Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Shana Tova 5773

110927 27th September 2011 Shana Tova dear friends This has been a strange year of wonderful achievements and unbearable lies. It has been a year of revolution, rebellion and renewal, but little sign of democracy in those countries where the people reached out for it. Riots in the East and the West yet it seems that the only civilised and democratic revolution took place right here in Israel as the students and the disenfranchised joined hands and pitched their tents to change their lives and bring Social Justice. The Trajtenberg Report on Social Justice, formed at the request of the PM, praised the demonstrators and gave their findings. There will be changes – maybe not everything they asked for – but changes nonetheless. Israel's Prime Minister yet again held out the hand of peace to the Palestinians, despite the vitriolic rhetoric in the United Nations General Assembly in New York. As we in Israel watched both speeches in rapt attention the people of Ramallah were denied that right – as soon as Abbas finished his speech their screens went blank lest they should see the Israeli PM offering peace. If you haven't seen the speeches take time to watch Prime Ministers Netanyahu's speech in particular. www.c-spanvideo.org/program/301726-4 President Ahmedinejad was invited to the UN again, but not exactly top of the social attendees list, his fellow diners had to be paid to attend. Yes $1,500 for the “pleasure”. And now to the news befitting Rosh Hashana, befitting a time of penitence and atonement. Israel has changed the world in which she exists by reaching out. Israel reaches out through MASHAV http://mashav.mfa.gov.il/mfm/web/main/missionhome.asp?MissionID=16210& through IsraAid http://www.israaid.org.il/ through Save a Child's Heart http://www.saveachildsheart.org/ and through so many other amazing organisations who reach out to third world countries and of course to the sick and troubled in the Palestinian Authority. Israel has little to apologise for at a time when even the best of us has. Tikkun Olam indeed. One fabulous innovation is the first Israeli Dragon Boat Race to be held on the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) in May. Form a team and come!!! Well done UIA Canada. http://www.dragonboatisrael.com/ And so to me. I pray that I have never hurt you, or written anything that has offended you. If I have in any way, shape or form I apologise and promise to try and have more patience and less anger in future. My prayer this year, the 5773rd year of Jewish life is that we gain strength and pride in what we are and our incredible heritage, that we end the practice of hiding behind the social acceptance of a comfortable western life, using it as an excuse to ignore from whence we come. My prayer is that convenience and bias will no longer be an excuse for the press and media to tell half truths which hide the truth of our world and our region. My prayer is for a gentler world, a world of tolerance and acceptance of the “other”. I will fight for this tolerance by sitting on the Board of IMPACT-SE http://www.impact-se.org/ to ensure that the child abuse of hatred ceases as an educational tool. My prayer for Israel is that she will be recognised as the wonderful, vibrant, giving democracy, an example to the world and a light unto the nations, that she truly is, and that we will continue to be a thriving, living, bustling, noisy, rambunctious nation that is proud of her achievements. My prayer is that the next generation will understand the past and how their ancestors prayed and fought to return to this land. I pray they will no longer take Israel for granted. My prayer for you is a joyous year filled with hope, love and family, fulfillment and generosity and very good friends. I pray that you will come and visit Israel and visit me as Anne and Rafi Bechar did yesterday. We sat eating a delicious lunch in the Botanical Gardens discovering how many things we have in common, our great love of Israel being the initial glue and our common ethics followed. By coming here you make an unambiguous statement of your loyalty and your belief. By coming here and understanding why we are surrounded by a jealous people you will recognise why this minute tract of land is worth fighting for. To come here is to fall in love, with a country, a people and your heritage. Shana Tova, may your good deeds be written in the book of life and all your troubles fly away as the new year begins To my incredible children I wish you everything you wish yourselves and pray that you will continue in your path of tolerance and teaching your children to love the other – every other - irrespective of belief. I love you arms and legs and up to the skies. To my amazing husband, I wish you a year whereby you receive the recognition you so deeply deserve for giving your heart and soul to the Jewish people. From 1969 when as a student with Chutzpah you changed a Prime Ministers mind, to your years with Keren Hayesod, Jerusalem 3,000 and the NJF. You continue as a volunteer with the same vigour and I am so proud to stand beside you. With much love from Jerusalem centre of our world, our heart, our dreams and our prayers. Remember, we cannot all be Alan Dershowitz, Irwin Cotler, Itamar Marcus or Dore Gold but we can be strong and independent........... and unafraid to say who we are and fight for justice. Sheila

Friday, 23 September 2011

Shabbat shalom from Jerusalem

110923 23rd September 2011 Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova (Happy New Year) to all of you, each and every one, whether near or far, t our friends and family, we wish you a joyous year and for Israel a little taste of the honey without the inevitable sting. Last night I flew back from a glorious visit to my grandchildren (and their parents) in the UK. Family is so essential to our well-being, especially when as cute as Sammy, Olivia and Zachary! I travelled to South Wales to see my family there too, which was wonderful. I will honour my children's request not to make them famous but.................. gosh those little people are amazing. Watching Olivia head off to “big school” in her school uniform and taking her to ballet; Little Zachary deciding that he is too big for nappies and applauding himself at every um er – creation! Sammy, gosh Sammy is our little miracle boy, a joy. Hugging and kissing them was all so much better than Skype!!!! I am proud of all my children, and my children's children and my heart breaks when I am not with them........... and heals when I see them. When I see the services for the special needs world that my former home provides I am proud, when I see the changes in that wonderful proud country my heart breaks. My favourite part of travelling is meeting new people, chatting and getting to see the world from another perspective. On the way to South Wales I met Bronwen, a Christian lady who had spent time I Israel and was excited to hear I was from Jerusalem. Of course she was even more excited when we discovered our mutual admiration for Canon Andrew White! Upon my return from South Wales I was so tired I decided to take a short cab ride from Barnet Station home. The driver of the immaculate mini-cab was a gentleman called Sylvester, and guess what.... Sylvester, who hails from Nigeria, also spent some time in Israel with his church as a young man and wanted to do his Masters in Criminology at the Hebrew University but chose London instead. He had just lost his position and was working as a taxi driver while sending his CV around London. Sylvester understood Israel and her misrepresentation in the media, it was such a pleasure to meet this highly intelligent young man who was willing to drive taxis rather than be idle. At Olivias ballet class I met a beautiful young Lebanese Christian woman and we swapped so many stories!!! The final leg of my journey, homeward bound, was shared with a lovely young couple returning home and a marvellous lady, Judith, who knew almost all the same people I did!!! There is something so special about flying El Al, flying the flag, flying Israel. The stewards and stewardesses are the best in the world. Britain has several problems right now. Whether to simply pull down illegal housing built by Travellers/Gypsies/ Romanys in a town north of London. The same bleeding hearts that throw themselves in front of the IDF now sit and throw themselves before the poor British Bobby who just wants to abide by the law and move these interlopers on. It sounded so familiar – and the BBC pretty much sided with the Romanys as they do with the Palestinians!!! My son Gideon does not allow me to listen to the BBC news for fear of apoplexy!!! I watch Sky and got the basics of what is happening concerning the Palestinian ploy to achieve statehood through the back door. It seems so ridiculous to make this big performance when all they have to do is accept our existence! If they would just accept that Israel is here to stay and that the Jews are here to stay – back where we belong – they could be independent – can't think of anything better!!! The most crucial aspect of Palestinian statehood that distresses me, or rather the aspect which seems almost acceptable to the world but not to me, is their insistence that the new country be Judenrein – ethnic cleansing to all intents and purposes. The world is up in arms at the idea of transfer, the plan for which Foreign Minister Lieberman was lambasted, they want only one way traffic – us OUT! The plan the Palestinians have in mind includes all of Israel – just so that you understand. We have never been against a Palestinian State – but where, how and when.............. As Barry Shaw wrote in this weeks article discussing the Bible reading for this week VeYelech Choose life. Love God. Listen to His voice. Read His words. For it is His Covenant that we will dwell in the land that is west of the Jordan that God swore to our forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as an inheritance. And this is where we are today. http://israeltheviewfromhere.blogspot.com/2011/09/god-supports-israel-do-you.html Prime Minster Stephen Harper of Canada is a man true to his word and his moral backbone when it comes to Israel is astonishing – just when I thought that an ethical politician was an oxymoron .http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/148102#.TnmFPUAZJ9B.facebook President Obama left me surprised and relieved when he spoke at the United Nations this week. The American President stated that there are no shortcuts to Statehood through UN resolutions. “Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians -- not us -- who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and security; on refugees and Jerusalem," he added. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4125565,00.html Coming home is wonderful. The hub-bub of the ultra-modern airport, the sense of belonging when one doesn't need to stand in line for passport control but just go to the “hand machine” and out – I swear that Ben Gurion Airport has the most efficient baggage handlers in the world – cases begin to go round before one can race to the belt! The scent in the air as you step outside, a mixture of airport, citrus and fir; the tooting of horns; the laughter of the cab drivers; the knowledge that Zvi is there, waiting for me; the incredible climb up to Jerusalem; the familiarity and warmth of my chosen homeland. I loved the British Autumn and walking through the nature trail with Gideon and the boys or having afternoon tea with Stephanie, but this is home, this is Israel. This morning we went to a 60th birthday party where the birthday boy ran 60 kilometres for charity., then on to a “brita” for the first grandchild born to good friends. I thrill to the sense of joy in Israel; joy for the birth of all babies; joy for the grandparents; joy at family; joy at the festivals; joy for everything and anything – we celebrate life loudly and enthusiastically!!! After the two parties I drove to Givat Zeeve, out through Ramot and over the highest point at Samuels Tomb, coming down to the sprawling town. After kissing my Jerusalem grandchildren, Yosef, Talia and Ayala, who insisted they loved me with or without presents (but Safta what did you bring) I read them my childrens favourite “Flat Stanley” and drove back to Jerusalem, passing Samuels Tomb again, opposite the incredible vista of Jerusalem before me as if a relief map of past and future. How lucky I am. So Jerusalem is asleep, preparing both for the Bride of Shabbat and for our first blessed rain of the autumn. Our table is ready, the food not yet placed but certainly prepared. White cloth, white plates, plaited bread, wine glass for the blessings, just awaiting the perfect addition of family. Almost a new year, time to think, time to really delve deeply into our thoughts and ensure we have not hurt others, that we give only sweetness to a world which is overflowing with bitterness. One drop of kindness can change a million lives. Never sit on the sidelines, always fight for justice and remember to sweeten lives. Shabbat Shalom dear friends With love from Jerusalem, heart and soul of our world. Sheila

Sunday, 11 September 2011

We Remember - 9/11 Ten Years

110911 11th September 2011 Ten years on I was home, watching the television ten years ago, watching the surreal situation as it happened. I felt as if I were watching a movie, it couldn't be real, it surely couldn't be real................. please G-d don't let it be real. After several minutes of traumatised immobility I recognised the horrific reality of what I saw – I had two children on Manhattan. Where were they? Are they OK? Rachel lived on 13th and 1st and travelled each day to Brooklyn, Daniel should have been safely uptown at the hospital but he had Jury Duty and was right next to the Towers in the Court House. I was one of the lucky ones as 8 hours later I spoke to them through Kim in Canada. Thank G-d they were fine, shocked but alive. Rachel watched the whole thing from her office in Brooklyn. The pictures of people jumping, the last minutes of those trapped inside the symbols of Western success, hearing the brave fight of the passengers of another aeroplane that prevented even greater tragedy, taking the lives of those on board in a field in Pennsylvania; yet another hit the Pentagon, the heart of Americas security. Horror and disbelief gradually gave way to anger. Anger that people could take the life blood of a great nation by slaughtering 3,000 of her children in the name of god – not my G-d, He could never condone such hatred in His name. How? How could anyone be so possessed with vile hatred to take a planeload of ordinary people and turn that vehicle into a missile of mass destruction. To plan death. After a series of horrific terror attacks, in December 2001 NY Mayor Rudi Guiliani and Governor George Pataki came to Jerusalem, sharing a stage with their friend Mayor Ehud Olmert, to express their support and solidarity with the people of Israel and stood at Zion Square to light Chanuka candles on Ben Yehuda Street where days before teenagers were blown to pieces. We can never forget that statement of friendship and were so sad when it came to our turn to show you, America, our support for you in your time of need. I went to see my children a few days after the horrors of the eleventh of September, on the first foreign flight into JFK (El Al of course) I walked the streets, suffering the unbearable stench and dust that filled the air, listening to people talking. I searched to find the similarities and differences in the trauma suffered by New Yorkers and Jerusalemites as a result of the unbearable tragedy enforced upon us by an alien hatred and came to one conclusion, the only conclusion; Americas trauma was that of a violently raped virgin – Israels trauma is constant, that of an abused women, a daily occurrence that no-one cares to recognise. We recognise your pain, we share your pain, we honour your pain. Israel honours each and every one of the 2976 victims of that horrific, inhuman attack on America and on freedom at our memorial in the Jerusalem Hills http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRPYTiN5Oso America, Israel stands beside you and weeps with you for the lives taken. We mourn with the children who lost parents and the parents who will never have grandchildren. May the victims rest in peace and may their families and their nation know no more sorrow. We pray you can find solace among the mourners of Zion. G-d bless America

Friday, 9 September 2011

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem

110909 September 9th 2011 Shabbat shalom to everyone and especially to my wonderful, adorable and gentle son Daniel. Happy Birthday my darling, I am so proud of you. Zvi and I went for along weekend to Crete. It is just one and a half hours flight which suits me perfectly! On the flight I sat next to Salem, an Israeli Arab, Moslem, who was responsible for all our safety in the emergency exit. Salem lives in Acre and his love of Israel, his sense of togetherness with everyone, irrespective of religion or creed were heartwarming. His interpretation of Islam honours the other and he openly decried the murder of women and children saying that the Koran specifically demands that even in war one must never harm women and children who are not your enemy. Apparently Hamas, Al Qaeeda, Islamic Jihad etc do not read the same Koran. We had a delightful flight and at the end wished each other Shalom and Salaam. On the flight home I sat with Mary, an Anglican from Nazareth who spoke to me about the intense problems Christians suffer. She was so excited I knew Canon Andrew White, he is her hero too! Crete is fascinating but you know me I love to talk to people and find out the lay of the land – Greeks hate Turks!! They are not surprised to find that Turkey is threatening Israel, brandishing their diplomatic arms and including the Greek Islands in their aggressive speeches. Erdogan has chosen sides – he has chosen to go with the extremist Islamic states and leave Europe behind. As Zvi said “The pyromaniac chose to ignite the Middle East last year and cost 9 lives, this year his pyromania will cost far more. Pyromania and megalomania are the norm for Erdogan and he is taking Turkey with him. If Erdogan chooses to accompany the next flotilla with Turkish warships (the same warships that carried out exercises with the Israeli and US navies) then the entire area will burst into flames. Thank G-d he was not taken into the EU!!! The Palmer Report is a clear and honest report of the Marvi Marmara incident in particular and the flotilla in general, thus proving that the United Nations is capable of producing an unbiased document. Erdogan of Turkey claimed that the naval blockade of Gaza is illegal and that Israel acted irresponsibly in the case of the Mavi Marmara. This article also points out Erdogans lemming like determination to follow the extreme regimes of the Arab world taking his country back into pre-Attaturk solitude. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904716604576546643185160996.html Goodbye Golden Rose. Tom Gross told of the destruction of the last remains of Ukrainian Jews as casinos replace synagogues. Tom wrote “It seems parts of Europe are less tolerant now than they were in the 16th century. Last week I watched as bulldozers began to demolish the adjacent remnants of what was once one of Europe's most beautiful synagogue complexes, the 16th-century Golden Rose in Lviv. Most of the rest of the synagogue was burned down, with Jews inside, by the Nazis in 1941. “ Thanks to Tom's article the Ukranian Government rethought and stopped the work. Kol haKavod Tom. The power of one yet again. http://www.tomgrossmedia.com/mideastdispatches/archives/001221.html We all love to hate the United Nations – which we pay for dearly – watch this video to understand why!!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7Mupoo1At8&feature=youtu.be The Israeli Government is the watchdog of democracy. As such they must uphold the law which includes some unpopular action. Migron village was built illegally on private land between Jerusalem and Ramallah. The Arab owners of the land went to the Israeli Supreme Court to evict the illegal squatters and this week the Supreme Court decision was executed and the homes destroyed. The response of the right wing group was to burn down an abandoned Mosque and they then vandalised IDF property, including 17 vehicles, writing abusive graffiti against the IDF. This is a democracy and we must abide by laws which protect the entire community if these criminals want to deface mosques and IDF property let them go to prison and think about their crimes. On September 5th 39 years ago 1972, during the Olympic games in Munich, 11 Israeli athletes were massacred by a group of Palestinian terrorists called "Black September" at the behest of their leader, Yassir Arafat. The Germans botched the rescue attempt and Avery Brundage, President of the Olympics Committee demanded that the games go on despite the carnage. Yosef Romano, David Berger, Ze'ev Friedman, Eliezer Halfin, Mark Slavin, Yosef Guttfreund, Moshe Weinberg, Amitzur Shapira, Kehat Shorr, Andre Spitzer. Killed because they were Jews, in Germany by Terrorists. May their souls rest in peace and their killers rot in hell. Durban III? Rabbi Jeremy Rosen says it all. http://jeremyrosen.blogspot.com/2011/09/durban.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+jeremyrosen%2FtAYl+%28Jeremy+Rosen%27s+Blog%29 Honest Reporting decided to be funny!!! This excellent video tells it all. 'What has Israel ever done for Peace”? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc1kDE4jeHc The peoples revolution of Israel is almost over. The tents are folded and many of their aims achieved – at least in part, but for some it doesn't begin to solve their problem of incredibly high house prices. It was a very important demonstration and brought the plight of the poor and the students to the governments attention. Israel's demonstrations were held in wonderful atmosphere without the violence of our neighbouring countries. Good for them – hope their hopes will be fulfilled in the coming year. I am proud to say that we knew Dan David who died suddenly this week. Dan was an exceptional man, a Holocaust survivor who never took his wealth or his life for granted and gave a great deal back to this world. The Dan David Prize earned great cache in a world of easily achieved prizes. We met Dan when Zvi and the New Jerusalem Foundation entered and then won the Dan David Prize for the City of Jerusalem, and although the Israeli panel chose to split the prize into three – to be politically correct, (Jerusalem, Rome and Istanbul) for Dan there was no question which city was his favourite and his second home. http://www.jpost.com/NationalNews/Article.aspx?id=237132&R=R2 I love weddings. I love Israeli weddings in particular because the informality encourages humour, conversation and of course political arguments.......The daughter of close friends met a delightful young man at university, they fell in love and married two days ago. The ceremony, the clothing, the setting and the catering were presented with humility and taste. The music phenomenal with songs from “way back when” although all the youngsters were singing along! What I loved most of all is that among the elite guests were many who joined the demonstrators on Rothschild Avenue in Tel Aviv. Yes this was the wedding the media chose to discuss in tandem with the demonstrations of the homeless and the students. It had nothing to do with anything except family joy and a wonderful new couple on their way to a fine life. Mazal Tov Elital and Jason!!! Zvi is on his way home from buying Challot and chocolate kuchen from Angel's – yes the one in the petrol station, before going back to argue the toss and put the world to rights at his Parliament!!! At Angels (pronounced anjells remember) the challot are piled high on shelves and in boxes, round ones, loaf-tin ones, plaited ones, sweet, plain, sesame topped or poppy seed, finally those filled with raisins – each family choosing their favourites! The aromas which rise from the huge Angels bakery near the entrance to Jerusalem lingers long after the ovens cool down for Shabbat! Today one felt the gentleness of autumn creeping in Somehow the weather becomes gentler, the shops take down their “back to school” stock and replace it with Israeli honey. Honey! Clover honey, nettle honey, wildflower honey, citrus honey, just about every type and flavour of honey imaginable. The mall is closing, the customers wending their weary way home to rest before dinner with the family. The bride of Shabbat is on her way bringing with her a sense of calm and peace that is tangible. It is not important if you are religious or not, traditions are what matters, traditions which pass from generation to generation – the joy on a child's face as the glow of the Shabbat candles throw their warmth; the freshness of a white tablecloth set with fine dishes; the challot, covered so that they will be discovered after we bless the wine; the smells of generations as the food is prepared; the sense of family, family, TRADITION. Some things have changed but so many are the same! http://wn.com/Fiddler_on_the_Roof_Tradition Tradition! I wish you Shabbat shalom, a Shabbat filled with traditions that you can hand down to your grandchildren as your grandparents handed their traditions down to you with loving hands. With much love from Jerusalem the heart of our traditions and our world Sheila