Friday, 27 July 2012

Shabbat Shalom from Sheila


27th July, 2012

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

So this is it!

Tonight the Olympic Torch will reach its pinnacle, the identity of the final bearer is a State secret! I am certain that the opening ceremony will be magnificent, the security fine, the athletes at the peak of their fitness and the audience very happy. I know that London will do a great job and that Lord Coe (Sebastian Coe the famed Olympian runner) will have done a great job as head of the organising committee. Lord Coe wanted a ceremony to honour the 11 Israeli athletes slain at the Munich Olympics 40 years ago, but he was outvoted in the IOC.

All we wanted was a moments silence for the Israeli athletes, not exactly a huge amount to ask. Most of the Governments of the IOC members asked for a minutes silence but, the IOC knew better. Indeed Mr Rogge, Chairman of the IOC held a surprise ceremony, but it was so quiet and unobtrusive that although Seb Coe and Mayor of London Boris Johnson were there no-one from the Israeli Embassy was invited!!!!!

Mr Rogge paid tribute to the athletes at a ceremony at the Olympic village Monday, attended by Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London Olympic organising committee, Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt. "I would like to start today's ceremony by honouring the memory of 11 Israeli Olympians who shared the ideals and have brought us together in this beautiful Olympic Village. "As the event of 40 years ago reminds us, sport is not immune from, and cannot cure, all the ills of the world."

The thought that the IOC could be so heartless in its very lack of action infuriated many of us. The fact that they feared distressing the Palestinian contingent – which raises the question of how come there is a Palestinian contingent when there is no such country?

Barry Shaw, Ex-Pat Brit, proud Israeli and a very determined gentleman, worked hard to bring this omission to the attention of the world and it didn't take long before I joined his ranks to ensure everyone we can reach will do SOMETHING to honour the athletes. Zvi and I contacted both the great Maccabi family and Izchak Shtiglitz of the World Zionist Organisation really did their part, contacting communities around the world. There is a list of participating Maccabi communities at the end of this missive. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wrote a special Yizkor which will be said over Friday night and Shabbat services.

At 10:45 this morning, people will gather in Trafalgar Square and at the dot of 11 o'clock the assembled crowd will stand to attention for one minutes silence in honour of the 11 athletes then sing Hatkiva and G-d Save the Queen and disperse.

WE will not forget, we will never forget – not the athletes who perished from an all to familiar hatred nor those who dishonour their memories.

So many tragedies in the world, the shootings in Aurora, where availability of guns meant a sociopath obtained the means to kill innocent people in a movie theatre. Horrific floods in Hong Kong, Beijing and Macao. The heinous acts of an insane dictator in Syria....... and so many more. We have to reach outt even in our own moment of sadness and fear – reach out to help others. Governmental organisations's Israel's outreach to those in need is exceptional. To quote from Lord of the Rings

Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened. Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

It is so frustrating to see the twisted and biased view of Israel most people garner from media reportage – those too stubborn to come and see for themselves anyway. This fabulous country has so much to offer and is so involved in Tikun Olam and anyway – it is so fun and WORTHWHILE living here!! Nicky Larkin is an Irish writer and film-maker. Nicky Larkin is Irish and as such was anti-Israel in his blood. Nicky Larkin however is an intelligent man and came to see the situation for himself and made a truly exceptional movie “40 Shades of Grey” . Michael Coren interviewed Nicky and it was a refreshing experience to watch the interview

Tisha b'Av is almost upon us. The 3 weeks of mourning which precede the date is coming to an end as we honour and remember the destruction of the first and second Temples; the defeat of Bar Kochva; In 1492, King Ferdinand of Spain issued the expulsion decree, setting Tisha B'Av as the final date by which not a single Jew would be allowed to walk on Spanish soil; finally it was the date of World War One. The laws of the 3 weeks of Mourning and the intensified final 9 days are complex so I give you this link for your perusal.

This week was HOT, and I mean HOT HOT HOT!!! I am not a great fan of air conditioning but this week I gave in when the temperatures reached the high 30's – or 102 degrees for those who have not yet changed to decimal measurements! Whatever, Fahrenheit or Celsius – it is hot! Jerusalem rarely gets these temperatures and our evenings are always balmy but this week......... phew!

IMPACT-SE was very important this week and took my time, which was given happily to this essential organisation. We are refreshing the website and hopefully printing the newest reports on Iranian and Turkish schoolbooks now that the research concerning their adhesion to the UNICEF educational standards is complete. The service that this organisation provides to the world, governments and educational organisations, facts about the Islamic school world and its tolerance or lack of.

Zvi's old friend Dr Pablo Nankin found Zvi again recently and we were thrilled to discover that he comes to Israel frequently and indeed came this week. We went to meet him with great anticipation to find that not only is he as tall as Zvi but that he has an absolutely delightful wife! Wanting to show them parts of Jerusalem which they had never seen before (no mean feat since they come every year) we drove up to Gilo to show them the view over Bethlehem and Beit Jallah then coming doen the hill to the phenomenal panorama of the city........... since it was sunset Jerusalem really wore her Golden Cloak just for us! Food? Ah yes always food and we intoroduced the nankins to Zion ha Gadol which was as delicious as always. I love meeting Zvi's old friends, they tell me about his childhood and talk about his amazing parents......teachers to a generation, in fact two generations!

Remember the athletes who lost their lives to insane hatred but shout, yell and scream in delight as ISRAEL BRINGS HOME THE MEDALS FROM LONDON!!!

I wish you Shabbat shalom with this beautiful traditional song - Shalom Aleichem – sung by the wonderful group – Kinderlech.

With all my love and hugs from the most amazing country in the world with Jerusalem at her heart, her soul and as her Capital City

Quito, Ecuador: Budapest, Szombathely, Szeged, Szarvas, Hungary: Montevideo, Uruguay: Vienna, Austria: Helsinki, Finland:Panama City, Panama: Asunción, Paraguay: Caracas, Venezuela: Guatemala City, Guatemala: Mexico City & Monterrey, Mexico: Bogotá, Colombia: Santiago de Chile, Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, Chile: Buenos Aires, Argentina: Italy: Rome: Torino;Bologna, Milano, Torino, Napoli, San Nicandro,Merano, Venezia, Firenze, Lavorno; Johannesburg, Cape-Town, South-Africa: Great Britain: All"United Synagogue" synagogues (Orthodox), All Masorti (Conservative) Synagogues:Bratislava, Slovakia: USA: Thornhill, The Hamptons. West Hampton, East Hampton: Highland Lakes, Florida, Pittsfield, MA, Snellville, Georgia, Benny Rok Campus Miami; Lisbon, Portugal: Antwerp, Belgium: Lima, Peru; Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Munchen Germany: Ohel Yaakov Synagogue; Turkey: all synagogues in the country; Puerto Rico: Warsaw, Poland:

Friday, 20 July 2012

Shabbat Shalom from Sheila

20th July, 2012

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. A sad Shabbat indeed.

Wednesday was the 18th anniversary of the horrific bombing of the AMIA Jewish Centre in Buenos Aires. That explosion killed 85 people.

On Wednesday evening a holiday flight from Israel landed in the vacation town of Borgas, on the Black Sea Coast of Bulgaria, of late a favourite for families and youngsters alike. A small airport passengers walked down the stairs from the aeroplane and rode to the terminal on buses. As they arrived at the terminal there was a horrific explosion as the bus exploded and chaos reigned as those who were able climbed out of windows and saved their dear ones. Hezb-Allah had found another lunatic to kill himself in the name of Allah taking as many Jews as he could with him. The name of the bomber is Mehdi Ghezali

Mehdi Gazali was held in Guantanamo and when released the suggestion was that he be released to another country for continued detainment. He was released to Sweden where he was not arrested and roamed freely. His Wikipedia page tells it all

The Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor succeeded in his demand that the UN officially express their condemnation of the terror attack. The spokesperson even said the word “Terrorist” and their sorrow and condolences at the Israeli deaths.
The names of the victims are:-
Itzik Colangi
Kochava Shriki
Maor Harush
Elior Price
Amir Menashe
May their souls rest in peace, their families know no more sorrow and may the injured recover quickly.

This is an excellent essay on the subject of Jewish deaths

In Syria, the entire security personnel of the Syrian Government died in a horrific bombing – all the more horrific since it is now believed that their deaths were at the command of Assad.

The BBC, who I thought could never reach deeper moral lows has exceeded even its own expectations - their Olympic list claims Jerusalem is the Capital of Palestine whereas Israel has no capital city!!! Mark Regev, media advisor to two Prime Ministers wrote an outstanding letter of complaint on FB go and “like” and send your comments – politely please – to Helen Boaden

Now that one persecution, um I mean prosecution of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has ended we move swiftly on to the next, the so-called “Holyland” Affair. The Holyland Affair concerns the building of a luxurious housing project in Jerusalem during the tenure of Ehud Olmert as Mayor and Uri Lupoliansky as Deputy Mayor responsible for building projects. The State Prosecutor has gone beyond the bounds of reason by bribing the States witness, who was proven to have lied on various previous occasions, by giving 30 million shekels and a pension for life in exchange for his testimony. Enough persecution – time to give Israel a rest from the vengeance of a dubious State prosecutor's Office which cost the country many, many millions of shekels in time wasted, legal costs and irresponsible distress of the entire country. Make laws clearer and do not prosecute on laws which did not exist at the time of the alleged crime!

This week the short-lived coalition seems to have failed as Kadima became dissatisfied with changes in the Tal Law, the law which will make either military service or community service compulsory for all Israeli citizens – Secular, Religious, Haredi; Moslem, Druze and Bedouin; women and men alike. All must learn to give back to society in some way to learn that rights demand obligations.

Barry Shaw, Ex-Pat Brit and absolute Israeli, was not satisfied with the feeble response of the government and Jewish organisations to the lack of respect from the IOC for the slain Israeli Athletes at the Munich Olympics. Barry decided that they deserve recognition – Israel deserves recognition of her loss. Barry began a campaign for recognition and if the IOC wishes to ignore our loss then Jews around the world will not. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth wrote a special prayer which all Rabbis around the world should read next weekend – Shabbat 28th July.

Zvi was not here when I returned to Israel! Zvi and his choir (haKol Yechassi) were on tour in Slovenia and Croatia where they were received to great applause and love. Apparently both countries are exquisitely beautiful.

Not to be beaten by Zvi's choir, Guns 'n Roses are coming to Israel!!

This week David Efron came to visit his daughter Lauren (Liba who just celebrated her one year anniversary as an Israeli – Mazal Tov mazal Tov) together with Liba's sister Jenny and her husband Aubrey; it was Aubrey's first trip to Israel but not his last!!!! First we ate dinner in Jerusalem at the incredible rooftop Mamilla Restaurant where I introduced Aubrey to great Israeli wine. The view from that rooftop is indescribable...... right near the Jaffa Gate overlooking the Walls of the Old City. On Wednesday evening we met in Tel Aviv for supper on the sea shore before Jenny and Aubrey flew back to the USA and to Aubrey's Mother the lovely Kathy. Zvi and I returned to Jerusalem through the back roads since the funeral for the legendary and wise Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv was held at about midnight. Hundreds of thousands of Haredim went to the funeral and as Zvi and I reached Jerusalem cars were abandoned on the highway and Haredi men walking in the middle of the highway!

I know I often speak of Professor Gabby Barka'i and when we took our guests to the site of his sifting of the dirt taken from beneath the Temple Mount they were fascinated by his explanations and now YOU get to hear him yourselves

So much is happening in this world and it is up to us to take care of our small part and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves - hoping that our caring will spread to others............ because above all this, take care of me my G-d, on the honey and the sting, ….............

Remember - never forget the Hope.
Shabbat Shalom to you all, with love from Jerusalem heart of our heart.

The Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks has composed the following prayer in memory of the 40th anniversary of the massacre of eleven Israeli athletes who were participating in the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Please click here to download a PDF copy of the prayer, together with Hebrew memorial prayer including the names of the eleven Israeli athletes.

Almighty God:
We, the members of this holy congregation,
Together with members of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth,
Join our prayers to the prayers of others throughout the world,
In remembrance of the eleven Israeli athletes
Brutally murdered in an act of terrorism,
At the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich,
Because they were Israelis,
Because they were Jews.

At this time in the Jewish year,
When we remember the destructions of our holy Temples,
And the many tragedies that have befallen our people throughout history,
We mourn their loss
And continue to protest against those who hate our people.

We pray to You, O God:
Comfort the families and friends of the Israeli athletes who continue to grieve
And grant eternal life to those so cruelly robbed of life on earth.
Just as we are united in grief,
Help us stay united in hope.
As we comfort one another under the shadow of death,
Help us strengthen one another in honouring life.

The Olympic message is one of peace, of harmony and of unity,
Teach us, Almighty God, to bring reconciliation and respect between faiths,
As we pray for the peace of Israel,
And for the peace of the world.
May this be Your will and let us say: Amen

Friday, 13 July 2012

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem

13th July 2012

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Did you miss me? I had the best time imaginable with my incredible children and most of my grandchildren...obviously missing those who didn't manage to be there. When I saw my big sister and brother I began to think about family, loyalties, friendships and what they mean. I will explain, but in the meantime I wanted to talk about Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, our dear friend, who this week was found not guilty of most of the accusations against him, accusations which caused his impeachment. The question of the Holyland Affair still hangs over his head but I am confident that he will be exonerated of those accusations too. Unfortunate Zvi and I are less confident for several other accused. What does this mean for Israel? Hopefully it means that the power of the press will be limited and trial by media cast less of a shadow on our political milieu because it freezes the leaders ability to act for fear of false accusations of impropriety.

I feel robbed of an outstanding Prime Minister and am very angry at the toll on the Olmert Family and on the former PM in particular. He always knew he was innocent, always knew the accusations were politically based and was fairly certain who was behind the media hype and I am certain he will sue them for the horrors he has suffered and I think that he should tell us, the people of Israel, who caused the profligate spending of public funds on sending the police to the USA to interview people (some of whom I knew and wouldn't trust within arms length) and try to gather non-existent evidence. The irresponsibility of the State Prosecutor and State Comptroller who as Israel joyfully neared the celebrations of Israel's 60th birthday, announced the “biggest corruption scandal of Israel's history” and then did nothing about it because there wasn't one!!!! Incidentally a poll this week proved that the Israeli people would vote for Ehud Olmert for Prime Minister again – but he says he has left politics..... I wonder and I sincerely hope not.,7340,L-4253496,00.html

In the meantime many Rabbi's are joining the decision to hold memorial services for the 11 slain athletes in the Munich Olympics since the Olympic committee doesn't have the “cajones” to stand up for what is right for fear of insulting the Palestinian athletes who would boycott the Olympics if a memorial service were to take place. Is that insane inverse morality or what? Ensure that YOUR Rabbi or Priest, Minister or Pastor joins the determination to memorialise the athletes. The International Olympic Committee denies any culpability in the murders and in strange justice thus decided not to honour them officially. However, at the Beijing Olympics there was a service organised by the Israeli Embassy to China when Juan Antonio Samaranch, International Olympic Committee president from 1980 to 2001, and Alex Giladi, Israel's delegate to the IOC attended. Samaranch gave a heartfelt speech about keeping the slain sportsmen's memories alive, describing the massacre as the "blackest moment in the history of the Olympic movement."

Do you remember my statement, about 6 months before the Allied troops entered Iraq, that Saddam Husseins much vaunted WMD had left Iraq and were stashed away in Syria before the first allied soldier stepped on Iraqi soil? The politicians and diplomats tried to deny their existence aided and abetted by the media. Well now we have proof. The Syrians are moving their WMD's and we, the general public know our “servants” lie!,7340,L-4254982,00.html

Guess what? Judea and Shomron are not occupied!!! the rhetoric and outright lies which insisted that we are the vile occupiers on the land of the Palestinians has been broken and proven to be exactly what it is......... lies and rhetoric,7340,L-4255005,00.html

The Church of England has joined so many other churches in their denigration of Israel, the denial of their own roots and the abandonment of their beleaguered parishioners in the Middle East. Canon Andrew White intends addressing the situation.

and so to the crux of this letter............ the importance of family and the meaning of family.

I thank G-d every day that my wonderful children appreciate and understand the importance of each other and acceptance of their way of life, each on so different one to the other. I know that should any one of them (G-d forbid) be in trouble the others, and their spouses, would support and be beside the one who needs them. They also know that intolerance one of the other is not tolerated - I would be more than cross....I would be disappointed.

I saw virtually no-one but my children, with two exceptions. One was to visit Prof. Michael and Judy Baum – dear friends with whom I always have lively discussion and hear fascinating medical news. The second person came ot me – dear Eleanor, dear dear Eleanor who is the widow of my wonderful and beloved cousin Bobby. I still find it hard to speak of Bobby in the past tense – so I won't. I miss my little cousin so desperately but not as much as Eleanor does........... I still love him arms and legs.

Last Wednesday, despite arriving in London late on Tuesday night, together with my three children I piled into the car, Daniel, Gideon, Rachel, Karen, Zac and Joshua and me, and headed off to Oxford. First we went to show Joshua Daniel's college, the beautiful Exeter College, scene of Daddy's students antics, and so to cousin Lynnes. The excitement mounted as we realised that we were together, me and my babes and we were about to see my sister Doreen, her husband Melvyn, my brother Ronnie and his wife Sandie and of course Lynne and Michael, my cousins. It was wonderful. It was family.

Family is so much more than blood, so much more than genetic inheritance, so much more than shared upbringing..... it is the belief, deep down in our souls, that we can rely on one another.

Israel is family – be it Mother who cares for, supports and loves her children, always welcoming them home to her safe haven and embrace; be it child who always needs our parental support; be it sibling who we will never abandon or judge you. I beg of you not to deny the relationship, the support, the determination to fight for your family member, your Israel, our Israel.

My flight home was, as always, mixed with sadness at those I leave behind while joyous at those who await me. Tonight, Friday night, will be spent with my daughter Rachel, my son-in-law Igal and their wonderful children who I missed so much. It will be real Shabbat with all the trimmings. The lighting of the Shabbat candles and the shining faces of my grandchildren as they join their mother in this ancient tradition just as she did when she was little; the blessing of the children as my father did for us; the kiddush, blessing over the wine and then the challah – two home made challot to represent the double portion or manna which came from heaven for the children of Israel; the white tablecloth, the fine array of home made food and of course the grace after meals................. The children will not sit and play computer games tonnight, or watch television – the family will be just that, family. Praying, talking, contemplating, playing and being together without distractions. Family.

I wish you Shabbat shalom and the understanding that there is nothing in this world like family – except for really special friends.... but that is for another week.

In the meantime HAPPY 40TH BIRTHDAY GIDEON. You are everything I knew you could become and more as you travel through life with your wonderful Stephanie and your beautiful children. I am proud you are my son.

Shabbat Shalom