Friday, 21 April 2017

170421 Bargouti, Impact-se-UNWRA, Erdogan and Holocaust Day

170420
20th April 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope your Pesach, Paschah, Easter went smoothly and that your home has returned to normal.

Marwan Bargouti is in an Israeli prison for acts of terror, he receives more than the rights demanded by the Geneva Convention and he has completed his PhD while incarcerated. He is a murderer and was convicted on 12 out of 33 counts of murder, including the my son-in-laws Aunt, Yaela Hen, in January 2002. Bargouti is a former leader of the Al Aqsa Brigade and a senior member of the Tanzim – the military arm of the Fatah movement – a terrorist of the highest level. Despite all of the above the New York Times chose to publish an op-ed by Bargouti, sanitizing his identity as a Palestinian parliamentarian, stating his intended hunger strike. The NYT claimed he was a political prisoner, not a terrorist, therefore eligible for publication. Of all the weak and disgusting excuses for publication I have ever heard that beats them all. The New York Times chose to publish the clever rhetoric of a terrorist and ignore his racist murderous past. Of course it is not the first time the NYT has carefully chosen its coverage of the murder of Jews "Reporting on the Times" was a documentary produced in 2012 https://vimeo.com/34566570 . Sultzberger, the owner/editor of the NYT at the time intentionally hid Holocaust stories on middle pages claiming he was not like the poor Eastern European Jews being affected.

Israeli Holocaust Memorial Day begins on Monday night. It is a day of mourning and contemplation, especially since the recent revealing of the relevant papers showing that it could have been stopped. The NYT was not the only body to hide the truth from the people, thus causing the horror and slaughter to continue.

This BBC history account of Sir Winston Churchill's sympathies for the Jews and his attempts to save the European Jews is both fascinating and deeply important http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/genocide/churchill_holocaust_01.shtml  Sadly Sir Winston's plan was not accepted – indeed US Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy strongly advised against it and the plan was never carried out.

Richard Dimbelby was an exceptional reporter. In the days when the BBC told the truth he was a supreme truth-teller and his report of entering Bergen Belsen was conceivably the most emotive and factual of all reports https://youtu.be/VP9BLKZENbc

To help you understand the deep meaning of Yom HaShoah in Israel, the tears as the sirens wail out our horror at the death of 6 million of our brethren https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uK5uz7d-Oo

The ceremony at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial is exceptional, broadcast on all television stations; Members of Knesset read out the names of their family who perished; the movie channels show films of the Holocaust; all other stations show testimonies of survivors; restaurants and places of entertainment are closed on the eve of Yom HaShoah and Israel becomes a country in mourning.  It would do us well to remember that many of our enemies use Mein Kampf as their textbook. Since todays anti-Israel rhetoric is all too familiar, fueled by the lies taught from kindergarten in many Moslem countries where Mein Kampf is number one on the bestsellers list, the next paragraph makes important reading.

I am very proud to be a member of the board of IMPACT-SE (www.impact-se.org)  and our work has become even more relevant since the recent UNWRA report on Palestinian textbooks. The basis of Impacts academic research is tolerance and respect for the other in school textbooks from countries as varied as Iran and Israel (both secular and Haredi schoolbooks), the PA, including Hamas and most surprisingly Arab Jerusalem, a result of an agreement after 1967 that the textbooks in East Jerusalem would remain as those when Jordan occupied the area – now changed to Hamas textbooks. Impact CEO Marcus Sheff has reported to British and US Foreign Affairs committees giving essential information which forces UN bodies such as UNWRA to rethink their policies concerning education in their schools. To read the reports and methodology go to http://www.impact-se.org/methodology/
  
The other news in short

Recep Tayyip Erdogan went to the people and has given himself enormous powers ensuring the death of Ataturks dreams for a modern, tolerant Turkey
Theresa May, Britains Prime Minister has called for elections on June 8 to consolidate her position in the country as the Labour Party under the extreme left-wing leadership of Jeremy Corbyn loses members of his own party.
British politicians calling for revoke UK citizenship of Asma Assad for support of husbands cruel murderous regime
President Reuven Rivlin met with both Catholic and Greek Orthodox leaders to address the plight of Christians in the Middle East.

For some unknown reason the Mayor of Tel Aviv decided to take the opening of convenience stores on Shabbat to court in Tel Aviv – and the decision was to keep them open. Why to court? I cannot think other than a publicity stunt. The corner shops are open anyway, no change in the status quo was intended, and despite one rather idiotic comment – this is an amazing democracy – but a JEWISH democracy – and the deeply secular David Ben Gurion understood the need for basic Jewish principles – after all we gave the world the day of rest for a very good reason! The law doesn't change Israel from a democracy to a theocracy or vice versa. Gosh I get cross with the attitude of being Israeli not Jewish.

Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Pesach, Passover, have all been and gone. The church bells of Jerusalem rang out clear and loud, calling the congregants to prayer, as they walked to church in freedom. Pilgrims flooded the Old City, enjoying unusually balmy weather. The restaurants that opened were filled with surprising Passover concoctions yet again proving that good food and interesting menus are not harmed, indeed are enhanced by Kosher food.

Every year, as Passover ends I face a challenge to my memory – as do most Jewish households – "Where on earth did all those dishes come from; where do they belong and why am I left with an empty cupboard at the end"!!! You see Jews change dishes and pots for Passover, making everything new and special, this in itself is a challenge but, am  the only one who can't remember which is what and where? Anyway that is over, life has returned to normal or as close as possible to normal in our household! The multitude of spontaneous guests has slowed down and we are back to our usual insane pace.

On Wednesday we had the Board meeting for Impact-se at the Hebrew University office. The people involved  stand a head and shoulders above me and it is such a privilege to be included in their midst to learn from them. As described above the work is becoming more and more relevant and as the individual terror attacks increase we recognise the need to change the textbooks of hate to some form of tolerance.

Yesterday lunchtime Haim Elimelech Slawsky took me to lunch at the King David. Chaim Elimelech is a baby and a gorgeous one at that, but even his charm couldn't improve the unusually dreadful service although his parents and company ensured a lovely lunch in the perfect setting of the veranda overlooking the Old City. The weather was ideal, the company excellent and the special beauty of the King David won us over.

After lunch I raced home to prepare the Shabbes table for tonight and then back to the King David  to meet with Canon Andrew White, or as he calls it Dave's Caff, together with Norman and Lola Cohen, Hanna Ishaq, Rabbi Naftali and Andrew's helpmeet Patrick. The service didn't improve in the few hours since our last meal but again the company was excellent. Canon Andrew's life is very serious, his mission to save the world through kindness and love with a firm hand is serious, his illness is serious, so I always try to make him laugh – and usually succeed!! As always he starts with gefilte fish, lots of gefilte fish then we all eat fish and chips – honestly!! The conversation flew from Baghdad to Syria to toilet paper to his Jordanian projects for Iraqi refugees and finally back to toilet paper! It must be said that toilet paper was the joke part but for those less you we remembered the really rough kind and using orange wrappers because my grandparents refuse to use newspaper!!!!!

This morning my lovely friend Batsheva is coming from Tel Aviv for a day together. After collecting her from the Central Bus Station we will go to collect Yosef from school, drive to Givat Zeev and spend time with Rachel before the aroma of baking Challot drives us crazy and we take our booty (little challot for all our guests) kiss the children and Rachel and drive over my favourite panorama from atop Samuels Tomb to show Batsheva the incredible white puzzle that makes up Jerusalem. We will then spend the day just remembering why we care so deeply for each other – from the veranda still ablaze with colour.

Sadly Canon Andrew cannot come tonight because while his speech has vastly improved the lack of visa and security clearance meant he waited too long to get to Baghdad for his stem cell treatment and he needs to go back before his legs will take him where he wants.

Tonight the Slawsky's and our wonderful friend Samuel Bettsak come for supper together with Millie, Gail and Shmuel. The menu will include rice because Cristine and her sister, in true Phillipine tradition, eat rice at all times of the day. I hope they like my stuffed vegetables – lots of rice in there. We will start with "orange" soup (pumpkin, leek, carrot and courgette) and then beautiful fresh salmon, herbed rice stuffed peppers, courgette salad, roasted aubergines, green salad, chopped salad, home pickled cucumber salad and Gail is bringing dessert. Of course Zvi will sing Kiddush, gosh I love it when he sings, and we will have Rachels Challa for the blessing over bread. I am excited to see Chaim Elimelech's reaction to the candle lighting…………..

Sorry I seem to have gone on a bit! Seriously time for music and I will write to you a short note before Yom haShoah.

Monty Python would say "And now for something completely different" Nissim – 1 Million Years https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9c2ofjaLwQ

A beautiful rendering of Adon Olam https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FAuSom-QbY

And finally……………….. HakolYachassi, Zvi's choir, with a beautiful Ladino song lyrics by Eli Yaron, music by Adi Hayat, the gorgeous dancer is Liron Mussachi - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oZfs4WjDpU

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, beautiful Jerusalem.
Sheila







Friday, 14 April 2017

170414 Motherofallbombs, Syria, Passover

170414
14th April 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends.


Last evening in Jerusalem we were visiting friends when Rachel called me to switch on the television. "The Americans have bombed ISIS in Afghanistan"

The description of "The Mother of all Bombs" immediately suggests that the United States was attacking in a vacuum, exhibiting her might rather than responding to many years of ultimate tyranny, terror and oppression which was escalating with greater and greater confidence worldwide. A response was essential. The time has passed for negotiation, our lives depend upon it.

We always wonder "What if Hitler had died in the Beer Hall Putsch in Munich in 1923, had never been arrested, written Mein Kampf in Landsburg Prison and the Holocaust had not happened" Well he wasn't and it did. The fundamentalist groups use the same methods. Jail is a recruiting ground and university of terror, it doesn't work. War is not pretty, war is cruel and deadly but had we not bombed Essen the first language of Europe would be German and the remaining Jews, homosexuals, Catholics and disabled would have disappeared. I know you feel I am exaggerating and the comparison may be inappropriate but I repeat, war is not pretty so don't expect ISIS, Al Qaeeda, Daish by any other name, to disappear without bloodshed. The terror attacks may increase as a result of the Afghanistan bombing, but it will be from a position of fearful defence rather than from a position of power.

We tried jaw, jaw, jaw and sadly it didn't work.

The question is whether this was a simple strike against ISIS or whether it constituted an implied warning to both North Korea and Iran. Speak softly and carry a big stick?

The Individual Intifada is not limited to Israel, has spread like a horrific wildfire through Europe and the UK, Venezuela is fast become an Islamic State and a direct threat to the USA. We have to root out the cause although too many years of diplomacy have created a groundswell of fanatical youth, ready to die for a cause that the West does not understand. It puts the Crusades into the shade. The great sadness is that the vast majority of Moslems simply want to get on with life, just as you and me, and their lives are embittered no less than ours by the omnipresent threat.

That was lengthier than I intended. I believe in tolerance and love, a child of the '60's, but anyone who thinks this will go away without the Supreme Commander ordering "The Mother of All Bombs" is dreaming. The bud wasn't nipped so the root must be removed, drawn from the earth.

Sadly the heinous crime perpetrated by Bassar Al Assad on his own people was overshadowed by the words of Sean Spicer. He obviously referred to the use of chemical weapons as a dreadful thing but his statement that "even Hitler didn't use" was inappropriate at best and cruel at worst. It is also of interest that nobody has alluded to the American use of Agent Orange in Vietnam. http://edition.cnn.com/2017/04/11/politics/sean-spicer-hitler-assad-gas-chemical-weapons/

Fake news is the topic of Rabbi Jeremy Rosens article this week. His example is from the NY Times which claims that Israel's "Wall" doesn't work. Of course it was a dig at President Trump's intention to build a wall between the USA and Mexico. Firstly the comparison is ludicrous, secondly the American wall is mostly built already, much during the last administration, and of course the Israeli defensive fence works! Simple things like car theft are down by 85%, terror attacks by 95% (the individual attacks are from Israeli Arabs from Tsur Bacher and such areas) and it is a fence on some 90% of the length and a wall only in situations where sniper fire was killing Israelis! In one short article the NYT succeeded in twisting a non-news into a criticism of the President. I happen to disagree with the necessity of the wall with Mexico unless it goes together with an amnesty for those "illegals" already in the USA and do not present any security threat whatsoever.

I have been accused of being a Trumpite. Believe you me I am not, I do not have the right to be for or against any American leader; I refuse to criticise every move because he is not sophisticated or diplomatic. Perhaps it is time for crude and rude- the message is clearer.

Lucy Aharish is a top journalist in the Israel national TV channel. Lucy is an Arab Israeli – sorry Lucy is an Israeli Arab and a proud Moslem. Here Lucy speaks out clearly and bravely. Kol ha Kavod Lucy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BV7WcW2H8ic

Pesach is almost over! All that work and it is nearly time to return the dishes to their boxes and schlepp them to their resting place 3 floors down on the allotted shelves in the storage. However I found this wonderful article about a Jerusalem bus driver, an Arab, who decided to give his Haredi passengers a lovely Passover surprise last week. I love it – you won't believe what he did! http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4948382,00.html

Huge cauldrons (minus witches) are the incredible pre-Passover sight in the religious neighbourhoods. They stand on each corner ready to receive the dishes of the local households for dipping to purify them so they can be used at Passover. A variety of items are left beside rubbish bins in a manner that makes the NYC street pickings fade into oblivion. Houses were cleaned, unused items placed outside, kitchens "wrapped" in specially strong silver foil (don't know where that came from) and cooking began.

I don't line my kitchen with foil, I simply scrub the very existence out of every surface and splashback!!!!

I had a very special treat this week. We went to a lovely get-together of my family in celebration of my cousin Judith's 70th birthday. We met at Debbie and Zev's in Ganei Tikvah and the excitement at seeing each other was tangible. Of course the best part is that my cousin Irene (Debbie, Judith and Joanna's Mum) was in Israel for Pesach and at 90+ is still as quick witted and bright as she ever was. Actually I discovered something new about her – she has a wonderful singing voice untainted by age. Zvi sang his heart out, happy to be seated next to Debbie whose voice delighted him. Sunita http://www.sunitaharp.com/ , an accomplished harpist entertained us with a marvellous selection of music, from classic to bolero, from gentle to robust, from Bach to Welsh (there's lovely Dai bach) music.  We sang, because that's what we love to do, we grinned at each other in delight at being together and caught up on our news. Of the cousins present 3 made Aliya and one (Ian and his lovely wife Susan) have an apartment here. My Daddy and his big brother and best friend Uncle Ben, would be proud. It was a change for Zvi since we spend a lot of time with his family but we both decided that it was so lovely we must do it more often!!!

The veranda complied with all my dreams this week. The tiny orange tree was in full blossom, laden with tiny fragrant blooms, their scent wafting into the apartment; the freesias shone bright orange their heady scent joining that of the orange blossom. I sat on the veranda each morning, sipping my morning coffee and taking in the amazing scene before me. Gosh we are lucky! It is especially spectacular over Shabbat and festivals because the scene is peaceful, the weekday chaotic traffic and hustle and bustle quietens and the beauty becomes more apparent.

Amiad and Noga stayed over after Seder Night. It seemed a shame to return home when they were coming back for lunch with all the family. The little ones (Ella 4 and Yonatan 2) were very excited and after the long service of the Seder fell into bed and straight to sleep. The next morning I sat out on the veranda with my morning coffee when a little girl cameinto sight, a big grin on her face. After the essential good morning hug she looked up at me, shaking with excitement and asked "Safta, can we play together"? I melted! Her little brother soon followed with the biggest grin imaginable. Yonatans vocabulary is phenomenal – I wish half the adults knew to speak as he does!

This has been a fantastic week for Israeli children. So many activities we are spoiled for choice. Many Israelis go camping, simple at Pesach. The weather hasn't really complied with their needs, torrential rains in the south and rain in the north, but mostly fun was had by all.

We have entertained and been entertained, enjoyed friends  (thank you Hel-Ors and Alberanes) and family and in a few minutes, when I finish talking to you, I will set off for Givat Zeev and Rachel's home. Obviously no Challot this week! I will smile at Rachel's kitchen which looks like it should be in NASA rather than Givat Zeev!!!  I will pass Nebe Samuel (Samuel's Tomb); smile at the harbinger of spring at the side of the road, a camel which comes out to graze in the finer weather; pass the busy shopping centre and perhaps pop in to get a nice plant for friends; turn in to Givat Zeev and pull up at Rachel's gate. I can already see them racing down the steps to greet me………. Sheer joy.

OK that was a little too maudlin for human consumption, but I missed them this week!

Modeh Ani – I Give Thanks - the morning prayer to thank the Almighty for returning our souls after sleep. So beautiful. We must always be grateful for what we have rather than moaning about what we haven't. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lPK6V3Y6YQ

At a time when our biggest battle is against intolerance and hatred Lu Yehi by Nomi Shemer is perhaps the timely song - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfMoeK6UVB0   as is Bob Dylan's Blowin in the Wind, the ultimate cry for tolerance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G58XWF6B3AA

Shabbat Shalom, Moadim le Simcha, Chag Sameach and a Holy Easter to my Christian friends

With love from Jerusalem
Sheila





Friday, 7 April 2017

170407 Syria, Haredi Tour, Pesach

170407
7th April, 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends.

In 2013 President Obama said that if the Syrian regime used chemical weapons he would respond swiftly and firmly. Two days ago the Assad regime bombed the town of Idlib with Sarin, a deadly gas which caused children to foam at the mouth, seize and have great difficulty breathing. Assad denied using Sarin despite the autopsy results on those who died. It is not the first time Sarin has been used in this horrific civil war – patients who were treated at the IDF field hospital on the border were found to suffer from Sarin poisoning. At least a 100 died in that attack. In April 2017, the day after the horrific attack, President Trump ordered the bombing of the airfield from whence the Syrian aeroplanes left on their deadly mission. Swift and righteous punishment. http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/06/us-military-has-launched-more-50-than-missiles-aimed-at-syria-nbc-news.html

The prelude to the decision – Ambassador Nikki Haley describes the situation to the United Nations, again challenging their choice to ignore the abominations of Assad and the Russian choice to veto a resolution condemning Assad. http://www.nbcnews.com/video/haley-condemns-russia-iran-after-chemical-attack-in-syria-914609731768

After the deaths of 500,000 Syrian citizens, many by the cruel regime of Assad, Russia intends putting forward a motion at the UNHRC against the USA for their gross indifference for human life for bombing the airfield!!!

Hosni Mubarak was a tyrant. Zvi and I learned the extent through Azzam Azzam who was imprisoned on a pretext in Egypt by Mubaraks regime. Hosni Mubarak was able to frighten his neighbours sufficiently to keep some form of order in this region. Mubarak was abandoned by his Western allies leaving chaos in his wake and a Moslem Brotherhood President. When Al Sisi deposed the "democratically elected" President Morsi he was ignored by the previous US administration. Understanding that the two unquestionably antidemocratic leaders are the only way forward President Trump invited both Al Sisi and King Abdullah of Jordan for a parley in Washington on how to deal with the currently even more volatile Middle East.  One cannot ignore the situation any longer, it must be addressed. Politics are not pretty, pragmatism and a show of strength are the sole winners.

Dumisani Washington, an American Pastor said "From North Korea to Syria to Iran to China to Russia...to Boko Haram to ISIS to Al Qaeda to Al Shabaab to Hezbollah to the Muslim Brotherhood...to Nigeria to Yemen to Libya...to the UNSC the UNHRC, UNESCO and UNWRA...we've witnessed 8 years of appeasement and indecision, and the slaughtering that always comes with it. While military intervention will not be the answer to the vast majority of these situations, vain threats, fake red lines, and ransom payments to terrorists are clearly not the answer"

It would appear that the weapon of choice for terror is the humble family car. What kind of insanity can cause a normative human being to take his car and intentionally ram other human beings? Last week was London, this week Jerusalem. Sgt. Elhai Teharlev z"l was standing with his friend at a regular bus stop when a car mowed into them, killing Elhai and injuring his friend. Elhai, always smiling, the middle son of 7 children, was killed instantly. Insanity. May his sweet soul rest in peace.

Sadly we see the effect of teaching children to hate every day and everywhere. To understand its implications and methodology, please see the webpage of Impact-se, an important research facility, based at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, which researches and teaches about tolerance in education and its lack thereof. Head of Research Prof. Eldad Pardo and the Director Marcus Sheff recently presented their findings to senior USA politicians. I am proud to sit on the Board beside such people http://www.impact-se.org/

Not all is sad and not all is bad.

Rasha Atamny, Israeli, Moslem, is the first female Arab diplomat for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There have been many males but Rasha is a first.
“I listened to the speeches from Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and Egypt condemning Israel’s systematic violations of women’s rights’ while I, an Arab-Muslim woman of Palestinian origin represents Israel at the UN General Assembly,” she said. “That day at the UN, which made me desperately disappointed, pushed me to take the matter into my own hands. I believe in peace because I believe that people can make a positive difference in the world, and I want to be part of the change. So I started by choosing to join the Foreign Ministry cadets course.” Brava Rasha. http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-appoints-its-first-female-muslim-diplomat/

This week the Jerusalem Press Club organised a fascinating talk and tour of Jerusalem's Haredi Community. We are quick to criticise, and my criticism is genuine, of their predominant refusal to defend our country, but we often forget or ignore the enormous contribution of Haredi organisations to the general population. Magen David Adom has many religious volunteers; Zaka continues it's blessed work all over the world; the Gemach (giving to those who have not) is a Haredi principle; and so many other that I want to tell you about.

We began our tour at the central command of Hatzala. Hatzala operates worldwide but the origin is here in Jerusalem. 100% volunteers their vehicles are the first responders with a 3 minute response time. Trained responders, religious, secular, Druze, Christian and Moslem, have a special app which tells them of any situation in their close vicinity, from a child choking to a terror attack. They do not ask name or religion, there is no charge and they operate in the PA too. In fact they were the responders to my grand-daughters school bus accident a few months ago, for which I will be ever grateful.

From there we went to the Tikvah Fund – a brilliant organisation whose work is to integrate the Haredi Community into the general society without losing their identity or religious integrity. The explanation was given by Yehoshua Pfeffer, Yeshiva scholar who while a father and a teacher who was accepted to study law at the Hebrew University (no mean task even for those with regular education) and is now both writing his doctoral thesis while a member of the Rabinical Court of Appeal.

We crossed the road to Meir Panim. Meir Panim feeds the poor, simply and elegantly. They set it up as a restaurant and no-one is turned away. Good wholesome food, a smile and welcome. Again volunteers every one.  

Finally after walking through the Haredi neighbourhood of Geula and its teeming streets (pre-Pesach) we were welcomed with great warmth by Rabbi Miller and his wife. We sat out on the veranda because the apartment was already cleaned for Passover, and were presented with a traditional feast of 3 types of Kugel (Potato, Jerusalem and sweet apple and cinnamon) stuffed vegetables, chicken soup with kreplach (kind of Jewish ravioli!) and the story of the Millers who came from Gateshead in the UK. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the day was seeing it all through the eyes of my friend Leo Mao, a Chinese journalist for whom it is all new and fascinating.

There is a misconception that all Haredim are the same! Oh boy, you couldn't be more wrong! The easiest way to define it is through the headgear – in fact let's start with Jewish headgear from secular through to ultra-orthodox. White silk kippa (skullcap) is for those who wear it once or twice a year; knitted kippa is for traditional Jews but with sub-groups (white knitted, coloured knitted, tiny over the left ear, medium size to cover a bald patch, huge so it will never fly in the wind) then we get to black knitted, silk and velvet and so to hats. Fedora, large black hats on the back of the head with the black kippa showing, tall shtreimels (fur Cossack-like hats, short shreimels, wide and flowing ones – indeed it all depends upon the birthplace of your chosen Rabbi or his sub-sect.
The tour was a huge eye opener, the joy of those who live in apparent poverty may come from the fact that they are among the largest percentage of individual donors to charity in Israel.

Pesach. The sense of purity and cleanliness of the entire house makes it all worthwhile. Everybody moans. Above the heavy scent of bleach and household cleaners one hears the cry "There's no food in the house" as we clear out the old before bringing in the new and different. I already did most of the shopping, almost all the cupboards already have the "Pesach" sign up on them to remind me what is done and changed and what is yet to happen. I love it!! My hands are red and raw but I don't care – it is all for a very important purpose TRADITION. On Sunday I will start to cook and on Monday night we will celebrate the Seder. I can't wait to see the faces of Ella (4) and Yonatan (2) as they hear the story and say the 4 questions; I remember our joy as Tomer did Ma nishtana the very first time when he was 4;

Music music music.

The song which always wakes the children up at the end of the Seder is Chad Gadya – Only one kid. Here is a phenomenal version sung by Haredi Cantor Shulem Lemmer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdwTuToxW9s&feature=youtu.be

This song is not only fun it explains Passover for everyone.  See what you think, I loved it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhR13I6UE1c

Perhaps this song, sung by two beautiful children, sums up our lives. Matanot Ktanot – Small Gifts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwanFyGQtLQ

Shabbat Shalom, Pesach Sameach. May your Pesach be filled with small gifts, shared with friends and family alike, an appreciation of the small gifts of everyday life.

With love from Jerusalem. LE SHANA HA BA'AH BYERUSHALYIM – NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM!

Sheila









Friday, 31 March 2017

170330 United Nations, Kinneret Chaya March 30th, Pesach

170331
31st March 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I bet you thought I wasn't going to write today! In truth I wasn't well yesterday and missed out on Zvi's big event of the year. 20 choirs from all over Israel put on a terrific show to the delight of a sold out audience. So proud of him. Anyway  got myself together this morning and went to congratulate everyone at the hotel where they are staying and came back home. I'm not ill by any means – I think I am just suffering from pre- Pesachitis!!!

I am delighted to announce good news from the United Nations!!! Maybe I should have warned you to sit down first. We discovered last week what a phenomenal friend of Israel, and justice, we have in United States Ambassador Nikki Haley  and this week Britain also called on the UNHRC making their feelings clear on their discrimination against Israel. “Israel is a population of eight million in a world of seven billion,” said a statement from the British Government "Yet since its foundation, the Human Rights Council has adopted 135 country-specific resolutions; 68 of which against Israel. Justice is blind and impartial. This selective focus on Israel is neither,” added the statement, which pointed out that that “Israel is the only country permanently on the Human Rights Council’s agenda. Israel is a population of eight million in a world of seven billion,” said a statement from the British government, yet since its foundation, the Human Rights Council has adopted 135 country-specific resolutions; 68 of which against Israel. Justice is blind and impartial. This selective focus on Israel is neither; Israel is the only country permanently on the Human Rights Council’s agenda." http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/227240

If you had any doubt as to the horrendous bias please see these two links of Hillel Neuer speaking and being interrupted. https://www.unwatch.org/un-watch-interrupted-cuba-pakistan-saudi-arabia-china-bolivia-uae-iran-bangladesh-venezuela/  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEygFMZdG4Q

Andrew Neil is an old-school journalist, afraid of no-one. At the opening of his This Week programme Neil tells the "jumped up Jihadi Joes" exactly who they are dealing with. "you will never beat the British people – you have no idea who you are dealing with" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjtGlx_nIaY  A real mensch

Yesterday was a very important date. The 30th of March, a date I can never forget. On March 30th 2002, in the middle of the Intifada, a beautiful young student was working as a waitress in a Tel Aviv Coffee Shop, right on Allenby Street. A young fellow walked into the café and she approached him, asking if he wanted anything to drink. As she walked back behind the bar he simply pressed a button and blew himself up. Our beautiful young woman lay on the floor, the blazing bar on top of her, certain she would not survive. The paramedic, Yitzchak Kochav, made a last check around the burnt out café and suddenly saw something move. With mighty strength he lifted the bar to find the horrifically burned body underneath. Even in that state Kinneret managed to smile at him. He took her to the hospital never leaving her side, even when her family arrived. I can never forget the phone call from Orly telling us what happened. Kinneret, daughter of our close friends Moishe and Yaffa, was given a 2% chance of survival, burned on 85% of her body. At her parents request we went to a Rebbitsen and Amiad took an amulet to place under her pillow. That night a Rabbi visited her in hospital and told the family to change her name from Kinneret to Kinneret Chaya – Kinneret Lives.

As those of you who have been with me for many years know, I recorded every move every new thing, every moment of her miraculous recovery. This young woman who defeated medical knowledge, is now a married lady with four children! Yes, with all the scars and damaged lungs she never gave up. I love her more, though we rarely see each other. I can never forget the moment I went to see her – the first visitor allowed – a tiny figure on a pile of green pillows, and through her induced coma she turned her head and smiled at me. Yes, the 30th of March is etched in my very soul. Happy rebirthday KC.

On Monday we went to see the wonderful "Bustan Sefaradi" a show all about the Sefardi community in Israel with all the neighbourhood traditions they brought with them. Adults and children alike, all amateur, put on a fabulous performance and we all enjoyed watching our friend Yitzik Mussachy take the lead role. Bustan Sefaradi or Spanish Orchard was written by the late President of Israel Yitzchak Navon with his inimitable wit manner. This is not the version with Yitzchak but it is lovely https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQZl6TRCAhg

Pesach. Oh my goodness Pesach is approaching fast. I always get a sense of purity once the cupboards are ready and scrubbed and the dishes changed but before I reach that stage I find life very hard!!! In just one week we will all sit around the Seder Table, enjoying the sense of difference, of freshness, as the dishes from Zvi's father from Poland and the Seder Plate from my family remind us of our heritage. We read in whatever language we feel comfortable, telling the story of our slavery in Egypt and our escape to the Promised Land. In general the story is quite child friendly as long as they are allowed to ask questions apart from the famous Ma NIshtana – What is Different?. I always feel that the part of the four sons is most appropriate to today – it is easy to recognise who is which. The wise son, learned and tolerant; the wicked son, also learned but utterly intolerant and cynical; the simple son who doesn't know to question and doesn't really get what is going on and finally the one too young to ask – now he is the one who is open and ready but hasn't reach the age of socialization yet.

I have decided upon the menu for Seder night, after everyone has filled up on bitter herbs and cement……… what? Cement? Well actually it simply represents the cement used by the slaves in Egypt – or so I am told. It is incredibly delicious and different to everyone elses. My beautiful late Grandfather – Zeidy Yosef – used to make it each year. Good crisp apples, grated; a little ground almonds; a dash of sweet wine or grape juice and very finely shredded lettuce. I have no idea of amounts so please don't ask……. Keep tasting and leave it overnight; oh and make tons because the kids love it!!!!

Hard boiled eggs in salt water also sounds about as tasty as cement, but it really is good! The eggs represent rebirth – Spring. Chicken soup with kneidlach; Roast lamb, chicken, salmon and Mullet Chraimeh with green salad, Broccoli and cauli bake and Roasted root veggies. Of course if Canon Andrew White comes too then I will have to create gefilte fish!!!!

Shopping is quite an experience. In the UK it was simple; Valerie and I used to go up to London to shops that opened just for Pesach (Passover). It was easy and we knew that everything on display was kosher for Passover. Here life is much more complex! First of all the Kosher for Passover shelves are not all in one place so one must take care to check and then……………… oy gevalt! Then comes the problem of "To pulse or not to pulse that is the question" Pulses, Kitnyot in Hebrew include beans, lentils, rice, etc etc and Sefardi and Eastern Jews eat them over Passover whereas Ashkenazi Jews do not. Yes I know it is crazy but I cannot make the change much to my husband's dismay!!! So I walk around endangering everyone in my path, wearing my reading glasses to see labels!! If you think it sounds simple you should try pre-Pesach shopping in Israel!

My veranda is really worthy of its view today. Spring has sprung in a huge way, delighting me every time I walk outside with a cup of coffee to take a break from Pesach cleaning. Freesias are just coming out and filling the entire place with their heady fragrance, the tiny orange tree is about to burst into hundreds of heads of blossom, daffodils, tulips, rununculus and grape hyacinth and even the good old geraniums have woken up. All over Jerusalem one can see the crabapple and cherry blossom as the almond blossom dies back, indeed it is a glorious time to be in Jerusalem. Actually, any time is a glorious time to be in Jerusalem! I hope that the weather doesn't get too hot for the tulips and they last until our Seder guests see them.
I am so proud of my little country. We don't always get it right and on occasion get it wrong but we always try to be fair, to help those in need, send aid to third world countries and  perform Tikkun Olam. In many ways Israel is like Kinneret Chaya – nobody expected us to survive but here we are, surviving and thriving, beautiful as ever, smiling through our pain.

See how incredible Israel is through the eyes of an aerial camera. Thank you Roy Solomon. https://www.youtube.com/embed/vtdpP0_kBMw?rel=0

As the Seder food has been eaten and sleepy diners say grace after meals we all wake up to the traditional songs – Chad Gadya – Only one Kid and my favourite Who knows One? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XU-3IuzPEE

The service ends with the most important prayer, "Next year in Jerusalem" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ebvfu-1KEzE Once it was a distant. Unachievable dream but today it is ours, we can dream our dreams right here in the steps of King David.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, from Zvi and I and from all our family to yours.
With love
Sheila


  



Friday, 24 March 2017

170324 Westminster Bridge, JCC, UN, Azzam Azzam

170324
24TH March 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. This week has been overtaken by deep sadness as terror strike again, this time in the heart of London. 4 people lost their lives including an unarmed policeman, Constable Keith Palmer, just 44 years old, who, through his incredible bravery, stopped the slaughter by halting the terrorist in his tracks.

For those who do not know the area surrounding the Houses of Parliament, the bridge over the River Thames leading to the exquisite architecture of the Palace of Westminster, is a favourite tourist site, giving a wonderful aspect of the embankment and the Parliament buildings including the Elizabeth Tower which houses the Big Ben Bell. Security is always heavy; protecting both tourists and parliamentarians alike – secure in rational terms but nothing can protect us from the insanity of vehicular terror attacks. My heart goes out to Londoners and tourists alike, those who were killed and their families, those who were injured and those who saw sights that nobody should ever see. May the souls of those who died rest in peace.
 Col Richard Kemp Tweeted Police: "London attacker was inspired by international terrorism." No, he was inspired by violent Islamic doctrine.

The Metropolitan police work closely with Israeli security services on how to fight terror and they reported that over 100 potential attacks had been prevented but even the highest level of security cannot stop each attack. Prison, prison is the school for terrorists and hatred. Be it British prisons, Israeli, American, European, indeed all over the world jails are the pressure cookers of Islamic fundamentalist recruitment. Those within are often disenchanted with society, social misfits who never found their place are suddenly part of a group, find religion and become soft targets for extremely clever manipulators who convince them that their acceptance is dependent upon the death of infidels wherever and whenever they may be. Most are not immigrants, many like Khalid Massoud, are born in Britain. Massoud was born and brought up in in area near Birmingham where many Asians settled and thrived. If you want to understand the process of indoctrination you need to understand the Imams who teach  young people hatred of the country which welcomed their parents and grandparents and everything Britain (indeed anywhere) stands for. Please see the clever and terrifying Allah Islam by Zvi Yehezkeli who went undercover in Europe and Britain. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hR7REARFFpQ

Not everything is as simple and clear as it seems. The terrifying threats on JCC's across America distressed and disturbed whole communities and fingers were pointed at President Trump for awakening the ugly face of anti-Semitism in America. The threats were a clever play, a malevolent, cruel plot by a 19 year old American born Israeli. Beyond understanding that a Jew could possibly have devised such a cruel plan, worse that it diminished the genuine threats to a news item about an Israeli instead of highlighting a real danger.

Hillel Neuer is the founder of an amazing organisation which fearlessly stands up in the UN to put Israel's case. He pointed out that while the UN is obsessed with the Palestinian "refugees" (the only ones in the world who can inherit the status) nobody has given a moments thought to the Jews who fled Arab countries. Perhaps the reason is because we never asked for a penny in assistance from the UN because they came home from dispersion. https://www.unwatch.org/algeria-jews-hillel-neuer-u-n-human-rights-council/

Prime Minster Netanyahu has been travelling a great deal recently; at first in Africa and most recently in Asia. The purpose is to widen Israel's economic base since the USA and Europe have become uncertain economic partners. This visit, long in preparation, is to strengthen China-Israel economic relations but also to ensure that Chinese companies do not meet with Israeli businessmen and simply copy the product as happened in the past. It certainly seemed a warm discourse.

The war in Syria becomes more and more horrific. The number of dead has risen above 500,000 and has been mis-handled from the very beginning. Nobody knows who is fighting whom and the human tragedies continue unabated. What is proportional response? One wonders why the outcry was not stronger when a school/shelter was bombed in an American airstrike and 33 (at least) civilians, mostly children, were killed. http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2017/03/22/Airstrike-kills-33-civilians-in-Syrian-shelter-near-Raqqa/9621490177577/

Hundreds of bottles of booze were uncovered near Ramle in the remains of an old British fort used during WW1. I have a feeling the drinks came from the Officers Mess. Why? Because the bottles contained both whisky and gin. Gin of course was imbibed by the officer class, a habit from the time of the Raj in India when Gin and Tonic was the prescribed antidote to malaria!!! The embossed name of Gordons Gin stood out but no tonic was found! http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Hundreds-of-liquor-bottles-belonging-to-British-Soldiers-from-WWI-unearthed-484859

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre has undergone constant restoration since coming back into Israeli hands after 1967. I still remember going there in 1967 and feeling sadness and the dilapidation of the entire Church. Well now the latest restoration is magnificent and is of the Tomb of Jesus. See for yourselves http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/22/watch-live-restored-jesuss-tomb-unveiled-holy-sepulchre/amp/

As I told you we went to Akko (Acre) and Rosh Hanikra last weekend with Zvi's choir and our little grand-daughter Amit. Leaving Jerusalem at 06:30 we headed north. Our driver was a brave man, driving a choir yet singing his heart out most of the route! First we went to the Old City of Acre and the Fort which served as a prison for "Jewish Underground" basically of the Lehi or Stern Gang and the Irgun where they were held by the British. They determined to escape and luckily very few died but one was Yair Stern, leader of the Lehi. His son and daughter in law are looking for any information about him. If you have anything please send to me. http://www.zionistarchives.org.il/en/AttheCZA/Pages/Stern.aspx  It was far from a picnic in the prison; crowded, with simple woven rugs as mattresses and basic food but as you will see later it could have been a lot worse. http://www.akko.org.il/en/Old-Acre-The-Underground-Prisoners-Museum-

 From Acco we went to Rosh Hanikra. So exquisite, her caves and tunnels carved out of the sandstone rock by the mighty sea Rosh Hanikra provides food for the soul in her beauty. We then went back to our Youth Hostel – as good as most hotels – for Shabbat. Friday night we learned about the many tunes associated with each familiar prayer, a lecture by our friend Dr Motti Friedman then too exhausted to dally we went to sleep. Next morning we set of on foot to explore Acco's Old City. The Crusader great halls have been recently excavated, discovered whn a lady had trouble with her plumbing, the plumbers dug down and found……….. a labarynth of enormous rooms in an incredible state which told stories of the Templars and the Hospitalers. Our guide, Eva, ensured we saw every fascinating facet. Acco, Akko, Acre, irrelevant how you say it it is deeply important as a Napoleonic/ Crusader/ Ottoman and Jewish city. Akko is before all else a Moslem City and Israel would never ever try to claim otherwise. http://www.akko.org.il/en/Old-Acre-The-Ottoman-Crusader-Route-  

In the afternoon Azzam Azzam came to talk to us. Azzam Azzam, an expert in textiles and ladies underwear had been sent by the Israeli company he worked for, to negotiate with the Egyptian manufacturers. An Israeli Druze, Azzam was fluent in Arabic and seemed the ideal candidate. On his last day after buying gifts for his 4 children and his wife, he headed back to the hotel to pack. He was met by two burly men who roughly bundled him into a car, blindfolded and terrified, and taken to a prison where he was beaten and starved. It was some time before he was tried and given a 9 year sentence as a spy for Israel – no proof, no witness, no reason. The Israeli Embassy worked tirelessly to free him and Prime Minsters worked to free him. Early in the story his wife had been to see Ariel Sharon, then a Minister. Sharon promised that if he became Prime Minister the first thing he would do is to free Azzam. So it was. The story is complex and told with incredible good humour and self-effacement. The torture he endured in the filthy prison, sent there by Mubarak himself, was slightly eased when he learned that Mubarak and his sons were imprisoned in the same jail. A true patriot,  true Israeli whose entire family served in the IDF and who loves Israel as no other. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKBqFsq5kCk   

So tell me – how many cupboards have you cleaned? How ready are you for Pesach? I am doing one cupboard a day –and we have Zvi's boys and children coming for Shabbat dinner tonight so they will help me get rid of a lot of food from the freezer – they are good eaters!!! Tonight we have two soups (Pumpkin and pea), Meatballs in Chraime sauce; Chicken patties for the children and pulkes in onion sauce all together with various salads and ptittim (rice shaped pasta) with onion. I will light the Shabbat candles with the little girls then Zvi will lead Kiddush in his amazing bass baritone and bless the homemade Challah – I decided to let Rachel off this week and make my own. I think I will try a 7 strand this week. I will take the children out onto the verandah to see the incredible array of spring flowers – bright reds, purples and yellow from bulbs we bought in Holland last summer.

Tomorrow we will go for a walk in the Gazelle Park just down the road to the right or maybe walk to the Biblical zoo on the left cutting through my special park; we'll see what the weather does!!!

Dame Vera Lynn sang to Britain and held the Bulldog spirit alive during the 6 long years of WW2 with her sweet voice, natural strength and beauty. Dame Vera celebrated her 100th birthday this week. So I chose to give you the song for which this East End Jewish girl became loved. We'll meet again    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49xzZkepaGY

While looking for a song to lift our spirits when the world seems to have gone crazy I found this one by Yaakov Shwekey. I Believe - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faNLvNovR7E&list=PLWX0OTvMdMdPET4i-OSu3FCBhV6pjejOs

So that's it. Another week has gone by, Zvi is with his Parliament putting the world to rights. My Challa is rising and needs to be kneaded – the table is set, the food cooked and Shabbat is coming in later this week because we are on summer time!!

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Let us all determine to make our lives sweeter this week, no matter what horrible news is thrown at us – because the best way to defeat evil is to succeed, to thrive, to live our lives in freedom.

With love
Sheila

   

Thursday, 16 March 2017

170316 Dr. Abuelaish, Haredim IDF, Noise Law, Erdogan and Holland

170316
16th March, 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends.

Last week I let you off lightly because of Purim but this week I am raising a few highly contentious subjects because my conscience demands I do so.

The basic principle of Judaism, indeed the ethos of Judaism, is to question, no stone of contention is left unturned if I may misquote. We are taught to honour our fellow man and respect his/her views. This Purim that view was shattered. In Mea Shearim, the ancient stronghold of ultra-Orthodox Jews, every conceivable line was crossed, morally, legally, Jewishly, when effigies of IDF soldiers were hung from balconies. As if that was not bad enough there were riots after an 18 year old Yeshiva Bocher was arrested for not going to the enrollment center to get his release from national service. He was arrested because he refused to enter the doors of the enrollment centre to receive his release. There is nothing in our belief system that precludes defending your country! Some of our finest soldiers were religious. It is time to do something about it –to allow a few brilliant Yeshiva students to continue studying but the others must work and serve, and demand this treacherous behavior stop. Rights are earned; rights are the reward of fulfilled obligations.

Rabbi Igal Levinstein announced that women should not serve in the IDF because they go in pure and religious and come out secular and sinful! I cannot even bring myself to comment so I leave it to Minister Avigdor Liberman who calls for Levinsteins resignation. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4932388,00.html

How many of us remember the anguished cries of Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish whose daughters were killed by a stray Israeli tank shell in the 2008-9 Gaza conflagration. Dr Abuelaish returned to his work in an Israeli hospital, ultimately moved to Canada. He has never spoken against Israel, never spoken of revenge, always promoting peace. To my horror, he is still fighting for compensation. It should have been done to give his family given a chance to build a new life. http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Gaza-born-Doctor-to-sue-Israel-over-daughters-death-in-09-war-483984

Impertinent, audacious or brazen? Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey, who has gagged the press and called for public support to become a dictator, called Holland a "Banana Republic" after Turkish Ministers were banned from speaking to Ex-Pat Turks.  In Holland Prime Minister Mark Rutte won the elections despite belief that Gerd Wilders was the top candidate. Still right wing Rutte is not extreme. Of course CNN compared Wilders and Trump which shows their lack of understanding on how right wing the European candidates are. Hopefully the same will happen in France.  http://edition.cnn.com/2017/03/15/europe/netherlands-dutch-elections/

The Muezzin Law is a misnomer, even its title on the bill before the Knesset is the "Noise Law". In Israel house parties or outdoor concerts must end by 11 pm; excessive noise is disallowed by law including noisy vehicles and leaf blowers; Church bells, Synagogue noise and Mosques. Since Church bells are rarely rung before dawn and most Jews pray Shacharit quietly it was deemed an anti-Moslem law (by troublemakers). Nobody complains about the Muezzins call to prayer at 04:30 as long as it isn't loud, but even in towns the volume is increased until it becomes impossible to sleep, so the law has to be imposed. Not anti-Moslem at all, anti-noise.


Our hopes rose to great heights as Israel's team beat all comers including Cuba, in the World Baseball Classic this week; but then were dashed as we were beaten roundly by the Netherlands and Japan. In fact, only 3 players were Israeli citizens, the remainder were Americans and Canadians who were allowed to play for Israel by Jewish default!!!! http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-falls-to-japan-ending-miracle-run-at-baseball-tournament/


Zvi decided to install Mobileye in our car after a friend drove into a truck a night and was killed. Apparently he simply didn't see the truck until it was too late. Mobileye is our eyes both day and night and senses if we stray from our lane without indicating; it beeps if we get too close to the car in front thus ensuring we are alert at all times. It is a brilliant innovation and this week Intel bought Mobileye for over $15 million. The best part is that the company will stay in Jerusalem, not move to the States as so many companies have done. Incidentally all new cars sold in Israel from this year have to install Mobileye by law. http://www.jpost.com/Business-and-Innovation/Tech/Report-Intel-buying-Mobileye-for-15-billion-in-biggest-Israeli-hi-tech-deal-ever-484044

Antonio Guterres was the Prime Minister of Portugal, a country that took responsibility for its anti-Semitism. He is now the Secretary General of the United nations and his words are a breath of fresh air as he speaks on Holocaust Memorial Day to an invited audience of Holocaust Survivors. If he is able to win this fight then the United Nations may even become a logical resource of peace. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PazXjDiNBhc&feature=youtu.be

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has demanded that the publication that states that Israel has imposed an apartheid state on the Palestinians be repealed. Sec. General Guterres has distanced himself from said report. Could the tide be turning? To express support for Nikki Haley please sign http://standwithus.co.il/ambnikkihaley/

 

I was uncertain as to whether or not to put this into my letter. Then I decided that since we in Israel are good at washing all our dirty laundry in public, maybe I should not be shy of exposing others. This report details an investigation of the activities of George Soros in Congress and the implications therein that reach up to the White House. http://yournewswire.com/congress-george-soros-investigation/



So Purim has been and gone. Friday night with Zvi's boys became an opportunity for princesses and firemen to appear at the Shabbat table! It was fun especially when Saba Zvi arrived as a Mariachi and I appeared as Charlie Chaplin. Only problem was that the little ones had no idea who Charlie Chaplin was!! Later we met up at a friend's house and just "mootled" – which is almost untranslatable but basically means to chatter, natter or just to talk and enjoy each other!  

On Shabbat we met with Mark Minevitch who gave us a fascinating overview of Washington and of world finances – apart from being really honoured to spend time with this man who is in a different country every day!! On Sunday evening (Shushan Purim) we had the choir over for a Purim Party at home. About 35 of us, each person brought a food contribution to the table. We had musicians and a gorgeous singsong and of course a Purim Quiz. Charlie and Mariachi reappeared to greet our guests and everyone wore come kind of fancy dress – if not they were met at the door with a wig, tiara, false nose or beard!!!

I made a serious omission last week and it rightly distressed Leo-Dan Bensky, the wonderful President of World Maccabi Union. Zvi and I went to the opening of the WMU meetings and the run up to the 2017 Maccabiah – the 20th. The evening was filled with music, dance and declarations of love for Israel and excitement of the imminent games. 80 Countries One Heart.  Leo-Dan, I hope this goes a little way to making it up to you and all the wonderful people of the Maccabi Family http://www.maccabiah.com/2017/eng/

The veranda looks stunning!!! The tulips are suddenly peeking out of their protective leaves, the daffodils and narcissi emitting their glorious scent; the grape hyacinths and rununculus, cyclamen, geranium and nasturtium, gosh I love spring!!!! The sky is still threatening rain, but the long periods before it falls are so beautiful, crisp air and blue skies with clouds quickly scudding across propelled by the breeze. The sharp spring sunshine makes the white Jerusalem stones glisten on the houses and the blossom trees which line our streets bloom in glorious contrast.

Tomorrow morning at 06:00 we will set out for Mevasseret Zion with our grand-daughter Amit, to meet up with the choir members and our bus to the North. Our journey will contain many stops for our guide and choir member Eva Yaron, to explain our surroundings. We will spend Shabbat in Akko, Acre, the ancient Crusader fortresses and the Templar halls below the city. http://www.akko.org.il/en/  Our friend Dr Motti Friedman and his family will be with us to explain the Jewish and historic importance of that city. Our beautiful hostel is right in the centre of town so we can get everywhere on foot. Our Shabbat dinner will be in the hostel and either Motti or Zvi will probably do Kiddush. That's the great fun in travelling in Israel – Shabbat is Shabbat wherever you go!!! Akko is a city you should not miss.

The great Israeli poet and songwriter Naomi Shemer loved the Beatles song "Let it Be" and felt the prayer in the words were deeply appropriate to Israel and her soldiers. She wrote "Lu Yehi" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfMoeK6UVB0

So you thought our soldiers just fight? Well they only fight when all other options have been exhausted. They also sing and sing beautifully. Here is my favourite version of Leonard Cohens Halleluya. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atVQfeLPUSk

Finally, the Chief Chazan (Cantor) of the Israeli Defence Forces, Shai Abrahamson, sings the prayer for the peace of the State of Israel. Let's all join him in this prayer. Amen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Q5--mNIZhU

The cleaning has started, call it spring cleaning or call it Pesach cleaning, it must be done! The smell of cleaning fluids and bleach are predominant but I have a short break this weekend – work to be resumed on Sunday!!!

Happy anniversary to Igal and Rachel and happy birthday to my husband – Ad 120

With love from Jerusalem where dreams become reality and tolerance (Sovlanut) and patience (Savlanut) are synonymous. We have to be patient and tolerance will come but only if we seek it out and ensure it.

Shabbat Shalom dear friend, Shabbat Shalom.

Sheila