Friday, 10 July 2009

Shabbat Shalom from Sheila


10th July 2009.

Shabbat Shalom!

Israel is often the target of the frustration of the West who fail to understand the Arab States. Before considering the condemnation of Israeli troops on the battlefield read what Col. Richard Kemp, former military advisor to the British Government, has to say. His views are diametrically opposed to those put forward by the media.

Maurice Ostroff does not just sit back and complain that the world is against us – he acts. Maurice has been corresponding with Judge Richard Goldstone of the UN Fact Finding Mission on Gaza (Operation Cast Lead), he also created an exceptional video which was presented to the UN Committee. I want to congratulate Maurice on his outstanding contribution and for approaching the UN team with such honesty.

Are you aware of the incredible initiative of Israeli medical and technological research? Many supposed academics wish to boycott Israel, believing her to be an apartheid state (how far from the truth can one get?). For those who wish to boycott Israel or denigrate her in the public eye – this is our response

Just a few days to go before the second largest gathering of athletes in the world (over 7,000) will take part in the 18th Maccabiah Games. They said we wouldn't have a country, they never believed we would become athletes ( who bothered with Harold Abrahams and Mark Spitz) and here we are, in Israel with strong, athletic, proud competitors of all ages taking part in this celebration of who and what we are.

In between his activities for the 18th Maccabiah, Zvi found a certificate from June 1935 declaring (in Polish) his late father's participation in the Maccabiah Games which took place from the 7th to the 9th of June in Bialystok, Poland. He also found a certificate from 19th of September 1950 appointing his father, Kalman Rybak (Raviv) as a referee for the 3rd Maccabiah athletic competition to be held on the 6th of October that year. Finally there was also a certificate of excellence for his active assistance in the 5th Maccabiah in 1957.

Kalman had a brother, Joseph, who was a fine athlete and a physician. Joseph Rybak played for the Polish National Soccer Team. His social and sporting successes made him decide to stay in Poland, believing he was protected from the horrors of 1938, despite the fact that his brother Kalman came all the way from the nascent Jewish State to persuade his family to leave Poland and join him in Palestine. Joseph went on to become famous, but not for his sporting prowess; Joseph Rybak became the doctor of Treblinka – taking care of the 600 Jewish workers. He is famous for responding to their thanks when he cured them "Do not thank me for sending you back into hell" Joseph did not survive the Holocaust.

Kalman's sportsmanship and determination to be part of the Jewish world imbued his eldest son with the will to become part of the Maccabi family – and family it is. Zvi is luckier than I because he has been part of this incredible organization for decades, but his friendships and involvement allowed me to understand the incredible influence Maccabi has on the lives of youngsters and what an amazing social tool it is for Jews all over the world – young and old. You don't have to be super athletic, you can always play bridge or golf, but the energy of the next week or so is phenomenal.

For me one high spot of these games is the appearance of my sporting hero, Bobby Charlton, as a leader of the British Team. Bobby Charlton was not only a great footballer, a gentleman and a man of peace – he is remembered for his survival of the fatal plane crash in 1953 which decimated the English football team.

Mahane Yehuda stands above all other Israeli markets! Netanya is good, Shouk haCarmel in Tel Aviv is OK but only Mahane Yehuda represents the epitome of all that is Israeli. This week there was a culture programme on the television, with a very "Tel Aviv" presenter. He was amazed to discover the cheese store with kosher cheeses of the highest quality from around the world (including one which costs 800 NIS a kilo); the Indian restaurant; the superb coffee shop; the spices piled in mountains and the herbs in deep sacks; the fish so fresh it is still a-jumping (really); the little "Bet Knesset" (synagogue) so that the costermongers can always pop in for a quick minyan (quorum). This covered market has the freshest fruit and vegetables, dried fruits to die for and halva of every possible flavour that you can even taste!!! For one supposedly sophisticated Tel Aviv television presenter, this was the biggest eye-opener imaginable….. Jerusalem has everything!

The Dead Sea is still dead, but it can become one of the 7 natural wonders of the modern world rather than curing psoriasis! Go to and vote, vote, vote – I think it has to be at a specific time, and you can also suggest that they hold the ceremony to announce the 7 natural wonders of the world in Jerusalem, Israel!!

The opening concert for the Maccabiah (Emceed by my husband) will take place on Motse Shabbat at the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv. This Gala salute to the Maccabiah Games with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Zubin Mehta and with solo US pianist Murray Perahia will kick off the greatest Jewish celebrations ever!!!!! Good luck to all the contestants, participants and fans.

Shabbat Shalom and much love from Jerusalem heart of our world.


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