Friday, 27 December 2013

Shabbat Shalom from Sheila - Good news bad news - Christians oppressed



27th December 2013

Shabbat Shalom to all my wonderful friends – I hope you had a good festive season and to my Christian friends, I pray that you had a peaceful one.

Tis the third day of Christmas and instead of joy, love and peace the world appears to have gone mad. Killing Christians has become a sport that Christian leaders are allowing through their apathy and refusal to fight back. Indeed in general this has been a bad news/good news week

A rocket lobbed from Gaza fell on Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, thankfully no-one was injured

Bombs on Baghdad Churches. Two churches were bombed on Christmas Day as the worshippers celebrated the Holy Service. 37 Christians died and many were injured on a day that should have been one of peace

The Pope, undoubtedly a wise man, called for peace between Israel and Palestine without mentioning the above situations. It is time to recognise the diabolical oppression of Christians in this area, everywhere except Israel.

The good news. A brave Greek Orthodox priest is proud to stand up and talk about freedom in Israel. Kol ha Kavod

More good news Canon Andrew White sent me gorgeous photographs of the synagogue in baghdad. I wish I know how to add them to this newsletter!!!

As to Iran. Rabbi Jeremy Rosen has it all explained in a nutshell, or according to Jewish tradition, standing on one leg's+Blog)

The following article is concise, honest, clever and really should be read and spread as a devout Christian puzzles as to why the academic world appears to hate Israel.
This week’s news about ASA’s boycott of the Israeli academy has me asking myself once again why so much of the world despises the State of Israel. As a Christian Zionist, this spite naturally puzzles me. But I think that any logical human being with enough honesty will admit that the animus directed toward Israel is profoundly disproportionate to that country’s size and influence in the world. 

The good news is that many American Universities and academics have openly objected to the ASA demand for an academic boycott of Israel and Oxford University voted unconditionally against it. In Oxford University, the highest of Higher Education, the student union voted by a huge majority against the bid by the BDS movement for an academic boycott of Israel. 
The amazing news is that the 200th wounded Syrian refugee was brought into Israel by the IDF for medical care at the Ziv Medical Center in Sfat on Monday night. The 21-year-old patient was in serious condition with gunshot wounds to his hip and stomach and underwent surgery at Israels expense and with Israel's good will. If doctors on both sides of the border can work together why can't politicians?

So the snow has almost melted, still big piles of the yukky stuff at the sides of roads where it was cleared and stacked and the trees, oh the trees, are being hacked back in an attempt to save the tree itself when most of the branches fell from the sheer weight of the snow. The lorry with the “tree eater” the pulper, has been working overtime trying to clear the huge piles of branches from the narrow winding roads of Jerusalems old neighbourhoods like Talbieh and Rehavia, known for its towering avenues. Hopefully they will grow back even stronger.

Jerusalem is coming back to life as the markets reopened and the happy shoppers enjoy the post-snow sales. It never fails to amaze me how much unnecessary items people are willing to buy because they are reduced!!!!! Israel is no different to anywhere else in the world – we love to shop!

This week Rachel and I went to Shouk Ramle down in the new train station. The shoppers love the yells of “Everything for 10 sehkels” “Come and get the bargains – spectacles for 5 shekels” and especially the one that drives me nuts “C'mon ladies, you know you can't resist a bargain”!!!! The full rainbow of Jerusalem walks up and down the narrow aisles between the stands – Arabs and Jews, religious and secular, Hijabs and sheitels (wigs), jeans and long humble skirts, blonde and black hair and every conceivable colour of skin....... I love it!!! Rachel and I knew what we wanted and were in and out very quickly, our prizes clutched firmly in the ever growing mass of humanity!! Actually, a thought just ran through my mind, Shouk Ramle is right under the windows of the CNN and BBC offices and studios – shame they never show that side of this multi-cultured, cosmopolitan city!

This week was the birthday of the creator of modern Hebrew, spoken Hebrew, Eliezer Ben Yehuda. Ben Yehuda, (you see it is not just a street) was obsessive and would not allow his children to play with other children lest they speak Yiddisch or English or Ladino or anything but the language he was determined be the language of the Jews of this nascent country. However, the beautiful language which came out of his efforts and obsession has mutated and changed so dramatically that he would not be best pleased. Too many English transliterations and slang expressions have crept into a language that was formed before internet!! As I came back from Givat Ze'ev and bathing the grandchildren to get ready for Shabbat I listened to Yehoram Gaon on the radio. Yehoram Gaon, son of a Hebrew teacher, speaks the most beautiful Herbew and tells the story of his generation and their pride in their language, in getting the grammar perfect and speaking the way that Ben Yehuda would have wanted. Word games were part of the learning process and conjugation was a competition – not like to taday kids who say esser shekel instead of Asara shekalim – mixing but or completely ignoring their masculine and feminine conjugations in their laziness. Yehoram Gaon quoted Bialik who said that “Language is the key to the nation” it is what binds us together and creates communication between the classes and the ages and the more it is misused the less the communication. Our language is above and different to others, it is how we pray and how our forefathers wrote their commentaries, it is the language of King David. Time for the Knesset to declare Hebrew our official language too!!!!

OK now I really have to run, the fish is waiting for preparation and cauliflower cheese souffle barely begun and I have very little time to do it before Shabbat, before the bride of Shabbat pulls her mantle over Jerusalem and as the dusk draws close a nation bows its head and lights the candles to welcome that bride. We will speak the language of our forefathers in our prayers and I promise you the dikduk the grammar will be correct because as Yehoram Gaon said – it is what binds us.

It seems appropriate to give you Yehoram Gaon, the ultimate Jerusalemite, singing a medley of Shabbat songs singing my favourite song “Al Kol Ele” (Above all this) with Naomi Shemer and finally a video I have shown you before but I love it!!! Kinderlach singing Shalom Aleichem – Peace be with you in a deep prayer that peace will indeed be with you, whether you are here in Israel or far far away; Jew, Christian or Moslem may peace be with you.

Shabbat Shalom everyone, especially to my beautiful heroic and amazing daughter who is back home with her husband and children, cooking up a storm and preparing for her special Shabbat.

With love from Sheila, looking out at the view from our veranda, the view of Jerusalem


Friday, 20 December 2013

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem


20th December 2013.

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

First and foremost I must apologise for last weeks typos. Of course it was Mandela not Mandel.  I was probably traumatised by the snow!!!!

Miracle after miracle after miracle - Kinneret Chaya just gave birth to a baby boy. The ultimate revenge - she is now the mother of four amazing children. For those of you who do not know Kinneret Chaya, on 30th March 2002 a homicide bomber tried to end her life and almost succeeded. Despite 85% burns KC survived, thrived and despite her multiple scars and being told it was far too dangerous for her to have children she is beautiful and a phenomenal mother. If you want to know more let me know and I will send you her story. I was proud to be beside KC from the first moment, recording every miracle as it happened.

Palestine (Palaestina) is Judea. Politics aside – If irrevocable proof were needed here it is.

A rocket fired by Hamas landed in Bethlehem. Few reported it but it happened. The star in the sky was not a sign for the Magi but rather a Hamas rocket.

I was horrified at the brutal and very public murder of a British soldier in London and joined the outcry at the pride of the perpetrators actions but found it so sad that when the same happened to an Israeli soldier, killed by his Palestinian "friend" in an equally brutal fashion the world kept quiet. The Moslem converts who killed Fusilier Rigby in a London street were British citizens who did so in the name of Allah. The fact that they are black Moslem converts amazes me - for it was the Arabs, Moors, who cruelly captured and enslaved them so long ago.

In direct defiance of the announcement of a Dutch water company that it intends boycotting Israel the Dutch Prime Minister rejects the decision.

Yet again Canada does it rightCanada called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to dismiss its special investigator Richard Falk after he accused Israel of “genocidal” intentions against the Palestinians in a brief English language interview on Russian television.  “Canada has previously called for Falk to be fired for his numerous outrageous and anti-Semitic statements and these comments underscore once more the complete and total absurdity of his service as a UN Special Rapporteur,” Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird said in a statement he issued on Monday.

Maybe the USA will get it right too as the House considers a new bill on the Iran sanctions in direct defiance of the White House.

It is now 25 years since the horrific terror attack over the Scottish town of Lockerbie. Muammar Ghadaffi commissioned the Lockerbie attack but it was Palestinians who were more than ready to carry it out.

Leo Dan Bensky is a special person. Apart from being among the very few people who can claim to be a lot taller than Zvi, he is a serious, genuine and intelligent leader who is deeply involved in sport, Israel, the Finnish Jewish Community and Maccabi World Union. Leo-Dan was a fine Vice-President of MWU until the untimely death of President Guiora Esrubilsky. It was with absolute confidence that MWU decided that Leo-Dan take over the position - possibly the first European to do so. I know that Leo-Dan will do a fantastic job supported by his delightful wife Eva. Hazak ve'Amatz Leo-Dan.

Those of you who read my missives and know how amazing Jerusalem is will not
be surprised to know that Tripadvisor puts Jerusalem right up there in the top five!,7340,L-4462647,00.html

Snow, Oh boy did it take us by surprise! It just seemed to go on and on; at first beautiful then annoying and ultimately dangerous. I have to congratulate the police who controlled the traffic and use of lethal highways with great caution and it paid off. Thousands of trees fell or were damaged, most of them on cars, but after all the children who managed to get out of their homes had a ball! Here are some wonderful photos.

Jerusalem is almost back to normal. There is still snow on the ground but we are able to get around and almost everyone now has electricity. Many trees were either lost or huge branches fell from the weight of the snow and the huge cleanup is under way. Our veranda suffered – not many of the plants but the pergola is a mere skeleton as all the roofing parts fell in an interesting form!

Mahane Yehuda Market is back to bustling shoppers and the cooking has begun for another Shabbat. It is definitely the time of year for cholent, hamin or whatever name you choose to call it. Thick meaty, with tons of root vegetables and beans it sits in the pit of your stomach warming you for hours on end – and repeating the honour frequently!

For me this is a very unusual and special Shabbat to be spent with my beautiful daughter Rachel. Zvi is Nes Ziona with his younger son Leor and his gorgeous family where he will be joined by Amiad and family and I am here with Rachel, just us, for the first time in many, many years. Hopefully we will have a chance to sit out on the veranda and think of our incredible fortune to live in Jerusalem as she spreads her beauty before us in that wonderful panorama and thank the Almighty for putting us here, together knowing that we have loving families who miss us just for this one Shabbat, Mother and daughter. Right now my mind is filled with how to make her all her favourite dishes – since she is strictly vegetarian!!!!

I wish you Shabbat Shalom from cold and crisp Jerusalem. Shabbat Shalom and much love

Friday, 13 December 2013

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem of White!!!!


12th December 2013

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem – gosh that sounds good!!!

I don't think it will be a white Christmas but it surely is a white advent!!!! We had 50 cms of snow last night and the city is closed. Yesterday I went to see Rachel and family in Givat Zeev and got stuck on the main road back for one and a half hours as the police closed road number one into Jerusalem, telling everyone to drive on route 443, then closed route 443!!! Everything looks wonderful but in fact is slushy and quite revolting!! Thousands of people driving up from Tel Aviv to see the snow at night, got stuck on the main road and are now sleeping in Binyanei haUma hall, rescued by the police!!!! The Sheraton at the entrance ot town has offered free room and board to 50 stranded people too. The call is out from the Municipality for Jerusalemites willing to put these lost folk up for Shabbat.

I walked up to the corner shop this morning to be met with great good humour by several men wearing plastic bin bags instead of boots! Of al the people I saw, every single one offered me help. Either I look older than I am or it was the fact that I took hiking sticks with me to aid my stability!!!

What a week!

Mr Netanyahu was criticised for not going to the Mandela funeral, but no-one asked him if he was invited!
Mr Obama was caught together with David Cameron, flirting with the Danish Prime Minister – an extremely attractive blonde, much to the chagrin of Michelle. No-one is sure whether it was the flirting or the lack of respect during the funeral of Nelson Mandela. Not only that but the South African authorities brought in a sign language translator to stand right next to the President and he turned out to be schizophrenic. Absolutely ridiculous.

Rabbi Jeremy Rosen wrote a truly excellent article about Nelson Mandela, the man, the leader and the diplomat.'s+Blog)

The furore over the agreement with Iran has not abated. The mistrust is natural, after all we were fooled for so many years by the overseers and are fully aware that the leadership in Iran is bent on destruction of all that is not Islamic.

While in the airport at Bangkok we were in a lift with a very very Moslem gentleman in a wheelchair and his grandson. “Where are you from”? Asked the grandson. “”From Israel” we answered. “We are from Saudi Arabia – may I shake your hand”!!! I felt great warmth and then thought of the reasons behind their friendship, which are purely Sunni/Shia infighting. How sad.

We got back from Thailand on Wednesday morning, raced to see the grandchildren and then home. Thinking about our trip I decided that Melbourne was phenomenal, our hosts outstanding and friends delightful; Sydney also, just gorgeous and the highlight was probably the tour of the harbour in Ian's yacht with friends. Loved it. Bangkok was stressful, noisy and too many prostitutes, despite the exquisite Temples. Chang Rai and Chang Mai amazing, truly incredible. Walking with elephants and hill climbing with the hill tribes of the Kings Project – The Kings determined effort to stop the opium fields and provide a living for the hill tribes with genuine crops. Then Phuket – which is noisier has even more prostitutes than Bangkok. What I love is arriving on board the El Al flight home. El Al – warmth, friendliness, efficiency and a sense of home. Gosh I love it!!! I sat beside a lovely lady who began to chat – and we discovered she is the niece of our Melbourne hosts and Zvi knows her entire family!!! Also sitting near me was Professor Shechter – Nobel Prize recipient and if Zvi has anything to do with it – the next President of Israel.

That's it! We are currently trying to bring my daughter and family to our home in Jerusalem because they have no electricity or heating – not a good thing with three young children. The problem is that the roads are closed in anticipation of the next blizzard.

So from a white and cold Jerusalem, we wish you a warm and cosy Shabbat.

I cannot tell you that the shops are closing because they didn't open! I cannot tell you that everyone is going home because they didn't leave home! I can only tell you that behind the cold exterior of a Jerusalem snowscape the homes are warmed by the sense of Shabbat, the glowing faces of the children and the traditional Shabbat meal – even if it is cold rather than lovely warming cholent!!

Shabbat Shalom to all
With much love

Friday, 6 December 2013

Shabbat Shalom from Chiang Mai

Friday 6th December 2013

Shabbat Shalom dear friends, Shabbat Shalom from Chiang Mai, Thailand

It will soon be Shabbat but I wanted to send you a quick greeting. Today we rode elephants, went in a cart drawn by oxen, Zvi travelled down river on a bamboo raft (I had a well deserved coffee) and then saw the natural wonder of orchids.

However I receivbed a letter from a friend, American Jewish artist Brian Shapiro and his wife LK which deeply moved me.

Dear Sheila and Tzvi,
L.K. and I just got back from our usual forest walk. There are some steep hills that cause a bit of a sweat.  As I have grown older the climb seems to get a bit tougher.  I told we walked that when the hill seems the toughest I think of when I was in Israel and you took me to an event in the desert. I recall that it was an induction of Israeli soldiers into the officer corp.  You pointed out your son marching with his comrades with their heads turned towards us. It was thrilling!  I have never seen such strength.  It was the exact opposite of the photos I have seen of Holocaust Jews or poor Jews throughout the centuries of persecution. What was downtrodden was transformed into strength, I straighten up going up our hill and remember those strong Jews and try to be a little like them.

Russian Piano Maestro Evgeny Kissin is proud of Israel too.
"When Israel's enemies try to disrupt concerts of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra or the Jerusalem Quartet, I want them to come and make troubles at my concerts, too: because Israel's case is my case, Israel's enemies are my enemies..."

Nelson Mandela was a great leader who took his people from oppression to freedom. Apartheid was a diabolical regime which should never ever be equated to anything we have in the West for fear of degrading the heroic fight of many brave souls for the right to exist as equal human beings. Mandela served his time in jail and thanked G-d that his single violent plan was stopped by the authorities that he could live his life with his head held high. His words about Israel will undoubtedly take pride of place for CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera but frankly my dears, I don't give a damn. He retracted his unwise words and his greatness should not be tarnished by a slip of the tongue. May he rest in peace. 

Here in Thailand we celebrated the 85th birthday of Rama 9th, the King who is the only monarch to serve  longer than Elizabeth of the UK. The demonstrations in Bangkok not only stopped predominantly in honour of the birthday and the demonstrators cleaned up their own mess in the streets. The people of Bangkok elebrated into the night but here in Lana Province they remember that they were a separate people with their own King until Siam absorbed Lana and became Thailand. The celebrations were much quieter here  but then this is a gentler and quieter people than those of Southern Thailand. Here too there are check points - here too there are infiltrators - here too there have been wars with their neighbours and here too there are illegal workers from Myanmar and Laos.

I am ready to go home - it has all been fun, especially Australia. Thailand has been fascinating and the people kind but home is home. I had two high points  one was seeing my old Thai friend Waow in Bangkok and the other was the unbelievable, nay exquisite beauty of the White Temple of |Wat Rong Khun My problem is the gold and jewels fo the Temples and the abject poverty of the people.

It is just another reason I love Judaism. We do not need an edifice, there are no bejewelled idols, we do not even need a Rabbi (sorry to all my friends) all we need are the simple tools of prayer as described in the Shema Yisrael and a Torah Scroll.

As we waited for the elephant ride, surrounded by the nomadic Children of Israel who are all over Thailand, I chatted to three sisters. One of them, Lily, said she is from Jerusalem and volunteers in Shaare Zedek. Ah, said I, I am on the board of the Yuri Shtern Foundation which helps many people in the oncology department of Shaare Zedek "But that is what I do! I volunteer for Yuri Shtern at Shaare Zedek" What a small world - she is a close friend of Lenas and a wonderful lady. We both decided that we are asking friends for donations for the Yiuri Shtern Foundation - so please
Please please look at the video and read the material.......................

We need support desperately, it is the most incredible place.
Since everyone except the essential staff is a volunteer overheads are minimal. In Shaare Zedek all treatments for both patients and family of oncology are free and in the clinic a 50 shekel charge is made for those who can afford it.
We don't need a great deal of money - a thousand dollars each from a few good friends goes a long long way.
Watch the video - see Lena, the amazing woman who founded the Yuri Shtern Foundation in her husbands memory.

On that note I wish you a Shabbat Shalom wherever you are
With love from us to you
Sheila and the Mahout Zvi 

Friday, 29 November 2013

Shabbat Shalom from Sydney

29th November 2013

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom from Sydney Australia

This week Zvi and I received some very sad news. A dear dear friend, Guiora Esrubilsky,  passed away suddenly and prematurely in Florida. The official obituaries will tell you that Guiora was the President of Maccabi World Union, Vice-President of the World Jewish Congress, Member of the Board of the Latin American Jewish Congress, Member of North Dade Committee AIPAC. For Zvi especially Guiora was an old and beloved friend alongside his wonderful wife Marta.  Born in Argentina Guiora, came to and loved Israel. He spoke a wonderful, musical Hebrew, with a strong Argentinian lilt, and promoted Israel and Maccabi in his every thought and word. There is an old Jewish saying that a man has three names; the one he is born with, the only his friends call him and the one he leave behind. Guiora left a fine name behind him. He will be sadly missed, personally and most certainly in the Jewish World where his determination to put forward Israel's case was unmatched. Baruch Dayan Emet 

We wish Marta and their children the ancient Jewish Blessing.  "May God comfort you among the  mourners of Zion and Jerusalem" (המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים, transliterated HaMakom yenachem etchem betoch sha'ar aveylei Tziyon viYerushalayim) May the family know no more sorrow.

David Horovitz has written extensively on the Iranian-USA-Western situation and its intricacies, here he elucidates on a complex situation made infinitely more complicated.

I fear that the talks promised a great deal but ultimately led to a return of the "overseers" of the Iranian nuclear ambitions - just as we had before when Mohammed El Baradei led the watchdog team that ignored the nuclear facilities built in underground bunkers - and El Baradei turned out to be a front for the Moslem Brotherhood. Who will be todays watchdogs? I pray that my cycism is unwarranted yet somehow the words of Winston Churchill keep ringing in my head - when virtually alone 75 years ago, he warned of the follies of Munich, his words are frighteningly relevant today "We have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us in history. Do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup" Thanks to Tom Gross for posting it.

Perhaps the most disturbing statement on Iran came from that well known democratic leader, Assad of Syria who said that Rouhani has succeeded in enshrining rights of developing countries to pursue nuclear energy.

Our dear friend Dr. Kimball Taylor's Children of Israel Foundation has a brand new website. I am so honoured that he has chosen to include the video of me showing you my veranda  - when scrolling down to my photo, remember to read of the incredible work of the Foundation.

We left Melbourne for Sydney and I must tell you of our incredible adventures down under where we saw everything except Ned Kelly!!!!

For starters, as we headed to the hotel breakfast room we bumped into our dear friend Robert Simons! Robert, who like many of our Australian friends, was one of Zvi's original UIA young leadership which Zvi set up in 1974. Robert was in town for the meetings of the Australian Friends of the Hebrew University of which he is the President. 

On Friday night we went to the home of Saul Same for Shabbat Dinner. Saul, who celebrated his 96th birthday at our home this summer is one of our very favourite people in the world and it was a joy to spend time with him, his sisters, sons and grand-daughters. Saul Same - mensch.

Our next stop was a visit to the Country. Rolling hills, exquisitely manicured vineyards, amazing natural landscapes and a view that only Mother Nature could have created. The ocean, Phillips Island and most incredibly........ kangaroos (roo, jack, buck, boomer, Jill, flyer and of course the baby Joey) About ten in a field among the eucalyptus, the big Boomer standing to attention, watching his ladies and babies.

The next day we visited the heritage town of Maldon - created during the Gold Rush of Australia which lasted from 1850-1915 when all the men went off to war and there were no miners left. This is a particularly Australian situation since they have supported their allies in every battle and war, never reneging on their duties.The Union Hill Mine is in Central Victoria and we drove down into the belly of the earth and right under the town of Maldon. I particularly loved Ians pride in the fact that his mine will soon contribute to Australias impressive production of gold. We had an amazing time and were so impressed with Ians knowledge, then my delight was complete as on our way back to Melbourne I saw an entire flock of white cockatoos dipping and playing above a field.

Our visit to Melbourne ended with breakfast with Dr Paul Zimmet, who is hosting a 10,000 person conference on Diabetes this weekend and a delightful dinner at a vegan restaurant with Deidre and Keith Beville. Again the topic of the conversation, after our mutual grandchildren bragging, was the poor hasbara of Israel.

From Melbourne we flew to Sydney and to Kitty Hammerman's welcoming smile beside the baggage reclaim! We took the spectacularly scenic route to Peter and Kitty's home in Double Bay. 

We had lunch with Rabbi Jeremy and Mandy Lawrence who I have known since we were all  much younger, and now they are the Rabbi and Rebbitsen of the Sydney Great Synagogue and parents of 4 children! I am so proud of their incredible contribution to their community. Kol ha Kavod

Wednesday evening was very special. In honour of the first night of Chanuka, Kitty and Peter invited dear friends from the former UIA (Keren Hayesod)  Trendsetters and Young Leadership that Zvi established in 1974. Most were spontaneous invites and Stanley and Harold were there to represent the "younger generation" who today have risen to major leadership positions in Australia and in Keren Hayesod worldwide. 

The talk of old times was truly heart warming and Bobby came armed with old letters between himself and Zvi. Old photos of Zvi sporting a Viva Zapata moustache leading the "Yachdav" mission to Israel that bonded so many friendships. Fond memories of outstanding work and a time when it was easier to fire people up into action or maybe it isn't the times but the lack of impetus from head office to excite todays youngsters. In those days Zvi motivated people to be as excited as he was about Israel, Aliya and education, through his ability to convey his love of his country. It never fails to amaze me how a shared love of Israel draws people together and creates lifelong friendships. 

Few people within the powers that be in Israel understand the deep concerns of Israel lovers worldwide at the apparent lack of positive hasbara. In general it seems to be left to people like me, people who write newsletters and blogs; ordinary Israelis who "adopt" foreign journalists; writers who receive information that bypasses the official press office. Nonetheless, it is fair to say that the press office puts out excellent information mailings that are never picked up by an antagonistic media. I just miss Danny Seaman.

My gorgeous nephew and niece, Claire and Steven Bloom, are going to Buckingham Palace - just like Christopher Robin and Alice! An invitation to the Royal Garden Party depends not on aristocracy or wealth but rather on exceptional charitable and community work. Well done Steve...... I am inordinately proud of you and Cardiff is a safer place with your taking great care working with the local Welsh police. 

Israel lost a great singer/composer this week. Arik Einstein was more an institution than an entertainer and his beautiful songs will live for many generations to come.  
Ani ve Ata - You and I will change the world. and  Ouf Gozal - fly fledgling (the story of children leaving the nest)

The phenomenal generosity of the Aussies, the glorious scenery, the flora and fauna have made this visit wonderful, but I must admit I miss my view! I miss collecting my grandchildren from school and driving past the panorama of sparkling white Jerusalem from the Prophet Samuels Tomb and the hug at the end of my journey as I reach Rachel. I miss the scent of ethnic Shabbat dishes of our neighborhood; the garbage collectors, road sweepers, shopkeepers and passers-by wishing me "Shabbat Shalom" and the ever present aroma of freshly baked Challah. I miss our little grand-daughters blessing the Candles and Challah and Zvi's beautiful voice singing the Kiddush- the blessing over the wine- as we all admire the view from our veranda. 

Talking of Zvi, he and Peter "did an Oprah" and climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I wonder if the Bridge developed a new height record when Zvi stood up  up! Tonight we went for dinner with Charmaine and Stanley Roth, Harold and Rebecca Finger and Robert Simons to put world to rights, feed the hungry, solve all Israel's problems and decide what to do about the Iran situation... and enjoy a giggle and chatter. 

Today we are going to the Jewish Museum and then take a yacht ride in the harbour to absorb the exceptional aesthetic beauty of this city, thanks to Ian's unending generosity we will do so in comfort, well fed and cared for and with dear friends. Then it will be Shabbat again - even though here in Oz it is more likely to be called Shabbes!!! Shabbat dinner wherever we are in the world, candles, kiddush, challah and calm, friends and tradition.  

Chanuka, each day brings a new story and another candle. Chanuka - the time of miracles, lights, heroes and chanuka Gelt! By the way, do you know why we give Chanuka Gelt (Chanuka coins)? Apparently as an act of triumph the Maccabees minted a new set of coins, thus we commemorate their victory. Interesting eh? Here are 8 things to do in Israel for Chanuka

So it is time for me to choose a few songs for your delectation
We start with Nefesh b Nefesh Chanuka
Wonderful children of Kinderlech

We wish you a joyful Chanuka, a happy Thanksgiving and a peaceful and contemplative Shabbat, remembering our blessings and forgetting our grudges. My prayer is that we will not need to be heroic yet again but rather that we will simply be accepted.

Happy 60th  birthday to Martin Lindenfeld - it was just a bit too far to come to give you a kiss! Martin received the best birthday gift in the world - a new grandson!!! Love you Martin - Ad 120 

Shabbat Shalom, thinking of Jerusalem and that amazing view from our veranda
With love

Friday, 22 November 2013

Shabbat Shalom from Melbourne Australia

22nd November 2013

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom and G'day Mates!!!!

Did you know that Australia is a very very long way from Israel? I have developed a new respect for our Australian friends who make that trip twice a year to visit friends, to attend meetings and support the organisations they are proud to be part of. A truly active and warm community.
From the moment we landed in Melbourne, to discover two of our suitcases had not arrived from Sydney, we felt the enormous warmth and real Aussie welcome of our friends here. Suddenly the 27 hours of flights dissipated as we were wrapped in a flurry of visits and hugs.  Lunch in Toorak with Linda, Pauline and Ian then a quick sleep and supper at the beautiful kosher restaurant with John and Adrienne arriving back at the hotel just in time to catch up on our lost sleep.
Yesterday we visited the Jewish museum with Ian and Linda. I am speechless - both Zvi and I were so incredibly impressed by this unusual and all encompassing musuem.  The exhibits explaining Jewish life and rituals is wonderful. Jewish life in Australia and a timeline of the provenance of Jews who came to Australia, and where they ultimately settled. A truly worthwhile visit.
From the Museum we went for lunch with friends of Ian and Linda who are visiting from Malaysia. Although raised a Moslem Rama is an open and delightful woman who happily explained that the Islam she was taught is a million miles from the Shi'a and Sunni Islam that we have come to fear. Zvi and I hope to fulfil their long-time wish to come to Israel where they can learn the truth which so differs from the perception according to world news.
After lunch we visited the Victoria Museum of Art to see the exquisite Japanese exhibits in the Pauline Gandel Gallery. It was a beautiful experience and we are so proud that our friends are able to give so generously to Australian culture.  Lesley Kehoe, curator of the Gandel collection, then showed us an exquisite collection of Japanese Lacquer Boxes - explaining in detail the painstaking process which could take more than a year to produce even one box - the spiritual and emotional investment of each movement, each stroke, each tiny element of this rare and special art form.
In the evening we were invited by our gracious hosts to the graduation ball of Mount Scopus High School. I really didn't know what to expect since I was used to very informal and somewhat raucous parties thrown for the kids in both Israeli and British Schools. The hall was filled with tables of parents, siblings and grandparents who cheered as their progeny filed out to the hall and then were called up to receive their graduation certificates accompanied with an amusing description of their aims and achievements and a photograph of their arrival in kindergarten at the school which then took care of their secular and Jewish education for 15 years. As each beautiful youngster walked accross the stage and their ambitions read out, at least 60% intended going to Israel for 6 months, for a year, to Ulpan, to study or to make Aliya and go into the IDF - and those of Israeli parents all intended going home to do their IDF service. Their confidence in being Jewish, their wide knowledge of who they are and why is living proof of the success of this school system. Whatever they do and wherever they go these young people will always know what it means to be a Jew - both the responsibility and the joy.
This morning we had a delightful surprise! We discovered that our wonderful old friend Robert Simons is at the same hotel........... and we thought we wouldn't see him til Sydney!! The meetings of the Hebrew University Committee are taking place here in Melbourne and as the Australian President of the Hebrew U Robert is here of course. He introduced us to Barry - a lovely man who is the current Chair. Robert together with another lovely friend, Harold Finger, worked hard to  ensure that Sydney Jewish schools have the same sense of excellence and Jewish values as Mr Scopus in the Moriah School, building it up to the large school it is today.
Tonight Zvi and I are spending Shabbat dinner with a truly incredible man, both legend and mensch. Saul Same, born in Be'er Tuvia in Mandate Palestine, Saul was taken to far off Australia as a child, but his heart never left Israel. Saul built a beautiful life and family with the love of his life, his Lucy (z"l) establishing a legacy of love and warmth - a love of Israel. Last year we had the honour of celebrating his 96th birthday at home with our family in Jerusalem. Dear Saul, maybe he stopped running the 10k a couple of years ago but he is still active, intelligent and a leader - a born leader who draws love.
I hate to tell you but I have absolutely no idea what is going on in this world right now!!!! We have not had time to watch television or read a paper so excuse my ignorance. I am certain that the media is full of more indecision on Iran, or more situations where Russia is filling the void and making decision and of cours eof the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. I still find it difficult to talk about tha tmoment since as the nescaster announced the death of a President Doctor Grossman came down the stairs in my home ot tell the family that Mummy had died. It is not easy to separate the two events in my mind and obviously the tragedy of the loss two young lives intertwined by fate, one a world leader the other a fine human being, stays with me forever.
So I see no view from my veranda although it is always in my mind's eye; I cannot pick an ornge from my tiny tree or a watch the lemons turn from green to a warm buttery yellow; there are no white stone-clad buildings but what we have is a young, vibrant country whose greatest advantage is being a long long way from most of the strife in this confused world. While never leaving her allies unsupported in war or strife Australia has the vast advantage of not having any neighbours other than the Great Barrier Reef and dolphins!!!!
One of the only sad things I have heard here is that the Australian media has not reported the wonderufl support Israel is giving to the Phillipinnes in the form of over 150 IDF doctors, nurses and medical support staff with field hospitals -or that the first child was born in the field hospital and his name is .....................ISRAEL!!!    Since then many other babies are born and cared for and the sick and destitue also. IsraAid is performing wonders co-ordinating other NGO's to help rebuild in the most devastated areas.
In a few minutes we are going for lunch and some retail therapy in a large shopping mall that everyone tells me is outstanding - I have already warned Zvi that shekels are not acceptable here but he is allowed to use his credit card!!
I wish you Shabbat Shalom from Melbourne, home of cricket, Australian rules football (it makes Rugby look lame and the most welcoming, caring, adorable and wonderful friends imaginable.
Be well, be strong, be proud of who you are and accept others for who they are.
For your musical delectation this week we have Waltzing Mathilda - not the Australian National Anthem but the most famous and of course for Shabbat a surprising video from Russia
Finally - Chanuka. Zvi always says that in Judaism every festival is "They tried ot kill us, we won - now let's eat" and Chanuka is no different -----latkes and sufganiyot!!! Here Technion sutdents sing the traditional song with a difference and then sung with all the different types of chanukiot
Shabbat Shalom, Chag Chanuka Sameach and loads of love from down under


If the media does not inform us we must inform the media
Facebook      Sheila Silver Raviv

Friday, 15 November 2013

The View from our Veranda - Soldier stabbed, Philippines aid, Iran, Kerry,


14th November 2013

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom

Picture a young illegal, crossing your border to search for work, illegally, and deciding that if he doesn't find work that day he will kill a soldier so that he can go to an Israeli jail, get himself an education and be fed well (Halal food of course) and his family will be given recompense by his government for their brave sons work with the clear knowledge that he will be freed in a short time because a third country tells you to. Well read on dear friends
Other passengers cried as they told of the incident - “We just couldn't stop him in time” What kind of insanity is an education system that incites to such hatred?? Well look at the link for IMPACT-SE and click on the Palestinian Authority textbooks

While the USA and UK send warships to help in the Philippines, Israel sends people. IsraAid is already on the ground and the IDF sent over 150 personnel to set up field hospitals in the stricken areas. The Philippine Ambassador thanked Israel and her NGO's for their instant aid and assistance.

Diane Steinfink, our friend, sent this report of the debt Jews owe to Philippines during WW2

The Orient Express from Mecca to the Vatican. Christians in the Cross Hairs by Reuven Berko tells us more about the chronic, tragic situation of Christians in Moslem countries.

Israeli Ambassador Alan Baker wrote a letter in response to John Kerry's claim that "settlements" are illegal
Still on the subject of John Kerry, It would appear that Kerry is the kind of friend that created the joke "With friends like this who needs enemies" as he tells senators to ignore Israel when making decisions on Iran. Gee thanks Mr Kerry – happy you lost the vote!
I try not to go into politics but right now it seems that since the USA has lost control of Iran and other areas of the Middle East the easy way out is to blame Israel for anything – to make Israel the scapegoat – since we are the easy target. Don't condemn murders and oppression, condemn a few houses as scuppering the “PEACE” talks. Sounds familiar eh?

The media frenzy in the wake of a Swiss laboratory report on Yasser Arafat's remains has all the mystery, suspense and false trails of a detective thriller; an Agatha Christie style "whodunit". More seriously it illustrates the unfortunate prevalence of irresponsible and lazy reporting in mainstream media.. The excellent Maurice Ostroff responds
When a UN interpreter thought her mike was closed she utter words of truth. Anti Israel votes are a bit much!!!

Zvi has been so busy with the WZO and the Jewish Agency meetings this week that I have hardly seen him! I think that he becomes frustrated that new voices suddenly come in and believe they reinvented the wheel. At one point someone started speaking about joint ventures with communities in the Diaspora to bring young people from Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular, together. Brilliant eh? At one point Zvi simply said that the plans are in place, the procedures passed but that it all happened when he had hair and Jack Smorgon's hair was black................ in other words everything was in place some 36 years ag but no-one implements it! So frustrating.

Some great news!!!! Our dear friend David Efron has become the Honorary Consul for Israel in Puerto Rico. David, who is a true and proud Zionist, has done so much to put forward the case and cause for Israel, sometimes in hostile environments, that he truly deserves this honour. In addition his daughter Libi made Aliya to Israel two years ago so he has even more impetus! Kol ha Kavod David – proud of you. I have one I have to call you “Your Excellency”??

This morning I met with a dear old friend in the quaint Jerusalem neighbourhood of Baka. Andrew Stonewas my madrich (leader) in Habonim (scouts) when we were both infinitely younger and living in Wales. Our paths have both diverged yet run parallel on so many issues, maybe because we both have a deep moral sense, and I love talking to him or rather listening to him. These two Welsh Jews have become, on his part, a Judeo/Buddhist/Vegan who sits in the House of Lords playing a very active role but keeps his heart in Israel where he fights the only fight worth fighting – to bring peace and justice to this fraught area. Then there is me, still a Jewess, not much changed there, still proudly a strong Zionist who lives right here in Jerusalem. I sit at my computer rather than in the House of Lords but I too fight the only fight worth fighting – to bring peace and justice to my home. In other word – Tikkun Olam, leaving the world a better place than you found it. Both of us agree that Norman Berg was our Israel catalyst through Habonim, but my parents were utterly and totally committed Zionists from day one and my Mummy was a leader of WIZO. We talked of fond memories of our childhood, of our children and now grandchildren and if you were to ask either of us to burst in to song it may well sound like this – well a bit gruffer but -

Talking of things Welsh, Sir Tom Jones, aka Jones the Voice, came out against the evil BDS which blackmails artistes into boycotting Israel. There's lovely Tom Boy!!

Last week Debby Bettsak was in Jerusalem – I adore her enthusiasm for this city and for the organisation she so loves – the Friends of the IDF. A truly amazing organisation.

Shabbat is coming – coming to bring a calm over Jerusalem, a sense of family and beauty. The Hebrew date of the passing of the woman who taught me the meaning of Shabbat has been, with the traditional lighting of a memorial candle but the historic Gregorian date is yet to come. It is now 50 years since the 22nd of November 1963, infamous as the date on which an American President was assassinated but for me, the moment my darling Mother passed away. “Eshet Chayil mi Yimtsa”? Regina (Betty) Glicker Silver was a true Eshat Chayil and while missed every second of every day she left all of her children, indeed everyone she touched in life, with a sense of love and kindness, of warmth and generosity rarely seen. I am a very lucky woman that I had 17 years to absorb the righteous, funny, gentle presence of my Mother. May her soul rest in peace.

So, in a short while, Zvi will go off to his Parliament, after collecting the graduation certificate for his course at the Hebrew University, and I will make my way over that very familiar peak, past the Prophet Samuels Tomb, past the fields of olive trees and the tiny vineyard, collecting the incredibly aromatic Challot from Nehamas bakery, into the gates of Givat Zeev to spend time with my daughter Rachel, who is feeling much better, and the grandchildren as we prepare her home for Shabbat.

May each home be blessed on Shabbat as the children of Tevye One of the most beautiful Shabbat Songs is Yedid Nefesh a poem of love for the Almighty written by Rabbi Elazar Azriki

So dear friends, I wish you a Shabbat Shalom from our veranda – a veranda I am leaving for a few weeks. I will try to keep in touch and tell you tales of far flung places and close friends.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem

For those of you who still have not seen the movie “The Wave” then I strongly suggest you sit down for 45 minutes and understand our world as it is right now.