bundle and
Slowly, slowly opens
Our Hanukah miracle -
A velvet bag
With golden letters and a flower
Embroidered by my grandmother
Half a century ago -
And in it
My Father's Talit
My Father's prayer shawl!
Read Horizon - IFLAC's Online Peace Culture Magazine (1997-2002) - recommended for Peace Education and Peace Culture Courses
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(2014.03.16) These lovely young ladies are Ada's great-granddaughters dressed up for the Purim Party: Shira 4 (in white), Shai 7, Shahar 6, and Amit 2.
Four Purim Princesses!
(2014.03.12) Ada was recently invited to a high-level Think Tank workshop on the Palestinian refugee issue. She presented her paper Peace and Harmony between Israelis and Palestinians based on Mutual Recognition of National Aspirations.
(2014.03.12) Ada has released a new CD with 11 of her poems put to music. Hebrew only.
(2014.02.08) The PowerPoint presentation below is from a lecture held by Ada on the uprooting of the Jews from Arab countries in the mid 1900's. She argues that the knowledge of this banishment, the “Second Exodus,” can be a strong element for the reconciliation and peace between Palestinians and Israelis. It would help both sides to discover their common history.
(2014.02.18) The Golden Age of the Jews from Egypt – Uprooting and Revival in Israel is finally out. It chronicles 73 of the stories of the individuals and families who were forced to leave Egypt following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Most of the accounts are in Hebrew while a few are in French. Read the introduction by Ada (in English).
Ada presenting "The Golden Age of the Jews from Egypt"
(2013.12.27) Ada finally has a Wikipedia presentation. The article gives an overview of her biography and work, including her peace poetry: "Aharoni believes that poems are suitable vehicles for building bridges of trust and respect for each other's culture and humanity. As we have become more mobile, the most profound difference between us is our culture, and not the territory. Peace poems have the ability to present the stories of both sides in a conflict, 'in all its reality, pain, hope and yearning for peace.'"
(2013.12.27) A Palestinian and an Israeli State side by side could trigger a domino effect of peace in the region and the world. The 1967 borders would give the Palestinians enough land to create a flourishing State of Palestine, and everybody would help them, including Israel. Extremist opinions and actions are major hurdles for the development of a real democracy in Egypt.
These were some of Ada's answers to the questions from the Reddit community during her Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) session. She also told the readers that she tries to write 8 hours a day. “8 hours,” a reader commented, “for those who think writing comes easy…”
Ada answering questions at Reddit
(2013.03.06) Ada wishes to thank the IFLAC Peace Ambassadors and members for supporting the nomination of her and IFLAC to the Nobel Prize for Peace.
In the letter of nomination to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, the nominator writes about Ada:
"Believing in the power of the word, she is confident that literature and culture can help to heal the urgent ailments of Israel, Palestine, and our global village, such as war, terror and conflict. The themes of Peace, love, reconciliation and coexistence, as well as equality of women, are major ones throughout her various works. She has also extensively researched and written books on the Jews of Egypt in the 20th Century, and their forced exile from Egypt (1948 – 1967)."
Read more in the IFLAC Blog.
(2012.12.05) IFLAC: The International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace calls on all the citizens of Israel to vote for Women to promote and reach Peace, in the General Elections on January 22, 2013. The mainly men governments of Israel until now, have not succeeded to make Peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Women are more than half the citizens of Israel – and they should fill equally all the top and leadership positions in the Government and in all other institutions according to: one woman – one man for every key position.
Therefore: VOTE WOMEN FOR A CHANGE!
Dr. Ada Aharoni
IFLAC Founding President
Two good friends: Ada and her granddaughter Shahar (4)
(2012.11.27) Rare Flower is a collection of Ada Aharoni's 100+ best Life, Love and Peace Poems. The book is dedicated to the memory of her two departed "Rare Flowers": Talia, her daughter, who lost her 13 year long battle against cancer in 2011, and Haim, her husband, who passed away in 2006.
The poems devoted to the two of them describe lives lived and loved. Here are the audio versions of two of the poems, read by Ada:
Tali, my Beautiful Rare Flower
"...plucked before her time! What a terrible lack of justice! What pain!"
Our Beautiful New Home
(In Memory of Haim): "I was a pale ivory tower, surrounded by white marble slabs until you came into my house and it became our home."
Ada's production of poetry spans five decades and includes women, love and peace poems. Peace and conflict resolution are recurrent themes in her works.
"In the case of people in long conflicts – like the Israelis and Palestinians – feelings of fear, mistrust and lack of understanding have been piling up in their hearts and minds over the years, on both sides," Ada says. Peace poems are suitable vehicles for building bridges of trust and respect for each other's culture and humanity. They can "reach and profoundly penetrate those layers of mistrust, suspicion and fear."
In her poem called "A Bridge of Peace", Ada writes, "My Arab sister, let us build a sturdy bridge from your olive world to mine, from my orange world to yours... we do not want to make each other afraid under our vines and under our fig trees."
Building bridges of understanding and peace by the means of culture, literature and communication is the goal of IFLAC: The International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace, the voluntary association of which Ada Aharoni is the Founder and World President. A "global village beyond war and terror" is achievable.
LIFE IS A POMEGRANATE
Life is a Pomegranate
Full of juicy ruby grains
Taste them fully
One by one
It is suddenly
(2012.11.19) I have been asked for my response to the trouble in the South of Israel and in Gaza, and here it is on IFLAC Radio:
I would be glad to hear your opinion and response. Let us hope that by then Hamas will stop bombing Israel and Israel would stop defending itself by retaliations, and we will have Peace Treaty between Israel and the Palestinians.
Dr. Ada Aharoni
IFLAC Founding President
(2012.09.09) On September 4, Ada proudly received the Israeli President's Award for Volunteerism, for promoting peace initiatives between Jews and Arabs.
"Ada Aharoni, I am very impressed by all the wonderful work you do for promoting Peace Culture and Peace between Israel and her neighbors," President Shimon Peres said when he presented her with the Award.
The ceremony took place at the official residence of President Peres in Jerusalem. Ada invited 45 guests to attend the ceremony with her.
Dr. Yosef Gotlieb, Chair of IFLAC Jerusalem, writes:
I was invited to the ceremony by my dear friend, Dr. Ada Aharoni, a writer, poet, scholar and activist who was one of the six leaders and five organizations - eleven in all award winners. Ada was recognized for her outstanding life contributions since the early 1970s on behalf of "peace culture between Arabs and Jews." I have come to know Ada in the context of the International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace (IFLAC), a group active all over the world and composed of people of letters dedicated to the advancement of peace. Ada, who immigrated alone to Israel from Egypt at the age of seventeen, is a former chair of the World Congress of Egyptian Jews and a tireless fighter for coexistence and understanding.
Despite the afternoon heat, President Peres actively participated in the ceremony. His words conveyed wisdom, experience and benevolence and he was warmly received. He spoke about the vital role volunteerism played in the state-building process. He asserts that it remains a core value of the Israeli national ethos.
One of the President's most incisive remarks related to the rising role that civil society and volunteer organizations play in public affairs. He believes that government authority is being replaced around the world by civil initiatives and popular will channeled into action.
I believe that the President, who is keenly aware of emerging trends, is right on the mark and this is one of the basic messages I make in Rise, A Novel of Contemporary Israel, where the Rise movement is the instrument of change at a time when the government is unwilling or unable to advance the interests of the country's citizenry.
(2012.07.07) As the first woman, Ada was invited to speak in the Ahmedim Mosque in Haifa, at their annual Conference. They invited her because her book Kiruv Levavot has the same title as their Conference: Bringing Hearts Together.
Read more about the event and Ada's poem Ahmedim in the IFLAC Blog.
Ada speaking in the Ahmedim Mosque in Kababir
(2012.06.05) Ada has just published two video lectures on YouTube on the Second Exodus, about the uprooting of Jews from Arab countries after the State of Israel was established in 1948.
(2012.05.19) On September 4, Ada will receive the "President Shimon Peres Award for 2012", for the spreading of the Culture and Literature of Peace in the Middle East and in the World.
This is the most prestigious award in the field of volunteering in Israel. It is given each year to six leaders and six organizations. Ada is one of the leaders this year and is awarded the Prize for her work in the spreading of the Culture of Peace since 1974, when she founded "The Bridge of Jewish and Arab Women" together with her departed friend Ruth Lys. IFLAC was established in 1999.
"I was away on an enjoyable sailing trip to Greece, and when I came back I had the lovely surprise to learn that I have been selected to receive the prestigious award," Ada says. "Sometimes we have the feeling that nobody notices our hard and continuous peace work, but when the President of Israel, Mr. Shimon Peres, who is a Nobel Prize Laureate, and beloved and honored by the whole world, notices, appreciates, and awards his Prize for 2012 to the Founder-President of IFLAC for the promotion of the Culture of Peace, it gives us a lot of satisfaction and hope."
The Award ceremony will take place at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, with 800 guests and media coverage.
(2012.04.28) In Syndic No. 6, 34 authors/artists from 10 countries read aloud their poems and stories. Ada reads three of her poems: Tali, my Beautiful Rare Flower, Peace is a Woman and The Poor.
(2012.03.30) Perah Nadir - Rare Flower is Ada's new book, dedicated to her departed daughter, Tali, after her brave struggle with cancer. The book was launched at a touching event at the Writer's House is Tel Aviv in March. Composer and singer Shoshia Beeri Dotan sang poems from the book.
"Poets and Writers friends read their preferred poems from the book and explained why they chose them. Their words bridged the link between heaven and earth, Talia and me and them, all flew on wings of love and harmony together on that most wondrous evening," Ada writes.
The cover of the book shows Tali when she was a student working on her M.A. on "Social and Community Care and Development" in the Dept. of Social Work at Haifa University. The book will also be translated into English.
Tali, my Beautiful Rare Flower - Ada reads a poem to Tali.
Tali Winkler (1956-2011)
(2012.01.21) Israeli Radio Oranim recently interviewed Ada on IFLAC and the theme of Peace in her books. Listen to the interview below (Hebrew).
(2011.12.31) Dear IFLAC Directors, Members and Friends,
I wish a very joyful, peaceful and healthy New Year 2012 to each of you.
May the New Year 2012, fully recognize at last, that our IFLAC way: Peace through Bridges of Literature, Culture and Communication is so much better than violence, conflict, destruction and wars!
Please invite all your friends and colleagues to join us, by visiting and adhering to our rich and wonderful site and blog at: www.iflac.wordpress.com in which you can publish your thoughts and ideas, by commenting on thought-provoking articles and items.
This year, with your devoted and kind help again, we will attempt to double the members who have joined us through our above site. Together, we will double our efforts in spreading our IFLAC values to the whole of our global village. We will continue in our noble attempt of creating a beautiful world of humane care and kindness for each other, a brave New World of Peace and Harmony – Beyond War, Terror and Violence.
With all the very best wishes to you and to your families,
Dr. Ada Aharoni
IFLAC Founding President
(2011.12.04) Syndic No. 5 is out, featuring multimedia presentations by international authors and artists, including Ada. She reads three of her poems: Universal Woman, A Bridge of Peace and Siniora, My New Friend in Gaza.
Enjoy the poetry reading at Syndic.
(2011.11.24) Speak Up! is a show on WomensRadio in which guests are invited to talk about issues concerning women.
In an interview with the Speak Up! Host Pat Lynch, Ada talked about IFLAC and the necessity of building bridges of peace. Inspired by the recent veil burning in Yemen, she also said that it is time to burn the Burkas as well. In fact, “Burn the Burkas” will be a new IFLAC project for 2012. She said that if the men like the Burkas so much, let them wear one themselves.
Listen to the interview, Peace by Building Bridges, at WomensRadio. At their site, WomesRadio also kindly published two of Ada’s peace poems: A Bridge of Peace and Peace Is a Woman and a Mother.
STOP THE TEARS
There is nothing in the world harder than to lose a daughter!
Enough of drowning in the sea of tears
Sorrow is a never ending trap
That swallows all my entity, all my hours, all my plans,
Everything seems to me to be shallow, tasteless,
Lacking any horizon, without any goal
However, this is not what Tali expected of me,
"Go on with your struggle for peace ma,"
She whispered, "For both of us,
When I am not here."
I have to follow her example
To honor her memory with her optimistic message
Full of peace and hope,
To follow her spirit for the creation of a better society,
A better Middle East, a better world
Without violence, destruction, terror and famine,
A new world at peace with itself and far beyond war.
Stop the tears, the work of peace
Is tremendous and Tali expects me to continue
For both of us, and indeed we will all continue
To build your loving peace path Tali, through IFLAC -
In your spirit, with your devotion and with
Your wise angelic smile
Your loving mother
Tali and her granddaughter Lotem
A COURAGEOUS DAUGHTER CALLED TALI
She had twinkling honey-green eyes
and velvety black curls -
she laughed in the wind
and sang and danced under the trees with the stars
Tali, Tali, Tali, Tali
"You have breast-cancer that has spread"
the doctors curtly said -
"Chimio-Therapy all your life!"
She stopped laughing in the wind
and stopped singing and dancing with the stars
Tali, Tali, Tali, Tali
"I won't let you poison me anymore!"
she firmly said and fled
from the Chimio-Therapy trap -
to grass-juice, green vegetables and fruit
Tali, Tali, Tali, Tali
She won, she triumphed!
She laughs again in the wind
she dances again with the stars -
my lovely, courageous daugther
Tali, Tali, Tali, Tali
Tali Winkler, my wonderful daughter, passed away on July 8, 2011,
after a courageous struggle agains cancer, for sixteen long and fruitful years.
Now she rests in peace, and
Sings, dances and twinkles with the immortal stars forever.
Tali Winkler (1956-2011)
(2011.07.05) In her new article, Peace and Harmony between Israelis and Palestinians based on Mutual Recognition of National Aspirations, Ada writes: “Processes that take place in a society are rarely reversible; repair of wrongs and compensation of suffering cannot usually be accomplished by a return to the previous situation but by the creation of a new situation that is beneficial while appropriate to the new conditions.”
(2011.07.02) Ada was recently reminded about her poem "Geisha Girls" below when she was asked to contribute a poem to a Poetry Anthology on Japan. She wrote the poem in the 1970's while on a half sabbatical in Japan together with her husband Haim. Haim was invited by a colleague to visit a Geisha House, and as a good husband he asked Ada to come with them. Ada of course enthusiastically said "yes!"
"Haim's Japanese colleague was perturbed because only men went to the Geisha House, but he finally invited his wife, because I was present," Ada recalls. "She said that thanks to me she would visit a Geisha House for the first time in her life!"
The poem is inspired by the words she whispered in Ada's ear at the establishment. She later became very active in the feminist movement in Japan.
Hai, squid and seaweed in bamboo boat -
Mother, what is she doing to my husband,
rubbing his chest and leg and ego?
Hai, jelly fish and seaweed in roasted eye.
Mother, why did you tell me
they are just psychological hostesses
sometimes singers and dancers, but nothing more -
If a psychologist caressed my breast and leg
wouldn't Kikuji be annoyed too?
And when I need a psychologist, mother,
whom do I go to?
Hai, crab and seaweed in parching mouth,
which unlike yours and granny's
refuses to be custom-choked.
Mother, oh mother, I'm so lonely
when he goes to the geisha girls!
I dangle a thousand million cranes for the day
when the geishas will rise from the tatami
in their rose-winged kimonos,
mount the bamboo boat and float
straight out of our lives.
(2011.05.08) Several of Ada's poems, including "A Green Week" and "Cosmic Woman", were published in the International Poetry Magazine Sketchbook, March/April 2011 edition. This edition contains poems, art and features by 86 writers from 21 countries.
(2011.04.22) Ada's poem "A White Horse from Jerusalem" inspired Professor of Music and Musical Director Bret Zvacek to compose a new piece by the same name. The work was presented in concert with Central New York Jazz Orchestra, featuring legendary saxophonist David Liebman as soloist, in Syracuse, New York in April. Liebman played with Miles Davis in the 1970s.
Ada's own inspiration for the poem was a white runaway horse that found its way to her street in Haifa and smiled at her. It came from the Druze village Ussfiya, incidentally the same village where IFLAC some years later would establish their Tent of Peace.
If a white horse from golden Jerusalem,
bearing a message from the land of global peace
strides so valiantly
in the early dawn hours
of my own street,
as if it were the ocean
as if it were the bright blue sky -
then all is possible...
Read the whole story about The White Horse from Jerusalem in the IFLAC Blog.
(2011.04.17) IFLAC has launched a new project: The Golden Book of the Jews of Egypt: My Own Second Exodus.
Out of the 100,000 Jews living in Egypt in the mid-twenties, only twenty old Jews are left there today, after their tragic uprooting.
The purpose of this project is to collect the oral-history narratives of the uprooting of the Jews from Egypt and from other Arab Countries before their authors pass away and take their stories with them.
IFLAC wants to collect these "Second Exodus" stories and publish them in a "Golden Book" in 2012.
Read more: The Golden Book of Jews of Egypt project.
(2011.04.10) Patrick Sammut, Vice-President of the Maltese Poets Association, published an interview with Ada about the role of writers/poets in the light of the recent natural disasters and other world events.
When asked about the role of writers/poets compared to that of politicians, Ada replied, "The politician’s role is to find immediate relief, but his actions will not always be remembered. On the other hand, the poet can express truths that will survive and speak out to generations after generations, as for instance the Peace Poems of the British Poet Wilfred Owen, who wrote during the First World War."
Read the whole interview in the IFLAC Blog.
(2011.03.25) On April 4, 2011 Ada Aharoni is organizing a conference on The Collective Memory and the Narrative of the Jews from Egypt at Bar-Ilan University.
Conference Program (Hebrew only)
(2011.03.08) In celebration of the International Women's Day, March 8, enjoy a selection of Ada's Women Poems.
SINIORA: MY NEW FRIEND IN GAZA
Your shy smile under your veil
And luminous dark eyes in the theatre
Of life, of strife, caught my eye
In the Ability Center in Khan Yunis, in Gaza.
I invited you to take a picture with us
And you charmingly accepted.
I gave you my peace poetry book in Arabic translation,
You read and said: "You love Peace as much as me!"
And you gave me your address, for more of my books.
You pointed out from the window
To the impressive new buildings in Gaza,
And we became new friends.
With women it is as easy as that.
You asked me about my children,
I asked you about your family, your plans,
You showed me your artwork, your workshop,
I showed you my inner writing, my pictures, my peace dreams.
You showed me your impressive museum
With gorgeous embroidered Palestinian dresses,
You gently asked: "Which one do you like best?"
I pointed to the dark blue with red embroidery,
Like the one I used to wear in Egypt, a long time ago,
And in my poetry presentations.
"I'll embroider it for you, and send it to you to Haifa,"
You promptly, softly said.
I was so moved, and hugged you dear Siniora,
My new friend in Gaza.
When our blue bus drove away,
We both had tears in our eyes,
My wonderful new friend in Gaza -
With women it is as natural, as easy as that.
Men! Learn from women for a change,
Let women help you make peace, make friends,
With women it is as natural, as easy as that.
(2011.02.19) IFLAC considers of historical importance the events which are taking place in the Middle East region, and particularly the democratic change which has been undertaken by the people of Egypt after 18 days of a captivating mobilization, chiefly in the El Tahrir Square in Cairo. As an institution created for promoting intercultural dialogue and understanding, IFLAC considers of utmost significance the participation in those events of young men and women of all walks of life and different beliefs, united by their will to call for democracy and freedom and for a better future for their country. We applaud the unprecedented social movement striving for Freedom, Dignity and Social Justice, and moved by values and principles which are at the heart of the IFLAC mission.
We send our sympathy and condolences to the families of all the peaceful demonstrators who lost their lives during those uprisings. May they rest in peace.
Prof. Ada Aharoni
IFLAC Founder - President
Dear IFLAC Members and Friends,
(2011.01.01) I take the opportunity before the opening of the new decade, beginning in 2011, to wish you and yours: peace, happiness, good health and success in all your endeavors.
I am very glad that in 2010 we have had many fruitful achievements, among them: 109,330 people have visited our IFLAC sites, in English, Hebrew, Spanish, French, Romanian and Hungarian. We warmly thank Maria Cristina Azcona, our IFLAC Director in South America, together with her Vice President Susana Roberts, and Harmonie Botella, our IFLAC Director in Spain, for the excellent IFLAC Spanish sites they have created. We also warmly thank Tatomir Ion-Marius, our IFLAC Director in Romania and Hungary, for the wonderful and impressive sites in Romanian and Hungarian.
Warm thanks are due to Solveig Hansen, in Norway, our expert technical editor of the very professional site: Ada Aharoni's Homepage that includes all the above sites, including the impressive and rich Guestbook which you are invited to visit and sign.
Another one of our greatest achievements which we are very proud of is the daily e-publication of our IFLAC Digest Newsletter that provides and spreads information on the progress of the Culture of Peace in the Middle East and around the world. The IFLAC Digest also allows us to connect, inspire and educate ourselves and our environment.
Already 2,645 Editions of the IFLAC Digest have been published on the Internet, and we estimate that it reaches more than 20,000 individuals across the world. We warmly thank Hany Eldeib, the owner and technical director of our IFLAC Yahoo site, for his constant support and faithful work. All the IFLAC Digests, from the very first one to this day, are available on the IFLAC Yahoo site.
Among the many significant and important IFLAC activities in 2010, on the 7th of December 2010, our IFLAC Delegate in Japan, Taki Yuriko, in cooperation with us, sent a letter in the name of IFLAC, to President Obama, to stop all nuclear tests in the present and in the future. We hope this letter will be answered positively very soon.
We warmly greet and give thanks to all the active IFLAC Ambassadors, Writers, Poets, and Members in the WORLD IFLAC NETWORK. In 2011, IFLAC will continue its efforts to pave the way to a culture of harmony and peace in the Middle East and in our global village. We will appeal to governments, global institutions and to the world media, to act as responsible caretakers and trustees of humankind and of our planet. We will ask them to widely spread a global Culture of Peace and of democracy throughout our global village, with the aid of our project the "IFLAC PCTVI: The Peace Culture Television and Internet". The PCTVI would not only widely promote the spreading of a culture of peace; it would also help to eliminate the very concept and practice of war. In addition, it would also promote peace education, and progress and wellbeing for all people, as well as gender equality.
Finally, in 2011, we hope to witness the building of a Palestinian State, living in peace and harmony by the side of its neighbor - the State of Israel, and that both States would flourish, like fruitful "pomegranates full of pearly, ruby grains".
I wish you all, a very happy, peaceful and fruitful New Year 2011.
Dr. Ada Aharoni
IFLAC Founder - President
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