Friday, 30 December 2011

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem and Revue of 2011


30th December 2011

Shabbat Shalom and I hope all my Christian friends had a wonderful and contemplative Christmas.

Gosh it is almost 2012! This has been a somewhat exciting year and not the most comfortable. From Arab Spring which the insanely naive politicians described as a blow for democracy we recognise today that it turned into a deep and bloody abyss of tyranny. In Libya anger overflowed into such violence that they stripped former leader Muammar Ghaddafi bare, beat and abused him until he finally died. His daughter is now seeking asylum in Israel.

The much lauded Egyptian freedom rallies turned into a feast of violence that the media refused to expose even when one of their top women journalists was raped. In Syria thousands are mown down and the Israeli press, freer than elsewhere, told of the wounded who when they arrive at hospital are kicked and beaten to death on government direction. A new form of triage which identifies rebels and ensures their demise.

In the UK demonstrations turned to riots and in the USA they turned to left wing “Occupation”. Israel's Social Justice demonstrations began with Cottage Cheese prices and crossed the social barriers. They were quiet and dignified, and as a result the government ordered the Trajtenberg Enquiry into social needs which are currently being implemented where appropriate.

The Fogel Family was slaughtered in their home by Palestinian “heroes” and the media described them as “a settler family” as if excusing the heinous crime. Supermarket Entrepreneur Rami Levi showed us that actions speak louder than words when the family sat mourning their loss they found a stranger filling their fridge. It was Rami Levi who promised to do the self-same thing every Friday until the remaining children reach the age of 18. What a mensch.

Gilad Schalit came home. A frail young man did what no-one else could – he weakened the resolve of Hamas. When he realised that his freedom was hanging by a thread he decided to go on a hunger strike until Hamas feared his death, thus losing leverage. Our price was high, we have yet to understand the cost, but I am in awe of his resolve and determination, clearly inherited from his father, his unbelievable psychological strength. Glad he is home.

Israel won another Nobel Prize. Prof. Dan Schechtman, held in disdain by his fellow scientists who blackballed him for his ground breaking discovery, persevered proving he was right all along.

There are 5 new women pilots in the IDF!!! As PM Netanyahu sat “If women can sit in the cockpit of an aeroplane they can sit anywhere” referring to back of bus!

UNESCO finally recognised that the PA textbooks are not just anti-Israeli but anti-Semitic when their Holocaust denial came to the light. The incredible work carried out by the likes of Palestinian Media Watch and IMPACT-SE ensure that such travesties in education are brought to the light.

A President was sentenced and went to prison for sexual harassment and rape. Moshe Katsav refused a deal early in the proceedings and received the full services of the Israeli legal system which worked to the letter of the law.

Religious tension overflowed in Israel when women were ordered to the back of the bus. I warned of not throwing the beautiful baby of Judaism out with the bathwater of extremism and here is just one of the reasons. Every home in South Korea has a Talmud and mothers teach their children the wisdom of the Talmud. Why? Because they realised that Jewish genius comes from religious learning. Think about it.,7340,L-4065672,00.html On Monday I will meet the South Korean Ambassador to Israel Young Sam Mah in the Knesset at a reception and Q&A organised by the Knesset Forum on International Relations. I know what my first question will be!

South Sudan declared independence from the oppressive Moslem North after many years of slaughter and Israel was proudly the first nation to recognise them and send aid.
The Palestinian Authority tried to achieve world recognition but when it didn't go their way they decided to join forces with Hamas.
US troops left Iraq in turmoil and the internecine killing became untenable – if you want to know the truth then go to Canon Andrew White's page on Facebook.

A North Korean President died to the most carefully dramatised wailing session ever seen. No changes there though.

Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu was declared one of the 10 most intelligent people in the world with an IQ of 180.

His determination to limit foreign funding for NGO's which threaten Israel's security is 100% right. Not just Machsom Watch and their ilk, but the Haredim went outside Israel to persuade 5 millionaires to pay for a private segregated bus line. Herem m'bifnim (Boycott from inside) raises funds overseas so that when HaBimah Theatre was invited to the International Shakespeare Festival in the UK they can demand from the British organisers to disinvite Israel's National Theatre because they performed in Ariel!!!! Mr Netanyahu – implement this law.

Finally and most dramatically – Iran has finally been recognised as the apex of the triangle of evil. Had the Allies had the courage to attack Iran originally, not Afghanistan and Iraq – maybe.......?

Our renovations are over!!! Gosh it was no picnic but it looks great! The bathrooms are gleaming, all doors, toilets and showers in perfect working order and no damp at the downstairs neighbours! Instead of a bath in our bathroom we now have a wonderful shower which makes it hard to limit the time spent in steaming hot water – but we have to protect the Kinneret after all. The apartment is slowly becoming less dusty and of course the veranda – ah the veranda. We had a delightful breakfast with Rivka and Michael Bertisch Meir this week and afterwards we came home to show them the view from our newly refurbished and gleaming veranda. They were thrilled!! It really is incredible looking out on Jerusalem in the wintry sunshine. Of course, they wanted me to tell Stanley that the tiny orange tree is healthy but denuded and the kumquats already made into marmalade!!!

On Wednesday we went out for dinner with our wonderful Melbourne friends John and Pauline Gandel, the most amazing, funny, lovely friends anyone could ever wish for. Their grandson AJ is here for Academy and joined us for a Moroccan meal at Ima Restaurant – the excellence of the company far outweighed the food but the evening was a great success!!! By the way Josephine – I came home and immediately had tea in one of the Galaxy mugs!!

I pray that next year, 2012, will be a kinder, less exciting year. My greatest prayer is that Israel will be recognised as the democratic island in a sea of oppression; the incredibly giving, innovative and generous society that she surely is.

I want to end with a song or two. “Israel The Tiny” is a wonderful video produced by Allan Pakes, with the young singers of Afula, a new song that expresses all our feelings

Finally – or as we say here “Aharon ve Chaviv” (Last and Happy) Happy New Year from the IDF!!!

In 2012 I pray that all of us will show pride in who we are, where we come from and where we are going and stand tall in the face of those who would rewrite our history.

Shabbat Shalom and love from Jerusalem, heart of our hearts, centre of our prayers, core of our being.

Sheila and of course Zvi

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Shabbat shalom, Chanuka Sameach and a Blessed Christmas


23rd December 2011

Shabbat shalom dear friends. Shabbat shalom, Chag Urim Sameach and of course a truly blessed Christmas to all our Christian friends.

Isi Leibler is a religious Jew, a truly erudite religious Jew. Isi recognises that the issue of Ultra-Orthodox attempt at control in Israel has gone too far. Confront Unbridled Religious Zealotry Now by Isi Leibler

After a Palestinian man in distress stopped beside an IDF camp his life was saved by two IDF medics using intensive CPR. “We make no distinction between patients and will treat anyone in need – Jewish or Palestinian, men or women. It’s one of our values both as doctors and as soldiers in the army.”

Chanuka. A single cruse of oil lasted 8 days to light the Jewish people out of the darkness of the hedonisitic ruling Hellenist culture to reconsecrate the Temple. The Greeks did not necessarily want to kill us, they were much cleverer than that; they stripped us of our traditions, our language, our rites and our identity imposing total secularity. Without Brit Mila, Kosher food, Shabbat and of course our festivals we were under threat of simply disappearing, until one brave man and his family stood up and fought. Yehudah ha Maccabee – the Jewish Hammer, son of Matthatias, a priest from Modi'in, led the revolt against Hellenisation and King Antiochus' cruel tyranny – and won! He restored our faith, our rights and our identity. The power of one.

Yesterday I met with Anne Ayalon, wife of Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Danny Ayalon. Anne is not just a silent partner she is determinedly and wholeheartedly working to bring Christians and Jews around the world together in an understanding of where we both started – right here in this wonderful land. Bright and eloquent she works tirelessly for Israel. Anne is deeply involved in a wonderful project called The Galilean to encourage all faiths to come to the Galilee to discover their roots here in Israel and learn about our wonderful country. We hope to work together in the future to keep YOU well informed and part of our mutual future. I am thrilled that she loved the idea of “Adopt a journalist” so please remember to do just that – right where you are. Take one home!!!
After our meeting we went together to the Christian Embassy in their exquisite home on Rachel Imenu Street, to celebrate the Festival of Lights honouring both Chanuka and Christmas and our mutual love of Israel. Director of the ICEJ, Jurgen Buhler welcomed us, talking of his pride as a Christian who loves Israel and honours Judaism and prayers that Christianity's black history of persecution of Jews is in the past. Shia Ben Yehuda from Yad Vashem spoke pointing to the modern miracle of Chanuka – a German Christian and an Israeli religious Jew representing a Holocaust Memorial standing together in Jerusalem to celebrate and honour each others festivals and their love of Israel. Finally Rev Goosan Aljanian, Director Liturgical Chanting at the Armenian Church stood and in a full operatic voice sang an Armenian Carol. Candle lighting, Maoz Tsur, A traditional carol and then this. The ICEJ truly brought us together.

From the Embassy we went to see a film at the Cinemateque produced by a friend – Avi Angel. The film took us on a journey, a truly incredible journey of two brothers, two year old Avner and three year old Itzchak, hidden from the Nazis of Cracow in a bunker by an Aunt, their parents taken to their death, the aunt throwing them on a Kastner Transport train saving their lives. Their journey took them through Poland, Bergen Belsen, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and finally Israel. These tiny children were adopted by a young woman along the way, their beloved Nomi , who like Moshe didn't see the Promised Land, until finally B'nei Akiva freed them from Atlit. Their Aunt survived the war thus they originally called the film “3 Mothers for 2 boys” but the final name is “Here I learned to Love” in honour of Nomi. From the story of Itzchak and Avner Weinberg it is both deeply emotional and uplifting- Izchak himself came and answered questions, he and his brother now 71 and 73 years old with thriving families and full lives. Standing near the Western Wall in Jerusalem Avner says: "This is the moment when I claim victory over the Nazis."

From there we took our now familiar route to Mevasseret, back to Sam and Frida to light the Chanuka candles with friends.

For our special celebrations I bring you two videos. One about a Dreidl or Sevivon Did you know that your dreidl is different to mine? In Israel the four letters on the dreidl are Nun, Gimmel, Heh and Peh, representing Ness Gadol hayah Poh (A great miracle happened here) whereas in the Diaspora you have a different letter on your dreidl – Nun, Gimmel, Heh, Shin - Ness Gadol hayah Sham (A great miracle happened THERE)!!!
Growing up in Wales I had no idea that Chanuka means Sufganiot or Doughnuts. We had potato latkes but no doughnuts! Here in Israel there are so many varieties that I needed a video to explain it all!!!

Chanuka this year came together with a very sad personal loss. My adored cousin Jean passed away. Jean and Stuart, Stuart and Jean, inseparable in name and in fact. Always part of my life since I was small they, and later their sons Ian and Bobby, were an integral part of my family. A totally positive couple, generous, sweet, loving, giving, they epitomise family. They always stood by me, my decisions and never let me down. They stood with me in lieu of my parents and siblings as our “unterfirers” or proxy parents, at my wedding to Zvi, proudly handing me over to Zvi with great love and unforgettable smiles. Family, more important than anything else in the world, family means “being there” for family celebrations and tragedies; family means never letting anyone feel left out; family means supporting one another - always forgiving.; family is being able to picture where your loved one is; family is knowing that whatever happens your family will be with you. I love my family and was especially moved by Jean's sister Shirley who, in her eulogy, spoke of their togetherness and the fact that they thought alike and never a day went by without them talking and checking on each other. Jean together with her beloved Stuart, left behind the greatest legacy of all – two sons and ten grandchildren all of whom are absolute family. I will always miss you dear Jean, thank you for being a fine example in my life and for loving me so much.

Christmas came to Jerusalem! Not only the many carol concerts or the festive lights, Chanukiot on the streetlights of Jerusalem giving way to stars and cedars on Hebron Road leading toward Bethlehem but in the vast numbers of visitors crowding the Old City, mixing and matching with the Chanuka celebrations. You don't have to be Jewish to go into Roladin to try out their exceptional flavours of sufganiot!!

I wish you blessed festive season, whatever your faith, wherever you are. We all pray for the same things, a healthy happy family; a stable economy; to stop famine and oppression and maybe we should add one that the media and our governments concentrate on the important rather than on the convenient – like knuckle rapping a tyrannical murderous regime in Syria while concluding that the idiotic and illegal decision of Haredim to make women sit at the back of the bus was an international incident! Allowing oppression of Christians in the PA to go by as if it isn't happening but building houses in Jerusalem is holding back world peace!!

So. Shabbat Shalom dear friends, Shabbat shalom and Chanuka Sameach.
Happy Happy birthday to my wonderful big sister Eddie – so far away in Toronto Canada. Eddie I love you and miss you more than you can imagine.

Love from Jerusalem

Friday, 16 December 2011

Another Shabbat Shalom

16th December 2011

Dear Friends, I won't keep you long but I feel a deep need to clarify my letter of yesterday.
I agree with everything I wrote, no regrets, but I do regret my omissions and want to apologise to Yitzchok. While angry, as I wrote, about the hijacking of certain aspects of Judaism and even more of Hillary Clintons decision to point out the actions of a tiny minority's demands concerning women while ignoring the major oppression of women in our region and in Africa, I regret not adding the following rider.

Israel is a Jewish country – a Jewish country showing tolerance and respect to all religions but a Jewish country nonetheless. We are here in this wonderful Biblical spot because we came home after 2,000 years of dispersion, home to Jerusalem; our home, traditions and faith after exile and slavery. If we do not honour our Jewish traditions and faith then we do not have the right to be here!

In Israel
Shabbat should have religious content – even for those who prefer a trip to the beach than the synagogue.
Shabbat should be a day of rest – after all we gave the world the greatest social gift of all time so why dishonour it today?
Children should learn the age old prayers in school because their parents do not know how; however they should also be taught physics, chemistry, geography, history, English and literature too. The US and UK stopped teaching Bible in school but we won't.
Rabbis should be our ethical mentors.
Marriage, for Jews, should be under the Rabbinical traditions, but we must make it easier.
Conversion should be under Rabbinical supervision but an acceptable set of rules must be created and adhered to and the course for those who choose to be Jewish made smoother.
Kosher food should be the norm for supermarkets, with opportunities for those who choose not to follow it; but there should be a general standard of kashrut not a snobbery of higher and higher demands of kashrut for different sects according to a Rabbis whims.
Not all religious people are either zealots or extremists – as long as they respect me I extend deep respect for them – just ask them to give back to this glorious country – to respect the demand to work, pay taxes, educate their children as they must in Britain, USA or Canada.
Zaka and Yad Sarah , wonderful institutions, came as a natural extension of religious Judaism – Gamach and Tahara.
Not all modern orthodox people are right wing extremists and most “settlers” are good honest hard-working folk who pay taxes, defend the country and are a very important part of Israeli society.
Not all secular people are lacking spirituality, they take their goodness from the same sources and ethics and should be equally respected for that.
Rabbi Jeremy Rosen, my friend and religious advisor put it beautifully in his letter
Let's stop judging, we have enough enemies without in-fighting. “Torah im Derech Eretz” Torah with respect.
After all, as Benjamin Ze'ev Herzl said “If you will it, it is no dream”

Shabbat Shalom and as I learned to say in the sixties “Peace and Love”

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Shabbat Shalom letter from Jerusalem


15th December 2011

Shabbat Shalom! How are you doing? Well I hope.

This has been an odd week since we haven't been sleeping at home, but rather staying with friends in Mevasseret and coming in early each morning to let the workmen in to the apartment for a days work on our epic renovations! The journey has given me a whole new perspective of Jerusalem from the other side. But more of that later.

This should have been a wonderful week to report. Prof. Dan Shechtmans acceptance speech at the Nobel Award Dinner was amazing and Israel's Lee Korzits won a gold medal in the ISAF World windsurfing Championships. Apple, in an unprecedented, but wise, move, have chosen Israel for their first R&D centre outside California. Instead of being able to gloat at our successes I am angry, very angry.

As you know I rarely express anger, though sometimes offended, but this week I am furious. This is an amazing, free, busy society with women as leaders of two political parties, with important roles in finance, business, the law and the IDF but because of the determination of the media to chip away at any weakness here and the intolerance of a certain sectors the world now thinks that we are a society where women sit at the back of the bus, have to walk on the other side of the street and cannot sing for fear of offending Haredim!!! That is not Israel! I am furious that a few religious zealots are trying to impose their will on all of us. I am not in any way anti-religion or anti-religious, on the contrary, I love Judaism, the warm and gentle Judaism that I grew up with in a home with a Yeshiva educated father. This sector of society must understand that rights are earned by fulfilling ones obligations. Israel is a society of strong women and the rule of law, equal rights were hard earned by the pioneer women. If it wasn't tragic it would be funny that Shas Member of Knesset Nissim Zeev suggested that religious soldiers who don't want to hear a woman's voice should carry earplugs!!!!

Young right wing religious zealots, boys and girls, decided to test the border with Jordan and then threw stones at soldiers – injuring a senior officer and shouting “Nazi” at him. He is the grandson of Holocaust survivors and the shouts hurt him more than his actual injuries. I am disgusted. They should go to prison just as anyone who throws stones at our soldiers. If they want to be protected by them then honour them. These are not “settlers” these are hooligans and should be treated as such. Having vented my ire I must add a rider; had these young hooligans been Arabs then Im Tirtsu and Shalom Achshav etc would have demonstrated for their release – apparently “human rights” only belong to the enemy. Those same groups never decry the demolition of Jewish homes on the “disputed” territory – only Arab. On the other hand, when the same hooligans defaced a disused Jerusalem Mosque it was the ordinary people of Jerusalem who went in to paint over the grafitti and repair any damage. Now THAT is Israel.

Equally Israel is the “Haiti Grows” project launched by IsraAid just a year ago. The President of Haiti , Michel Martelly, visited the site two days ago, lauding the agricultural ability of Israel, our generosity in sharing that knowledge and the fact that we did not just help and go but stayed to rebuild. IsraAID just sent three delegations to support its missions in Kenya (famine relief), South Sudan (supporting a girls rape victim shelter) and Haiti (medical, social and agriculture programs). Tikkun Olam.

I spoke about my pride in Professor Dan Schechtman winning the Nobel Prize for his work on quasicrystals. He was shunned and derided for his discovery by his scientific peers around the world until finally, after 30 long years his work was accepted, applauded, lauded and he was awarded a Nobel Prize for it. His speech displayed his determination and humility.
“Science is the ultimate tool to reveal the laws of nature and the one word written on its banner is TRUTH. The laws of nature are neither good nor bad. It is the way in which we apply them to our world that makes the difference.
It is therefore our duty as scientists to promote education, rational thinking and tolerance. We should also encourage our educated youth to become technological entrepreneurs. Those countries that nurture this knowhow will survive future financial and social crises. Let us advance science to create a better world for all.”

Now back to Mevasseret!!

Leaving Sam and Fridas home in the small hours we turn the corner at the end of their quiet and leafy suburban road in this dormitory town to a view of distant Jerusalem all the way to the Calatrava Bridge. Young children stand on each street corner near the primary school, wielding large “lollipops” to stop the traffic and allow the younger children to cross. These youngsters, known as the “Mishmeret ha Zahav” or Golden Guards were formed on the initiative of a certain Kalman Raviv, Zvi's amazing Father to take care of the youngsters as they cross the road to schools all over Israel.

Driving thorough Mevasseret we ease our way into the traffic as we head off onto the side roads to avoid the dreadful traffic jams into Jerusalem on the main road. Within moments the hill of the Castel, or Mount Ma'oz, looms on our right, ancient citadel scene of so many battles, including the battle for control over the entry into Jerusalem during the War of Independence.

Next, winding our way through the tree lined hills, stripped bare by the Ottomans until KKL -JNF began to plant trees in 1935. Today Israel is the only country in the world with positive afforestation. On the right a large Tel looms, ancient buildings on its apex. The Russian Orthodox Church, its gold onion shaped roofs glistening in the sun; St Mary's Well, where Mary (Miriam) stopped to drink on her way to Bethlehem; St James Franciscan Monastery with its multi-lingual blessings and of course – this is Israel – the wonderful coffee shops and restaurants.

The last roundabout and Adwan waits with his baigeleh stand, Jerusalem baigels and zatar. These baigeleh are not like the sticky doughy bagels you know nor are they the same size or shape except for the hole!! About 10 inches long, 6 inches wide, soft and covered in sesame seeds one tears it apart and with each and every bite one dips the delicious bread in the paper twist of zatar, a herb mixture composed of savory, thyme, sumac, salt and sesame seeds. He knows us now, after all we are on this route for 10 days, and in response to my smile he goes to a separate bag to bring me the very freshest. Fauz also sells hard-boiled eggs – again nothing that you would recognised, these eggs are cooked for hours in a spicy mixture until the eggs inside turn brown – truthfully not my cup of tea but adored locally!

Munching our wonderful local breakfast we come to a sharp turn in the road and there above us a different kind of marvel, the huge modern form of Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem its helipad like a huge plate on the roof. Up, up a little bit further on the Aliya to Jerusalem. Nearly home!

To make life complete, apart from the constant drilling, sawing, dust and noise (to say nothing of tea, coffee and Turkish coffee on tap) I had an inner ear virus (Labyrinthitis) which turn my world upside down – but that too will pass!

Our house is upside down and Shabbat will be somewhat strange but no matter what the state of the renovations – I want to move back home to have the peace of Shabbat here, on my new, if dusty veranda and its breathtaking view. I need ot light my Shabbat candles at home – to be with my husband in our Jewish home. Candles, Kiddush, Challah and whatever meal I am able to garner from the remains of my half empty fridge.

Shabbat Shalom, with love from Jerusalem – the most fascinating, beautiful, spiritual, sadly contentious city in the world.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Shevua Tov special update

Motse Shabbat - 12th December 2011

Shevua Tov - a good week to you all.
I decided to send you a special updae today because of three special issues. The first is the new video produced by Deputy Minister Danny Ayalon; the second a new book from the Palestinian Media Watch team and the third a conversation I had with Canon Andrew White.
Spread the word about the third and latest YouTube video by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, 'The Truth About the Refugees'.
The video explains the issue of the Palestinian and Jewish refugees in a clear and concise manner, providing important messages for those interested in Israel. Send it out far and wide - it should be seen by as many people as possible to break the myths and ensure the truth becomes common knowledge.

Press release:
Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), an Israeli research institute studying Palestinian society and its leadership through its Arabic language media, today announced the release of Deception: Betraying the Peace Process, a new book describing the systematic hate speech used by the Palestinian Authority (PA) even as they portray themselves to the world as pursuing peace
I am thrilled to tell you that this Ancient Sefer Torah has been rescued in Baghdad and on its way to Israel, but 365 remain.
Please read what Canon Andrew White says - you or your community can save these precious Torahs. Canon White will do the rest but it must be soon before the troops leave Iraq.
" We have 365 Sefer Torah Scrolls in the museum. They all live thrown on the basement floor amongst the rats who are eating them. Iraq does not look after anything Jewish properly apart from Ezekiel's tomb. Every thing Jewish has been taken and plundered and the Jewish homes just taken."
When another correspondent suggested one should not take antiquities from Iraq Andrew responded -
"The Torah Scroll is not a museum item, it is for worship. I am not in favour of removing things from Iraq but they have no appreciation of any thing jewish. They forced 100,000's of Jews out of Iraq with nothing. This scroll does not belong to Iraq as a land it belongs to Iraqi Jews and it should go back to them. You can't rid the nations of the Jewish people, kill them and still threaten them and keep their things.
You know how much I love Iraq but I hate what the have done to the Jews and how the masses still talk about them with hatred."
Wishing you a fine week
With love from Mevasseret - right next to Jerusalem

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Shabbat Shalom letter from Jerusalem

8th December 2011

Shabbat Shalom to you and yours!

Help!! The world has gone crazy......... or should I say crazier? Women are buried to their waists in sand and stoned to death on the say-so of their husbands, honour killings are rife, women are fourth class citizens in most of our neighbouring countries and Hillary is bothered because a few nutters insist (against Israeli law) that their women must sit in the back of the bus? She is equally bothered by the suggestion – not the actual implementation, of women not singing in the IDF choir. Talk about disproportionate responses!! It is time to start demanding rights, any rights, for women in places where women are oppressed not here where women have led the country, are judges, IDF officers, senior MK's... we are the easy target not the real one.

I feel the same way about the NGO issue into an international issue. The government wants to prevent overseas GOVERNMENT funding of questionable NGO's These NGO's are extreme on the right and left and are deemed dangerous to the country's security. In case no-one noticed we have a security situation!! Would the UK or USA allow outside funding for Al Qaeeda? The Attorney General says that the legal standing of such an act is questionable so it has been temporarily shelved

British Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould had his loyalty to the United Kingdom questioned because he is both a Jew and a Zionist. The Member of Parliament who raised the question would never have doubted a Catholic in Rome, a Moslem in Saudi Arabia but he questions the loyalty of an Ambassador who has brought only love and respect to his position.

Former President Katsav is in prison. He was offered an easy way out early on in the proceedings but chose to take his case through the courts, appealed up to the Supreme court and now must pay the price of a considered legal process which culminated in the decision of a panel of three highly respected judges. Even at the gates of the prison he was declaring his innocence. “Time will prove that you have buried a man alive”. I think not. He will share a cell with former Minister Shlomi Binizri.

The Jerusalem Marathon will take place in March 2012. The course will take the participants through many picturesque neighbourhoods, through the Old City and then back into the centre of town. Even this wonderful event is deemed controversial! How dare the Jews have an event which brings joy to the Old City of Jerusalem which is not theirs anyway? This video takes you helter-skelter along the route, showing you Jerusalem at a pace the runners will never achieve! You may well enjoy the spelling mistakes in the descriptions of where you are; working on that with the Mayor!

Sheikh Nasrallah the leader of Hezb-Allah in the guise of a religious man, came out of his bolt hole – rat hole – surrounded by bodyguards, in order to express his hate for Israel. His negative policies which brought Lebanon to disaster are all he has to offer. Positivity incorporated.

Yesterday I agreed with two things Pres Assad of Syria said. In an interview by the inimitable Barbara Walters, in which his fixed smile and denials of ill will chilled the soul, she asked him why he doesn't accept the rulings of the United Nations he declared the United Nations irrelevant - “Sir you have an Ambassador there” to which he responded “It's a game we play. We don't believe in it” United Nations – OK no-one believes in it. However my blood ran cold as he said “Only insane leaders order the death of their citizens” believing himself sane and innocent.

A group of StandWithUs Israel Fellows at Tel Aviv University has organised a unique conference on developing medical and humanitarian missions for victims of international conflicts and natural disasters. The three-day program for medical students and others will be held from July 25th to July 28th, hosted by the prestigious Sackler Faculty of Medicine of Tel Aviv University.

Until about a year ago I had never heard of Col. Allen West yet more and more people I trust believe he should run for President. A decorated war veteran and a man of honour, Col. West would not only be good for the United States, he would raise awareness and restore respect for the leadership within and without the United States. Will he accept the challenge? Actually, I hope so.

I know you want me to speak about the Ministry of Absorption advertisements in the USA, and I will but in short. I thought the campaign was overtly and overly honest and the outrage was extreme and came from the wrong place. ...... never mind I don't want to anger you.

Just as I was getting used to the idea that we are in the year 2011 Chanuka looms!! This year seems to have raced by without my noticing. Sure the grandchildren have grown bigger and we have a new little one called Ori, teeth have fallen and new ones grown, knees scuffed and noses bloodied, beautiful creations in artwork and the sudden magic of reading what is on the page.......... but December – you have to be kidding!! .......For your delectation Aish ha Torah has produced a wonderful Chanuka video. I know it is early but I love it!!

Our “shiputzim” or renovations are still going strong. As of today we have no bathrooms in the apartment, no shower, no sink, no loo......... and an awful lot of noise as the jack-hammers tear up the last bathroom to reach the pipes guilty of causing damp on our neighbours ceiling! At least the veranda – heretofore referred to as The Mirpesset, is finished. It is stupendous! The tiles, a beautiful gunmetal grey, are of European standard non-slip which means the grandchildren will no longer go skating every time they get out of the paddling pool! The workmen did a phenomenal job, not only in their accuracy but in the way they cleaned and rubbed every single tile to ensure it was perfect, the grout level exactly in line and the finish to standard. Our somewhat thirsty and sun-deprived plants are about to go back outside and enjoy the imminent rain. I am so thrilled that my search of the internet to find 7 rain-free days worked exactly!! Having discovered that one of the apprentices is only 14 years old I asked the builder why he isn't in school. “He won't go to school, doesn't want to learn so I decided it is better to bring him with me, teach him everything I know including how to do the job properly so at least he is not on the streets and easy pickings for the extremists.” The risk for Arab Israeli children is just as severe as those in the West Bank and I realised that Faiz was not preventing Asai from learning – he was in fact teaching him to be a useful , hardworking and productive citizen. Not everything is what is seems.

All of the workers are Israeli Arabs except for one fine artisan, the tiler. Abu Moussa (a common name so I am not divulging anything) comes from Bethlehem. Only 39 years old he looks at least 50 and has multiple medical problems – all easily healed with a little care. When I asked him why he didn't go to the doctor in Bethlehem he told me “They won't give us medication and the doctors are all Jordanian and really no good” We are trying to help him but it is difficult since unless his situation becomes serious he will not be brought over to hospital in Israel. It makes one wonder where all that aid money has gone........... obviously not to the people.

The jack hammer is disturbing the peace as we speak and I am finding it difficult to collect my thoughts. I rose at 06:00 to write to you before they arrived, while my brain was still intact!! Tonight we move to Sammy and Fridas home in Mevasseret Zion – peace and quiet and most importantly – a toilet!!! Back tomorrow morning to the smell of Turkish coffee, no, I don't make it I put everything ready for them and they help themselves.

Next week I will write again of the mirpesset and the view and about the beauty that is Jerusalem.

I wish you a wonderful Shabbat, one filled with family, friends, contemplation and love.

With love from Jerusalem, heart of our heart, centre of our world.

With love from Zvi and Sheila
PS Bank Leumi has launched their “Two million good reasons” drive for charitable NGO's in Israel. All it takes is a vote. Lev Binyamin is a wonderful organisation which cares for and gives to the Special Needs community. find them on the Bank Leumi Site and vote vote vote where it says הצבע

Friday, 2 December 2011

Shabbat Shalom letter from Jerusalem


2nd December 2011

Shabbat Shalom dear friends.

Having read a horrific story in the paper about an Afghani woman who was raped, imprisoned for adultery because of the rape and then released from prison on condition that she marry her rapist I couldn't keep quiet. This is ultimate inhumanity, only surpassed by slaughter. Indeed maybe even worse because she will die every day of her life. It brought to mind the wonderful words of philosopher Bertrand Russell who wrote: I cannot see how to refute the arguments for the subjectivity of ethical values but I find myself incapable of believing that all that is wrong with wanton cruelty is that I don't like it.

Do you know what the Salafim are? Well neither did I until very recently. Salafim are those who think that the Moslem Brotherhood are just too lenient and lovers of Western society!! Yes really. When one considers that the Egyptian elections have produced a Moslem Brotherhood victory (you read it here in April), that Fatah are romancing Hamas to the extent that they are spouting extreme anti-Israel, anti-West rhetoric again, I think that we have to understand that the borders of Islam have broadened to the extent that extremism is not enough. My natural tolerance is also being stretched to its limit.

This weeks Parasha (Torah reading) is fascinating and varied. It talks of greed and envy which not only caused brother to raise hand against brother; it talks of Jacob who ran away from his home and security in order to avoid the anger of his brother Esau; Jacobs travels and search for love and so much more. A very important, and much ignored aspect is that while on his journey to Padan Aram where his uncle and family lived, Ya'akov slept on the place where the Temple would be built by Solomon many years later. The Torah states:
"And Ya'akov woke up from his sleep and he said, 'The Almighty is in this place and I did not know it' " (Gen. 28:16).
Rashi's commentary explains that Ya'akov said, "If I were to have realized the sanctity of this place, I would not have slept here."
Jacob was unaware but understood it, today too many people are unaware of the sanctity of the Temple Mount – its sanctity in Judaism. As with so many Jewish sites the Temple Mount has been taken over and we are not allowed to pray there – yes exactly what I said – we are not allowed to pray on the Temple Mount (not Jew not Christian) because it will offend the sensibilities of the Moslems for whom it is holy. It seems ludicrous. I do not demand from Moslems that they do not pray wherever they wish in Jerusalem but I expect equal respect to be allowed to pray on this holiest site.

An explosion in Iran, what exactly exploded is unknown but it is not difficult to guess. The Times of London, a dedicatedly accurate newspaper, says it was a uranium enrichment plant. Please G-d it has delayed the meglaomanic plans of Iran for long enough that our leaders recognise the danger!

Incredibly an Iranian plot was recently uncovered to attack Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Just las tweek I mentioned this possiblity, that they were in greater danger than Israel, but was told that idea was ludicrous.

President Peres went to visit King Abdullah of Jordan in his palace in Amman. Once our closest friend, the King has been wavering recently. Hopefully King Abdullah learned from his fathers mistake of siding with our enemies in '67, an act he came to openly regret.

Our friend Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen stands firm on her support of Israel, not only from her emotional ties but through considered reason of what is best for the USA

We went northward last Friday morning to spend a wonderful weekend in Deganiya Bet. We travelled the route down past sea level, down down until we turned left, seeing Jericho on our left – another place taken over by the PA. Our friend Eva is a tour guide and gave us a running commentary, she is so good that even Zvi learned new things!! We pulled off the road at Qasr el Yahud, which translates, from the Arabic, to Jewish Castle, a religious site which ws unattainable due to old Jordanian land mines on the site. The land mines are cleared and we walked down to the River Jordan and to the original site where John baptised Jesus. It was a very spiritual site, one need not be Christian to appreciate the spirituality, and we watched in fascination as pilgrims stood in the trickle of the Jordan (it is said the River Jordan has more history than water) to be baptised. At this point the River is only 5 metres wide and as we stood on the Israeli bank, just five or six metres away, on the Jordanian side, pilgrims were doing just the same. Glorious sunshine, wonderful site, beautiful ritual and good friends. It was an amazing experience.
From Qasr al Yehud we drove northward, the skies above us filled with arrow shaped skeins of cranes leaving the Hula Valley Reserve, heading for warmer climes. Our next stop was at Kibbutz Kinneret, home of Naomi Shemer whose most famous song is Jerusalem of Gold, written just before the Six Day War and triumphantly finished when Jerusalem was re-united. Naomi Shemer was prolific and many of Israel's favourite songs were written in this haven, well worth a visit.

Finally we arrived at our destination, Kibbutz Deganiya Bet. Ah, leaving the hurry and scurry of the big city behind we arrived in the green miracle that is the North. I asked you a question last week and most of you made the same mistake I made until corrected! Moshe Dayan was not the first child born to Deganiya Aleph, the firstborn was Gideon Baratz and the second was the future and legendary Chief of Staff born so close to Naomi Shemers birthplace – to be irrevocably connected through the reunification of Jerusalem. Friday night was spent in the “chader ochel” of canteen of the Kibbutz, the kibbutznikim turning in curiosity as Zvi sang out the Kiddush and his choir joined in. We just relaxed and sang for Shabbat – and wandered in the rustic beauty of the kibbutz, one of the few which still keeps to the communal principles of kibbutz life.

This week has been really strange. Our veranda is floorless and bottomless – as we try to cure our neighbours damp problem. All our plants – yes Stanley including the little orange tree, are sitting in our lounge which doesn't give much room for manouevring! The noise was phenomenal as the power tools worked away at the base level and took the tiles from the walls. Since we are simultaneously enlarging our bathroom, therefore removed all clothes and ourselves from the bedroom, life is hardly calm! I was fascinated to discover that two of the young workers were only 14 and 15 years old – and the 15 year old was married! Faiz, their boss, told me it was a familiar story in the neighbourhood of Jabl Mukabr – next to French Hill, but that he was determined that his 7 children would become doctors, lawyers, architects …..... anything but builders. However just in case, after school and at weekends he brings them along so that they will know how to work hard and appreciate what he is doing to ensure their future. Faiz laughs, talking away in his perfect Hebrew “No-one believes I am an Arab and sometimes I don't either” Faiz works with his brother, both speak perfect Hebrew and understand that the way forward is not through fanaticism but rather through hard work and teaching your children to stand on our shoulders and reach for the sky.

By next weeks letter I hope that I can report a beautiful clean and renewed house – but Zvi has the bug and is already talking of doing the other bathroom............. maybe he is right.

Thank heavens we have great friends and are invited out for both Friday night and Shabbat lunch. Indeed Shabbat lunch will be hamin – North African Jewish Cholent, a stew which is left on a hot-plate all night to honour the laws of Shabbat, and we will eat it with delightful friends. I cannot wait to have my home back and invite friends to sit on the veranda and see the view I try to bring to you each week, but on beautiful new chairs on a beautiful new floor. The view hasn't changed, the beauty of Jerusalem is constant as it lays before me. From Gilo on the right, through Beit Safafa in the middle with Ramat Rachel on the ridge of the hill opposite forming a green horizon; Talpiot, Baka, the German Colony and of course the Holyland Project to our left, it is all there, all waiting for us to return to our usual position, admiring the view. The flag is still flying proudly in the corner, framing the tapestry of white houses and green trees. The shopping mall below us busy, but the car park is slowly emptying as the city winds down towards Shabbat.

By the way, Egelbert Humperdink and Red Hot Chilli Peppers are the latest famous people to visit – why didn't you?

I wish you Shabbat Shalom, may your Fridays always be bright and clear and never “black” because if there are too many black Fridays your account will be in the red!!!

With love

Tuesday, 29 November 2011


November 29th – Kaf Tet b'November – is a most significant day in Jewish life – the official Birth of our Nation.

To learn more and be enthralled watch and then click onto to test your knowledge!

Listen to UN vote

In February 1947, Great Britain, which had controlled the mandatory territory since 1917, decided to turn the issue of the Palestinian Mandate over to the United Nations. The UN established a Special Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP), which recommended the establishment of two states - Arab and Jewish - in the area and Jerusalem as an international enclave.
The Jewish population - while dissatisfied with the small size of the territory allotted to their state in contradiction to the promises made by the League of Nations in 1922, as well as the plan to sever Jerusalem from the state by internationalizing it - accepted the compromise. In sharp contrast, the Arab states and the Arab residents of the Mandatory territory rejected UNSCOP’s recommendations out of hand.

The UN General Assembly held a vote on the partition plan and on 29 November 1947 UNGA Resolution 181 was adopted by 33 to 13, with 10 abstentions.

So much has happened in the history of this tiny country despite the media impression we are not just about wars! This video, entitled “Israel Today” is a return journey for a young man who came back home.

Israel today is a wonderful, thriving, democratic, fiscally successful and incredible country. Israelis are free, expressing their opinions openly and frequently. Israelis are leaders in hi-tech, medicine, bio-tech, nano-technology, agriculture, bio-chemistry, pharmaceuticals, hybridisation of crops to ensure large yield for minimum hydration and desalinisation of brackish water. All of the above not only benefit Israel but Israeli companies and governmental bodies provide humanitarian aid to third world countries.

Incredibly, the BBC wrote an excellent article about Israel today and why this country has succeeded where much bigger countries have failed.

I am so proud to be Israeli, proud of my country, proud of my nationality, proud of our generosity, intelligence and initiative – proud of my people.
The United Nations is no longer the organisation it was formed to become after the League of Nations was disbanded because it was unable to prevent World War 2, but this one decision - United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 changed our world.

Let's all give this amazing little country, prayed for, prayed to, dreamed of for 2,000 years – let's give a standing ovation for Israel. Rita, Israel's premiere singer, sang Hatikva at the 60th Anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. I was there, standing and singing with her and you may just hear the sound of my tears of joy as she sang.

Remember this day, remember the way the world was and be proud of that decision, Resolution 181 to form the Two State Solution to the Middle East. Jordan and Israel - a country for the Jews and a country for the Moslems.

Remember, remember the 29th of November.
With love from Jerusalem, capital of the State of Israel

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Thanksgiving Shabbat shalom


24th November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! I wish you many reasons to give thanks and the ability to find joy in all you do and see.

Happy Sigd. Sigd is the Ethiopian Jewish festival officially celebrated today.

Sadly one institution that we certainly have no reason to give thanks for is the United nations. Their latest insanity? Syria has been accepted to UNESCO committees dealing with human rights!!! Want to know what is even worse? The USA, UK, France and other Western countries unanimously elected Syria to a pair of committees. Syria will serve a second two-year term on the 30-member Committee on Conventions and Recommendations, which examines “communications … relating to the exercise of human rights,” according to UNESCO’s Web site. Syria also joins the 23-member Committee on International Non-Governmental Organizations, which is mandated to encourage approved activist groups to help further UNESCO’s overall goals.

CNN did an excellent report on the treatment of Sudanese and Cambodian refugees fleeing to Israel and their diabolical treatment at the hands of the Sinai Bedouin. A young man by the name of Aron Adler wrote of his experiences as a reservist on the border. A must read.

Ron Paul was wrong (actually the man is a fool) when he announced, at the Republican Candidates Debate that the USA doesn't have to defend Israel. He just doesn't get it. Israel is the only country in this entire area that would defend the USA from the very long-range missiles our neighbours will probably launch future. Don't worry about us. Israel defends herself; not through attack but through intelligent defence. My thanks to Tom Gross for sending this excellent article

A bill is before the Congress of the United States to designate the “Human Rights” Flotillas to Gaza as acts of terror for encouraging a Hamas based terrorist state designation-for-flotilla-groups

Something for your interest – the International Child Day Israel Israeli statistics – fascinating.

The American expression is to turn lemons into lemonade – here in Israel we turn Rockets into Roses.
We do it through medicine We took the broken heart of a young man and gave him a new life.
We do it through art. We take destruction and build with it. This beautiful Chanukia was made out of Kassam schrapnel
We do it though song – 12 year old Avishai Rosen sings “thousands of children will be happy and change the world - let's demand joy, that's what brings light to the heart”
We do it through dance. The Hora Dance Troupe of Jerusalem did a flashmob in the Mamilla Mall – Happy!!!
We take shards and turn them into a Mosaic Chanukiah. Roslan Sergeeyev is a Russian, Jerusalem artist.

Sir Martin Gilbert is conceivably our generations greatest historian. He wrote a wonderful treatise about Israel called “AN OVERWHELMINGLY JEWISH STATE” - FROM THE BALFOUR DECLARATION TO THE PALESTINE MANDATE” This link will take you to a chapter of this fascinating and infinitely informative book.

November 22nd 1963 means just one thing to most of you, the Assassination of President Kennedy – to me it has an even deeper meaning. It is the day, the hour which coincided with my own Mothers passing. Regina (Betty) Silver z”l beautiful and elegant, clever, funny and kind. 48 years and her teachings, love, warmth and Jewish traditions still walk me through life. She taught me to love Israel, my parents came to visit in 1953. They came for a family wedding, no small feat in those days, travelling on the Israeli ship “The Artza” from Southampton. That taught me that family is worth travelling for; it taught me that Israel is the Jewish home; it showed me the enormous differences from my fathers movies of that time to the amazing modern State of today; it showed me that the King David hasn't really changed!!!! My parents taught me to be proud of my Judaism, proud enough to accept others and expect to be accepted, their marriage taught me what a marriage should be.

The rain fell, and fell and fell – it was wonderful!! It may sound strange to most of you but this is the most exciting time of the year for me. Rain, the rain that will make the desert bloom, literally, as the apparently barren sands burst into colour after receiving life giving nourishment from the grey skies and flash floods. The sky today cannot quite decided whether the clouds are rain clouds or just giving us a rest from the sun. I just looked out and saw a rare sight. The skies are grey, the rain is falling yet somehow there must have been a small break in the cloud cover to allow the last glimmer of the setting sun through to throw a red glow onto the buildings of Katamon. Almost a perfect circle or warm red as if G-d was smiling “Goodnight”. The flag, flying at the corner of our veranda, is happily playing in the breeze, waiting for Arlene to come and stand beside filled with emotion as her Jerusalem lays before her. Arlene, my beautiful friend will stand up in her synagogue tomorrow night and talk about her life – or rather talk about Israel and her family – her family and Israel. Arlene is celebrating a special birthday this weekend, her 75th. Arlene is a true Zionist, a true Eshet Chayil who is a natural and innovative leader for the task at hand not for the power or kavod but rather because she is a leader by example – and what a fine example she is. Happy birthday wonderful woman!

Finally Shabbat Shalom to you all. Zvi and I are off to Kibbutz Degania Bet in the north, near the southern shore of the Sea of Galilee. We are going with Zvi's choir to sing our hearts out! I have a question for you..... who was the first child born on Degania Aleph, the first Kibbutz?

Wishing you a peaceful and happy family Shabbat.
With love from Jerusalem, centre of our prayers and our life.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Shabbat Shalom letter from Jerusalem


18th November 2011

Shabbat Shalom for glorious rainy Jerusalem!

I love the rain, it cleanses the air, the city, the soul and gives life to the earth. I imagine the tiny seeds and bulbs hiding in the cracked arid earth suddenly springing into life, preparing to burst forth in the spring.

I am so furious with the so-called humanitarian organisations. They spend all their funds and energy on the Palestinians when there are so many others who truly need their attention. The media too but they have a different agenda because if you check their advertising almost all of them are dependent on either ownership or advertising of Moslem companies. Emirates and CNN, Sky, even Fox!!! Let me explain.

The killing in Syria continues and as CNN reporter John Vause cleverly observed more have died in this uprising, killed by their own government, than in all the Israeli/Palestinian debacle. Just yesterday another 19 died and all they get is a smack on the wrist.

The Sinai Desert elicits thoughts of snorkelling, scuba diving, sunshine and tourism? Not if you happen to be a refugee from the genocide in the Sudan and want to reach freedom in Israel. The Bedouin of the Sinai trade these refugees and on route they beat, rape, kill, and steal their organs. Where is the outrage? Where are the humanitarian organisations? Stop concentrating on the Palestinians and look to those who really need you!!!!

If we are already talking about the Sudan, where was the outrage at the slaughter, the ethnic cleansing that took place by the Moslem North on the predominantly Christian South? Why was Israel the first nation to accept the newly emerging South Sudan?

The most self-destructive actions seen recently concern Iran. For years, Mohammed El Baradei, a man with highly suspect affiliations to the Moslem Brotherhood, was responsible for overseeing the Iranian nuclear capabilities for the IEAE, supposedly to conform with the non-proliferation treaty. Nothing will convince me that no-one knew. The dire situation we now find ourselves in was due to sheer negligence on the part of our leaders.

Aah, the idiocies and interests of NGO's, media and governments – who was it who said “Nations don't have friends, nations have interests” and sometimes that is made very clear by open-mike incidents when the French and the Americans – both known for never ever going back on their word!

OK enough bad news, I just switched on the TV and the movie “Exodus” is on. It is so outdated and so brilliant! I love it, try to ignore the romanticised version but adore the scene when the British Officer claims he can always recognise a Jewish face and Paul Newman (aka Ari ben Canaan) asks him to see if he has something in his eye........... and of course fools him! As Ari ben Canaan and Mrs Freeman sit on the terrace of the King David one feels that time stood still – the glorious view of the Old City hasn't changed, although now we can go inside and walk to the Kotel in freedom and then, as they walked through the main lobby I half expected to see Adnan behind the Concierge desk!!! Even the Irgun prisoner scene was taken in the actual prison near the Russian compound. The United Nations vote on partition, partition of the land into a Jewish State and a Arab State (Jordan) and Ben Gurions declaration of that vote and his thanks to the British troops who”Carried out their task with honour” and to the Arabs to join hands and live in peace as the crowd sang Hatikva. What a story, what a movie and Pat Boone captured the urgency and desperation of those who were coming home through the theme song and its wonderful lyrics. It may be a movie but it is so close to the truth of the horrors of the escape from the Holocaust and the fight to create a state from a Biblical dream. We need Exodus to be re-released.

I found an amazing video for you - celebrating 60 years for the IDF. It is in Hebrew but I am confident you will understand anyway.

The second video shows the first ever film of Jerusalem, shot in 1896, showing Jews at the Train Station and in the streets. The narrator tell us that at that time the City of Jerusalem had approximately 45,000 citizens with a clear a Jewish majority. 28,000 Jews, 8,500 Moslems and 8,700 Christians. That is over 60% Jewish, and about 20% each for Christians and Moslems. As such evidence is uncovered the truth is becomes clearer.

This week Zvi met with a fascinating man to hear of a truly important project. Shmuel Willenberg is the only living survivor of the Treblinka death camp. Zvi made contact with Shmuel after a newspaper article about him in Zvi's search for information about his family, all of whom perished in the Shoah. Zvi's Uncle Josef Ribak, a physician and footballer in the Polish national team, became known as the “Doctor of Treblinka” where he took care of the 600 workers in the camp. It was known that when patients thanked Dr Ribak for curing them he begged them not to thank him for returning them to hell. Dr Ribak died shortly before war ended.

Shmuel Willenberg and his wife Ada take groups to Poland, to Treblinka so that we will never forget. Shmuel and Ada wanted Zvi to meet Sigmund Rolat, a Polish/American Jew who Helped to build the Museum of the History of Polish Jews and now wishes to help fulfill Shmuels dream to build a Visitors Centre at Treblinka. Shmuel and Ada's daughter is a fine architect and has designed the project so that those who come to pay tribute to that most Jewish of death camps can rest, learn, lecture and contemplate on the site. Treblinka had the highest percentage of Jewish in-mates and dead, although much smaller than the other camps, over 90% were Jews. Zvi wants to help – after all that is as close as he can ever manage to get to any of his Uncles, Aunts or Grandparents – all of whom perished.

Rain, cleansing, life giving rain has made the view from our veranda even more beautiful than usual. The hills stand out against the hazy horizon and the buildings are sparkling clean. The flowers breathe a sigh of relief and their colours seem to smile at the grey and cloudy skies. Did you know that the rains that fall on Jerusalem go in two directions? Really! King George Street is the line, the ridge from which the rains flow either to the Mediterranean or to the Dead Sea.

The skies are closing in and the rain strengthening as soggy Jerusalemites wend their weary way home. This is the real weather for Hamin or Cholent, warm and satisfying as it sits overnight on the hot-plate. Meat, potato, beans, onions, carrots and turnips – the difference between the two is that Hamin has whole eggs in it the shells browned by the long, slow cooking and Ashkenaz Cholent has Kishkeh – stuffed intestines (yes really). If one is too tired or too lazy to cook one can go to the haredi Meah Shearim neighbourhood and take home entire pots filled with the succulent Shabbat dish. The aromas the come from the slow slow cooking whet appetites and awaken memories.

Time to finish cooking and prepare the apartment for Shabbat. Zvi will sing the kiddush in his wonderful Bass-Baritone voice, the same kiddush that Jews around the world will be singing to their families to bless the wine and welcome the bride of Shabbat. He will bring the challot home from Angel's bakery, the one in the petrol station after putting the world to rights with his parliament as so many Israeli men and women do on a Friday morning.

Shabbat Shalom to you dear friends, Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem
With much love

By the way Stanley – the pomegranates are red and juicy and the oranges turning a bright sunshine colour as the ripen on the little tree.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Shabbat Shalom letter from Jerusalem

The 11th Day of the 11th Month of the 11th year of this century.

Shabbat Shalom

A tragic incident took place today as Rabbi Dan Martzbach was driving home to the settlement of Otniel at five in the morning and he saw what he thought was an ambush. He drove as fast as he could not realising it was an IDF checkpoint. The soldiers, when the car, travelling without lights, wouldn't stop despite several orders and shooting in the air thought it was a terrorist attack, since it had been reported to them as suspicious by another group. The soldiers fired and the Rabbi died and his passengers were injured. Simultaneously a Palestinian truck driver at the site ran a soldier down severely hurting him. Tragic, avoidable and so so sad. May his soul rest in peace.,7340,L-4146864,00.html

At 11:00 this morning Britain will honour the dead of two World Wars and too many campaigns and “minor” wars. At 11:00 the top brass of the Biritish Army, the Royal Family and the Government will stand to attention for two minutes silence and will lay wreaths on the Cenotaph, the monument created by Lutyens at the request of David Lloyd-George for the first Peace Day as a Memorial to those who died in the 1st World War – the War to end all wars. We honour those who died to ensure we live – those who still die to ensure our freedom. We honour their lives and mourn their deaths.

Two nights ago Israel commemorated the death of a soldier, a hero, our Prime Minister who fought so hard for the sake of Israel, for the safety of his soldiers and for the freedom of his people. He was not the man the left have re-invented, something I told you year after year after year. Yitzchak Rabin was a proud Israeli; a reluctant politician, a shy man who despised the cant and hypocrisy of politics and diplomacy; he was a friend; he was a member of Zvi's family. I will never forget his gentle care the last time we met, in the Rotunda, Washington, when he raced across to me, ignoring the high power group assembled there for the opening ceremony of the “Jerusalem 3,000” celebration of the US, gently hugging me concerned that all those people might push me about after my serious operation. That was the real Yitzchak Rabin. I almost always agree with what Isi Leibler writes and I believe that Isi's words on theis 16th anniversary of Yitzchak Rabin's assassination by a Jewish terrorist is complette. Stop distorting Rabin’s legacy by Isi Leibler

The Hebrew “Yahzeit” of Yitzchak Rabin coincided with the 73rd anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of the Broken Glass, which heralded the Holocaust. The dehumanisation which preceded that fateful night is too similar to the dehumanisation of Israel, making Israel, the Jewish State, expendable as Jews became after Kristallnacht. We have to be alert – it is happening in the West, incitement to hatred on campus, even in the Wall street demos! The Holocaust is over but the lessons of Goebbles are used today by those who would see us gone.

The Obama/Sarkozy “overheard” conversation teaches us two things. One is that politicians act like school children, bickering about one another instead of holding themselves above and secondly that the media does not honour a gag order and blabs when it is against an Israeli leader. Actually one more aspect – Sarkozy claims that the Israeli PM is a liar? C'mon – you have not honoured one word of your manifesto. Who's lying now Sarky?

Moshe Katsav, former President of the State of Israel will go to prison for rape. Israel does not accept abuse of women even if the man is a President. Supreme Court Justices Miriam Naor, Judge Edna Arbel and Salim Joubran found the evidence unquestionable and decided to uphold the original sentence of 7 years in jail. Katsav was offered less severe deal but is so arrogant that he thought he would get away with it! I am sorry he came to power because of Ehud Barak's determination that Shimon Peres would not be President and I am so sorry that none of the press, who were aware of his evil ways, spoke out – not the press, not other politicians, no-one. Shame on them and shame on us. A rapist is a rapist is a rapist – however powerful or rich.

I found this excellent video, well worth viewing, explaining the real partition plan

Zvi and I went on the Jerusalem Light Rail. We waited at the start on Mount Herzl and along with an awful lot of other people, watched Jerusalem go by as we headed to the centre of the city. Along Herzl Blvd, over the Calatrava Bridge, past the Central Bus Station, along Jaffa Street into the centre. It was fun people watching and Jerusalem watching and we didn't need to park!

One of Zvi's meetings this week was with Young Tsamid of Jerusalem Municipality under the direction of Sara Salman. “Tsamid” means People with Special Needs and during Zvi's tenure Sara and her team set these amazing young people with a variety of disabilities as a self-run NGO whereby they hold meetings int eh Municipality, run their own sociel programmes and a radio programme. Their independence and confidence has grown to such a extent that Zvi was delighted to hear that almost all of them are working in paid jobs! While Zvi was running the New Jerusalem Foundation he received a one-time honour from these amzing young people “Yakir Tsamid” Beloved of Tsamid – it takes pride of place in our home to this day.

Yesterday was fun! I met up with two wonderful friends, Susan and Averil, at the Israel Museum. Gosh it is amazing! We chose two tours, starting with archaeology and artifacts dating from 6,000 years ago through Biblical times going on to the Judaica exhibits. From Chanukiot to Torah crowns, clothing, succot, symbols and emblems from every conceivable corner of the earth to the prize exhibits – the four synagogues, moved piece by piece from their original homes. Suriname, sandy floors and light Caribbean air ; Horb, Germany, simple painted wood, naïve artwork ; Cochin India, with thanks to our dear friends Fred and Della Worms and the Venetto synagogue from Italy . The guides are volunteers who really know their stuff and take the tours out of love. An extremely kind group of Christian ladies allowed us to join their tour and explanation and the lady at their helm was none other than Anne Ayalon, wife of our Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Danny Ayalon.

After a wonderful lunch at the Botanical Gardens Averil and Susan came to sit on our veranda, to relax , look at the view and then to meet Drew and Roni Staffenberg from Calgary, Canada who had been with Zvi for a tour of the Davidson Centre at the Southern Wall excavations of the Temple Mount. The Davidson Center takes you back to the times of the Temple – virtually and actually!

One of my favourite people in Israel is Tim King formerly of the Christian Embassy in Jerusalem. Tim and his wife Martha have a gloriously beautiful red-haired daughter called Anna who became a model but gave up her career for a much more important one – to become a Hummer instructor in the IDF! This week Tim sent me a message proudly proclaiming the fact that Anna is now a fully fledged Israel Citizen. Bar Rafaeli should learn about national pride from Anna whose career has not suffered at all! Mazal Tov to the entire King family and especially to Anna – Israeli – proud of you Anna!

I saved the best till last – we have a new baby in the family! Zvi's son Leor and his wife Shiri gave birth to a little girl, Ori at the Meir Clinic in Kfar Saba. Ori is just beautiful, and adored by her sisters Amit and Gili. While we were at hospital, waiting to go in to the ward a young Moslem Israeli woman was sitting with her new baby son. We exchanged baby compliments and she sweetly gave us a beautiful favour filled with chocolates and goodies to celebrate her new son with the words “Blessings on your new grand-daughter. Mazal Tov, Mazal Tov”

Shabbat shalom from Jerusalem, the most beautiful, fascinating, spiritual, addictive city in the world!! In the words of Menachem Begin (yes it was him) “No more War, no more bloodshed”. If only the killing ended in 1919 with the raising of the Cenotaph after the war to end all wars.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Shabbat Shalom letter from Jerusalem


4th November 2011

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope this letter finds you well.

I am so excited this Friday morning since I awoke to the sound of rain, heavy rain, glorious, life giving rain! Admittedly I am equally thrilled that it didn't rain yesterday or the day before which gave me the opportunity to sit in the crisp autumnal sunshine of Jerusalem with my lovely cousin Debbie and with Nancy and Harry – but more about that later!

Have you noticed that Western diplomats involved with Israel and her neighbours are critical of Israel when in power and suddenly when they leave their positions they write books and the truth comes out........ Israel has been flexible and agreeable whereas the Palestinians have been rigid and against any solution however equable? Dennis Ross did it, Tony Blair did it and now Condoleeza Rice is doing it in her new book. She quotes Ehud Olmert's offer to the PA as the most generous ever and Abbas did not consider it a starting point for negotiations. By the same token how can the USA, UK, and most of Europe play the outraged idealists concerning a few homes being built in Jerusalem, when they know full well that the Palestinians are building as if there is no tomorrow within Jerusalem city limits!!!

Judge Richard Goldstone wrote a truly surprising and accurate article in the NY Times refuting any claims that Israeli society resembles the South African Apartheid regime in any way or form. Professor Gerald Steinberg writes “Confronting former allies after an honest change of heart is tough; Richard Goldstone deserves to be embraced and congratulated.”

UNESCO voted to accept the Palestinian Authority into its once august midst. UNESCO UN-Educated UN-Scientific UN-Cultured and UN-Organised The Palestinian educational system does not in any way or form meet UNESCO's criteria, their books deride the Infidel (that's Jews and Christians) and deny the existence of Israel. Please read the academic report of IMPACT-SE presented to UNESCO on the lack of tolerance in PA. schooling

This isn't a first for UNESCO however. Thanks to Barbara Ledeen for this wonderful quote.
When Golda Meir visited Princeton – when no longer Prime Minister in 1978 - , at a question and answer section in the main auditorium of the university, one of the students asked her: “Why was it that UNESCO had rejected Israel and accepted the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) for membership/associate membership.
Golda replied that that was a question that should be addressed to UNESCO, not to her.
The student responded: That is of course correct but it would be interesting to know your opinion, why UNESCO made these decisions.
Golda replied: As you know, UNESCO stands for the United Nations Education, Science, and Culture Organization. We must assume that these gentlemen, after due consideration, came to the conclusion that the PLO has more to contribute to education, science, and culture than Israel does.
The audience roared with laughter and applauded.

The USA, Canada and Israel rescinded their payments to UNESCO, as they should, but more surprisingly Ban Ki Moon came out with a statement to the PA that he did not support their method of entering the UN through all the subcommittees – a rare statement of great substance.

The South of Israel is still subject to rocket attacks. Egypt warned Islamic Jihad that if they don't stop launching missiles then they will pay the consequences and Western leaders have intimated that Israel must not respond. Maybe we are too polite or just too attentive to world opinion?

Pat Condell is a very clever and totally anti-establishment Brit whose irreverent, but highly relevant videos say what we think. Mr Condell is not PC and is prepared to take the flak “Is it racist to say that the Palestinians are the most tiresome cry-babies whose problems are all self inflicted? It probably is”

Since we last spoke we said goodbye to Kim, Robert and Deanna after their frantic week of filming for a documentary on Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular. As soon as I have a link I promise to send it to you and you will find it on the Children of Israel Foundation website.

On Wednesday I met my dear cousin Debbie Gelbard at the Jerusalem YMCA for a wonderful glass of mint tisane and some naughty desserts! The Jerusalem YMCA is conceivably the most beautiful building in Jerusalem. It was so delightful to spend time with Debbie and catch up on our family news, sitting in the last rays of sunshine. As we sat enjoying one another I noticed a young man on the grass who took out his prayer mat, bent his knees bowed down towards Mecca, prayed and then got up and went on his way. So very Jerusalem; sitting in a Christian garden, overlooking the famous King David Hotel, watching the open prayer of a Moslem in a public place. If only Jews and Christians could openly pray in Moslem countries.

Yesterday we met up with Nancy and Harry Bloomfield of Montreal, Canada and Jerusalem. Nancy and Harry have two sons studying in Israel and they simply love Jerusalem! They chose our lunchtime venue and I applaud their taste! The Anna Ticho Artists House is situated right in the centre of town, next to both the original Hadassah Hospital and Rav Kook's House. The Anna Ticho House sits in its own beautiful gardens, inside is a gallery of her works and a restaurant and outside is a large tree lined terrace with tables set with placemats showing her exquisite etchings. The meal was a delight, the company outstanding and my goodness do I enjoy every time Nancy exudes love. She made me laugh when she told me that after arriving exhausted from the long journey from Montreal she immediately went to Shouk mahane Yehuda. A friend called her from Canada to check is she had arrived safely and when the friend asked where she was she said in the Shouk. “Why on earth would you go straight to the Shouk?” asked the friend “Because I wanted a Sheila moment” said Nancy!!!! Apparently you love my stories about the shouk, its sounds aromas, colours, people and atmosphere. I will have to go again next week to absorb some new senses!!

Talking of Canada, Canadian Prime Minister Harper isn't afraid of the Arabs – not only because he has incredible natural resources and enough oil in Alberta to ignore their wealth but because he is a principled man who is not afraid to speak his mind. Now THAT is a leader.

Since I am always persuading you to come to Jerusalem and experience the joys thereof I thought this article essential to your travels. The top 10 public toilets in Jerusalem!!!!

Today began early. Zvi and I met with our dearest friend Bernardo Romanowsky for breakfast at Angel's Coffee shop in the gas station of Nayot! It was delicious. You guys don't understand that an Israeli breakfast is so vast and so healthy........... let me explain. One example of many is the “Israeli breakfast” which means an omelette of any combination (I love the herb one), a freshly cut chopped salad in a bowl, an assortment of avocado, tuna and aubergine salads in tiny presentation dishes, three types of white cheese, a freshly squeezed fruit juice and – of course – Cafe hafuch!!!! There are other assorted breakfasts but this is almost a foregone conclusion for most diners! The tiny table was groaning as beside us the first Parliament sitting took place – thank heaven smaller and less vociferous than Zvi's Parliament- and the waitresses all come to say hello, kiss the regulars and even the chef comes to greet everyone at this simple diner. Having spent delightful time with Bernardo, talking about everything from family to baking, to health I came home to write to you!!! Zvi will be back soon and I will drop him at his Parliament and escape to my daughters home to be with the grandchildren, read stories, play games and just cuddle them ensuring they know just how much Safta loves them. Yosef says I love him to the sky and back; Talia says I love her trimillion and baby Aylah just stands akimbo with her arms wide as she can get! I love that my daughters home is filled with the aromas of Shabbat, especially her amazing home baked Challot (she got it from me you know!) My drive back home will thrill me and fill my heart as I pass Samuels Tomb to the sight of Jerusalem set out in her glorious entirety, fresh and glisteningly clean from the blessed rainfall.

Finally, use your last chance to vote for the Dead Sea as one of the new 7 Wonders of the World since the voting ends on 11.11.11

Shabbat Shalom dear friends, Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, the most beautiful city in the world, centre of our hearts, hopes and prayers.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Mid-week update. Moshe Ami z"l

31st October 2011

Halloween, for real.

30 rockets were launched by Islamic Jihad yesterday and the day before. All 30 created the terror intended among Israelis in the South sending them running for the bomb shelters and closing schools. 30 rockets over a short period; the 28th caused great joy in Gaza and horror here in Israel.

Moshe Ami was on his way home when Islamic Jihad decided to launch a Grad rocket on the town of Ashkelon. He called his girlfriend, Elah Kostin, to say he was nearly home, just two minutes away, when his car was hit by schrapnel from the rocket.
"We agreed that as soon as he arrived we would go to the supermarket. He called around eight when he arrived in Ashkelon and said that he can go shopping," she recalls. I told him I missed him and that he should come home. Moments later a siren was heard. I called him. At first he didn’t answer. I heard the explosion not far from my house. The second time he did answer and said that he was hurt by shrapnel".

Moshe was rushed to Barzilai Hospital where it was found that he had schrapnel wounds ot his abdomen. His condition was declared “light injuries” - not life threatening. In the operating theatre, sadly, the doctors found that they could not overcome Moshe's injuries and he died.

The media and the fact that we become inured to the pain of loss mean we don't really talk about the man, the family he left behind and his own pain in life. Moshe, 56, was divorced and father to four children. Unlike so many men he chose to stay in close contact with his ex-wife and children, affording warmth and kindness to ensure family life.

Just over two years ago he decided to place his name with a couples website called "Love me" and met Elah, they fell in love and moved in together. His life was good. This man who still missed his brother who died as a soldier in the first Lebanon War, finally found love and happiness.

I wanted you to meet Moshe Ami, to know that he, like all of those so horribly affected by this war of attrition, whether adults who lose their lives or children who have only known the fear of sirens and the 15 second dash to find haven in the bomb shelter. Hamas is no longer the most evil Islamic gang in Gaza, they actually wanted to call a ceasefire but the Islamic Jihad has the power now, Islamic Jihad is directly funded and takes orders from Iran without any go-betweens. As evil as Hamas is Islamic Jihad knocks them into a cocked hat. Islamic Jihad will not talk to anyone, they are not just evil they are the declared representatives of Iran and the despotic, evil tyranny that Iran represents.

If we respond, what will the world out there decide is a proportionate response? Are we allowed to do what others do and wipe out entire cities? Will we continue to fear what anyone says or will we do what we have to do? Just as no-one fully understood our high moral ground in our determination to bring back one young soldier in exchange for a thousand evil doers. Incidentally, our decision as to whether or not we bomb the hell out of Gaza is somewhat simpler now that Gilad isn't there. There is a new factor in the equation however. The Egyptians, post rebellion, are very unhappy at the ruling gangs of Gaza and want to regain THEIR control of Gaza. We don't know the outcome but it is more hopeful than the current situation.
Hamas wants a ceasefire, Islamic Jihad wants to continue the water torture of constant bombings.............. so the rockets continue. Iron dome works but we don't have enough, their war of attrition continues but we, Israel, hum silently in our heads “We will not be moved” This is our home – not theirs – we don't run – we speak softly and carry a very big stick.

Praying for peace, praying for anger at our constant suffering, praying for sorrow at the death of Moshe Ami. May his soul rest in peace and his family find comfort among the mourners of Zion.


Friday, 28 October 2011

Shabbat Shalom letter from Jerusalem


28th October 2011

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. How are you?

The weather here in Israel is so glorious that “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” keeps running through my mind as the sun's rays become warm and welcoming rather than glaring; the pomegranates are red and ripe, bursting with health giving juice, the oranges beginning to develop a soft orange glow and the herbs filling out as the leaves rest from the searing heat of the summer. Faces lighten up and we all begin to feel the relief of autumn. The warmth in the air was conducive to gardening and I moved the annoying tree and created a wonderful flowering corner using the incredible orange and yellow hibiscus trees and the lovely fuchsias. I don't know the real name of the fuchsias but I called them Valerie's fuchsias because my girlfriend's garden was the first place I saw that variety!!!

Most of this week was spent with our dearest friend Kim Taylor who is here filming a documentary for his Children of Israel Website which will hopefully also be on PBS. I took a small part but Zvi, Zvi was a star, the camera just loves him and he knows how to talk to the camera.

I joined Kim, Deanna and Robert and of course Zvi, to film Member of Knesset David Rotem, leader of the Christian Caucus of the Knesset and Chairman of the Law and Legislature Committee. MK Rotem gave Kim's team and incredible interview. Actually, reaching his office was an adventure in itself, as we each got lost in different areas of the rambling new wing. The Knesset is such a beautiful building, walking up the main entranceway, past the eternal flame into the bustling halls and passageways of justice and democracy makes my heart burst with pride.

From the Knesset we drove out to the Community Centre in the Pisgat Zeev neighbourhood of Jerusalem. Pisgat Zeev comprises predominantly of new immigrants and the incredible Valla found a beautiful way to help absorb them and provide work for many musicians. The Pisgat Zeev music conservatory now has 300 young students and 30 music teachers. We were there to see a very special class of Special Needs youngsters who have learned to play instruments under the loving care of their teacher. Their disabilities range from Muscular Dystrophy, Downs Syndrome and Autism. The joy on their faces as they played “David Melech Yisroel” and “Ani Ma'amin” (I Believe) with great aplomb was plain to see. Achievement for those who fight so hard ot achieve is inspiring.

The next occasion that I joined the team was to the Municipality of Jerusalem and Mayor Nir Barkat. Nir gave a wonderful interview explaining the challenges of Jerusalem (he refuses to call them problems) and the pride and responsibility he feels in his Mayoral position. From the offices of the Mayor we went out to the Council Chambers where the Chairperson of the Social Services Department talked about the special situation of this city's residents, from abuse dchildren to drug addiction, from battered women to the elderly and homeless all made infinitely more complex by the varied religious elements.

Zvi explained the significance of the huge domed ceiling representing the myriad of thoughts and beliefs that make up this special city, the round table representing equality and of course the Biblical element of the circles of justice. While surrounded by columns – the straight lines of the law – the table is round to ensure justice always be shown in this decision making.

From the veranda of the Municipality one gets a 360 degree view of Jerusalem, its magnificent Old City, the modern buildings, the Hebrew University, the domes, towers and spires that represent the religious rainbow of this complex and fascinating city which has remained the centre of our world for 3,000 years.

I have a sneaky feeling that the highlight of Kim, Deanna and Robert's week was a visit to “Zion ha Gadol” the Middle Eastern restaurant where the display of salads was so incredible that Robert felt the need to photograph it! We always say that an Israeli salad contains just about every ingredient except lettuce! Shiny, succulent egg plant salad, bright beetroots and fresh garlic and lemon, carrot salad, rice salad, cabbage salad, beans, courgettes and potatoes all become a glorious cornucopia of delight! There is nothing quite like it. The array of salads each individual yet blending perfectly with all the other foods is so representative of Jerusalem's society – our very differences merging to make a delicious combination of colours and flavours.

The world is still trying to understand our willingness to release over 1,000 various killers in exchange for one incredibly frail and clearly ill treated son of Aviva and Noam Schalit, so don't try. It is something inexplicable, something so very Israeli, something so telling of our high moral stand and also our relative sense of what each human life is worth when dealing with peoples who hold death in far higher regard than life. One boys life is worth whatever it takes.

The same humanity made Israel the first to offer help and assistance to Turkey after the disastrous earthquake that befell that country. Erdogan, who initially refused Israel's help, is a highly unpopular leader, the Turkish people resent his determination to even further sour the relations between our countries. We sent sent caravans, blankets and other necessary aid to protect those whose homes were destroyed leaving them to fend for themselves in harsh winter conditions.

Ishmael Khaldi, Bedouin Israeli, is our former Consul in San Francisco and outstanding speaker on behalf of Israel. He was speaking at Kent State University when a Professor, not an ignorant student, a Professor screamed abuse at Khaldi he also shouted “Death to Israel. Do not be lulled into thinking it is not happening in the USA.

Dr Einat Wilf, Member of Knesset spoke on the BBC about the Gilad Schalit deal and the lack of equivalence between the release of Hamas murderers and a kidnapped soldier, Gilad Schalit

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of he Technion University of Haifa they created a truly outstanding video – well worth watching.

Just in case you thought that Israeli chocolate was limited to Elite – think again. Gosh this makes ones mouth water. Look out Belgium, Israeli chocolates are phenomenal!!
The Shabbat food is prepared, food that reflects the change in weather. Autumnal salads (no lettuce of course), Chicken soup with kreplach and kubeh, thoroughly stewed beef with vegetables and chicken paprika followed by pecan pie and fresh seasonal fruit. The table is ready, a sparkling white tablecloth, best dishes, sparkling silverware and glassware and of course the new Challah cover. I love the sense of Shabbat covering our neighbourhood, the quiet descending, the aromas rising and the families arriving to be together. Kurdish Jews have a special treat, Friday lunch is a big family affair. 'Marak Kubeh” We have a great Kurdish friend who, when asked why she was cooking on Friday morning when she was feeling poorly said “If a Kurdish man doesn't have Kubeh soup for lunch on Friday he sets of to work on Shabbat morning because he doesn't know what day it is!!!”

Finally, you enjoyed last weeks music so much I decided to bring you Three Israeli Tenors singing Adon Olam. This is so great –

I wish you Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, the beautiful glorious centre of our world.


Thanks to Phillip Pasmanick for this wonderful greeting
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..✡ שבת שלום ✡♥ ✡ I LOVE ISRAEL ✡ ♥ ✡ Shabbat Shalom✡
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