Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bemikreh (Hebrew = coincidence) spelt backwards is Hashem Rakam (Hebrew= G-d has woven..."

My English name is Richard...I ditched it for my Hebrew name, Immanuel, around age 18 when I was in yeshiva (literally " sitting", roughly equivalent to a theological seminary) in Yerushalayim, Israel.

In Apartheid South Africa, where I grew up, official government forms always asked you for your "Christian name" (i.e. you first name.) In about 1992, a year after I returned to South Africa, as the apartheid era was drawing to a close, I inherited some guns from my grandfather, and applied for a gun license. When filling in the forms, I crossed out "Christian name" and wrote "Jewish Name: Immanuel" - despite my atavistic fear of officialdom and the conviction it is always wanting to turn me into mattress stuffing, lampshades and soap.

I remember the Afrikaans police woman looking at me suspiciously after that, but at least I'd registered my protest at the assumption that everyone in South Africa was "Christian" ....when I left SA in 2008, my cousin Ian and I made the guns unusable and handed them in at the police station - the policeman again looked at me suspiciously - why had I destroyed two quaint weapons - a second world war vintage Mauser pistol I supect my Uncle Sid brought back from North Africa where he fought, and a Baby Browning.22 - when the police might have resold these to somebody, rather than destroying them as they're supposed to do (South Africa is awash with illegal guns) ....but unwittingly when I immigrated to Australia I did bring in a single 5.56 Galil bullet from the Israeli army and some old.22 rifle cartridges from a winchester semi-automatic rifle my grandpa had and which I got rid of as soon as I could in 1992...they sit in a safe in my flat until I can decide what to do with them... so those came through with our container undetected, and they could just as well have been grenades - everything is permeable - and indeed we must rely on The Merciful One to protect our soft shelled bodies until it is no longer necessary.

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