Friday, 30 April 2010

Shabbat Shalom letter from Jerusalem

30th April 2010.
Shabbat Shalom!
So the Syrians have finally been found out as the suppliers of arms to Hezb-Allah. Of course they deny it but then "They would wouldn't they"! Syria gets the money and the armaments from Iran but somehow the current US government believes Israel should talk peace with Syria. Not likely – not now, not under present circumstances.
Only 1500 people turned up for the Support Israel Rally in New York - and most of those were Christians. Where were the Jews? If we do not support Israel openly then the assumption of the media is that we are against Israel. Support by definition means backing, standing up to be counted. Complacency is not an option –the repercussions are too enormous.

On Tuesday Israelis wore white to honour Gilad Schalit and support his family as Gilad nears his fifth year of captivity. After four long years, being held by terrorists, no member of Amnesty, Red Cross or any of the "humanitarian" agencies has fought to see him or find his whereabouts. He isn't of importance; he is only a Jewish Israeli boy! Imagine it was your child……..

Gilad's Shalit's father Noam made a video clip for Yom Ha'atzmaut. Watch it and send it to family, friends - anyone who will listen.

The Arab world (other than Iran which is not Arab) has chosen not to support the Palestinians financially prefering the West to do so. Is it because they do not have spare cash? Oh no!! See this undoubtedly beautiful fountain in Dubai – which cost $280 million, bet that could feed a few mouths eh? Maybe even prevent a war?מזרקה_בדובאי.html

Yesterday was a glorious day! We both woke up smiling. I was meeting with old and adored friends in our favourite restaurant where the plants make one feel as if one is eating in a jungle amongst the ferns and palms! There in nothing like being with old friends with nothing to explain and everything to understand.

Zvi returned from his meeting and we headed off to the Municipality to meet with a group of Mormon doctors led by our very best friend Kim. Kim is a doctor, a devout Mormon and the founder of the Children of Israel Foundation which helps the less fortunate in Jerusalem. Though conversations long into the evening, while sitting on our veranda, Kim and I vowed to dispel myths and preconceived notions of both the LDS and Jewish communities' one of the other.

Many of the group were "first-timers" unlike Kim who as been here about 90 or 100 times. They were exhausted from a long bus ride but walked into the Council Chamber with wide-eyed anticipation. Zvi explained the significance of the circle of the council table and the straight lines of the columns and carvings; of the earthly thoughts of the council table influenced by the woven thoughts of the heavenly ceiling; of the twelve tribes represented by twelve lights which point both to the heavens and down to the earth….. his explanations still entrance me. The poetic explanations of my husband were slightly exploded by the truth of council sessions by council member and Deputy Mayor Naomi Tsur, who laughed at the thought that there is anything heavenly at noisy council meetings! Naomi also explained that our one wish is that Arab Jerusalemites will also take part in those noisy discussions by using their legal rights and voting in representatives.

We then waved a magic wand and took them out onto the veranda – undoubtedly the second most beautiful veranda in Israel! Jerusalem surrounded us. Old and new, Biblical, historic, ancient and ultra modern all vied for our attention. Churches and Mosques created a fine horizon – beside the eerily beautiful Mount of Olives. In the distance a huge Israeli flag fluttered in the breeze, drawing everyone's attention. As Zvi explained the mosaic which makes up Jerusalem I watched their faces, enthralled, excited, amazed and above all enchanted.

I was amazed to see, in the years since Ehud Olmert was Mayor, that the near view was cluttered by ugly buildings which had sprung up like mushrooms all over Jerusalem –one right next to the Municipality which blocked the view of Notre Dame Convent preventing Zvi's usual explanation of the Italian Hospital, the Russian Church and Notre Dame (French) vying for greater height – therefore closer to heaven! The bizarre Pieta of Notre Dame is no longer on view. One thing for sure – that would never have happened when we were there.

Next week Zvi will be very involved in the Maccabi World Union meetings and then on Monday night he is off to China, leading the Jerusalem Hora Troupe to Shanghai where they will dance at the opening of Israel's Expo pavilion. If Zvi gets his way you may yet see Hora Jerusalem dancing in Tiananmen Square in Beijing when you switch on your news!! That would be much better than watching yet another miserable item wouldn't it?

As Zvi sat with the young dancers yesterday, he explained the implication of their trip and what he expects from them. "You are representing Israel in a country that barely knows what an Israeli or a Jew is. We are going there as envoys of Jews worldwide and Israel in particular – remember that you are ambassadors to a nation of billions of people – behave with pride and humility."

We are off to celebrate Zvi's littlest grand-daughter Gilis birthday today with a barbeque at eleven – so that we can be back home before siesta time and I can finish my preparations for Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem

With love


Rebbe Nahman of Bratslav "Everything in this world has a heart; the heart itself has its own heart."

Jerusalem is the heart of our heart, the soul of our soul.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Shevua Tov special report

25th April 2010.

Shevu'a Tov – have a great week – with love from Jerusalem

Video – Who Owns Jerusalem

Dear Friends

I sat up until well after midnight listening and learning - Dr. Jaques Gautier discusses his twenty-five years of study on the subject on Canadian Television. This is conceivably the most important academic study (over 1220 pages) on the subject of "Who owns Jerusalem" and its relevance to the current situation that I have ever seen.

The learned gentleman is not an extremist, not against anyone and his research and presentation thereof is logical and painstakingly accurate. Amazing - just breathtaking.

Brilliant although quite long (45 minutes) you must watch this exceptional, scholarly interview

Friday, 23 April 2010

Shabbat Shalom after Yom Haaztmaut 62


23rd April 2010.

Today is St. Georges Day, the English Saints Day – kind of appropriate to the story of Israel with Balfour, the Mandate, Montefiore, British Rothschilds………..

In a world where Israel feels very alone Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is a rare gem. Ileanas unwavering support for Israel singles her out and this week she spoke about the Iranian threat “I would hope all options are on the table,” she said. “But with this administration, I’m not sure we can give Israel any kind of assurances that all options are on the table. We have got to protect Israel, because Israel protects the United States. We always talk about how we give cover to Israel. But Israel is a strong ally. Because of Israel, we sleep soundly at night.”

Today, still filled with the joy of a glorious birthday party for a truly impressive 62 year old Israel, I don't want to talk about politics or pain, certainly not about ludicrous "proximity talks" what on earth does that name mean anyway – just about celebrating Israel! I prepared lots of videos to watch and fill you with pride and make you laugh…… to show yet again the incredible rainbow of people and opinions, religion, creed and denominations which make up Israel.

As Yom Hazicharon began with the siren at 20:00 on Sunday night I called my wonderful, incredibly Zionist friend Arlene in Manhasset so that we could share the siren, weep together and thank G-d for Israel.

Israel goes from Zikaron (Remembrance) to Atzma'ut (Independence) officially with the torch lighters of the national ceremony on Mount Herzl were varied and wonderful – as is Israel which is why I chose to describe all of them without omission. 14 lighters were chosen to light the 12 torches and I feel it important that you know who they were.

Raya Strauss-Ben Dror – former business woman and philanthropist

Avraham Greenzeid, who emigrated from the former Soviet Union in 1990. As a young soldier in the Red army, he fought the Nazis and won medals for bravery.

Tzvi Levanon, 79. Levanon is a former IDF general. As a youth, he assisted Hagana members who fought in the War of Independence.

Eyra Chaitin, 30. Chaitin immigrated to Israel from Latvia at age 13, and currently lives in Carmiel is one of Israel's only foresters.

Kamal Mansour – public servant extraordinaire lit a torch and also Israel Prize Laureate

Rabbi Dick Hirsch Leads the Zionist General Council and is active in promoting Zionism within the Reform movement.

Professor Ariel Feldstein one of the nation's leading experts on the life and philosophy of Theodore Herzl.

Yousef Matanes, 82. An Arab Christian resident of Haifa, promotes coexistence between Jews and Arabs. In 1947 he hid a group of Jewish workers during an Arab pogrom, saving their lives.

Amnon Lavi, blind from a young age is the Principal of the Golani school for special needs children in Beit Shean.

Tel-El Filou, lit the torch with Amnon Lavi, is active as a leader in the Tzofei Ha'Eda (religious scouts) movement.

Ram Balinkov, held important positions in the government and in the private sector.

Sarah Braverman-Shpechner aged 91 made Aliyah at 19 joined the Palmach, and was one of the parachutists sent to save European Jews during the Holocaust.

Justice Dalia Dorner former Supreme Court Justice and head of the Israeli Press Council.

Yossi Feldman Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, established the Ein Gedi Field School and founded the Society for Protection of Israel Heritage Sites

Dr Avraham Yitzchak emigrated from Ethiopia, excelled in high school, served in the IDF and is currently completing his surgical internship. Dr Yitzchak was a member of the Israeli team which flew to Haiti

We know so little of what really happened in the early part of the 20th century here in the Middle East. Here is movie footage from 1920's showing the first throes of the birth of the State and the return of the Jews. It helps put everything into perspective

Next and probably finally, the cutest video ever made for Israel!! It is going viral on the net and anyone who knows how should translate the words!!! Israel Israel Que Bonita es Yisrael by an Andean Supergroup!!

After a wonderful Yom Haatzmaut with three parties and a bar mitzvah (!!!) we must return to normal. After this injection of hope and rejoicing Israel will face calumny, demands and scandals with renewed energy. Jerusalem is Jerusalem, different, special, historic, modern, religious and secular and no-one can ever tell me that she is not the Biblical City of David!! Prime Minister Netanyahu said a resounding NO to any suggestions that Jerusalem is on the table for negotiations. To start negotiations by putting limitations upon Israel and none on the Palestinians except stopping terrorist activities (duh) is untenable and I believe that slowly, slowly the Obama administration is beginning to realize its mistake.

Must finish my preparations for Shabbat so that I can drive to Givat Zeev and see my beautiful grandchildren!! On the way I will pass Nebe Samuel (Samuel's Tomb) and the breathtaking sight of Jerusalem spread before me like a magical white carpet. I promise to think of you as my heart fills with pride at the new city which grew from nothing – land which had been left desolate for 2,000 years is booming and blooming!!!

Shabbat Shalom!

With much love from Jerusalem – the very heart of our world


Sunday, 18 April 2010

From Memorial to Independence


Sunday 18th April 2010.

Zikaron and Atzma'ut – Memorial and Independence

This evening life changes in Israel. Shops, restaurants and places of entertainment are closed and at 20:00 (8pm) precisely the siren wails to call a nation to remember. The television airs stories of families who have lost their children, of children who lost their fathers and lives ever changed. We show the faces of each and every one of those who were lost before and after Independence. Tomorrow at 11:00 the siren will again sound – to remember. A total of 22,682 men and women have been killed defending the land of Israel since 1860, the year that the first brave Jews left the secure walls of the Old City of Jerusalem to build new Jewish neighborhoods.

The fourth of Iyar, the day preceding Israel's Independence Day, was declared by the Israeli Knesset as Israel's Remembrance Day for those who lost their lives in the establishment of the State of Israel, military personnel killed while on active duty in the IDF and those who lost their lives to enemy terror. The flow of the two days conveys a simple message: Israel owes her independence and her very existence to the people who sacrificed their lives.

ראש הטופס

תחתית הטופס

Memorial Service for Members of the Israel Defense Forces

El Maaleh Rachamim – G-d of infinite compassion at the Kotel

"O God, full of mercy, Who dwells on high, grant proper rest in the wings of the Divine Presence in the lofty level of the holy and the pure ones, who shine like the glow of the firmament for the souls of the men and women of the Israel Defense Forces who met their deaths in the wars of Israel, in action of defense, retaliation and security, while fulfilling their missions and during their service, and to the souls of all the fighters of the underground organizations and the fighting units in the nations battles, and all the men and women of the intelligence community and the security and police forces who gave their lives in the sanctification of Gods Name and, with the help of the God of the armies of Israel, brought about the rebirth of the nation and the state and the redemption of the Land and the City of God, as well as all those who were murdered, in Israel and abroad, by murderers of the terrorist organizations, by virtue of our prayers for the ascent of their souls. May the Merciful One therefore shelter them in the shelter of his wings for eternity; and may He bind their souls in the Bond of Life. The Lord is their heritage, Eden their place of rest. May they repose in peace in their resting places, may their merit reflect on all of Israel, and may they meet their destiny in the End of Days. Now let us respond: Amen."

The siren call in Jerusalem

Brothers in Arms a tribute to the IDF

In a uniquely Israeli form of schizophrenia, as dusk falls tomorrow the last sounds of yizkor (prayer for the fallen) are followed by changing of the guard on Mount Herzl and the country's attention follows the mourners from the cemetery on Mount Herzl to Herzl's Tomb and Israel's 62nd birthday party begins! 12 people, symbolising the 12 tribes of Israel, are chosen to light torches and swear allegiance to the State of Israel.

Dancing, singing, fireworks and a military tattoo take the place of somber prayer. We cannot afford to wallow in our sadness – life must go on. We have a brilliant country to celebrate – thanks to those who gave their lives so we could have a party. Those who wallow in their past sadness never step out of the mire – we must, we have and we will.

Am Yisrael Chai!

Israel's statistics 2010

In this video of the Yom Ha'atzmaut celebrations 2 years ago – watch the army band as it marches in formation – the formation is the word Shalom – peace – in Hebrew. The IDF - an army for peace.

Chag Atzma'ut Sameach


Friday, 16 April 2010

Shabbat Shalom letter from Jerusalem


Friday the 16th of April 2010.

Shabbat Shalom!

The British Advertising Standards Agency banned an Israel Tourist poster because in one corner of the advertisement there is a picture of the Western Wall (with the Dome of the Rock) because it is disputed territory!!!! Even the BBC makes it clear that this is ludicrous – in a very Auntie Beeb manner but does so!

A British Judge deems the throwing of shoes as legitimate traditional Moslem protest and not an act of violence! Rabbi Jeremy Rosen says everything I wanted to say on the subject in his blog.

There are some British videos which make my day. The odious George Galloway walked in a London street and realised that he didn't donate enough money to Moslem causes!

Don't be too smug about your country and knock the UK – it is happening in a school near you! Professor Barry Rubin reports.

As the Jerusalem bribery case widens its grip, Former PM Ehud Olmert denies involvement. The arrests which took place this week, including former Mayor Uri Lupoliansky, former Deputy Mayors and Municipal department heads, did not surprise me, but I have difficulty believing that the Ehud Olmert, a man I know so very well did what the press is accusing him of. At first I thought it was my own naïveté but everyone who really knows him says the same. I have never ever seen evidence of the behaviour of which they accuse him; the police insist that he is not a "smoking gun" and state clearly that the government witness is a man known for lying and for his determination to "take down" the former PM. I am not convinced that he is involved in the Holyland fiasco and please don't write rude letters to me on the subject because in this country one is innocent until proven guilty.

The New Israel Fund has been revealed as the funder of legal suits against Israeli in foreign countries. Shame on them!

Banning was the preferred punishment of Apartheid South Africa against activists (a large number of whom were Jewish) preventing their words from reaching the outside world. It was a harsh form of house arrest. In that most divine of all retribution Judge Richard Goldstone, who promoted the idea of Israeli apartheid through his inherently fallacious report, has been banned, by the local community, from his own grandsons Bar Mitzva in South Africa. Harsh retribution indeed, but just.

From Paris the inauguration of David Ben Gourion Esplanade and a promise from Sarkozy

In honour of Yom Haatzmaut Aish Hatorah has released a one-minute movie of Israel then and now and all her achievements. Made by Ephraim Shore- a minute of sheer pride.

I always talk about the rainbow of humanity that makes up Jerusalem – now I know it is all of Israel. Watch this wonderful tourist ad – wonder if the Advertising Standards will accept this one!!!!!!

What an interesting week. From meeting an American former marine who has seen the world and was horrified that Arab Israelis do not stand in silence when the siren wails for Yom ha Shoah – to Mamilla to see the outstanding exhibition of artwork based on Fairy Tales – where my dear friend Irit Lev exhibited among the myriad of wondrous sculptures.

On Wednesday I took my grandchildren to the Bloomfield Science Museum where they had an absolute ball. From a cubicle of mirrors to a "Heath Robinson" mechanical "thing" which lifts balls and they travel a tortuous route earthward to water play and scientific experiments. Yosef was thrilled to discover that thanks to a series of pulleys he could lift his Mummy off the ground and Talia built a bridge – even little Ayala had lots to do! Amazing!

Yesterday I accompanied my friend Judith to Mahane Yehuda – I didn't need anything but yearned for the sights, sounds and aromas of that magical place.

Today we went to Modiin for breakfast with Zvi's son Leor, Shiri and the little grandbabies. What fun it was! We went on Road 443 as the quickest route and as went through the check point, the exquisitely beautiful young woman soldiers smiled at everyone passing through. Not what you see on CNN eh?

I love Israel – but then you already know that. I was trying to think what really draws me and makes me so involved. While living as a Jew in the UK I was already very involved communally and in any Israel contact that I could find. I thought it was enough. I never suffered anti-Semitism and my friends were of every persuasion and I strongly identified as a British Jew – proudly so it was enough. I always knew that one day I would live in Israel because it was in my soul – one friend told me that "the stork just dropped you in the wrong tiny country" but I never thought so because we are all the sum of our past, and it was a wonderful past.

Since living here I realize that my love for Israel is everything. I feel fulfilled, satisfied and love to spread what I feel to others so that you can feel that "enough". Now it is never enough, I cannot get enough of Israel…. even though I am filled to overflowing with this miraculous country.

Happy 62nd Birthday Israel.

You are ever young and ever old; you mourn your lost children and then celebrate the land they fought for; you never rest on your many laurels you always flourish and blossom, searching out the new and innovative; you are scorned yet hold your head up high; you are lied about yet try to rise above it; you are denied assistance yet are the first to offer it; you are my country, my only country.

This is not just a piece of music

Shabbat Shalom to you all

Friday, 9 April 2010

Sheila's Shabbat Shalom Letter


7th April 2010.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends

It is all in a name.

When David Ben Gurion made the decision to call this land the State of Israel for the Children of Israel rather than Yehuda for the Jews he felt it was natural and right. Israel was formed from greater Palestine by the United Nations two state solution (Jordan and Israel). We had no concept of the problems that name would cause or that Arab immigrants would name themselves Palestinians. Logically the world knows that Palestine/Trans-Jordan was split into two, a Moslem state and a Jewish State, but when ordinary folk hear the word Palestine today they perceive an oppressed indigenous people. We are nearly 62 years old and our very existence is questioned again….. that is what is in a name.

Israel has been anxious to know what Anat Kam did to be held under house arrest. A press embargo was placed on the affair after Uri Blau's report in Haaretz. The story had been passed by the censor so why the kerfluffle? Kam was a serving a IDF soldier when she stole a disk containing secret documents from the office of former Central Command Chief Yair Naveh with the intention of uncovering Israeli secret service plans. Freedom of the press is one thing – stealing and publishing State secrets is quite another.

Talking of storms the Obama storm whirls around us in eddies of emotional reports from the White House and the world media. We know that the American people are with us but we are thoroughly confused as to what really happened. We need our Prime Minister to tell us what happened and how he intends dealing with the situation. Isi Leibler explains in this weeks "Word from Jerusalem" Prime Minister Netanyahu: Talk to us

As an appendix to the Obama issue listen to Canada Radio. I don't know this broadcaster, his views are w-a-y right of mine and of Attila the Hun, coarse and opinionated, but…interesting! Galganov destroyer of Ivory Towers!

Our dear friend Canon Andrew White brings joy, peace and true Christian love to war torn Baghdad. As he prepared for Easter prayers huge explosions were heard near St Georges Anglican Church. The mayhem which followed smashed into the contemplative prayers in a whirlwind of devastation and despair as people rushed to his church for safe haven. Neither the first nor the last act of terror in his beloved Baghdad.

One of Israel's most loyal spokesmen of recent times was Winston Spencer-Churchill. My sense of history has not lost its bearing, Winston Spencer-Churchill, grandson of the late, legendary Prime Minister was a sterling friend of Israel. He never lost sight of his loyalty. He died recently aged 69 beloved of Israel and loving Israel. His memory is deserving of tribute as a rare and unswerving ally.

Israeli journalist Khaled Abu Toameh writes "Tufts Friends of Israel, the pro-Israel group on campus, has decided to cancel a lecture by Khaled Abu Toameh, scheduled for next week, in fear that he will be seen as anti-Islam by the Arab students and would make Tufts Friends of Israel look bad." Words fail me!

Wonder where your aid money goes? A senior Palestinian economist can tell you

Check out Israel 21C this week. Everything from painless treatment for youthful skin to delicious Israeli chocolate from the "Bald Man"

Want to be free of our reliance on petrochemicals? It's easy – watch this amazing video from Elot in Israel. With wind and sun this could spearhead clean, cheap energy.

During Pesach Zvi and I travelled North on highway 6 to Akko, ancient fortress town and thriving city of diverse Arab and Jewish life. Akko has 5,000 years of multi-faceted history; capital of the Ottomans, centre for the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaler desired by Napoleon and a major port on the old trade routes. I love travelling through Israel and exploring her many exciting locations. Travelling North is fun on the old road if you have time; stopping along the way at Bedouin outposts to buy ceramics; Bet Shean for the best falafel in Israel at Falafel Zahava; on the sores of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret) for a quick dip in the healing spa waters or the Hamam or to sit on the waters edge at Kibbutz Ein Gev and eat St Peters fish. Everywhere is fun and food, ah the food! From the Kinneret you pass my favourite place in Israel (after Jerusalem) - Mitspeh haYamim Spa Village, across Israel to the shore, up the coastal road to Akko and on to Metulla and the Good Fence. Walk around in Israel don't stay in your hotels; chat to people in the street. That's the magic of Israel, everybody walks and talks even at 2am you find people strolling in the streets, going home from coffee shops and restaurants which close when the last customers leave.

Yesterday, Gloria Goldstein, a dear friend from Sydney Australia and I explored the Islamic Museum's fascinating illuminated Korans and extensive clock collection. Later we went to Caffit in the Botanical Gardens for lunch. The weather was perfect, the air clear and the sun shining as we sat beside the pond watching the black swans and ate our delicious lunch.

Sunday night Zvi and I will be at a ceremony at Yad Vashem as Israel Remembers.

We will remember the 6,000,000; we will remember their families who survived with bitter nightmares; we will remember the grandchildren who never knew grandparents and the generations unborn from wombs exterminated. Yom ha Shoah. At the eerie wail of the siren people stand with heads hung, silent beside their cars and buses as Israel pays tribute and the wailing siren weeps for us all. All over this country people will remember. Some forget that although G-d didn't make us perfect he never abandons us – he weeps too. Please watch this video created by my friend Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence of the Great Synagogue in Sydney Australia whose grandfather, composer Heinz Levine, perished in Auschwitz yet his music lives on in his grandson's heart.

March of the living this year will be led by Natan Scharansky, former Chief Rabbi Meir Lau and Professor Mark Spigelman (both Holocaust survivors). Prof Spigelman's first childhood memory is of the cold metal of a gun in his mouth, held by a Nazi soldier threatening his mother with killing her little son. He survived, thrived, excelled scholastically, married and brought three fine sons into this world as his revenge.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem.

Never, ever forget that this is home – this is our home – this is one place where no matter what is said and done we don't need to flee ---- ever again, never again.