Friday, 29 March 2013

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem - Kinneret Chaya's Anniversary


29th March 2013

Shabbat Shalom, Moadin leSimcha, Pesach Sameach and a good Good Friday to all

The food has been both cooked and eaten, the songs sung, the prayers prayed and the story of our Exodus from slavery in Egypt to freedom right here in the Land of Milk and Honey. At least, the food for the first part of Pesach has been cooked and eaten – it is an ongoing trend for the remaining period too!!!

Seder night (we only have one night in Israel) was stupendous. 26 people, lovely family and friends, sang the songs our forefathers sang............. at least they sang many of them as we did except for Chad Gadya, the song of one little kid, and a cat, a dog, a fire, water, a bull, the shochet (slaughterer), the angel of Death and of course HaKodesh Baruch Hoo, the Almighty who appears at the end to save us all. The song is fun but most fun because when we sing it we make the noises of each of the creatures and happenings but have to stay on our toes because............. it is in Aramaic and none of us quite understand!!!! It is fun and it wakes the children up too!

Israel's limited apology to Turkey over the Mavi Marmara affair was intended to secure , or rather restore, military and diplomatic agreements, especially as the Iranian situation becomes more and more dangerous. Turkish air space is essential in any possible defensive action and also because Turkey is a very important NATO base. Erdogan is currently chest-beating and making macho anti-Israel statements but he will come round – he is just trying to extort more from the apparently easy target – he still hasn't learned!!!

Today is Good Friday, and thousands and thousands of Christian make pilgrimage to Jerusalems Old City. Franciscan Priests lead groups of tourists and some people choose to literally walk in the steps of Jesus by carrying huge crosses through the tiny streets and wearing crowns of thorns. It is a phenomenal religious and spiritual experience as they walk the stations of the cross ending in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, said to be the site of Jesus death, burial and ressurection. Yet again Passover and Good Friday coincide and Jews and Christians mingle and enjoy the wonders of religious freedom.

Tomorrow, the 30th of March, is the anniversary of a deeply personal tragedy and miracle. 11 years ago, on the 30th of March, at the beginning of the 2nd Intifada, a young and beautiful student was working as a waitress in a coffee shop, called “My Coffee Shop” in Tel Aviv's Allenby Street. She happily approached the young man who came in and asked for coffee but as she turned to make it the unthinkable happened, he self-exploded and the coffee shop went up in flames. When the paramedics came in together with the fire service, Itzik Kohav, the head paramedic with Magen David Adom, scoured the place, gave the all clear and as he headed for the door saw something move out of the corner of his eye. His instinct took him back into the coffee shop and he cautiously moved the bar, which had overturned in the blast. Suddenly he saw an arm and as he struggled with the heavy bar he realised someone was underneath and their situation was not good. He took her to Ichilov Hospital and there the doctors and nurses fought for her life, not believing they would be successful, they gave her a 2% chance of survival. Kinneret had burns on 85% of her body, her left eye and ear were destroyed and one lung and her vitals were very poor, yet Itzik remembers that she chatted the whole way to the hospital – and he stayed with her until her family arrived.

That night her Mother Yaffa asked us to bring an amulet from Jerusalem to the hospital and a Rabbi came and after whispering to her he told the family to change her name to Kinneret Chaya – Kinneret lives. Thus Kinneret Chaya celebrates her birthday – her real birth- day tomorrow. She survived through the strength and love of her family and those around her and I had the honour of spending many a day at the hospital with them. 88 days in an induced coma; I saw her first food – it was a peeled grape and she relished every tiny drop of juice; her first shower, her first steps, her first laugh and her first kiss............ all recorded faithfully for the day she will come to me and say it is time.

Beyond all imagination Kinneret Chaya is married to her wonderful Amir and has three fabulous babies. Incredible miraculous that someone with her extent of burns could be pregnant at all!!! Kinneret Chaya still has the adoration of her incredible family and all who know her love her. She shines. Indeed, the first time I saw her after the tragedy was on a huge bed of green air cushions, her face distorted and raw........ she turned her head, despite the light coma, looked at me and smiled the most beautiful smile I have ever seen in my entire life! Kinneret Chaya, married lady, Mazal Tov. Mazal Tov on your eleventh birthday – I love you!!!

And so to more mundane things – Yesterday we took Ilana, Eddie and children, Silvia and Avraham and children, Leor and Shiri and children and last but definitely not least Rachel and her children to the Ice City her ein Jerusalem. It is phenomenal and the children loved it although it is freezing cold inside! Zvi and I waited outside and I chatted to the people near me. On one side a family from Haifa down for the day and on my left a family from Ashdod – and of course we began to discuss who eats what on Pesach. Moroccans don't eat rice but Yemenites do and so do Iraqis and Kurds and of curse Ashkenazis don't eat any pulses which is very trying! The Israel Arab family at the next table were very amused by the whole discussion of course!!! After the Ice City we went to Zion ha Gadol for a real Middle Eastern meal – and although they are Mizrachi (Eastern) Jews they don't serve pulses either!!!

Anyway, we changed the clocks last night or I would never have managed to write today. Zvi's cousins Billy and Ruth Shapiro are arriving later from Mexico and then we have a full week of activities culminating in the Bar Mitzvahs of their grandsons Alan Podolsky and David Fainsod. The Bar Mitzvah will take place at the Kotel and then Zvi organised that the boys themselves will lead the family tour of the Kotel Tunnels and Ir David. Afterwards some 40 people come to us for lunch! Don't worry – it will be catered.!!!

Last night our little grand-daughters Amit and Gili, slept over and I was able to show the wonder of the moonrise over the horizon – it was huge and round and orange and …....... gosh!

Since the clocks moved forwards I have time to watch Jerusalem slow down, to prepare for Shabbat. The city is already quieter, the matzo stuffed population wending its weary way home from shopping to cooking to schlafshtunder to a beautiful Shabbat meal on a balmy Jerusalem evening.

I want to wish my adored son and daughter-in-law Daniel and Karen and their gift Joshua a very special Shabbat as they celebrate their wedding anniversary, you made me so happy every time I see you together and Joshua, Joshy, Joshposh....... there aren't enough words!!! I am so proud of them as I am of all my children. I love you all.

Shabbat Shalom lovely people, be it Shabbat, Pesach, Easter or Good Friday, may you be blessed with everything you need and a little bit of what you just want!!

With love from Jerusalem

Friday, 22 March 2013

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem - the President Obamas Visit.


22nd March 2013

Shabbat Shalom and a quick reminder to all my Jewish friends – we aren't slaves any more. This is the festival of freedom so do what has to be done but don't make it servile suffering!!!

Two Kassam rockets exploded in the city of Sderot onThursday, a clear message from hamas that they do not like the impending agreement between Abbas and Netanyahu. One landed next to a private house but luckily there were no injuries. There were numerous demonstrations against Obama and America with the usual flag burning but suprisingly the Palestinian police did an excellent job of controlling the crowds.

Before anyone starts writing angrily to tell me that President Obama is awful, lying, terrible, any other criticism you wish – the following is my take on the Presidential visit. I think he did an amazing job and his support for Israel was clear at every step.

President Obamas visit has been a resounding success on many levels. He treated President Peres with the respect and esteem his age and career demand; his relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu is warm and friendly and he went to great lengths to show that, especially as he was the only one to hold Sarah Netanyahus chair as she stood patiently beside it at the dinner in the Presidents Home! He said clearly that the Jewish homeland must exist in security; he said that while peace talks must restart there must be no pre-conditions brought to the table and looked most displeased when Mahmoud Abbas spoke in such negative terms about Israel; he stayed in Jerusalem not Tel Aviv; he met the young people of Israel and told them that their future is in their own hands and he talked about the sadness for young Palestinians to see soldiers who have control of their cities (like it or not and whatever the reasons is true); he told them clearly the “atem lo levad” you are not alone and equally importantly he said that America will not allow a nuclear Iran and “all options are on the table”. he went to Herzl's Tomb and and Rabin's grave and back to Yad Vashem, after expressing in strong terms that he will not countenance any Holocaust denial; his words were warm, eloquent and he reiterated that Israel was not born because of the Shoah but rather due to the Shoah Israel must exist. Former Chief Rabbi Lau, said hank you to the American people “As a child in Buchenwald I was used to military uniforms but as the American soldiers, led by Patton, walked into the barracks where the children cried in Yiddisch and freed us, not from slavery but from death, the uniforms took on a different meaning. I met a man in Seattle who had been a soldier in WW2 and apologised for America coming too late to save the Jews and I ask that this time America will arrive in time.”

At Yad Vashem the President spoke his most relevant and heartfelt words "Here on your ancient land, let it be said for all the world to hear, the state of Israel does not exist because of the Holocaust, but with the survival of a strong Jewish state of Israel, such a Holocaust will never happen again,"

The President said that children are not born to hate, they are taught to hate and hatred and racism of all sorts must be addressed, anti-Semitism above all. As he stepped out of the darkness of both the cause and the fact of Yad Vashem to the beauty of Jerusalem before him he commented on this land which is the historic land of the Jews for which they yearned.

From Yad Vashem to Bethlehem and then he will fly home leaving Israel with a very warm glow. President Obama has now, in no uncertain terms, earned the deserved kudos for his visit and put all responsibility for the success or failure of any new talks squarely on John Kerry's shoulders.

We were not invited to any of the events but as the President arrived in Jerusalem he may just have seen me waving on the veranda as his helicopter flew low overhead before landing in the sports field of the Hebrew University on Givat Ram. Thanks to the sand-storm he will go back to the airport by land since his helicopter cannot take off.

Zvi and I were so proud when the children of Hora Jerusalem, Efron Dance Centredelighted the President with their presence at the Presidents House as he patiently went from child to child shaking hands and patting faces.
Here is a round up of the visit
Where Obama is visiting and why

I have only just discovered the writings of Daniel Greenfield. This brilliant article called “The Deadly Israeli House” underlines the idiocy and danger of equating building a few homes to swearing annihilation of the Jewish people.

Lord Trimble in the United Nations Human Rights Council on their latest “waste of time” inquiry of Israeli actions. -”Your inquiry is wrong, your report undermines peace, stop the selectivity against Israel. I regret to say that the Council displays the same selectivity that led to the abolition of the earlier Commission. I urge you to heed the criticism by successive UN secretary-generals of this Council’s habit of singling out only one specific country, to the exclusion of virtually everything else.”

Kol ha kavod to our friends Danby and Marvin Meital who are holding a special Seder on the island of Madeira. Thirteen Jews, many of them Bnei Anousim – descendants of Jews who were forcibly converted to Catholicism more than 500 years ago – will gather in Funchal, the capital of the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira, to celebrate the Exodus from Egypt. It will be the first public Seder held in over five centuries in a region that once had a thriving Jewish population until the Inquisition arrived, even in this remote location, so far from the mainland.

I would love to tell you what is happening outside our window right now but I can't see beyond the orange tree! The Sahara came to visit in the worst sand-storm I have seen for a very long time. I have a feeling that the President will not be able to fly today!!!!

Instead I will tell you about our experience yesterday. The experience of pre-Passover shopping in Israel. Rami Levi is an entrepreneur who opened a chain of inexpensive supermarkets. It was announced on Israeli television that his “Pesach basket” was the cheapest in the country, and yesterday we discovered that 90% of Jerusalem was in Rami Levi ----- all at once!!! Huge baskets full of every conceivable passover delicacy – fruit, vegetables, matzot and anything that had the right Kosher le Pesach stamp on it. For Ashkenazi Jews there is the further dilemma of what has “kitniot” or pulses and what doesn't – the lucky Sefardi Jews can eat rice, humous, seeds and so many other things that make life easier!!!
My menu is ready, the meat in the freezer waiting for me to finish changing the dishes and dipping the pots and pans in boiling water with stones in it. Why? Because that is what my family has always done!! Just as my parents and their parents did before us we start with the blessings over parsley (new growth of spring), of bitter herbs (to remember the bad times) and of the combining or charoseth to remember the glue that binds us and the times we worked as slaves building the pyramids. Then the head of the house hides the Afikomen for later. We then eat the hard-boiled eggs in salt water, before folding the prayer books and settling nto the main meal of chicken soup with matzo balls, chopped liver, roasted meat, chicken, turkey and of course the inevitable roasted veggies and salads galore! We will be 26 for Seder, including the Podolskys from San Diego, the Efrons from Florida and all the family and extended family. I can't wait!!!

So as the beautiful flowers of our veranda disappear under a blanket of sand I am thinking back to a very positive week. Any fears were allayed by the actions and words of the American President. Now we have to see if John Kerry is up to the enormous job placed on his shoulders. Hopefully he will remember the words of my lovely husband, in the council chambers of the Municipality some 8 years ago when Zvi explained to the assembled dignitaries the “mosaic of Jerusalem”, at the end of which John Kerrry came to Zvi and admitted his former misconceptions and the truth of what Zvi said. Here's praying!!

Tonight Zvi and I are eating supper at his synagogue where they officers took pity on the wives and decided to take Shabbat ha Gadol as a reason to gather the community and eat together. No cooking tonight!!!!

Shabbat Shalom to you all and if I don't manage to write to you again, Happy Pesach and remember that this is one festival which celebrates our release from slavery to freedom. Enjoy is and sing as loud as you can possibly manage “B'shana ha ba'ah b'Yerusalem”

I end with the story of Moses, the Jewish people and freedom sung by Paul Robeson who fled persecution himself He ran to Britain which is wher ei learned to love his voice. “Let my people go”

With love

Friday, 15 March 2013

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem. Pope Francis, New Government and more


Friday, 15th March, 2013

Shabbat Shalom dear friends

President Shimon Peres, in a meeting with the leaders of the Catholic Church in Poland at his Jerusalem residence, welcomed the new Pope. President Peres said, "The newly elected Pope represents devotion, the love of God, the love of peace, a holy modesty and a new continent which is now awakening. We need, more than ever, a spiritual leadership and not just a political one. Where political leaders may divide, spiritual leaders may unite. Unite around a vision, unite around values, unite around a faith that we can make the world a better place to live. May the Lord Bless the new Pope."

Pope Francis has shown his generous heart when, as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, he was among the first to express his dismay at the bombing of the AMIA, extending his condolences and standing with the Jewish community.

We were all shocked to hear of the deaths of two experienced, reserve helicopter pilots on a routine training flight. Father of 3 Lt. Col. Noam Ron  of Oranit and new father Maj. Erez Flekserof Herzliya died in the early hours of Tuesday morning when their Bell AH-1 Cobra combat helicopter crashed minutes from landing. My their souls rest in peace and their families know no more sorrow.

Prof. Alan Dershowitz doesn't mince his words in defense of Israel and his search for justice. In his article for the Gatestone Institute entitles "Of Course Hamas Killed the Baby" he says "The recent disclosure that Omar Misharawi, the baby son of BBC reporter Jihad Misharawi, was actually killed by an errant Hamas rocket rather than by an Israeli missile, should have absolutely no moral implications. Of course the baby was killed by Hamas. He would have been killed by Hamas even if the missile that ended his life had been fired by Israel. Hamas is totally and wholly responsible for this death, as it is responsible for every civilian death in Gaza and in Israel. It is Hamas that always begins the battle by firing rockets at Israeli civilians."

A British Peer, jailed for causing a deadly road accident while texting behind the wheel, blamed his prison sentence on a Jewish conspiracy. Lord Nazir Ahmed, a Moslem Peer who was appointed by PM Tony Blair in 1998, said in the London Times, that his prison sentence was a result of pressure applied on the court by Jews “who own newspapers and television channels,” Lord Nazir went on to suggest that the judge was appointed because he helped a Jewish friend of Blair. Lord Ahmed, were you chosen for elevation to the House of Lords for your Jewish connections too?

The scaredy cats of the UN are pulling their forces out from the Syrian/Israel border on the Golan. The moment the situation heated up, especially after 21 Filipino observers were kidnapped. The purpose of the United Nations peace keeping force is to keep the peace even if it means that they take casualties. Time to dissolve the UN and reform into a fair and just organisation. The situation in Syuria is not a simple one - indeed it is a terrifying one. The West must choose between the massacres of Assad, the genocide of Allowites of the Islamic Jihad and the genuine, but very tiny number, of those who want a better Syria.

Teach children hate and they imbue the thirst to kill the children of the "other". That is what happened yesterday as Adva Bitton drove her three little girls along a public road near Ariel. Youths threw a huge stone, the truck before her swerved and Advas car skidded underneath the truck. They were all injured but little Adele, just three years old is currently fighting for her life. Please pray for Adele bat Adva. The hatred that caused this horrible attack is the reason I serve on the board of IMPACT-SE. The incredible experts of IMPACT-SE analyse, research and report on the presence or absence of tolerance in the school curricula of the Middle East (including all sectors in Israel)  according to the criteria of UNESCO. Respect for the "other" and the lack of it, is the basis of a kinder future for this world. . Help us ensure that such incidents will disappear from our world.

Israel has a government! The new cabinet will be sworn in early next week. The route has been tortuous and the usual blackmail tactics have been used in a very different manner. This time the voice of the people, those who pay their taxes from hard earned wages and willingly go to do their army service and reserve duty and send their children to do the same, their voice was heard. I was unsure of Yair Lapid as a political parvenu, but he has more than proven his ability through his alliance with Naftali Bennet. It was Bennet who kept the sparring partners in the ring and came out with the required result. David Horovitz says it all in his article "Netanyahu and his partner/rivals"

Heroes and heroines come in all shapes and sizes. When Israeli Moran Samuel won gold for rowing at the disabled rowing regatta in Rome the organisers played the wrong National Anthem. Undeterred Moran simply asked for a microphone and sang Hatikva, a capela. Moran - you are my heroine - a fine example to the world for your brilliant act. Instead of getting angry when they were unprepared for your Israeli win you proudly sang Hatikva. Ah, sweet revenge indeed!

This July the 19th Maccabiah Games take place. I LOVE their logoHIGHER FASTER STRONGER - Sound Jewish minds in Healthy Jewish bodies”. The final organisation took place at Kfar Maccabiah as the MWU family met up to prepare for the incredible events surrounding this years Maccabiah with the two major extravaganzas in Jerusalem and events to include the 6,000 competitors take place the length and breadth of Israel. It is going to be phenomenal – get tickets now, encourage your children to compete and come!!!!

The President is coming!! He is bringing some 600 people in his entourage, including press, White House staff and his own TV crew who will accompany him to all events. The King David Hotel “has no rooms” and the centre of Jerusalem is basically one big “no-go area”. Hopefully the only faux pas already happened when the flag hangers of the Jerusalem Municipality carefully hung the American Flag on every flagpole ( that means every lamp standard in Jerusalem) alongside the Israeli flag. It was only through the eagle-eyed vigilance of one wonderful gentleman in the Diaspora Ministry that they realised every single one of the thousands of flags was hung upside down – indicating distress!!!! Hopefully that will be the only faux-pas and the President will see what he has to see, speak to whom he needs to speak, shake the appropriate hands, listen to the right people and go home with a clearer understanding (without the input of the State Dept) of who proudly hangs the American Flag beside our own and who burns it. The threats are rampant, the demonstrations abound but we are ding our best to make this a memorable visit in the best sense.

Luckily I am a great believer in early preparation. Most of my Passover cleaning is done. Why fortunate? Because I am now four days into shingles!!! I never knew how painful it is. My doctor was wonderful when I called her and said that I think that is what I have and she took me in immediately, agreed with my diagnosis and put me on a 5x a day pill for a week which will hopefully cure me before Seder night. We have 30 diners so it had better work!!! I remember when our dear friend Norman Sarkin had shingles and tried to describe the pain.............Norman dear, now I know! Yesterday was like giving birth in my back without an epidural!!!!

The weather is insane – no I am not exaggerating!! So far this week we had 12 degrees and sunny; sandstorm; today is 34 degrees and next week is another sandstorm then a 20 degree drop in the temperature throughout the country and possible rain! I know that Europe is under snow – and New Jersey again, but this is crazy. Aaah well, I guess spring has sprung!

My veranda doesn't know that the cool weather is coming back. The Orange tree is smothered in fragrant white blossom and the first tiny, bright crimson buds are appearing on the pomegranate tree. The mint, oregano, thyme, lemon grass, melissa and chives are already providing me with culinary surprises and the flame orange freesias are sending their exquisite aroma over everything. The Kanyon (shopping mall from the word liknot- to buy) is filled to the very brim with people buying their Passover goods before the insanity of next week and of course – new clothes and gifts for the children. Everything in Israel is for the children. We don't hide them or insist they stay quiet in the corner or go to their rooms – they are part of everything!!!!

We are having a very quiet Shabbat tonight – I am resting as much as possible to save my strength for next week.
Gosh I love Pesach (Passover) – and I love the sense of everything new and different. My only problem is that too many women forget that this is the celebration of our release from slavery!!!!!

Shabbat Shalom to you all. I wish the new Pope health and wisdom to lead his people and heal the world and our new Government to remember why they got their and to fulfill their manifesto to ALL Israelis – to build rather than destroy.

Love from Jerusalem – heart of our world.


News just came in that one of the runners in todays Tel Aviv half-Marathon (the full marathon was cancelled because of the extreme heat) has sadly died. Three others are intubated and barely being kept alive.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem - Chavez death, Kasim Hafeez, Passover, Rita in the UN

7th March 2013

Shabbat Shalom dear Friends!

Hugo Chavez is dead – another tyrant falls. His body will be paraded in the streets of Caracas today in a 7 hour long parade. Today in the inaptly named Human Rights Assembly, a minutes silence will be held for Hugo Chavez, violator of human rights. U.N. Watch criticized the United Nations saying that the Cuban-led ceremony was "excessive, uncustomary, and disrespectful of its own experts' findings of gross and systematic human rights abuses committed by the Caracas government, and of testimony by Venezuelan victims whom UN Watch had brought before the Council."
The American Consulate in Jerusalem is where all Americans in Israel to go for consular services and unfortunately so do Israelis requiring a visa. The Consulate, situated in East Jerusalem, is becoming more and more unwelcoming to Jews. Read what Naomi Ragen writes about it.
Syrian Rebels, who are supported by the USA and UK, have kidnapped 21 Filipino UN observers on the Syrian Southern Golan Heights and are holding them for ransom. They say they will not release them until the Syrian troops leave their village.

When the British Consul-General in Jerusalem, Sir Vincent Fean, visited Bir Zeit University in the West, bank his car was attacked with cries of “Get out of Bir Zeit”. Luckily Sir Vincent was not harmed but maybe Britain should get out of Bir Zeit and stop funding this hotbed of insurrection.

Yet again Canada stands up to be counted among the nations that will not be bowed by threats. Israel Apartheid week is threateneing to take place at universities all over Canada and unlike other countries there is an official response.

It isn't even Pesach yet the plagues have started already!! Locusts by the million have flown in from Egypt to the Negev, to areas that Israeli ingenuity have turned from arid desert into major agricultural successes, and threaten to strip the fresh green leaves of spring. Potatoes are their favourites! In case you didn't realise that we are at the forefront of agricultural economy and help to feed the world – watch this!!!%20

For the first time in history an Israeli sports delegation had two representatives on the same winners podium. Windsurfer Lee Korzits won gold at the world championships in Brazil on Wednesday with fellow Israeli Maayan Davidovich close behind in third. A strong performance in which two of the Israeli men were also placed in the Top 10.

Rita rocks the UN General Assembly!!! Rita the legendary Israeli singer sang in the General Assembly of the United nations in New York. Rita sang songs of love in Hebrew and her native Farsi (Persian). This proved to be an incredible coup for Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor who succeeded in convincing the United nations to turn the entire plenum area into a show hall. Kol ha Kavod to all involved!!!

Israeli medical research does it again as Stomach cancer is diagnosed through a breath test

Stand With Us and Danny Ayalon made this wonderful video about Jerusalem – short and oh so sweet. Must watch!!!

Talking of Stand With Us
I wish you could meet Kaz. Kaz aka Kasim Hafeez, is a British Moslem whose family came from Pakistan to find a new life in the UK. The environment in which Kaz grew up was very anti-Israel and he followed suit, peer pressure is a powerful tool for indoctrination. Kaz was a good student and went off to University where by chance, he read Prof. Alan Dershowitz's book “The Case for Israel”. It opened his eyes to another point of view and Kaz decided to come to Israel, to see for himself.

He was amazed to see the freedom of movement, what I call the Jerusalem rainbow, of Moslems, Christians, Makoya and Jews of all sorts in this city. Kaz walked to the Western Wall, the Kotel and there, as he says, he had a Eureka Moment. He felt the deep history, the Jewish past flow over him and as a practicing Moslem he felt he had come home. It changed Kaz deeply, he realised that the teachings of his childhood were lies.

A few years have passed since that day, some very difficult as he found himself desperately alone in his own environment, and Kaz has become one of Israel's greatest supporters, speaking to groups and governments. He is incredibly “normal” not extreme and absolutely delightful. If any of you wish to hear Kaz speak, contact him through and invite him, I promise you will be enchanted by his open-ness and humility.

Two things struck my logical side, after my emotional side was won over by his personality and genuine belief, Kaz really cares about the Palestinian people, but not to the detriment of Israel. He says that the only journalist who genuinely cares about their plight is Khaled Abu Toameh. The other thing he felt very strongly was that Israel should not cede any more land without a firm agreement, not peace which is an elusive condition, but an agreement monitored and absolute.

As we sat in a little coffee shop in Shaare Tsedek, Jerusalem, Kaz told me why he was in Israel right now – apart from a million meetings with Stand With Us people who have encouraged Kaz to speak out, he was here to run in the Jerusalem Marathon, or rather half-Marathon, sponsored in aid of the IDF Lone Soldiers Fund. He was staggered, literally, by the difficulty of the tortuous route but as he hit “a wall” he decided to continue because “My difficulty at that moment was nothing compared to these people who leave their families to join the IDF”.

There were many personal aspects that made me even prouder to know him, but as I said, they were personal and I would never break his trust and tell you, but believe me he is a truly amazing young man. Befriend him on Facebook and encourage his outspoken honesty.

So that's another week gone by. Israel still has no government although the rumours abound and the demands exceed expectations. While I most certainly believe that the Haredi community deserves representation I do not believe it is an automatic right that they be part of the government. It depends upon who has the power of the voters. If you look back to my pre-election prognosis, I believed the coalition would hold Likud, Yesh Atid (Lapid), HaBayit ha Yehudi (Bennet), haTnuah (Livni) and Kadimah (Mofaz) although I thought that Shelly Yachimovic would bring Labour in too. Apparently that is more or less the future coalition and now the arguments are over the positions that each party wants to take.

Zvi has finished his 80 page dissertation on Mexico for his course at the Hebrew University, and is duly proud thereof. We still had time to see friends and yesterday he went to the Old City with Flory and Paul Hariton – but today he proudly went to have the printed work bound ready for presentation.

Today is sunny but bitingly cold with strong winds. It is absolutely glorious as I look out over the view of Jerusalem from the warmth of the salon picture windows............. the veranda is too cold today!

Passover spring cleaning is going strong as the sound of vacuum cleaners fills the air until late at night so that working Mums and Dads can catch up on the preparations. It is the time to clean ones emotional house throwing unwanted garbage out with the dust. The different ways of making Pesach (Passover) according to imported traditions both thrill and amaze me. The only thing we all have in common is the cleaning because the preparation of food is utterly different. Moroccans, although North African Jews, don't eat pulses; Kurdish Jews do as do Iraqi, Syrian, Egyptian, Yemenite and Lebanese Jews – all of whom fled oppression in the countries of their birth but brought their traditions with them. Eastern European Jews are totally pulse free which makes Passover cooking a complex issue and food shopping can only be accomplished with a good pair of reading glasses to see what the contents are. Each year additional grocery items leave the realm of possibility for Ashkenazi cooking, testing ones skills further and further.

Pesach honours our history, my parents, parents in law and my wonderful Zeidy, my adored grandfather who used to prepare two items for the Seder Table. One was the freshly grated horseradish which he used to do in the garden so that the entire house would not be in tears (!!!) and the second, his magical charosis (combining) recipe. Mix ground almonds, grated apple, a pinch of cinnamon and a tad of finely slivered lettuce (as the bitter part of the combining) and mix thoroughly with a little sweet red wine or grape juice to create a wonderful “cement”. It is phenomenal!! Make too much because everyone wants seconds and thirds and........... it is as exceptional as my beautiful, tall, strong, gentle, ginger grandfather, whose memory makes me smile and conjures up the picture of him walking toward me every day to collect me from my infants and junior school to cross the road for lunch at their home. He never trusted me with the crossing ladies!!

This Shabbat we will spend with the wonderful Maccabiah Family in Kfar Maccabiah. Friends from Finland, France, Germany, Britain, Canada, USA, Mexico, South America and of course our Aussie buddies, will get together for a wonderful weekend of celebrating Jewish athleticism, yes it is a reality as you can see this summer with the 19th Maccabiah Games the opening and closing ceremonies will be held in Jerusalem and it is going to be fun!!!

I couldn't decide which of these beautiful videos to give to you so I present both. Both are a prayer, both feature the phenomenal voice of David D'Or. First is Avinu Malchenu (Our Father our King) and second is Shema Yisrael, taken from a concert with the Israel Philharmonic and Chazan Yitchak Meir Helfgot
As their voices soar in the last few moments I dare you not to cry!
Shabbat Shalom and much love from Jerusalem, spiritual, giving, beautiful and most of all home. Next year in Jerusalem? Better still, this year!!!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem- Obama Visit, Marathon, Kaz Hafeez, Miss Israel.

1st March 2013

Happy Saint David's Day to all my Welsh friends. Cymru am Byth, and to those who don't know what I am talking about - Croeso y Gymru and of course Saboth Dda.

Shabbat Shalom. In case you thought I had gone crazy today is the Welsh National Day and the patron Saint is St David or Dewi Sant, who rose to the rank of Archbishop while on a visit to Jerusalem.

Today is the day of the Jerusalem Marathon. Over 20,000 runners will weave their weary way through the Old City, city centre and around the hills to the Hebrew University campus. An increasing number of international competitors keep our locals on their toes – literally!! The unusual aspect of this marathon is the Health Exhibit which continues for three full days, encouraging us all to get fit!!

Stranger than fiction. Finnish UN observers along the Syrian border were robbed, yes held up and robbed of their UN vehicle. The Finns were of course unarmed, but in a very UN/PC manner made it clear that ”they didn’t feel their lives threatened by the gun brandishing Arabs”. Had they refused to hand over the UN vehicle, I doubt that they would have been around to tell the story.

Kasim “Kaz” Hafeez is a British Moslem who was raised to hate Israel but since he thinks for himself, rather than following, Kaz realised that Israel is not the enemy. He is here on a speaking tour right now! Please read his excellent op ed By singling out Israel, human rights activists abandon those who really suffer from apartheid “,7340,L-4347381,00.html

In a town near you – A court in New Jersey alleges that Moslem man beheaded and buried two Coptic Christians, burying them near Philadelphia because of the deep hatred and persecution of Copts in Egypt.

The Egyptian Courts denied a case annulling the peace treaty with Israel. This is the second case brought in the last year. Yet again this proves that the judiciary and the military is stronger than Morsi – for now. The Egyptian news reportage was careful though – carefully covering their *****.
The Cairo Administrative Court ruled Tuesday that it has no jurisdiction over a lawsuit demanding the cancellation of the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. The court said the issue involves state sovereignty, which is under the president’s purview.
The plaintiffs said Egypt should void its peace deal over ongoing destruction of Islamic holy sites and the country’s refusal to stop settlement building in Palestinian territories, which they said is a violation of United Nations conventions and treaty itself.

We still don't have a government!!! The PM has asked for an extension from the President but he has met his match in Naftali Bennet! Bennet and Lapid made a pact to stick together nad much to the chagrin of the more weathered politicians they are sticking to it!!! Together they make a strong fighting force and their determination to put the “Shivion b'netel” or equality of burden, and other social issues, on the forefront of Israeli politics has stumped the process. They and their priciples are not for sale
Whatever you happen to think about President Obama or for that matter of Prime Minister Netanyahu, the upcoming visit of the American President is of utmost importance. Please, those of you who have Facebook go to Daniel Seamans page and “like” it!

Last night Zvi and I went to see the acclaimed Israeli documentary “The Gatekeepers” about former heads of the Shin Bet, the Israeli Secret Service. I found it highly disturbing but one thing came out of the film – we have to keep talking with EVERYONE no matter how vile. A must see but very difficult to absorb.
    We have a new Miss Israel and I couldn't be more thrilled!! Yityish Aynaw didn't even want to enter the competition but her friend entered her name for her! Yityish is so beautiful and has an innocence that is exceptional in the cut-throat world of beauty. Good luck in the Miss Wrold.
This week, at the Annual Purim Ball, in aid of Israeli Cancer Research, the highlight, even more than the Hippies who abounded in fancy dress, was the incredible Bass-Baritone Yacov Strizak, who Zvi first heard at the Jewish Agency meetings. Yacov and his beautiful bride came on Aliya just 3 weeks ago and they celebrated their Aliya by donating his performance. The audience was blown away as he sang both in Yiddisch and Russian. Zvi helped him attain auditions with the Israeli Opera and the Jerusalem Opera. Yacov was a highly successful Opera singer in Russia but the pull of Israel was too strong and now we await his world success as an Israeli. The last world famous opera singer to gain his first successes in Israel was Placido Domingo so it is high time for another. For me, watching the pride in his young wifes eyes was enough. He really is stupendous.

We had a delightful day with Flory and Paul Hariton of Florida and Venezuela, obviously talking of the situation of Jews in Venezuela, a situation which gets worse by the day. After lunch on the veranda of the Botanical Gardens Flory and I headed off to the Valley of the Cross in search of wild Calaniot (anemones), Rakafot (cyclamen) and Shkediot (almond blossoms). Flory's camera was clicking constantly as we found fields of red calaniot and the incredible rakafot blooming courageously out of sheer rock. The shkediot, in their final burst of clouds of pink and white, still held a few of last years crop of almonds. Incredibly as we got to the parkland we passed a scout hut and outside a large number of weird structures the scouts had created from wooden branches, sheer initiative!!!

Last week I talked about our forthcoming friday night supper to celebrate Harold Fingers 60thbirthday and this week I want to tell you about it and the subsequent party on Sunday. I don't want to talk about the delicious food and company but rather about the main characters in the story. Through Zvi's work and my enthusiasm we have had the honour of meeting many exceptional people who have given their lives to serving their people and their country in a positive and joyous manner. Of all these people I believe that Harold, his wonderful wife Rebecca and his “best buddy” Stanley Roth and his equally exceptional wife Charmaine, stand out a head and shoulders above the others. There may be those who work harder, although I doubt it, and there may be those who reach higher office, but these two do everything with all their heart and with a joy and kindness that is rare and delightful.

I can see them both blushing but that is how I feel. Their love of Israel and of their traditions and heritage is clear in every word, their adoring and adored families surrounded them and we felt deeply privileged to be counted among their friends. I really love you both and your wonderful wives and I cannot wait to see you all sitting on our veranda, overlooking Jerusalem. However, I have one complaint – why did you take the age-old Welsh Rugby call of Oggi Oggi Oggi and turn it into Ozzi Ozzi Ozzi????

Friday, I love Friday. Why is this Friday different from all other Fridays? Because on this Friday only half of the shelves in the supermarket are open because the race to clean for Passover has begun. That includes homes as the heady smell bleach out-stinks the beautiful aromas of the food cooking for Shabbat.

It is my favourite time of each month when the moon plays its seasonal game, growing enormous and glowing red and yellow, peeping coyly over the horizon, after a seemingly endless wait, only to shoot into the sky at an unbelievable rate getting smaller and brighter as it rises over the city. It never fails to amaze and delight me.

I have a request, please can you pray for the speedy recovery of my adored Moshe ben Rachel, someone very close to my heart?

So dear friends, I wish you Shabbat Shalom. As March begins and spring calls make sure you enjoy every moment and Stanley – the kumquat tree awaits your visit!

With much love