Friday, 22 July 2016
22nd July 2016
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Much has happened since we last spoke, some good, some bad and some surprising!
Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey is a very wily political dictator. He had a problem however, he was uncertain of his military, both leaders and soldiers, and even though Turkey is not really the Middle East, the same principle applies – keep the army on your side or you are finished.
As we sat and watched the "military coup" unfold, one thought kept running through my mind "This is too staged, too choreographed. Something is not right". I spoke out to many friends about my concerns and most disagreed but slowly, as we understand that he arrested thousands of military who were against his ever increasing closeness to fanatical Islam, his demand for the death penalty to be reinstated and his determined manhunt for anyone against his regime. It is unknown how many have already been arrested but it is in the thousands and possibly tens of thousands. Erdogan has declared a state of emergency which allows him to arrest without apparent cause. Erdogan has arrested thousands of judges. You may think that this is a storm in a teacup, that it is taking place thousands of miles away, but do not forget that Turkey is a modern, well-armed society with a well-trained military, an effective air force and access to the Mediterranean.
More and more disturbing facts emerge concerning the Iranian Nuclear Arms deal. When a member of the Moslem Brotherhood is in charge of overseeing the nuclear facilities (El Baradei) and the leaders declare a desire to eradicate Israel and bring the USA under its rule one wonders why a deal was struck in the first place!! Perhaps one should begin with education – always education. It is not just a matter of weapons, it begins in kindergarten. The greatest weapon of all is educating ones children to hate. Following the one year Iran Nuclear Deal anniversary IMPACT-se http://www.impact-se.org/ blog describes the possible future ramifications of the current Iranian curricula by IMPACT-se Director of Research, and author of our latest report: Iranian Education the Contusion Revolution - Dr. Eldad Pardo. http://www.impact-se.org/one-year-after-the-nuclear-deal-a-troubling-curriculum-in-iran/
This weeks Torah reading deals with the fact that we often miss the truth which is right in front of our eyes, so clear that even our donkey can see both danger and signs before we do. It would seem that our leaders, all of them, do not have the acuity of that donkey and ignore the signs. Hopefully Theresa May, the new British Prime Minister, has that ability to see what is in front of her but Francois Hollande did not when he said that the French people must get used to terrorism. One never gets used to terrorism. One is never inured to its evil. As individuals we can only demand that our leaders will put up a strong fight on our behalf but if someone is intent upon changing who we are, only force can possibly stop them.
The Donald. Donald Trump, surrounded by his loving family, was accepted by the Republican Party to represent them in the upcoming Presidential race, despite the bitter and somewhat inappropriate words of Ted Cruz. Trump was not expected to get as far as nomination day let alone to be the candidate, which must tell us something about where people, Americans, are going in their minds. There are several conditions to voting. One is that Joe Bloggs vote is almost always against what was, DISSATISFACTION. Two is when one feels ones standard of living is threatened – POCKET. Three, and in the current world disarray perhaps number one is dread, consternation, distress – FEAR. There are many other factors, including one that I never understood which is party loyalty – I am the original floating voter who has always voted with the needs of the moment. Mr Trump represents a different, less slick, less sophisticated, openly aggressive form of candidate. The feeling of Joe Bloggs is that if any of the two fear triggers – pocket and fear – become a reality, he will stand up for them. Most of all, Joe Bloggs loves the fact that he calls a spade a shovel. One thing for sure, this will be a fascinating race, not necessarily a clean one!! Next is the Democratic Convention which will probably be without the drama of the Republicans but just as rivetting!!!
Yesterday evening was Jerusalems Gay Parade, the largest yet, with 25,000 participants, gay and straight alike. I don't necessarily see the point of a specific Gay Parade – I think of everyone as individual, contrasting in views and appearance, thoughts and sexual preference without the need for a parade, but if that's what they want then so be it. Many have fought hard for their freedom to be open and thus feel the need to express themselves. It was a festive affair, filled with goodwill, to celebrate the short young life of Shira Banki who was senselessly killed at last year's parade. Shira was not gay; she just wanted to support her friends. I accept the right of everyone to express their views but not to incite hatred for…….. anyone. We lost two Temples because of "Sinat Chinam" hatred without reason, hatred of our own, isn't it time we learned better? If you don't want to go to the Gay Parade then don't but let others live freely.
I went to Mahane Yehuda this week!!! Oh my goodness I love that place. We met Roselyn and Benjamin Freeman outside Tsidkiyahus pickle stand………….. but wait, I am getting ahead of myself.
On Tuesday we went to a miraculous wedding. Mordechai Tsidkiyahu, the groom, is a handsome young man whose family has run Shouk Mahane Yehuda for many generations and is very politically involved in Jerusalem. We have been friendly with Mordechais father for many years. When Mordechai was at his school graduation party, they brought in a big swimming pool and he decided to do a somersault into the water. Sadly he missed and broke his back, literally. Months of immobility in hospital, years of being a paraplegic in a wheelchair, cut is academic career short. Last Tuesday night Mordechai, on the arm of his beautiful bride, walked haltingly up the aisle to the chuppah. With the aid of a walker he was finally upright! It was miraculous and there was not a dry eye in the house. Mordechai stood to break the glass under the chuppah.
Back to Mahane Yehuda, Roselyn and Benjamin! Benjamin is doing a very special 3 week course for bright young scientists at the Technion in Haifa and we had the pleasure of seeing them before he began his adventure. Where to go to eat? Should we go to one of the amazing coffee shops or to the Indian restaurant, the Yemenite restaurant with the wonderful stew-like concoctions on low "ptiliot" wicks overnight, or what? Of course we asked the best person around, Yaron Tsidkiahu, where to go. "Just one genuine Middle Eastern restaurant, without fancy tablecloths but great food. Shamulah! Turn left out of the shouk, past Marzipan, over the road and it is on the corner on the left" Not only was it delicious but we discovered tha tour lovely friend Yossi was working there so we got a delicious tableful of stuffed vegetables, salads, kebabs, rice and beans…………. And each items was scrummier than the last!!! We left there barely walking but found the energy to buy some fruit in the shouk. Oh my! This is the season of mellow fruitfulness – but Keats would not have recognized the incredible variety, lushness and colours of the current selection. Green and black grapes, big or tiny; Huge peaches that dribble down your chin as you bite into them, still warm from the sun; Orange, purple and green mangoes; nectarines, lychees and the very last of the cherries. Don't even get me started on the vegetables………. If you haven't been there you cannot imagine the vibrancy of super fresh, straight from the farm, vegetables. Misshapen and oddly sized they are all delicious. So we gathered out energy and resources, dropped the Freemans off at their hotel and set off for home.
Yesterday I didn't join Zvi on his babysitting expedition, but met Irit lev at the Islamic Museum, a beautiful, small museum next to the Jerusalem Theatre. There was a wonderful exhibit of Iranian graphic art and then I showed Irit the unique and wonderful clock and watch selection. The pearl of the exhibit is an original watch made for Marie Antionette, phenomenal! http://www.wristwatchreview.
com/2016/04/15/today- anniversary-theft-marie- antoinette-worlds-mysterious- watch/
Sara Tuttle Singer wrote this excellent piece on Israel – not a normal country http://blogs.timesofisrael.
Tonight we have friends coming for supper. I love watching those who have never been to us for Shabbat dinner before as Zvi begins to hum a niggun, then breaks into Shalom Aleichem, reaching full voice as he launches into the Kiddush, the blessing over the wine. If I don't go soon there will not be challot for our Shabbat and we will have to buy them, which will be very disappointing! Tonight we have a milk meal, fish balls in chraimeh (Moroccan sauce), fresh salmon in a Teriyaki and pomegranate sauce, roast potatoes, all sorts of salads and two coloured beans. Tomorrow the children all come to us and we will eat a totally different menu…………. One that they will enjoy!!!
And so to music!
I often, indeed usually, give you songs about Shabbat but forget to give you songs of Havdala. Havdala is the separation or difference between Shabbat and an ordinary day and the service takes place as Shabbat ends. We reawaken all the senses with the light of a candle, the warmth of the flame, the scent of the spices, the taste of the wine, the music of the song. Enjoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdKVK2ryBUQ
It is followed by a fun video of the IDF Choir.
The next song is in honour of Mordechai Tsidkiyahu and my incredible grandson Samuel George and all our children and grandchildren. Yaakov Shwekey and I can be https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3nF2KHmQ60
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. All of us can bring light to our world – we just have to be heroes for a moment.
Friday, 15 July 2016
15th July 2016
Shabbat Shalom dear friends.
My profound condolences go out to the people of France.
Yesterday was Bastille Day, the National Day of France, the celebration of freedom and independence. Throughout the country young and old attended parties and where better to spend the evening than along the famous Promenade des Anglais in Nice. At 22:30, thousands of young people walked in the balmy sea breeze among fine hotels, excellent restaurants – until a 33 year old Tunisian drove a huge truck, ploughed through the revelers, for 2 kilometres, killing and maiming on its deadly route then began to shoot in all directions. After he was killed the police found that the cab of the truck was filled with grenades and explosives.
Why? Why France? Perhaps the number of immigrants from North Africa, particularly from Algeria and Tunisia; perhaps because French troops are quietly fighting Al Qaeeda and Islamic State with great success in Iraq, Syria and the less known areas of Africa; perhaps because France has implemented many new laws coming down hard on terror – or perhaps because of those three words which Bastille Day epitomises "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite" – Liberty, Equality Brotherhood – 3 words which are anathema in oppressive, fanatic Islam.
Until we, all of us, recognize the danger and its source and fight it on every level, especially on the public awareness, we are lost. Scapegoats no longer serve the purpose.
This weeks change of Prime Minister in the UK was probably the most British of events. With grace and good natured humour David Cameron left his position and Theresa May stepped seamlessly into Number 10. The British press was obsessed with her husband's exquisitely tailored suit as they walked from their car into their new home. Number 10 looks like a normal, if elegant, terraced home but it is enormous and houses the Prime Ministers offices as well as the family home. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BWPBrPNces
Please watch this video of the last Prime Ministers Question time to see the unique humour of the British Parliament. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MoHS_GK4dM
Mrs May – Prime Minister May – has an enormous task, first and foremost working out a viable deal for Britain with the European Community, post Brexit. The pound is surprisingly recovering, but for how long? Her choice of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary surprised many but having met him, he could well be the most appropriate choice – even if he has offended most of the world's leaders with his honesty! To be honest – he is a refreshing breath of fresh air in a stuffy and treacherous world. As I look at the country of my birth, which nurtured my family and has a fine history of fighting oppressors (WW1 and WW2) I believe the future is brighter out of the EU than in and Mrs May is the right leader at the right time. I want someone who is good for Britain, but admit I was deeply impressed by her love of Israel and understanding of the Jewish community as shown in this speech made recently at a B'nei Akiva event. Her respect for being in synagogue and wearing a hat is impressive. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75bfKQLUaUY&feature=youtu.be
Sameh Shoukry, the Egyptian Foreign Minister made a very quiet visit to Jerusalem this week. He met with the Prime Minister and they discussed their common problems and their determination to bring some semblance of normality to our region. Egypt and Israel are working solidly together to rid Sinai of ISIS. It was a quiet visit, as it should be. http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Egypt-FM-arrives-places-Cairo-not-France-at-center-of-Mideast-diplomatic-efforts-459997
Breaking the Silence is an Israeli NGO that purports to put forward the rights of those oppressed by the IDF. Yes, that's what I said. Former soldiers who believe one can fight a horrific war without harming the enemy. They speak out to the BBC, CNN, the Guardian, indeed anyone who will listen slandering our troops. If they just spoke out on genuine human rights abuses, and took their findings to the government or the Chief of Staff I would applaud them, but they are quislings and endanger the lives of all we hold dear. http://www.ngo-monitor.org/reports/europe_to_breaking_the_silence_bring_us_as_many_incriminating_testimonies_as_possible/
After a terrifying time in South Sudan where the IsraAid team were caught up in the civil war, another IsraAid team is in the USA providing aid and succour to those affected by the floods in West Virginia. A local TV station reports.
Here in Jerusalem life goes on as always. We had a new visitor to our veranda, a long-time friend who just hadn't been before. Gideon Selinger, who came to tell us all about the Tsfat (Safed) College, an unusual place of learning that gives opportunities to those who would otherwise be left out of the system and then, ah then he stepped outside and gasped. "It is even more beautiful than you describe" he exclaimed. "If I lived here I would never go anywhere else. I would sit on the hammock and absorb the view" Gideon – I do but I have an Energiser Bunny for a husband and he pushes me out of the front door!!!
We survived babysitting 7 grandchildren on Friday. Actually we babysat 4 and Amit, Talia and Ayala helped us with the others! When the girls arrived I had Challah dough all ready and each child made a personal challah which was then labelled to ensure the germs stayed in one place. They all had a ball! I love the way that Zvi's grand-daughters and mine get on so well. After lunch I took Talia and Ayala home to get ready for Shabbat, to kiss my daughter, take my freshly baked Challah and drive silently back over Samuels Tomb to take in the view. It was even more spectacular than usual, clear as a bell, each building standing out like a puzzle piece fitting beautifully into the landscape, the towers along the horizon as if they were framing the New City and pointing to the Old City.
Amiad stayed for supper with the little ones, Ella and Yonatan, for Shabbat dinner – which was a child orientated menu since we were definitely in the minority! Then we had the pleasure of Amit, Gili and Ori sleeping over. We tried bribes, songs and stories, but somehow nobody wanted to sleep on the mattress all three wanted the bed. After a while I suggested they take it in turns to sleep on the mattress……………… and two seconds later they were all asleep – each feeling she had won!!!!
On Wednesday I went to the beautiful Yemin Moshe neighborhood to hear a fascinating talk by Estherina Trachtenberg at the Jerusalem Press Club. Estherina grew up in a deeply Haredi family, member of one of the Eastern European closed Sects, but always wanted to learn, to study, to discover. Her parents, a former Professor and scientist, refused to allow such behavior, deeming it insufficiently humble. Estherina left the sect at 16; worked in a home for disabled children where she had accommodation and studied for her matriculation; she went to Shaare Zedek nursing school, studied for her BA in nursing and now is studying for her Masters in Medical Science. I am proud of Estherina on almost every level, except that she has thrown away the baby with the bathwater and despises all aspects of her religion including tradition. One can be learned and religious as so many have proven, but the suffocating of women in these sects as baby-making machines who work three jobs to sustain their families so their husbands can study is also untenable.
Walking back up the hundreds of steps through Yemin Moshe I had time to think of Estherina. She is brave and ambitious but I still believe that once she made the move she did not have to throw everything away. She is now almost reconciled with her family – occasionally visiting, dressed appropriately, so that she can be with her 11 siblings. She appears so that her siblings will not be deprived of a good "shidduch" because of her actions.
Yestereday we went to Tel Aviv to spend time with Helena Glaser, former President of WIZO, to extend our condolences on the loss of her mother. We spoke of WIZO, Mothers, Zvi's parents amazing history and life in general. Proud to be considered your friend Helena.
Zvi has gone to the beautiful gym at the University where he takes care of his now lithe and slim body – then he will go to his parliament, somewhat less civilized than the British one. I will finish writing to you then head off to see Rachel, Yosef, Talia and Ayala, back over Samuels Tomb.
This weekend we will be in Tel Aviv, enjoying our friends there. Zvi, of course, will go to his Tel Aviv parliament where the conversation is somewhat lighter, of less consequence, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Adon Olam – Lord of the World – Perhaps the most famous of all Jewish prayers by three wonderful Israeli tenors https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-NEbNW9h_s
Finally, not for the first time, Shalom Aleichem, Peace be with you, This short video brings us the essence of Shabbat. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ux5TH9TPSMU
Shabbat shalom dear friends. May peace be with you and yours. May the Almighty give our leaders the courage and wisdom to recognize who our enemy is and fight them with truth and honesty rather than interests.
With love from Jerusalem, our hearts broken for the French people.
If you want to know the meaning of the prayer Adon Olam - http://www.hebrewsongs.com/song-adonolam.htm
Friday, 8 July 2016
8th of July 2016
Shabbat Shalom dear friends.
Today is a very special day. Indeed it is one of three most special days of my life. Today, 44 years ago Gideon Saul, my sunshine, came into the world. His determination to make this world a better place, to fight for justice, has made him into a man I am so proud of, more than I can express. Happy birthday my Gids, enjoy the day with your Steph, the children and big bro Daniel and his family.
As Baghdad airport burned and chaos and terror reign all over the world there is a ray of light as Prime Minister Netanyahu travelled to Africa with Israel's hand extended in an exceptional mission of friendship. His tour began in Uganda, in Entebbe, 40 years after his brother Yonatan was killed in the most daring rescue mission the world has known. I wonder if it could be achieved today or if we are all too paralysed by bureaucracy and fear, as happened in Benghazi.
If you cast your minds back, perhaps the most frightening aspect of the hijacking was that under the direction of Idi Amin, that cruel dictator who claimed to admire Israel, the Jews and non-Jews were separated and then the non-Jews freed. It demanded action, the most daring of actions. Anwar Sadat and incredibly even Yassir Arafat tried to negotiate the freedom of the hostages to no avail. The die was cast, the operation inevitable but there was one practicality that had to be overcome – the planes needed to refuel. Thanks to Kenyan Minister of Agriculture who persuaded Jomo Kenyatta to allow the Israeli planes to refuel in Nairobi, the basics were ready. The mission Commander was Yekutiel Adam a former deputy Chief of Staff. Among his officers were Brigadier General Dan Shomron, Matan Vilna'i, Shaul Mofaz, Uri Sagi and Yonatan Netanyahu. There were many heroes of this incredibly daring mission.
The first plane landed in Entebbe and a black Mercedes, exactly like Idi Amins, rolled out of the Hercules on to the tarmac. The soldiers raced to the terminal shouting in English and Hebrew "We are Israeli soldiers. Stay down, stay down". They overcame the hijackers and took the hostages to another 3 Hercules aeroplanes – the entire operation from landing to take off took just 53 minutes. Such bravery; clear understanding that we could not leave our own without bringing them home. That is the kind of leadership I want today.
Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit united seven African Christian countries, each threatened by Moslem Extremists, and formed an Economic and Military Union with Israel, thereby advancing their economic interests, providing for their defensive needs and creating a united political front with Israel as their protector and ally! Only Israel answered their needs, only Israel cared. The African countries and Israel will benefit from this new Union!
There were no official memorial ceremonies in London. 11 years ago, on the 7th of July 2005, home grown terrorists arrived in London in a Mercedes and placed bombs in the underground on 3 trains, killing 39 and a further 13 died in a bus bombing in Tavistock Square a short while later. Over 700 people were injured. We must not forget them. May their souls rest in peace and may the wounded forget the horrors they saw and can never forget . https://www.britannica.com/event/London-bombings-of-2005
Last night a rally was held in Dallas in protest of Police shootings of black suspects, the rally went horribly wrong and at least 11 policemen were shot, 4 of them to death. The suspects were black, but then so were many of the police officers. Is this a racist issue? Is this a society issue? Is this a gun issue or a fear issue? Probably some of each. The fact remains that the tragic killing of policemen on duty occurred. President Obama called to stop the shooting of black suspects, and rightly so, but he did not mention that many policemen are black so does that discount racism? I am saddened, horrified and confused. http://www.voanews.com/content/shooting-in-dallas/3408984.html
The most recent declaration of ISIS Sharia Judges demands the killing of disabled children. Echoes of Nazism or writing on the wall? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3358840/How-depraved-ISIS-Group-s-Sharia-judges-order-children-s-syndrome-disabilities-killed-chilling-echo-Nazis.html
Tikkun Olam. The Israeli that brought gardening to Harlem. I love this story and probably didn't make the headlines…….. anywhere!!!! http://www.israel21c.org/the-israeli-who-brings-urban-gardening-to-harlem-kids/
This week was delightful, not too crazy and the weather was less searing and more summery. Our dear friends Flory and Paul Hariton came for a short visit, not nearly long enough, but it was delightful to sit and talk with them and find out how their family is doing.
On Monday night Robert and Robert came to film an interview with me on our now famous veranda. The subject of the film was fascinating; basically the similarities between the history of the Jews and the Mormons which lead to the importance for the Mormon community to support Israel as the home of the Jews. Through our fabulous friend Dr Kimball Taylor we have learned more than most about the LDS, for instance, that in the 1840's Elder Orson Hyde came to Jerusalem, stood on the Mount of Olives and declared that this must be the home of the Jews. I digress – the subjects I chose to speak about were – Family values, Tikkun Olam, persecution, misunderstanding on both sides and many more aspects while the two Roberts guided and filmed me overlooking Jerusalem. Of course I introduced them to the view and then the following night they filmed Zvi on the Haas Promenade with the entire panorama of Jerusalem behind him.
On Tuesday I went to see the finale of Talia and Ayalas dance class. It was amazing. Girls from 16 down to 5 danced, each age group performing, ending with all 180 girls on stage at once dancing to a hip hop Haredi song! Anyone who thinks religious girls don't like noisy modern music is mistaken! It was all girls, women in the audience because my grandchildren are Haredi. They had a ball and so did all the Mums and siblings!!!
On Wednesday I met up with Cardiff girlfriends. There is something very special about the conversations with friends who have known you since you were a baby. The conversation is easier, no explanations, just easy and sweet. We each open ourselves up in a way one cannot with those who don’t know from whence you came; didn't know your home, parents, siblings, cousins……… trials and tribulations. When with those friends I leave myself open, without protection in the knowledge that they will never willingly hurt me. I came on Aliya later than the others, just 26 years, and I love to hear that each and every one of us would never live anywhere else. We made the right choice.
Yesterday I went shopping. Not shopping in any old supermarket – I went to Osher Ad. Osher Ad has wide aisles, and an enormous variety of foodstuffs but most of all I love the people! Essentially a haredi supermarket one can find the full rainbow of Jerusalem life. Haredi men and women with the biggest trolleys piled high to feed their families, young people in jeans and skinny tops confused by the choice; Arab women in full Hijab comfortable and safe in their shopping; people like me who fit in anywhere and a surprising number of men shopping with their cellphones stuck to their ears "Which company should I buy? Red or green peppers? What flavour yoghurt?" For some reason there is always one person who just has to have the "best" cucumber from the bottom of a 2 metre high mountain of cucumbers causing a first curiousity as to the possibility and then horror at the result!!!! Among the mountains of fruit and veg are the aubergines (egg plants). They are not long and evenly shiny like yours, they are huge, bulbous and uneven and the best tasting in the world!!!The place is huge, with at least 20 checkouts and yet there are always long queues……….. which in Israel means conversations are inevitable, irrespective of culture!
Yesterday I had the honour of looking after Ayala for the afternoon. We had great fun trying to do science experiments! Yesterday produced a hovercraft!! In the evening we went to the Deer Park. Zvi's choir, Hakol Yachassi performed at the Gonenim Festival. Thousands of children and parents having fun learning about rubbish! Recycling rubbish into toys. It was fun, really fun.
And so to music.
Arik Einstein was a legendary Israeli singer. His song You and I, Atah ve Ani, is about changing the world, one at a time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUgCUgDUBmA
When we think about the song Hallelujah we think of Leonard Cohen's version and forget both the Israeli song and that Hallelujah is a word of praise and prayer in Hebrew. In 1979, in a far less political world, Israel won the Eurovision song contest with Hallelujah, sung by Gali Atari and Milk and Honey. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C33kO3fvjkI
I must get the house ready and lunch prepared because we are babysitting five little grandchildren, aged from 2 til 9, for lunch, then supper for us all and three are staying overnight. As I light the Shabbat candles tonight I will have all five of Zvi's grandchildren – our grandchildren, showered and ready, the candlelight reflected in their shining eyes. They love to listen, and giggle, at Saba Zvi's beautiful Kiddush and then rush to be the ones to dole out the fresh challot. In fact, I think I will bake challot (plaited Shabbat bread) with them this afternoon to keep them busy, who cares if the kitchen will be covered in flour!!
By the way – Wales is out of the European Cup – great game but we lost
Shabbat Shalom dear friends
Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, beautiful Jerusalem……………
Friday, 1 July 2016
The first of July 2016
Shabbat Shalom dear friends.
Today is the last day of school in Israel as children break up for the long summer holidays. It should have been Hallel Yaffa Ariels last day of school but instead, yesterday was the last day of her life. A beautiful 13 year old child, the joy of her parents, was snuffed out by hatred as she slept in her bed. It was a hot night and her parents, for the first time they can remember, left her bedroom window open. Her killer, whose name I do not wish to write, used that cruel opportunity to climb into her bedroom and stab her sleeping body to death. Apparently he managed to sneak into Kiriat Arba through a break in the security fence and walked around looking for someone to kill, the inculcated hatred burning through his sense of humanity. He really didn't care who he killed, as long as it was a Jew.
The mother of the Palestinian terrorist a Hebron news channel that her son was “a hero” who made her “proud.”. “My son died as a martyr defending Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” “Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, he [my son] has joined the martyrs before him, and he is not better than them. Allah willing, all of them will follow this path, all the youth of Palestine. Allah be praised.”
May Hallel's sweet soul rest in peace. Hallel, whose name means praise, may your family be comforted among the mourners of Zion.
Those who caused horrific death and injuries in Turkeys Ataturk Airport two days ago grew up with similar Mothers – the same hatred coursing through their veins. I strongly believe that the battle must be fought from within, through the millions of good ordinary Moslems whose religion has been hijacked by evil. Only when they stand up, as terrifying as it is, and denounce those who incite, will respect and honour return to their religion. Ataturk did it after the Armenian genocide, the world needs an Ataturk now to stand beside the new Churchill.
The Israeli government has reached an agreement with the Turkish government, hopefully improving relations between the two countries. It comes at a cost, a great cost. The only way Turkey would agree was if Israel paid compensation to the families of the Turks killed on the Mavi Marmara. If anyone remembers the videos of the violence perpetrated on Israeli soldiers by the "protesters" on the boat, it tends to stick in ones throat. I believe the agreement was the price Israel paid the USA for the arms promised by the Clinton and Bush administrations all those years ago.
Britains Labour Party has rarely been Israel friendly. I don't know why, it isn't anti-Semitic after all one of their stars is the disgusting long time MP Gerald Kaufman, who makes Haneen Zoabi appear pro-Israel. It has all come to a head recently with the election of Jeremy Corbyn as the head of the Labour Party. Perhaps that says it all. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/30/after-comparing-israel-to-isil-weve-got-to-stop-pretending-that/
OK, Let's talk about Brexit! We can start with the fact that the FTSE 100 is up since Brexit vote https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jun/29/ftse-100-now-higher-than-before-brexit-vote-eu-referendum or we can listen to the hysterical responses to the choice of the people. On the one hand I understand the financial risks involved in leaving the EU, but on the other hand Britain is not exactly leaving the EU, Britain will be a member without the vast number of strings attached, like Switzerland if the negotiations go well. Perhaps the reason Brits wanted to leave the EU were not all ideal, the issue of immigration was at the forefront, but it was also a question of identity, of independence and………. Margaret Thatcher said it all in her No No No speech. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVt_1ByddUQ
My wanderings in the world have taught me that all of you love it when I wax lyrical about Mahane Yehuda, or Machneyuda as it is locally known. I love the atmosphere, the very Israeli produce, bustle, noise, joy, and of course the rainbow of citizens and attire to say nothing of the flavours, all joining to exemplify Jerusalem. This week was a double treat, I not only went to Machneyuda but I went with my beautiful daughter Rachel who loves the place as I do. We visited the Tzidkiyahu family – enjoying their pickles, delicatessen and cheeses and chose the ripest and juiciest of fruits and vegetables https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFTujm8zmf8
I went with Rachel to fill out the police report for the schoolbus accident of her girls about 6 weeks ago. Even a visit to the traffic police is an ethnic adventure in Jerusalem. I loved the interaction as everyone helped everyone fill out the forms. After completing our form in Hebrew I asked someone to check my spelling, and was thrilled to discover only one error!!!
Last weekend we met up with my nephew and niece, Steven and Claire Bloom, who came from Cardiff, South Wales, for my beloved late cousin Roger's son's wedding. David Harris came on Aliya about 10 years ago and found his love and life here. He fulfilled his father's dream of living in Israel and I wish him and his bride a wonderful life together. I wish I could have been at the wedding but, that's life eh!
On Sunday I went with the amazing Dr Cyril Sherer to hear Ambassador Dennis Ross speak at the Jerusalem Press Club. He spoke of the "situation" in the Middle East; of President Obamas determination to wipe out ISIS, ISIL et al; of Ross's belief that Israel must preempt in the PA/Israel dialogue – a fine statement but hardly viable when we preempt all the time but any slight slip on our part is blown out of proportion and even the tiniest hint of discussion on theirs is lauded as a breakthrough! He was not best pleased when I asked him why we are castigated for any buildings around Jerusalem yet Ramallah now touches on Jerusalem, building at a rate of knots. His response was a somewhat prickly statement about Areas C and A. Unconvincing. He promoted his new book which I am told is very interesting https://www.amazon.com/Doomed-Succeed-U-S-Israel-Relationship-Truman/dp/0374141460
On Monday night we had a special treat when Canon Andrew White came to stay. Those of you in the USA who need a phenomenal motivational speaker who can tell of his travels and travails through his Ministry and his determination for Tikkun Olam contact him through email@example.com You will never be disappointed.
Tuesday and I met with Varda, the new Director of the Yuri Shtern Holistic Centre. I am so proud to be on the Board and recognise the unique work of the organization, and I mean UNIQUE. Varda has new plans for putting this wonderful organisation which not only tends to patients of the oncology department of Shaare Zedek Hospital gratis, but also their families who feel their loved ones cancer and go through their treatments with them every day. We have plans to host parlour meetings all over the world to waken people up to the exceptional work https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sbk511x4oYI
Wednesday – ah Wednesday. We had a special treat as Jessica Glesby and Ian Wojtowicz (Ian I hope I got that right) came to lunch with their incredible little boy Noah. Harley and Karen are rightfully proud of their daughter, son-in-law and baby Noah. We had so much fun!!! In the evening Zvi and I went to the theatre. In Jerusalem even the theatre is exceptional. Held in a former Khan or Inn from Crusader times, this repertory theatre puts on wonderful original productions and we enjoyed the acting. However, what fascinated me most was that in the American Independence Park nearby, known as the Bell Park, hundreds and hundreds of Jerusalem Moslems brought out their barbecues and had a ball celebrating the end of the daily fast of Ramadan. As we went back to our car we wished everyone a "Chag Sameach" to their delight – and ours.
So now it is almost Shabbat. I went to get the children from school, each from their own building – it's the girls last day so I decided to treat them to "something tasty" and a toy on the way home. Of course Yosef got something too as compensation for the fact he doesn't break up for another month!! The shopping mall was heaving…… not only Erev Shabbat but end of school too! Each child chose a toy and then we went for ice cream at "Zislek" - Yiddisch for sweet taste or sweet lick. I consider my grandchildren, each and every one of them, an incredible privilege. My Mother never saw my children and every time I am with them I make up for it! It includes Zvi's grandchildren too – I want them to feel utterly loved, that we are their soft place to fall. Thank G-d Yosef, Talia and Ayala adore their Saba Zvi – they consider us the "fun Sabim" – a title anyone with a brain would be thrilled to hold. Grandchildren. Basar Basari – flesh of my flesh.
My journey home was as fabulous as always. That panorama from Samuels Tomb causes me to catch my breath anew each time. I never tire of it! Today, Erev Shabbat I often try to think what each of the houses is doing……… who is coming to supper and what traditions will they follow. I know who is coming to us!
David Efron, with Libi and Eitan; Amiad and Noga with Ella and Yonatan to celebrate Amiad and Nogas Anniversary. Zvi will make Kiddush, his incredible bass-baritone embellishing the already beautiful prayer over the wine and the two little ones will make the blessing over the challot – Rachel's challot. The table is laid and most of the food ready. I'm not doing soup tonight – it is just too hot – but David will get his gefilte fish, and the rest of us will have a wide range of salads to start- mushrooms, aubergines, cabbage, tomato, home pickled cucumbers and even a traditional salad made with lettuce!!! We go on to roasted chicken in a teriyaki and black cherry marinade and pargiot (young chickens) in a mushroom and coconut milk sauce – with all sorts of veggies. For dessert I just bought some mango and pineapple sorbet………….. scrummy.
That's it folks! Zvi is at his parliament – showing them all the amazing things we did on Barry's 70th Birthday "Last Stand" and that leaves me only music. What to give you this week? Let me think.
This is really cool, sent to me by Joyce Claar. Jerusalem Charleston https://www.youtube.com/embed/iJ02vc_LQFc?rel=0
In direct contrast to the last music I give you Cantor Richard Tucker singing the Friday night Kiddush. It brings a tear to my eyes, such a glorious prayer of thanks https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kc31IYVu_nE
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Be well, be strong. With all our love from Jerusalem and our veranda.
Thursday, 23 June 2016
23rd June 2016
Shabbat Shalom dear friends! Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem.
It seems so long since we spoke, last week I just couldn't gather my thoughts after a phenomenal trip to the USA and awful jet lag! More about our sojourn in the Land of the Free later, but first, as always, we need to discuss the news.
While in the US the diabolical shooting at a club in Orlando. 49 people lost their lives and many many more are scarred for life, be it physically or psychologically, or both. What made Omar Mateen go on his rampage is unknown; the theories abound, the truth is yet unknown but while accepting that he would have found a way to avenge his dismay at his own sexual preferences one thing is clear to me – and I know there are many who will disagree –guns, the easy availability of guns. This man, Mateen, was under the eye of the FBI yet he simply walked in and bought a assault weapon, was a security guard with a weapon. Sorry but under any law that is crazy. Growing up in a country where even the policemen do not carry guns I find it terrifying – living in a country where one has to go through physical and psychological testing to obtain a gun of any nature and then, if you fire that weapon you need to go through court to explain why and can be indicted. Guns kill but in truth with so many guns already out there it is too late to do what Israel did which is to declare an amnesty on any weapons or ammunition held without licence (left over from army service) and gather them in. To paraphrase Chekhov, "If in the first act you hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following act it will be fired." Simple.
Today it is happening, Britain will decide whether or not to stay in the European Union. It is well known that without Britain and Germany the rest of the EU would collapse financially and Britain already has the advantage of keeping her own currency rather than being dependent upon the vagaries of the Euro, but can Britain cope with the few years of famine before the fat cows that would certainly ensue leaving the EU? She lost her natural markets when she joined and the only solid reason for leaving is political – or is it? Since the borders went down the politics and open door policy of Europe have impacted Britain and British society enormously – as has the European determination to go further and further left. Luckily I no longer need to vote – I have enough problems voting in Israel!!! For anyone who is interested Dame Helen Mirren is voting to stay in Europe – but more of that later.
Yesterday President Rivlin stood before the European Assembly and presented Israels case on the instability of the French "Peace Initiative". Truthfully Israel is tired of being the only one to pay in this complex situation and most certainly sick of being blamed for Middle East chaos when we are the only stable entity in the entire area! President Rivlins speech was calm, eloquent and explanatory. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4819218,00.html
The American Presidential race gets racier by the minute!! One candidate is so unpredictable that his mouth runs off before his brain is in gear and the second is under threat of criminal charges. Now rumours are running fast that her husband has a love-child! It is so exciting that the normally boring process has us all on the edge of our seats. Trouble is that whoever is chosen will be the leader of the free world – and the free world is in dire peril.
Former Egyptian President Morsi has been sentenced (yet again) to life imprisonment. Morsi, of the Moslem Brotherhood, was ousted by President Al Sisi in a military coup. Morsi was elected democratically but his regime wa anti-democratic and oppressive – something important to learn from that.
100 years after the disastrous Sykes Picot Agreement https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sykes%E2%80%93Picot_Agreement in which the Middle East was divvied up between the British and French irrespective of ethnic or religious affiliations, the Kurdish leader suggests that Iraq returns to being 3 separate states. Kurdistan (parts in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria) and the Sunni and Shia areas. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4816877,00.html
And so to the good news!
The Genesis Prize is the brainchild of Michael Fridman and his partners with the prupose of reviving and invigorating Jewish identity worldwide and to strengthen support for Israel. Unlike other such prizes they choose people with great personal wealth to give their million dollars to. Sounds strange? Seems illogical? Actually it is very wise. Their first choice was Michael Bloomberg, not known for his Jewish commitment, who through the Genesis Generation Challenge found 9 teams around the world who epitomised the Jewish values of Tikkun Olam. Last years recipient was Michael Douglas, who, through his son's determination to come closer to his Jewish roots, chose projects which brought families of intermarriage back into the fold. So important was that project that philanthropist Roman Abramovitch added another million dollars to the project.
This years laureate is a personal hero of mine – strangely not because he suffered the ravages of polio as a child but rather because he represents everything good about Israel to the world. A moral leader, his musical genius over-rides all barriers. Yitzchak Perlman.
Yesterday The Jerusalem Press Club gave a reception for Perlman and for this years presenter, the brilliant actress Dame Helen Mirren. Seated just a couple of metres from them I could see their faces and would have recognized politalk, Yitzchak Perlmans love for Israel and wonderful nature shone through. When asked what his dream is in life – it is that people would look at his face and not think of his legs. His Genesis projects relate to raising awareness of accessibility to public areas and ensuring that young Israelis return to classical music – that Juilliard will again be filled with brilliant Israeli musicians.
My favourite quote from Maestro Perlman was "This is a very Jewish Award. No sooner do they give it to you than you have to give it back"!!!!
When Dame Helen Mirren came on stage one was aware of the humility and power of this small person with a great talent. Everyone was smiling until the Guardian reporter asked her how it felt to be involved in a ceremony which meant she would have to meet the much hated Israeli Prime Minister with his policies of occupation and oppression!!!! Through the cat calls of the audience she avoided the question elegantly, but when asked why she is such a fan of Israel her response was "I am not a fan of Israel I BELIEVE in Israel". Her first visit was in '67 with her then Jewish boyfriend and in recent years she has made many films here.
Our American sojourn ended in New York. For me it was heaven. I loved every moment of our journey through Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota – indeed middle America, and the glorious friends we made and renewed on our journey. New York is different though – in New York I have my amazing eldest son Daniel and his gorgeous family. Spending time with Daniel, Karen, Joshua and Callie brought light into my life. My natural obsession with my family meant we had little time to meet friends but we went upstate to visit the community of Shaarey Tefilla Temple at Rabbi David Greenbergs home (I was so thrilled meeting old friends there) where we both spoke, Zvi 's history and political knowledge doing us both proud; we met with "Arlenes Buddies" again a renewal of old friends and time to hug my beautiful Arlene; we managed to have lunch with Joyce Claar and bump into the lovely Josephine Linden and our host with the most Martin came up from Miami to be with us which really was the icing on the cake.
This is a long letter because I am making you pay for not having one last week!!!!
We came home on the Thursday for a very important reason – on Friday morning Avi Benalal got married. Avi is the son of Flory and our dear friend Sammy/Shmuel Benalal z"l who was killed by terrorists in Mali just a few months ago. It was such a wonderful wedding and Avi's youngest brother Natanel sang a song composed by Shmuel in anticipation of the wedding. Beautiful, happy, fun – just as Shmuel would have wanted.
This week was crazy – for a change! Lots of time with Yosef, Talia and Ayala; lunch with Ilana and Eddie Podolsky and their lovely children; going to Tel Aviv with Rachel to see Rachels cousin (my niece) Debbie and Rosey Larks and their beautiful girls; I went to a Yuri Shtern Holistic Centre Board meeting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sbk511x4oYI ; Cooked veggie soup for Sue then Chicken soup for Danby – and happily took it to them and spent wonderful time in each home and even managed to go shopping yesterday so we coud have Shabbat in Jerusalem.
During my travels there is one element missing from my diet – freshly picked fruit and vegetables. In Israel we get all our fruit and veg the day after they are picked. They still have the dust and mud on them and they taste phenomenal! We eat salads of every variety morning noon and night and very few have lettuce in them!! Aubergine salads abound – with freshly made tehina or mayo or just with coriander and lemon, same with courgettes and the couscous salads are to die for. Moroccan mushrooms, spicy carrot salad, Russian potato salad and bog ordinary coleslaw……… but we make them all fresh! I am going to enjoy this weeks Shabbat preparations!
I love being home. I love our veranda and the spectacular view over Jerusalem. I love the relaxed urgency of people on the streets……. Relaxed urgency I hear you ask, must be a typo! No not a typo, people are rushing around getting to engagements or meetings but the moment one sees a friend (which is every few paces in Jerusalem) it is as if one has all the time in the world!!!
I love being with all our Israeli grandchildren, watching their new games, hearing about their studies, which friend is friends with whom, seeing their anticipation as they try very hard not to ask what we brought them from America!! I love my journey back to Jerusalem over the height of Samuels Tomb rounding the corner to catch the spectacular panorama of Jerusalem set before me as a relief map of our incredible city.
Today is a very special day. 20 years ago we sat in the home of Bonnie and Alan Cohen together with my cousins Jean and Stuart Lipman z"l and our Rabbi David Rosen as Zvi signed the ketuba (the written promise of the groom) then walked through our amazing friends from all over the world who laughed and smiled and hugged and kissed on Yismach Melech Street. We had "borrowed" some police barriers and closed off the street, brought in caterers and fairy lights on that magical day. Our children and Zvi's parents surrounded us with love as we stood under the chuppah, the Old City Walls lit for the very first time, and pledged our love and devotion to each other and to Jerusalem. The 7 blessings were sung and then a surprise – the amazing Re'im Duo, Benny and Yisrael, not only sang the final blessing but gave us, and our guests a fabulous show, our wedding gift from them. Every day has been worth it. We are a pair, a couple in every sense of the word. I write and he speaks; he is history, I am emotion; I am utterly loved and love him completely.
Tomorrow is Shabbat and I loved this video of James Corden in a Jewish Deli – wonderful https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1O-JBj7ECmg
Perhaps the most traditional of all Jewish prayers is Oseh Shalom – asking the Almighty to bring peace to Israel. The Re'im Duo entered a competition with a new version and won! Now so familiar - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJjUmHaC8f4&index=11&list=PLWkfrFkdyL1FoUmn58cgnEXb_fe_vDgHQ
My last song is dedicated to my Zvi, without him I am half a person
Shabbat Shalom dear friends
With all my love from Jerusalem, our veranda and of course our home.