Friday, 25 May 2012

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Shevuot Sameach

24th May 2012

Dearest Friends, Shabbat shalom

First and foremost I am happy to give you an excellent update on the health of our wonderful friend Canon Andrew White. After returning to Baghdad from Jerusalem Andrew became very ill and gave us all a scare – including himself. A prayer session went across national borders and religious denominations and thank G-d Andrew is feeling much better. He has not yet returned to his favourite occupation of Facebooking, but is really on the mend. Thank you all for your prayers and good wishes which were duly sent on to him.

Israelis know what it means to be refugees, unwanted and rejected, but this determination to be welcoming has proven a serious issue, a fast growing issue. Refugees and work-seekers (the majority) from Eritrea, Sudan and many other African countries came to understand that while the majority of countries reject them before they take one step on their land, Israel will not. It has caused an enormous influx of those who pay a fortune to Bedouin bandits who rape, beat and kill them and then arrive on the Israeli border where they manage to get through from Sinai. However, the dreadful problem that this has created, particularly in old Tel Aviv neighborhoods and in other cities is that these illegal immigrants have gathered, homeless and jobless and are involved in crime, particularly burglary, mugging and personal violence. Until now the only answer from the Government is to build a fence on the border with Sinai but the people who live in these areas decided to demonstrate, but instead of demonstrating against the government they demonstrated against the refugees turning on people because of the colour of their skin. Those who need asylum should receive it those who are here for work, in a country which has unemployment, should be sent home. I am embarrassed that MK Miri Regev incited the crowd- personally I would call for her dismissal.

The Attias family died in dreadful accident this week and Israel is in shock. The brakes on the car failed as they returned home after a family function, and the father, driving the vehicle called the police to say he had lost control of the car. Only little Rachel aged 7 survived, her parents and 5 siblings died. Rachel told police she tried to wake Mummy and Daddy up but they kept sleeping. The car had just passed it's test but a very important issue came out of this tragedy. Do you know what to do if your brakes fail? Please check this on line if you wish but – use your gears – even automatic cars can be used manually – and go into lower and lower gears until the car slows then gradually use your hand brake for the final stop.

Here we go again. Talks on Iran, yet another futile attempt at “talks” with the Iranians while they merrily ignore our protestations and continue their quest for nuclear power to use against......... YOU!
Diplomats and politicians alike perpetuate the myth that the Iranian target is Israel when all know that Saudi Arabi, Kuwait, Dubai and the United States and Europe are the real targets. For several years those same diplomats and politicians allowed the Iranian nuclear international watchdog to lie to them about the Iranian capability. A man who has been revealed as a front for the Moslem Brotherhood led the team – Mohammed El Baradei. Remember, please absorb the famous words of Billy Connolly “Hypocrisy is the Vaseline of Political Intercourse”

Jerusalem Day celebrates the reunification of Jerusalem after 19 years of Jordanian rule when it was split. I still relive the deep emotion when on the Eve of Rosh Hashana 1967 I went with my father to the Kotel (Western Wall) and gave thanks for the fact I could now stand there! Jerusalem tends ot become a very rowdy party of young Hesder Yeshiva students who sing and dance the night away in Sacker Park before heading off to the Kotel in the morning.. a sea of white shirts and blue and white flags. Jerusalem turns white and blue as we rejoice our Capital City, our Jerusalem.

Defending Jerusalem from intruders is not a new thing - Christopher Colombus' did not only found the New World, his prime aspiration was to rid Jerusalem of Islam – he really was the first settler on every level eh???

 I just looked up the Capital City of Israel on a site giving all Capital cities. Only one had an asterisk after it- it said Jerusalem*. Why? Here is their explanation * The executive, judicial, and legislative branches of the State of Israel are all located in Jerusalem but the Embassies are located in Tel Aviv. WHEN WILL THE USA RELOCATE THEIR EMBASSY TO JERUSALEM CAPITAL CITY OF ISRAEL? The others will follow and so will peace.

In the meantime the Palestinians “celebrated” Nakba (disaster) Day. The disaster of one minute country in a sea of enormous Islamic States being returned to its indigenous peoples after 2,000 years of dispersion – had they accepted statehood in 47 they could have been celebrating independence instead of continuing the myth of disaster that paralyses their young people and their progress toward statehood.

I love this – love it! Scientists in the Israel Aricraft Inductries have created a beautiful spy butterfly!!! Quite apart from its possibilities in “fly on the wall” situations it opens a whole new world of CCTV to

We celebrated Jerusalem Day in the exquisite grounds of the Christian Embassy in Jerusalem. This is the first, but not the last, of these wonderful receptions to celebrate Jerusalem in a place of tolerance and love. Jurgen Buhler, Director of the Embassy, David Parsons, PR, Jay and Meridel Rawlings, Shaya Ben Yehuda of Yad Vashem, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Naomi Tsur and so many other wonderful people as we sat on a balmy Jerusalem evening inhaling the redolence of jasmine and lavender in the perfectly manicured gardens listening to the fountain and looking at the pinkish, beige Jerusalem stone building of outstandingly beautiful architecture. Our evening was made even more wonderful thanks to Harold Finger of Sydney, Australia, who introduced us to Alan and Eva Gold. Alan is an author of high repute and success who is conducting the primary research for a trilogy about Jerusalem. We were so happy with Harold's introduction and have become firm and loving friends with this adorable and clever couple.

I had an American style High Tea with Hadassah in French Hill, at the invitation of Danby; arriving in my one and only large, Ascot style hat! Zvi spent two days at the Maccabiah Conference looking toward next years spectacular event and we were so busy hardly managed to see our beautiful grandchildren!!!

Shevuot is upon us. Shevuot or Pentecost is one of the Foot festivals of pilgrimage. Shevuot comes from Sheva or Seven in Hebrew; Seven times seven or seven weeks after Passover, seven weeks of contemplation and restraint, counting each day (the Omer) toward the festival which celebrates the giving of the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai. The Torah, the basis for all our modern laws and todays social structure for democracy. Moses was chosen to by G-d to receive the Torah for his people because of his humility and purity, just as today humility is the most essential and least evident quality necessary for brilliant leadership.

Cheesecakes abound, cheesecakes and blintzes or what Israelis insist upon calling “Blintches”. Supermarkets refill the shelves of white cheeses on a constant level as their customers buy far more than anyone can possibly use no matter how much they bake, roast and fry! Todays shoppers have double duty buying to do and then begin to cook. The succulent dishes of Shabbat meats, giving the Jerusalem air a familiar multi-cultural redolence give way to the cheesy, fishy, milky, aromatic dishes of Shevuot. A clean white blanket clothes the city as children and adults alike dress in pure white, white kippot, white clothes and in the religious areas white robes or “kittels”. It is wonderful to think of a time when we were so close to the Torah, so observant of the life-rules given that religious differences were irrelevant and hearts pure. We gave up the Golden Calf and chose to care about each other. Todays Golden Calf of iphones and ipads, mansions and Gucci or on the other extreme Admors and Rabbis who have lost their humility and form cliques have all taken us far from our ideals. May be it is time to return to the purity of those social laws, discard the insistence upon minutae and look at the whole the Torah which gave us modern society at its best.

The view from our veranda is as exquisite as always. Each time I step out into the fresh air, surrounded by the sapphire blue lobelia, the scarlet petunias, the orangey red pomegranate flowers, the white scented lemon blossom and the herb garden in the far corner. Stepping forward I see Jerusalem, ah Jerusalem. I see trees where there were none, planted by KKL, I see beautiful white stoned houses where there was nothing, I see tall towers and low housing wher nothing stood and I see the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa where we, Israelis, are happy they live. I see Jerusalem, the Jerusalem I prayed to return to every day, every festival every marriage every happy event. We never forgot Jerusalem – it is just a rotten shame that the world did.

With much love from the most beautiful city in the world.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach

Friday, 18 May 2012

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem


17th May, 2012

Shabbat Shalom everyone! How are you?

The BBC has completed its task. That august institution that once upon a time was the ultimate in elegant honest news has become a left-wing, irresponsibly biased organisation which is ungovernable and feels no responsibility to represent those who pay their licence. Never since the days of Goebbels have so many been fooled by so few......... Their constant demonisation of Israel has finally reaped its reward, in a recent poll of their viewers and listeners Israel was voted among the four most threatening countries in the world to the Western way of life. Hmmmmmmmm what're we going to do – kill by hi-tech and medical research? 

Talking of killing with kindness – Israel 21C reports this week on the top twelve Israeli innovations which save the third world from starvation – let the Bloody Biased Corruption put that in their pipe and smoke it!!!

Mark Twain said “It is easier to fool people than convince them they have been fooled” a fact the PA and the media rely upon.

This week the Arab world in general and Palestinians in particular “celebrated” Nakba (disaster) Day by shooting, setting ablaze, rock and stone throwing and general disorder. Their anger at the founding of the State of Israel is mistakenly directed at Israel when in fact it should be pointed at themselves and their leaders. Imagine if, in 1947, they had accepted what was offered to them and lived beside us in peace; they would be amongst the leading technological countries in the world, they would have everything we have and more; they could have harnessed all that excess energy of their young people to build a country instead of turning becoming so jealous they are incapable of building a future.

Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) is upon us. This is the day we celebrate the re-unification of the City of David after just 19 years of its division. Despite the constant disinformation of the media, Jerusalem was Jordanian for only 19 years (1948 to 1967), during which period many Jewish and Christian sites were either destroyed or simply left derelict. During the War of Independence (1948) the battles over Jerusalem were especially difficult and our wonderful friend Shalom Dror z”l was a hero of the fight for the neighborhood of Katamon, ironically his eldest son died in the battle for the Temple Mount in 1967. This year Shalom will not be at the ceremony on Ammunition Hill but other heroes will. Jerusalem is a thriving wonderful city, the only one in the entire Middle East which guarantees freedom of faith and prayer to all its citizens, whether Moslem (8 denominations), Christian (52 denominations), Druze, Bahai, Makoya, Buddhist and of course Jews (about 500,000 denominations – so who is going to agree!). Zvi and I will be celebrating in the glorious gardens of the Christian Embassy in Jerusalem with visitors from Australia, Eva and Alan Gold – OK Harold? Here we see Jerusalem, 4,000 years in 5 minutes!

A clear problem in Israel today is one that I have often spoken about, that of divisions in Israeli society caused by uneven distribution of responsibility and obligation. The current, newly formed coalition has put this issue to the forefront of its priorities determined to find a logical solution to an illogical problem caused by Ben Gurions naivete. If one reads the media one could mistakenly think that all Haredi families shirk responsibility both in the workforce and in defending this country which is just not true. A wonderful example is the Sztrigler family, for whom we have a special love; warm, deeply religious and every member of the family served or serves in the IDF and holds a good job. The Horowitz family that I met a few weeks ago are the same, it doesn't harm their religiosity and it strengthens their link to this country and all of its citizens. One cannot bury ones head in the sand and ignore our responsibility to each other just as one cannot ignore the fact that Arab members of Israeli society who do not serve in some capacity also miss out and none can be equal footing until they give back to the country.

On Thursday we drove up the fast highway to Haifa and the wedding of Zvi's cousins daughter on the shorefront which was lovely – hugging family we don't see often enough. Sunday more family then we drove inland to the glorious village of Timrat to meet Zvi's sons future inlaws who really were delightful and welcoming. The view from Timrat across the Jezreel Valley was breathtaking, still green after the wonderful rainfall of this winter, the agricultural land producing Israeli delicacies.

Saturday, Shabbat, was special, so special because our friend Canon Andrew White came to Shabbat lunch with two of his friends and we were joined by Professor Gabby Barkay of whom I speak often. Gabby helped Andrew and I in the Ezekiels Tomb project and Zvi's lovely Canadian relatives, the Pomerants came too Andrew, larger than life (he is even bigger than Zvi!) and one of this earths last living altruists, spoke of his life in Baghdad; every day filled with danger from every corner, he cannot travel anywhere without some 35 bodyguards from the Iraqi forces, he is confined to the compound of St Georges Church yet his congregation is multi-cultural all finding solace in the purity of his love and His love. Andrew is fighting Multiple Sclerosis and seems to be winning at the moment, managing to fill each day with twice the activities of a healthy man; travelling the world educating, speaking, helping, loving and explaining, bringing people together. If the Allies would listen to Andrew Iraq would be a better place and the world in general. Intensely intelligent he manages to use his excellent mind to bring people together when all hope of such is long past. Andrew relishes Jewish tradition and loved Zvi's somewhat hoarse Kiddush! - by the evening his temperature reached 40 degrees!!!

On Sunday I took my childhood friend Averil and her niece Naomi around Jerusalem in a flying visit. We went from north to south, leaping out of the car to catch the spectacular panoramas of the city from every conceivable angle, looking over Bethlehem from Gilo and then to the city centre heading straight for Mahane Yehuda Market for lunch to absorb that most Jerusalem part of Jerusalem. Even though Sunday is not the ideal market day since many stores declare the day off, the winding alleys are still redolent with the aromas of spices, herbs and mountains of fresh strawberries and nectarines, loquats and peaches and shiny purple aubergines (egg plant). As if the display was not enough we went to the Olive Oli stand to sample six different types of olive oil advancing toward the sweet sticky halva and pungent, delicious gourmet cheeses. Lunch, sitting outside the coffee shop watching the world go by, was, of course, delicious!

Tuesday's meeting with Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Naomi Tsur and my lovely friend Lord Stone of Blackheath was fascinating. The meeting was held in a small restaurant in the Municipality campus adjacent to the walls of the Old City, between the Jaffa Gate and Damascus Gate in a beautiful modern campus, but the restaurant is in a building whose walls still showing the scars of conflict from many, many years ago. As we sat, watching the light rail (tram) pass us by, somewhat incongruous on the ancient street, Naomi told us of her plans for “Green Pilgrimages” to Jerusalem; pilgrimages which can be religious or cultural to learn of and to teach about green answers to the worlds ecological problems while absorbing the spirituality of the city that King David chose as his and where he wrote his psalms irrespective of the path one takes to that spirituality. “Green Pilgrimage” - If anyone is interested in contacting Naomi about the Green Pilgrimages I will be happy to give you her email.

The rest of the week is a blur of meetings and grandchildren, old friends and new and yesterday it ended on the veranda of the King David Hotel eating lunch with 5 girlfriends to celebrate Dana's birthday. This wonderful hotel, elegant and historic, has a veranda overlooking the old city, the ancient walled fortifications framing the beauty of Jerusalem. One sits and feels surrounded by history. The names of Presidents and Prime Ministers line the floor of the main hallway and the high decorated ceilings tell of the conversations held in the meeting rooms. I love it!

Today we will see all our friends from around the world for Shabbat in in Kfar Maccabiah near Tel Aviv as the Maccabi family meets to plan the 2013 Maccabiah. What a spectacle that will be! I love the Maccabi family – sport and love know no boundaries and I will see our friends from Turkey and Hong Kong, USA and Peru, UK, Australia and Timbuctoo!!!! I love it!

Time to go dear friends, I could go on but I fear exhausting your interest! Before leaving you I thought you would enjoy this short explanation of what Jerusalem means to Jews by Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and the Commonwealth Lord Sacks

With much love from this wonderful, vibrant, beleaguered, misunderstood yet marvellously happy city
Shabbat Shalom to you all, whatever your faith, whatever your path – let it be one of love.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Mid-week Shalom

5th May 2012

Yes I know it isn't Shabbat but I wish you a happy Wednesday!

Last night I wrote an article for the Times of Israel talking about Yair Lapid, son of Tommy Lapid, who is the new face on the Israeli political scene and uses the old slogans of his father about religious Jews and the IDF. I agree that the Hareidi community must be part of our society but it cannot be the only item on ones political agenda. I felt the possibility of a new party was simply splitting the face of Israeli politics into even more factions and compared his new party's name, Yesh Atid (there is a future) to Obama's Yes I Can. I wrote of how we need a safe and moderate coalition not even more parties. This morning I ditched the article for a simple reason, speaking until the small hours last night the Prime Minister and new Kadimah leader, Shaul Mofaz, reached an agreement bringing Kadima into the coalition, which is what Kadima voters wanted in the first place and Tsippi Livni refused to do.

The brilliance of the political manouevering, presented as a fait accompli to a surprised nation, disappointed journalists and politicians alike when they suddenly lost their bete noir and their trauma was breathtaking. I am so happy with the situation while those politicians left behind are shouting “anti-democratic government” I actually believe that this is the ultimate expression of democracy because now the majority are represented in the new order.

I don't now what the media is going to do now that they can no longer say “Prime Minister Netanyahu's Right Wing Government”. Now that the PM has a wider government the probability of successfully passing new laws to include our entire society in the responsibilities of democracy and ensure that everyone “gives back” have increased enormously. Finally a government that has the ability to change the mistakes made by a very na├»ve David Ben Gurion.

Of course Israel isn't the only country to ring in changes of government but in France we enter the unknown. Hollande is a socialist, we know he is against boycotts of Israel and intends visiting the area and more specifically Israel. We know that he supports the ideal of Two States and a secure Israel but then one must also ask about the future of the French economy and the drain on French society that its huge immigrant community presents. It will be interesting to see how this new chapter in European history plays out. I wonder how quickly the EEC will fall apart as an economic entity where the strong countries support the weak bringing the entire deck of cards tumbling down.

This morning we had a fascinating meeting with Nir Boms to discuss aspects of IMPACT-SE ( I am so proud to be part of such an important organisation which presents academic research into tolerance (or not) in the schoolbooks in our region and worldwide – acceptance of the “other” according to the criteria of UNESCO. The information gathered and the resultant reports are used by our own governmental bodies and international organisations as an outstanding research tool to respond to the constant false accusations against Israel. What countries teach their children speaks of the nature of their society and the future they bring to our world. Nir is involved both as a representative of one of the donors and a member of the board and he brought us up to date with current research and events. Our new Chairman of the Board, Jean-Claude Nidam is indeed a fine, upstanding and brilliant choice who will undoubtedly bring even greater honour to the organisation. As usual (this is Israel) we had our meeting in the kitchen over home-made Shakshuka!!!

After our meeting we made our way to the Mamilla open air mall where we had the pleasure of lunching with Zvi's wonderful cousins Gina and Jorge from Mexico City. Gina and Jorge are here with Aish ha Torah and have really been on the run for 10 days of touring and learning. I loved them the first time I met them, warm and intensely Jewish, giving their children a traditional Jewish life without extremes. Their son is now studying for his medical specialisation in Tel Aviv and they ensured that their children understood the importance of Israel in their lives. It is such a pleasure to sit with people who have no doubt as to their identity, and as such are tolerant to all they meet. Tomorrow is a day of meetings and then on Thursday we drive north for a family wedding stay over in Haifa to absorb some of the gorgeous scenery on Mount Carmel and maybe visit the Bahai Temple Gardens. We then wend our way back to Jerusalem in time for Shabbat.

On Shabbat we expect a very special guest! Canon Andrew White is coming to sit on our veranda, enjoy the view of his beloved Jerusalem and talk about our lives and his incredible work in Baghdad. His understanding of reality coupled with his deep belief in G-d and Christianity coupled with tolerance of the beliefs of others makes him an exceptional man and I am proud to call him friend. I am so excited!! Among our other guests will be Prof. Gabby Barkay who is not only a dear friend and of course my hero for his work sifting through the mounds of earth taken from the Temple Mount by Sheikh Raeed Salah, Gabby also helped Canon White in his work on the renovations of Ezekiels Tomb in Iraq after I endangered his lived by asking him to go and see if it was intact and ended up enriching his life through what he found! Also coming is Deputy Jerusalem Mayor Naomi Tsur who wants to meet the Canon and tell him how much we Jerusalemites appreciate his work and hopefully gina andjorge will join us. I wish that Bob Simon could be here too – he could fill another 60 minutes with the truth of the situation of the Christians in the PA with the full backing of Canon Andrew!!!

So dear friends, this morning we awoke to a new beginning. I for one am hopeful that what was already a successful government will reach new international recognition and national success. As former Speaker of the Knesset and member of Kadimah Daliah Itzik said of the new coalition- “Maybe this new marriage will produce wonderful children”. I certainly hope so!

With love from Jerusalem where the huge, golden moon is just peeping over the horizon above Kibbutz Ramat Rachel, climbing fast and growing in brightness lighting this amazing city from above.

Be well and be strong – it's a new day..................... every day!!!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Shabbat Shalom Letter from Jerusalem


4th of May 2012

Shabbat shalom dear friends.

Hagai Amir, brother of Yitzchak Rabin's assassin Igal Amir, was released from prison this morning after serving a 16 year sentence for aiding and abetting his brother in his plot to kill a Prime Minister and change a country. Most of his prison term was spent in solitary confinement. Swamped by journalists his first words as he left the prison gates were that he did not regret his actions. I am furious not only that he feels no remorse but that he and his family are invited to several “parties” to give him a hero's welcome home. I shudder to think that anyone who calls himself a Zionist can applaud such a heinous crime.,7340,L-4224634,00.html

2nd of May 1860 was a truly auspicious day. Tivador (Theodore Benjamin Zeev) was born to Jeanette and Jakob Herzl, German-speaking, assimilated Jews. Tivadore, Theodore, while aware of being a Jew never felt it impaired his journalistic career until that fateful day in France when he saw a Jewish Officer in France on trial and found guilty of a crime he did not commit – because he was a Jew. The Dreyfus trial was to change Herzl's understanding of the position of Jews, even assimilated Jews, in our world. On that day the seed of his dream was fertilised to grow and flower into the most beautiful, strong, Jewish and still blossoming country. He of course never lived to see the miracle but we did. Today Zvi and 100 singers from all over the country will sing in Mamilla. They will sing Israeli songs right next to the house in which Herzl stayed as he prepared for his meeting with the Kaiser. We live history every moment and it is up to us to ensure that the dream does not sour and become a nightmare. By us I mean you too – Herzl gave us the dream and the strength to stand up and defend ourselves so ensure that Israel is not the Dreyfus of today.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lost his father and mentor this week and I extend my condolences and sorrow to the son, rather than the Prime Minister. Ben Zion (Mileikowsky) Netanyahu z”l was a great teacher and philosopher who remained prolific right up until his last months. The Prime Ministers father passed away this week at the wonderful age of 102, his brilliant brain active until the end. May his soul rest in peace and his family know no more sorrow. This article written in March celebrates his exceptional life.

Yair Lapid is clever, handsome, charismatic and I fear he is another one who says Yes I Can without knowing what. Yair Lapid decided to leave the world of television and journalism to follow in his father Tommy's footsteps and form a political party to run in the next elections on the question of rights demand obligations (serving in IDF, working and paying taxes). In principle I agree with him but it cannot be the only subject on his party's manifesto and he needs to bring some weathered politicians in as his advisors. The name of the party “Yesh Atid” - there is a future – is too reminiscent of Yes I Can. The youngsters of this country are jumping on his attractive bandwagon for the simple reason that they are the ones serving in the IDF, doing reserve duty and working long hours to earn a crust and they are looking to Lapid to solve the problem.

Incredibly is it a year since we lost Zvi's wonderful Mother Ala. We held a very small ceremony to honour both of Zvi's parents in the beautiful section set aside for Yakirei Yerushalyim (literally the Beloved of Jerusalem or Worthy Citizen) to honour their exceptional work as teachers, educators, Zionists and volunteers for Jerusalem. Zvi sang the prayers overlooking the Jerusalem Hills.

Tel Aviv friends often don't know, or want to know Jerusalem, preferring lies in the press rather than discovering the fun of our winding streets and fabulous markets and restaurants. Yehudit and Shula asked me where in Jerusalem is it most typically Jerusalem and I said Mahane Yehuda. I met them there on a relatively quiet Sunday yet it still held the excitement of delicious, fresh incredible fruit and veg, costermongers setting up their wares and mountains of strawberries tempting jam makers as we reach the end of the season; huge, luscious shesek (loquat); the first nectarines, crisp and juicy; a hundred flavours of Halva piled temptingly, as if calling you to taste their sticky sweetness; aromatic herbs and of course the heady scent of a hundred varieties of spice in fascinating jars and baskets. We stopped for coffee in the famous coffee shop, sitting watching the world go by and marvelling at the rainbow that is Jerusalem.

Every time I walked down Rachel Imenu Street in the German Colony I feel my pulse quickening knowing that I am close to the most beautiful building in Jerusalem. The beauty is not just physical, which it is indeed, but because of those who inhabit this building. It is the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem. The ICEJ unfailingly supports Israel and was founded when all our supposed diplomatic allies failed us by moving their Embassies to Tel Aviv. I went with Yossi Tal-Gan, Director of the Israel Festival to discuss two very important events in this years calendar – the Defiant Requiem and the performance of Christus with the Embassies charismatic director Jurgen Buehler who I am proud to call friend.

Paul and Flory Hariton with Flory's wonderful Mother Dalia Herman to Chavat Hanoar haZioni (Hanoar haZioni Farm) youth village, right in the middle of Jerusalem to see the Clara Herman sports centre and swimming pool in action. It is amazing to see as Olympic potentials are joined by groups of autistic youth, a truly amazing project. While at the pool we were joined by our adoptive “grandson” Tomer who is one of the exceptional students at the village in a programme that allows him to fly academically and join a programme at the Hebrew University for the brightest stars – not bad for a 14 year old eh? Tomer is also a very normal young man who enjoys boxing much to the dismay of us all - we encourage him but worry about the various injuries! I say adopted grandson because Zvi and I adopted his parents Valeri and Ira (or was it the other way around?) when they arrived in Israel from Moscow just a year after I made Aliyah. We have been through virtually all experiences together and when Tomer decided to arrive early Ira and Valeri stayed in our home while he was in the prem baby unit. Tomer had his Brit Milah (circumcision ceremony) in our lounge! Since that time we spend all festivals together and we are as proud of Tomer and his sister, the lovely Sheli, as we are of our birth grandchildren.

We just got back from Zvi's performance as MC to the choirs who sang in Mamilla. The passing crowds on their Friday morning stroll relished the songs, songs of yesteryear and all I could think was that it was a fitting birthday party for Herzl. Incredible to think that we stood there due to the passionate dream and determination of Binyamin Zeev Herzl and that we then casually strolled the streets he walked to meet kaiser Bill and went for coffee outside the house he slept in to ensure our right to exist. IF YOU WILL IT IT IS NOT A DREAM. He made it reality.

I now have to set the table for Shabbat, since seeing my husband perform takes precedence over my natural wish to be ready well in advance. Tonight the Haritons come for supper and we will be joined by my favourite archaeologist Prof. Gabby Barkay – my hero who saved and sifted even the finest tilth removed from beneath the Temple Mount.

Shabbat Shalom to you all. I wish you peace and joy and tradition – tradition, the essence of our being.
With love from Jerusalem