Friday, 16 November 2018

California fires, Jerusalem election, Hamas

16th November 2018

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope you are well and that life has been kind to you this week.

Horrific and tragic fires spread through California. This is the season of forest fires in that beleaguered State but I cannot remember anything as dreadful as this year. I know that the popular Californian response to President Trumps statement that someone must be responsible for the fact that the fires ran amok, and perhaps his timing was off, but he is right. Where are the clearings to prevent the fires spreading? Are there sufficient fire stations? Meanwhile, California is mourning its dead and the loss of so many homes.

Southern Israel suffered 500 rocket and missile attacks over a 24+ hour period. I am not sure if you understand what that means because the outrage was minimal. I felt that the media was waiting to pounce on Israel's response, which of course would be deemed disproportionate, but it didn't come. Few mentioned the pinpoint destruction of Hamas sites. One Israeli pilot described his senior officers conversation with a family who lived next to Hamas Radio. The officer spoke in Arabic to ensure that the man's family moved from their home next to the Radio building. Only when they left did the IAF bomb the Radio Station, source of the greatest rhetoric. 

It is difficult to imagine the terror of convincing your children that all will be well when for 24+ hours the "Red Alert" sirens wailed out every few minutes and they know that they have anything from 10-20 seconds to reach the shelter. Schools closed, workplaces closed, people trembled in their homes, most of them already with PTSD after years and years of "Red Alerts". Most stayed home except for a group of high-schoolers who decided to do something. They set off from the South to walk to Jerusalem. Joined by many others en route they achieved great publicity, though the current government didn't really pay heed. In fact Defence Minister Lieberman resigned in disgust and Minister of Education Naftali Bennet is threatening to leave the government if he doesn't get the Defence position!

What I am about to write is fiction, not even one tiny element is true but knowing that rhetoric reigns in the Middle East……. here goes.
Imagine the scenario.
Haniya "Things aren't going so well for me right now, a bit of a rebellion in the ranks and I can't get that money from Qatar"
Bibi "Yeah, not so easy for me either"
Haniya "So what do you think we should do"?
Bibi "I suggest that we kill your problematic guy; you respond with rockets – I'll give you 24 hours; then I make sure your $15,000,000 comes through, Lieberman resigns, you buy tons of Israeli sweets and candies to hand out after declaring a victory and we all get back to routine"
Stranger than fiction or is it?

Check out a new source of information concerning Israel.

The second round of the Jerusalem Mayoral elections took place this week. Zvi and I supported the Independent Candidate Ofer Berkovitch and his party Hitorerut (Awakening) a party that represented every sector of Jerusalem society, Jew, Moslem, Christian, secular, observant or Haredi. The opposing candidate, a very able man, Moshe Lion, had one specific problem, his backers. Minister of the Interior Arieh Deri and the Shas Party declared that if Lion won Deri would have control of Jerusalem (it is actually illegal for a Minister to take part in local elections) Now the elections are over and the democratic process is complete. I for one wish the new Mayor every success and the strength to overcome the infinite challenges a city like Jerusalem presents. Why do I wish success to the man who beat our amazing candidate and actually conducted a rather dirty campaign against Ofer Berkovitch? Because his success is Jerusalem's and that's democracy at work.

Theresa May, the Prime Minister of the UK had a really bad week. Brexit is becoming more and more complex, leaving the Economic Community has become a nightmare, the Minister in charge of Brexit, Dominic Raab, came back from negotiations without a deal and quit, and her Ministers are leaving the ship like……… well a lot of them! Any divorce is tough but imagine trying to divorce 27 spouses with economic ties!!

Now to some good stuff.
Chloe Valdary is a fantastic proponent for Israel. I love, but love her latest video.

Next in line is the best Sodastream advert, in fact the best advertisement I have seen in a very long time. It is green, ecological and clever.

Then to make it a hat-trick of excellent videos - an Israeli company that produces water from air in a small, economically sound, household unit! Talk about save the world.

George Deek is a diplomat in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, nothing special about that. Let me rephrase that – George Deek is a highly acclaimed Diplomat in the Israeli MFA. Not special enough? Pay attention, George Deek is an Israeli Christian, a highly acclaimed Diplomat who has just been chosen as the Israeli Ambassador to Azerbaijan, a Moslem country. If you are on Facebook, find him and congratulate him.

This week's Torah reading is about Jacob, his journey from Beersheva, ladders, his work for Laban who broke his promise to give Jacob his beautiful daughter Rachel in exchange for 7 years work, of his marriage to Leah and then after discovering he had been cheated Jacob married Rachel one week later, promising Laban another 7 years of labour. Leah gave birth to 6 boys and a girl but since Rachel was barren, she gave her handmaiden Bilha to Jacob and 2 more sons were born then Zilpah, Leahs handmaiden gave another 2 sons and then finally Rachel gave birth to Joseph. Honestly, and you couldn't understand why there are arguments in Jewish families!!!! Now, this is where we link to today – Laban gave Jacob (Israel) some sheep which really thrived and God said to Jacob that they would increase as the children of Israel. Today Jacob's sheep have returned  

Another week of being home, although I left home to go for tests in Shaare Zedek and of course to vote. Since the sun was shining I even walked home from the Voting station – don't get excited it's probably about 500 metres! Yet again I was amazed by the genuine multicultural staff and patients and wish that groups coming to Israel would visit hospitals, any hospital, and see the incredible cooperation of staff, from the ancillary staff to the Professors, irrespective of creed. I am really doing much better and each day is a joy as I find more energy. Hopefully we will have Shabbat Dinner with Zvi's cousins Joseph and Rachel Rybak tonight. I hope I will garner the energy because I really want to see them!

The very welcome rains have totally revitalized the View from our Veranda! The clouds take on special shapes and colours and the entire city seems to glisten and shine as the rains clean the dust of summer revealing the sparkling Jerusalem stone. It never fails to take my breath away! The geraniums are yet again proving why they are such a popular plant, scarlet blooms dripping fresh raindrops; the Hibiscus has revived, her leaves green and her spectacular blossoms feeding the tiny Tsufit, her feathers gleaming iridescent black as she hovers from flower to flower; my lemon tree suffered somewhat in the high winds, but just like the friends who bought it for me, the little fruits hung on tight, never letting go. Sage, Thyme, Lemon grass, Mint, Spearmint, Stevia, Lemon Balm, nothing better than picking your own herbs!

What songs fit this week?

The words are very simple. "Peace will come to us and to everyone. To us and to all the world. Peace will come to us, and to everyone. Salaam to us to the whole world. Salaam, Shalom, Salaam".

Hatikva, Israel's National Anthem as you have never heard it before. A Capella on the Light Rail!!!

We have had the distinct honour of meeting both Cantor Izchak Meir Helfgot and Maestro Yitzchak Perlman, two phenomenal and proud Israelis, they join their formidable forces to call us to REJOICE. Yismachu

I wish you a Shabbat Shalom, reason to rejoice and the will to bring about change in our world. Never ever forget the power of one.

With love from Jerusalem and the View from our Veranda.

Friday, 2 November 2018

181102 Pittsburgh, Daniel Seaman and much more
2nd November 2018

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I know I abandoned you for a few weeks but I wasn't well and spent 10 days in Shaare Zedek Hospital, but I am home now – tired but recovering. While in hospital I was yet again reminded of the incredible rainbow of humanity that makes up the staff of an Israeli hospital. They range from Professors to ancillary staff, Jews, Moslems and Christians; black, white and in between; Religious and secular of all three faiths and of course the patients follow suit – indeed a truly magnificent mix – and they all talk to one another!

Tragedy hit a Jewish community in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the screaming voices of blame made it so difficult to mourn, to assess, to repair. The blame doesn't lie on any individual other than the racist pig who pulled the trigger. It doesn't lie with any current leadership, nor does it lie necessarily in past leadership, it lies in the ease of access to weapons. Oh boy! I can hear the voices raised against me already! It is an innate right to carry arms, it is written in the constitution is the general war cry. "But if everyone in that synagogue was armed it wouldn't have happened". I was criticised for suggesting (on Facebook) that had there been a guard at the front gate it could have been prevented "The United States is not at war, we cherish the freedom of our congregants to come and go". Well, let's think about those two statements. How's it working for you?

I have two friends who wrote wonderful pieces about the tragedy. One is Rabbi Jeremy Rosen who recognises the danger of blaming politicians rather than the innate anti-Semitism which is raising its ugly head yet again.

Ashkenaz Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau, in an interview with an Israeli newspaper of majority Orthodox readership, said that “any murder of any Jew in any part of the world for being Jewish is unforgivable,” but instead of saying the massacre took place in a synagogue, he called Tree of Life “a place with a profound Jewish flavor.” The Conservative and Reform movement was deeply offended. I know his father would never have said it, maybe it was taken out of context, but it offended me too.

It offended Daniel Seaman, former Director of the Government Press Office who wrote this piece. It says it all
"All Jews must die"
All Jews - not Orthodox or Reform, Conservative or Reconstructionist; ALL Jews. Not right wing or left wing; not liberal or conservative; not Democrat or Republican, Likud or Meretz. All Jews. Not Baby Boomers or Millennials, old or young; not Ashkenazi or Sephardic, European or African Jews; not white or black Jews; not American or Israeli. All Jews. Just like every single persecutor throughout our history. They never, ever, cared about the differences we attach to each other. Never saw any of us as better than the other. It never matters to them. They always saw us as Jews. JUST JEWS. All of us - Jews. That which unites us. Makes us who we are, makes us stronger. We are one people. We are all Jews. And tonight we mourn with the Jews of Pittsburgh and the Jewish families and the families of the police officers who came to their defense.
We are all Jews. It could have been any one of us.
May their souls rest in peace. May their families be consoled among the mourners of Zion.

Israel suffered a terrible loss this week. A driver of a big Jeep clipped the corner of a small family van and 8 people died; parents and six children. It was on a relatively narrow road by the Dead Sea but that wasn't the problem. The driver of the Jeep was high! So terrible, so tragic, so angry.

Prime Minister Netanyahu paid an official visit to Oman and was greeted with great warmth. Minister of Communications Ayoob Kara paid an official visit to Dubai, and was greeted with great warmth and incredibly, two Israeli athletes, Sagi Muki and Peter Paltchik, both judokas, won Gold Medals in an international competition and Hatikva was heard in Abu Dhabi.  There is a definite and clear change in alliances, a recognition of Israel's status in the Arab world, This recognition doesn't come from the West which became more and more hostile, but from our regional neighbours who, conceivably, realise that Israel is a positive ally.

We had local elections!! Oh boy, did we have local elections! There were political upheavals, some surprising, there were old loyalties and in Jerusalem, beautiful surprises! After 15 years Zvi's friend Yona Yahav was deposed as Mayor by Einat Kalish Rotem, a vibrant woman with great plans. Another woman ousted the Haredi Mayor of Bet Shemesh, Aliza Bloch, herself Modern Orthodox, took the vote with ease, an important move for Bet Shemesh since she represents ALL sectors of society equally.  Here in Jerusalem it was all much more complex, well of course it was! There were three front runners, Minister for Jerusalem Ze'ev Elkin, Former Director of the PM's Office Moshe Lion and our special favourite, a young man Zvi and I have mentored for 10 years, Ofer Berkovitch. Some journalists gave 35 year old Berkovitch no chance whatsoever but he and Lion are in the run-off elections in 10 days! I felt sad for Elkin but despite being backed by Bibi and the Likud Party he just didn't cut the mustard. Moshe Lion has allied with Shas and Degel ha Torah whereas Ofer has chosen to discuss with everyone but ally with nobody. Moshe Lion did not win even one seat on the council so would be a lame duck Mayor which nobody wants. A young vibrant, handsome Mayor who represents us ALL, speaks Hebrew, English and French and is more than willing to accept advice from those with greater experience is our man. I'm not ashamed to express preference, Hitorerut (|Awakening) Ofer's Party, has in its ranks, Jerusalemites of all colours and creeds, which is about time! The Hitorerut campaign was the only one which ran on a positive note, not demeaning other candidates and putting forward a clear manifesto.

I first met Yahya Mahamid when he was looking for a safe haven and protection against the radical elements in his town of Umm el Fahem. Always a charismatic and incredibly brave young man, Yahya travelled for Standwithus, speaking to students. He is now a soldier in the IDF. Watch and understand

This week, historian and journalist Dr Uri Millstein interviewed both Zvi and Yona Yahav about their historic part in the World Struggle for Soviet Jewry. Both men brought along their memorabilia from that time – a copy of Zvi's speech to the first student demonstration; Yona's plan of action files; interviews with former refuseniks; Ida Nudel's interview; in fact everything that proves that in 1969 two young men with incredible chutzpah, caused an Israeli Prime Minister to change her attitude and began the open fight. As a result she sent Geula Cohen to the United States and everything happened. If you read Hebrew then  

While I was in hospital, the incredible angels of the Yuri Shtern Holistic Centre came each day to ease my path. Even after years of involvement and visits to the Oncology Departments of Shaare Zedek Hospital to see their work and its incredibly positive effect on patients, I still didn't grasp the beauty of their work. 150 volunteers who exude such love one feels it through their fingers. My pain seemed to leave and my fears dissipate as they performed reflexology and healing (they also have psychologists and a variety of therapies for patients). Watch the video and if you choose to donate just go to  and choose Yuri Shtern

If I am talking about angels, Zvi and my daughter Rachel were phenomenal! Rachel really made sure that the right questions were answered by the doctors – Professors don't scare her! – and she and Zvi just took care of me with such love. In Israeli hospitals the family is expected to be part of the medical team, the best information comes through that way. They made sure I was never alone and it was deeply appreciated. Thank you both, I love you.
November 4th, 1995 was a tragic day in Israel, the day our Prime Minister was assassinated by another Jew. Here is Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin's last speech and perhaps one can understand how great the tragedy was. Even the most cynical of politicians cried, Kings and Princes, Presidents and Prime Ministers came to mourn the man who won the hearts of the heartless. "Shalom Haver" was more than a bland motto, he really was loved and he brought that love toward Israel, his beloved Israel. Zvi and I are proud to have known him, the caring man who was more worried about me with the crowds in Washington at the opening of the Jerusalem 3000 celebrations than he was about the self-important politicians around him. That was just 9 days before he was assassinated.

Yitzchak Rabin was a growler rather than a singer, he was also a very shy man for whom the thought of singing in public was a nightmare but, that fateful night he chose to sing. What was the song? Shir le Shalom, a song to peace

Jethro Tull, the band, came to Israel and unlike all the others they played a huge concert in Jerusalem too. They donated all the monies to co-existence charities in the area. In concert in Binyanei ha Uma in Jerusalem

A truly beautiful Israeli song Biglal Ha Ruach – Because of the Spirit

May your spirit be strong because we are not in easy times. The only important thing to remember is that united we stand – there is no other option. We have so many wonderful traditions and history that bind us, we have to stop concentrating on that which tears us assunder. Read and re-read Danny Seaman's words. Jewish lives matter too, all of us.

Shabbat Shalom. With much love from Jerusalem, the most stunningly beautiful and spiritual city in the world.

Friday, 12 October 2018

181012 Barkan Terror, Nikky Haley and lots of good news


12th October 2018

Shabbat Shalom one and all. I hope you are well and that life is being kind to you.

We have been watching the progress of Hurricane Michael with a sense of horror for those caught in his path. I am not sure I could cope with living in the constant fear of the force of nature cutting a swathe through towns, cities and farms alike. In truth it makes our problems look small.

I am still in a state of shock after the horrific terror attacks this week in which a 28 year old beautiful mother of a baby boy and a 34 year old father of three were killed – shocked by where it happened. The incredible Barkan Industrial Zone, about which I wrote just about a month ago, where Palestinians and Israelis work side by side; where politics, race and creed are irrelevant and Palestinians learn that Israelis want co-existence; where both sides of the fence gain hope – yes it happened in the Barkan Industrial Estate. An electrician who had worked in one of the factories for just a couple of months was clearly lured into his act of terror and left a note with another worker telling them not to open it. I spoke to Moshe Lev-Ran, from the Twito factory and he told me that it would not destroy hard-earned trust, but it horrified both Palestinians and Israelis in the factory, who hugged each other when they heard the news.

As Zvi always states in his lectures. The agreements of Sykes and Picot basically caused most of the problems we now face in the Middle East. Prof. Gerald Steinberg explains……

Nikky Haley is one heck of a lady. During her term as the USA Ambassador to the UN she never lost her calm approach, eloquent and elegant in her defence of her country and of Israel. Nikky Haley clearly despises injustice and stood firmly before the United Nations and called them out at their racist game. She will be a very hard act to follow but one can understand why she needs to move on and move on she will. Described as the tiger in high heels Haley proved that one can retain ones femininity while fiercely standing before the political bullies of the United Nations.

Rabbi Jeremy Rosen is more than my religious mentor, he is a dear friend and I was thrilled to discover that a new friend, Rami Blass, knows Jeremy and admired Jeremy's late father Rabbi Kopul Rosen, who founded and ran Carmel College where both of them studied. That preamble was because yet again Jeremy's weekly letter not only taught me but spoke to me – it is all about our reading Genesis from the beginning again – and questioning and discussing. Read it and enjoy!!!

This week I chose to tell you some lovely stories – real stories not made up ones!!!

First of all there was a special marriage in Israel this week. Lucy Aharish married Tsachi Halevi, which may sound a normal every-day happy event but one needs to know that Lucy, a broadcaster and Israeli Christian Arab, is the recipient of the highly esteemed Israel Prize and a highly regarded journalist speaking out for Israel in many forums; Tsachi is an actor and star of the prize winning Fauda TV series. Some MK's reacted with spite, but I wish them joy and a life of love and acceptance.

This week we went for my daughter Rachel's annual check-up in the Oncology Department of Hadassah Hospital. Thank Heaven - all clear and we go back in another year! Our visit gave me the opportunity to tell you about Miri.

Miri has a trolley which she borrows from the hospital and she arrives at Hadassah with huge boxes and bags of sandwiches and crisps, chocolates, drinks, indeed all sorts of goodies, what my parents would have called "nasherei" - all of which she personally buys and gives away for free, gratis! Israelis of every colour and creed brighten up and the doctors and nurses come out to hug her. She is obviously not rich yet each day arrives at the Oncology Unit to cheer up, hug, sit with the family and generally to bring sunshine to the wait for results and the crucial doctor's visit.
Miri is a religious lady and when I commented on her beautiful make-up she said: "I'm here to make people happy not to scare them with my normal face"! One time I asked her what brought her to perform this act of Hessed and she told me – "I just couldn't get pregnant. We had done everything possible medically and then a Rabbi told me to perform an act of Hessed and it would happen." She now has four children but continues her kindness out of love and gratitude.

Zvi's dear friend Yitzik Lev (and mine) is a special person. Yitzik has been an emissary for Israel to Britain, Belgium, Australia, Switzerland and has made friends in each and every place. Last week Yitzik was having breakfast in Henrietta Coffee Shop with his daughter Mali, both of them having returned from travels. As they were sitting and chatting Yitzik noticed a group of 6 soldiers eating breakfast and he called over the waitress, paid the soldiers bill and left the restaurant quietly with Mali. Mali proudly wrote about it on her blog and Henrietta did the same. The soldiers discovered who their "fairy godmother" was and Yitziks secret was out. Zvi and I are so proud of him and I know you will be too.

On Monday evening we met up with Lidia and Mauricio Appelbaum, beautiful friends from Mexico who live in Los Angeles. It is always a pleasure to spend time with them and I have a special place in my heart for Lidia.

On Wednesday I found myself in the Abu Tor neighbourhood of Jerusalem, overlooking the Temple Mount and much of the Old City Walls. I was to be interviewed by Josh Reinstein for the Knesset Christian Allied Caucus television station. I was to speak on behalf of Lena Shtern to tell the Christian world about the Yuri Shtern Holistic Center for Cancer Patients and their families. Josh is an excellent interviewer and as we sat before the view of the Old City I felt very proud to speak about the incredible work of the Center. I promise to send you the finished interview and tell you when it will be aired and where.  

Leor, Zvi's younger son, is 40 years old this week!! Leor is an exceptional young man, already having risen to great heights in the company he works in he is the father of 4 girls and a superb husband. Leor is the rare type of person who no matter how busy he is, he always has time to care for and help others. Happy birthday lovely man. Shabbat dinner will be in his honour this evening.

Alain and Martine Carnel will be here in a few minutes. Alain and Martine never miss a chance to come to Israel from Paris, although they usually spend most of their time in Tel Aviv. This time they heeded our complaints and Zvi will show them the city of Jerusalem his style – with complete history!

Wow! I didn't think I would manage to sit and write to you this week – I have done something to my back- we don't know what I've done yet but it hurts! In fact I am on some wonderful pills which have taken most of the pain away but I am very fuzzy-headed so hope I made sense this week!!!

Hakol Yachassi is the name of the choir, Zvi Raviv is the name of the Director!! Here they sing "From Mount Scopus" M'al har haTsofim The beautiful young dancer, Liron Mussachi, is now a married lady!!

Another song by Hakol Yachassi is called Israel Mio – My Israel – in Ladino. The words were written by Eli Yaron and the music by Adi Hayat and it is my favourite

Finally, Yaakov Shwekey reminds us of the miracle that is Israel.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom on this beautiful day of gentle sunshine as we look forward to Autumn, look forward to the rains that will wash this land and cleanse away the hatred that surrounds us. That is my prayer.

With love


Friday, 21 September 2018

Kippur, Succot, Corbyn and Ari Fuld z"l


The Fasting is over now for the Feast!

Yom Kippur is over for another year. I don't know what happens in your country but for most secular Jews in Israel, the fast is essential but the prayers are not. In fact many just come to the vicinity of the synagogue to hear the shofar sounding at the end of the service, announcing the fact that one can go home and eat, drink and be merry. It is a shame really because the purpose of the fast is that one is so deep in contemplation and prayer that the food should not be a distraction. On the other hand, each to their own, who am I to dictate to anyone else?

My only desire is that we all make our decisions from knowledge. When I was a "Cheder" teacher a parent said to me, "Why do you teach them all about Judaism when we don't do any of it at home and they probably never will either"? My response was that I was teaching the children the basics and then they could make their choice out of knowledge not ignorance. I tried to explain that most children will not be professors of history or chemistry learned at school but one would never think of denying them the chance to choose.

I am a traditional rather than a religious Jew, but I love the traditions and give respect to those who are more religious than I. After all, I admire a clever mathematician or historian for his greater knowledge so why not admire a Jew for his depth of learning?

OK that's off my chest for today!!

Yesterday was peaceful; children took advantage of the fact that there are no cars on any roads, by running in the streets, roller skates and bicycles galore. Yesterday was peaceful, but 45 years ago it most certainly was not. Taking advantage of the holiest day of the Jewish year and the fact that everyone, was in the synagogue, the Arab coalition led by Egypt and Syria attacked Israel, taking everyone by surprise. By today's standards of information technology it should not have been a surprise attack, but our spies relied on less efficient methods then. Golda Meir was woken by the Head of the Mossad Zvi Zamir had gone to London to meet with a source who informed him that Egypt and Syria were going to attack that very evening. The Minister of Defence was Moshe Dayan. It was a tragic war (what isn't) with terrible losses and it is by fortune that we won. The scars on those who fought have not healed even after all those years. The leader of the coalition of that war was Anwar Sadat who learned that war could only impoverish his people whereas peace could improve their lives; thoughts that brought him to Jerusalem and a peace treaty.

Less than a week ago an American Israeli called Ari Fuld, was stabbed in the back by a 16 year old Palestinian yet despite being critically injured raced after the attacker to prevent his stabbing a young woman. The attacker was in a shopping mall in Gush Etzion, a mall used by Palestinians and Israelis equally; he went into a falafel stall, picked what he wanted to fill his pita, sat outside to eat leisurely then returned to stab Ari and the falafel stall owner. Tragically, Ari Fuld died in the ambulance on its way to Shaare Zedek hospital. Ari was a father of four, a terrific Israeli, in the same field as I but so much better, and is mourned by a whole nation. What was written in the European press "Settler shoots Palestinian after attack" Shame on them. The strength of Ari's widow and children is phenomenal – last night, after synagogue prayers they built their Succah, their Tabernacle, because that is what Ari would have done. May his soul rest in peace.

Incidentally, the attacker's family will be rewarded for Ari's death with a generous stipend. Yup that's where your money goes.

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party in the UK, is an Arsenal supporter; my grandson Zachary, an avid Chelsea supporter, would say that's stupid enough on its own (sorry lovely Brian Kerner) but the plot thickens! Arsenal chose to advertise Israeli tourist destinations so Corbyn has called for a boycott of his favourite club!!! In Britain one would say "What a plonker"! ttps://

A Russian aeroplane was shot down and the world blamed Israel, except for Putin! A senior IDF representative went to Russia to discuss the situation and to extend Israel's condolences at the loss of life.  The situation in Syria is so confused, so tragic, the powers vying for power, that the brouhaha over the Russian plane seems almost ludicrous. If only world leaders had done the right thing at the beginning 500,000 lives could have been saved.

The eternal strength of nature has played havoc in the Caribbean, the Eastern USA and the Philippines causing death and destruction in the path of storms proving yet again that water, the giver of life, can take it away.

Jerusalem is nearing municipal elections and the citizens are on tenterhooks awaiting the result. The turnout is usually pitiful but hopefully this year they will understand how crucial this year's elections are. A dear person, Haredi, said "It is essential that Jerusalem stays as the city for all her residents. It will always be a Holy City but it also needs to thrive and if we allow it to become a city for Haredi residents only, there will be no tourism, no services and Jerusalem will fall into disrepair. Zvi and I have no secrets – we support Hitorerut – Awakening – and Ofer Berkovitch who respects all streams and religions.

A Bedouin Village has been gradually growing, and growing, and growing on the hills next to Ma'aleh Adumim. Not buildings per se, rather tents and shanties, on land designated for building. It is completely illegal but since it is Bedouin and not Israeli the EU has insisted that the shanties remain and not be demolished. The Israeli government is prepared to move the Bedouin, who live a gypsy-like life anyway, alternative housing, with all amenities, specially built so that they can remain as a clan, even though they are neither Israeli nor Palestinian citizens. Apparently even that doesn't please the Europeans. Just another case of double standards or is it more sinister than that?  

There was a strange tap-tap-tapping sound in the air as we returned to Jerusalem from Nes Ziona where we spent Yom ha Kippurim with Leor, Shiri and the children. Everyone was putting up their home extensions! No, not the kind that require planning permission, the temporary kind – the Succah. It is such a wonderful tradition, remembering wandering in the desert and the temporary shelters the Children of Israel slept in while celebrating the harvest, the 7 species, the cornucopia of fruits and vegetables of the Promised Land. Succot begins in just 3 more days, the air will be redolent with the aroma of fruit, of wonderful special foods which express the abundance – stuffed vegetables, stuffed pastries, stuffed dates……….kreplach, indeed anything that has something inside something else! We eat and many sleep in the Succah, entertain "Ishpuzin" (Aramaic for guests), decorate with fruits, paper chains and tinsel which looks surprisingly like Christmas decorations!!! We all visit each other, bearing sweet pastries and of course, eat, eat and eat some more!!!! The Succah, above all, embodies the impermanence of life, especially for the Wandering Jew.

Sunday was delightful! I went to the King David Hotel to meet up with three very special ladies from my past and my future. Three Cardiff ladies all of whom live in Israel.  Averil Wien Weinstein, Susan Gaba Yakir and Tema Gaba. Tema is my link special to my late Mother, my link to my childhood and an incredible lady of 96 years old. She is full of incredible stories of Cardiff and of wisdom earned during the last 96 years, and a keen sense of humour. I often think that Tema is younger than many of my friends. She is so special. The King David veranda was decked out for Succot, a thousand tassels hanging from the "schach" (temporary roof) I felt like a Princess but then Tema would tell you that I always was!!!

Sunday evening and we were on our way to a very exciting event. It was a celebration of 69 years of the People's Republic of China, to which we were invited by two lovely people, Leo and Emily Mao. It was spectacular!!!! A lovely kosher reception with great food, the indefatigable Tal Brody was also an invitee, then into the auditorium of the Tel Aviv Museum for a truly magnificent show by the Beijing Opera. Chinese Opera is more acrobatic dancing, every move has deep meaning; humour; rather high pitched singing and drum accompaniment and most importantly, story telling. The Chinese Ambassador gave a delightful speech and Israeli Minister of Science, Technology and Space Ofir Akunis spoke of the deep co-operation between the two countries – he also mentioned that 20,000 Jews fleeing from the horror of Hitler's Europe found safe haven in Shanghai; that 150,000+ Chinese visit Israel and over 50,000 Israelis visit China each year. Indeed China is Israel's largest trading partner. To my amazement Leo (a well-established journalist in China) wrote about us in the China Times and our photo appears! Fame at last.

Last night Zvi took Yosef and Talia Go-karting. I gave the excuse that I need to write to you guys and then when they got home I took them to the First Station where food and culture meet. It was fun! Throngs of happy people out on a balmy Jerusalem evening (actually it was rather chilly!) There was a rock band playing in a free concert; craft stands galore; restaurants and my favourite store in Jerusalem which has every type of mind puzzle imaginable, not that I can do any of them! Wooden shapes that never fit into their designated spaces and metal shapes that miraculously fit together for the young people who sell them to you but just won't work for me. In fact, I love the fact that the First Station is full of people who just want to have fun – whatever their origin or faith, something we take for granted, but in our region only happens in Israel.

Talia and Yosef slept over at our place last night, giving Ayala a rare evening alone with Mummy Rachel!

So what songs do you want to hear? For Kippur the music was solemn but now we can sing – I had great difficulty finding a song about Succot, or one that made sense to me, but finally I found one!

Simchat Torah – the joy of the Torah – is the Festival which abuts Succot. It is the completion of the reading from the Torah and the beginning again from Bereshit – Genesis, expressing so clearly the circle of life and of our story. Dancing and singing is an important part of this joyous festival. I found this beautiful Simchat Torah song in Yiddisch – sadly I don't have it with translation but the accompanying paintings tell the story  

Let it Be – more of a prayer than a song – from two superstars who support Israel. Paul McCartney and Billy Joel

Shabbat Shalom, Chag Succot Sameach, Moadin le Simcha, Good Yomtov

I promise that I will look out over Jerusalem from our veranda, a special long look just for you – can you feel it?

With all our love for a joyous year.


Friday, 7 September 2018

180907 Rosh Hashana 5779

Rosh Hashana 5779
Shabbat 27th Elul, 5778

Shabbat Shalom, Shana Tova, Happy Al-Hijra, a sweet and kind new year.

This weeks Torah reading deals with the choices we make in life, as put to the Children of Israel by Moses from the word of Hashem, of G-d. It is made very clear that one's standing in life is irrelevant, that the purity of one's soul is the ultimate requirement. Today's religion, all religions, are too reliant upon using learned men and women to pray for us and make our decisions when it is very clear that while we need their knowledge to understand the written word and what lies behind it, each person must come to their own conclusions, their own judgement, their own ability to absorb.

I've been trying to think of what to wish you for the coming year, 5779.

In Hebrew Savlanut means patience and Sovlanut means tolerance. It is not by chance that they come from the same root. So, I would start by wishing you tolerance, a huge helping of love, a kinder world, learning before judging, a great big dollop of joy and the ability to recognise how lucky we are because no matter what hurts, there is someone worse off.

It is easy to smile at the words above, to nod and agree but how many of us truly live by those simple rules? We tend to judge by our standards not by learning the reasons someone thinks a certain way; we jump to conclusions based on our filters not theirs.

So, my prayers are simple.
I wish all of us a world in which we are too busy dreaming of our children's future to kill the dreams of others.
I wish us a world in which leaders do what they say not what their greed and fears dictate.
I wish a world where we are confident enough in our beliefs to accept the beliefs of others.
Being right and expressing our views is not always the best way, sometimes silence is not only golden it displays wisdom.
I wish us a world too busy teaching the wonder of curing illness and poverty to think about teaching hatred.
I wish you love, joy, good health and a love for mankind.

There is something incredibly innocent about this beautiful song for Rosh Hashana. I hope you like it. It comes from the group Chocolad, Menta, Mastik (Chocolate, Mint and Gum)

Lu Yehi – Let it be – All that we pray for, let it be

Finally, a magnificent rendition of Al Kol Eleh from the Argentinian community. It has no translation but you know the words by now! Of the Honey and the sting……

Today, 49 years ago my life was filled with a level of joy and pure love that came upon me without warning. Today 49 years ago my incredible eldest son Daniel Joseph Cammerman was born. Daniel, you are everything I prayed for and more, may you have a truly magnificent year.

Lots of love and wishes for a year filled with sovlanut and savlanut, of honey without the sting; wishes that fly to every corner of the earth from our veranda with a stupendous view, here in Jerusalem.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends