Friday, 26 April 2013

Shabbat Shalom - Boston Bombers Mother, Hagel, Lag b'Omer


Friday 26th of April, 2013

Shabbat Shalom lovely friends! I hope this missive finds you well and if not then I hope it will cheer you up.

I have to start with the “difficult” news and then I promise to lighten the mood and move on to the part you all love best – Jerusalem stories!!

The Boston Bombers have monopolised the front pages of the world, and not surprisingly so. The younger baby faced brother is being tended in hospital, strangely enough by an Israeli doctor, and he will talk, of that I am certain. In the meantime his mother, in her initial interview by telephone, yelled out that her eldest son is dead, her younger son will die and she is ready to die.......... Allahu Akbar. It was eerie to hear her insane fury – which should have been desperate sorrow.

In a later interview she said that it was a mistake, her sons would not do such a thing and blamed their actions on the USA for not protecting them! As a final sting, Mayor Bloomberg released the news that had they survived they planned a series of bombings in New York City starting with Times Square. It is too much information to absorb – it is so beyond our understanding that two young men who fled oppression and war, who found a new life and the chance for excellence in education would turn on the very country that harboured them – that gave them safe haven.

In the meantime Britain jailed the plotters of a terror attack even greater than the devastating London bombings. They were jailed for 51 years after their foul plans were discovered by a very alert Secret Service.

Hezb-Allah decided to remind us of their existence since the worlds eyes are turned on Syria. In a rather dramatic action they sent a drone, an unmanned aeroplane, over Israel. It was quickly disposed of by our Ari Force and the Prime Minister, who was touring the north at the time, simply landed and took another route.

Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel is speaking out. This week he stated that Syria is using chemical weapons – or Sarin gas – on its opponents while others chose to be overly cautious about the obvious.,7340,L-4372542,00.html

It may seem a strange combination at first but when one recognises the real enemies in this region one learns that it is not a matter of Arabs against Jews; the entire Arab world, indeed the entire Moslem world is riven by enmity between Shia and Sunni Moslem......... so the plane and arms deals that the USA has made with Israel, the United Arab emirates and Saudi Arabia actually make sense. The Emirates and Saudi Arabia will pay for their planes and Israel will, as usual, receive hers as part of the military aid. Israel also would receive anti-radiation missiles which are launched from a warplane. These missiles are launched and can home in on an adversary’s air-defense radar signals and destroy those sites. New, advanced radars for Israel’s military jets also would be in the package.
Yair Lapid has discovered that life is much easier criticising the government as a reporter of the news rather than as a creator of an economic plan inside the government! His fiscal plans are now entirely pleasing to the masses and have already caused the threat of widespread strikes. Working with the Unions is much easier when you don't have the heavy responsibility of the national Debt on your head!! El Al struck at the thought of “open skies” reforms to include allowing the European Airlines free access to Israeli air space and vice versa in order to create competition and lower the cost of flying into and out of Israel.

There is good news too! Keren Kayemet has completed a donation of half a billion shekels to theCompany for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims’ Assets, a government- owned corporation established “with the goal of doing historical justice for the victims and reinstating the assets of Holocaust victims located in Israel to their rightful beneficiaries.”

On the subject of Holocaust Survivors, our wonderful friend Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinenis promoting the Tom Lantos Justice for Holocaust Survivors Bill against the wishes of the Dutch insurance companies that are still holding Jewish money from the time of WW2. I pray that Ileana will succeed in her fight against this disgrace.

So here I sit, having been to visit the grandchildren already. Actually I collected Yosef from school and in that religious area the bonfires are built and many of the men have already gone to Meron and the tomb of the great Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai before Lag b'Omer and the anniversary of his death. Religious, Traditional and secular children alike are building huge bonfires in preparation for Lag b'Omer all busy finding logs and old furniture, twigs and planks, indeed anything tha tmoves and will burn!! Lag b'Omer is the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer – the 49 days between Passover and Shevuot. During this time one doesn't hold joyous occasions, parties, get haircuts or wear new clothes – indeed it is to all intents and purposes a time of mourning, but on Lag' b'Omer one celebrates. One reason given is that Rabbi Akiva was desperately disappointed in the “sinat chinam” the unwarranted hatred between his students and during this period thousands died but on the 33rd day they resolved their differences and so the theories continue. However to Israeli children of all shades of religiosity it is a time of fun and bonfires, food and friends and an all night vigil beside aforementioned bonfire.

It is a beautiful day. The sun is shining and the searing heat of summer is still in the future. Sweet spring sunshine is kissing the white stone buildings of Jerusalem and our veranda. The orange blossom has fallen leaving hundreds of tiny fruits which will thin out as they decide which will give us our sweet citrus fruits in the autumn, the lemon tree is now covered in wonderfully fragrant leaves and the herbs are all giving off their incredible aromas in the evening. The traffic is thinning out and the shops closing at the mall............ Jerusalem is readying herself for Shabbat.

This was a great week – meeting childhood friends, making new friends and spending time with a couple who really know how to spend their lives in creative ways that satisfy their love of anthropology too. Sounds odd? Well that's because you don't know Andrew and Judy Rogers of Melbourne Australia!!!! Andrew works are all over the world, some can only be seen from above in the skies while some are mad eof stone, others are made of human beings! You really should see what they do together – amazing!

The food is cooked but I haven't set the table yet – how can I until I put this computer to bed? We have friends over this evening and then tomorrow the children all come for lunch. I know that Shoshana has her children over because the incredible aroma of Kubeh soup is wafting up and over our veranda – and Daisy and Chaim are eating a Tunisian dish while the Memos are making traditional Moroccan food and the Zarurs are sharing the cooking and making all kinds of amazing Kurdish dishes!!! We will have our home made Challot, pumpkin soup, cholent, turkey breast in a wine sauce and spring chicken in mushroom sauce – followed by nectarine crumble, baked apples and orange sorbet...................... hopefully there will be enough left for tomorrow!!!!

I bet you received an incredible email this week – most of us did!!! The email contained photographs of a truly amazing teapot which represent a Jewish life kit! Really beauty and wonderful practicality mixed up in a beautiful piece of art.

Time to set the table, to take one last look at Jerusalem calming, slowing, preparing for Shabbat and then I am going to rest before our guests arrive.

I wish you a beautiful Shabbat wherever you may be
and finally a little Shabbat edification!!!

With much love from the most beautiful city in the whole wide world................. next week I am going with Judith to Mahane Yehuda so you will all be happy!!!!


Friday, 19 April 2013

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, Boston marathon aftermath, Yom Haatzmaut


Friday, 19th April 2013

Shabbat Shalom dear friends.

Such horror, such anger, such hatred, such lack of security........... all of Israel's hearts went out to Boston and to the families of those who were so cruelly murdered and those who were hurt – and those who saw things that no human being should see. I hope and pray that the reason the names of the perpetrators have not been publicised is because they bring us closer to the organisers and not to be PC. Apparently they were brothers – although the organisation they worked with is as yet unknown.

On TV news I am watching beautiful suburban areas outside Boston – Cambridge, Watertown – where people have been told to stay inside, not to dare open their doors. A policeman was killed at MIT, another critically injured in Boston. The police understand that they have to prevent any chance for these terrorists to kill as many people as possible. The white hatted suspect is on the run after his brother died of what appear to be wounds inflicted when he exploded himself after a gun-fight. White hat's name is Dzhokhara Tsarnaev, a 19 year old who is either a Chechnyan national. Chechnyans are less suspect, Caucasian (from the Caucasus) or possibly Turkish blend into society more easily – appearing to be Russian. This man won a scholarship to a Cambridge College, studied and it is now suspected that while studying he and his 20 year old brother went “overseas” to learn terror activities.

The reporter compared what is happening in Watertown and Cambridge, the checking of parcels by the bomb squad, to Israel during the Intifada. At least in Israel we know who our enemies are – sadly in the USA you do not.

Boston is suffering Terrorism – The prupose of terroism is to remove all personal security and inflict terror, paralyse normal life. Boston, Watertown and Cambridge, America, our hearts are with you and we pray that these evil terrorists, or the one who is left, will not succeed in his attempt to kill as many as possible before dying as a martyr.

The explosions in Texas are just as evil, through official negligence. Putting a fertiliser factory so close to homes and an old peoples home is criminal. Ammonia is unstable, known to be unstable and the safety precautions were clearly insufficient. Hopefully this tragedy will serve to prevent further even greater tragedies.

Baroness Thatcher was given a State funeral, a State funeral befitting her stature. It is irrelevant whether one recognises the enormous changes she made in the UK, taking a country from the doldrums to huge economic success; it is irrelevant whether one accepts that she managed to stand up to the unions and change the way a country handled its finances; it is irrelevant whether one loved her or not; the behaviour of people who were barely born when she was in power, who attempted to ruin the procession and made up disgusting lyrics celebrating her death shows a lack of respect and pride in Britain which has allowed the distressing changes in society of late. Where is the pride? Where is “I'm Backing Britain” of the 60's?

On Yom Haatzma'ut we went to two parties. One in Herzliya with our friends Annick and Shuki and one in Jerusalem. The parties were so different one from the other, both fun, both with good friends and both with “mangal” or barbeque.......... but one Herzliya , in a beautiful garden with elegant tables and food; the second very Jerusalem – fun, tons of food, meats coing off the mangal before it even made it to the plates, everyone grabbing a chair and chatting to the person next to you.

The Jerusalem party was on the rooftop garden of the Holyland buildings with a view of the entire landscape of Jerusalem all the way to Nebe Samuel (Samuels Tomb) and beyond. The weather was cold and windy but the atmosphere warm and fun. Our friends Motti and Shmulik sang and joked, (Motti is a brilliant mimic at all Israeli accents equally – Moroccan, Kurdish, Ashkenaz, Russian and so funnnnnnny!)- Benny Silman amazed us playing his balalaika and the lovely Ruhama Raz sang. Ruhama sang a beautiful song for us, a song written especially for her daughters wedding and sung by Ruhama. Even without the translation I know you will love it as we did. “Calah” or bride – beautiful bride.

I just came home from my Friday jaunt to Givat Zeev to see my beautiful grandchildren. As always I slowed down as I passed Nebe Samuel, and saw the incredible sight of Jerusalem sprad before me, but today it was so different, not at all spring-like, Nebe Samuel was sunny and bright and Jerusalem was barely visible through the rain!! The weather is crazy, instead of sweltering heat we have rain and even snow on Mount Hermon!!! I am not complaining, I love the fact that the healing rain is keeping the grass green, the flowers blooming in the desert and the Sea of Galilee filling up slowly!

Today we will go to the graves of Zvi's parents, before Shabbat, to pay tribute and to say the age-old prayers. We chose to do so with family alone this year, making it more personal somehow. It was such a privilege for me to be their daughter-in-law, to know true heroes, to understand the reasons and determination of those who founded this incredible country. Kalman and Alla Raviv, sole survivors of their families who stayed in Poland sure that they were safe. Kalman and Alla Raviv who survived because they were here in Jerusalem fighting for the nascent country. Kalman and Alla Raviv who fought so that we could live in a beautiful, proud, amazing Jewish country – the only Jewish country in the whole wide world. From our contribution to the world one would think we were a hundred times as big!

I tried to think of what song could possibly be relevant to the horrors of this week, indeed the horrors of the last years.

Shmor al ha Olam Yeled sung by David D'Or

Watch Over This World (Child)
Verse 1
Watch over the world child,
There are things you shouldn't see
Watch over the world child,
If you see them, you’ll won't want to live
Hero of the world child,
With an angel’s smile
Watch over the world child,
Because we did not succeed
Verse 2
Watch over the world child,
Don’t think too much
The more you know, child,
The less you understand…
And sometimes
Doors will slam shut
And when the love ends
Only you will remain here, wondering

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Let's pray for a better world in which 8 year-old children can be safe watching a joyful marathon race in a democratic and free country.

With much love

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Sorrow and Independence


14th April 2013

From sorrow for those who fell to celebration of what they achieved.

Tonight at 20:00 the siren's wail filled the air of Israel. Rising in strength until it fills your soul with deep deep mourning for the cruelty of wars our neighbours imposed upon this tiny stretch of land. Sorrow that our desire for peace is not heeded and even when we are not at war our very existence causes hatred to emanate from our enemies hearts. As we stand in homage, not a soul moving, even those whose families are still complete have lost friends and in some way lost the innocence of knowing one is safe. The shopping malls, stores, shops, restaurants, clubs and bars are all closed and Israel listens to gentle music and the stories of those who survived their loved ones. Tonight as the siren wails our grief we honour one minute silence and tomorrow two minutes, this video explains today

25, 578 men women and children have fallen in shaping Israel and the 65 years since, through military action and the violence of the terror we fight every day. Many of their families were at the Kotel tonight. Brothers, sisters, parents, children listen to the President as he identifies with each of them in his speech to them and them alone.

Light a candle and see the beautiful faces of those who died to make us safe. May their souls rest in peace in the knowledge that we pay tribute to their memories.

Tomorrow the ceremonies continue, families visit the graves on Mount Herzl each of which has a black ribbon and a flag. The television and radio play gentle music. The final ceremony on Mount Herzl honours the dead but then seamlessly switches to the intense delight of Independence as we celebrate Israel's 65th birthday! This is the video of the entire ceremony two years ago – in Hebrew but worth watching!

The 65 years of Israeli statehood are compressed into a two-minute film showcasing Israel's achievements in the fields of science and technology, economics and sustainable development, culture and sport, immigrant absorption, humanitarian aid and peacemaking.

Marlin Levin and his young bride Betty, came to Jerusalem in 1947 and became Moshe and Batya. They went on to be great friends of Zvi's wonderful parents Kalman and Alla, and while I always found their company fascinating, I had no idea of Marlins brilliant photography of the nascent state. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has recognised his wonderful coloured photos – still a rarity in Israel at that time - that the young American Oleh faithfully recorded. Read this article and enjoy the following photography. Bravo Marlin

66 years later Moises and Esther Simpser came to Israel with a March of the Living group. From the ashes of Auschwitz to the joy of Jerusalem on a balmy evening, walking, shopping and eating. Tell me that is not miraculous!

As the ceremonies end the celebrations begin. Israel barbeques, oh boy do we barbeque!!!! Every park and national nature reserve is filled with fathers fanning their portable BBQ's as families enjoy their day off! We travel, indeed it is another national pastime – travelling to wide open spaces and filling them with people!!!

65 years old and every year more beautiful! I cannot imagine how sad it must be to miss this beauty, to never appreciate the wonder that is Israel – to be so self satisfied that one hasn't the curiosity to discover this miracle, this innovative, noisy, beautiful, old-new country. You have no idea what you are missing!!!

We spent Friday afternoon with Canon Andrew White in the delightful home of Connie and Bill Wilson, overlooking the Old City Walls. There I regained my belief that there is someone out there who is doing everything in his power to bring peace to this region – someone who loves this country, knows her inside out and recognises the biblical importance of us being here. Andrew, Israel needs your belief and love as never before.

I leave you with the most wonderful of all songs, written for and dedicated to our “Brothers in Arms”

Chag Atzma'ut Sameach. Never take us for granted – we are here by the skin of our teeth and yours. Brave people rebuilt this land and literally turned swamps and desert into the epitome of an agricultural and technological democratic society. They performed a miracle and the miracle is that it is now one of the safest countries in the world. Remember, the more you visit the more we feel that you are part of us – not just the cousins over the sea.

With love from Jerusalem, the most beautiful city in the world

Friday, 12 April 2013

Letter from Jerusalem - Rabbi Leonid, Syria, Korea, Margaret Thatcher, Canon Andrew White


11th April, 2013

Shabbat Shalom dear Friends.

What a frightening week with threats of nuclear proportions (literally) from North Korea. The question that must be on our leaders lips and minds is whether this is a ruse to draw attention away from Iran to allow them to continue their research or if it is a genuine threat to the safety of the West, and the USA in particular.

The new Minister of Finance, Yair Lapid, has discovered that his popularity may be compromised by the truth of his new position. He intends raising taxes at the highest bracket, putting higher purchase taxes on luxury items and simultaneously lowering child benefits. It may seem that the sole recipients of this last decision is the Haredim, but not true, there are Bedouins in the Negev who have up to 60 children, yes, that wasn't a typo, I said sixty children. They receive many thousands of shekels weekly for their polygamous families. I believe in a socially conscious society, grew up in one and know how important it is, but there is a point where the productive minority pays for the unproductive majority and then is becomes unfair. It means that the elderly and the sick who worked their whole lives do not get their share.

I was horrified to read that historic revisionism is alive and well in the USA. In the book FDR and the Jews, Richard Breitman and Allan Lichtman write that there is no evidence supporting the accounts that the US Coast Guard turned the ship The St Louis back from Florida's coast. Survivors, who were on board and witnessed the truth are fighting this new version with all their might. Please read and ensure the book is a flop.

The Syrian massacres took on an even more sinister turn with women and girls as young as 14 being taken or forcibly volunteered into temporary marriages to “heroes” to strengthen their fighting spirit. The incidence of wife beating and the rape of young women within Syria has become endemic too.

Salaam Fayyad is the Palestinian Prime Minister. His determination to introduce a solid physical and administrative infrastructure to the ill-run Authority has never been popular and the fact that he chose to work with Israeli experts on numerous projects was both his success and his failure on the popularity scales. Now tired of fighting against the rest of the Authority he had tendered his resignation – but it is not yet clear as to whether or not Mahmoud Abbas will accept his resignation.

Adam Taganya is a Jew, an Israeli from Ethiopia and he suffers terribly from the violence in his neighborhood from the Eritrean and Sudanese work-seekers. Adam's problem is that he and other Ethiopian Israelis receive the sharp end of the stick from both sides. Attacked by the work-seekers for their hard-earned money and belongings and attacked by other Israelis who don't understand that they are Israeli. High time the government and Tel Aviv municipality solve this dreadful dilemma.

As we get closer and closer to Yom Haatzma'ut I realise that the reasons to be proud of this tiny country are endless. Read the story of the new head of Emergency Medicine at Hadassah Hospital, Ein Kerem, Jerusalem. His name is Dr Aziz Darawashe, born in the village of Iksal to an illiterate mother and a farmer father. As long as Aziz can remember his father told him he would be a doctor. He is the eldest of 11 children among whom there are doctors, a dentist, an engineer and five sisters who attended university. This is the land of opportunity for everyone, irrespective of creed or social position.

This week I sent you a wonderful video of a Palm Beach Rabbi and his Bar-Mitzva speech. I sent it because I felt the deep love of Judaism and pride in his words. Little did I know that it would bring back many memories for someone very close to us. Dr Rivka Bertisch Meir wrote back to me in amazement. “I was at Ulpan Etzion with Rabbi Leonid Feldman! I remember his arrival, head shaven from his imprisonment as a Refusenik, and for 6 months we lived next door to each other while learning Hebrew. Later we renewed our friendship in Argentina and then we went to see him in his Temple in West palm Beach and he told the entire community about our friendship. Now you send me this without knowing about our connection”!! How small the world and as Rivka herself told me “There are no coincidences in this world”

A number of years ago Zvi and I had the honour of meeting someone who the world labelled “The Iron lady”. Always a friend of Israel, Margaret Thatcher came on a week long tour of with Aish haTorah. As the “Foreign Minister” of Jerusalem, Zvi accompanied many groups and I accompanied him, of all the impressive visitors, Baroness Thatcher impressed us more than any with her warmth, concern for others, grace, wit and brilliance. She may not have been loved but she took Britain from the economic and political doldrums by taking on the unions, brought back British pride over the citizens of the far off Falklands, admittedly in a short but violent war, and solved the “troubles” in Northern Ireland. I find the celebrations and street parties at her demise so disgusting that it makes me furious. I thought that giving sweets to children over deaths was the action of terrorist states not democracies. May her soul rest in peace and her memory be blessed.

Talking of Britain – Kol ha Kavod to the British Ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould. Ambassador Gould encouraged a new medical co-operation programme giving 30 fellowships for Israeli researchers to study at British medial research facilities in an exchange programme. Excellent.

Two of my favourite people are here in Jerusalem at the moment. Both are called Andrew but they are very very different in appearance and personality, yet so similar in their determination to work for Tikkun Olam, starting with this corner of the Middle East. One is a devout Christian who studied in Yeshiva, the other a Jewish Buddhist but they both have a refreshing belief that the world can be a better place and they must do their part to ensure it is. I love them both and thrill to the truth that their successes are due to the “power of one”! More power to you both! One Andrew is happy to be identified and I will meet with him tomorrow for afternoon tea – in time to get home for Shabbat. Canon Andrew White, The Vicar of Baghdad has beaten the odds on every level of life and he inspires me. I made a shidduch this week between Andrew and the excellent David Horovitz of the Times of Israel – this is the result. The other Andrew remains my secret – and his.

Andrew 2 sent me this wonderful video which celebrates Israel's achievements in Tikkun Olam Since 1948, Israel has set itself a task of finding creative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems. To celebrate Israel’s 65th birthday, ISRAEL21c looks at some of the best achievements.

So last evening we took cousin Ruth and Billy out for supper for Ruth's birthday. We sat overlooking the Old City walls, enjoying wonderful food and excellent service and then we took them to the Kotel for one last time before their flight out and an interesting ride from our house by the wonderful “Nesher” sherut – famous since the founding of the state - although today Nesher has advanced from a rickety stretched Peugeot to a modern air-conditioned minibus!!! The service is amazing, picks you up at home and drops you at the right terminal – and it works in reverse too!!!!

This week I finally had time to relax and potter in my “garden” on the veranda... when it wasn't either raining or in the middle of a sand storm!!! The bright crimson flowers of the Pomegranate tree are bursting forth through the soft new leaves and the white fragrant orange blossom drops to reveal tiny, minute oranges waiting to decide which will fall and which will produce exceptionally juicy fruits. The green spears of new leaves appear on the lemon tree as it wakes from winter hibernation and the herbs are announcing their presence each evening with their aromatic message leaving the air redolent with Lemon grass, melissa (lemon balm), louisa, marva (sage), thyme, lavender, rosemary, mint, peppermint, basil and the hadass (box or myrtle). Our 40 metre sq veranda is really giving us value for effort!!! I think that Zvi is waiting for me to announce that I intend growing grape vines and opening the Raviv Winery!!!! The truth is, however, that the most beautiful flowers on our veranda right now are the Israeli flags and bunting dancing in the sunshine in preparation for Israel's

Yom Ha'Atzma'ut – Independence Day when the Yellow stars of Holocaust Day give way to the bright blue stars of the Israeli Flag.

I leave you with Lt Col Shai Abrahamson, the Chief Cantor of the IDF singing the Prayer for the Peace of Israel. The words are in Hebrew, transliteration and in English – the yearning in his voice needs no translation.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Rabbi Feldman's Bar Mitzva speech - Inspiring

When I heard this speech I had to share it with you all. It is truly inspiring

I am proud to send you this Bar Mitzvah speech. It is both moving and inspiring and appropriate for both Yom haShoah and Yom HaAtzmaut - indeed for every day of our lives.
It begins with a few words in Russian and some  the chuckling - continue to the end. I guarantee tears and believe every young person should hear his words. An amazing speech. My grateful thanks to Larry Elowsky for sending it to me. SHARE SHARE SHARE. 

Monday, 8 April 2013

Yom ha Shoah and Hope through a barmitzva


8th of April 2013

Yom HaShoah ve HaGvura 28th Nissan, 5773 – Day of Remembrance for the Holocaust and its Heroism.

The Nazis yelled “Go back to Jerusalem” to us – now their heirs yell “Go back to Europe”. Never Again becomes little more than a knee-jerk reaction, because it is again, it is happening again and an entire nation is again threatening to murder 6 million Jews just because they are Jews. They have followed the same pattern of dehumanisation through cartoons and schoolbooks; they don't have black shirts or brown shirts and they are Teutonic in their precision but they have learned a great deal from the perpetrators of the Holocaust that they so vehemently deny.

There are two videos of the British liberation of the Bergen- Belsen extermination camp, both of which express the determined optimism of those for whom there was no hope. There are two versions of this video - one is truthful and one is truthful without the full truth. You choose what you want to see. The whole heinous truth the kinder truth without the pictures

The British troops who liberated Bergen Belsen were accompanied by a Rabbi, Chaplain T. L. Hardman who led the Friday evening prayers – as the BBC reporter said “The first time that Jewish prayers had been freely held on German soil, without fear, for 10 years” He also said “This is the most terrible day of my life” when he say the remnants of humanity. They were without hope yet they sang “Hatikva” the Hope, and dreamed of freedom in their own land. One of those liberated that day was Malka, little Malka, barely alive yet strong enough to pull another child from the piles of dead and saved her life. Both girls came to Israel. Malka married and started a family. Today her son is leading the March of the Living as the Commander in Chief of the IDF, Benny Gantz. Miracles do happen especially here.

Those who live in the USA, UK, Europe, Canada, Australia and South America and truly believe that “It won't happen here” are living in a dream world. It is happening in a town near you right now. Some countries it is overt and some countries it is tacit but believe you me – it exists. There are those leaders who speak out very very strongly, such as Canada's Prime Minister Harper, but most pay verbal homage to “the right thing” without doing anything tangible. All we can do is ensure our children have a strong sense of identity. They do not need to be religious, but they need to know what being Jewish means other than wanting to be a doctor, lawyer, architect or professor. Talking of which, I was given a huge boost of hope this week. Let me explain.

As I mentioned, Zvi's Mexican cousins, Billy and Ruth, came to Jerusalem for the Bar Mitzvot of their two grandsons, David and Alan. The boys brought their families too!!! They went to every museum and toured the country absorbing the history and purpose of this tiny but incredible place.....history imbued in their very souls by caring parents.

The boys learned to sing their parasha together over Skype, since David Fainsod lives in Mexico City and Alan Podolsky in San Diego. They did a phenomenal job at the Kotel and then took their families, parents, siblings, grandparents, Aunts and Uncles for a tour of the Kotel Tunnels which they conducted themselves. It was amazing! After their experience everyone came back to our place for lunch, beautifully catered by their Uncle Jaime and Auntie Rosy, and the sun shone, despite warnings of rain, so we could even sit out on the veranda.

As we sat among the scattered remains of the celebrations I spoke with Eddie Podolsky, father of Alan, and asked him what was his proudest moment of the day.
I was so proud that I was able to bring my son for his Bar Mitzva at the Kotel as my parents did for me. I felt the continuity and the love of Israel as he read the parasha with his cousin and in his understanding of where we were and why we were here
Eddie's words really moved me and I repeated them to Eddies father Jaime, “Yes it is true. I was determined that Eddie would learn to love Israel and I am so proud that he and Ilana chose to teach their children the same values

It may seem inappropriate to talk about a celebration but I felt that their responses were so important on this day. It is the basis of our identity, a lesson learned by two generations of Jews who did not know a world without the security of State of Israel. Two generations who cannot imagine not being protected. Two generations who developed their strength of identity because this country exists and is strong, ever stronger.

President Peres expressed it with his usual deep eloquence as he thanked two world leaders for coming to the Holocaust Ceremony at Yad Vashem last night. Ex-PM Tony Blair and Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, arrived specifically for the ceremony, bowed their heads as he spoke

The Holocaust will not sink into the dark hole of history. It is here with us, burning, real.
It resonates as we step on the stones of the ghettos. It floats like a ghost in the barracks of the camps.
It cries from the prayer shawls, the hair, the shoes that we see with our own eyes. It whispers from the tears that dried before we said goodbye.
It is reflected in the photographs of the babies in their mothers' arms. The noise of those murderous trains which have ceased, stills rings in our ears.
The smoke which has not faded as it drifted into the sky above.” ….
The Jewish people are a small nation in number but large in spirit. That spirit cannot be burned in the ovens. From the ashes of the Holocaust rose spiritual redemption and political rebirth. We rose and we built a state of our own.

We lost possessions, but retained our values.

We returned to our ancient homeland. We renewed our moral legacy.

We returned to independence.

We returned to creating, to educating and we returned to hope.

Hope, haTikva, and Israel are irrevocably intertwined -