Thursday, 11 August 2016

160811 Portugal, 9 b'Av, Yarden Gerbi, Oprah Winfrey Hassidim

160811
1th August 2016

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Did you miss me? We were touring the amazing country of Portugal and I just didn't manage to gather my thoughts last week.

So much has happened in the interim but I want to start with the past. On Sunday we honour the most fatalistic date in the Jewish calendar, one cannot say we celebrate this day, we honour the events and learn from them. Sunday or rather the 9th day of the month of Av is the culmination of 9 days of deep contemplation in which many things are sent to try us.

1. In 1313 BCE The 10 Spies sent to scout out the Land of Israel as a homeland for the Children of Israel after their miraculous Exodus from Egypt, claimed it to be a barren and ugly land, unlike Joshua and Caleb. Their bad judgement and mistrust made G-d angry and prolonged wandering in the desert for another 38 years, before settling the Promised Land;
2. In 423 BCE The First Temple and Jerusalem were destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar who massacred 100,000 Jews and exiled the remainder.
3. Exactly 500 years later, to the day, the Second Temple and Jerusalem were destroyed by Titus of Rome, massacre and expulsion of 1 million Jews
4. Bar Kochba Revolt against the Romans ended with his execution and  yet again Jerusalem was destroyed, 600,000 Jews murdered by the Roman Empire and one year later on this date the Temple Mount plateau was flattened.
5. The First Crusade (1096-1099) massacred tens of thousands of Jews in Germany, France, Italy and Britain;
6. The expulsion of Jews from from Britain (1290);
7. The Spanish Inquisition and final order of expulsion of Jews (1492);
8. The First World War (1914);
9. The 1942 deportation of the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka extermination camp.

Nine of the most fateful events in Jewish history. Most certainly a day to pray, a day to fast, a day to contemplate why. Incredibly, it was the tears and prayers of the Jews, their recognition of the history of this day that reached Napoleon's heart and caused him to free the Jews.

One event that has taken on a deeper meaning for me is the Spanish Inquisition. Our journey through Portugal taught me so much, helped me understand the repercussions of yet another Jewish Dispersion and the difference between the Portuguese people and all the others who exiled and killed us. Portugal has not only taken responsibility for the events of 500 years ago, they celebrate their Jewish heritage (nearly 20% of all Portugal has Jewish ancestry), Anusim and those rare Jews who succeeded in retaining their Jewish purity throughout 500 years. We prayed in the synagogue of Belmonte and in and met with Jose Levy Domingos who is working determinedly to build the Isaac Cardoso Center in Trancoso http://www.medievalhistories.com/jewish-signs/  – he needs donations and visitors!

As we stood in the synagogue in Belmonte we sang and then stood outside for a photograph. Zvi brought the flag of Jerusalem and he quietly folded the flag and gave it to the synagogue President who could not hold back his tears. My Zvi is such a special man.

Almost all the Jews of Portugal and Spain became hidden Jews (Anusim) and melted into their surroundings retaining only some "strange" traditions. Reconectar, the brainchild of Ashley Perry, is helping people to connect to their ancestry http://reconectar.co/

As you know we travelled with Zvi's choir and I became curious as to the provenance of each of the members families as they returned home from dispersion. Yemen, Turkey, Poland, Tunisia, Kurdistan, Germany, Sweden, Czech, Morocco, Iraq, Syrian Halabi, Chile, Wales, Iran – and that was out of 34 people!! Many talk of a melting pot, but in Israel the pot came home. The Lul is a TV programme of the 70's showing the reactions of each Aliya https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJ3dOsBuUgA

There is a new "inquisition" taking place right under our noses and no-one seems to care. It is the persecution of Christians. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytdMUddGe-U


Avi Dichter, Head of the Knesset Defence Committee, says that 100% of UN aid workers in Gaza are members of Hamas. This of course is just the tip of the iceberg as we discover that World Vision, a Christian aid organisation, gives over one and a half million dollars to Hamas in cash http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/263775/top-christian-aid-organizations-funds-go-hamas-p-david-hornik

On the other side of the coin IsraAid and the marvellous Navonel Glick have been awarded the Muhammed Ali Award for their incredible work throughout the world http://www.jewishchronicle.org/2016/08/04/federation-nominee-israaid-to-be-granted-muhammad-ali-award/

We won a medal!! Our beautiful young Judo champion Yarden Gerbi won the bronze medal. So proud of her achievement as she won her bout she touched her Israeli badge in pride. No matter how many buses they refuse to allow us to board or sports they refuse to compete – we are the champions and we. Little Israel, upholds the Olympic tradition of NO POLITICS. http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Petty-Arab-apartheid-Olympic-style-463776

On the 8th of August Zvi and I celebrated our first meeting – the day I walked into his office in Keren Hayesod in Jerusalem – hoping to learn how to do my job and met the man who would give me back my confidence and return me to be the woman my parents raised me to be by loving me, just loving me. Actually our first date was on the 14th of August but since that is Tisha b'Av this year I don't want to chance fate!!!!!

Yesterday Rachel and I met and incredible lady. Her name is Miri, she is Haredi and Miri simply spreads joy in unlikely places. Many years ago, depressed because she just couldn't get pregnant, she decided to spend her time helping others after she was told that giving of yourself could change ones fate. From her humble home she began making sandwiches, buying snacks and giving them to people in hospital waiting rooms for free, pushing her trolley with a smile and a kind word. She now serves in 3 hospitals, still privately from her home, because since starting her act of tsedaka she has 3 beautiful children. "I can't stop" she said "I can't stop giving joy". If you want to help Miri you can send me a donation and Rachel will make sure it gets directly to her.

Last night we went to the memorial seuda, meal, for our friend Bernardo Romanowsky. It is a year since he passed and we still miss him. His widow Rosa really did him proud and the gathered friends spoke of his exceptional strength and kindness. Rosa was surrounded by friends but her loneliness was tangible without him. The food was amazing and I had the honour of sitting with one of my favourite people Pola Sztrigler, while Zvi sat with her husband Jorge. Best of all my proximity to Pola meant I had first dibs of her unbelievably tasty herring dishes!!!!

The Haredi community is at best misunderstood and at worst despised. The renowned Jewish tolerance for others seems to end when it comes to our own. Oprah Winfrey went into the Haredi world of Brooklyn and her series was an eye opener for her and for all who have dire misconceptions of Haredi life.

My favourite Jerusalem supermarket is a Haredi one called Osher Ad. I call it Haredi because they have only very, very kosher foodstuffs that suit a specific clientele but they have all the American brands and wonderful fresh produce. Actually the produce is the best fun. They don't have a few cucumbers or tomatoes or aubergines or any fruit or veg – they have mountains! When choosing cucumbers one is faced with the edges of thousands of crisp green fruits piled high……. And of course there is always someone who wants the one at the bottom!!! Best of all one sees every variety of Israeli people shopping there irrespective of race, colour or leaning………….it is so much fun!! No silence at the checkouts here – everyone is helping everyone else and of course guarding their place and trolley in the line so they can run to get "just one thing I forgot"!!!

Since I have given you so many links, perhaps we should be satisfied with one Shabbat song. I'll see………………….
Lecha Dodi – Welcome my Beloved – refers to the welcome for the Bride of Shabbat. The words are wonderful and this is a Chassidic niggun with English translation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNhUv0UpSVE

Oh alright then I will find just one more!  Mi ha Ish – Who is the Man the song of tolerance from the words of King David's Psalms written here in Jerusalem 3,000 years ago and still sung in the original language. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-N-uzKNW7rY

Tomorrow I will go to Givat Zeev to see Yosef, Talia and Ayala before Shabbat then come home to prepare to welcome Shabbat with Leor, Shiri and family. We leave for Holland on Sunday night, on our annual vacation with Zvi's boys and families. I hope I will be able to write to you next week but it all depends upon the WiFi where we stay!!!

I wish you Shabbat Shalom from our Jerusalem, each time I come home from afar I am dazzled by her beauty and the view from our veranda. By the way Stanley, my little lemon tree has at least 35 lemons on it this year!!!!

With love
Sheila


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Thursday, 28 July 2016

160728 Dem convention, French Priest decapitated,

160728

28th July, 2016


Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope you are well and not too deeply into despair every time you switch on the news or hear the newspaper drop through your letter box.

We live in a time of horrific killings and the utter ineptitude of our leaders. We live in a time whereby Church leaders condemn Israel, their only refuge, yet do not preach of the slaughter of their parishioners in Moslem countries. We live in a time where Islamic leaders are calling on lone wolf terrorists to kill Israeli athletes at the Brazil Olympics. We live in a time where the Palestinian Authority is suing Britain for the Balfour Declaration because they are rendered incapable of moving forward by hate so deep that they will not build their potential country. We live in a time where an aged priest has his throat slit while at prayer because he refused to denounce his faith and his country's leader still believes we must get used to it. There has always been war, for some countries it is overseas and thousands of miles away for some their cities were bombed and homes and families destroyed, but somehow, it was not personal, except for one exception, the worst of all exceptions, the Holocaust. The Shoah was very personal. The Shoah singled out specific groups with the soul intention of wiping them off the face of the earth in an organised and almost predictable fashion – this is different. The Goerring lies are the same; the cant is similar; but it is the unpredictability of their methodology that is so horrific, pure unadulterated terror. Taking tiny children and inculcating them with a hatred so deep that they grow up with one aim in life – to kill those who they cannot overpower in order to achieve world domination. No more no less. They have been successful for one reason – our leaders, virtually all, have misinterpreted their intent, their determination and their methods. Again, I beg of you to watch this important documentary by Israeli journalist and Arab expert Zvi Yehezkeli. His documentary is about Europe but it applies to the USA too. Allah Islam https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hR7REARFFpQ

If you ever read the words of the Reformist Martin Luther you will know that nothing is new under the sun. Please read this excellent article by  Carla Brewington who is a volunteer with Standwithushttp://www.algemeiner.com/2016/07/27/on-modern-antisemitism-christian-silence-is-complicity/

Now that you are thoroughly depressed, let's go on to politics!!!

I am so impressed by the carnival of American Elections! No endlessly boring speeches by candidates outlining their manifesto, conventions become akin to pop concerts where the candidates are the stars and the atmosphere reaches fever pitch. The applause and the clearly professionally printed placards of the minor players do less for me but the jamboree effect is sensational. Of course, it has nothing to do with politics, but it certainly is fun. The Republican convention gave us more drama because we couldn't decide what would happen next (a little like the candidate) but it was rather businesslike; the Democrats, however, know how to throw a party!!!  Film stars (I thought Meryl Streep would pop her socks), Pop stars, Rock stars, Presidents wife and of course Bill Clinton, all stood up to declare their love for the candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. They dedicated songs of freedom and women's rights and Mrs Clinton herself spoke to little girls about the possibility of them becoming the next woman President………. By the way, am I the only one who noticed that her voice is getting deeper and deeper a la Margaret Thatcher? I love it! That is, I love it with deep reservations. America is electing the leader of the free world, and it is an endangered free world, the carnival is not enough. All eyes are on the election of a President who can lead us through a period of extreme danger, who has the courage to make huge decisions, to look outward not inward. We want a leader who makes his/her intentions clear, a list, a manifesto, a declaration of intent – not bells and whistles – solid, clear, written intent. Please.

While all the horror has been taking place, have you read Israel21C? www.israel21c.org  tells you of all the amazing innovations and inventions created in and by Israel. Just this week the "black box" of brain tumours was discovered – a way to find them before they actually become malignant; we read of a nanotech printer which creates human tissue from stem cells to say nothing of the wonders of the past which have given hope and life to millions. Israel is a positive spot of light on a dark landscape.

Daniel Meron is a Senior Advisor at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our neighbor! Daniel wrote this excellent Op-Ed
The Jewish sages teach us that Abraham’s tent was open in all four directions because he wanted to be prepared to lend assistance to anyone who happened to pass by. Abraham, as the Bible tells us, also tried to save the people of Sodom and Gomorrah from their grave punishments. In the spirit of our forefather, Israel has been working since its establishment to provide much-needed assistance in catastrophes and to those less fortunate around the world. The founding leaders of Israel recognized that it is a country’s responsibility and moral obligation to share its experiences with other nations.

Dr Yleem Poblete was, for many years, the senior advisor to Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen. Over the years and our friendship with Ileana we became closer to Yleem and began to recognize her outstanding academic approach to the American relationship with Israel. Yleem wrote this exceptional Op-Ed entitled "Israel deserves better" . https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/8537/israel-deserves-better

Despite relating the umpteen times Jews were banned, slaughtered, exiled and enslaved by Greeks, Romans, Babylonians, Crusaders etc  in Jerusalem– we are here. This is video takes us through 4,000 years in 5 minutes!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mR2W43t6tI

Last Shabbat we went to the baby blessing of Michael and Meira Partems little grand-daughter. It was such a joyous occasion and the whole family took part in the Shabbat service and Michael explained the Parashat ha Shevua – the Torah reading.

This week the Liwerant Family is in Israel to celebrate the Bar Mitzva of Eitan, Daniel and Judit's grandson. Being the wonderful people they are they could not imagine their grandson having his barmitzva without putting on his tefillin (phylacteries) beside the Western Wall. After the religious ceremony we went to the Touro Restaurant in Yemin Moshe for what we were told it brunch but turned into an exquisite cornucopia of elegant dishes. What could be better? Good people, wonderful food and a view of the ancient walls.

I finally got to sit down and enjoy the company of two of my favourite ladies, Judith Hallside in the German Colony and my friend Sheila Zucker!!! Sheila is a former broadcaster, both here and in America. I love her and we always have so much to say but never seem to meet. We sat on the veranda of the King David Hotel (or as Canon Andrew White calls it 'Daves Caff") and absorbed the view, the elegance and the opportunity to talk about everything. Hopefully we will get together in January in Southern Florida where Zvi (and I) are coming to speak.

We are off again! Portugal with the HaKol Yachassi choir. I love travelling with them because we are friends and because we sing all the way there and all the way back!!!! We will visit Belmonte the Jewish Sefardic Museum learn about Portugals Jewish history as well as enjoying local sites and sights. http://mpjh.org/Museums.html

Music, to lighten our hearts

Israel is haven to birds as well as people. Every spring and autumn hundreds of thousands of cranes, pelicans and so many more come to rest and enjoy the weather of the Hula Valley as they go to winter in Africa and summer in Europe. This niggun is dedicated to them https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5d8tHhrDNZ4

Since we are going to Portugal I thought it appropriate to give you a wonderful song written by Eli Yaron, a member of the choir with music by Adi Hayat – Israel Mio – My Israel, in Ladino. I hope you like it. In this clip our dearest friend Shmuel Benalal z"l was still alive and so happy, so I dedicate this to Flory, Asher, Avi and Netanel, his loving family. Shmuel ws killed in the terror attack in Mali.  Hakol Yachassi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oZfs4WjDpU

I won't be cooking this Shabbat but I promise you that we will sing Kiddush, break bread and sit together for our Shabbat meal just as if we were at home, at a table surrounded by friends

With all my love from Jerusalem, the most beautiful, open, welcoming city in the world

Sheila












Friday, 22 July 2016

160722 Turkey, Iran, Trump, Gay Parade, Ballam's donkey

160722
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.com/israel-is-not-a-normal-country/

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.

Sheila











Friday, 15 July 2016

160715 Terror on the Promenade des Anglais, Theresa May, Breaking the Silence

160715

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.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ko7kUFJeWQQ

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.

Songs!!!!
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.
Sheila

If you want to know the meaning of the prayer Adon Olam - http://www.hebrewsongs.com/song-adonolam.htm












  

Friday, 8 July 2016

160708 Entebbe, Africa, 7-7-05, Dallas

160708
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……………
Sheila