# 111- Bat Mitzva, Jerusalem & Questions by Stephen Pohlmann - Ourboox.com
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# 111- Bat Mitzva, Jerusalem & Questions

Helping others to understand Israel - and Israelis to understand others...
  • Joined Sep 2016
  • Published Books 422

February 10, 2009

Friday 13th – I’m one of those born on the 13th (a Monday, it so happens) so I like to think this will be a lucky day.

We’re off to a Bat Mitzvah. You will surely know that the many of the modern Jewish girls have far more rights than in olden days., and one of them is the right to have a celebration for their ‘coming of age’. (Bar Mitzvah is the traditional one for the boys. ‘Bar’ means ‘son’, ‘Bat’ means ‘daughter’)….


Later….The Bat Mitzvah was quite beautiful, held at the home of the parents of the lucky girl. The father is our nephew. She has 3 younger sisters, so if they intend ‘improving’ each time, they have their hands full. It was held in their hilltop village, Timrat. Full of Nature..and of course, Aviva was there, too..

There were friends and family, dogs and cats. Another nephew we took with us ended up taking the cutest 2-month puppy back with him…..


Yesterday, Aviva and I had some business in Jerusalem. Visiting the area where she grew up, we had lunch in an Italian restaurant which happens to be located in the same building in which we were married, almost 35 years ago. (No discount on the meal – not even a candle in a cupcake). I took another quick picture of the Calatrava ‘String Bridge’, which was ‘opened’ 3-4 months ago, but which will not function properly for at least another 2 years, as it’s supposed to carry the new light railway which is some time behind schedule…


Now…This is the first time I’m asking you who suffer to receive this thing of mine a couple of questions. No obligation to answer, but a few responses would be welcome. I PROMISE to keep any answers confidential if requested!

  1. Is it not time to hang up the word ‘disproportionate’ in the waste closet ?

[Shahar Peer has been refused a visa to play in the Dubai tennis tournament – disproportionate!


Everyone wants all Israelis (Jews) to leave the West Bank. Gaza is already ‘Judenfrei’. almost 1/4 of the Israeli population is Moslem – disproportionate!


More rockets were fired this weekend from Gaza. So far, no response from Israel. Maybe we should wait until a kindergarten is hit – disproportionate!


Hamas have been killing many fellow citizens – all Fatah members. Israel has not killed any Moslems in Israel for voting for the Opposition – disproportionate!


War is disproportionate.

  1. What is your secular, religious or otherwise-inclined opinion of the fact that the Jews are the ‘Chosen People’? Do you think it has any connection with anti-Semitism?

  2. What do you say to the fact that ‘Barabbas’ (the name of the criminal released in Jesus’ stead) means ‘Son of the Father’, and the supposition that when the crowd called out for the release of Barabbas, they actually meant Jesus?



P.S. – They can’t decide if Gilad Schalit (the Israeli soldier now held for almost 3 years in Gaza) is worth 1,000 or 1,100 Palestinian prisoners (including the worst).

I hope this is the last time I refer, albeit cynically, to this word.



Response 1 from Brad Heckerman, USA, business entrepreneur and my boss –


Question #1.  If someone lobed 6,000 rounds of gunfire into your home over the course of months, or years, did property damage, but “only” killed one of your family members, would your obligation as a father/husband be to have prevented that?  If it required you to terminate more than one “terrorist” would that be a “disproportionate” response?  How would the “dead” family member answer?


Question #2. God said it, I believe it. If He is right I gain everything, if He is wrong I lose nothing.

Question #3. It matters not, for Christ freely chose to let man put him to death.



Hey Brad – These are most philosophical answers….simple and clear.

  1. Disproportionate – I think the word’s use is just an unfortunate reflection of Human Nature.

  1. Great answer…but, on a general basis, it does create problems, both within the religious community and without.




  1. True, but you have to admit, it’s an eye-opener. I recently met up with a group of Mennonites, and it made them ‘think’. Ended up being invited for dinner…(They were also unaware that ‘Bethlehem’ means ‘ house of bread’).

Back to work…



Response 2 from Armin Roth, retired businessman, Australia – used to be my customer –

Dear Stephen,  Elisabeth and I enjoyed your latest email “over lunch” today.  You raised a couple of good topics. But first, nice to hear that “you enjoy the family meetings”! I/we believe, we do not take enough time to look after the extended family. Nice to see and hear from such a joyful event.


I/we were quite impressed with your CALATRAVA picture. You may know that this gentleman, originating from Valencia in Spain, has an office/practice in Zurich/Switzerland (and I believe he still has a part time teaching appointment at the ETH Zurich).  My now retired brother in law/married to my one and only sister Ottilia, who lives in Zurich, and worked with the University of Zurich’s building administration department (in his last few years of full time employment and prior to that with the same department but at the ETH) and hence has personal experience of works being designed by Mr. Santiago CALATRAVA, are absolutely over the top enthusiastic about the buildings he/Calatrava created in Zurich.


One of those public works is the Stadelhofen railway station, a few yards away from where I grew up in Zurich, etc.  Then last year/2008, Elisabeth and I travelled to Spain and visited Valencia, to see not only the America’s cup sailing lofts but certainly the many CALATRAVA buildings in Valencia, Santiago’s home town and he still has a personal residence/office right there in the centre of old Valencia. – So, Elisabeth and I are pleased to see/hear that you now also have “one of those clever bridges” in your part of the world. We certainly saw a good number of them all over Spain last year.


So, Elisabeth and I are pleased to see/hear that you now also have “one of those clever bridges” in your part of the world. We certainly saw a good number of them all over Spain last year. – Now, to your questions:  yes, I/we agree, the word disproportionate is being overused these days and maybe it is “like the mini-skirt = a fashion that will go away again but may have a comeback from time to time”.


To use ANISOMETRIC rather than …. would also be “over the top”, so unequal or imbalanced would probably be out of place too. Stephen, we may have to put with it for a little while longer.  The chosen people comes from the Old Testament when God talks to Moses about the old prophets/leaders who had absolute FAITH IN GOD and none of that “fundamentalistic / legalistic / philistine approach”.   I/we do not believe it has anything to do with the current use of the word anti-Semitism.


Elisabeth is pleased that you brought BARABBAS and JESUS into the discussion. It would be interesting to have good knowledge of the old languages and writings and not “the Hollywood interpretation”.   Have a nice day and best wishes to you, Aviva and the family, Armin and Elisabeth

PS  I enjoyed the cartoons



Hello Armin – So good to hear from you.

Yup, Calatrava’s very special. Many feel that the bridge here is ‘out of place’ among the either decrepid or ancient buildings of Jerusalem. But it does turn heads.


You’re right – Disproportionate is a word, and some word will always be used/disused. That’s Human Nature.

I know where the ‘Chosen People’ comes from, but I actually DO think it has helped create anti-Semitism. The religious Jews feel apart, sometimes superior, and that always creates tension. And for the non-religious, it does seem to do the same. That’s again Human Nature. Thank God for the existence of good people.


And the Barabbas bit – this is actually the ancient language translation…I think Brad Heckerman (my boss) copied everyone his response, and that was simple and philosophic – that it does not make nor has not made any difference to destiny.

Have a warm day.


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