# 168 – Hallelujah & Carmel Fires by Stephen Pohlmann - Ourboox.com
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# 168 – Hallelujah & Carmel Fires

Helping others to understand Israel - and Israelis to understand others...
  • Joined Sep 2016
  • Published Books 409

January 8, 2011

It’s Saturday – already a confusing day for someone like me. I was brought up on Saturdays at the kid’s matinee movie, at the tennis club, in town, at the mall, just fooling around.

Here in Israel, it’s the Sabbath, and despite the encroachment of modern society, it remains a relatively Sunday-ish day


Aviva’s out – attending a concert at the opera house.

I’m home – there’s never an end to work on this computer.

And of course, as you know, I interspace with stuff like this.


I’m listening to ‘Hallelujah’….I’m thanking YouTube for it’s existence. For – and this is just me – no apologies – I am listening to one version after the other.

The song, the words, the tune, the message – it’s all there. Whatever version I hear, I enjoy..Leonard Cohen, K.d. Lang, Justin Timberlake & Matt Morris , Alexandra Burke (X-Factor winner – kitsch version – also brilliant), Kurt Nilsen +3, Rufus Wainwright, Jeff Buckley, Amanda Jenssen and on…and on.


Connection to Israel? Perhaps it starts with Leonard Cohen. Unquestionably a Jew (with a name like that?), with strong ties to Israel. But, for me so important, his internationality. Canadian-born, parents from Lithuania (so refugee flows through him), Bhuddist, honoured by almost every musical person or organisation with which he connects.

If ever there was something that breaks down borders, it’s this.


They’re about to have elections in Sudan – almost sure to result in the Christian South breaking away from the Muslim North.  President Bashir today stated that if this goes through, Christians in the North will be considered foreigners, and will suffer the consequences.


For me, this is one of the ugliest ‘declarations’ that can ever be made. It attempts to rebuild every border that’s ever been broken down.

I cannot imagine that ‘Hallelujah’ is on Bashir’s favourite songs list. I cannot imagine that he listens to music.


Different views of the same sight

Last week was the 30-day memorial to the fire tragedy in the Carmel hills.

By coincidence, we attended the opening of a 1-woman art show by Dalia Zmora, Aviva’s brother’s wife. It was in Haifa, so we decided to drive via the affected area.


Reminder: fire erupted across a wide area, having had no rain for 7 months, helped by unseasonal heat and strong winter winds.

A bus was sent in to help evacuate prisoners from this prison…..



The local authorities have been blamed for not acting faster and stopping any vehicles going into the area. (It so happens the prison itself was undamaged).

Standing next to the prison, you can look across the valley and see the spot on the road where a tree fell into the bus’s path and where the fire enveloped the passengers – and the few fire-fighters sent to help them. 44 died…





And this was this bus – during and after the inferno……




Look how close this area is to Haifa – that skyscraper in the distance is Haifa University –



And the following pics were taken by the same brother, Aloni, from his Haifa balcony…



These are 4 of Dalia’s paintings from the exhibition…I bought the one in flames. I perhaps prefer the more monochrome ones, but the coloured one best shows the force of the fire…







There was a ceremony, marking the 30 days since the tragedy. This is traditional in Judaism. It was attended by so many –

  • The PM, Benjamin Netanyahu – there to pay his respects. He was heckled by some of ..

  • The grieving families – they blame the authorities for wrong decisions, and the government for lack of modern equipment – some were really screaming…they succeeded in forcing out ..


  • Eli Yishai, Interior Minister, blaming him for putting more funds into the religious communities. His party, Shas, closely identifies with them.

  • The Chief Rabbi helped calm things down.

  • Strong security presence, but so clearly restraining themselves under the very sombre circumstances.

Different views of the same sight.


What does Hallelujah mean to you?


To me?

Well, I’m a dedicated follower of kitch. The last stanza of Leonard Cohen’s song/poem says so much –

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you


And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah


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