Am Yisroel Chai!

Theodor Herzl

Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), an Austro-Hungarian journalist, playwright, political activist and writer, is considered the father of the State of Israel. Herzl was born in the Jewish quarter of Pest in the eastern section of Budapest, Hungary. After the sudden death of his sister to typhus, his family moved to Austria, where he went on to study law at the University of Vienna, followed by a career in journalism. 

Herzl was exposed to a number of antisemitic events, such as the Dreyfus Affair in France, which led him to write and publish Der Judenstaat (The State of the Jews) in 1896, a book that was both highly acclaimed and contested. It argued that the Jews should leave Europe if they so wished and head for Palestine, their historical homeland. He strongly believed that only through a Jewish state, could the Jews avoid antisemitism and express their culture and religion freely and without fear of being persecuted. 

In Der Judenstaat, Herzl writes:

“The Jewish question persists wherever Jews live in appreciable numbers. Wherever it does not exist, it is brought in together with Jewish immigrants. We are naturally drawn into those places where we are not persecuted, and our appearance there gives rise to persecution. This is the case, and will inevitably be so, everywhere, even in highly civilised countries—see, for instance, France—so long as the Jewish question is not solved on the political level.”

The book concludes as follows:

“Therefore I believe that a wondrous generation of Jews will spring into existence. The Maccabeans will rise again. Let me repeat once more my opening words: The Jews who wish for a State will have it. We shall live at last as free men on our own soil, and die peacefully in our own homes. The world will be freed by our liberty, enriched by our wealth, magnified by our greatness. And whatever we attempt there to accomplish for our own welfare, will react powerfully and beneficially for the good of humanity.”

The State of Israel

On 14th May, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, head of the World Zionist Organisation, Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine and soon to be the first Prime Minister of Israel, following the termination of the British mandate, declared the establishment of the State of Israel. Theodor Herzl’s dying wish had finally been fulfilled, when he said, “If you will it, it is no dream.” In 1949, his remains were moved from Vienna to be reburied on the top of Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, named in his memory. In the three years following the 1948 Palestine war, about 700,000 Jews immigrated to Israel, residing mainly along the borders and in former Arab lands. Around 136,000 were some of the 250,000 displaced Jews of World War II.

National Anthem

Hatikvah (“The Hope”), was written in 1878 by Naphtali Herz Imber, a Jewish poet from Zolochiv, Poland. The poem was adopted as the organizational anthem of the First Zionist Congress in 1897. In 1944, it was spontaneously sung by Czech Jews at the entrance to the Auschwitz-Birkenau gas chamber. While singing they were beaten by Waffen-SS guards. In 1948, following Israel’s independence, Hatikvah was unofficially proclaimed as the national anthem.  

Here is the English translation:

As long as in the heart, within,
A Jewish soul still yearns,
And onward, towards the ends of the east,
an eye still gazes toward Zion;

Our hope is not yet lost,
The hope two thousand years old,
To be a free nation in our land,
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.

Freedom of Speech

If it wasn’t for the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the Jews would not have a voice with which to speak. We would be a people with a nationality but missing a nation and a state of our own. It is hard to imagine, but the world would be a very different place today. If it were not for the hard work and dedication by Theodor Herzl and many others leading up to the declaration, the Jewish youth of today would be lost with no place to call ‘home’. Thanks to the ongoing effort by the Israeli Defence Force, Iron Dome and the brave people of Israel who fight every day to protect its people from attack by rockets and terrorists, I am proud to support my Jewish homeland, Eretz Yisrael. 

I felt obliged to share this piece of history today for a number of reasons. Firstly, because dozens of poignant social media posts depicting prisoners of war, Israeli citizens and many others singing Hatikvah have been shared across social media in response to an inciteful incident that took place recently. These messages of hope have instilled in me and many others a renewed sense of support and fortitude for Israel and her ongoing struggle to defend herself amidst ongoing attack from all sides. 

Secondly, today is my birthday, 18th November, a day when I celebrate life. The number 18 is the numerical equivalent to the Hebrew word Chai (life). You can read more about it in a blog post that I wrote this time last year on my birthday: here

Am Yisroel Chai! (The People of Israel live!) is a rallying-cry, expressing the pride and solidarity of the Jewish people, persecuted through the ages but still enduring.

This is a recording of the liberated Jews of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp singing Hatikvah on April 20th 1945. After the anthem ends, there is a brief silence and then a voice cries out “Am Yisroel Chai!”  (around 1:20): 

Theodor Herzl

The science of happiness

I found this on social media today and felt it worthy of sharing.

Received this today. Never read them but this one I did and made sense: “ As I sat in the park after my morning walk, my wife came and slumped next to me. She had completed her 30-minute jog. We chatted for a while. She said she is not happy in life. I looked up at her sheer disbelief since she seemed to have the best of everything in life.

“Why do you think so?” “I don’t know. Everyone tells I have everything needed, but I am not happy. “Then I questioned myself, am I happy? “No,” was my inner voice reply. Now, that was an eye-opener for me. I began my quest to understand the real cause of my unhappiness, I couldn’t find one.

I dug deeper, read articles, spoke to life coaches but nothing made sense. At last my doctor friend gave me the answer which put all my questions and doubts to rest. I implemented those and will say I am a lot happier person.

She said there are four hormones which determine a human’s happiness – Endorphins, Dopamine, Serotonin, and Oxytocin. It is important we understand these hormones, as we need all four of them to stay happy.

Let’s look at the first hormone the Endorphins. When we exercise, the body releases Endorphins. This hormone helps the body cope with the pain of exercising. We then enjoy exercising because these Endorphins will make us happy. Laughter is another good way of generating Endorphins. We need to spend 30 minutes exercising every day, read or watch funny stuff to get our day’s dose of Endorphins.

The second hormone is Dopamine. In our journey of life, we accomplish many little and big tasks, it releases various levels of Dopamine. When we get appreciated for our work at the office or at home, we feel accomplished and good, that is because it releases Dopamine. This also explains why most housewives are unhappy since they rarely get acknowledged or appreciated for their work. Once, we join work, we buy a car, a house, the latest gadgets, a new house so forth. In each instance, it releases Dopamine and we become happy. Now, do we realize why we become happy when we shop?

The third hormone Serotonin is released when we act in a way that benefits others. When we transcend ourselves and give back to others or to nature or to the society, it releases Serotonin. Even, providing useful information on the internet like writing information blogs, answering people’s questions on Quora or Facebook groups will generate Serotonin. That is because we will use our precious time to help other people via our answers or articles.

The final hormone is Oxytocin, is released when we become close to other human beings. When we hug our friends or family Oxytocin is released. The “Jhadhoo Ki Jhappi” from Munnabhai does really work. Similarly, when we shake hands or put our arms around someone’s shoulders, various amounts of Oxytocin are released.

Now, we can understand why we need to hug a child who has a bad mood. So, it is simple, we must exercise every day to get Endorphins, we must accomplish little goals and get Dopamine, we need to be nice to others to get Serotonin and finally hug our kids, friends, and families to get Oxytocin and we will be happy. When we are happy, we can deal with our challenges and problems better.”

Prophecy

The famous French astrologer, Nostradamus, served in the court of Catherine de Medici, the Queen of France from 1556. He was appointed as the royal seer and advisor to her 7 children.

In my novel, Servant of Memory, I included a fictional encounter between Nostradamus and the Queen, where he explains how trying to change the course of a prediction will only speed up its fruition:

“Now, what news have you brought me, Nostradamus?” said Catherine, eager to hear more prophecy from the seer. She grinned like a child about to receive candy.

“I’m afraid it’s portentous news, your Majesty.”

“But if you tell me about it, can we not find a way to avert or forestall it?”

“In my experience, your Highness, if you expend energy trying to change the course of what is ordained, you only end up speeding up the process.”

“So the event comes to fruition even quicker?”

“That is correct.” Nostradamus nodded sombrely. ”There are too many concurrent events taking place at one time for an individual to make a difference to the end result.”

Catherine tilted her head, trying to make sense of what Nostradamus was saying.

“Imagine that there was an event that was going to take place at a given time in the not too distant future. In order for that event to take place, all the people destined to play a part in the culmination of that event, no matter how small, are on each of their own paths, moving steadily towards that event. Make sense so far?”

Catherine creased her brow and nodded.

“So, if an individual involved in the direct path to such an event possesses knowledge of the end result and uses his or her influence to manipulate or change this result, that knowledge, once put to use, will automatically have an influence on all the other people playing each of their own parts in the culmination of this event. They too would become enlightened, by being indirectly exposed to the knowledge of the end result. Henceforth, the path that was previously filled with obstacles would now be unimpeded, resulting in the materialisation of said final event sooner than originally intended.”

“Ahhhh,” Catherine sucked in a mouthful of air. She clapped her hands in excitement. “Yes! I understand. You have such a way with words, Monsieur.” She dropped her hands despondently. “But then what are we to do? What point is there of you sharing this bad news with me if we cannot do anything to change it, except speed up its fulfilment?”

“Sometimes it helps to prepare oneself for the inevitable; prepare oneself leading up to such an event, and for what is to come following its fruition.”

Visit www.richardgradner.com for more information.

Ask Me Anything!

I was recently invited to answer a series of questions about my writing on AMA – Ask Me Anything:

Feel free to chat to me about my love for writing, yoga, spirituality and ancient history and how I combine all of these disciplines into my passion for producing exciting tales, designed to enlighten my readers as they lose themselves to the magic of my words 🌟

For more, please visit this link.

Enjoy 😉

Cover me up

Excited to announce new cover designs for all 3 of my novels: Return to Lemuria, Unicorn and Servant of Memory.

I felt it was time to focus on some of the (female) characters in each of my stories. After all, where would us men be without them? 🤔

Any guess as to who each one represents?

OK…

I’ll tell you 😜

Return to Lemuria: Mala, Princess of the Lumni

Unicorn: Halim’s sister, Taja

Servant of Memory: Elijah’s girlfriend, Katy

1st Proof Copy!

And so it begins. My first proof copy of my third novel, Servant of Memory, has arrived and it looks amazing!

The book is available on Amazon, Kindle and free to read on Kindle Unlimited if you own an account.

Here’s the synopsis:

Bound by the shackles of time, Elijah Levy is in his 14th reincarnation and on the brink of a sensational discovery that will give him the power to share his accumulated memories with the rest of the world.

But there is one memory, in particular, that attracts the attention of an evil organisation who threatens to embroil him in its iniquitous affairs. It concerns the Primordial Stone, a mythical talisman, infused with the power that was used to ignite the universe into being.

Elijah finds himself in the centre of a mystery far larger than he could ever have imagined when he must fight to discover his true purpose and save the life of Katy Saunders, the beautiful girl of his dreams.

Servant of Memory – Q&A

For my most recent novel, Servant of Memory, I was asked some questions by a fan:

What inspired you to write “Servant of Memory”?

The genre of my work is mythical fiction and I believe that as a writer, one should try and stay as much within a particular genre as possible so as to build a strong following. The foundation of SOM is based on the myth of the Primordial Stone, a mystical talisman believed to have come from the river Pishon in the Garden of Eden. Reincarnation is also another strong, underlying theme and one that I included in the story. As with all of my novels, I am inspired to write stories that are different from the norm, that invoke one’s imagination and push the envelope.

Did you have a specific audience in mind when you started writing it?

I write based on a lot of credible research and then inject a dose of fiction so as to create intriguing stories that appeal to almost anyone. I intentionally omitted swear words and sex scenes so as to appeal to the YA market. My protagonist, Elijah Levy, is also fairly young.

What took you the longest to write, the non-fictional characters or the fictional characters?

The fictional characters were easier and quicker to write because everything came out of my imagination. The non-fictional characters, but more so, the non-fictional events, were harder to write because they were based on a variety of different sources and I tried as best as I could to keep them authentic.

You made a lot of use of dialogue, which brought out your character’s personalities and emotions. What was your key to writing effective dialogue in “Servant of Memory”?

I enjoy writing dialogue the most because I often draw on personal experiences when doing so which enhances my storytelling.

You also put a lot of thought in building the worlds of different times over many centuries. If you could travel back in time, which century would you have wanted to live in and why?

Out of all the periods that I wrote about, the 19th century would be the one that I would choose to live in because of the sheer number of inventions over this period – electricity, light, telephone, cars etc

What do you think are your defining strengths when writing a book?

My ability to write stories that include a strong spiritual element as well as a strong and original storyline.

Are you hopeful for the future of book shops?

I am hopeful as all writers would be, but the rise and growth of e-books has dented the physical book market quite substantially. Most readers will tell you that they prefer the feel of a physical book, but the main reason for the growth of the digital book market, simply comes down to cost.

Three books you’d pass on to the next generation?

There are so many across so many genres! The first has to be the Old Testament. Next is Lord of the Rings (Trilogy) because I read it as a teenager and it really defined the fantasy genre I was into at the time. Lastly, I’d say Perdido Street station by my favourite author, China Mieville. He paved the way into a new genre of fiction he calls ‘Weird Fiction’. I admire him most for his originality. This is something that I try and emulate in my storytelling.

Servant of Memory is available on Amazon.

 

Unicorn 🦄 Book Giveaway

Fantasy Adventure Book Giveaway now on until 29th Jan! bit.ly/2DkmkA2

Grab a complimentary copy of Unicorn, a Mythical Fiction adventure, filled with action, magic and, of course, unicorns 🦄

What is the Voynich Manuscript?

The Voynich Manuscript is a roughly 250-page book written in an entirely unknown language/writing system. It’s been carbon-dated back to the 1400s and includes illustrations of plants that don’t resemble any known species. It’s named for the Polish book dealer who purchased it in 1912. It is believed to have been intended as a medical text. Its first confirmed owner was Georg Baresch (1585–1662), an alchemist from Prague, who discovered it “taking up space uselessly in his library.” Baresch tried to investigate the manuscript’s origins, to no avail.

The manuscript changed hands for centuries until it was purchased by Voynich, who posited that it was authored by Albertus Magnus (an alchemist) or Roger Bacon (an early scientist). However, some believe that Voynich fabricated the manuscript and its history all by himself. Various other hoaxes have been proposed over the years. Of course, that wouldn’t explain the carbon-dating of the paper and ink.

Source: readersdigest.ca