Friday, 5 February 2016

160205 Kotel mixed, Gaza tunnels, Tibi, Hadar Cohen

5th February, 2016

Shabbat Shalom dear friends,
Yes I know I am writing a bit late today but we had a surprise birthday party for Danby Meital this morning and I have 15 people for dinner tonight so please excuse me!!!

This has been a week that rocked the religious establishment and the earth for the people on the edge of Gaza and for me – week that lifted my heart from the doldrums of tragedies at home and anger at the international media.
I guess I should begin at the beginning because I confused myself and I know what I am trying to say.

The religious earthquake is that the government decided to set aside an area of the Western Wall for Reform, Conservative and mixed prayer. It is both logical and less revolutionary than it appears. The Western Wall is about three times longer than the current Western Wall Plaza. It continues past the Mugrabi and Robinsons Arch (which is in fact a staircase not an arch) into the Davidson Archaeological Park. The area beyond the current Western Wall Plaza will be cleared and prepared (without damaging antiquities) in order to give an area for mixed prayer. It was approved of and recommended by the Prime Minister. It will not in any way interfere or inhibit the prayer of those who choose to have separation, a mechista, whose needs will be firmly upheld. Just by the by – I was at the Kotel in 1967, Rosh Hashana Eve actually, and took a photograph. It was before they dug down, before the synagogue or tunnels, it was rubble all around and in the picture you see a very religious man standing talking to his wife right at the Kotel – so some minhagim, traditions, are self imposed and quite recent.

The physical earth moving has caused turmoil within and without the IDF. Residents of kibbutzim and moshavim along the border with Gaza have long complained of the sound of power tools, to no apparent avail. The sounds clearly indicate that Hamas is digging terror tunnels under their homes. This week the army began to check but for the families it is too slow and too late. God forbid those tunnels are completed and entire villages wiped out.

MK Dr. Ahmed Tibi, who grew up in Jerusalem and went to the Hebrew University to study medicine, became a Member of Knesset, was Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, went to the White House to discuss inequality of Israels Arab population! Somewhat ironic isn't it?

Three Members of Knesset of the Joint List decided to go and pay a compassionate visit to Arab families whose children died at the hands of the IDF this week. Sounds logical? The trouble is those families, those children were Shahidim – terrorists who died for the cause of Allah!!! Their actions have been brought before the Knesset Legal Committee by the Prime Minister, and if their actions are found to be treasonable, they will be removed from their position.

In 2014 three Israelis tortured and killed a young Arab boy. The entire country was in uproar and many many Israelis went to visit the distraught parents of the boy, Muhammad Abu Khdeir. This week one murderer got life plus 3 years and another got 21 year sentence. The third has an insanity plea under consideration. Of course Muhammads mother is not satisfied but – in Israel we punish those who kill, we do not reward them. A life is a life is a life.

In Nigeria the diabolical Boko Haram burned children to death, whole schools, churches without a word from the leaders of the West who apparently care not a jot for the lives of the poor and the Christians.   Ban Ki Moon chooses to remain silent on the horrors of Boko Haram yet decides to chastise Israel for incurring the wrath of the Palestinians!!!

Hadar Cohen always wanted to join the Border Police. She achieved that honour just a few weeks ago. This week she became a heroine, saving the lives of many but losing her own in an act of supreme bravery. We salute you Hadar, as your Father did at your funeral. Hadar Cohen z'l.

Yesterday I had quite a discussion with our friend Michael Gallop, the culmination of which was that basically we disagree on politics but totally agree in principle!! A quote that Michael used summed up my feelings, that the West is left in a leadership vacuum, and clearly his but from very different viewpoints. 
The Italian philosopher, Gramsci defined the concept well: ”The old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum many morbid symptoms arise.”

I am so proud of our friend Debby Bettsak who has written a firm letter outlining the reasons that  Israeli singer Achinoam Nini (Noa) should not perform at a JNF event in Atlanta. Noa has constantly denigrated Israel and the Government and should not represent either.

OK So I promised you the good things! At the weekend we saw out lovely friend David Efron, the Honorary Consul of Israel to Puerto Rico, and his daughter Libi and son in law Eitan, who then came to Jerusalem to a show of the Hora Dance Troupe at the First Station. We met for lunch and a promenade in Mamilla which was packed after David and Zvi went to the Kotel. The Hora show followed by dinner in the absolutely packed entertainment area of the First Station.  

Then came Wednesday – wow was it really only one day?

The day began wonderfully with a lecture at the Jerusalem Press Club in the beautiful Yemin Moshe neighbourhood, a lecture given by the exceptional Professor Shlomo Avineri. Such words of wisdom fall from his lips every time he opens speaks. He took us from the 30's and 40's when Israel's political camps were formed, through partition, Peel and the UN Resolution of 29th November. We chose partition because we knew we could never get support for Eretz Yisrael, and they chose war. Had they chosen partition today we would all live in peace. He took us through the changes of 1967 and the return to the call of Eretz Yisrael and the blame game with the Arabs. You know what – you don't need me to explain when the Professor can do it so much better himself

Then, oh then it happened. With grateful thanks to my dear friend Andrew Stone (Lord Stone of Blackheath) I met with a truly fascinating man, originally British, like me, who chose the road less travelled – like me, and he has changed the lives of children, thus adults. His name is David Geffen, Rabbi David Geffen. David created a new concept in teaching, one that exudes love, not in an airy fairy way, but in a positive and concrete method of reaching children, especially those who fall between the cracks. As he says Build on the positive and the negative will disappear. David created Loving Classroom
Even before meeting my instincts told me there were two meetings I had to arrange for him. One was with IMPACT-SE where he found a fascinated audience whose research complemented his method and hopefully, judging from the hugging that was prevalent at the meeting, great works will be carried out together. The second meeting was with Canon Andrew White. This was a case of like-minded, warm, open, giving people who will work together to help the refugee children at FRRME school in Jordan. Only love can rebuild their shattered lives. As we left Andrews and I dropped David back to his car I felt an elation that I cannot remember……….. I was walking on clouds and haven't come down yet. My next shidduch for David is with the wonderful Shachar Zahavi of IsraAid. Life is so good when you meet the right people. I know we are all nuts but hey – if you cannot think outside the box you cannot perform Tikkun Olam.

Finally but most certainly not last – Zvi and I met with Michael and Dorothy Goldstein and their daughter Ilana and son in law at, yes you guessed it, Caffit in the Botanical Gardens! I love meeting them, such warm and positive people I always leave with a smile on my face.

Today is a truly magnificent day. The sun is shining, the air is crisp and when you stand in the sunshine you feel your winter bones warm through. As we stood on Danby and Marvin veranda for her surprise birthday party, the cries of the Muezzin drowned out all conversation and the broadcast words of the Imam sent chills up my spine, despite the sun. Who knew what he was saying?

Anyway – I have to finish the cooking, although everything is ready to go…… Oh now I am crying!!! My daughter Rachel just called me before Shabbat and she and the children sang me a song they made up "Safta Safta (grandma), Safta Safta, We love you – Safta Safta, Safta Safta you are the best Safta in the world"!!! So tell me – wouldn't you cry?

So back to the cooking! Tonight we are eight adults and seven children, and I am doing a milky meal. Vegatable soup, Pea Soup (Gilis request) Fresh Salmon Teriyaki, Moussaka with Tivol mince, Fishballs in Chraimeh Moroccan Sauce, Gratined Potatoes, Tivol Sausage Rolls for the children, various salads and no doubt a few other treats.

You want a song or two? It really has become important to me so I hope it is for you.

Perhaps the most appropriate song this week is Halleva'i – If Only- sung by Boaz Sharabi. If Only indeed

Another song that expresses Israel is Al Kol Eleh  I know I have played it for you before but as those students in Hillel House London learned the truth of convincing a deaf world of the wonders of Israel I would play this song so loud in my office that they wound up singing along with it and it gave them heart.

Shmor na li Eli Ha Tov – and never ever forget the Tikvah - the Hope. As David Geffen would say, Humanity. Head. Heart. Hand. If you think with Humanity, use your Head, give your Heart and helping Hand the world will be a better place.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, the city of light and hope. Worry not, we will be just fine.

With love

If the media does not inform us we must inform the media
Facebook      Sheila Silver Raviv

Friday, 29 January 2016

160129 Sweden, USA Military, Holocaust education

29th January 2016

Shabbat shalom dear friends.

Are you as confused by our world as I am? I am dumbfounded by the ignorance, no not ignorance, insouciance, nonchalant disinterest of the world, our Western leaders, as to what is really happening to them, their people and to Western society as a whole while successfully using Israel as a scapegoat! The American President at least referred to Jews on International Holocaust Day even though I felt it was simply politic to do so; the Canadian Prime Minister didn't even mention Jews in his Holocaust Memorial speech; United Nations leader Ban Ki Moon, so sympathetic about the Holocaust actually had the gall to say that we deserve to be stabbed and blown apart because it is natural to fight oppression; and the Swedes…………… ah the Swedes deny the existence of the Holocaust, but then that happened during the Holocaust too so why am I surprised? Yesterday the first ever Palestinian Embassy opened in….. you guessed, in Sweden. Throughout the Second World War an embassy existed in Stockholm representing Nazi Germany. Neutral my foot.

Swedish Foreign Minster Margot Wallstrom, actually accused Israel of extrajudicial killings because maniacal knife wielding Arabs were shot on site. She then had the audacity to speak of the Holocaust!!!

Sweden is simply an extreme example of what is happening all over the world, not just in Europe so don't be smug, everywhere, whether denying Bible teaching in American public schools or religious assemblies in British schools. When I discovered that all mention of the Holocaust has been removed from Swedish textbooks I asked myself why – because 10 and 12 year old Moslems stood in class and demanded it removed because it was offensive to Islam, and the Swedish Government stood by and agreed – that is not neutrality that is idiocy. As if that was not enough, Israel does not appear in Swedish textbooks!

Incidentally, all this after Sweden came to understand that not all the "refugees" had good intentions (maybe it was the unbearable percentage of rapes) and may well send some 60,000 back. Didn't they claim Israel was racist because we didn't absorb all of our African refugees?

While in a Roman restaurant, we met a delightful American military family who were on vacation. Devout Christians, we obviously invited them to Jerusalem, he was very polite and said he really wanted to come with his family. I later discovered that he will not come. Why? AMERICAN MILITARY PERSONNEL ARE NOT ALLOWED TO VISIT JERUSALEM!! Again Why? Because, according to the State Department, Jerusalem is disputed territory. I was flabbergasted!  The United States, our proclaimed closest ally, has not and will not allow her military personnel to visit their Christian Holy Sites? Shame; Disgrace, Scandal; Opprobrium – there are not enough words in the thesaurus to express my anger.

US Ambassador Dan Shapiro rebuked Israel for having double standards in their treatment of Israeli and Palestinian residents of the West Bank. Duh! Of course we do! One group is Israeli and the other should be cared for by the PA. Of course the NYT and the Guardian admonished Mr Netanyahu for expressing his distaste for the Ambassadors statement but they made up the next day!  If the USA is so worried about the plight of the Palestinians, why have they reiterated the need to label any products from the West Bank?

Part of my pre-Shabbat enjoyment is to visit the little parade of shops at the entrance to Givat Zeev. I love the fact that both Jewish Israelis and Moslem Palestinians have businesses there and everyone simply gets on with life. Two nights ago a Palestinian man came to that example of coexistence, ran, large knife at the ready, after a religious Jewish couple as they were going out for the evening to a restaurant, and stabbed the husband, injuring him seriously, right outside my fishmongers. I cannot begin to imagine the shock and horror of both Jews and Arabs who work there. The perpetrator was chased and caught by many of the people there, irrespective of their origin. I am sad. How dare he break the harmony? I am going to visit the fishmonger today. I hope that Abu Yosef is there and his village isn't under curfew after the horrific attack. These attacks harm everyone; create distrust of friends and fear of revenge in the hearts of Arabs who work with Jews.

I forgot to tell you, when we flew to Rome, I sat beside a lovely, lovely young man. As we arrived at our seats I saw a young Haredi fellow, long payot (sidecurls), beard and immediately asked him if it is alright to sit next to him. There was no way Zvi could fit into a middle seat and I was concerned. He smiled and indicated to the seat next to him "My mother taught me that if you fly on an aeroplane I must behave nicely to the other passengers and not expect them to think only of my wishes" I was so impressed with him that I started up a conversation. He was from a seriously Haredi family from one of the closed sects, his father and brothers were teachers but he decided to go into business – into marketing, in his native New York. He spoke English, Yiddish and fluent, modern Hebrew. He was a delight! He encouraged me to reach out for my dreams, wanting was not enough, one has to act. He said that if I act I will have my own website and earn from it – and that my book will come to fruition. He recognized that studying Torah did not absolve him from providing well for his family; that there was no sin in having a nice apartment; that respect of ones fellow man, whomsoever he may be, was the basis of all Judaism and I knew this was the ultimate in a good Jewish man. His name was Baruch and he was indeed blessed.

The Oxford Union is famous for its Debating Society. Free Speech in its purest form, debate, not furied screaming matches. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach stood up to the finest of debaters who defended Hamas. Well worth watching

Another video which really amazed me this week was this brave rant by a young Moslem woman. She sat in her car so she would not be overheard but my goodness, may her voice be heard. It is extreme but…..

Not everything in my life is politics! We have fun too! This week Zvi met with the wonderful Earl Cox and his team, we had dinner with Coach Mike Gottfried. We ate in Ima Restaurant because he really wanted good Middle Eastern food and he relished the Humous! Two nights ago we had the pleasure of entertaining Sandy and Rose Hollander (Rose has the most incredible necklace with each member of her immediate family in Hebrew letters), who brought a group from Metro West and we invited our Jerusalem friends Danby and Marvin Meital to join us. They say if two Jews meet they will discover they are family, well it worked! The Hollanders and the Meitals had many people in common! It was a lovely evening and I am happy to say I received many compliments on my cooking, letters and Zvi regaled them with his arsenal of stories and jokes.

Yesterday we had a surprise phone call from Renee and Oren Meytes. We haven't seen them since their marriage 9 years ago but they were in Jerusalem and we decided to meet at the Botanical Gardens – of course – since despite the extreme cold the sun came out for a few hours. Renee was marvellous when I was starting out and gave me space to keep my archives with a wonderful photograph of the View from My Veranda. She kept them all these years.

So, if I keep going I won't be able to go to see my grandchildren before Shabbat! If I don't see my grandchildren I won't have the phenomenal Jerusalem panorama from Samuels Tomb and then I will feel deprived on every level so the time has come, as Lewis Carroll said in the Walrus and the Carpenter (Jabberwocky) to leave the Cabbages and Kings and go to music.
I wish you a Gitten Shabbes – a gorgeous, joyous, Yiddish song for Shabbat

Steve Lawrence sang a song that touched my heart. Perhaps once again it is pertinent. Where Can I Go?

So another Shabbat, another prayer, another plea for peace, for Shalom.  I was going to end with some words on how we feel abandoned but I thought about Harold Finger who rightly told me I must always end on a high note. We have some incredible people around the world who give us heart. We, the Israelis, will continue Tikkun Olam, will continue to send doctors, agriculturalists, educators, economists, experts in a hundred fields to help countries in need. We are a fine country, a democratic country, a country based on Jewish ethics and morals and we will not succumb, we grow stronger every day. This week we acknowledged the 70th  anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz – look how much we have achieved!!!! We are a country that loves life and lives it to the enth degree.

As I light the candles tonight they will sit in the candlesticks I lit with my Mother. Nearly 53 years after her passing, every time I circle the candles and say the ancient prayer to welcome Shabbat, I feel the warmth of tradition in the knowledge that my Mothers teachings carry to my children and my children's children.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends

With all my love from Jerusalem. Jerusalem, centre of our prayer, light of our life

Friday, 22 January 2016

160122 Rome, Hebron, Nati


22nd January 2016

Shabbat Shalom everyone!

They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder and I can only say that even when one is in the glorious cities of Rome and Florence, Jerusalem is the city I yearn for.

So, home sweet home even though our heating isn't working and it is bloody freezing!!.
We loved Rome and also Florence and walked our feet off. Rome has too many steps but other than that it is such a lovely friendly city.

What amazed me about Rome in general and the squares in particular, was the vast number of police and soldiers, machine guns cocked at the ready, eyes everywhere - most of all around the Vatican. We were very aware of the ISIS threat of the 23rd March, to destroy the Vatican and turn it into a Mosque.  Rome is clearly taking that threat very seriousl; Rome and Jerusalem, two cities under threat because of their spiritual meaning to so many. Take Rome and Jerusalem take the world.

The Italians, indeed the people we met from all over the world, were great. Rome is probably the only European City where we had no qualms about saying we are Israeli, indeed most people were thrilled – a surprising number had been to Jerusalem and knew how beautiful she is. Our tour of the Vatican comprised of 2 Koreans,2 Bahrainians,  4 Californians, 2 Greeks, 2 Indians, 3 Iranians, 2 Israelis and a Partridge in a pear tree!  The conversations were wonderful and we each understood the other – except that the three Iranian ladies avoided the Bahranian!

We really did Rome – landing on Sunday morning, Natan Hamawi  organised a driver to collect us from the airport and then after dropping our luggage we went into Rome on the bus and began our tour with him at the Spanish Steps. We saw everything,  stopping to savour local delicacies, all the while hearing explanations. I highly recommend Nati – Hebrew, English or Spanish. or better still go to and "like" him. He really deserves it.

The Jewish Quarter was a revelation – the original Ghetto, the synagogue and of course deep fried artichokes………… not my favourite but a real ancient Jewish delicacy. I hadn'e realized that Jewish Rome has been strong for nearly 2,000 years, after we were taken there as slaves. Vittorio Pavoncello explained a lot while we sat and ate a Roman meal in Yotvat – Rome!!! A guard/guide at San Pietro con Vincoli, asked us where we are from and when we said Jerusalem he greeted us with Shalom Aleichem – he was a Jew, Italian, his family in Rome over 2,000 years and he Wears Magen David on his arm!!!!!.

This is going to be a quick letter – because we got home at 04:00 this morning and I have Shabbat to prepare although my Rachel made us our Challot and Zvis children are making most of supper and brining it here.

Hebron has a deep Jewish history. King David's capital city before coming to Jerusalem, Jews have lived there throughout the ages. I will defend the right of Jews to purchase property anywhere in the world, legally and fairly, and abhor any racist denial of that right……….. however I am faced with a dichotomy. Two Jewish families bought home near the Cave of the Patriarchs and moved in. Today the Israeli Government has already declared confiscation of their homes and eviction of the families for moving there. The dichotomy is that while I defend their right to be there I cannot understand their need to be there and put themselves and their families in danger, but in a typically Tevye situation, on the other hand the world will say "Look at those Israelis, taking poor Palestinian homes again". We all know that is not true but – Oy vey – what is the right thing to do? While normally I find Caroline Glick right of my politics, by a long way, this speech perhaps answers our Tevye question.  Equally the q1uestion of one way human rights is approached in this excellent article

The stupidest proposal I have heard over recent years – is the idiotic idea that British Doctors boycott Israel. Yeah Right!!!!

Actually they should read Prof. Michael Baums book and then decide!! Michael is a dear dear friend, and his book held me enthralled in my rare free time in Rome

The sun is shining and as I went over the top of Nebe Samuel – Samuels Tomb – the view was even more spectacular than usual! I don't know if four days away from my beloved city gave her a special glow, but she performed in all her glory, spread before me as exquisite as any sculpture, tapestry or painting we saw over the last few days. Even before we build we plant trees along the roadsides and the view of white houses and green trees in the sunshine is very special.

I am now flagging!! Time for a shloof before the grandchildren arrive. Zvi should be back from his parliament any moment, happy to have wonderful tales to tell.

Children, the children are our future and our history. They hold our traditions in their hands. If they don't know to continue, who will? This rendition of Shabbat songs is dedicated to children everywhere – including us!

Shlomo Carlebach gave us so many beautiful melodies to Shabbes songs – here he tells a story worth listening to, especially if you think that the world is rotting.

Finally to make us all happy before candle lighting – Hevenu Shalom Aleichem – We Brought Peace Unto You

Shabbat Shalom dear Friends, Shabbat Shalom. As much as I loved Rome, her beauty and her obvious spirituality, nothing comes close to Jerusalem. Perhaps it is because of hospitality, our determination to ensure every single friend has a good time, sees what they should see and enjoys the warmth of our homes. We missed that, except for nati, Nati made our Roman Holiday exceptional.

By the way – just a quick postscript. A journalist I know very well, a special person in a big media outlet, wrote something to me last night. I loved it so much I am giving it to you even though I cannot identify him.
 I totally love the fact two Arabs are suing Supersol Supermarkets over deliveries ! I love the fact they can bring this law suit before a court of law be judged as equals with the law being applied regardless of whether they worship pigs of Jupiter or are green or whatever and there is an unbiased process that will determine the outcome. That to me is the greatest part of Israel.  Blind justice. And it gets reported without any fear!!! God bless Israel - it's a light in darkness. I know you are proud of your country and you bloody well should be.
Keep up the good fight

Friday, 15 January 2016

160115 Peres, ISIS, Hebdo, Deri, Abbas

15th January 2016

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. This is your 70 year old Israeli correspondent giving you the lowdown on what really happens here in the Middle East and what we think happens in your neck of the woods. Yup, yesterday was my birthday and I am very thrilled to have reached another benchmark. It was made even more special because dear friends come to celebrate with me – even if I didn't tell them it was my birthday – but more of that later.

First and foremost – Former President Shimon Peres had a minor heart attack two days ago but after angioplasty is raring to go home. I am confident this will not slow him down. He already eats healthily so hopefully he will continue until 120.

It has been a crazy week wherever you live. 10 American sailors were "found" in Iranian waters due to a navigational error. The 10 sailors on 2 small Riverine craft were stopped and held by Iranian forces as they strayed into Iranian territorial waters in the Persian Gulf. Once the Iranians realized it was by error the sailors were released. I have to admit that if the video is the whole truth the sailors were treated very well.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the terror attacks in Istanbul and Jakarta. Istanbul, fascinating and beautiful city, has lost credibility and tourism thanks to the Turkish leader Erdogan, but now it has also lost the safety factor for the many Germans who used to fill her streets. The Turks are now trying to wheedle their way back into Israeli favour, but it will take time and a lot of proof. The loss of life in so many unstable and warring countries is horrifying. I know it has always been, but now we have the power to change and our leaders do not use it.

Germany is leasing several Israeli produced drones, preferring the IAI Heron to the USA produced Predator. It is an enormous step forward for the IAI.

It is a year since the terror attack on the offices of outrageous French magazine Charlie Hebdo. I remember the argument I had with my French cousin when I said it was religiously based – even though it was so close in time to the Hyper Cacher Supermarket attack he ferociously defended France saying it couldn't be – just a year ago. This week the Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Laurent Sourisseau, who was in the offices during the horrific attack, responded with the most controversial of cartoons. When little Aylan Kurdi died it raised awareness and sympathy for the Syrian refugees, but Sourisseau depicts him as a future child molester and rapist…………. following the revelations of rape and sexual harassment in European countries that welcomed refugees.

The Jerusalem offices of B'Tselem, the left wing organization, were burned down. Immediately Meretz leader Zahava Galon began a tirade against the right wing claiming arson, but according to both the Fire Service and B'Tselem, it was an electrical fault! We are still waiting for Ms Galon's apology.

Arieh Deri is a brilliant man. He has served in many positions, including Interior Minister, in various governments of Israel, and done so with great ability. However, Arieh Deri served a prison term for fraud. Two days ago the Knesset agreed to his return to the Interior Ministry. I am in two minds as to the logic. The first proposal put forward by the new Minister is to revoke citizenship of Israelis who join ISIS/Da'esh……… I cannot disagree! I hope he will prove himself as rehabilitated and will use his undoubted intelligence to the good of the country.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is close to retiring. The PA will fall into anarchy as the only person strong enough to hold the various groups together leaves the scene.  Why do the Palestinians attract such sympathy? Why do they receive 15 times more aid than Ethiopia which has far greater needs and is a Western ally?  Why is their PR falling on such willing ears? Of course the only aspect for the Swedish Foreign Minister is to accuse Israel of summarily executing terrorists without trial. How stupidly blind can you get? What? She wants us to read them their rights as they are stabbing civilians with machetes???  This video explains what the breakdown of so many Middle Eastern countries means to Israel, with the brilliant Richard Kemp

On Sunday I received a lovely phone call from Helsie (Helen) Burstman to say that she had arrived in Israel the night before and had a message for me from John and Pauline Gandel. Of course we immediately got in the car and met her at the King David. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with her and found we had many Australian friends in common and she gave me the kiss that John and Pauline sent (and my birthday present!)

On Monday I received a lovely surprise. Ron Myerson sent me a glorious Calendar filled with some of his very best nature photographs – it's on my wall Ron!!! Tuesday and I met my friend Judith Hallside for lunch in the Baka neighborhood of Jerusalem – it was so much fun and I love the architecture of Baka. On Wednesday out lovely friend Dr Kim Taylor came to us having taken part in a fascinating international conference on medical management of emergency and terror situations – a field Israel has become expert in. This visit is a milestone one for Kim – it is his 50th Israel visit…… quite a feat. From the moment we met him all those years ago, in the Absorption Centre for Ethiopian Immigrants, I knew we met an exceptional man and a very special friend.

That brings us to yesterday. Ah Yesterday, my actual birthday. Yesterday I became 70 years young. I find it very hard to believe, my mind is still 45, but I am so thrilled at this milestone, I want to shout it from the rooftops!!!!

We didn't tell our guests that it was an important day because I wanted them to come, just to visit the veranda! It was a very Sydney, Australian lunch. Originally it was to be Harold and Rebecca Finger, then I discovered that Michael and Dorothy Goldstein were going to be in Jerusalem and they brought their friends Sue and Gary and of course Kim was here. It was fun – there is always enough food to go around! I loved watching Harold walk around the veranda, checking that I really described the truth, and he found that I did! He promised me to report to Stanley and Charmaine once he got back to Sydney. Stanley still hasn't seen the veranda but loves my horticultural reports! Each and every one commented on the spectacular view – but then you knew that already!
Last night Kim decided that he had seen enough of me in the kitchen, so he took Zvi and I to Sima restaurant, right near Shouk Mahane Yehuda. The food was excellent and Kim's company is always great. Afterwards, trying to move a little after eating too much, we walked up the short hill from Sima to Mahane Yehuda market. I always love going there to shop, love the sounds, aromas, sounds and hurry-scurry, but nothing prepared me for what awaited us when we got there. Almost all the stalls were closed up and there was a flurry of activity as table and chairs were hurried changed from their flat-stored position to filling the lanes between the stalls – Mahane Yehuda turns into a big, sprawling night club at night!!!!
 Young people were streaming into the clubs and music poured from every coffee shop as it sprawled into the alleyways. Greek, Arabic, Eastern, Pop, Hip-hop – every type of music was represented!!! So now you know what to do in your evenings -Mahane Yehuda at night!

Is the world better or worse than when I was born in the first weeks of 1946? In Britain there was strict food and fuel rationing, had been since 1939, but I must admit our family didn't suffer as others because we had a large field behind our home with 40 chickens, a horse, geese and goats, so we had plenty of eggs and swapped eggs for butter and milk and cream – rare commodities during the 15 years of rationing. Sweets and candy were highly limited, indeed didn't come off rationing until 1954, which meant we had good teeth and weren't fat. We found our fun climbing trees and running races, because there was no real TV, certainly not colour, no sitting hunched before a computer and losing muscle for us. On the other hand there were no inoculations and TB, polio, smallpox, measles, chicken pox and whooping cough were prevalent – and I had the last three. 6 years of a terrible war had taken its toll and there were many widows and evil in the world even then but we were better at identifying it. For Jews, there was no Israel, that is, there was Eretz Yisrael but no State, it was still but a prayer and a dream. I don't remember it but I can only tell you that my world changed when Israel was declared a nation. I grew up with a confidence that even my very confident parents never had. I became part of something so big that I started writing about it, MEDINAT YISRAEL………. And still do!!!!

I loved this CNN video of the last 68 presidents – a video lasting just 68 seconds! If you check it out you will see that left, right and centre – they all use the same rhetoric!!!

And so to music!
Yaffa Yarkoni, Shoshana Dimari were the singers of the 40's, 50's and 60's in Israel so I thought you would like to hear the old style singers! See how many songs you recognize!!!!

Since it is my birthday I want to give you a gift – the Shabbat candle lighting scene from Fiddler on the Roof – still makes me cry!!

Finally, as Jews around the world welcome Shabbat, even as theya re told not to wear "Jewish" garb or kippot in the street for fear of beatings, there is one thing that holds us firm, that keeps us together, that ensures our heads are held high and gives us hope……….. TRADITION!!!

Shabbat is nearing, Jerusalem is moving to a gentler mode of life, families gather, foods are placed on gleaming white tablecloths and the family silver is displayed because after all – a bride must be dressed in her finery to greet Shabbat.

With much love to you from Jerusalem, Jerusalem the Golden.

Shabbat Shalom

Friday, 8 January 2016

160108 Khaled Abu Toameh Award, North Korea,Germany rapes, Tel Aviv Terrorist, IsraAid


Friday, 8th January, 2016

Shabbat Shalom everyone. How are you? How's the weather where you are. Right here, right now I think our veranda is about to take off the winds are so strong, mixed with sandy, horrid air – most unusual for this time of year.

This week I decided to begin with some lovely news, then go to the sad reality and bring you right back up with my Jerusalem stories.

Khaled abu Toameh is an exceptional man, an honest, brilliant journalist who has never feared telling the truth of this region's complexities.  Khaled has received many accolades but to receive the Daniel Pearl Award for Courage and Integrity in Journalism is true recognition. Mazal Tov Khaled, Kol ha Kavod

Surprisingly, Khaled says that although he receives many threats for his outspoken reports, few come from our neighbourhood, most come from the United States.

Martin Indyk made a very public statement that Mr Netanyahu, in an aside at Yitzchak Rabins funeral, claimed that had he not been assassinated Rabin would have gone down in history as a mediocre Prime Minister. All well and good but for one thing, Indyk did not sit anywhere near Mr Netanyahu at the funeral! Obviously covering his own inadequacies.

North Korea tested an H Bomb which caused an earthquake throughout the region and a tremor of fear throughout the reasonable world. John Kerry said "North Korea has been carefully watched over recent years" Sure, just like the head of the IAEA that "watched" Iran was a member of the Moslem Brotherhood! North Korea is such an extreme dictatorship that her people have to smile, clap, bow and react exactly as demanded or die! When there is a vacuum in world leadership, that vacuum is filled with strong but evil replacements, sucked in by our inadequacies.

Germany is coming to terms with a diabolical attack on her women. Over 1,000 Moslem men are under suspicion and being arrested for organised gang rapings of German women. Similar rapes took place in Switzerland and Austria – all on New years Eve which led to the police recognising it was organised. It is beyond the imagination of even the most evil among us.

One year after the horrific Charlie Hebdo terror attack, Paris recognized that their attacks are on Jews specifically and others by chance. Even yesterday there was a machete attacker shouting Alla Huakbar. Charlie Hebdo – How the world reacted in cartoons

Shurat ha Din, the Legal based NGO which fights anti-Israel bias decided to run a Facebook experiment. Simultaneously, they launched two Facebook pages, one Stop Israel and one Stop Palestine, under aliases. The results are deafening. Facebook almost immediately closed the Stop Palestine page but left the Stop Israel page running.

The Tel Aviv terrorist, Nashat Milhelm, who shot to death two young men, Alon Bakal and Shimon Riumi, may they rest in peace, and injured others, hailed a cab after the incident. The driver, Amin Shabaan, was found murdered, the cabs security cameras smashed, later that night. Perhaps our security forces will not find Milhelm, who escaped into the PA, but the Shabaan family will. Amin Shabaan z"l, was one of 18 siblings, he left 12 children of his own and believe you me, they will use all their influence to ensure he is caught and then he will suffer their revenge.

Israel has a new man as the Head of the Mossad. Yossi Cohen is making history, he is the first Head of the Mossad to have grown within the organization, up through the ranks. Cohen has ruffled feathers on his way to the top but has won the trust of the PM. For the Israeli public, used to somewhat portly, disheveled, older men who hide their faces from the media, Yossi Cohen is an Adonis! Tall, handsome, nattily dressed, eloquent and charismatic, Cohen represents a new face for the mysterious organization.,7340,L-4748923,00.html

So, this week was a week of meetings! I am very proud to be on the board of two outstanding and totally disparate organisations (among others); one is the Yuri Shtern Foundation for Holistic Treatment of Cancer patients and their families  and IMPACT-SE which set the criteria for and does research into tolerance in education in our region and around the world.  The Yuri Shtern Foundation affords enormous help, emotional, physical, therapeutic to Jerusalem's cancer patients in Shaare Zedek Hospital, I am humbled by their ability to ease the pain of patients and families alike. Impact-se is very different, yet in many ways also provides "out of the box" solutions to a different kind of disease – the disease of hatred through education.

Now to the truly magnificent news! As you know I wax lyrical about IsraAid and Shachar Zahavi who founded the organization . This is an organization which not only rushes to the aid of forsaken places like Haiti and Nepal, but also to storm-torn cities in the USA – indeed Israel is the only country in the world that rushes to Americas Aid. This week, with initial help from my friend Yaffa Glass, Shachar reached the Israeli Sheliach in Northern UK and sent a team to help the flooded areas of that region. They were met with open arms by the locals and even the BBC did a piece about them.

This week I managed both Shouk Ramle and Mahane Yehuda! Shouk Ramle was absolutely packed solid with people rushing to find bargains and costermongers shouting their wares – most of which will fall apart before you get home. My favourite spots are the sticker stand (My grandchildren call me Safta Sticker because they love them and I buy them) and Ahmeds spread of wonderful kitchen equipment. It is such fun climbing over humungeous pots and pans and unusual gadgets to take out the middle of vegetables for stuffing. Of course Mahane Yehuda is a different kettle of fish entirely. Glorious fruit and vegetables, shining because they are straight from the tree or ground; fish still a-jumping – well the carp anyway – herbs which still have the dew on them and of course terrific coffee shops, restaurants and even fine jewellery. My favourites stands? Obviously, Tsidkiayahus!!!! Wonderful "hamutzim"- pickles; olives of every colour and flavor; wonderful cigarim (rolled and fried meat filled cigars); delicious meat patties filled with tehina; salads of every nature and history………… the Tsidkiyahu family is the history of Mahane Yehuda.

In close second place is the spice shop. Huge mountains of gorgeously coloured paprika, smoked, sweet and fiery; turmeric, both whole and ground; long and short cinnamon sticks and cinnamon bark which is wonderfully pungent; dried mushrooms by the half kilo; in fact every spice and herb you can think of and few you couldn't! When you go there be sure to taste the rice concoctions……. Delicious.

Mahane Yehuda is Jerusalem – the rainbow of humanity, the noise and vitality, the flavours and aromas………….. Jerusalem.

So, here we are at the end of another week. Jerusalem is slowing down, even if the wind is not! Jerusalem has much to offer on Shabbat for tourists and non-religious Israelis, but, an important but, one really FEELS Shabbat here. Fridays are filled with the expectation of Shabbat, not only in the amazing epicurean aromas that reach our lofty apartment, the global cookbook of flavours which tickle the palate, but the sense of calm in a crazy world which covers this city with deep spirituality. Shabbat – the greatest gift Judaism gave to society.

And so to music!!!!

First is not a Shabbat song but rather a wonderful, perky song about Israel

Shabbat is a bride, pure, fresh and untainted by life. Shabbat, rest, contemplation and paryer. The Maccabeats sing Lecha Dodi to welcome the bride of Shabbat

I wish you a Gut Shabbes, a Shabbat of peace and please remember that we are so much more than Je suis Paris, or Je suis Tel Aviv, or Je suis NYC, or London, Bali, Mali, Sydney, Brussels, Jerusalem, Moscow, Boston, Je suis tout le monde – we need empathy, to care for each other, wherever we may be.

I almost forgot to tell you. Last Shabbat lunch was amazing. I sat at the table with three phenomenal men – Canon Andrew White, Lord Stone of Blackheath and my husband Zvi. The conversation was fascinating, the interaction amazing and best of all both Andrews are now going to work together for a better world. We were joined by Mohammed- now known as Moshe and two young women who had never seen such activity!! The food wasn't bad either!

With much love from Jerusalem, even in the sand and dust still the most beautiful city in the world.

If the media does not inform us we must inform the media
Facebook      Sheila Silver Raviv

Thursday, 31 December 2015

151231 Happy 2016

31st December 2015
New Years Eve.

Shabbat Shalom to you and yours. May the New Year bring with it a greater sense pf security and a far greater sense of injustice to those who supposedly lead us, wherever or whatever our nation.

This has been a tough year on so many levels, yet as always there were moments of joy.

Too many countries found themselves the target of those who they mistakenly thought just hated Israel and the Jews. Did I actually say "just"? If only our leaders understood that it has nothing to do with Israel, with Belgium, with France, Mali, the USA and UK…. It has predominantly, to do with the fight between the Sunni and Shia, before it becomes a fight against all who do not declare Islam as their religion and Mohammed as their spiritual leader. It is about "reclaiming" formerly Moslem lands……. Remember how we romanticized the Moors? Well they over-ran Spain, parts of Italy, the Holy Land and parts of the Caucasus… and that land must be reclaimed, but so much more. This is now global and a bid to fill the void left by the laziness of modern Western society. We in the West are too pampered and lazy to fight for our right to freedom – we take it for granted.

Benjamin Franklin said “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”  Words that aptly describe Western Society today.

This was a year in which the Israeli Prime Minister fought against the policy of an American President when he felt that the Presidents appeasement was a repeat of history.

It was a year of horrific bombings, killings in the West, ethnic cleansing in Iraq, slaughter in Syria and the terror and torture of individual knife attacks on Israelis.

It was a year when Paris woke up to a living nightmare, suffered terror and found that for a few weeks the world loved the French.

In 2015 we discovered that Jews can be terrorists too.  Extremist Israelis will stand trial over the next few months, but it is a truth that rocked Israeli society.

In 2015 the United Nations reached an all time low – as UN Watch shows

Khaled Abu Toameh wrote that the 5 terrorist involved in the kidnap of Gilad Shalit and the murder of  Lt. Hanan Barak and Staff-Sgt. Pavel Slutzker,  are all dead………. Each and every one of them has fulfilled his dream of becoming a shahid - a martyr.

The media reached new heights of misrepresentation and in many cases sheer lies when it came to Israel. The BBC received the Honest Reporting Award as the Dishonest Reporter – but it was a close thing!

Now to remember that there is still much to celebrate in our world- in Israel.

IsraAid and her Founder and Director Shachar Zahavi have done phenomenal work around the world. This selfless organization not only goes to disaster areas, they stay to rebuild. Still in Haiti, still in Nepal and currently holding out a helping hand to the folks of Missouri, USA. I am so proud to be part of IsraAid, albeit on the periphery.

MASHAV is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs international outreach organization. Mashav not only provides daily essentials to Gaza, including staple foodstuffs, medical assistance and essential drugs, fuel, building materials etc, Mashav's outreach is admirable

30,000 new immigrants came to settle in Israel in 2015 – and Philip and Dorothy Grossman are the oldest ever couple to make Aliya after 71 years of marriage!!  

In 2016 Israel will solve a world problem and a local one in a wonderful way. The Arava which lost much of it's agricultural market is about to become the centre of the flourishing Israeli wonder of medical marijuana.  When they say that we have gone to pot it is a huge compliment. Medical marijuana of high quality can provide relief from pain, neurological disease, ADD and ADHD without the side effects of hashish. Yet another product the BDS won't want to miss!!!! 

President Reuven Rivlin had an excellent year. President Rivlin has proven himself a true, proud and able representative of Israel. A fine man; a 9th generation Jerusalemite and a worthy owner of the title President of the Jewish people.

Former President Shimon Peres, still going strong at 92 sends a message to the world for New Year

We will stay at home this evening, another night of family preparations, cooking, writing, connecting people and happily watching the TV to see what others are doing! Zvi is making meat balls (known locally at kzitzot) for his grandchildren then hopefully he will let me into the kitchen to begin preparing for Shabbat.

This week we will have a Lord, a Vicar (you know who), two total strangers and a young Moslem convert to Christianity……from ISIS to Zionist – quite a big move isn't it? When I asked him how on earth it happened he simply said "I met Canon Andrew White and realized there is a different way. He showed me that love works and that Jews and Israel are not my enemies, they are my mentors"

I know you all think that Israelis are either quivering in our homes, scared to go out or pacing the streets with an Uzi at the ready. Well I would like you to know that neither situation is even close to the truth! Last week we went to a show at Zappa Jerusalem. It was fabulous, the songs of Arik Einstein and good food. The show ended at about 11:30 and as we came out there were throngs of youngsters going into the next-door club, a car park full of people enjoying the restaurants and activities of the First Station and streets full of promenaders. As we drove home the centre of town was buzzing – not a scared face in sight!!! We are a people who love to have fun, love to eat out at the amazing restaurants purveying every type of cuisine, from Sushi to Cordon Bleu; from Felafel to Fish and Chips; from exquisite linen service to a hundred salads slapped on to wooden tables with great expertise and good humour – salads which are just the hors d'oeuvres!!!

Last night we had supper with Canon Andrew White at the elegant King David Hotel. Everybody knows him there! It was such a joy and clearly Andrew has been in Israel for so long that he has taken our habit of inviting new friends to join us. A really nice rheumatologist from NYU sat at our coffee table as we waited and then became a dinner partner! I love it! The King David has that je ne sais quoi that none of the newer hotels – even the Waldorf – can touch. History folks, history.

Just in case you worry about the dichotomy of Judaism and the secular New Year…. Let me put your minds to rest.

Song time!
This is the most Israeli, the proudest Shabbat welcome. Only in Israel do the soldiers of the Navy stop to have a Shabbat meal – I love this.

When legendary Israeli song writer and poet Naomi Shemer heard the Beatles "Let it Be" she was inspired to write the song Lu Yehi –

שזו תהיה ה-ה-השנה של הצלחה, בריאות והרבה הרבה אהבה.
Happy 2016!
May this year be filled with health, fulfillment, love and the light of truth and peace at the end of a dark tunnel.

Shabbat Shalom, Shana Shketa. Shalom, Pax, pais, salaam, fred, shanti, mir, asti, beke, paz………

With love from Jerusalem, the View from our Veranda which inspires me anew every day– even through the blessed and welcome rain