Friday, 22 May 2015

150522 Jerusalem Day, Ethiopian Day, ICEJ, IsraAid, Palmyra, Syria

150522
22nd May, 2015
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope you are all well and that the week was kind to you.

A friend sent me a quote. It took me a moment to really absorb it, and accept its truth. The quote is from the movie Exodus. Ari ben Canaan: "Jewish flesh is cheap, lady. It's cheaper than beef. It's cheaper even than herring." I have no doubt it is still relevant but these days it includes Christians. The media seems to care not a jot when the victims of horrific slaughter and oppression are Christians or Jews............ and I don't understand it.

Thousands are dying, literally thousands, in so many areas of the world it is terrifying; oppression is rife; racism is innate; war and poverty unbearable yet the media still seems to spend 90% of its time villifying Israel!!! Unfairly? Well, another quote this week was "0.1% of the worlds population yet 30% of doctors who rushed to give aid and sustenance to Nepal" Makes you think eh?

I have often thought about why they villify us, why politicians spend most of their time and energy finding "solutions" to our situation rather than their own. Well truthfully, none of them can solve their own, or any of the other situations in the world but they can tell us what to do and the media can report on every apparent infringement and their reporters are still allowed to report without either banning or decapitation. 

Jerusalem Day was a joyous occasion in Jerusalem. Flags, song, parades and......... stone throwing. Can you imagine if a specific group of French Moslems threw stones at the celebration of Bastille Day? or at the singing of the Welsh National Anthem at a Rugby match? Or at Thanksgiving, or Australia Day? That is the equivalent and do not be fooled.

Jerusalem coincided with the Memorial for Ethiopian Jews who perished on their perilous journey from dire oppression in Ethiopia. President Rivlin spoke at the Memorial "Just as it happens in the transition between Memorial Day and Independence Day, here too we find the interlocking symbolism of infinite sadness and joy mixed together. For thousands of years Ethiopian Jews lived with the concept of Jerusalem, Yerus-Alam, in their hearts, eager to immigrate to Israel, yearning to be in Zion from a distance. In the early '80s, and not for the first time, Ethiopian Jews marched for months under the scorching sun and the darkness of the night toward Jerusalem. They walked without much sleep, without food, hundreds of miles away. More than 4,000 died on the way. The immigration story of Ethiopian Jews to Israel is a story about faith and hope, about the determined Ethiopian Jewish leaders who were courageous and did not give up."

Our Jerusalem Day was special, very special. We went, with our friends Nancy and Harry Bloomfield and Sheila Zucker, to the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem. Among the Founders of the Embassy were the Van der Hoeven family, Malcolm Hedding who came for the ICEJ conference, and our Israeli friends Tim and Martha King. So many others, the Director Juergen Buehler, David Parsons, Beverley Dwyer, Mike Evans (both senior and Junior), Shaya Ben Yehuda, Rabbi David Rosen and too many friends to dare continue!!!! Their building exquisite, their purpose pure and their joy at the reunification of Jerusalem expresses their understanding, both Biblical and historical. The Embassy was created when a few amazing people understood that the world was abandoning Jerusalem - moving their Embassies to Tel Aviv - and decided to build and Embassy for those who recognise that Israel is a democracy and Jerusalem her Capital City. Proudly Christian, never proselytising, the ICEJ is a sign of hope in a sea of despair. http://int.icej.org/

I decided to check, how many situations whereby Embassies were not in Capital Cities. Maybe Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Korea, indeed any country however tyrannical,  but none, no a one, only Jerusalem. What does that tell us? Is it the enormous financial influence of Arab countries? It can't be a moral issue because, hey, Jerusalem is the capital of a highly moral and generous country; What can it be? It is total lack of understanding of the Middle East, diplomatic and political convenience, bowing down to immoral pressure,  mixed with that little quote from Ari Ben Canaan.

I found a fascinating link showing percentages of each religion, throughout the world, region by region, both today and predictions until 2050  http://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/religious-projection-table/2010/percent/all/

ISIS is not on the retreat, far from it. The Syrian city of Palmyra, world heritage site, has been overtaken. ISIS immediately began doing what they know to do, destroying history. Indeed Assad has his escape plan in place. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-32820857 The moment has passed by which we could have stopped them, their evil is rife, burning like wildfire through the Near and Middle East, and quietly growing throughout YOUR country in order to emerge when the moment is ripe. No, dear wonderful people, I am not exaggerating. I wish I were.  Weak world leadership, inept military action, unfinished wars, political correctness all play their part and have done since 9/11, London's 7/7 or any of hundreds of diabolical terror attacks around the world. Back to Palmyra and President Assad - as terrible a man, he is an angel compared to those who would take his place.

The growing evil is endorsed by the UN and by the apathy of the worlds leaders. For example - this is the latest offering of the UN 
GENEVA, May 20, 2015 - As Israeli hospitals continue their life-saving treatment for escalating numbers of wounded Syrians fleeing to the Golan from the Assad regime’s barbaric attacks, the U.N. reached new heights of absurdity today by accusing Israel of violating the health rights of Syrians in the Golan. By a vote of 104 to 4, with 6 abstentions and 65 absent, the Jewish state was singled out as the world’s top violator of health rights by the annual assembly of the U.N.’s World Health Organization. http://blog.unwatch.org/index.php/2015/05/21/un-israel-is-worst-violator-of-health-rights-in-the-world/

President Obama rejects the "rubber stamping"of policies on Israel. Why? "Because he cares so deeply"  What? He cares so deeply about the "settlements". http://www.jpost.com/landedpages/printarticle.aspx?id=403788 The settlements? I do not believe all the stories of the President being anti-Israel but this is ludicrous. The entire region (except for Israel) is seething bed of hatred and killing and a few Jews in settlements are what is bothering the administration?

Jill, Zvi and I were in Tel Aviv for Shabbat with Amiad and Noga. We played with the children in the park then walked to see Paul and Vivien Zimmet at the Hilton. Paul and Vivien were here for the  Tel Aviv University meetings. Deirdre and Keith Beville were there but we missed them which is OK since they came to stay on Tuesday!! Dr Eli Fischer founder of the excellent skin products aptly called Dr Fischer, was there too with his friend  Edna Heruti stood to have their portraits taken to send to Yitzik Lev - an essential member of their Friday Parliament!!!!

Jill left, Deidre and Keith Beville came to stay overnight (yes I did wash the sheets in between!). It was so much fun, talking to them in our home having lunch watching the view from our veranda and finally finding out who they are besides Jewish Agency and Keren Haysod meetings! It was great fun discovering what amazing people they are. Dinner in Zion ha Gadol and the next day they went to Mahane Yehuda and fell in love with its cacophony and bustling activity as we do.

Wow, I don't know where to start but this morning I had a meeting. I am still flying high! It was the first time I had ever met with Shachar Zahavi, the driving force behind IsraAid. We have been emailing since Haiti but never actually met. Shachar drove from the North with his lovely wife Rachel and we met at the Bloomfields Jerusalem home with a view to challenge ours.  Shachar told of how he and a few friends recognised the need for "on the ground help" in disaster stricken areas. It is irrelevant whether it is in Haiti, Ruanda, Phillipines, Iraq, Syria or New Jersey, IsraAid not only arrives, IsraAid stays. Experts in every field teach the locals to manage the post disaster situations so that they can not only get on their feet but rebuild in a logical and efficient manner - from physical buildings to psychological aid. I was so deeply impressed and watched as Nancy absorbed every word and Harry began questioning, doubting and ended the meeting recognising that this young man had the support of the USA and UK government which asked IsraAid to teach others to work the same way, UNICEF which works closely with IsraAid.......... their work is truly Tikkun Olam. I especially like what the Denver Federation did. They could not physically help with the floods but instead, to ensure that everyone knew who helped they put up huge posters .  WHO OTHER THAN ISRAEL HELPED DENVER As Shachar said "Wherever we go they love Israel" www.israaid.co.il

So that's that! Food is ready, we now have both Shabbat and Shevuot. I don't want to overload you so I am going to use the wonderful services of my dear friend Rabbi Jeremy Rosen http://jeremyrosen.blogspot.co.il/ Shevuot, festival of Torah, study and whiteness to emphasise the purity after being given the 10 Commandments. Shevuot, Pentecost, let's celebrate together, not only with cheesecake but in prayer that the Judeo-Christian traditions be upheld.

I didn't get the children today, I went straight from Harry and Nancy's to Givat Zeev just as they came home from school. Each child has a task before Shabbat and my incredible daughter Rachel had created a veritable feast. Coming home past the panorama from Samuels Tomb I was once again reminded of our ancient past here on this land. Despite so many exiles and enslavement we are here, we are back and have no intention of going anywhere.

This video isn't exactly a song but it a beautiful explanation of Shevuot https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3AcZdMAMRQ

Lecha Dodi is the traditional Friday night synagogue song. I am not a fan of modern versions (sorry) but this is really beautiful. The Maccabeats Lecha Dodi to the tune of Leonard Cohens Halleluya https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWmcQpzUMHY

Finally, the exquisite voice of Lt Col Shai Abrhamson, the Cantor of the IDF singing Avinu Malkeinu sh'b'Shamayim, Father our King who is in Heaven, take care of this land, this land of ours. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FmG1I-f8UQ

I wish you a beautiful Shabbat, I pray that it is filled with love and joy and that you are strong and able to cope with whatever life throws at you.
With all our love from Jerusalem, Capital of the State of Israel, ancient capital of the Jewish people.Shabbat Shalom - Chag Shevuot Sameach
Sheila

Two gems to end with!!!!!
Hatikva in French - absolutely wonderful https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uX-AwG1tqBw
Found this incredible El Al Ad....... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zU7yg2d1uo

-- 
If the media does not inform us we must inform the media
Facebook      Sheila Silver Raviv
Involvement   http://www.impact-se.org/   http://www.yurishtern.org.il/eng/content.php?id=17

Friday, 15 May 2015

150515 Shabbat Shalom, New government, Dutch, Nepal, Jill, Jerusalem Day

150515
15th May, 2015

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, looking exceptionally beautiful today, the sun glistening on the freshly washed white buildings after a real spring shower yesterday.

So, Mr Netanyahu succeeded in forming a government by the skin of his teeth. The negotiations were tough, the natural partners wouldn't join and the end result imperfect, but form a government he did. There are still many questions - particularly legal questions, surrounding two members, Arieh Deri and Yoav Galant. Arieh Deri served a prison term for corruption and bribery and Yoav Galant was denied the position of Chief of Staff for illegally claiming land as his own. I firmly believe that a man who pays for his crime be given a second chance, but not in government! I understand that Mr Netanyahu was pushed into a corner by several parties, either by their impossible demands or by their refusal to join with him (he offered Herzog a rotation of Prime Minster to join the government). Time will tell if this government will succeed, I pray that it will because we cannot cope with yet another election. I also hope that one of the first laws they pass is to change the electoral system to a logical one, preferably constituency. http://www.timesofisrael.com/whos-who-in-netanyahus-2015-government/

Mr Obama's first words were to claim this government is right wing and therefore peace with the Palestinians is not in their programme. Oh really? How come Mr Begin succeeded in bringing peace with Egypt where left wingers failed? Mr President, an elusive peace that did not succeed through all previous governments is not going to fail because Mr Netanyahu is Prime Minister but rather because Israel does not have the acceptance of her allies. You don't live in the Middle East and still believe that democratic elections bring democracy. Indeed, in our despotic neighbouring countries you accepted corrupt and evil leaders because they were elected, why not accept Israeli democracy which is absolute? http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/In-Camp-David-homage-Obama-says-Israeli-Palestinian-peace-seems-distant-now-403165

Last night, in his response to the Prime Ministers announcement, Isaac (Bougie) Herzog gave the speech of his life. I could not help but think that had he spoken that way before the election, and had the strength to go forward without Tsippi Livni, he would have swept his party to victory. The importance and strength of his accusations and arguments for a comprehensive government instead of one sector of society was strong, although Mr Netanyahu reiterated his invitation to Herzog to join the government, it was refused on the basis that platform of the new Israeli government is extreme sectarian and, in his opinion, hopeless. The one member of the coalition who received his absolute support was Moshe Kahlon http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moshe_Kahlon

In a disgusting move the Dutch government voted to reduce compensation to any Holocaust survivors who live in "the settlements"!! Foul, disgusting, ignorant and inhuman. Where are they talking about? The Home for the Aged in Gilo? The old couple in French Hill? Obviously anti-Semitic this must be fought - taken to the International Court of Human Rights. http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Holland-to-slash-stipends-of-Holocaust-survivors-living-in-settlements-402702

Israel cannot deny the current, and real, problem of acceptance of Israelis of Ethiopian descent. I spoke of it last week after the demonstrations and many people overseas mistakenly compared it to the situation in Baltimore, Watts, Brixton etc, and it isn't. Things are not perfect, we still have a way to go, but that is true of any new immigrants to a society, especially when that society has traditionally found it difficult to accept, not absorb but accept, each new immigration. In Israel immigrants do not arrive one at a time by choice, they come in large groups because they were oppressed and exiled. As Liat Collins says "The problem with the Ethiopian immigrants is not that they’re black, it’s that they’re transparent" http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/My-word-Belonging-and-acceptance-402443 

Nepal suffered another catastrophic earthquake. Buildings didn't fall because there were few left standing but water supplies broke down and caused even greater suffering. IsraAid is still there, saving the lives of 7 babies in remote regions and this incredible report tells it all. I hope you have Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/israaid/posts/10153344989909136:0 

While the world ignores the suffering of the Syrian people who are dying in their hundreds and thousands, Israel cares. The civil war has been kidnapped by the most extreme Islamist factions and Iran and those who rebelled against the despotic regime of Assad are suffering from both extremes. Israel cannot interfere but does what we are best at -  treating the wounded here in Israel. Excellent CNN report. http://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2015/05/10/pkg-liebermann-wounded-syrian-fighters.cnn

Have you ever thought about the size of Israel?
How does the existence of this minute dot on the map of the Middle East possibly threaten anyone? Why is even this miniscule piece of real estate have to be cut yet again into two states when it was already cut into two states -  Moslem and Jewish all those years ago? Israel was not just declared by Britain and France like most countries in the region - Israel was ratified, voted upon and decided upon by the majority of the worlds countries in the United Nations. The worlds leaders should rescue all the other countries from cruel extremists and Israel from their determination to wipe us of the face of the earth 70 years after you vowed it would never happen again. Israel, only 8,019 sq. miles, compared to California 163,696 sq. miles, apparently it is because Israel is a Jewish blot on someones landscape.

My disappointment of the week is the Vaticans announcement that it recognises the Palestinian State. Oh yes? what about the Christians of Bethlehem, of Gaza, of Ramallah? What about your own people Your Eminence? Have you ignored their suffering at the hands of the PA?

What an amazing week! Last weekend with the Sturmans, Zvi's family from the USA, we went to little Yonatan's first birthday party where they enjoyed seeing all Zvi's family. 

Jill is here which means we went to all her favourite haunts. She went to Netanya on Sunday morning to visit with her friend June, using the excellent services of Egged Buses; we went to eat at Zion ha Gadol for a traditional Middle Eastern feast and then to the Kotel, the Western Wall. At 9:30 at night it was alive with hundreds and hundreds of people, praying, pleading, loving, feeling the intense spirituality of the closest site we have to the Holy of Holies. In fact, Judaism does not need places, edifices to pray, our only truly holy object is the Sefer Torah, but being human we sometimes need something tangible and the snow of notes, pushed lovingly into every available crack in that ancient supporting wall, are proof positive of the wishes and desires of the secular, traditional, religious, Jew and Christian alike. 

On Wednesday morning we headed off to my favourite place in Jerusalem, Mahane Yehuda. The shouk was busy but not crowded, giving us the chance to see everything and everyone. The scents, sights and sounds as intense as ever, speaking of Jerusalem through the food, coffee shops, juice stands (my favourite is pomegranate and orange)  Judaica, Jewellery, spices, fresh fish, colourful vegetables, succulent fruit, rich olive oils, thirty flavours of Halva, plump chickens and...........amazing cheeses. The noise and urgency of Mahane Yehuda is unmatched. It should be number one on your Jerusalem list!!!

After catching our breath we went to collect my grand-daughters Talia and Ayala and headed out to my favourite Kibbutz in Israel, Jill's home for two years, Beerot Yitzchak. Situated right near Ben Gurion Airport, Beerot Yitzchak is a little slice of heaven, upholding the original priciples of religious Zionism at its very best. All the way there Talia and Ayala begged for the wonderful song written for Zvi's 70th by our friend Eli. It is so beautiful that Jill and I enjoyed it and the girls learned the words.

Our first stop was to see Katy, Jill's teacher and mentor, who despite her advanced age still works with the kibbutz babies and studies Tenach and Tehilim. Katy, the epitome of a good Jew, good Israeli and good woman, a true Eshet Chayil. She has spent her life teaching and molding young lives to be respectful, inquisitive, learned and kind. The girls were fascinated by the fact that Katy is almost the same size as they are!!!!

I took the girls for a wander thorugh the kibbutz, to give Jill time with Katy, and much to their delight and then we returned to see Katy's son and daughter-in-law, Tsippi and Eliyahu. Tsippi took the girls off to explore and they had a ball, deciding that they want to live on Kibbutz. After a delicious meal at Tsippis, the family wanting to hear everything possible about Jill's family (each calling her Ruth or Gila, her kibbutz names) Talia and Ayala enjoyed the freedom of kibbutz life by running around and then, the peak of their visit - Eliyahu took them on his kibbutz golf cart to see the animals. They fed the goats and cows, visited the chickens and turkeys and generally had a ball. I love what Tsippi said in response to Jill's question about agriculture during the shmitta year (in Judaism we leave the fields fallow every 7 years and tend crops only to the minimum). She said that in a shmitta year we can't tend the crops so Hashem sends rain - and its true this year we are still receiving blessed rain. Shmitta is the Basis of modern agriculture laying fallow every seven years to enrich the earth.

As I write, Zvi has gone to Herzliya to a reunion of his primary school (yes really) and Jill is sitting out on the veranda, pretending to read the paper. In fact she is absorbing the view, holding the panorama in her heart to take back to Victor. I can see her glance darting from Gilo to Baka, from the bright red flowers of the pomegranate tree to the tiny nascent oranges, the new leaves of the lemon tree and the bright colours of the fuschia, geranium, day-lillies and the last few freesias. It is very special to find someone who is as inspired as I by the view from our veranda!

Next Sunday we celebrate Jerusalem Day - the reunification of our beloved city - at the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem. I love the building, the people, their leader, everything about the place and will introduce Nancy and Harry to all of the above!!! http://int.icej.org/icej-headquarters

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Naomi Shemer caught the magic with her song, written just before 1967 and the final verse celebrating our ability to visit the Holy Sites. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JH8gtdDA5x0

If I forget thee Oh Jerusalem - are we? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Irm-0IKPGic

I wish you a wonderful Shabbat, a truly amazing weekend and the ability to see beauty around you in all things.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends, Shabbat Shalom

Love from Jerusalem, divided for 19 out of her 3,000 years but celebrating her unification. Now all we need is for the world to love Jerusalem as we do.

Sheila  

 

-- 
If the media does not inform us we must inform the media
Facebook      Sheila Silver Raviv
Involvement   http://www.impact-se.org/   http://www.yurishtern.org.il/eng/content.php?id=17

Friday, 8 May 2015

150508 VE Day, Israeli Gov, UK Conservatives, Arava, Nepal, Congress on Iran


150508
8th May, 2015

Shabbat Shalom everyone! I hope this missive finds you well and that you are just a little bit warmer. Here in Israel the weather is absolutely stupendous! Not too hot, just right.

70 years ago the free world celebrated the Allied Victory over the evil Nazi regime in what is known as VE Day, Victory in Europe Day. This video of Churchill's victory speech shows the enormous joy of Londoners, indeed Brits, that their cities and citizens would not have daily bombing and lose more of their sons. The war was not yet over but the Germans were defeated. As yet we did not understand the extent of the evil the troops had defeated. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rePb2NadxQw 

A bill that would give Congress a voice in any nuclear agreement between world powers and Iran passed the Senate overwhelmingly on Thursday afternoon. The bill, which was approved 98 to 1, after months of negotiations, White House resistance which included the indictment of one of its sponsors and a Presidential campaign against PM Benjamin Netanyahu's speech before the final plan was presented. The only vote against the bill was by Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas. Americans returned their fate to the hands of their representatives.

David Cameron's Conservative Party won the elections in the United Kingdom, Ed Milliband's Labour Party suffered miserably in Scotland where the Scottish National Party made a clean sweep almost, and the good news, ladies and gentlemen is.......George Galloway lost his seat in Bradford!!!!  It appears that the Conservatives may well have sufficient seats to dissolve the former coalition of Liberal Democrat and Conservative. David Cameron apparently speaks for more Brits than other parties. If Cameron has a clear majority he could prove himself to be a neo-Churchillian politician who stands up against injustice as no other. To see the full picture http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/general-election-2015/11584325/full-results-map-uk-2015.html

Mr Netanyahu succeeded in putting together a coalition but not necessarily the one he wanted. Isaac Herzog was offered a rotation of Prime Ministership to enter the coalition to ensure a balanced government - but yet again Labour (Zionist Camp) missed an opportunity to influence for the sake of arrogant pride (Livni did it in the last elections too) but the PM is keeping the Foreign Minister position open in the hope of persuading Herzog to take it. The outcome is, of course, that the government will be further right than intended, including Naftali Bennet who held out for the Ministries he wanted. Liberman, who despite his reputation is actually very pragmatic, declined when the Haredi parties came in and two of the new Ministers have criminal records! I wish the new government good luck because our future depends on them. http://www.timesofisrael.com/in-the-11th-hour-netanyahu-finalizes-61-strong-coalition/

I believe that the recent demonstrations by young Ethiopian Israelis were justified, their frustration exacerbated by a video of police harassment against a young soldier proved their belief that Israeli policemen specifically pick on young Ethiopians. The Jerusalem demonstration was justified, the Tel Aviv demonstration went seriously awry when trouble makers, almost certainly not Israeli and paid by foreign money, joined the young people. The demonstration became violent and derogatory to their just cause. Any form of racism must be wiped out but please, do not compare it to Brixton, London or to Baltimore, Maryland the situation is not as serious, nor will it ever be allowed to reach such levels of discrimination. The policemen seen physically harassing the soldier have already been thrown out of the force and will be summarily punished and brought to justice. In no way will we allow racists to get away with it here in Israel. Judaism is not dependent upon skin colour.

The Israeli presence in Nepal is physical and emotional. We send aid in the form of field hospitals, doctors, nurses, engineers. In 8 days the Israeli field hospital treated 1024 patients performed 70 life-saving surgeries, 6 Cesarean section and 2 natural births. Please read on if you want to know why it is important https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEk2glyCijw

The week since I last wrote to you began with a glorious Shabbat Dinner. I love meeting new people, as well as greedily holding on to loved ones, and every so often one meets a gem. Well we met two gems that morning two weeks ago in Tel Aviv, gorgeous people, Dale and Steve Hoffman and so that they would meet some delightful Israelis we invited close friends. It was so heartwarming. I loved the fact that as Zvi and I stand together, usually holding hands, for the Kiddush, Steve quietly walked around the table to stand with Dale and join Zvi's bass baritone rendition of the age-old blessings. It is irrelevant from whence we come to the Shabbat table, we are united in tradition.

On Shabbat we had a wonderful walk, with Zvi's boys and their families, around Yemin Moshe neighborhood, beautiful old homes, little parks, cobbled streets, steps, steps and more steps and fun with the children. I was especially proud when we got to the famous Montefiore Windmill, refurbished by Dutch Christians for Israel (Christenenvoorisrael) who lovingly brought an old tourist site into a working tourist site, actually milling flour - which meant that our lovely friends Herman and Gerda Schotanus came to oversee the work.

On Sunday night my friend Jill arrived from the UK to breathe the warm Jerusalem air and relax......not always easy in this household! Her lovely gentleman friend Victor has been unwell and wanted her to rest a little. Victor - we wish you a complete recovery and hope you can come and visit soon.

Wednesday, with thanks to the wonderful Avraham Kalman who represents JNF-USA and our friend Eitan Carmon, Zvi and I, together with Jill and most of the Jerusalem Parliament, met at Mount Herzl at 06:45 and boarded a coach and headed south, past the surreal moonscape of the descent to the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth, and continued to the Arava region of the Negev where JNF-USA has invested time, effort and money to encourage wonderful agricultural based settlements (yes that is a positive word) in what at first appears to be inhospitable, barren, desert land. Earth was brought in through our wonderful cooperation with Jordan, and deep wells into the aquifers, also in cooperation with Jordan, provide irrigation. The innovative, organic farming is Israeli, the research and hybridisation which give incredible fruits and vegetables is truly making the desert bloom.  Noa and Rinat, both of whom gave up city lies and city jobs to give their children a better start in the Arava, took us around, explaining each Moshav. 

The guide, who came with us from Jerusalem, Yedidyah, was a living example of Israel's search for peace. Born in Yamit,  and when Yamit was given to Egypt his family moved to Gush Katif and of course when we pulled out of Gaza (to ensure it was Judenrein) his disappointed family moved to the USA for a while but he came home to join the IDF and stayed.
 
The Arava International Center for Agricultural Training (AICAT) http://www.arava.co.il/english/aicat/aicat.htm
Over the years this Center has received students from Asian countries, including Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Nepal, Vietnam, Laos, Philippines, India, Ethiopia, Southern Sudan, Jordan and Tibet to our amazement there were also students from Indonesia which doesn't even have diplomatic relations with Israel, but the people need our help.
Several former students return to pass on their knowledge and act as translators. One, called Binot, from Nepal, was particularly emotional. Before explaining his involvement with the Centre Binot spoke of the deep sadness of the Nepalese students, 99% of whose families lost all their possessions and their homes in the earthquake. "We didn't need money, not at this stage, we needed physical help, medical help that dollars could not buy. There was one country that understood, Israel. Thank you Israel you sent people we have nothing we can to do with money, nothing to buy" 
What is so incredible about the college is that one takes young, bright people from countries where antiquated methods of agriculture keeps food supply subsistance level at best and provides them with the knowledge to give a filip to their countries economy and agriculture and hope to their villages and towns. This course creates future leaders.   http://www.jnf.org/work-we-do/blueprint-negev/central-arava.html

Yesterday Jill, Zvi and I met with our lovely Montreal friends Nancy and Harry Bloomfield in the Botanical Gardens. As always Harry ordered vast quantities of food but it could not compare with the avalanche of questions in their attempt to catch up with the situation and news here in Israel. Nancy darling, Israel's PR is not bad, it is simply true that every piece of information that goes out is either ignored or twisted. Harry and Nancy brought along the most impressive man I have met in many a year - Dr Cyril Sherer, born in New Zealand, studied medicine in the UK, made Aliya in 1961 and still, at age 94, practices medicine. His mind is sharp, his determination to learn intact and his curiosity unbounded. wonderful!!! 
 
Nearly Shabbat! I can't sit here and talk to you all day, even though I enjoy it so much. I have Shabbat to prepare, grand-children to collect from school, panoramas of Jerusalem to wonder at, indeed, I want time to sit on our swing-hammock and take on the incredible view from our veranda.
I didn't have time to tell you about Lag b'Omer in Jerusalem so I will give you a link! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lag_BaOmer

I leave you with two songs. The first is actually a prayer of the High Holy Days and was written by a Rabbi during a time of deep suffering, thus appropriate to VE Day. In essence it is a prayer for a better world https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyBToUaon2w

The second is a prayer for the State of Israel, may our new government lead us to even greater achievements and finally, finally, recognition. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Q5--mNIZhU

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. May your Shabbat be peaceful and your health good.


-- 
If the media does not inform us we must inform the media
Facebook      Sheila Silver Raviv
Involvement   http://www.impact-se.org/   http://www.yurishtern.org.il/eng/content.php?id=17

Friday, 1 May 2015

150501 Shabbat Shalom, Wendy Sherman, Nepal, IsraAid, Government, Hezb-Allah, Lindenfelds.

150501
1st May, 2015

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Gosh it has been quite a while since I wrote and so much has happened, both here and in the big wide world.

I don't know if you realised but Wendy Sherman led the nuclear negotiations with North Korea, negotiations so successful that they now have nuclear bombs and ballistic missiles which threaten South Korea and the world. She also claimed that South Koreas claims for nationhood. Wendy Sherman is now responsible for the nuclear negotiations with Iran. Frankly, it scares me. http://carolineglick.com/life-under-the-us-umbrella/ 

Our hearts and thoughts are with the people of Nepal. When a massive earthquake hits it is not the firmly built rich houses that fall, usually, but rather the flimsy, poor homes that crumble, but this earthquake was so immense that it took the ancient along with the modern, the rich along with the poor.

Many countries sent money, aid, to help the Nepalese Government fight the hunger, thirst and destruction, but this chart shows how little Israel sent people. http://edition.cnn.com/2015/04/28/asia/arwa-damon-rural-nepal-earthquake/index.html 

Due to our unfriendly neighborhood and our desire to help around the world, we have IDF field hospitals at the ready, which have proven themselves in their efficiency and speed numerous times. IDF tent cities are flown out and set up within hours of any disaster and already saved many lives and saw the joy of new births in the midst of disaster. http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/WATCH-IDF-field-hospital-opens-doors-in-earthquake-ravaged-Nepal-400535 
 
I am so proud of you! I am so proud of your response to my appeal for IsraAid. Thanks to your help Shachar Zahavi has been able to send teams of volunteers to even the most remote sites. Two other young people I know also swept into action, Gilad Yakir, from Jerusalem didn't panic, he acted. He went to a wealthy Buddhist monastery where they gave him a car loaded with medical equipment and he drove with some monks into the remotest areas and dealt with the worst of wounds and injuries, hoping against hope to avoid the inevitable infections that occur when no clean water can be found. He didn't rest, as soon as his equipment ended he drove back through the treacherous roads and took more. Another young friend is Ariela Guttin, who lives in Nepal and is working hard to raise money and do what she can to help in Nepal.

I have to mention Rabbi David Greenberg and his amazing Temple Shaarey Tefila, in Bedford, NY. The moment I sent out the appeal he motivated his community to send a generous gift to IsraAid. You never let me down David, you and your amazing team. I am not going to mention anyone because i don't want to miss a friend but you know who you are and who I love!!!!

Hezb-Allah decided to lob some missiles over Northern Israel, indeed right where we visited last week, perhaps they thought we were too busy with saving Nepal to notice!!! Since we met some of the Irish UN soldiers when up north I believe that they will do their best to stop them but just in case - we responded appropriately.

After an extension from President Rivlin, Prime Minister Netanyahu is coming close to forming a government. Kulanu, the centre right and very socially aware party led by Moshe Kahlon who promised that he will bring social reform in cheaper housing and fair wages, is a definite. Also entering the government is the United Torah Party, representing the religious sector, although the price was putting the bill demanding equality in obligation to this country. Other negotiations are ongoing but they are very tough. I am personally very sad that the Labour Party (or Zionist Union by any other name) has not come to an agreement with Netanyahu, nor Yair Lapids Yesh Atid.  It is a shame that his natural partners have both chosen to stay outside, undoubtedly with the sole intention of bringing this government down from oppostition. My greatest complaint about the Israeli electoral system, and I have many, is that the official opposition parties do not prepare themselves by forming shadow governments and coming up with alternative policies, they simply work toward bringing down whoever is in power. I am still praying for compromise but then we all know my middle name is Pollyanna!!!!!

Yesterday, in response to a disgraceful incident and a prolonged grudge, Jerusalem saw a very angry demonstration take place in the centre of the city. Young Israelis of Ethiopian descent were demonstrating against their ill treatment by Israeli police, not shooting like in Baltimore, but police bullying. It came to a head when a video reached the television stations of two policemen physically harassing and shoving a young soldier of Ethiopian descent on his way home from duty. It really broke the camels back and a normally quiet and dignified sector became very angry and rightfully so. Mayor Nir Barkat chose to enter the fray, literally, he stood in the middle of the crowd then sat on the kerb and invited the leaders of the demonstration to come and talk. He patiently listened to anyone who chose to engage in dialogue ensuring that he would use his influence to change the current situation. His actions calmed the youngsters more than any other.   policeman, controlling the demonstration, who came under most verbal abuse was a young Ethiopian policeman. Interesting. http://www.timesofisrael.com/jlem-street-blocked-in-protest-over-police-brutality-against-ethiopian-born-israelis/

After Passover we spent a glorious 10 days with wonderful people. Our dearest friends Helene and Martin Lindenfeld decided that they wanted to show their friends Lee and Lusillo what a gorgeous country this is - and succeeded!!!

They began in Jerusalem, arriving on the eve of  Yom ha Shoah, they walked the Old City, visiting Jewish and Christian sites, went to Professor Gabby Barkay's sifting project where we heard the siren of Yom ha Shoah and sifted through buckets of soil and stones taken from the Temple Mount and recovered by Prof Barkay. They went down to Massada and the Dead Sea while I prepared Shabbat Dinner!

Friday night they came to our home for Shabbat Dinner together with their lovely guide Eva Yaron and her husband Eli, Zvi's beautiful Kiddush (sung in harmony with Martin and Eli) setting the scene.
  
Over the next week we saw Crusaders Fortresses, climbed up to the top of the Golan Heights where we overlooked Syria and Lebanon and had coffee in a restaurant called Coffee Annan (in Hebrew meaning Coffee in the Clouds). We slept in Mitspeh ha Yamim, a health spa cum farm in Rosh Pinah, we travelled the north of Israel and saw Nazareth, Metullah, Akko (Acre) which is truly magnificent, cavernous Crusader castles and citadels have been uncovered and opened to the public in a truly wonderful manner) Tsfat, home of Kabbalah where this wonderful song, the prayer Ana-Bekoach was written about 2000 years ago by the Holy Master Kabbalist Rabbi Nechunia ben Hakanah z”l. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Irm-0IKPGic, Caesaria with its aquaduct and enormous amphitheatre where Zvi stood and sang an operatic aria to the thunderous applause of a visiting group of Dutch Christians!!!!! So many other places finally ending up in Tel Aviv where Martin, Zvi and I paid tribute to Felafel Gabbay, the wonderful felafel place on 300 Dizengoff Street with the big sign "Soldiers in Uniform Eat Free". Of course we were treated to special service because we are friend of Itchko (Yitzik Lev). Tel Aviv was more relaxed although one special treat was visiting the Independence Hall on Yom HaAtzma'ut - Independence Day, sitting in the very hall where David Ben Gurion declared the founding of the Jewish state by the name of Israel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vy_LlKE9OMQ  From there we went to Old Jaffa and after walking through the streets we stood in the port and proudly watched the fly-past of generations of Israeli aircraft. Our hearts filled with pride.

Eva was amazing, the Lindenfelds truly magnificent friends and our new friends Lee and Lusillo were sheer joy. We were so proud to show them our country, to impart our understanding and to learn new things from Eva. It was a rediscovery of how truly miraculous Israel is.
We ate gourmet and street, we drank fine wines (all local) and freshly squeezed fruit juices on the street; we laughed, cried, learned and watched and it was good - very good.

On our last day, when Martin, Helene, Lee and Lusillo had already left, we sadly packed our bags and went down for breakfast in the hotel gardens. We sat beside a couple, who looked very friendly and began to chat with them. They are lovely, they are friendly and I am happy to say that they are coming for Friday night dinner tonight!!!!! Dale and Steve Hoffman are staying in the King David, enjoying touring and rediscovering Israel after a 20 some year break. Tonight they will see the View from Our Veranda - along with other delightful Israeli friends and Zvi's cousin Debby Gutverg who is on a course for a select group of Mexican Jewish teachers here in Israel. The course was initiated by Danny Liwerant who recognised the importance of the connection between the community and Israel. 

After a week of history, reminders, memories and fun. A quote from the New Testament on a Coptic Church sums up the current atmosphere  - They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.

I am not that pessimistic though. Who could have imagined that we would come back after 2,000 years of dispersion to form a country that within 70 years has come from the Middle Ages to a 21st century powerhouse? This country is beautiful, productive, innovative, giving and hey........ it's my home!!!!

This week I was reminded of my roots and my future - having met very special friends from my Welsh past, Andrew, Jennifer, Madeleine, Sue, Averil and Jill and enjoyed the company of new friends. That is how we spend our lives here - meeting, greeting and learning from others. 
Wishing you a beautiful Shabbat, one in which you have time for yourself yet are surrounded by loved ones. I pray for those who are sick and remind them that I need them, they are important to me and to us.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends, be well, be strong, know who you are and love what you are.

With all our love from Jerusalem, beautiful, spiritual, enjoyable city - with 9/10ths of the worlds beauty. Next week we celebrate Jerusalem Day, in celebration of the reunification of the city in 1967 after 19 years of Jordanian rule on the Holy sites. This song reminds us of Jerusalem's importance as Yossi Azulay sings King Davids words, written in this very city in this language 3,000 years ago https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Irm-0IKPGic

Sheila

-- 
If the media does not inform us we must inform the media
Facebook      Sheila Silver Raviv
Involvement   http://www.impact-se.org/   http://www.yurishtern.org.il/eng/content.php?id=17

Sunday, 26 April 2015

IsraAid to Nepal. Please donate

150426
26th April, 2015

Today I am asking you to opens your hearts and your purses. A gentleman by the name of Shachar Zahavi began a small organisation with enormous hopes and intentions 10 years ago, to go out and change the world. IsraAid.

IsraAid, along with the IDF, is sending teams to help in the aftermath of the horrendous earthquake in Nepal.

As you know, IsraAid has been first on the ground at so many disasters around the world, remaining long after others to support the affected communities.
In the last decade, IsraAid has...
Responded to crises in 22 countries
Reached over 1,000,000 people
Distributed over 1,000 tons of relief and medical supplies
Trained more than 5,000 local professionals
Mobilized over 750 staff, volunteers, and professionals (among them 156 doctors and nurses and 100 therapists and social workers).
Now, IsraAIDs disaster response team on route to affected areas in Nepal.

They will focus their efforts on relief which includes distribution of food and non food items, child protection and medical aid. IsraAid has already a prepared platform and infrastructure ready to absorb the teams. IsraAID is also coordinating efforts with the IDF/israeli Government.

IsraAid is seeking additional financial support to be able to offer a wider, impactful and professional assistance to those affected.

Israel reaches the places other countries never reach - IsraAid is the perfect example of "Tikkun Olam"
With love from Jerusalem
Sheila 

-- 
If the media does not inform us we must inform the media
Facebook      Sheila Silver Raviv
Involvement   http://www.impact-se.org/   http://www.yurishtern.org.il/eng/content.php?id=17

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

150422 From Remembrance to Independence

150422

  • 22 April 2015 = 3rd of Iyyar, 5775
  • ג׳ בְּאִיָּר תשע״ה

Today is Israel Remembrance Day. Today we mourn the loss of all those who died in battle and in terror attacks, today we honour their families.

Shops and restaurants closed from dusk last night. At 20:00 the first siren wailed for one minutes silence as Israel stood to attention and families attended ceremonies in their home towns or at the Western Wall. Prime Minister Netanyahu knows all to well the sense of loss, he himself is "Ach Shakul" a bereaved brother, his brother Yonatan was killed in the heroic rescue mission of Entebbe. Here in Israel loss of son, father, sister, mother is close. In this tiny country every one knows someone who lost a child, or we have a child who saw friends killed in war.

The dreaded words, the families have been informed, https://vimeo.com/125537176

Since last night the faces and names of those who fell are a constant on Israeli television, one after another, after another, to beautiful Israeli songs. Children in schools hold ceremonies, again singing Israeli songs and all of those songs, ALL of those songs express a desire for peace, never a desire for revenge. As todays siren wailed for a full two minutes, cars, buses and trucks stop on the highway or byway, those inside stepping outside to stand to attention.

It is in stark contrast to our every day life. I have written more than once that our life is schizophrenic - but in the most positive manner. We know that we have enemies, deadly enemies, but we live life to the very utmost.

My favourite Israeli song teaches us that life is honey and sting, the good outweighing the bad - because with all this, we have a beautiful country. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gbw2FTYHCTg

The epitome of Israeli Schizophrenia is displayed this evening. After a day of solemn ceremony and families visiting the graves of their beloved fallen Israelis gather at Mount Herzl for the end of sadness and hope for the future. The speeches end, the guard changes in military exactness, then - then come the torch-lighting, music and dance as we flawlessly flow from pain to joy. This years torch-lighters come from all areas of society. From Danny Gold, the inventor of Iron Dome defence system which saved so many lives during the last Gaza war, to the first woman pilot; from medical scientists to young entrepreneurs; from lyricist to everyones favourite, Rami Levi who introduced inexpensive basic foods for all in his supermarket chain. Israeli society is truly represented http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Blazing-a-path-398676

As I travelled the length and breadth of Israel this week with dear friends, I was yet again reminded what a joyful life we lead. Incredible agriculture, exquisite countryside, glorious vistas, amazing forests planted to ensure future fertile lands and antiquities ad infinitum. Our friends were amazed at the plethora of Biblical history, each step revealing another Holy Site.

So today we mourn and tonight we celebrate Israel's 67th birthday. 67 years of phenomenal growth and achievement despite constant attempts to wipe us out. 

We are strong because we remember history - we know that every Empire that tried to enslave us or destroy us is now history - they no longer exist and we not only survive, we thrive!


With love
Sheila

 

-- 
If the media does not inform us we must inform the media
Facebook      Sheila Silver Raviv
Involvement   http://www.impact-se.org/   http://www.yurishtern.org.il/eng/content.php?id=17

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

150415 Yom ha Shoah

150415
15th April, 2015

Yom ha Shoah, Israel.

Tonight Holocaust Remembrance Day begins at dusk in Israel. The significance of this day is intense, a reminder of what was and what can be again. If we really look into what is happening in the world today we would hear forbidding echoes of a time not too long past that its tragedy reverberates throughout our souls. Todays Kristallnacht has passed and persecution of Jews is fast becoming acceptable. We have been dehumanised and demonised, echoes of Goebbels can be found in the words of Imams and Ayatollahs the world over. Even more disturbing, those in the West who should know better are perpetrating the dehumanisation and providing a catalyst for the next Holocaust. In a country near you, yes you, anti-Semitism has become socially acceptable.

 If one examines the current trend one must choose to resemble the three (un) wise monkeys to ignore the persecution of Christians, particularly in the Middle East and Africa.

In the words of Canon Andrew White
 "It was the Israelis who first came beside me when the massacre began against our Christians in Iraq. They said we have been there and know it must never happen again and it is."
Canon Andrew put this website on his Facebook page to ensure that his followers understand. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/yomhashoah.html

Stephen Hughes created this reminder. Israel did not come about as a result of the Holocaust but her very existence gave hope to those who thought there was none. It is not by chance that our anthem is Hatikva - the Hope https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=39&v=eVyFk0RT7OA

Tonight, we will attend the memorial service at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum. The President, Prime Minister, Chief of Staff, Chief of Police, Members of Knesset, Foreign Diplomats and Holocaust Survivors will all be in attendance. The generation where the Prime Minister and President themselves were survivors has gone, the number of survivors, together with their stories, diminishes each year as they grow older and pass on. We have to tell the stories, we have to keep their memories alive - it is up to us. Lt Col Shai Abramson will sing El Maaleh Rachamim ( G-d full of mercy), the prayer for the dead, at the ceremony. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtX5lzWYy3Y 

Tomorrow, at 10:00, Israelis will stand in bowed silence wherever they are, whatever they were doing, as the siren wails to honour those who passed and those who survived with memories that no human being should suffer. Everyone stops - be it on the by-way or highway, the store or the hospital, wherever you are.  Once it was thought that Holocaust Day was an Ashkenazi time of mourning until we began to understand the plight of the Jews of Turkey, North Africa, especially Morocco, Asia and everywhere that the Nazis spread their evil grip. 

Today we no longer go as sheep to the slaughter. Today we have pride, today we have a Defence Force but, always that but, how many people have to die in distant lands at the hands of terrorists before we wake up?

The IDF sends this message.
Light a candle in memory of the six million lives lost. Six million people who lived, learned, thrived, struggled, laughed, worked and loved. Light a candle to keep their memory alive. http://www.idfblog.com/RememberingSixMillion/

How long will it be when religion is a cause for love not hate? How long will it be until we celebrate our differences rather than use them as a cause for war? How many? The answer is blowin in the wind. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ld6fAO4idaI

May their beautiful souls rest in peace and their memories live on through those brave souls such as Stephen Spielberg whose testimonies help their words to live on when they can no longer speak. I leave you with videos of survivors testimonies http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/remembrance/multimedia.asp 

Never again is more than a banal statement - today we have Israel and we must recognise that our enemies use that pride as a weapon against us. It is up to us.

Sheila


-- 
If the media does not inform us we must inform the media
Facebook      Sheila Silver Raviv
Involvement   http://www.impact-se.org/   http://www.yurishtern.org.il/eng/content.php?id=17