Thursday, 31 January 2013

Shabbat Shalom from Rainy Jerusalem


31st January 2013

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope that you are happy and well.

On Tuesday night Israel decided to act against the clear and present danger presented by the clandestine attempt by the failing and ever more violent Syrian regime to pass anti-aircraft missiles and non-conventional weapons across the border with Lebanon and so to Hezb-Allah. A number of IAF aeroplanes flew over the Syrian-Lebanese border after firm information that the armaments convoy was on the move. Rumour has it that we also wiped out a weapons factory. Israel had already warned Hezb-Allah not to take advantage of the unstable situation in Syria to cause further unrest and danger to the area. President Assads megalomania, which included the slaughter of tens of thousands of his own people, expressed itself in his desire for huge weaponry, believed to have the largest arsenal of non-conventional weaponry in the world.According to military analyst Ron Ben-Yishai, Syria is cooperating with Hezbollah in order to prevent missiles and chemical weapons from falling into the hands of rebels.,7340,L-4338995,00.html

The Iranians responded to the Israeli action as “The Zionist enemy interfering in the clear attempts by the Syrians to find a peaceful path to stability” Words fail me!!!

I am an Ex-Pat Brit, born and raised in the UK, the country which gave safe haven to my parents and so many other Jews fleeing the oppression of Eastern Europe before and during WW2 and was always a just society, in my memory. This week I was ashamed of the country of my birth as never before, when the Times newspaper saw fit to publish the diabolical cartoon by Gerald Scarfe, world famous political cartoonist depicting PM Netanyahu as an evil bricklayer building a wall using the blood of Palestinians for mortar; an evil twist on his famous cartoon of Pink Floyds “The Wall” with clear reference to the Blood Libel. Not only did the Times publish the cartoon but they did so on International Holocaust Day. Rupert Murdoch, owner of the Times and faithful supporter of Israel apologised immediately as did the editor. Scarfes apology was a disgrace, he simply apologised for the inappropriate day on which it was published.

Two people wrote about the disgrace to British society
Please write and express your dismay, politely and concisely, to or directly to Gerald Scarfe at

International Holocaust Memorial Day, was on January 27th, the date chosen to coincide with the liberation of Auschwitz Concentration Camp. The 30th January was the 80th anniversary of the rise of the Third Reich to power as Adolf Hitler was handed Germany by Paul von Hindenberg on that date in 1933. This article published in 2008 shows a terrifying resemblance to the world of today.

For those who still believe that populist anti-Israel events occur only in Britain or Europe, read Prof. Alan Dershowitz essay about Brooklyn College The international campaign to delegitimize Israel by subjecting the Jewish state—and the Jewish State alone—to boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) has now come to the most unlikely of places: Brooklyn College. The political science department of that college has voted to co-sponsor a campaign event at which only pro-BDS speakers will advocate a policy that is so extreme that even the Palestinian Authority rejects it.

Jerusalem, Capital of Israel: An Islamic Prophecy by Ali SalimJerusalem is the capital of the Children of Israel, now called the Jews; and it is forbidden for Muslims to demand it, just as a married woman belongs only to her husband. Is it possible that Allah, who on His infinite mercy, calls them the Chosen People, and promises them the Holy Land, also plans to murder them, using the Muslims in Palestine as His intermediary? Every Muslim knows that Allah does not break His promises.

Maccabi World Union is close to my heart and through Zvi's involvement with that amazing organisation I had the good fortune to meet some wonderful people. Among them is a truly exceptional man and this week it was announced that he will be rewarded for his work. Roy Salomon is the Co-President of the 2013 Maccabiah Games to be held this July in Israel. We just heard that Maccabi Canada is proud to announce that the Montreal Cummings Sports Celebrity Breakfast will honour Roy with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for his lifetime commitment to the community in a gala event in Arpil. We are so proud of you Roy – you truly deserve the honour.

I was concerned at Yair Lapids lack of experience in the political world, but then I heard his speech to a group of Haredi students at Ono College! It is 25 minutes long and addresses many of the internal problems in Israeli society with exceptional respect and truth. In addition, in his meeting with President Peres, who decides upon whom to place the responsibility of forming a government, Lapid said that the honour should fall upon the shoulders of PM Netanyahu.
The finals of Israel's Master Chef took place this week. A young religious woman, a young Moslem woman and a German who came to Israel, became Jewish and married a religious wife were the unlikely trio in the final. The German/Israeli won to the delight of all the German TV stations who finally had a great story for their news.

I received this wonderful video about the REAL Israel from Rafael and Becky Guttin. Watch it and kvell!!

The shkediot are blossoming!! You remember of course that I am talking about the glorious almond trees which fill the Jerusalem Hills. Even the empty lot next to our apartment, usually just a hill with weeds, looks exquisite, covered in the gentle pink and white clouds. For three days now the skies have been grey and the life-giving rain has been verging on the torrential. This morning I couldn't even see Jerusalem as the rain, sleet, hail and snow fell. Most importantly the snow on Mount Hermon has increased. This is going to be a great winter for the Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee, as the rains and melting snow serve to refill the huge water deficit and allow this wonderful inland lake to return to her former beauty.

I left the best news til last – Zvi's eldest son Amiad and his wonderful wife Noga gave birth to a little girl last Saturday morning. Ella (emphasis on the second syllable as in EH- LAH) came into the world weighing 3.25 kilos and is simply beautiful. I haven't seen her yet since I am stuck at home with a very annoying cough but we intend going to them for Friday night supper with all the family and of course I will take the food! They requested their favourite, Kubeh Soup, that delicious concoction which came all the way from Kurdistan with the Jews who fled the oppressive regimes. A slightly spicy, slightly sour veggie filled broth with wonderful kubeh ( dumplings made of bulgar wheat paste filled with ground meat) inside It may sound strange for this very Ashkenazi family but here in Israel we share our recipes as well as our lives.

I was looking for a new Shabbat Song for you when I came across this and I got goosebumps – it is a prayer, a longing, a yearning for peace. Peace, the one thing that the determination, initiative and innovation of Israel cannot seem to achieve.

With so much happening in an ever disintegrating world order I return to the song which gives me hope and reminds me of who and what we are. It is a song that took me through my toughest times. It raises my spirit and I want to raise yours. Of the honey and the sting. Al Kol Eleh – Above it all.

I wish you a wonderful Shabbat filled with hope and joy with all our love from the most gorgeous city in the world. Just for you the sun suddenly came through the clouds to say hello!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Shabbat Shalom and election results

24th January 2013
Shabbat Shalom everyone! Elections are over but as always the opinions abound 
Ouch! My head is exploding from the constant talk of elections, Lapid, Likud, Bennet, Tsippi, Sheli.......... how much can they all say on the subject? All the old, defunct MK's have been dusted off and the smell of mothballs removed so that they can give their opinions, which, when one comes down to it, bear no water until Mr Netanyahu, or whomsoever, successfully creates a feasible coalition and forms the government! It serves no purpose to state that so and so will be Foreign Minister or whats-his-name will be Defence Minister................. because we don't know who will be in or whether Tsippi will once again be the "Runaway Bride".
David Horovitz, initiator of the excellent “Times of Israel” is, yet again, the journalist who put some logic into the avalanche of words in his latest piece "Israeli Elections - What just happened.
David correctly states that, despite international media statements to the contrary, Israeli voters moved toward the political centre, despite those who voted for the "Bayit ha Yehudi" party, who also have a place in the Knesset, if not in this government. Since the majority voted for centrist parties, in order to be representative the Government coalition should also be centrist but we cannot know yet.

The biggest surprise was the incredible, nay meteoric success of Yair Lapid's "Yesh Atid" (there is a future) party. Yair Lapid grew up in a political family with a journalist father who went into politics late in life on a clearly anti-religious banner - his son Yair is not a left winger, is not anti-religious but does demand a population that receives rights in exchange for the fulfillment of national responsibilities. He believes it unfair that Yeshiva students, who do not serve our country, receive preference in housing, receive a stipend, receive special mortgages, while young soldiers coming out the army do not have anywhere near the same rights. that the heavy load of defending our country should be evenly shared, an aim he shares with Bennet's Jewish Home party and most of the other non-religious parties but opposed by the religious and Arab parties. The level of Arab voters rose, at the last minute, and saved the Arab parties. Yair Lapid's first political statement was that he had no intention of rushing into aggressive opposition with, as he says, the likes of Haneen Zoabi (the Arab MK who was on the Mavi Marmara protest ship) but rather intends forming part of a coalition with Mr Netanyahu at the helm. Kol ha Kavod to this new young politician, his first move was a good move for the country. He said he is willing to sit and discuss the formation of a coalition with anyone. One thing is for sure, this Knesset will put the subject of national service for all very high on its list of priorities, rewarding those who serve.

I can now tell you for whom I voted. I voted for Shaul Mofaz, former Commander in Chief of the IDF, the leader of what remains of Kadimah since Tsippi Livni split the party in two. I felt that he served our country with honour, understands defence, knows what it means to be a poor immigrant who built himself up by the skin of his own knuckles, recognised six months ago that the government was headed for a 40 billion shekel deficit (and was derided publicly for saying so), speaks Farsi and understands Iran. I thought he had all the requirements but he is an honest broker and that doesn't always work in politics even though his campaign was voted the best. He is in the Knesset but he only got 2 seats. I am interested to see if the future Prime Minister will recognise his worth and make him Defence Minister or not.
The final results are
Just one piece of useless information - Lapid in Arabic is Maashal!!!!! Do you think that will help us with our relations with Hamas?

After voting I jumped in the car and took my daughter and grandchildren off to the beach. The weather was glorious, sunny and warm, and just 45 minutes from Jerusalem is Kibbutz Palmachim and a wonderful beach. It was a terrific escape from the TV and the constant opinions expressed. As I watched the three children running and playing on the sand and collecting shells it put everything into perspective because if not for them, for whom do we want a secure future? Zvi, of course, met his parliament, which is no longer in the gas station having moved to the cafe in the University, and they sorted out the coalition, government, ministers in two hours and then came home for supper.

Last night our dear friends Drs. Mickey and Shlomit Keren gave a presentation at the Begin Centre about the research into their latest book, delving into the files finding the formation of the Jewish Brigade during WW1 and the stories of the individual soldiers. The idea of the Jewish Brigade ran concurrently with Weizman's work on synthetic acetone for the British war effort, Prime Minister Lloyd Georges encouragement of the Balfour Declaration and Jabotinsky's determination to form the Jewish Brigade. The soldiers came from all corners of the UK, mostly Yiddishe speakers fresh from the shtetl, from Canada, USA, and all points of the compass. This strange mix of humanity went to join “Kitcheners Army” to free the Land of Israel.
The book describes their shock at arriving in Port Said and their travel overground to the Land of Israel - “with a pillar of dust before us and a fire (from the engines) during the night, just like the original Exodus from Egypt.
This story of Brigades 38 and 39 of the Royal Fusiliers with special Magen David's on their epaulettes, is utterly fascinating in a book well worth reading.

So we are moving forward to a different future, with influences that appear to be very positive. Hopefully the handsome and charismatic Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid Party will bring a fresh attitude and a stronger move for change than was possible with the former coalition.

We will spend Shabbat dinner with our children who are imminently expectant parents then on Shabbat lunch we head down the road to friends for Tu B'Shvat Shabbat lunch and then out in the evening to eat again (phew) for a Tu B'Shvat supper!!! Oh sorry, you don't know what Tu'B'Shvat is? It is the new year for trees! Ecology started long before Al Gore you know! Tu B'Shvat is the 15th day of the month of Shvat and the time when one plants a tree and thinks of the renewal of the earth of this beautiful land. (The Almond has blossomed, and the Sun is Shining Brightly, Birds from Every Roof-Top, Welcome the Arrival of the Holiday)

This festival which began as the collection of the tithe of the olive harvest has become yet another example of why Israel is the only country in the world which has dramatically increased the number of trees, creating a reality so different from when those Yiddish speaking Jews of the Jewish Brigade arrived in a dusty, barren land after the Ottomans extreme deforestation. We are now truly a land of milk and honey, productive and green. Indeed today, as I was driving home along the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem road with my friend Betty I saw the first Shkediah (Almond Blosssom) at the side of the road. They are so beautiful....... by next week we will go walking to see the phenomenal sight of clouds of pink and white Almond Blossom covering the hillsides around Jerusalem. Fresh clear air, thoughts of elections behind us and time to enjoy the beauty of this amazing country – pure and simple.
Did you plant a tree today? I had one planted in my name for my birthday from a very special man who searched for the appropriate birthday gift for me and found it!!!!!

I will leave you with the glorious voice of Cantor Helfgot singing “Ani Ma'amin” – “I Believe” which is a prayer, a blessing and a statement of deepest beauty. and, as is appropriate to a new period in Israeli politics he also sings “Shehechiyanu” the prayer of joyful thanks that we arrived to this time.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends, Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem – the most beautiful and exciting city in the world.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Mid-week election update


20th January 2013

Shevu'a Tov dear friends – Gut Voch, have a good week!

Today I envy the United States, the election fervour is over and today President Obama's inauguration ceremony with its full pomp and circumstance takes place. One thing is exceptional in that his oath of office was taken in private rather than in public. I wish the President a relatively uneventful Presidency and recognition of who are his best friends and who pray for his downfall; of economic revival and social change.

Our elections are still ahead and the level of confusion is unbelievable. We don't have the luxury of simply deciding if we want Democrats or Republicans, we currently have over 30 parties to choose from! Of course many will not pass the electoral threshold and will lose their deposits - in my opinion we must vote for those who truly represent our beliefs and will actually be in the running for a coalition with the almost certain PM to be Mr Netanyahu. That must be the criteria in deciding who is important and who not.

Just so that you understand the confusion of choice one goes from the slightly ridiculous in Zvi's childhood friend Dan Biron and the “Pirate” party, through the various religious parties, Haredi Ashkenaz, Haredi Mizrachi, Shas and the Breslauer party and the brave Rabbi Amsalem's party which has broken away from Shas because he believes that religious Jews should work and pay taxes and serve in the IDF; Russian Olim parties, Ethiopian Olim party, the Arab parties, Atidim and Yesh Atid of Yair Lapid, former journalist, which despite being new has many aspects which are very attractive to those who are tired of carrying the weight of this country's security and economy while receiving few bonuses for the honour although one lady who insisted she was voting for him because he is handsome confused the issues!; new on the scene is “HaBayit ha Yehudi” which is young, led by Naftali Bennet, right wing and gaining ground from Likud; we then come ot the familiar parties – left wing Meretz; centrist Avodah or Labour party led by former journalist Shelli Yachimovitch who is for social equality but hot on security; Hatnua, the newly formed Tsippi Livni party after she left Kadima; Kadima led by the highly impressive former chief of staff Shaul Mofaz of whom Ariel Sharon, when he made him C-of-Staff, said “With Mofaz at the helm I am at peace”; finally and most certainly the largest vote will be for Likud, Benjamin Netanyahu leading all the other parties.

Now do you understand our discombobulation? Even the centrist parties are too many and the right isn't so right and the left isn't so left and some went so far to the extremes that they lost me along the way….................... gosh! As I said, now we have to work out who can work with Mr Netanyahu to bring about the social and security changes we must bring about to remain the democratic and successful country we are so proud of. I don't want to vote for someone who will decide to quit the opportunity to lead the change because their pride forces them into opposition, I want someone who can be the force for change and the brakes on extreme policies. I want someone who will represent my views and my dreams for this amazing little country, bring us into a more cohesive and responsible community and is able to present our best qualities to a world that is ready to chastise us for existing.

Soldiers who are not in bases because they are out on operations have already voted but the rest of us go to the polls on Tuesday. I will show my voting card, my ID card and leave them with the panel in the pre-designated room at the local high school, one of whom will check my name and ID card against the list and put a thick line through my name to prevent a second vote, then I will walk alone to the little booth and try hard to remember the letters which represent my party, pick the right “petek” or paper from the box with 30+ little papers and put it into the envelope, seal it and drop it into the sealed ballot box with a small prayer.

I must mention the tragedy in Algeria when insane terrorists kidnapped foreign workers in a closed compound of a large gas operation. The reaction of the Algerian authorities to the kidnapping, allegedly in response ot the French intervention to Islamic terror in Mali, was thoughtless and inept resulting in the deaths of most of the captives and all of the captors reminding one somewhat of the ineptitude of the operation by the German authorities in the Munich massacre. Yet another instance of Islamic revenge on the innocent for any attempt to bring order to chaos.

The good news today is that Senators both sides of the aisle came to visit the Prime Minister and President of Israel to great welcome and warmth. Mr Netanyahu emphasised that the world's problems do not begin and end with Jewish settlements but rather with the enormous world threat of Iran

By the time I write again the shouting will be over, the negotiations for the coalition underway and the beautiful festival of trees, of rebirth, of planting and hope will be upon us.............Tu b'shvat

Wish us luck that we get the leader we need not the leader we deserve!!!!

With love from the ever beautiful Jerusalem. As I write to you I look out of our huge windows upon the twinkling lights of this city, still busy, still sparkling, still full of life and love even at 10:30 at night!!!!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem


17th January 2013.

Shabbat Shalom to you all and a great big Mazal Tov to my wonderful brother in law Melvyn who is 80 years old today.

My time in the UK was warm even if the weather was cold and of course I loved being with my incredible grandchildren. Kinneret Chayas father Moishe calls his grandchildren his "nechasim"  - the Hebrew for grandchildren is nechaDIM and nechaSIM means assets- assets they certainly are!!!!

Talking of Kinneret Chaya - I met Sari Singer through Kinneret Chaya as we both worked to let the world understand what an incredible young woman, a true survivor, Kinneret Chaya is. Through our mutual admiration for KC I agreed to speak at Sari's synagogue "Temple Shaarei Tefilla" (The Gates of Prayer) and met Rabbi David Greenberg and Ron Myerson and out of those friendships incredible projects have blossomed.
When Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast of the USA only one country came to the aid of the ever generous United States and that is tiny Israel through IsraAid . Rabbi Greenberg is always looking for appropriate projects for his community and sure enough, after I made a "cyber shidduch" members of the community set off with their tools and helped IsraAid to rebuild in Sandy Point, repeating the exercise just one week later. Jake, a young man who volunteered with the original group, wrote to me saying how much he got out of the experience and he has gathered a group of young people to help IsraAid again in Sandy Point. 

So you see folks, the power of one is strong and living in Bedford, New York. It passes on from one, to one, to one and multiplies in power each time. I talk about it all the time and believe it can change our world. It only takes one person willing to listen, willing to act and lo and behold - one has a movement for good.

Pres Obama thinks that Netanyahu is the problem???? With the entire area falling into chaos and terrorism rife – how can he? Mali, Syria, now Algeria, citizens slaughtered for disagreeing with their government; Christians killed willy nilly for not being Moslems; Bahai banned from Egyptian schools; has anyone noticed that ALL the trouble-spots in our world are Islamic? Israel the problem? Netanyahu the problem? I think someone somewhere has got his priorities wrong.

The situation in Mali became so extreme that the French decided to intervene militarily. Meanwhile, in neighboring Algeria, terrorists decided to avenge the French actions by kidnapping dozens of foreign diplomats as hostages to force the French to retreat. They are holed up in the compound of a colossal gas installation and in an utterly unwise attempt to end the situation the Algerian army strafed the convoy of hostages and terrorists, causing the deaths of most of the hostages and many terrorists. Some of the hostages are being forced to wear explosives, according to French television reports. The situation remains unresolved.

Australia has suffered the worst bush fires for a very long time as vast areas are taken by the force of flames in Tasmania and New South Wales. Apparently the fires began in many different places raising suspicions that it may have been, at least partially, arson. The sheer ferocity of the flames is fanned by searing temperatures and wind. Israel sent her condolences to the victims and prayers for those who lost their homes.

Israel's elections are just a few days away and everyone is in a tizz. I have never seen so many Israelis uncertain where to place their X. I am certain that Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud Party will win but the question is who will be strong enough to be an influential part of the resultant coalition. Voting for the small parties is a waste of time and energy under these circumstances and voting for extremes is too. What will happen after the elections? David Horovitz, probably the most pragmatic of journalists discusses the Obama/Netanyahu relationship.

Dear Ron Myerson - thank you - you caused me to look up the meaning of Loacoon - and I discovered that he was the one who warned the Trojans about the wooden horse. What a shame he isn't about now to warn the world about the Arab Spring Islamic revolution. It made me think dear Ron, maybe Steve Emerson is our Loacoon with his "Jihad in America" book which caused such uproar and name calling until 9/11 when he was finally believed.

Since my return life has been suitably insane!! Of course the first thing Zvi and I did on our way back from the airport was to stop and hugs my grandchildren who were suitably thrilled to see me as was my daughter Rachel. The next day was my birthday, and no, I won't say how old I am, but I am thrilled to be that age!!!

Rachel and the children came over to sing Happy Birthday and light fireworks on my cake. It was so exciting!!! Then we went out to dinner with our lovely friends Rosa and Bernardo Romanowsky and Irit Lev – to a terrific restaurant in the German Colony called……….. Roza!!! The food was marvelous and the company delightful and I even got a sparkler in my dessert!!!

The next day Dana and Betty took me out for our traditional birthday lunch to the Botanical Gardens. It was such a beautiful day. The sun shone, the air crisp, the company excellent, the pond shining and the food marvelous. We had so much fun despite our uncertainty for whom to vote which was a major part of our conversations. Here in Israel we are not afraid to discuss such things, especially since it is not a matter of family pride, virtually everyone I know is a floating voter, we do not have the same level of party loyalty……. Probably because few parties stick around long enough to make it a generational choice!

Tomorrow, ah tomorrow is Erev Shabbat. Back to the major decisions in life like……. What should we eat!!! The children are not coming to us this week but we have Tamara, Zvi's Mexican cousin, with us. Tamara is 18 years old and she is in Israel for a year. The last two weeks were spent in the IDF doing Marva, full basic training with all the hardships and sense of purpose that a new recruit would endure and she loves it!!! It never fails to amaze me how many young people who are used to a very gentle lifestyle come into their own when put under the stringent training of Marva. Rising at 05:00 and doing a full days training including marching with full equipment on their backs, doing drill, cleaning weapons, responding to orders, eating army food (its good here) and creating terrific relationships with other young people.

Anyway, tomorrow I will see Jerusalem slow down, the shopping malls slowly empty and the streets quieten as Jerusalemites go home to cook, clean and prepare themselves for Shabbat. Ah Shabbat. What a sad world it would be without that wonderful day of family, contemplation, battery recharging and enjoyment.

I wish you Shabbat Shalom and lots of love from Jerusalem with this traditional song from Fiddler on the Roof
And a very un-traditional Shabbat Song


Friday, 11 January 2013

Shabbat Shalom from London

11th January 2013

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope you are well and that my "week off" didn't bother you.
I am in the UK, but before all my British friends get cross for my lack of contact, I am here for a very specific reason, helping to take care of my glorious grandchildren and cooking up a storm for the family to give my daughter-in-law a chance to be healthy and back on her usual excellent form. I did manage to go down to Wales for two days to see my family there which was wonderful. So dear lovely British family and friends - I apologise but please don't be cross that I didn't contact you but it just wasn't appropriate.

I seem to be somewhat expert at avoiding unpleasant and unexpected weather conditions!! My decision to come home directly from Florida rather than returning through New York on my way back to Israel from the USA, just before Hurricane Sandy, resulted in my narrowly missing that disaster; I avoided the heavy rains, winds and subsequent flooding just before arriving in the UK and this week, while away from Israel she has been battered by gale force winds, flooded by heavy rains and now Jerusalem and the Golan are under a white blanket of snow! Apparently a harbinger of better weather it's worth following my example!

The Arab Spring has produced a multitude of results, most of them extremely negative. The latest outrageous statement from Egypt bans Bahai from public schooling! Bahai, the religion of peace is not recognised by the new government in Egypt. They recognise Judaism yet the Jews have virtually all left under dreadful persecution; they recognise Christianity yet are persecuted and killed out of existence; they recognise Islam - they recognise Islam. The Wests acceptance and support of the current government even rewarding their occasional good behaviour amidst the sea of tyranny.

A horrendous, arguably the most atrocious result of the Arab Spring is the situation in Syria. President Assad made a speech to his nation and the outside world, deep in his megalomanic denial of reality. After over 60,000 deaths, nay murders, of ordinary civilians he is determinedly unaware that his spree of slaughter must end. The UK, through Foreign Minister William Haigh, is trying to persuade the European Union to provide the rebels with non-lethal equipment to fight Assads diabolical onslaught, in line with the American approach. We cannot claim that Assad is an uneducated parvenu whose power hungry determination comes out of ignorance - he is the Western educated son of a former leader and has seen and benefitted from the beauty of democracy yet chooses to commit heinous crimes in the name of his power-hungry ambitions. 

The Ynetnews headline reads "200 Palestinian settlers build outpost in Area E1". Did CNN newsreaders tell you? Well they did and no-one is stopping them. Building Bab el Shams as a prtest is utterly ridiculous because they are building non-stop anyway!!!,7340,L-4331259,00.html 

Nobody quite understands the Israeli electoral system but despite the multitude of parties it works! Sometimes it works because a coalition prevents either far left or far right from dangerously changing our path and sometimes is frustrates good policies but in general it works well. Luckily we don't have one man with overall power who can decide against Israels best interests.

Naftali Bennet, Yair Lapid and Rabbi Amsalem are filling diverse voids. Rabbi Amsalem is an Mizrachi or Eastern Jew, who was a member of Shas the Mizrachi religious party but was angered by the changes in their attitude toward the state, the IDF and work. He believes that the Mizrachi religious movement was always demanded army service, working to earn a crust and support for the nation in addition to Torah study and now they have joined the ultra-orthodox Ashkenazis in believing that study of Torah is sufficient and one does not need to support ones family, go to the army, give back to the country in any way - indeed accept that rights demand obligations. His outspoken attitude has created a situation of near excommunication but he is a providing a good alternative to Shas for secular Jews too, impressed by his honesty. Naftali Bennet represents the "kippa Sruga" or modern orthodox Jews who are the backbone of this country and feel that the Prime Minister is indecisive and has lost his direction. Bennet is young, vibrant and speaks his mind. He is ardently Zionist, served in the IDF with honour, is financially savvy and politically aware........... watch out for him. He won't be our next PM but he will be highly relevant. Yair Lapid has basically taken the policies of his father and honed them for today. He is anti-religious, left wing and presents a fresh and handsome face for those on the left who don't understand why Shelly Yachimovic supports the large settlements and military policies. It is going to be an interesting ten days when I get home and I promise to keep you up to date!

An excellent Op-ed on Israel, our situation, politics and the world opinion appeared in this weeks JPost.

Two Israeli documentaries have been nominated for the Oscars. It is phenomenal just how many Israeli films receive accolades from the highest and most critical of film associations .

Professor Raymond Dwek is a fine man, a scholar and the man who saw the potential in my wonderful eldest son and encouraged his entry to Exeter College, Oxford where he distinguished himself with a double first. Obviously that is not the reason Professor Dwek receive the CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in the Queens New Years Honours. Prof Dwek a glycobiologist "co-chairs the UK-Israel Life Sciences Council to increase scientific collaboration. Together with Oxford University, he initiated collaborative work on water development and biotechnology with both Israelis and Palestinians."

Being back in the UK I recognise how misunderstood this country is. The world tends to watch the BBC and believe their opinons to be the opinions of the people concerning the Middle East and it couldn't be further from the truth. While walking in Regents Park with the children it is true the Mosque is strangely overpowering but on the other hand one looks up to see that the golden dome is developing a definitely weathered appearance, losing its lustre, which is somehow comforting. Despite warnings I saw a normal number of Hijabbed women, probably less than elsewhere and British life is doing just fine thank you.

Travelling on bus, tube and train I was met with wonderful chatty friendliness and marvelled at the way those in orderly queues found so much to talk about with utter strangers. Supermarkets checkout girls smile and ask how you are; bus drivers are not bothered when you can't find the exact change and are ready to get out and show you where to go when asked; everyone I stopped in the street to ask directions was warm and kind and I realised that all the stories of Britain that abound are as far from the truth as the ones the BBC tells about Israel!!!

I can't wait to get home but am so torn at leaving my children and grandchildren behind. Such is the life of the modern family, our very physical distance enhances our emotional closeness. The best advantage of living away is that my daughters in law still think I am wonderful since they get me in short doses and I am totally theirs when I am with them.

Being inside both my Manhattan grandsons school and the London grandchildrens school has reinforced my belief in school uniforms. There is no greater leveller than school uniform. It saves money, prevents sartorial one-upmanship and creates a sense of belonging and support for the school. It is just one of the elements of loyalty that our modern society has lost and should bring back.

The snow will have melted by Sunday when I touch down at the ultra-modern airport at Ben Gurion, Israel. Long gone are the days of Lod Airport, walking down the steps onto the searingly hot tarmac, the distinctive scent of pine and orange blossom filling the air as you first boarded the bus then walked across to  the terminal with "Welcome to Israel" emblazened across its facade. Now the sleeve comes out to greet you and you enter the new Israel through the wide and open spaces using either the moving walkways or the luxuriously carpeted  passages and down the massive hallway to the passport control where I proudly take out my speedy entrance card while everyone else stands in line for passport control, insert it into the special machine, slip my hand in for the fingerprint check and go out into the huge baggage hall where the luggage is always, inevitably already waiting. No hanging around here. As I wheel my cart out through the "Nothing to Declare" doorway I usually get a welcome kiss from the Ministry of Agriculture Inspector and go out into the sound of waterfalls in the greeting hall. Once outside I will call Zvi who will pull up to Gate 03 and collect me so that we can go back to Jerusalem.As always the excitement builds as we climb the "Aliya" or ascent to my favourite city in the world. Of course the first thing I will do (after hugging my beautiful Jerusalem grandchildren and my daughter Rachel) when I walk into the apartment will be to open the huge blinds and take in, nay breathe in, the view.

This has been a wonderful period, I love helping, love spoiling my children, love seeing my siblings and their spouses and children, am appreciative of Gideon's amazing mother-in-law Catherine, Stephanie's mother, who has been phenomenal over this last couple of months---- even more than usual! I go home with a far lighter heart than I came, back to Jerusalem and my Israeli family where Zvi and I impatiently await grandchild number 11!

The supper is prepared, the table set, traditions have no countries or boundaries. Our dinner, eaten after Gideon sings Kiddush or blessing over the wine, we break bread over the Challah, he will sing Eshet Chayil to thank G-d for giving him Stephanie and bless the children then we will sit together as families have done for generations and Jews have done from time immemorial. I suppose if someone asked me what it means to be Jewish I could answer on one leg like Rabbi Hillel but my answer would be slightly different "Family and continuity of traditions" rather than only "Honour your fellow man" which is just one of them.

With love from London 

Shabbat Shalom lovely friends