Wednesday, 15 April 2015

150415 Yom ha Shoah

15th April, 2015

Yom ha Shoah, Israel.

Tonight Holocaust Remembrance Day begins at dusk in Israel. The significance of this day is intense, a reminder of what was and what can be again. If we really look into what is happening in the world today we would hear forbidding echoes of a time not too long past that its tragedy reverberates throughout our souls. Todays Kristallnacht has passed and persecution of Jews is fast becoming acceptable. We have been dehumanised and demonised, echoes of Goebbels can be found in the words of Imams and Ayatollahs the world over. Even more disturbing, those in the West who should know better are perpetrating the dehumanisation and providing a catalyst for the next Holocaust. In a country near you, yes you, anti-Semitism has become socially acceptable.

 If one examines the current trend one must choose to resemble the three (un) wise monkeys to ignore the persecution of Christians, particularly in the Middle East and Africa.

In the words of Canon Andrew White
 "It was the Israelis who first came beside me when the massacre began against our Christians in Iraq. They said we have been there and know it must never happen again and it is."
Canon Andrew put this website on his Facebook page to ensure that his followers understand.

Stephen Hughes created this reminder. Israel did not come about as a result of the Holocaust but her very existence gave hope to those who thought there was none. It is not by chance that our anthem is Hatikva - the Hope

Tonight, we will attend the memorial service at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum. The President, Prime Minister, Chief of Staff, Chief of Police, Members of Knesset, Foreign Diplomats and Holocaust Survivors will all be in attendance. The generation where the Prime Minister and President themselves were survivors has gone, the number of survivors, together with their stories, diminishes each year as they grow older and pass on. We have to tell the stories, we have to keep their memories alive - it is up to us. Lt Col Shai Abramson will sing El Maaleh Rachamim ( G-d full of mercy), the prayer for the dead, at the ceremony. 

Tomorrow, at 10:00, Israelis will stand in bowed silence wherever they are, whatever they were doing, as the siren wails to honour those who passed and those who survived with memories that no human being should suffer. Everyone stops - be it on the by-way or highway, the store or the hospital, wherever you are.  Once it was thought that Holocaust Day was an Ashkenazi time of mourning until we began to understand the plight of the Jews of Turkey, North Africa, especially Morocco, Asia and everywhere that the Nazis spread their evil grip. 

Today we no longer go as sheep to the slaughter. Today we have pride, today we have a Defence Force but, always that but, how many people have to die in distant lands at the hands of terrorists before we wake up?

The IDF sends this message.
Light a candle in memory of the six million lives lost. Six million people who lived, learned, thrived, struggled, laughed, worked and loved. Light a candle to keep their memory alive.

How long will it be when religion is a cause for love not hate? How long will it be until we celebrate our differences rather than use them as a cause for war? How many? The answer is blowin in the wind.

May their beautiful souls rest in peace and their memories live on through those brave souls such as Stephen Spielberg whose testimonies help their words to live on when they can no longer speak. I leave you with videos of survivors testimonies 

Never again is more than a banal statement - today we have Israel and we must recognise that our enemies use that pride as a weapon against us. It is up to us.


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

Thursday, 9 April 2015

150409 Chag Pesach Sameach, Shabbat Shalom

9th April, 2015

Moadim le Simcha, Chag Sameach, Shabbat Shalom, hope your Easter was blessed.

Lent and the Counting of the Omer . For Christians it ended at Easter for Jews it began with Pesach (Passover) and ends with Shevuot, penitence, atonement,  the holding back on music and feasts, the recognition that giving up certain celebrations and fancy food helps us think of more important things. The similarities are endless.

Pesach was wonderful. Seder night, the night on which we tell and retell the story of the journey from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Land of Israel. We tell the story with very important sidetracking. We begin with blessings and symbols and then traditionally the youngest child at the table asks the four questions, but little Ella (2) needed help so we all became the youngest children!!! Ma Nishtana - literally what has changed but known as Why is this night different to all other nights? We then continue by answering the childs question.

Perhaps the most relevant to todays life is the comparison between the four sons - the four types of Jews. The Clever son, the one who has asked the questions of himself and others and searches for answers. The Wicked son, the one who has knowledge but mocks and denies his traditions. The Simple son, the one who hasn't thought to question or seek answers. Finally the one who is too young to ask, the one who needs to be given the means to seek answers. How true that is of us today? Totally!!

Israelis go out on Pesach! We go to parks and funfairs, Nature Reserves and into the desert, each with their own cold box full of food. There is no park without picnic tables and the crunch of matzos must have reached up to the heavens as lunchtime neared! Israelis love to travel and find new places and our family was no different. Whether Superland and its swings and roundabouts, including ones that bear no resemblance to the ones with horses or the brand new and wonderful Ariel Sharon Park which was everything we expected and more. Shiri, Zvi's daughter in law is one of the senior project managers of the park so we got a wonderful guided tour. Zvi and the children went South to the Salad Path which is beneath Gaza and before Egypt. There the children got to pick purple and white carrots and every kind of delicious vegetable while Rachel and the children headed North to Auntie Hannahs kibbutz where they got to ride a tractor and feed the animals. Indeed, it is a week of wonderful family events and happy thoughts of our freedom in this amazing and stunningly beautiful country - Israel.

While we were enjoying Passover, thousands and thousands of Christians were visiting Jerusalem for the Easter and Pascha festival. Here are some videos of the celebrations. and a tour with CBN

We were worrying about the potential agreement with Iran, about the attempts to form a coalition government and what about the strained relationship with the USA and the horrors taking place in Nigeria and Kenya, the tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the Yemen situation, the Houties and so much more but equally we chose to escape, to take the opportunity to spend time with our families as most offices closed for the entire week - or actually 10 days including Shabbat.

When I called my girlfriends the immediate response was "I would be happy to never see another supermarket or to get out of the kitchen for a few hours and do nothing" That is one aspect of Passover that does not seem to have an equivalent in other religions - 7 days of cooking in unfamiliar pots and pans and simplest of utensils that are used for just one week in the year!! The limitations on the ingredients are intense and really bring out the inventive side of the cook, especially if you happen to be Ashkenazi!!!!

Tonight is again Chag (festival). We decided to take it easy tonight with just Eva and Eli coming to join us for supper. Tonight we will light the candles again, the candles of the festival, and use matza instead of two Challot to represent the Manna from Heaven. We will drink our wine after the blessing and our meal will be traditional, gefilte fish, chicken soup with kneidlach (yes my family eats kneidlach on passover) roast chicken with roast potatoes and a great big green salad. To follow.......... pears poached in apple juice with cinnamon sticks.

Tomorrow we see the children and grandchildren in the morning then we are thrilled to have Zvi's Mexican cousins Jorge and Gina Kershenovitch with three friends for Friday night supper. The candles will again be lit as the festival goes out and the bride of Shabbat comes in. What will they eat? Well, we will begin with antipasti of local vegetables, incredible home grown whole fish and salmon fillets in lemon sauce with baby new potatoes that Zvi picked in the Salad Trail, and a myriad of salads ending with chocolate cake!!!

I chose to concentrate on the family aspect of Passover rather than the awful tragedies that this world suffers each and every day. I almost managed to avoid the diplomatic attempts to cure an incurable ailment, barely mentioned the diabolical killings of children and families in the name of religion - almost but in the end, our struggle for freedom and the tale we tell at the Passover Seder (s) is our specific story but it is a never ending story.  Here are a few articles that I could not leave out.

U.K. May Fire 100 Islamist Educators in "Trojan Horse" Scandal 
Report: Internal French Document Shows Troubling Discrepancies With US on Iran Deal
Listen to journalist Alon Ben David on the assurances Israel must have when dealing with Iran

Finally the amazing Maurice Ostroff with 10 things you must know about the Iranian Nuclear Deal.

And so to the songs. What songs are most appropriate to this week? 
Shir Israeli - Israeli song- by Shlomo Gronich and the Sheba Choir tell the story of who we are and where we came from

and finally, to remind us that our freedom comes at a price, that we need protection as a tiny, truly minute dot of Judaism surrounded by most nations that want nothing more than our elimination from teh face of the earth. Mark Knopfler wrote a beautiful, wistful song, thinking of the IDF and it was put to a truly moving video presentation that brings me to tears every time I see it. Brothers in Arms, we thank you, our boys, our sons, of the IDF

Zvi will be back from his Parliament any minute and then we will go to rest, that all important rest before the arrival of the festival or Shabbat. The table is laid with a white tablecloth, the food cooked, the candles ready to light and our hearts ready for the festival.
Chag Sameach, Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, so beautiful even as the weeks sunshine gives way to clouds. Nothing can take away from her 9/10ths of the worlds beauty.

With much love from our blossoming veranda and Jerusalem, lying before me.


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

Friday, 3 April 2015

150403 Shabbat Shalom, Blessed Easter, Chag Pesach Sameach

3rd of April 2015

Shabbat Shalom, Chag Pesach Sameach and a Blessed Easter to all.

Israeli ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor -details the anti-Israel record of the United Nations, "Israel is the only nation that is singled out for criticism by virtue of a special program, known as Agenda Item 7. A result, according to the Geneva-based monitoring group UN Watch, is that more than 50 percent of all condemnatory resolutions are directed at the Jewish state."

The great ado about the talks with Iran suggest that something solid has happened but all that they have agreed to is that they will continue talking about coming to an agreement.  

From the New York Observer - Barack Obama has been compared to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain , who concluded the ill-fated Munich Pact with Hitler in 1938. But Chamberlain acted out of a sincere belief that he was avoiding a greater evil. Chamberlain was not thinking of his place in history. He was thinking only of the Britain that he loved, a Britain that was all but disarmed, exhausted, and vulnerable. In sharp contrast, Mr. Obama is acting out of personal aggrandizement. He believes he is replicating President Richard Nixon’s historic opening of China. For Mr. Obama, the Iranian nuclear arms deal is about his place in history. Mr. Obama is dealing from a position of strength that he refuses to use. The sanctions have hurt Iran. Falling oil prices only add to Iran’s vulnerability. Instead of using the sanctions to pursue his original promise that Iran would not get the bomb, Mr. Obama has moved the goal post.  Read more at 

Cleaning and cooking, preparing and changing, preparing the menus for today and tomorrow, recleaning after cooking one type of food then again for the Passover food and ............. why? There are those who do it because they are told by their Rabbis that it must be done in a specific manner; those who do it by rote; those who refuse to do all of it so do some; some who rebel completely and just dit down for the Passover Seder with a matzah or two. Me? I do it because my parents did it, Zvi's parent's did it and they all learned it from their parents. In one word TRADITION!!! I once wrote a poem about my beautiful Mother who passed away when I was just 17. She is with me in my every move, my preparations for Shabbat or for Festivals, her wonderful traditions make me smile even when I am working hard to prepare. My grandfather, my Zeidy, taught me to make Charosis, traditionally the mortar that was used in building the Pyramids (or more likely the mixture of sweetness and bitterness of life) trying to remember the amounts but finally relying on my taste buds! Grated sweet apples, ground almonds, a little sweet wine, a touch of cinnamon and some very finely shredded lettuce (the bitter). YUM! 

I remember how we used to send Zeidy outside the kitchen door when he grated the horseradish for the bitter herbs, him laughing at our tears from the pungent root. Daddy's tradition as we sat at the exquisitely set table - Mummy's favourite Madeira tablecloths gleaming white - and he would look around family and friends with a twinkle in his eye as he carefully spilt red wine on the cloth. "Now you can all relax, I already stained the cloth"! What a man!

Yesterday we went to the big car wash in Beit Safafa- hundreds and hundreds of cars being washed and cleaned inside and out for Pesach. Surprisingly, despite long lines, everyone was in a good mood!
Supermarkets have shrouded shelves, so that we cannot get to the chametz (non-Passover food); Young men stand beside the road with huge tubs of boiling water to dip and prepare utensils for use over Passover - I cannot bear the thought of my dishes going where others have been so I do my own. A big pot, boiling water, three stones heated to burning on the stove, dip them in and as they make the water boil up, dip the utensils!!! The array of new and different foods is exceptional, each year it is tastier to make Pesach, but the rules become more and more stringent. Why? Don't get me started!!!!

Tonights menu begins traditionally with the wine, Herbs and blessings, hard boiled eggs in salt water and on to Gefilte fish and Chicken soup with kneidlach - then I chose to do some different foods. Chicken Pastrami, Roast Beef, Beef Bourgignon, Roasted whole fish in herbs, traditional (Heimische) cabbage, ratatouille, roast potatoes and if I have time we will have Potato kugel too. Dessert is on its way when I finish writing to you!!!!

For a logical explanation of this festival I give you Rabbi Jeremy Rosen - Seder

Wishing you and yours a truly wonderful Pesach, a fun Seder night - we jazz it up with the best Chad Gadya ever............. I brought it with me from Wales. We make the appropriate noises for all the animals - then whoosh for water, bang the table for the stick, sirens for the fire, booooo for the Angel of Death and huge cheers for the Almighty.  We are now on fourth generation of laughing children who forgot the boredom which preceded it!!!! 

Another Seder song is Who knows One? This explains it all

Vehi Sheamda is one of my favourites -Yaakov Shwekey & Yonatan Razel [Vehi Sheamda]:

So dear Friends - my oven calls, the table is not yet set so I must away. I wish you all a beautiful week, whether Christian Easter, Jewish Passover from tonight, Samaritan, who follow Jewish traditions, indeed irrespective of your religion, race or creed - I send you love from Jerusalem.

Shabbat Shalom, Blessed Easter and of course CHAG PESACH SAMEACH!!!

With love

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

Monday, 30 March 2015

150330 Happy re-Birthday Kinneret Chaya

30th of March 2015

The 30th of March is indelibly written in my memory, 30th of March 2002, the day that Kinneret Boosany became Kinneret Chaya.

I can never forget the telephone call from Orly as we returned from a visit in Tel Aviv "Sheila, Kinneret has been hurt in a terror attack in Tel Aviv and we don't know if she will live" That day we went to get a special amulet from a famouis Rabbitsen, Amiad took it to the hospital and it was carefully placed under her pillow. A Rabbi came to visit and told her distraught family they should change her name from Kinneret to Kinneret Chaya - Kinneret lives, which considering the fact that the doctors gave her just a 2% chance of survival seemed almost cruel.

We discovered that a young Palestinian man came into the coffee shop where she was working to earn money while studying, asked for coffee and when she went behind the bar, he blew himself up. The explosion ignited the alcohol behind the bar where Kinneret stood. When Itzik Kohav, the paramedic, checked the coffee shop he thought it was clear until he saw something move. He found Kinneret under the bar, horribly burned. She stayed conscious on their ambulance journey trying to keep his spirits up. 

Survive she did, her injuries beyond belief, 85% burns from 2nd degree up to 4th degree, her lungs damaged, her sight and hearing and I will never forget my first visit to see her tiny body lying on cushions of hospital green, despite the induced coma she opened her eyes and smiled at me.The next weeks and months were lost in deep concern and hospital visits. I wrote to you of her first food (a peeled grape) which she ate with delight of a gourmet meal; her first steps and her first shower, beyond any medical expectations, thanks to her incredible family who would not let her go and her own determination. Slowly she began to emerge from danger and into life. You responded with deep love which helped her on her way to recovery.

The years have passed and she began to gain confidence and her determination to be as normal as possible grew until the wonderful day when she met her Amir. Her wedding was joyous, her father, profoundly deaf for years, even played the trumpet again to the tears of all present. Today, as incredible as it sounds, Kinneret Chaya is a married lady with four beautiful children.

She grew from a truly beautiful but somewhat self involved girl into an equally beautiful, caring, kind, thoughtful religious woman whose very existence and joy in every moment is sufficient vengeance to allow her an inner peace that few achieve. Her scars are still apparent but her beauty shines through them.

Kinneret Chaya is everything that is good. She is an example to us all. She has no self-pity, she simply lives life and relishes every second as only one who has been to that awful place can understand.

Kinneret Chayas journey has been from a spoiled secular girl to a truly magnificent religious woman, a journey of pain and horror through to absolute serenity.

Happy re-birthday dearest woman. Thank you for being my friend Kinneret Chaya

Love to you all

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

Friday, 27 March 2015

150326 Tragedy in Brookly, German plane, Rubio, Cameron, Pesach

26th March, 2015

On this day in 1934, Hitler declared the boycott of Jewish businesses. BDS, you had a great teacher.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. 

This has been a week of thanking G-d for what we have, taking nothing for granted. The Germanwings/ Lufthansa aeroplane crash over the French Alps was a tragedy. While inured to aeroplane tragedies, that the co-pilot committed suicide taking the lives of 150 others is beyond belief. 

Another tragedy does not bear thinking about. A religious family decided to pick up their roots in Jerusalem and head off to the Goldener Medina - to the USA, there, in their beautiful new home, an electrical Shabbat Platter shorted and caused a terrible fire, killing 7 of the Sassons children. As we read of the tragedy my son Gideon suddenly realised that the father of these beautiful children was a fellow student at Carmel College in the UK. To close the circle my son in law carried the body of the youngest child for burial here in Jerusalem. Life is a circle within a circle, of tragedy and joy, of connections and breaks, of lives cut short, of a father whose will never see his childrens future because they decided to stay in Brooklyn rather than go to New Jersey with their father, because of bad weather. Heart breaking.

We all watched the West Wing with deep fascination as White House Press Secretary, C. J. Cregg, conducted a spin on the journalists, against her will; I feel that real White House press sec. Jen Psaki has been thoroughly enjoying her constant berating of Israel in general and Prime Minister Netanyahu in particular. As with all such people she leaves her post to rise in the hierarchy of the White House. While I feel that Mr Netanyahu was unwise in a few statements prior to the elections, for instance, concerning Israeli Arabs for the elections, his statement concerning the two state solution (so-called) was severely misinterpreted. A wise leader does not make statements that can be misinterpreted, but nontheless, he said that a peace would not be reached in his term - Why? Because peace has not been reached despite best efforts of PM's, over the last 67 years so why should it happen in his term? I am very confused by the American President who immediately congratulated even the most evil of leaders when they won corrupt "elections" yet made it clear he didn't want to call Mr Netanyahu. Surely this fit of pique has gone far enough? He congratulated the Moslem Brotherhood when they won the Egyptian elections; even Hamas in Gaza when they won; indeed every new leader gets a call from the American President. Threatening to go against Israel and not exercise the veto in the United Nations is going a step too far

Marco Rubio, Presidential hopeful and determined supporter of Israel gave a phenomenal speech in Congress

Prime Minister Cameron's words gave pause for thought
When I was at school, I remember watching “The World at War”, listening to the voice of Laurence Olivier and learning about the Holocaust. I thought it was part of history and could never happen again, but somehow, after all the horrors of the past, people are once again being targeted simply for being Jewish. During my visits to Yad Vashem and Auschwitz last year I had some time to reflect on where bigotry and prejudice can lead. It doesn’t matter how many books you’ve read, documentaries you’ve studied, films you’ve seen……it’s only when you stand under that sign, “arbeit macht frei”...…when you walk alongside those train tracks that brought millions to their death……when you see the children’s clothes, the parents’ luggage, the hair…the gas chambers and the ovens...…that the horrific enormity of it all comes home to you.
I found that I kept asking myself some difficult questions: 'what would I have done if I had seen this terrible crime unfolding in front of me?' 
Would I have hidden my Jewish neighbours?
Would I have had the courage to speak out against the murder?
Would I have joined the resistance?
Would I have tried to do any of these things if I placed my family at risk?
These are really difficult questions. I suppose that you never know precisely how you would behave until you are faced with the choice. But as Prime Minister of this country.............

Yemen. I remember as a child the British Forces Posted Overseas would broadcast home from Aden and now, now the world fell silent as Yemen falls to Iran, Iranian backed forces, and Saudi Arabia is considering fighting back.  Another country falls to deaf ears.

The Jews of Wales. I never experienced anti-Semitism but apparently it existed at the turn of the last century when poverty hit the mining towns. A small Welsh mining town of Bryn Mawr ( Big Hill in Welsh) stood up to the rioters and a Home Secretary by the name of Winston Churchill ordered the troops in to protect the Jews of Wales.  My children should be very proud of their family name, and their Bryn Mawr origins, as you will see.

Coincidentally, tomorrow, in Haifa, Wales plays Israel for a place in the UEFA Cup, football that is, the real stuff where the players use their feet - thus the name!!!!

This video with Admiral Ace Lyons is an eye-opener and should go viral. "We had many opportunities to change the course of history but whether Democrat or Republican we failed. Reagan approved combined strike Wienberger refused to issue the order, In the Gulf, bring down Khomeini Regime, and the one who undercut the administration was Chief of Staff.  Mind blowing statements!

When friends asked me what to buy for Zvi's birthday gifts I said "Anything that doesn't need food or space"! As a result we have some wonderful concerts and theatre tickets to look forward to. It began after Shabbat when we went to Herzliya, to a concert of the Duda'im. Special because today Yisrael Gurion (nearly 80 years old) sings alongside Assaf Amdursky, the son of his former singing partner. The songs were like old friends revisited.  On Tuesday I went to a concert for "Jerusalem Good Deed Day" at the Municipal Council Chambers. The singing group appropriately called "9 Lives" since all of them were severely injured soldiers who got together while in rehab. Each has made a life for himself, lawyers, doctors, married, children, and now they give their wonderful singing services to charity, this time for Keren Or and the disabled children they serve. A young blind, autistic man, led into the chamber by the Mayor Nir Barkat, got up to sing with the group - phenomenal. 
Wednesday night we went ot a concert of both chazzanut ( Cantorial Singing)  and show tunes to benefit Keren Malki - a charity set up by her parents after Malki Roth z"l  was killed in the diabolical homicide bombing of the Sbarro restaurant. When we left the theatre, with Danny and Judit Liwerant, the foyer was filled with music lovers at a free concert - three Israeli girls singing the songs of the Andrews Sisters! I loved the charitable gifts most of all! Last night we were back at the theatre for a show of Hora Yerushalyim, dance and song with Adrienne and John Kraus of Melbourne, Australia.

OK, I admit I am trying to avoid the forming of the coalition because it is so ridiculous! Not this coalition but the fact that the electoral system forces coalitions!!! President Rivlin has called upon Mr Netanyahu to form a coalition and he is trying his best to make a broad choice although admittedly it must be difficult to ask those whose election slogan was "Just not Bibi" to join in government!!! I want a broad coalition not a right wing one because I have never been right or left wing - I have always been pragmatic, socially left, politically pragmatic and very, very proud and loyal to Israel. We do not always do everything right but we must stand firm with a rational policy that does not include being forced into unsustainable policies in a world that tries to tell us we are not the indigenous peoples of this area - we have been enslaved and exiled more than once and as we read the Hagaddah story we swear that it will not happen again. Interestingly, Zvi pointed out that it was actually former Generals and chiefs of Staff on the left who worked hardest and got closest to bringing peace to the region - with an unco-operative PA. It is time for a new approach, time to talk openly, together without interference.

Israel smells of cleaning fluid, carpets hang from windows and the sounds of scrubbing is in the air.............. Pesach (Passover) is nigh!!!! I will give you a wider description again but since the wonderful Tim Vince, Canon Andrew White with Hana and Hannah Rivka came for lunch I seem to be running out of time and space! Tim was so excited to see the view from our veranda and the explanation of the Jerusalem he knows from ground level, it looks different from up here! The little orange tree decided to burst into blossom  just for Tim's visit and the sun shone upon us as we waited for Andrew, Hanna and Hannah Rivka. We spoke of shared experiences and the joy of being in Jerusalem. I loved taking a few minutes to appreciate the plants and trees that are finally showing signs of life after their winter hibernation. Cyclamen, Freesias, fuschias and of course the newly leafy pomegranate tree, even an Ixia and the first rununculus peeking out from behind the foliage. As we sat to eat, I love the banter between Zvi and Andrew, of the stories of each of the guests, always something new to learn no matter how long you know people, especially people who have had even more adventures than you!!!!

I am watching the 3 hour morning news programme (I told you we Israelis have news mania) and I learn that the alliance of Britain, France, Russia and China have succeeded in reaching a proposal for an agreement with Iran - a glimmer of hope. Apparently the Iranian leader trusts them. ?? 

To bring a smile to our faces - a beautiful, moustached, wonderful Druze gentleman proudly told Israel that he is entering the 2015 National Zionism Quiz. Love it! Hope he wins!! He, and most Druzim are more Zionist than Jews. Hey J Street - learn from him please!!!! 

And so to Shabbat. My regular and so special visit with Talia, Yosef and Ayala, my view of the panorama from Samuels Tomb and the flurry of activity as I pass through the religious neighborhood of Ramot - and then the week toward Pesach and the frenzy of last minute preparations.

I leave you with something special. Hatikva as you have never heard - on the Jerusalem Light Rail!!! Watch the faces of the surprised fellow travellers!!!
With love to you all from Jerusalem, spectacularly beautiful this morning even though we lost an hour last night! The sun is shining, the view from our veranda breathtaking as always. 

May your week be kind, your Shabbat gentle and your preparations for Passover or Easter filled with pride, history and joy.


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

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

150318 Election Update

18th March, 2015

It isn't Shabbat yet but I had a feeling that you would want to hear our views on the result of the Israeli elections. I have a feeling that even the PM was amazed at the result, which gave him (by Israeli terms) a landslide victory. Why? Well there are many reasons and I will try to give you my personal analysis.

1.The speech in the Congress and the enormous theatricals and threats which preceded it taught Israelis that Netanyahu is not cowed by anyone. President Obama made a serious error of judgement, had he kept silent the speech would have passed with little notice.
2.The Israeli media constantly maligned the Netanyahus and it brought them to the front and centre, the people began to feel that the left-leaning press did not represent them, and it was perceived by the people that they should defend their leader.
3. The left, and centre left, have some very good people but they are not seasoned internationally known leaders. Like him or not Mr Netanyahu is the only "manhig" - leader. 
4. Since every Jew sees him/herself as a Prime Minister, Israelis tend to form a vast number of parties, all jockeying for a limited audience of voters, so nobody really wins and we have no choice but to form a coalition government - usually by blackmailing the PM into giving high position because he wants you. The Arab and far left factions decided to join forces this time and ignore their differences thus succeeded in achieving  13-14 seats.
5. Many Labour voters, when faced with the new Zionist Union Party, were put off by the introduction of Tsippi Livni. Right or wrong she is not considered stable, having changed party too many times. The campaign was dirty, intentions, plans and manifestos were ignored and it became very personal.
Finally, and probably most importantly, the Israeli electoral system of proportional representation simply doesn't work. It is both democratic and anti-democratic. It is time for electoral reform moving to a constituency system whereby each representative is just that, representative of his particular constituency. Standing in the polling booth faced with 26 tickets, 26 parties (of which only 11 passed the watershed)  to choose from no wonder we are confused!!!

Such is the democratic process. It is said that the test of true democracy is in losing. It should give the left time to gather its strength and recognise where things went wrong. Whomsoever the Prime Minister, or whatever party/parties lead the country I will accept that leadership, never blindly but I will not lower myself to cheap digs at anyone. The smaller parties lost out to the two major parties which may be a move toward a more logical result. The surprise success was by Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu party - right wing politically but socially orientated.

Over the next days and weeks, Prime Minister Netanyahu will talk, discuss, interview and bargain with other party leaders or representatives to form his coalition - as will Boughie Herzog. Whoever forms the most stable coalition will be asked to form a government by President Rivlin. If you recall, Tsippi Livni had the greatest number of seats but could not form a a coalitition in 2009, ultimately conceding to Likud.

Perhaps the most appropriate song to end this section is Harry Secombes "If I ruled the World" Oh for a politician like Pickwick.

Now for something entirely different - an entirely different sort of party for sure. 
Three months in the preparation and secrecy of Mossad proportions ended in a surprise birthday party for Zvi!! My amazing, youthful and ever active husband is 70!! I am sure that there are some who will ask why they weren't invited but we were tightly limited to numbers and  had to stick to it. Zvi thought he was going to a singing evening and it wasn't until he suddenly saw all the Israeli grandchildren with T shirts saying Fabulous Saba is 70, that he understood something was afoot! then he saw the "election posters" with Zvi as the leader of all the parties in various disguises each fitting the party!! I can only tell you that as we walked into the room we were surrounded by love, pure love. We were surrounded by friends and family alike who just wanted to hug and kiss us - and express their love of Zvi. The choir sang (with Zvi) and the gorgeous Shiro sang a beautiful song written by our dear friend Eli Yaron, dedicated to and all about Zvi's life, decade by decade, which they recorded to CD and gave to everyone. Hopefully I will have a link to it before my next letter.  Amiad and Leor, Zvi's sons, created a magnificent slide show of photographs of Zvi through the years - including what they called the "Forest Gump" period with all the worlds leaders! Relations and friends from all over the world made congratulatory videos and then Leor spoke of his father. It was a truly wonderful speech, coming to the conclusion that although he loves to argue with almost everything Zvi says, since becoming a father himself he  appreciates the wisdom of his fathers words. It made me think of the Arik Einstein song - Oof Gozal, about leaving the nest as all our children have done with great success.

To sum up the elections for those who are surprised at Mr Netanyahus win, don't be. When the world is against you, you don't pick the sweetest guy on the block to defend you - you choose someone who will stand up to bullies and fight on your behalf. In the same way as one should not believe the media hype on other things, don't believe everything they say about Netanyahu. He is not ultra-right, he defends his country. If the centrist parties are able to join his coalition then I have a feeling he will try to reach an agreement with them. Remember that the diplomatic rules that apply in the USA, UK, Australia, Canada or Europe do not apply in this region.

Adlai Stevenson once said "Every man has a right to be heard; but no man has the right to strangle democracy with a single set of vocal chords." The media has been guilty of a single set of vocal chords for too long. 

Perhaps the whole political scene, yours mine and theirs, is summed up in this song - HaGashash HaHiver - Ovdim Aleinu - from the Israeli Elections 1981.

I wish Prime Minister Netanyahu a successful term, the wisdom to choose partners who will not take us to extreme positions; the ability to listen; the competence to make the right decisions; the generosity of spirit to recognise his allies and the determination to make life better for our young people so that they will have the incentive to stay here and raise their families here............ and that the world will be kinder in its judgments. 

With much love from Jerusalem. 

For those who still have a sense of humour, William Beebee sent me some political jokes!
If God wanted us to vote, he would have given us candidates.~Jay Leno~
 The problem with political jokes is that they get elected.~Henry Cate, VII~
 We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.                                  ~Aesop~
 If we got one-tenth of what was promised to us in these State of the Union speeches, there wouldn't be any inducement to go to heaven.   ~Will Rogers~
Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.~Nikita Khrushchev~
 When I was a child I was told that anybody could become President; I'm beginning to believe it.~Clarence Darrow~
 Why pay money to have your family tree traced; go into politics and your opponents will do it for you.~Author unknown~
 Politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel.~John Quinton~
 Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other.   ~Oscar Ameringer~
 I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them.~Adlai Stevenson, campaign speech, 1952~
 A politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country.

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

Friday, 13 March 2015

150313 Elections

13th March 2015

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope you are well and that the upcoming Israeli elections are not disturbing your sleep! I am afraid that I have reached the oint where I change programme or simply turn off the TV when the nightly political broadcasts begin. I still haven't decided where to place my vote but I think I will probably go with the  rare politician who tells me what he intends doing about Israel's standing in the world; about the nearing of ISIS/Daish and the PA; general security; solves the lack of reasonably priced housing; the fact that two large sectors of society do not contribute or take part in the life of the country and of course, security, the great big issue, security.
Israel is a very special country with very specific problems, and yes it is the most amazing country in the world but it wouldn't be a Jewish country if everything ran smoothly. We have enemies who want to annihilate us lurking on our very borders, our local allies are not our friends but they are our allies because we share a common enemy, both Egypt and Jordan suffer alongside us. Our allies in the world have fallen victim to the naive ideology  that if you treat your enemy with respect you can persuade him out of his murderous intent, sadly our social mores do not fit the neighborhood, strength, even force wins through. One cannot win over fanatics ready to die for their cause, to say nothing of to kill for their cause, by sweet-talking them.

We do not have a Prime Minsterial election. The electoral system is a party system and the leader/leaders of the winning party are asked to lead the government -  in principle. Actually even that system is not necessarily the fact because the Israeli President can choose the leader/party most able to form a stable coalition to form the government. So complex.

The potential leaders are:-
Likud, Benjamin Netanyahu - we already know his policies and potential so I won't waste your time and energy.
Zionist Union. Buji (Isaac) Herzog and Tsippi Livni represent policies that are also familiar. Labour by any other name, although Livni has run the gamut of political leanings, going from hard right to soft left.
Yesh Atid. Yair Lapid, Central to their platform is the inclusion of both Arabs and Haredi, religious Jews, into the society through either military service or community service and social change. On defence they are very security minded.
Kulanu (All of us) Led by Moshe Kahlon. A seasoned politician who although right wing politically, his list, including Michael Oren, puts social issues above all.
Shas.  Religious and Social led by Arieh Deri emphasising the influence of the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, exclusively Eastern Jews, refugees from Arab countries

Yahad. Eli Yishai. Left Shas in break with Arieh Deri but they share policies and ethnic leanings

Meretz. Zahava Galon, True to their policies for many years. This is a party that has never wavered from its leanings or policies. They believe that we should negotiate with the Palestinians and leave the West Bank returning to 1967 borders.

Then come many of the smaller parties.  Israelis vote but not everyone cares to honour that right. I love the current government ad which says that one has no right to moan about the government unless you played your part in the elections. No vote- no moan.

We are a nation of newsaholics. We listen every hour, indeed every half hour on the radio and even the smallest event (like the recent snow) involved all day newscasts!!! While we are learning a little about sales on election day, it is taken very seriously because we, like the USA, need a strong leader, one who will act as a true leader, defending his/her people with every process at their disposal recognising that the final count when presented with causus belli they have the guts to carry out threats. 

We were horrified by the Taliban destroying ancient artifacts, aghast at the removal of proof of Jewish life under the Temple Mount and now the destruction of Assyrian statues. I hate all of the above, but to declare it a crime against humanity surprises me since surely the slaughter, the ethnic slaughter, massacres we hear of every day demands greater outcry?

The IDF is a very special army. The clue is in its name, the Israel Defence Force. In recent years the IDF has taken exceptional measures to include people with special needs. If a youngster with Downs Syndrom wants to enlist, and he/she is able, there is a special unit. Someone understood that many types of autism give people the ability to see and understand what they see in a manner that normative youngsters could never achieve. Thus the special unit for map reading and deciphering satellite information was developed.

Israel21c is a website which tells us about the latest innovations and inventions in Israel, a good news site. Here they talk about 19 outstanding young Israelis aged under 19

Sandy Hollander is a leading light in the MetroWest community having served in just about every voluntary position that touches on Israel. Although Sandy grew up in the USA, he and I have something very important in common, we both grew up as a tiny minority in a small town, Jews who are not surrounded by other Jews. It intensifies ones sense of identity. Sandy's wife Roslyn is a renowned artist and perfectly balances Sandy's love of politics with her family and art orientated viewpoint. We ate at a fine restaurant in the First Station complex in Jerusalem. All the conversations were lively and enlightening but one phrase sticks in my mind. Sandy said  The sign of a great country is not in the way they fight a war but how they behave in victory. I am sure that if we ever lost a war, or if YOU lose the current war, the victors would simply oppress or wipe out everyone.

Last night we went to Tel Aviv for a very special reason, Zvi's long time friend, Yitzik Lev, who shares a birthday with Zvi, had his 68th birthday party. Itzik told the story of how, in her later years, he and Zvi convinced the wonderful Alla, Zvi's Mother, that Yitzik really was Zvi's brother. The party was a total surprise, organised by his wife Irit and daughter Mali. We sang to the wonderful sounds of Gidi and Linda, we ate and danced and it was really fun.

Today was the Jerusalem Marathon 42.2 kilometres, 21.1 kilometres, 10 k, 5 k,  and the hand-cycle for those with disabilities. They changed the route this year, sticking to the centre of Jerusalem and looping toward the Hebrew University at Givat Ram. Marathon Day is a holiday in Jerusalem because the roads are closed so many children turned out to cheer the runners along. Luckily the rain cleared and the heat stayed away, perfect running weather - not that I speak as an expert! 25 thousand runners, from every corner of this earth running through Jerusalem. Brilliant!

The city looks spectacular, the dust of the last few weeks washed away by the cleansing rain. As I drove over the high point of Samuels Tomb yesterday, I soaked up the panorama. I never tire of it just as I never tire of the view from our veranda. There is something so magical about this city. It has everything, intense spirituality, great beauty, culture and diversity, everything that makes it special. As someone said yesterday, living in Israel isn't necessarily easy but it is so worthwhile that one cannot imagine living anywhere else. The usual rules of "no religion, no politics, no race" in conversations fly out of the window! Here everyone talks politics, obviously each firmly believing that his is the only truth; religion, ah religion is an essential topic and one prays for the rare person who is either secular but really understands Judaism or religious but understands that not everyone has arrived at the same conclusions. The vast majority do not fit either category! Either ignorant of Judaism or ignorant of the world and convinced everyone else is wrong, I prefer to be a bystander because it is an argument one cannot win. If I am presented with the question "Where do you stand" I simply tell the questioner that I am a traditional Jew. I honour the memory of my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents back through the ages. When I set the Shabbat table I see what my mother saw, when I prepare the food the aromas are those of my Mothers kitchen, when Zvi and I bless the challot, the wine we use the words of my Father and our ancestors back hundreds and hundreds of years.  Tradition, Judaisms glue.

So my dear friends. It is that time. Zvi is wending his weary way back from his Parliament, the last one before the elections. I have no doubt he will be exhausted from the pure amount of opinions around their table. He also went to visit Hasem, his barber in Abu Ghosh, so he will be tired but handsome!  Next week Zvi has his 70th birthday, just 2 days after the election. Wouldn't it be nice if he won a tangible and stable government into the next decade.

I leave you with a favourite, one you have seen before but it holds a special place in my heart. Jews sing about peace, pray about peace and teach peace. Shalom Aleichem Malachei ha Shalom- May peace come to you angels of peace 

Shabbat Shalom and much love

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