Thursday, 23 June 2016

160623 Brexit, Orlando, Perelman, Mirren, Our 20th Anniversary


23rd June 2016

Shabbat Shalom dear friends! Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem.

It seems so long since we spoke, last week I just couldn't gather my thoughts after a phenomenal trip to the USA and awful jet lag! More about our sojourn in the Land of the Free later, but first, as always, we need to discuss the news.

While in the US the diabolical shooting at a club in Orlando. 49 people lost their lives and many many more are scarred for life, be it physically or psychologically, or both. What made Omar Mateen go on his rampage is unknown; the theories abound, the truth is yet unknown but while accepting that he would have found a way to avenge his dismay at his own sexual preferences one thing is clear to me – and I know there are many who will disagree –guns, the easy availability of guns. This man, Mateen, was under the eye of the FBI yet he simply walked in and bought a assault weapon, was a security guard with a weapon. Sorry but under any law that is crazy. Growing up in a country where even the policemen do not carry guns I find it terrifying – living in a country where one has to go through physical and psychological testing to obtain a gun of any nature and then, if you fire that weapon you need to go through court to explain why and can be indicted. Guns kill but in truth with so many guns already out there it is too late to do what Israel did which is to declare an amnesty on any weapons or ammunition held without licence (left over from army service) and gather them in. To paraphrase Chekhov, "If in the first act you hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following act it will be fired."  Simple.

Today it is happening, Britain will decide whether or not to stay in the European Union. It is well known that without Britain and Germany the rest of the EU would collapse financially and Britain already has the advantage of keeping her own currency rather than being dependent upon the vagaries of the Euro, but can Britain cope with the few years of famine before the fat cows that would certainly ensue leaving the EU? She lost her natural markets when she joined and the only solid reason for leaving is political – or is it? Since the borders went down the politics and open door policy of Europe have impacted Britain and British society enormously – as has the European determination to go further and further left. Luckily I no longer need to vote – I have enough problems voting in Israel!!! For anyone who is interested Dame Helen Mirren is voting to stay in Europe – but more of that later.

Yesterday President Rivlin stood before the European Assembly and presented Israels case on the instability of the French "Peace Initiative". Truthfully Israel is tired of being the only one to pay in this complex situation and most certainly sick of being blamed for Middle East chaos when we are the only stable entity in the entire area! President Rivlins speech was calm, eloquent and explanatory.,7340,L-4819218,00.html

The American Presidential race gets racier by the minute!! One candidate is so unpredictable that his mouth runs off before his brain is in gear and the second is under threat of criminal charges. Now rumours are running fast that her husband has a love-child! It is so exciting that the normally boring process has us all on the edge of our seats. Trouble is that whoever is chosen will be the leader of the free world – and the free world is in dire peril.

Former Egyptian President Morsi has been sentenced (yet again) to life imprisonment. Morsi, of the Moslem Brotherhood, was ousted by President Al Sisi in a military coup. Morsi was elected democratically but his regime wa anti-democratic and oppressive – something important to learn from that.

100 years after the disastrous Sykes Picot Agreement in which the Middle East was divvied up between the British and French irrespective of ethnic or religious affiliations, the Kurdish leader suggests that Iraq returns to being 3 separate states. Kurdistan (parts in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria) and the Sunni and Shia areas.,7340,L-4816877,00.html

And so to the good news!
The Genesis Prize is the brainchild of Michael Fridman and his partners with the prupose of reviving and invigorating Jewish identity worldwide and to strengthen support for Israel. Unlike other such prizes they choose people with great personal wealth to give their million dollars to. Sounds strange? Seems illogical? Actually it is very wise. Their first choice was Michael Bloomberg, not known for his Jewish commitment, who through the Genesis Generation Challenge found 9 teams around the world who epitomised the Jewish values of Tikkun Olam. Last years recipient was Michael Douglas, who, through his son's determination to come closer to his Jewish roots, chose projects which brought families of intermarriage back into the fold. So important was that project that philanthropist Roman Abramovitch added another million dollars to the project.

This years laureate is a personal hero of mine – strangely not because he suffered the ravages of polio as a child but rather because he represents everything good about Israel to the world. A moral leader, his musical genius over-rides all barriers. Yitzchak Perlman.

Yesterday The Jerusalem Press Club gave a reception for Perlman and for this years presenter, the brilliant actress Dame Helen Mirren. Seated just a couple of metres from them I could see their faces and would have recognized politalk, Yitzchak Perlmans love for Israel and wonderful nature shone through. When asked what his dream is in life – it is that people would look at his face and not think of his legs. His Genesis projects relate to raising awareness of accessibility to public areas and ensuring that young Israelis return to classical music – that Juilliard will again be filled with brilliant Israeli musicians.

My favourite quote from Maestro Perlman was "This is a very Jewish Award. No sooner do they give it to you than you have to give it back"!!!!

When Dame Helen Mirren came on stage one was aware of the humility and power of this small person with a great talent. Everyone was smiling until the Guardian reporter asked her how it felt to be involved in a ceremony which meant she would have to meet the much hated Israeli Prime Minister with his policies of occupation and oppression!!!! Through the cat calls of the audience she avoided the question elegantly, but when asked why she is such a fan of Israel her response was "I am not a fan of Israel I BELIEVE in Israel". Her first visit was in '67 with her then Jewish boyfriend and in recent years she has made many films here.

Our American sojourn ended in New York. For me it was heaven. I loved every moment of our journey through Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota – indeed middle America, and the glorious friends we made and renewed on our journey. New York is different though – in New York I have my amazing eldest son Daniel and his gorgeous family. Spending time with Daniel, Karen, Joshua and Callie brought light into my life. My natural obsession with my family meant we had little time to meet friends but we went upstate to visit the community of Shaarey Tefilla Temple at Rabbi David Greenbergs home (I was so thrilled meeting old friends there) where we both spoke, Zvi 's history and political knowledge doing us both proud; we met with "Arlenes Buddies" again a renewal of old friends and time to hug my beautiful Arlene; we managed to have lunch with Joyce Claar and bump into the lovely Josephine Linden and our host with the most Martin came up from Miami to be with us which really was the icing on the cake.  

This is a long letter because I am making you pay for not having one last week!!!!

We came home on the Thursday for a very important reason – on Friday morning Avi Benalal got married. Avi is the son of Flory and our dear friend Sammy/Shmuel Benalal z"l who was killed by terrorists in Mali just a few months ago. It was such a wonderful wedding and Avi's youngest brother Natanel sang a song composed by Shmuel in anticipation of the wedding. Beautiful, happy, fun – just as Shmuel would have wanted.

This week was crazy – for a change! Lots of time with Yosef, Talia and Ayala; lunch with Ilana and Eddie Podolsky and their lovely children; going to Tel Aviv with Rachel to see Rachels cousin (my niece) Debbie and Rosey Larks and their beautiful girls;  I went to a Yuri Shtern Holistic Centre Board meeting ; Cooked veggie soup for Sue then Chicken soup for Danby – and happily took it to them and spent wonderful time in each home and even managed to go shopping yesterday so we coud have Shabbat in Jerusalem.

During my travels there is one element missing from my diet – freshly picked fruit and vegetables. In Israel we get all our fruit and veg the day after they are picked. They still have the dust and mud on them and they taste phenomenal! We eat salads of every variety morning noon and night and very few have lettuce in them!! Aubergine salads abound – with freshly made tehina or mayo or just with coriander and lemon, same with courgettes and the couscous salads are to die for. Moroccan mushrooms, spicy carrot salad, Russian potato salad and bog ordinary coleslaw……… but we make them all fresh! I am going to enjoy this weeks Shabbat preparations!

I love being home. I love our veranda and the spectacular view over Jerusalem. I love the relaxed urgency of people on the streets……. Relaxed urgency I hear you ask, must be a typo! No not a typo, people are rushing around getting to engagements or meetings but the moment one sees a friend (which is every few paces in Jerusalem) it is as if one has all the time in the world!!!

I love being with all our Israeli grandchildren, watching their new games, hearing about their studies, which friend is friends with whom, seeing their anticipation as they try very hard not to ask what we brought them from America!! I love my journey back to Jerusalem over the height of Samuels Tomb rounding the corner to catch the spectacular panorama of Jerusalem set before me as a relief map of our incredible city.

Today is a very special day. 20 years ago we sat in the home of Bonnie and Alan Cohen together with my cousins Jean and Stuart Lipman z"l and our Rabbi David Rosen as Zvi signed the ketuba (the written promise of the groom) then walked through our amazing friends from all over the world who laughed and smiled and hugged and kissed on Yismach Melech Street. We had "borrowed" some police barriers and closed off the street, brought in caterers and fairy lights on that magical day. Our children and Zvi's parents surrounded us with love as we stood under the chuppah, the Old City Walls lit for the very first time, and pledged our love and devotion to each other and to Jerusalem. The 7 blessings were sung and then a surprise – the amazing Re'im Duo, Benny and Yisrael, not only sang the final blessing but gave us, and our guests a fabulous show, our wedding gift from them. Every day has been worth it. We are a pair, a couple in every sense of the word. I write and he speaks; he is history, I am emotion; I am utterly loved and love him completely.

Tomorrow is Shabbat and I loved this video of James Corden in a Jewish Deli – wonderful

Perhaps the most traditional of all Jewish prayers is Oseh Shalom – asking the Almighty to bring peace to Israel. The Re'im Duo entered a competition with a new version and won! Now so familiar -

My last song is dedicated to my Zvi, without him I am half a person

Shabbat Shalom dear friends
With all my love from Jerusalem, our veranda and of course our home.


Friday, 10 June 2016

160609 Shabbat Shalom Shevuot Sameach from Manhattan

9th of June 2016, New York City
Before anyone gets upset, we are here in New York for a very limited period (made shorter by Deltas overnight delays and Lufthansa breaking our suitcase) and my grandchildren come before anyone else. I wanted to see lots of you but life ran away with us for a change.
Yesterday I learned how difficult it is to be away from home when a terrorist attack takes place. When I am in Israel every channel carries news, minute by minute - we can call our friends to check on them, learn the situation etc - here in the USA I went totally crazy! CNN reported on a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv and blamed it on the "occupied territories" Occupied Jerusalem"  ad nauseum and I thought I would smash the telly! Two terrorists, in business suits and speaking English, sat in a coffee shop, slowly sipped their coffee, ate a cake and paid then ran amok killing and maiming those around them. When they were refused entry to the main part of the Serona Market in Tel Aviv they headed for an area where people sat relaxing in a restaurant and opened fire killing 4, maiming many and terrifying far more. Despite their heinous crime the surviving terrorist was taken to Ichilov Hospital and underwent life saving surgery. For me, what added insult to injury to pain......... Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Hulda'i also blamed the "occupation". Is he insane? Did we occupy Syria? Yemen? Iraq? all the other places where terrorism is far worse than ours? Shame on him.

Did you know that my name is (((Sheila))), my husbands name is (((Zvi))) and chances are that your name is in triple parentheses too. It is the new code for a Jew. It is a foul anti-Semitic way to indicate a Jew, famous, political or just a Jew, without actually saying so.
Another, much more serious - did you know - is something I saw with my own eyes. Did you know that in the USA and Canada, someone who was born in Jerusalem Israel cannot have Israel on his passport? That is he cannot have Jerusalem, Israel on his passport as the site of his birth. You can have Paris France; London, United Kingdom; Amman Jordan; but not Jerusalem, Israel. I was flabbergasted and horribly disturbed. Time to get writing to your representatives North Americans.

Dame Helen Mirren is a brilliant, accomplished actress, a truly magnificent woman who does not need plastic surgery to be beautiful at 70+. Helen Mirren is also a fine spokeswoman for Holocaust survivors as she stood before Congress urging them to help the families of Holocaust victims recover their art stolen by the Nazis and held in museums and homes all over the world.
I really want to tell you about the last two weeks, but will start in reverse.
Two nights ago Zvi and I went to Sha'arey Tefillah Temple in Bedford, NY to speak to some amazing people. Our gracious hosts were Rabbi David and Cindy Greenberg and their guests included our dear friend Sari Singer and many of my pen pals, my readers. I won't mention names in case I forget someone! Zvi covered the political issues with great aplomb and I took the emotional ones - with a little bit of stand-up in between! It was great fun and we were surprised and delighted to discover a very Israel educated crowd. One person approached me with a brilliant idea to link Israeli children and children around the world - specifically his 4 year old grandchild. Classes can communicate so easily today, through specific Facebook pages (closed to the public) Skype, emails and WhatsApp and classes in Israel can communicate with classes elsewhere. Language isn't always a problem because they can sing to each other etc. It is a brilliant bridge builder. Stuart and I would love to hear what you say.
We met with Joyce Claar who gets younger every day, and with Josephine Linden. We met through our lovely friends the Gandels from Australia. Avi and I listened enthralled during a delicious lunch as Joyce had diligently made notes from the Washington National Conference of the American Jewish Committee from which she had just returned.
OK my head is spinning so I need to go back and start from Colorado, although I think I told you about our hostess Monica Minkoff her wonderful husband and their generosity and wonderful tour of the beauty of Denver, Vail and the Colorado National Monument. From Denver we flew to Edmonton where we had a lovely weekend with Barry and Cristine and relaxed......... Then the fun began!!!!

In Edmonton we got on Barry Charter to Helena Montana when seated we were  greeted by a pilot with a wall-eyed mask and upon arrival at the hotel everybody received crazy bags full of Montana goodies including plastic bows and arrows and toy guns...... and wondered why. Zvi and I were on bus number 3 (of 3) which became known as the fun bus. Over the next 6 days we refought the Battle of the Little Big Horn (using aforementioned guns, bows and arrows) and I was waiting for CNN to report 140 Jewish settlers attacked the indigenous people of the Little Big Horn led by (((Custer))); ate supper in a ranch cookhouse; wondered at Mount Rushmore; went into an old mineshaft and dipped our feet in Radon water (!!!!!) and discovered that Deadwood was founded by Jews!!!! we heard talented cabarets and in general enjoyed the incredible generosity of our host. We found that at some time Barry had helped or been unduly kind to every one of us - all 140 - and we fell in love with him anew at Barry's 70th Birthday Bash. Cristine, his beautiful wife managed to join in all the activities despite being 8 months pregnant. A true hero.

Our bus became a Standwithus outpost as wonderful people wanted to know more, hear more, learn more about Israel. I have to mention two people here - Wayne and Harley both of who are ardent Zionists who cannot bear what is happening in our world and want to do what they do best - stand up and be heard.
So we were in Colorado, Alberta, Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming and possibly somewhere else but I have no recollection!!!
Although having fun in New York, my main, perhaps sole purpose is to spend time with my family, my Daniel, Karen, Joshua and Callie and Karens Mum Ellen. Last night I had the privilege of babysitting - a great privilege when you live thousands of miles away from them. I was extra proud of Joshua who, when asked to bring a special food to school decided he would bring an Israeli Salad and gave an explanation which ended with "I like Israeli salad and I love Israel"  Tonight we will all have Shabbat dinner together with them and with Martin, our lovely friend, host and kinda brother!

I know I have to return to yesterday, the third day of Ramadan, just a couple of days before Shevuot, a time of prayer, thanksgiving and contemplation, the end of the counting of the Omer, remembering a time when we were given the 10 commandments - of which the one we all pray for is "Thou shalt not kill". To take anothers life is to steal from him, his family, of children unborn and lives unlived - it is heinous.
We fly home on Tuesday - home to Jerusalem, to my city, to our city. I hope our veranda is as beautiful as when we left and I am sure the city, the Golden city is just as exquisite as ever. I will go to Mahane Yehuda and buy freshly picked fruit and vegetables, a veritable cornucopia of natural delight............. all seasonal and tasty. I will call my friends to make sure they know we are home so our salon can ring with tales and laughter. 

I am writing on Martins computer which is a Mac and I don't know how to copy the links for music videos so you will have to imagine me singing you Shabbat Songs and you'll get double portions next week!!!!

I with you a Shevuot (Pentecost) filled with more than cheesecake and blintzes - 
With all our love from Manhattan


Friday, 27 May 2016

160528 Shabbat Shalom from Edmonton


28th May, 2016

Shabbat Shalom dear friends.

Here in Edmonton, Canada it is only eleven o'clock on a Friday morning, so Shabbat is still a good few hours away, and many adventures are behind us, with even more ahead of us!

Last week was uneventful for both of us since we discovered our incredible lassitude was a result of pneumonia - in both of us!!!! 

Undaunted by the pneumonia, which by now was no longer infectious, we left Jerusalem on the 23rd of May at two o'clock in the morning, heading for Ben Gurion Airport to catch a 06:00 flight to Vienna - then to Frankfurt (which has to be the longest walk between gates of any airport in the world) then from Frankfurt to Denver, Colorado and the waiting arms of Zvi's old friend from his Mexico Days, Monica Minkoff.

Monica took us home to meet her wonderful husband Harry and generally spoil us and prepare a plan for the next two days. Next morning we set off for their home in Vail (me in the back seat with the oxygen attached) through beautiful countryside, then early next morning set off on a drive to the Colorado National Monument, conceivably one of the most glorious sites and sights I have ever seen. Huge, fascinating and evidence of time immemorial. As gorgeous as it was my favourite part of the journey was listening to Zvi and Monica going back to schooldays and talking of their common friends.

Monica and Harry, I can't thank you both enough. Sadly I didn't get to see our friends Pete and Marilyn Coors - our lines got crossed! I did however get to talk to Steve Lillard who called to ask me some pertinent questions. Steve - I hope I answered them!

Yesterday We flew up to Edmonton - to Barry and Cristine Slawky in preparation for Barry's 70th birthday Bonanza!!! More of that next week!!!

Our time in the USA gave us a chance to hear opinions on the elections from both American born voters and from Ethiopian and Latino immigrants. My favourite people to talk to are always taxi drivers - they tell their truth because they will probably never see you again! Thoughts are varied but in general they are for Trump - believing that he will stop his rhetoric and get down to business once elected. Gosh I don't know who I would vote for, it's none of my business. I just want the best person for America.

Fires raged in Jerusalem as careless teenagers celebrated Lag b'Omer! Large areas of forestation burnt and my grandchildrens riding stables was evacuated.

Mr Netanyahu is further vilified in the media -while those who oppress and express determination to kill Jews and Christians  are treated as saints - but then that is nothing new!!!!

The Ethiopian taxi driver told us he was a recipient of political asylum in the USA, his life endangered in his native land. He told us horrific stories of the persecution of Christians and the takeover of Islam. This is a story so familiar all over Africa, so distressing, so ignored in an uncaring world.

I was thinking about the 70th anniversary of the Kingdom of Jordan being celebrated right now. The Hashemite Kingdom (think about the name Hashemite - Godly) given to the descendants of Mohammed and his two sons Hassan and Hussein in the same division of land that created many new states, and yet nobody questions Jordans existence. Pure racism drives the forces that deny Israels existence - pure, evil, constant and inexplicable racism.

Racism - who would know better than Black Christians about racism. It brought many to love and understand Israel as no others

Since we spoke of the Ethiopian taxi driver I thought an appropriate song for Shabbat could be Masa - The Journey, sung by the Sheba Choir

Barry's favourite Israeli singer is David D'Or, and we approach American elections so only one song seemed appropriate, David's performance of Amazing Grace for President Obama - incredible indeed

Finally, Lecha Dodi, again David D'Or but as you have never heard this Shabbat song before - Welcome Bride of Shabbat -

With much love from Edmonton - looking toward Jerusalem and our veranda overlooking that incredible city.

Shabbat Shalom


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

Friday, 20 May 2016

160520 Bibi, Bougie, Bogie, Ivet and Sisi

20th May 2016

Shabbat Shalom dear friends.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your wonderful wishes and concern for Talia and Ayala. They are doing remarkably well as their bruises begin to fade and their sleep is less disturbed. Indeed their school is gathering all 1,000 girls for a huge party of thanks today and Talia is speaking before the entire school!!

For anyone finding it difficult to follow the Israeli political scene and what just happened in our Ministry of Security, Zvi wrote a simplification for you
Bogie got upset with Bibi. Bibi wanted to get rid of Bogie, but then heard Sisi. Bibi turned to Bougie. Bougie was with Bibi, but while Bibi had talks with Bougie he also flirted with Ivet. So, Bougie left Bibi and went to argue with Sheli. Meantime, Ivet became Sisi so Bibi gave him the ministry of Bogie.
In short, Bibi stayed as Bibi, Bougie got Sheli, Bogie is out and we got Ivet Liberman! However – it isn't over so watch this space……………………….

Seriously though, I am sad that the Labour Party (aka Zionist Union) didn't jump at the offer to join the government thus giving it a much wider political range, indeed had Yair Lapid also joined it would have given us a more representative government. I know the press loves to hate Ivet Liberman but his bullish appearance belies a wily and able politician. Bougie (Isaac) Herzog is much stronger than his puppy-like appearance but is pulled down by his party and Bogie Yaalon, who was a Chief of Staff of the IDF, decided to go public with his disagreements rather than approaching the PM.

The disagreement over the punishment of the soldier in Hebron who shot and killed a terrorist who was already on the ground is clear. The soldier claimed, after the fact, that he thought the terrorist was dangerous, but we don't kill for no reason, yes a terrorist but we don't kill unless in a situation of mortal danger. That is the difference between the IDF and all other military bodies in the world. Can you imagine an American (or indeed any) soldier on guard getting placed on trial for murder for killing a terrorist? The young soldier is a proclaimed member of Kach (right wing Kahane party).

Yet another Egyptian aeroplane seems to have gone down for no apparent reason and President Sisi suspects terror. Why? Because he is fighting terror, together with us, and their answer is to kill innocents.

Terror is not only what you see reported on CNN, ABC, BBC, Sky or any of the other stations. Every day, every minute thousands are victims to the horrific terror of Islamic fundamentalism. If it isn't close to home we tend to wash over it. Nigeria is sinking and her Christians dying; Syria, Yemen, Tunisia, Mali, Sierra Leone, I could go on and on but the sad fact is that Africa doesn't get the coverage and the carnage is diabolical. Boco Haram doesn't disappear after kidnapping 300 Christian girls from school and subjecting them to rape, beating and murder; our lack of concern encourages them to continue undisturbed.

Not everything is dark and ominous though, there are beams of light at the end of the tunnel that are not trains. My lovely friend Canon Andrew White has a new and truly magnificent project. In the Jordan Valley lie some ancient churches but most are inaccessible because both Israel and Jordan laid land mines along that length of the River Jordan during the Six Day War. One very important Christian site was cleared by Israel about 5 years ago "Qasr El-Yahud" or Crossing of the Jews, the site where Joshua led the Israelites and the Ark of the Covenant over the river to safety. More than 300,000 pilgrims come to the site where Jesus was baptized and enter the waters in white robes, blessed by priests on the Israeli and Jordanian sides of the River Jordan, just metres apart. It is wonderful.

Anyway back to Andrew White. Andrew and the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, together with the Halo Trust are clearing the minefields to allow access to the churches. Israeli authorities have been wary to clear up until now for fear of damaging the ancient structures but through negotiation and careful planning it is going ahead.
This is an excellent report except being the BBC they had to accuse Israel for the mines and emphasise the Occupied bit.

Khaled Abu Toameh is the journalist who dares. Here Khaled describes the awful methods of torture in the PA and Hamas

My love and admiration for Rabbi Jeremy Rosen is well known. This week he wrote about something that touches us all, helping someone in trouble – especially after the incredible generosity and help afforded to the girls after the bus crash. He writes

"In 1964 Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death late one night in Queens, New York by Winton Mosely who said that he simply wanted to kill a woman. He was sentenced to life, and a few weeks ago he died in prison. The case generated immense publicity because it seemed that a lot of people heard her scream and no one came to her rescue even after she was left bleeding to death. 
Israel has a law requiring citizens to go the help of another. Its legal system is a compound of Ottoman law and British law, and they do not require going to someone’s aid. But the third element, Jewish law, most certainly does. The Torah explicitly says, and we read it last week in Leviticus 19, “Do not stand by (while) the blood of your neighbor (is being spilt).” For us it is a moral, religious obligation to protect someone under threat of danger. Not only, but Jewish Law as reflected in the Shulchan Aruch insists that one should even be prepared to risk danger to do so. "

Since the trauma of the accident two days of visitors have cheered us up!  Claudio Grubner surprised us and it was such a delight to spend time with him. He had amazing, highly relevant questions about politics and diplomacy in Israel and of course Zvi was delighted to explain – in detail. Our second visitors were Roy Solomon and his lovely Binnie. They called us from a walking tour of the Old City "We have to see the Veranda"!!! Zvi went to get them and brought them home. Oh the joy of watching their delight to find every tree I had described and the view, oh the view. The weather chose to be perfect so we sat outside sipping a tisane of herbs from our veranda, talking and relaxing. They couldn't decide where to go after our visit, but I knew! Mahane Yehuda market…… on a Thursday evening it is full of Shabbat shoppers and fresh produce, of course they were thrilled with the idea and I await their report!

We are going away for a while so I may not be in a position to give you the usual reports. We are heading toward Denver, Colorado and Monika Minkoff; Helena, Montana to Barry Slawsky's 70th Birthday Bash then to New York to see my son Daniel's beloved family, Karen and the two children Joshua and Callie. Gosh I miss them! We will see lots of friends too and we are going north to Bedford, to Shaarey Tefila Temple to speak to Rabbi David Greenbergs community on June 8th. They haven't met Zvi so are in for a treat!

Music music music. This week I have a problem. Binnies favourite song is Al Kol Eleh, but I don't want to repeat my favourite songs too often. Will you bear with me? She is such a lovely lady and this version has transliteration!

Yaacov Shwekey is a musical phenomenon, his songs uplifting. We Are a Miracle is the ultimate , I can be stronger, I can be greater – Everything I need in inside of me.

Be well, be strong and believe in yourselves. Remember the power of one.

With much love from Jerusalem

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

160517 Miracles, Shaare Zedek, Statistics


17th May, 2016

Yesterday was a tough day! Talia and Ayalas school bus was in an accident, it spun several times and turned over completely after the driver veered to avoid another accident right in front of them. An idiot driver thought she could turn into a side road across the traffic, travelling fast.

16 little girls found themselves and their school bags flying against the side of the bus. Talia thought she smelled smoke so quickly managed to get most of the girls out through the broken back window and passersby stopped to help the others out. Everyone and gave their phones to the girls to call home - including cars with Palestinian licences whose drivers went out of his way to help them. In Israel, no-one simply walks by, the girls remember a huge wave of people coming to see how they were and gently seating them at the side of the road until the ambulances and first responders arrived.

Rachel raced to the scene almost immediately but couldn't get to the hospital when the ambulances left because all traffic was diverted  due to the accident. She called me and of course I raced to the Shaare Zedek Hospital, just 10 minutes from our home.

The children were all in shock. Some of the mothers had not yet arrived and the girls saw a familiar face in me.  Ayala had a bump on her forehead and Talia's shoulder and arm hurt - but by some miracle, none of the children was seriously hurt but all were silently traumatized, except Talia who gave a full description of exactly what happened. Ayala and Talias Auntie Shiran came too – so that we had one on one with the girls until Rachel could get there.

Shaare Zedek Hospital was incredible, over and above the call of duty. Not only the incredibly efficient and thoughtful medical staff who gathered the girls after triage, taking them to paediatric ER ensuring they were all together in one place. The social worker spoke to them, brought in the clowns (literally), medical clowns who helped them through their trauma, teasing, blowing balloons, tricks and gifts, the nurses brought them all gifts from a special cupboard of surprises, age appropriate; their headmistress, school supervisor, hospital social worker, school social worker, senior and incredibly patient junior doctors came to check on the girls. In fact the hospital social worker took them to the petting zoo up on the main children's ward, to break the tension before they were examined again.

The parents were also cared for and given hospital food to sustain them and a lot of love from the staff.

Talia received the recognition she deserved, her quick thinking was exceptional for a 9 year old. Both girls are now home, sore and bruised but OK.  Rachel, who finally managed to get to the hospital after about an hour, is my heroine. She kept her head, asked the right questions and eased the other mothers. Big brother Yosef was so worried that Saba Zvi went to get him from school and brought him to Shaare Zedek to put his mind at rest.

Shaare Zedek Paediatric ER - I cannot imagine any other hospital going all the way to ease the pain of 16 little girls the way they did.

This morning all 16 girls went to school and they were greeted with a room full of balloons and treats, the teachers all came to hug them and the other girls in the school waved and cheered. Good will can turn a trauma into a good experience, but both of the girls are in pain today as their bruises come out. Rachel is watching them carefully – an amazing Mother.

Independence Day came and went with a wonderful party in Ramat HaSharon and a beach birthday party for Gili. Friday night we had dinner with Sam and Debbie Bettsak at the Dan Panorama here in Jerusalem. It is always good to catch up with the Bettsaks, great friends.

I thought you may like some general statistics and wonderful videos about a 68 year old lady, more beautiful every year – Israel of course!!!
68 Things you didn't know about Israel
Finally the somewhat dry but very accurate statistics of Israel at 68

May 19th sees the 100th anniversary of the Sykes Picot agreement. The entire region was divvied up according to interests by Britain and France, with Italy and Russia taking a minor role, basically cutting Germany out of the equation As a result of the division of said countries, with no consideration of ethnic or national divisions, we have had incessant wars, displacement, extremism and revolutions ever since.

I am usually the optimist - I tend to love everyone but something made me furious this week.
A religious friend was walking on the Tel Aviv beachfront with her sister when suddenly a lunatic began throwing bottles and other things at them yelling (in an American accent) "I love to see Harediot run" Nobody helped them - no-one, not a soul despite the fact that the promenade was full.
I am angry at the lunatic but much angrier at all the Tel Avivim who allowed it to pass............ shame on them.
All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.

My mind is still on my grand-daughters – I'm sorry if I haven't written in a well constructed manner but I think I am also a little traumatized!

Let's go straight to music
The first song is a beautiful melody sung by Zvi's choir Hakol Yachassi – lyrics by Eli Yaron (Ladino) Music by Adi Hayat; dancer Liron Mussachi and violin solo Alexandra Denissov

Arik Einstein (z"l) wrote Ani ve Ata – You and Me, about changing the world together, no matter what anyone says

So friends, let you and me change our world. You know we can do it one person at a time. Don't leave anything to the politicians and diplomats, their self-interest is evident and their populism and desire for control obvious in every move. The quiet revolution is the effective one, the war of words, the determined letter writing, the talking to journalists, the simple act of standing up to be counted.

Miracles happen. They did for our family yesterday.

With love

PS I will try to give you a Shabbat Shalom but felt the need to tell you about yesterday too.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

160511 Remembrance to Independence

11th May, 2016

יום הזכרון 5776

Remembrance Day for soldiers who died fighting so we could be free and for those who fell to terror.

Only two nights ago we celebrated a truly special wedding. The groom, my nephew Ofer,  stood under the chuppa with his father Steve and his brothers Sagi and Yair watching with deep emotion as his beautiful bride Rifka Talia walked up the aisle on her mother and Shulis arms. It was a wonderful night of pure joy for Steven and Shuli to see their Ofer married. The celebration was absolute, the evening perfect.

Just one night later, last night, the entire country stood in silence in the knowledge that Ofer, Sagi and Yair all lost friends in war and Shuli, Steve, Zvi and I all knew parents who lost sons and daughters – indeed Steve and Zvi also lost friends, this war to prove that Jews also deserve their own country is seemingly never ending. Remembrance Day in Israel is not a shopping opportunity or even a visit to the Senotaph, it is all encompassing.

Let me take you to the ceremony we attended on Mount Herzl, in the Military Cemetery. I made notes when we got home so that I would not forget one moment, one event.

Breeze, pines, Jerusalem, scouts, silence waiting, siren rising filling the hearts, massua lit by beautiful young widow, names and lights around water.
Shelley Silver and friends reading poems
and singing beautiful songs.

The ceremony was given by Modiin Troupe of the Israeli Scouts, in honour of those from their troupe who fell in war since the founding of the nation. Each troupe had a ceremony all over the country; there was a ceremony in the Knesset; every municipality held a ceremony and today all schools will do so too. The main ceremony, or Tekes, was held at the Western Wall, the Kotel, for the bereaved families. The President takes part and of course the Prime Minister who is himself a bereaved brother, his brother Yonni died as a hero in Entebbe.

We sat under the pines of Mount Herzl, young scouts standing to attention on the natural platform waiting for the siren which would express our deep and abiding heartache at the loss of friends, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers, sisters and a life that was cut short by fury so great that it kills. We waited, the silence of Jerusalem complete. The breeze ruffled the trees and then the deep, throaty rise of the siren began reaching a wailing crescendo of tears. As the siren tapered off we couldn't speak, it held us in a grip of grief.

The scout leader asked one of the widows to step forward to light the beacon, the flame of remembrance. She was very young, very beautiful and as she walked forward, her head held high, it hit home yet again, another widow, another life in tatters.

The ceremony continued with beautiful songs, written of hope and sadness, poems by great Israeli poets, our lovely Shelley read so beautifully with true pathos; then they began to read the names of the fallen, the screen showing their faces……… 20 years old, 19, 27, 21, 47, 18…… their age irrelevant. As they read the names of the 34 members of Modiin Troupe, scouts lit a remembrance flame around the shallow pool representing the sea, the flames reflected in the water. It was a magnificent tribute to those who died so we could be free.

Today there will be more ceremonies, families will go to the military cemeteries to light a Yahzeit candle and cry. At 11:00 precisely the country will come to a halt. Cars will stop on the highway, buses will stand by the roadside letting the passengers stand beside them; schools will stand in silence, the children dressed in white as they learn of the history of our little country; religious schools will stand in silence and read Tehilim – Psalms.

This evening it all changes. At the huge ceremony on Mount Herzl, as the guard is changed and the flags handed over to a new Troupe of soldiers, the mood does 180 degree turn and the celebrations begin. Only in Israel can you go from deep grief to sheer joy in a split second! From beacons to barbecues!

The parties begin, the ozone layer thins as barbecues are lit all over the country and Israel will celebrate being an exquisitely beautiful 68 year old lady. Of course we have the right to exist – anyone who claims otherwise needs to come here and see our achievements – indeed to share in our achievements, we are not only innovative we are generous!

Tonight we will go to a huge party, laugh with friends, dance and enjoy a glass of wine and great food…………. Tomorrow we join other friends for another party and our joy at being Israeli will be complete. It isn't that we forget the fallen, we honour them by celebrating the very country they died defending.

There are so many songs I could give you but one always stands out. Mark Knopfler, the lead singer of Dire Straits, wrote this song for the IDF and no matter how many times I hear and watch, it reaches into my heart. Brother in Arms

Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu – Peace will come to us and to everyone.  Salaam Shalom

Finally, of course, Hatikva, the Hope. The Hope for peace, for life, for joy…………… 

כֹּל עוֹד בַּלֵּבָב פְּנִימָה
Kol ‘od balevav penimah
As long as in the heart, within,
נֶפֶשׁ יְהוּדִי הוֹמִיָּה
Nefesh yehudi homiyah,
A Jewish soul still yearns,
וּלְפַאֲתֵי מִזְרָח, קָדִימָה,
Ul(e)fa’atei mizrach kadimah,
And onward, towards the ends of the east,
עַיִן לְצִיּוֹן צוֹפִיָּה,
‘Ayin letziyon tzofiyah;
an eye still gazes toward Zion;

עוֹד לֹא אָבְדָה תִּקְוָתֵנוּ,
‘Od lo avdah tikvateinu,
Our hope is not yet lost,
הַתִּקְוָה בַּת שְׁנוֹת אַלְפַּיִם
Hatikvah bat sh(e)not ’alpayim,
The hope two thousand years old,
לִהְיוֹת עַם חָפְשִׁי בְּאַרְצֵנוּ,
Lihyot ‘am chofshi b(e)’artzeinu,
To be a free nation in our land,
אֶרֶץ צִיּוֹן וִירוּשָׁלַיִם.
’Eretz-Tziyon viy(e)rushalayim.
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.

May G-d bless you, Israel and all peace loving people in this world

With love