Friday, 19 June 2009

Shabbat Shalom from Sheila


Shabbat Shalom!

What a wonderful week filled with friends and family – which I will tell you about later, but first to the current "situation".

I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech contained several extremely important points, including the status of Jerusalem, settlement activity etc, but two points stood out above all others. One was to right the awful assumption that Israel was formed as a result of the Holocaust. Yes, we did rise as a Phoenix from the ashes of the ovens, but Israel was well on its way to establishment already and had been on our lips, in prayer and longing, for 2,000 years. The second point emphasised was that it was high time the Arabs/Palestinians absorbed their supposed refugees since Israel had successfully absorbed all 800,000+ refugees from Arab countries into tiny Israel.

Jimmy Carter's dream of a democratic Middle East took another blow this week. 30 years after he successfully backed the deposing of the Shah of Iran elections were held in that country. Ahmedinejad was re-elected – apparently by a huge majority of about 90% and the country is in uproar. Ordinary people are horrified at the outcome and declare foul play….not that the opposition party leader is any better than Ahmedinejad! Terrible riots in the street and policemen attacked after beating citizens have been going on all week Finally, in an act of ultimate democracy Ayatollah Humeini announced that Musavi and his followers can either accept the vote or leave the country!!!!

30 years since Jimmy Carter brought us Islamic terrorism with unlimited funds. This week, as President Obamas advisor on Middle Eastern Affairs, he went to Gaza and apparently there was an attempt to blow him sky-high!

Former US Ambassador to Israel and proponent of any peace plan with the Palestinians, Dr. Martin Indyk, has just written a book. Like Dennis Ross before him he admits that Israel did everything possible to make peace and the Palestinians are not interested partners to any plan. He claims that he suffered from the same delusions as President Clinton and the Bushes, before President Obama – he and they are blinded by naïveté- the belief that others want peace as much as you do.

This week Jerusalem has seen the WZO Conference and many important decisions were made, hopefully including the decision to give full voting rights to the hard- working organizations within the WZO, such as Maccabiah and WIZO. Our friends from Keren Hayesod are now in Tel Aviv, about to come to Jerusalem for their conference and next week is the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency. All of these organizations have great importance within the Jewish World and the wisdom of their decisions is paramount.

Jill and I have done all the shouks!!! We went to Shouk Ramle on Monday, filled with happy shoppers after bargains, we were in the Arab Shouk of the Old City on Tuesday and then yesterday we went to Mahane Yehuda. Each shouk (market) has its own character and personality.

Shouk Ramle is filled with all kinds of knick-knacks that one doesn't need but buys anyway because it is cheap, interspersed with marvelous fabrics and household utensils;

The Old City Arab Shouk has a phenomenal charm all of its own as one goes down the uneven, natural stone steps, which have strange little stone slopes to allow the handcarts to pass with ease. As one goes further into the shouk the shops seem almost to touch each other as the passageways become so narrow. We went down and down until we came to see our friend Ayman Jwalis, at 45 David Street, just before you turn right onto Kotel Street! I swear that Ayman has everything in his aptly named "Garden of Eden" Bazaar. Brightly coloured lamps, Hebron Glass flasks, jewellery, stones, Armenian ceramics….it is like walking into Aladdins Cave!!! I haven't been there for ages because I found the walk too difficult but Jill was amazed at the ease with which I raced down! I love the freedom of movement that is Jerusalem – a thousand languages and thousand different faces – Imams, priests, Rabbis and Monks mixing with the myriad of happy shoppers, all melding together.

Finally, saving the best for last - Mahane Yehuda. I love watching Jill's delight as we encounter the fruit market and see the phenomenal array of luscious fruits and vegetables – shining as if just washed from the tree or ground. We turned left and walked down to Tsidkiyahus pickle and salad stand full of delicious mouth-watering Middle Eastern delights and every conceivable variety of olive. Right at the top are the caramelized garlic cloves…. to die for!!! Of course I need to taste each type of olive before deciding which ones to take home! Opposite Tsidkyahus is a marvelous spice store – huge mountains of fine spices and at least thirty types of herb tisanes. Mahane Yehuda satisfies all ones senses simultaneously – the heady aroma of the spices; the bright colours of the fruits and vegetables; the sound of the costermongers shouting and the ripostes of the customers; everybody "feeling" the fruit and veg before buying and then we go to the coffee shop for the heavenly taste of a well deserved "Hafuch Chazak" a strong frothy, delicious, upside down coffee.

Probably top of my list this week was going into the Old City on Tuesday night for the last night of the illuminations. In truth the illuminations were a terrible disappointment but as we walked in through the Jaffa Gate we stopped for a delicious falafel then headed down through the market, turned left toward the Christian Quarter, right into the Cardo and up through the Jewish Quarter to the arches of the Armenian Quarter and finally through the new Mamilla Shopping Arcade. I was overcome with joy to see hundreds, but hundreds of thousands of people wandering in the Old City at night. A sea of smiling faces greeted us whatever way we turned and although we left at 9:30 there were more and more still arriving – tourists, Tel Avivim, Jerusalemites (including many Jerusalem arabs) in a steady solid mass. Such joy!

Shalom Aleichem – This video is what Erev Shabbat is all about. I received it from our beautiful friend Rosa who encompasses all there is in a good Jewish woman and wishing Berele a healthy Shabbat

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

Shabbat Shalom

With much love from Jerusalem, heart and soul of our world


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