Christmas Songs to Invoke Peaceful Memories

Christmas Day has a plethora of memories for each and every one of us. Sometimes, in our jet-set age we forget the days before DVD’s, CD’s “Tapes”, and the internet. Then we had “records” and everyone had their favorite Christmas Album. One that brings back memories from many years ago is “A Russian Christmas” by Ivan Rebroff. (31 July 1931~27 February 2008).
Born as Hans-Rolf Rippert, in Berlin, Rebroff was actually a German singer (allegedly of Russian ancestry). His extraordinary vocal range of four and a half octaves ranged from soprano to bass. *To get an idea of what that means, listen to  “Evening Bells” below.
Ivan Rebroff described himself as international, the “connection between East and West”. Famous for singing Russian Folk Songs, he also performed opera, light classics and folk songs from many other countries. During his career he performed over 6,000 concerts, including a two-year seven-day-a-week stint at the French opera, singing, among other greats, Fiddler on the Roof. Even when he was well into his seventies, Rebroff still performed twelve shows in fourteen days on tour. 
You May Ask~Why All This Trivia on Christmas Eve??
Perhaps because many become so caught up in the “preparations” that it is difficult to slow down and take the time to remember what the purpose of the day is. We are inundated with Christmas Plays, Concerts, Choirs and the frenzied jingling of reindeer bells everywhere we go. In the midst of it all we should be sitting in a comfy chair in soft light, feeling that all is right with the world as we await the “Holy” moment~but do we?
The right music soothes, and when Rebroff sings, each word in each song has such depth and feeling that it flows, soothing the body, so the soul can step away, and look to the true meaning of the day, which has almost been lost in our time. OK~maybe not for everyone! 
Never-the-less, take a few moments to lower the lights, relax in a soft chair and listen. The first clip is a Russian song that translates into “Evening Bells”. The second clip has two “musts” for Christmas~Silent Night (one of his very best) and O’ Tannebaum.

From Our Jerusalem Vistas Family to Each One of You
~Our Friends and Family~Best Wishes for a Blessed, Joyous Christmas!
The Song ‘Evening bells’ in Russian (Вечерний звон ~ Vecherny svon)
Silent Night and O’Tannenbaum

Wishes for a Blessed New Year to Everyone!

The year 2012 has been a busy and eventful time for all. Here in the middle east time seems to zoom by and it is almost a surprise to see 2013 is already here!
This part of the world is like a bubbling hot spring and one never knows when a geyser will erupt. Sometimes it is hard to stay grounded, but we know that the Lord is is kind and loving and He has already declared how the story ends.
We enter this New Year with hope, gratitude and wonder. Our Hope is that the world will see peace, the homeless will find shelter and the hungry are fed. It is with Gratitude that we send greetings to our family, friends,and partners around the world who have faithfully supported us in our work to send out the good news from Zion and it is with Wonder that we see the work of the Almighty in our daily lives.

May the Lord bless you all with health, happiness and peace during the coming year and always!

Merry Christmas & Chanukah Sameach~Words for Thought

There was a story that began around 2009, that the White House had designated that Christmas Trees would be renamed as “Holiday Trees”~and~in response, Ben Stein, gave this talk on CBS Morning Commentary. Emails have abounded…
Some parts did originate from Ben Stein~beginning in 2005~but they were liberally added to in various emails over the years. Nevertheless, much of what is written below can be attributed to him (over a period of time).  I was only able to find one video of the Ben Stein commentary on Christmas Trees (see below). As it was from 2011, the “email commentary” is missing. Still and all, the “email” reprinted here is worth a read.  Do take a few minutes to reflect and consider what our world has become…
I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees.  I don’t feel threatened.  I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are, Christmas trees.
It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, “Merry Christmas” to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrting this happy time of year.

I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed round for being Christians. I think people who believe in G-d are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period.

It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country.  I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: Where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship G-d?  I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too.  But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.
In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different:  This is not intended to be a joke; it’s not funny, it’s intended to get you thinking. Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her: “How could G-d let something like this happen?” (regarding Hurricane Katrina).  Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response.  She said: “I believe G-d is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling G-d to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out.  How can we expect G-d to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?”
In light of recent events…terrorists attacks, school shootings, etc. I think it started when atheist Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered~her body found in 2001) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools. And we said OK…Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school (The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbour as yourself)  And we said OK…
Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem. We said an expert should know what he’s talking about. And we said OK…
Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.
Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with “We Reap What We Sow.”
Funny how simple it is for people to trash G-d and then wonder why the world’s going to hell.   

Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says.

Funny how you can send “jokes” through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the L-rd, people think twice about sharing.

Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of G-d is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what G-d thinks of us…
My best regards, honestly and respectfully…Ben Stein (Well, Partially…)