Thursday, 26 January 2012

Shabbat Shalom from Sheila

26th January 2012
Shabbat Shalom lovely people! It seems strange to write ot you when I cannot see the View from our Veranda - nor the preparations for Shabbat which include the frenzied shopping/cooking leading up to the relative calm. We are in Puerto Rico for a very special occasion - the wedding of Jenny Efron to Aubrey Duffy and the view from today's veranda is one of the ocean and an ancient fort. Jenny's father David, an old friend of Zvi's and a relatively new friend of mine (only about 20 years) - was born to parents who escaped Europe, then Cuba and found refuge in Puerto Rico. Today David's girls grew up in Miami and David has a home both in Puerto Rico and Miami. Their connection to Israel is irrevocable and strong and David and his girl-friend Kathy come to our Passover Seder each year and visit Israel many times in between - especially since Lauren, Jenny's little sister, made Aliya last year. As we sat having supper last night I made a toast to Aubrey and Jenny telling them the secret of a great marriage. "Always look out for and defend each other, be for one another and be kind to one another never let anyone get between you"
Footnote or "Shulayim" is an incredible movie about the relationship between a father a son and their approach to religion it is now a contender in the five finalists in the foreign film category for the Oscar after winning the Palm d'Or. It is Joseph Cedar's 2nd nomination and Israel's 4th nomination is 5 years. Not bad eh?
Several Iranians were discovered trying to cross the border in an attempt to murder the Israeli Ambassador to Azerbaijan and were stopped by Azerbaijani security forces. Unfortunately this now puts Israel in a position of gratitude to the Azerbaijanis who do not want Israel to recognise the Armenian genocide. Diplomacy is always a double edged sword.
Today is International Holocaust Day, a day when the world should remember the atrocities that took place under a regime knew no tolerance or acceptance. The problem with the Jews in particular was their inability to give up on their beliefs whether through force or persuasion, so they were singled out for execution as the first in a line of victims - Catholics, homosexuals, the disabled and the Gypsys. Throughout history our determination to be loyal to our host countries while holding on to our faith has brought trouble many times as different armies and leaders took over our land from the Greeks, Romans, Turks, Philistines............ we were taken in slavery, murdered and almost annihilated but we prevailed and our ultimate revenge is that we thrive again - and again - and again. Today life is different, we have Israel, we returned home. We have so much to be proud of, having Israel has made us stronger but, we also have a repetition of the old problem - Jews who are shamed of themselves, ashamed of Jewish traditions, of the Jewish Land and find the only way to deal with their lack of self-worth is to speak against Israel and Judaism. They did not prevail in the past and will not today. Remember - remember, never forget but use the knowledge of where we are today to lift your hearts.
Last Friday night we were hosts to some wonderful friends and three Australian Psychologists, Louis, Caren and Warwick who came to Israel under the auspices of the Israel/Australia Chamber of Commerce and the lovely Paul Israel. All three were fascinated by their experiences and amazed at the difference between the media perception and the fact. Caren has been here many times but for WArwick and Louise it was a first visit. They met with Israeli counterparts and had seminars on trauma treatments and went to see the Fuerstein Institute for Austism. We had such a delightful evening - none of the other guests was involved in psychology - and conversation led to theatre, food and fun - as it should be!! We talked about Kinneret Chaya and our natural schizophrenia - an acceptance of our reality while quenching our thirst for enjoyment, culture, food and children.
Monday evening and our "Nesher" sherut (a mini-van taxi which picks up passengers form their homes to take them to the airport) arrived exactly on time before heading off at breakneck speed to pick up the other passengers. So began our journey toward San Juan Puerto Rico. We flew US Air to Philadelphia where we landed after an interminable flight and after checking our luggage through to PR we headed off to town where we met the delightful Jed Margolis of Maccabi USA. Jed pointed us in the right direction for the Constitution Hall and LIberty Bell. The Constitution Hall was great and fascinating and our guide was delighted that we were her onlyustomers so that she could respond to our questions and ask us about Jerusalem. One felt the importance of the history within that old building and the decisions made as George Washington sat before 13 men and created a nation which was to become an example of democracy to the world.
We then moved to the adjacent Philadelphia Museum of Jewish American life. The Museum is beautifully set out taking one from the first Jews to arrive in teh USA - through the trials and tribulations of intense racism as Jews were not allowed to rise intothe upper echelons of society or enter the professions. It was fascinating to walk through history but when it came to WW2 the museum simply skipped over the "Voyage of the Damned" on the St Louis and the shame of the Jewish immigrant quota. As we went to retrieve our coats, the volunteer lady asked where we are from - "Jerusalem" "and how are YOU GUYS coping over there? How is life in Jerusalem" "Great fun" I responded "Oh yeah really" she smiled to herself "Oh yes really" I said "We are a people that goes out most nights, socialises, goes to coffee shops restaurants and theatres, movies and concerts" I cannot forget the look of amazement on this womans face. Incredible eh?
Before heading back to the airport we popped into the Maccabi USA's offices where Zvi spoke to Bob Spivak who has been rather poorly. Be well soon Bob. Jed and his staff showed us some of the incredible work that Maccabi USA does for young Jews, not only the athletes but primarily athletes who want to come ot Israel either on Maccabi Birthright or for the 19th Maccabiah Games which will be held July 2013. Who tried to tell us we weren't good athletes????
Finally two exhausted Israeli reached their destination as we landed in San Juan Puerto Rico. David Efron and his daughter Libah (Lauren) were waiting for us. Lauren, beautiful and a great fashion stylist lives in Tel Aviv and can't wait to get back to Israel, but is equally thrilled to be here for her big sisters wedding. Jenny and Aubrey get married this weekend and we came to wish them a truly exciting wedding but more importantly a beautiful marriage.
Tomorrow we are all going to the rain forest before preparing for Shabbat Dinner. We have a full weekend of nuptial delights, meeting old friends and maiking new ones. David's Uncle Sy is a fine example - he fought in the Machal (soldiers who volunteered from overseas) during Israel's War of Independence - what wonderful stories he has to tell. Sy still keeps in touch with his former fellow soldiers - even after all these years.
That's it for now dear friends. Next week we will meet in Coral Gables as we prepare for Shabbat Dinner at Helene, Martin, Ariella, Ilan and Jeremy's and the following week with our beautiful little grandson Joshua.
Have a good shabbes and try to keep me up with what is really happening in Israel as I am now in the fairy tale land of American media.....OK?
With much love

Friday, 20 January 2012

Shabbat Shalom letter from Jerusalem


20th January 2012

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

The media loves an interesting story. The analogy is always about dogs and biting – that a story is only interesting if man bites dog not if dog bites man. Well, the world media claims that Israeli society is falling apart because of a very few rebellious Haredim and the truth is – it isn't!!! Professor Gerald Steinberg puts everything into proportion in his article “The Sky is Not Falling in Israel”

The Parents Forum for Justice is a group of US citizens whose children were murdered or maimed by Palestinian terrorists in Israel over the past decade. PFJ sent a letter to Attorney General Holder asking him to commence legal proceedings against prisoners freed in the Schalit deal. Under the 1991 US Anti-Terror Act, the United States can prosecute foreign nationals who perpetrate terrorism against American citizens, even if those acts are not carried out on US soil. However, for prosecution to proceed, the law requires the written certification of the American Attorney-General that the offences had been intended to “coerce, intimidate or retaliate against a government or civilian population.”

70 years ago, in a 90 minute conference, the Final Solution was born of 15 evil minds. The Wannsee Conference was held in a villa near Berlin and those 15 people made the cold blooded decision to separate and methodically slaughter anyone who didn't fit the Aryan criteria – starting and ending with the Jews. Today it sounds banal to say “Never Again” because it is happening again and we are not rising to the call. The self-same dehumanisation is taking place every day in the media, the press, campuses, clubs and conversation. It is difficult to decide who of the many leaders is playing the part of Chamberlain but the part of Czechoslovakia is clearly Israel. Until children are taught the relevance of the Holocaust and its dehumanisation of those who are different to oneself we cannot prevent a recurrence. The Wave is a short movie based on a true story of teacher Ron Jones – it is a movie which can teach the children the danger of blindly following your peers rather than being an independent thinker who is tolerant to those who are different. Demand it be shown in all schools near you.

Ironically, on the 70th anniversary of Wannsee Israel is facing its first real challenge of assimilation. All new waves of immigration met with concerns and difficulties but somehow the Ethiopian immigration, which began with such dignity and grace, has been less accepted than it should be. Of course there are success stories, fine journalists, social workers, lawyers, nurses and doctors but youngsters find it harder to find the jobs their qualifications demand. We must get it right – we of all people.

The Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey arrives in Israel to persuade us not to attack Iran but rather to allow the sanctions to work. This is becoming boring – we are continually being rebuked for plans we haven't made for an attack we don't want to take on!!! It is not tiny Israel's place to save the world from the Persian threat – we are more than happy to be part of an alliance but alone? No thank you.

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chair of the House committee on Foreign Affairs of the United States and dear friend is visiting Jordan and Saudi Arabia. During her visit to Jordan Congresswoman Ros Lehtinen demanded of the Jordanians that they appoint an Ambassador to Israel asap. Thank you Ileana, thank you for being a great American and a rare and true friend.

This week has been wonderful!! For my birthday we were invited for a Kurdish Shabbat lunch to our friends Shula and Moshe. I have never seen so much food in my life!!! I came in and was promptly crowned with a crown of flowers, sat before the burgeoning table on a chair festooned with balloons and entertained by everyone present singing Happy Birthday in Hebrew! Shula's Mother Marussia told the story of her Aliya from Iran when she was a newly wed of 15, yes 15. She and her husband came to the nascent Jewish homeland from Zionism, leaving wealthy homes behind them, he swore that he was willing to sweep the streets in order to come to Jerusalem. Upon arriving her husband, dressed in all his finery, went outside in his finery, took the broom from the road sweeper and began to sweep the street. “What are you doing?” asked the road sweeper “Earning my first penny in Jerusalem” he responded. Marussia told us of the wonderful life for Jews in Iran and her sadness at what Iran has become today.

For my other birthday treat I went to the Botanical Gardens with a few girlfriends – nothing grand just lunch and laughter, the crisp air and winter sunshine reflected in the lake and the black swans gliding elegantly past us. This wasn't a “round” birthday so it was celebrated quietly!

On Tuesday we went to the Mamilla Mall for the opening of the newest sculpture exhibition where our dearest friend Irit Lev is exhibiting among Israel's finest. This exhibit is about musical instruments and the interpretations are varied and so interesting so as you walk through the ancient buildings stop, look and wonder at the talent of the artists before going inside one of the coffee shops to order your Cafe Hafuch!! After the opening Zvi, Irit and I went for a light supper at Cafe Cafe – a coffee shop in the very building that Herzl stayed in 1898, when he met with Kaiser Wilhelm in his quest to fulfill his dream of a Jewish homeland. The architects decided to leave the numbers on the stones from when they moved the old buildings to make way for the walkway. These numbers are a constant reminder of the antiquity of the site and the history of the stones. It amused us that the young waiter lapped up Zvi's history lesson of why the nearby Jaffa Gate was widened to allow Kaiser Bill in with his Carriage and entourage – and Jerusalem got the Augusta Victoria Hospital in exchange!

Wednesday night was truly special. David Romanowsky studies Torah with joy in his heart and the party was a celebration of “Sium Shas” the completion of his studies of the Mishna, the explanations of the Torah David is the son of Rosa and Bernardo who are old friends of Zvi's from Mexico City and dear friends of both of us from Jerusalem. When two of their children came to live in Jerusalem, Rosa and Bernardo came too – when their children decided to become religious, so did their parents, out of respect for their children's choice. David has been through many health trials over the last 4 years and when the Rabbi spoke of the level of difficulty and praise of reading all the Mishnot he said that when it is difficult but you succeed it is one hundred times as fine but when you succeed in finishing the Mishnot with David's difficulties you are 1,000 per cent purer. David, who has smiled through unbearable adversity smiled through this too, his four little children beside him as the Rabbi told them how amazing their father is. David's brother Moi told of David's determination even as a child, but then it was rebellious rather than the incredible determination to live and learn that he has today. As I looked around I saw the full gamut of kippot (skull caps) each denoting levels of religiosity! Black under tall hats, black velvet, black suede, black crochet, coloured crochet – large and small, and finally white silk for those who did not bring their own!!! The evening was uplifting and delightful – a lesson learned from every moment. Rosa looked more beautiful than I have ever seen her as she and Bernardo found joy in their son's success. Please pray for the health, strength and recovery of David ben Reizele.

What is a Jew? Such a wide question, so many answers. Well try this one for size!!!

Tonight this particular Jew has three Australian psychologists coming to supper and 7 Israeli diners to entertain them!!!! When Paul Israel of the Israel-Australia Chamber of Commerce asks me for something I always say yes! Paul does great work and anyway he is such a lovely fellow! We will sit and chat, each of us explaining who we are and talking about being here and what it means to us – those born here and those who came here like Margalit who came to Israel as a tiny baby from Poland. Like so many other countries Israel is a country of immigrants but unlike so many other countries we came home because this is where we belong. Jews came to Israel not because they ran away from something but rather because they ran TO somewhere. We prayed for this land for 3,000 years. We suffered slavery, exile and death to return home.

I appreciate every sunrise and every sunset, and as Judith Hallsides late Mother taught her, I take time to stand and watch the sun set every night. Judith, may your dear Mother rest in peace and you and your sisters be consoled among the mourners of Zion.

Time to get the supper ready! The table is laid, the challot bought, the aromas starting and we are preparing to go to Jenny Efron's wedding.......................
Next week's Shabbat Shalom will be from San Juan Puerto Rico!!!

Much love from Jerusalem, beloved and loved

Friday, 13 January 2012

Shabbat Shalom letter from Jerusalem


13th January 2012

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Wishing you a wonderful Friday 13th taking special care of my spelling and what I download on my computer today!!!

This has been a good week, despite the news that the USA has rebuked Israel for the “hit” on nuclear scientists in Iran. They have no idea if we did it, neither does anyone else, but such diversionist tactics are dangerous for this tiny country. We are allies after all. Indeed something strange is going on since the other staunch ally of the USA was insulted this week when an American diplomat discounted Britain completely. Maybe Obama prefers Sarkozy because David Cameron is not willing to whisper snide remarks about Israels PM.

Apple bought Anobit Technologies, an Israeli company, for $390 million which puts all the potential Israel boycotters in a tough position. Since Intel and Windows hav ebeen here for years and now Apple the poor things can't use their iPods – actually they cannot use their cell phones. Indeed the ultimate nightmare of a boycotter would be to have a heart attack while texting on a cellphone and the ambulance crew would be MDA trained!!!!

I am going to pinch a wonderful summation of the week from Norman and Lola Cohen who are the driving force behind the British Israel Group here in Jerusalem – why improve on excellence?
A tiny stamp bearing the image of the temple menorah was found at an archeological site near Acre. It was probably used to stamp baked goods and may have belonged to a bakery that supplied Jews in Acre with kosher bread during the Byzantine period, some 1,500 years ago.
According to data compiled by the Home Front Command, 680 missiles, rockets and mortars, were fired at southern Israel in 2011. 80 grad missiles were fired at Israel in the same year compared with 2 in the previous year. Grads have a longer range and have a more lethal payload than other rockets fired at Israel. Throughout December 2011, 30 rockets and 11 mortar shells were launched towards Israel, in 30 attacks, compared to 1 rockets and 1 mortar shell in November 2011, launched in 10 attacks.

Israel’s Public Security Ministry released figures that show a dramatic decline in the level of violent crime in Israel, as the number of assaults, robbery, sexual attacks and street violence fell by 17% from 2007 to 2011. According to a recent Public Security Ministry poll, 74% of Israelis feel a high sense of personal security, placing Israel fourth out of OECD countries surveyed.

In this crime rates survey – Israel didn't even make the list!!! In comparison with the USA

Tel Aviv was voted "Best gay city of 2011" in a world-wide survey of homosexuals sponsored by American Airlines beating New York, London, Sao Paulo and Madrid in the vote

Israel isn't perfect and there is an unsavoury element in our society which does not accept the Ethiopian immigration as they should – recently exacerbated by the large number of Sudanese illegal refugees who have crossed our borders due to the ignorance of the masses. This expresses itself in the workforce not just the difficulty of Ethiopian graduates finding appropriate employment but at the lower levels and in schools. President Shimon Peres went especially to a Jerusalem school to talk to the children about racism and non-acceptance of the “other”. He told the Ethiopian children that when he arrived in the nascent state, aged 11, despite speaking Hebrew he was “different” and everyone laughed at him and now he is President! He told them that they have nothing to be ashamed of - those who make them feel bad should be ashamed because one day THEY may be President.

I was very proud this week. Zvi and I were invited to join a wonderful group of Australians of the Israel-Australia Chamber of Commerce by Albert Dadon of Australia and his “man in Israel” Paul Israel. It is always such a pleasure to join these evenings which have enormous effect but this was extra special since it was a combination of Australian and British diplomats and politicians. Alongside the Australian Ambassador Andrea Faulkner sat British Ambassador Matthew Gould who sang Hatikva as enthusiastically as G-d Save the Queen, Australian Parliamentarian Michael Danby, British Shadow Minister for the Foreign Office John Spellar (Labour) who thanked Albert and Debby Dadon for including the British delegation in the event and several members of the Conservative Friends of Israel including a wonderful Welshman called Guta (pronounced Gita) Bebb (Saboth Da, Guto) and many more. What amazed the audience, so used to hearing lies about our region, was the deep understanding of the true problems of this region and the strong support for Israel by of each of the speakers. I was thrilled ot hear our Australian friends talk about their pleasure to host the British delegation and their recognition of British defence of democracy and the British determination to fight for democracy such as in WW2 and in the establishment of the State of Israel – and made a comment that “Brittania Rules the air-Waves” which tend to be hostile to the only country in the Middle East which exemplifies their moral standards. The guest of honour was former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert together with his wife Aliza. Ehud Olmert, old friend to most of those attending, explained our position with expertise, as always. It was a delight to see old friends, especially Ruvi Herzog and meet new friends like Sonja Kohn, our delightful neighbour at table 16.

IMPACT-SE is in the news again, for its wonderful work on the education curricula of our neighboring countries. Click and learn.

Andrew Stone, aka Lord Stone of Blackheath, is so much more than a dear friend, even more than my “madrich” in Habonim in Wales and definitely more than a Jewish Lord – Andrew is my favourite type of person. He works for Tikkun Olam quietly, thoroughly, effectively and without self congratulation. We met this week in the Botanical Gardens on a cool and crisp day and sat outside, next to the lake, in the winter sunshine. As we talked of “Cabbages and Kings” we thought back to our youth, asking what was the greatest factor in making the Cardiff, Wales community so wonderfully aware of Israel. The answer was simple – youth groups. Zionist youth groups brought Israel to this tiny community and taught us self-pride and traditions and most of all Tikkun Olam – to leave the world a better place than we found it. We must revive the youth groups – more to follow.

On Tuesday evening we met the Nancy and Harry Bloomfield from Montreal for our regular meeting when they come to Jerusalem. We decided to go for a truly Israeli meal at Zion ha Gadol. Uzi met us at the door and as he emerged from our hug he suddenly saw Harry. “Shemesh”! they both yelled!! Uzi used to work in the Shemesh restaurant on Ben Yehuda Street and each morning he would to take Harry's wonderful mother Neri her freshly squeezed orange juice. Fond memories indeed. Our table began to sag with the weight of the salads – humous, humous with chickpeas, humous with pine nuts, humous and tehina, freshly made tehina, tomatoes, pickles, chopped salad, aubergine salad, mushroom salad, burning hot Schug, fresh minced garlic and lemon and more and more and more.............of course with freshly baked Iraqi Pitta......and this is just the first course!! More fascinating than the food is the range of people – thin, fat, Arab, Haredi, secular, old, young, locals and tourists. Harry, an avid people watcher, loved it! The wonderful Nancy has a thirst for knowledge that is rare and so enjoyable and we managed to discuss the worlds troubles while downing our delicious meal.

I am thrilled to let you know that Canon Andrew White has been voted Vicar of the year. Wonderful and well deserved for the man known as the Vicar of Baghdad

It's raining its pouring but the old man isn't snoring – he is looking out the window at the view from our veranda, commenting on the incredible amount of traffic leading ot the shopping mall. Jerusalem is just as beautiful through the misty rain and our veranda is glorious. Winter means “rakafot” or cyclamen here in Israel. They love the cool weather and even survive the snow!
Tonight the children are coming for supper, with the grandchildren and right now I must go back to preparing the Shabbat meal. My favourite part of the evening is when the little ones look up at Saba Zvi as he sings the kiddush, the blessing over wine, and eagerly await their slice of Challah, checking that Saba doesn't cut it in half! It takes me back to when my children were small and my middle son Gideon (a fine barrister today) watched my late father carefully in order to get a whole slice too! Traditions! It is all about traditions.

For anyone coming to Israel there is wonderful skiing snow on the Golan!

For your musical delectation today we have a truly amazing young man. Shalev Menashe sang with the Israeli Opera at age 10 and here he sings Hallelujah just for you

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I wish you a beautiful Shabbat remembering that our love comes all the way from Jerusalem to you, wherever you are.

With love

Friday, 6 January 2012

Shabbat Shalom letter from Jerusalem


6th January 2012

Shabbat shalom everybody. Gosh I am really close to the wire with this weeks missive, but for good reason............we were out last night and I wanted to bathe my grandchildren to make them squeaky clean for Shabbat then give them chocolates to make them dirty again – a grandmothers right surely!

So much happened in the world this week but apart from a few headlines I really want to tell you about some great things I/we did.

The issue of Haredi power struggles has become a huge media fest and in some cases with good reason. For instance – a very tiny group of Haredim dressed their children with Yellow Stars as if they were being treated like Jews in the Holocaust. Now I disapprove of any media bashing but that is just not on. I believe that when one lives in a country, any country, rights come as a result of fulfilling obligations – first fulfill obligations to G-d's country.,7340,L-4169332,00.html

Syria – oy Syria. Syrians are dying and the world is still threatening action. Don't threaten DO SOMETHING. Incredibly the West still wants Assad in power so do not dethrone or even debunk him. Go understand politics.

Iranian sabre rattling is becoming deafening and if the big guys in the world of power don't do something NOPW I have a feeling we, little tiny Israel, may be forced to act. Of course if we do go in there to save the world we will be told our reaction is disproportionate!!!!

Mitt Romney won Iowa. And I for one am pleased. I cannot believe that in supposedly tolerant and open America a man can be put down for his religious belief!!

Jonathan Sacerdoti wrote an outstanding article in the normally wildly anti Israel New Statesman – well worth reading

How Israel made the world better in 2011

7 reasons the IDF is a Tolerant Military

Israel in figures – every statistic you could ever need to know!!

OK now to the good stuff!!!
On Monday I was at the Knesset, with the International Forum, to meet a delightful man. I knew very little about South Korea except that they have a terrifying enemy to the north, learn specific passages from the Talmud in school, believing that “Jewish Genius” comes from the study of the Talmud and about 25% of South Koreans are Christian. I didn't know that South Korea was formed in 1948, a peaceful democratic people in an area filled with despots, that they prosper despite their warlike neighbours. The Ambassador, who studied in Kings College, London, spoke warmly and beautifully of the relationship between our two countries since diplomatic relations were reinstated in 1993. He spoke of our similarities, in work ethic, initiative, innovation in industry and determination that our children be well educated. He also alluded in no uncertain terms, to the fact that we both live in a rough neighbourhood.

When I walked into the meeting room, right next to the Prime Ministers office, I was delighted to see an old friend, Tuvia Yisraeli, who served the Foreign Office in Geneva and is now our Ambassador to South Korea. Actually, I was not only delighted to see him I was even more delighted to hear of the magnificent job he is doing in Seoul. In a world which rarely compliments the work of others Tuvia received only compliments! It was clear from what everyone said that improving and strengthening Israel-South Korean relationships – both business and personal through tourism - can only be an advantage. South Koreans already come to Israel – now it is time the great Israeli adventurer fly off to investigate the beauty of South Korea on Korean airlines!

My other big event of the year was when my cousin Joannas daughter Tammy got married!! I love Joannas parents, Cyril and Irene, indeed all their family. When my children were growing up in Reading Berkshire, Cyril and Irene were very much part of our lives and now that they have two daughters living in Israel, it makes me feel part of the family. The wedding was held in a beautiful hall in Nes Ziona and the joy that exuded from everyone was tangible. Zvi and I sat with Cyril and Irene and their friends and watched the world go by, incidentally the pre-Chuppa (ceremony) food at Israeli weddings is the best. Small stands each with a different delicacy from burgers and chips through to roasted vegetables or chicken shishlik or........... everything in a tiny scale so it becomes finger food. Anyway I digress.

The Chuppa was beautiful, the bride and grooms smiles only marginally brighter than the parents grins, the groom breaking the glass, traditionally reminding us that not only is life fragile but also to remind us of the destruction of the Holy Temple. The dancing was wild, Israeli dancing with a wonderful band, all clearly Yeshiva students with long beards and side-curls but with a different past because the guitar players and the singing was wild and included Bob Dylan and Meatloaf!!! Suddenly, we were asked to sit down and a wonderful flashmob took place, danced by the friends (and Mum Joanna) for the Bride and Groom! Amazing!!!!

Family is everything. Family is togetherness. I was so thrilled to see this family together – my family – here in Israel. Despite poor health they came to be at this wonderful festive occasion. Made me jealous, I adore my family but get very sad that they haven't seen the view from my veranda.

Lat night we went to the opening of our friend Eli Matityahus exhibition of beautiful photography in Tel Aviv, opposite the newly refurbished Habima Theatre. Zvi remembered how he grew up back-stage of the theatre, the original Habima, because his Mothers cousins were among the founders. As a child, when Tel Aviv was just a lot of sand, his parent used to bring him to Habima where he watched the performances from behind the curtains.

So back to bathing the grandchildren in preparation for Shabbat. They live in Givat Zeev and I was lucky enough to come home past Samuel's Tomb and get that momentary, breathtaking view of Jerusalem in front of me. Last nights rains cleaned the white stonework of the buildings making that panoramic view even brighter. The towers and the hills forming a wonderful relief map.

And so home – to our newly beautiful veranda, bright red cyclamen in the corner and the lobelia just beginning to contrast their sapphire blue.

The shopping mall is emptying and one can hear a pin drop in Jerusalem as the city prepares for Shabbat. Almost here........... almost. The car park of the shopping mall is emptying, the aromas of international cooking rise up to greet from our neighbours and the world looks as if it could just learn to relax.

Here is your Shabbat treats – a wonderful Jerusalem video and here is Michel Cohen the incredible winner of an Israeli children's singing competition. Michel won the audience and the judges over with his rendition of Shir laShalom.
Just read the words – This is Israel.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem – Jerusalem – not next year – THIS YEAR IN JERUSALEM