Friday, 26 July 2013

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem


26th July 2013

Shabbat Shalom lovely people! This has been a week of good news in the birth of a future King of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth - and of disconcerting news as Europe decided to blacklist the military arm of Hezb-Allah but not the “political” arm which in fact is Nasrallah and all those who call the shots for the less fortunate to go out and either kill us or kill themselves. Britain and Germany worked hard to reach even this weak and immoral conclusion! At the same time they decided to boycott – yes boycott – any goods or products made in the “disputed territories” or any programmes which emanate from there. Their idiocy will simply create dreadful unemployment for Arabs and Jews who live there. For the Palestinians of the West bank, Israeli initiatives and factories are their only way to bring in an ensured salary. In response Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon has told them that as of now Israel will not participate or assist in any European projects – which of course will fall apart!!,7340,L-4409959,00.html

It's all the fault of the leaders, we all live together without any problems. A wonderful event just outside the walls of the Old City where Jews and Arabs sit together eating juicy red watermelon with salty cheese – a tradition for both peoples – and watching performances.,7340,L-4410022,00.html

Roger Waters used to be a hero of freedom in his days as a singer with Pink Floyd. His words have turned into an anti-Israel diatribe of late and his hatred unbecoming of one who claims to promote peace. His latest diabolical act was to float a pig with a Magen David at his last concert. Shame on you!

The United States is the leader of the free world, the strongest democracy on the face of the earth, the cradle of human rights and freedom. But these bombastic titles are worthless when the US acts cruelly, hypocritically and displays double standards. The President expects Israel to release hundreds of killers, men with blood on their hands yet simultaneously the US has rejected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s plea that Jonathan Pollard finally come home.
If we are already talking about double standards – Israel is told she cannot keep any troops in land that is not part of Israel itself yet look at the number of USA troops who are thousands of kilometres from American soil.
Britain also has troops all over the world but both countries feel it necessary to publicly berate Israel.

Last night Zvi and I saw a rerun of the outstanding West Wing (Season 5 – 21&22) which was so real, so relevant to every thing that happened prior to Israel leaving Gaza and the events surrounding terror attacks and the decisions an American President has to make. Must watch

As I told you last week we went to see our friend Allen Gerskup receive the Yakir Maccabi honour. What I didn't realise is that other, equally amazing people, also received that honour! Adolfo Finkielsztein, David Fleisher, Allen Gerskup, Tom Goldman, Miguel Litchi, Harry Procel, Mervyn Tankelowitz, Jack Terpins, Motti, Tichauer, Victor Vaisman and the incredible Toni Wortman. The ceremony was very moving as each video told the story of how each of these people impacted the lives of hundreds and thousands of young people bringing them into the Maccabi Movement. Toni then stood to give the address on behalf of the recipients. People come in all shapes and sizes, some are larger than life and some are tiny in stature but gigantic in personality and their footsteps on this earth. Toni Wortman comes into the latter category. Toni's words rang so true, as she reached out and took my heart in her hands speaking about her initial involvement in the Maccabiah, how it drew her in and made her a Zionist - how Israel became central to her life and gave it new purpose through the Maccabi Family. Toni, who in her high heels still needed to adjust the microphone is one of the biggest people I know - she is a giant among a group of larger than life people who were given this high award for their work in Maccabi. Yeah Toni - you go girl!!!

The next day saw us on a bus with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat who guided us around the incredible new projects in Jerusalem. We began in the almost finished CinemaCity which will house a theatre as well as many cinemas, a plaza, a huge fountain and many entertainment facilities then to the renewed Teddy Stadium which now had 12,000 new seats and hosted the opening of the Maccabiah and will host the closing ceremony too. From there we drove to the new basketball arena which will also have an ice rink and soon an Olympic swimming pool. And so to “The Tahana” the great new go-to site in Jerusalem with craft market and restaurants – which will soon have a rollerskate park and a wonderful pedestrian boardwalk all the way to the Jerusalem Theatre!!!!

City Councillor Naomi Tsur has been encouraging Green Pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Naomi has achieved much in this sphere but one of my favourite projects are the Green Globes near the Jaffa Gate. Brav Naomi.

To round our week off we went to Zion ha Gadol last night with old friends John and Adrian Kraus from Melbourne in Australia. It was jam packed in the noisy busy Talpiot neighbourhood and the food was as amazing as always! The conversation was as if I had known them all my life!!!

The grandchildren are back from a short vacation in the North of Israel where the two older ones learned to swim! It was so wonderful seeing them again – I missed them so much! Life for many Israelis is one of families spread all over the world. It is fine for those with money but most of us rely on Skype and telephones to be with our loved ones and a large number of prayers that they will come and visit!!! Anyway...................... as I said I went to see the grandchildren and took (with their Mummy) some delicious breads and Challot (plaited Shabbat bread) from Bermans Bakery. Even though we got there before 09:00 it was already full of eager and hungry purchasers. Challot are not just the usual tasteless plaited breads or round breads but come in many shapes sizes and flavours! There are plain, semi-sweet and sweet plaited challot, with either poppy seeds or sesame; There are mini challot of every variety too – white and brown and wholewheat and then the best of all, big round multi-flavoured and seeded round challot made up of lots of little rounds! A plethora of rogelech and Danish pastries, Borekas and filo packets with my favourite potato, mushroom or salty cheese inside, baguettes and breads and the aroma – oh the aroma. Never ever go to Bermans hungry!

After seeing their proud videos of their swimming feats I set off for home, back past the highest point at Samuel's Tomb and the incredible view over Jerusalem. It seemed strange to me, as I neared the neighbourhood of Ramot, that I could clearly see Ramallah and the unabated building frenzy that brings it closer to Jerusalem every day............... without any censure from the EU and no American Presidents telling them that they are endangering the peace process by building housing for people who don't even live in the area!!!!! Double standards takes on a whole new meaning in the Middle East!!!! Really – if I hear another ignorant person say “Why don't you just give it (the land) back and then you'll have peace” I will spit!!!! It isn't an issue of giving back – it was Jordan and long before that indeed before modern recorded times it was Jewish and anyway if we really thought it would be a case of peaceful co-existence then we wouldn't have need the security fence or the guards or check-points or any of the self-defensive systems we put in place after a rash of suicide bombings in the first decade of this century.

I'm sorry – this was already meant to be the happy and “Shabbasdik” part of the letter!!! OK back to form.

So, the table is set, white cloth and best crockery and cutlery all ready for the family. The Bermans Challot are ready under their special cover, Zvi's fathers wine goblet next to them. The candles are ready for lighting in the candelabra that held the Shabbes candles I used to light with my mother and the prayers tonight s we sit with the family around the traditional table are those that our ancestors read and sang for centuries before we were born – with the same plea “Next Year in Jerusalem”. You see- prayer works!!!!

For your musical delectation this week I was not sure whether to make you cry with David d'Or's rendition of Amazing Grace for President Obama in the Israeli President's House or just to show you this amazing country through video or this one and then as if you won't be proud enough we have

Zvi is at his parliament putting the world to rights and then he will come home to the scents and aromas of our dispersion as he walks in the front door, looks out over the view and climbs the stairs to our apartment. He loves walking in knowing that Shabbat is here..............

So dear friends I wish you Shabbat Shalom and much love from Jerusalem – the centre of our world and heart of the Jewish people

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Mid-week report on the Jews of Iran

23rd July 2013.

Hello dear friends. I decided to send you a special report because it is so important. It is relevant to the Maccabiah although not directly. Nothing tragic has happened and we are enjoying every moment of the Maccabiah Family – indeed we are about to leave for Kfar Maccabiah and the presentation of Yakir Maccabi to our dear friend Allen Gerskup and a special few people who give their lives to Maccabi, but this is important anyway. Hopefully not a warning to the world but important

I know you are all fascinated by John Kerry's announcement that Israel and the Palestinians are back "around the table" I am not sure how hopeful I feel especially after reading Khaled Abu Toamehs distressing article on increasing belligerence in the PA  Extremism Escalating in the West Bank

Then there is the fact that in our research IMPACT-SE discovered that the schoolbooks of East Jerusalem are among the three least tolerant in the entire area, it causes me pause for thought but I am ever cautiously hopeful. There are three words for peace in Arabic although only one in English. First is Hudna or cease-fire; second is Salaam which is an extended cease-fire with condition that can be broken and then there is Sulcha which involves forgiveness and total peace. I want to know which level any agreement will achieve and does Mr Kerry understand the difference?

As I told you I didn't cook for Shabbat because we were invited to spend Kabbalat Shabbat with the Maccabiah VIP's at Beit Shmuel. The air was delightfully cool as I arrived together with our lovely friends Vivian and Paul Zimmet. Vivian and I picked a table and waited for Zvi and everyone else to come back from the Western Wall while Paul went out onto the veranda to see the incredible view of the Old City. Zvi walked everyone back from the Kotel through the Jewish Quarter, the Armenian Quarter to the Jaffa Gate regaling them with his deep knowledge of the long and much argued history of this fought over city.

A delightful man joined our table, a former Maccabi and Olympic world champion wrestler from Iran, called Solomon and his son. They were joined by another two couples and I began speaking to the ladies. For reasons that will become apparent they do not want to be identified, but I can tell you that they live in Los Angeles today. Their words were rivetting and their story almost untold, which is a shame because it is so relevant to today.

Their story was in stark contrast to our surroundings on this joyful Shabbat in Jerusalem with Yishai Lapidot of "Oif Simches" and three beautiful young singers who created a wonderful Shabbat atmosphere. I strained my ears to listen as the entire room was up dancing and singing around the tables with Yishai, and they began to reveal how they began a journey which took them from a good life in Iran to their connection with Israel and their new life in the USA.  

Life in Iran was good, indeed more than good, financially sound, socially active and normal in every way, up until the last moments before the Shah was deposed, basically ousted by James Earl Carter. At first life continued as normal but when they travelled to see family and friends outside Iran, people who had easy access to news warned them to escape while they could.

In the meantime, here in Israel, Prime Minster Menachem Begin met with and spoke to eight leaders of the Iranian Jewish community headed by the Elder Iranian Jewish Statesman Habib Elkanian (Elghanian) warning them of the imminent rise of the Ayatollahs in Iran, trying to persuade them that the Jews have to leave Iran before it is too late. 

Elkanian did not tell his community of Begin's warnings, clearly believing the Israeli Prime Ministers warnings were exaggerated. Life continued in a normal fashion because they were unaware of the imminent danger. These ladies, like almost all the Iranian Jewish community, did not see the warning signs, the changes in attitudes and the more and more overt anti-Semitism, until it became so severe that they simply picked up their bags and children and fled - just a matter of two weeks between feeling safe and knowing they had to flee. The men stayed for a time, continuing their businesses but life became untenable and they followed their families, taking what they could with them.

Habib Elkanian, the Jewish leader who did not believe the danger, returned to Iran after Ayatolla Khoumanis return from exile and rise to power in order to rescue his son. The Iranians released his son who managed to escape but Elkanian himself was apprehended, charged with Zionism, tried and executed. It was the start of Iran's financial downfall and of course the slippery slope to extreme, fanatic Islam and a danger to world peace.

Today, as successful business people who picked themselves up and succeeded in their adoptive homeland, they visit Israel often and go to Yad Vashem, to cry, to empathise, and to recognise that what happened to the Iranian Jews was too close for comfort and how lucky they are to have survived.

James Earl Carter unleashed world terrorism, fanatical hatred and imminent danger to the United States, Europe and all the free world. 

Israel decided long ago that Jews would never be refugees, since they were coming home but now, in today's changed and terrifying atmosphere we need to make sure that everyone knows the tragedy of the 900,000 Jews who left Arab and Islamic countries as refugees fleeing for their lives.

Here are some important sites explaining the history of the Jews of Iran

Friday, 19 July 2013

Shabbat shalom from Jerusalem - 19th Maccabiah in Jerusalem

19th July 2013

Shabbat Shalom everyone!!!

I decided to give you a very little news and a great deal of Maccabiah!!!!!

Former Minister Danny Ayalon explains the arrest of a 5 year old last week in Hebron that hit the headlines all over the world. The facts. The soldiers did not separate the parents and child - and the child threw rocks – a crime which has proven to kill

Before we all burn in hell A Tisha B’Av call for internal Jewish harmony and a return to the moral foundations of our faith
Despite constant attempts by the British European Parliament representative to force the EU to declare Hezb-Allah a terrorist movement the EU has perpetrated the latest travesty of justice over the “Green Line, Melanie Phillips discusses the baseless hatred of the European Union toward Israel

Last weekend we were thrilled to spend our Shabbat with Maida and Allen Gerskup from Toronto. They were very excited to discover that we were eating outside on our veranda and discovered that I was not lying about one aspect of the beauty of Jerusalem, the changes in light as if the heavens heralded the bride of Shabbat and the joy of celebrating Shabbat under the Jerusalem skies. We were joined by a wonderful young couple Maayan and Barak. Zvi and Maayan study together at the University........... incidentally Zvi sat an examination in comparative religions today and got 90%!!!!

On Tuesday I managed to find time to take my grandchildren to Ain Yael a marvellous Roman village where they teach the children history, archaelogy, anthropology and how to weave, make mosaics, bows and arrows and pan pipes. It gave their Mummy a bit of a rest because she was fasting for Tisha b'Av. It was so much fun and they really learned so much in a painless fashion!

On Wednesday we took a small group of American Maccabiah VIP's to Mahane Yehuda. Some decided to go it alone but they missed out on all the good stuff!!! We started with a scrummy felafel in a lafa – half portions, and stood in the street making appropriate happy noises. From there we went to see David Dagim, the amazing fish stall, on to Bashers cheeses, every type of cheese imaginable, then to the fragrant spices piled high in a multitude of clours, Tsidkiyahus pickles, the Judaica shop and Marzipan for rogelech! Of course we ended with a quick visit to Mizrachis coffee shop. It was fun – steaming hot but fun!!!

On to the 19th Maccabiah!!!
Phyllis Magerman was a very involved and delightful lady who discovered Maccabi USA and fell in love with the organisation. She, above all, realised that it was so much more than a sports club; it brought young, uninvolved Jewish people who barely know why they were Jews, into the fold and gave them a sense of identity and of Israel. Sadly Phyllis passed away two years ago but her incredible positivity and energy lives on through the Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremony which took place , watched by her loving husband, son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren.

The ceremony was held in Neve Illan outside Jerusalem, led by Rabbi Daniel Greyber of Durham North Carolina, who stood before a wonderful group of sportsmen young and old explaining the reason for them being here in Israel and the importance of this ceremony. The ceremony was immediately after Tisha b'Av and was diametrically opposed to the sin of "sinat chinam" baseless hatred, which caused the downfall of the Temples and almost of Judaism, this outpouring of love was heartwarming and so very appropriate.

Among the bar mitzva celebrants was an incredible young sportsman, a triple amputee - carried up to bimah on the shoulders of a team-mate, his broad grin made the whole evening worthwhile. For me it was a strange amalgam of joy and distress. Joy at the wonderful ceremony and what it gave to all the participants and distress that nearly 150 had never had a bar mitzvah. Maccabi is so much more than a sports organisation - it gave these young people a sense of identity, a sense of who they are and that they are part of something much bigger than themselves. The Rabbi was amazing, his enthusiam contagious, drawing the entire “congregation USA” into the mood by telling us all to use the one Hebrew word everyone recognised -Hallelujah – to raise our arms and call out Hallelujah in encouragement at each reading. The leaders of Maccabi USA – especially our dear friends Ron Carner and Bob Spivak, have taken this project to their hearts as they bring more and more young Americans into the Maccabi USA family.

Yesterday I met with Vivan and Paul Zimmet from Australia whose son Hendrik is a triathlon contestant. We went to the Botanical Gardens for a coffee and a chat. Sitting beside the lake, incredible display of water lilies a gentle breeze ensured that all the diners were smiling as we caught up on the last couple of years since we last met....... and I was happy to give them the news that we had tickets for them for the opening ceremony!!!!

The 19th Maccabiah Opening ceremony began with 35,000 people singing Hatikva and continued with special video messages from both President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron. The celebrations, singing and dancing were interspersed with short speeches from Prime Minister Netanyahu, Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, Maccabi World President Guiora Esrubilsky and President Shimon Peres.

The teams were led in by enormous helium balloons in the colours of their country. Apart from the expected and huge delegations of the USA, Australia, UK, South Africa, Canada there were the first timers......... Cuba, Bosnia, Azerbaijan, Khazakhstan, Guinea-Bassau, Mauritius proudly marching in the parade, welcome new members of the Maccabiah family.

The Maccabiah flame was carried into the stadium by Olympic medallist, judoka Arik Zeevi who proudly handed it over to Noam Gershoni, an Apache helicopter pilot who nearly lost his life in an accident and today is a wheelchair tennis player (Noam stood tall and insisted upon walking under his own steam – with a helping hand from Arik) and finally the flame was handed to Aly Raisman, the Olympic medallist who lit the flame in a spectacular manner.

Michel Grun was presented with a lifetime achievement award by the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and I will tell you about this and of the other presentations next week.

I do not have to cook this Shabbat. NO VISITORS!!!!!
Tonight we join the Maccabiah VIP's again at Bet Shmuel for a Kabbalat Shabbat and Shabbat Dinner. First Zvi will walk to the Kotel (Western Wall) with the group and then bring them back to Bet Shmuel, to the roof terrace fo rsupper – surely the most incredible place to celebrate this most beautiful of Jewish rituals. We will overlook the Old City Walls, looking toward the most ancient parts of David's City. They will walk the streets where King David wrote his psalms and Jews the world over have prayed to return to this tiny piece of real estate since our last and most devastating dispersion.

We were slaves in Babylon, Egypt, Rome – indeed almost every occupying power took us as slaves but we are still here! We came home! They couldn't take away our spirit or our determination to fulfill our deepest prayers “Next Year in Jerusalem”. Well we are THIS year in Jerusalem and intend staying here. Having seen nearly 8,000 beautiful athletes all of whom came her because they wanted to. No longer the Uriah Heaps of the world, we do not bend down to anyone, we are strong, we are beautiful and we are independent........................ all because we have come home. Am Yisroel Chai – why? Because we believe – Anachnu Ma'aminim

After the joyous singing of belief in Hashem I thought you could use something a little softer so began my weekly search for a beautiful Shabbat song. I found this exquisite rendition of Sh'ma Yisroel by Sarit Hadad – not the traditional one, but a personal prayer.

I wish you love – both from and to those who are important to you – and the strength to stand up for what you know is right. Whatever happens we must stand strong because no-one is going to send us off into yet another diaspora.

As the Song says – Ayn li etetz aheret – I have no other country - the words are so incredible that I give you their translation.......

Shabbat Shalom dear friends, Shabbat Shalom

Friday, 12 July 2013

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem - Egypt, Syria, Haredim, Maccabiah, David Romanowsky

11th July 2013
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope this missive finds you well. We have a many news stories today, but I promise you many of them are positive although the media would have us believe it is all bad!
As always I will start with the bad news, for which I will give you a small synopsis and a link so that I can leave you with a smile.
Egypt is imploding, amid a terrifying level of anarchy, rape and racism. The Egyptian Courts have demanded the arrest of Moslem Brotherhood leaders for incitement to hatred Christians are in fear of their lives but even in this diabolical situation there is a glimmer of hope as we listen to this 12 year old a truly incredible wonderful child

Unknown forces” blew up the Hezb-Allah HQ in Lebanon and destroyed the Syrian arsenals of ground to air missiles recently acquired from Russia. As it stands right now one cannot be sure who is worse, the tyrannical Assad or the carnivorous rebels
UNHRC defies logic in their choice of those who set the example of democracy
GENEVA, July 9 -- As a United Nations meeting is right now hearing live campaign pitches (webcast link) from the UK, France and other democracies vying for seats on the world body's Human Rights Council, the Geneva-based non-governmental human rights group UN Watch revealed its"List of Shame"- naming some of the world's worst abusers who are also running in the Nov. 2013 election, and expected to win seats:Algeria, Chad, China, Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam. Though unconfirmed, reportedly Iranand Syria may also be running. Click here for full report (PDF).

After years of legal battles Britain finally succeeded in deporting "Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe" Abu Qatada to Jordan to stand trial. Prime Minister David Cameron said he was "absolutely delighted" it was over."It's an issue that ... has made my blood boil - that this man who has no right to be in our country, who's a threat to our country, that it took so long and was so difficult to deport him," Cameron told reporters.

As the question of conscription for those who until now have successfully avoided the IDF and all service to Israel hits every headline the repercussions are harsh. This week a mob of Haredi youths attacked a young Haredi soldier coming to visit his family while on leave in Mea Shearim.
Israeli Christian Arabs have had enough. Rather than belonging to the other Arab parties that are becoming more and more anti-Christian, anti-Israel, even treacherous, they are forming their own political party which encourages enlistment in the IDF. Good luck to them in the only country in the entire area that welcomes Christians with open arms.
Cliff Richard and Alicia Keyes came to perform in Israel despite enormous pressure from the BDS bullies. They had a wonderful time, delirious audiences, great performances and both visited Jerusalem. Alicia Keyes sang with Israeli superstar Idan Raichel and Sir Cliff met with the PM and went to Nazareth for a tennis match 
Nah again BDS. Gaza farmers come to Israel to take part in a conference to teach them how to improve their crops of watermelon

This week we went to visit friend Sharon and Ernst Voss and sat out on their veranda........ which was delightful and then on the next night we went to Zion ha Gadol with Jacobo and Raquel Skolnik – as always a delightful experience, not only because of the food but also because of their determination to learn the truth of the situation here and the history which led up to our current truth. While there I spoke to Uzi, from Abu Ghosh and he told me that the entire village had decided to move on from last weeks idiotic attack by Tag machir yobbos on cars in the village. “We don't want our children to hold grudges” he said.

Wednesday night found us at the Great Synagogue in the centre of Jerusalem, right next to the beautiful Jewish Agency building to hear our dear friend Talia Carner talk about the lengthy research she did before writing her book “Jerusalem Maiden”. Talia spoke so emotively of her discoveries and I discovered that Yoel Moshe Solomon, bought a plot of land outside the walls and courageously built the first private neighborhood in modern Jerusalem, known as Nakhalat Shiv'a ("the homestead of the seven").  was her ancestor. Talia spoke of her dismay at discovering that women of that time had no possibility of pursuing the arts and her central character breaks free of the constraints of Ultra-Orthodox women when her family sends her to Paris to study art. “Jerusalem Maiden is a fascinating story and Talia spoke beautifully I strongly recommend this book JERUSALEM MAIDEN

Tisha b'Av is upon us in just a few days. The destruction of not one but both Holy Temples and so much more. Professor Gerald Steinberg wrote this excellent piece about the true meaning of the ninth day of the month of Av.

Jerusalem looks even more spectacular than usual today. The air is clear and while the weather is still summery it is not as searingly hot as last week. Friends who came from Tel Aviv for Talias talk were amazed at how glorious the balmy Jerusalem evenings are as opposed to the humid, sticky Tel Aviv summers.

The city is preparing itself for the Maccabiah which begins next week. 9,000 athletes from all over the world. Just check out the delegations!!! The opening and closing ceremonies will be in Jerusalem at the newly refurbished Teddy stadium right beneath our veranda!
To understand the enormity of this wonderful event watch this video about the 9000 athletes who identify with Israel and their Jewish roots
The history of the games is one of heroism, as Jews were barred from entering so many sports activities the games began in 1932 in Israel with participants vying for a place even back then! Incredibly Zvi's participation in Maccabi World Union did not begin 30 years ago but it all began in Poland when his beautiful father Kalman Rybak went to the heats in Poland. Those stories, the deep Jewish ties and continuity of the games is why it is conceivably the most important Jewish event in the world.

In just a few hours I will go to Ben Gurion Airport to collect Allen and Maida Gerskup who are coming to see us for Shabbat prior to the main events. I will drive through the new Begin highway passing Samuels Tomb and that incredible view of the entire panorama of Jerusalem, Beit Horon, Modiin and Reut, Zeglembie Martyrs Memorial, Naot Kedumim where they grow all the Biblical plants and finally through the entrance to the airport. I love going there because it always brings surprises whether coming or going! We should get back to Jerusalem just in time for them to sit out on our veranda and watch Jerusalem slowly change from a thriving noisy city to a Jewish city preparing for Shabbat. They will absorb the aromas of Shabbat food of a hundred cultures of Jews who fled oppression in Arab countries, Africa and Europe, of emptying streets and the gentle change of colour as Jerusalem truly turns gold.

I love this city so much, its variety and continuity. Today though it holds a deep sadness as a beautiful soul left our midst yesterday. David, son of Rosa and Bernardo Romanowsky, a true scholar and fine Jew, passed away in the early hours of yesterday morning. David never gave up his fight, never stopped giving and learning and smiling, but there were greater plans for him. David leaves behind four wonderful small children, adoring and devoted parents and siblings........... and a lot of people who feel proud to have waked beside him even for a short time. May his soul rest in peace and his family find consolation among the mourners of Zion. Baruch dayan emet,”

I wish you a good Shabbes – Shabbat Shalom – a Gutte Shabbes – a beautiful day of contemplation and reflection.

With much love from Jerusalem, beautiful city

Friday, 5 July 2013

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem - Egypt, July 4th, Yvel, Saul Same


5th July 2013

Dear lovely friends, I hope that those among you that hail from the United States had a wonderful July 4th . Happy birthday Uncle Sam! I have often wondered how many people understand that relevance of that holiday to today and todays problems. People who fled religious persecution and found a home in a far distant land after a dangerous journey settled and created a land of bounty from nothing, split into two by economics and culture, a leader encouraged by William Wilberforce to embrace the ideals of freedom and liberty to all citizens which brought the country to a bloody civil war ending in the creation of one people under G-d. If it were not true one could even imagine it to be a fairy story. Birth of a nation which was to be an example to the world in its defence of freedom in all forms wherever her strength and leadership was needed. Americas leadership learned the hard way that becoming insular and dealing only with her own problems almost led to the destruction of Europe and incurred a horrific attack on the US Fleet – please G-d those same warnings will be met head on this time. A nations economy is not the only item on the agenda -if you take on the job of the worlds policeman one must address every crime............ PC or not.

Egypt is less of a conundrum than most- or is it?. Logically and emotionally we are taught that a military coup cannot be a good move towards democracy yet here it is a real democracy whereby they have publicly stated that this is temporary and they intend re-establishing full democracy. They have not not disallowed the Mosbros as a part of any future government but in this case the Egyptian army is the most democratic way forward - incredible as it may seem to western mentality. For me the most worrying aspect is the unpredictable Mohammed El Baradei who fooled the world while we trusted him to oversee the Iranian nuclear programme (that worked didn't it?) now claims to be against the Moslem Brotherhood government of Morsi yet was exposed as being Moslem Brotherhood himself!!!!

David Horovitz give us 6 reasons for the downfall of Morsi. “After Morsi: 6 thoughts on the ouster of an undemocratic, elected president” Quoting American hesitancy, the Brotherhood’s extreme anti-Semitism, and how the short lived leader was the architect of his own downfall
Daniel Pipes explains why he is both delighted and concerned by the events in Egypt
While most Islamic countries are killing and oppressing Christians in Israel Arab Members of Knesset demand that the Greek Orthodox Patriarch fire one of his priests for encouraging his parishioners to go into the IDF thus to be eligible for better jobs and become an essential part of Israeli society.

Last week, Balad MK's Basel Ghattas and Haneen Zoabi wrote to Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem Theophilus III, demanding that Father Gabriel Nadaf either halt his activities supporting Christian Arab enlistment or be fired by the patriarch from his position as a serving priest in his congregation in Yafia, near Nazareth.

The wet blankets abounded. They complained about the cost, existence, everything about the wonderful 5th Presidential Conference on Tomorrow, if not for the Conference' invitationErtharin Cousin, The Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme, would not have been here to learn of how Israel can feed the world. 

Phillip Pasmanick is one of Israels finest proponents. If you haven't joined his wonderful Facebook Page “Israel and Stuff” then you should! Phillip wrote this
Some people say that Arabs are "native Palestinians", while Jews are "invaders" and "settlers".
I read the biographies of Israeli and Palestinian Arabs political leaders, and was confused.
Who of Israeli and Palestinian Arabs´leaders was born in Palestine?
Igal Allon. Interim Prime Minister of Israel in 1969 born 10 October 1918 in Kfar Tavor, Ottoman Empire, Palestine
Yitzchak Rabin. Prime Minister. Born 1 March 1922, Jerusalem, British Mandate of Palestine.
Benjamín Netanyahu, Born 21 October 1949 in Tel Aviv.
Ehud Barak. Born 12 February 1942 in Mishmar HaSharon, British Mandate of Palestine
Ariel Sharon. Born 26 February 1928 in, Kfar Malal, British Mandate of Palestine
Ehud Olmert. Born 30 September 1945 in Binyamina-Giv'at Ada, British Mandate of Palestine.
Izhak Navon, Israeli President in 1977-1982. Born 9 April 1921 in Jerusalem, British Mandate of Palestine.
Ezer Weizman. Israeli President in 1993-2000. Born on 15 June 1924 in Tel Aviv, British Mandate of Palestine.
Palestinian leaders.
Yasser Arafat. Born 24 August 1929 in Cairo, Egypt( Cairo, in case someone does not know this, is the capital of Egypt and Egypt is not in Palestine. It´s not even in the Middle East; Egypt is situated in Africa.)
Mahmud az-Zahar. Born in 1945, in Cairo, Egypt.
Saeb Erekat . Born April 28, 1955, in Jordan. He has the Jordanian citizenship.
Faisal Abdel Qader Al-Husseini . Born 1948 in Baghdad, Iraq.
Sari Nusseibeh. Born in 1949 in Damascus, Syria
So, Israeli leaders born in Palestine are “invaders” and “settlers”- while Palestinian Arab leaders born in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Tunisia are “native Palestinians” ?
Perhaps the information above is irrelevant to todays negotiations and situation but this is not. An excellent article by Michael Ordman about the medias “Cloak of Invisibility” when it come to Israeli Tikkun Olam – making this world a better place

I think I told you that a slew of wonderful visitors have arrived! Since writing to you last week we have been having a ball with the amazing people who come ot see us and give us love -us and Israel.
Friday lunch – Our friend Danby did an amazing job of entertaining all the participants of her and Zvi's Italy trip with his tourism course. We sat happily on their veranda, overlooking the Judean Hills. Jews, Christians and Moslems from all over Israel, eating, talking, laughing and even singing together, each enjoying the company of others. About half way through Professor Gabby Barkay arrived so we invited him to the next step of our week – Shabbat Dinner!
In between the two events I managed ot squeeze in collecting the children from their schools. I was not going to miss an opportunity for my pre-Shabbat kisses or the breathtaking view of Jerusalem on my way home!
Friday night - Joyce and Fred Claar here on course at the Hartman Institute, Mickey and Shlomit Keren, Prof Gabby Barkai and Danby and Marvin Meital came for supper. Fascinating conversation. The weather was perfect, the stars came out to order and I wanted to show them the incredible moon-rise on the horizon of Jerusalem but as they say about the best laid plans.............. it rose about four minutes after they left!!!
We managed to see everyone....... The Liwerants, Danny and Judith, for lunch at Mishkenot Sha'ananim; Then we got to spend lots of precious time with the Lindenfelds which was beautiful, some of it just driving around Jerusalem showing them the places a guide would never take you and a meal at "haTahana" in the old Ottoman period railway station. Made into a boardwalk of restaurants and craft stands and all sorts of cute things. After our sad goodbyes to the Lindenfelds Arlene Wittels and her daughter Rona arrived which lifted my mood again. Arlene cannot live without her visits to Jerusalem, Israel and me!!!! Rona chose her 50thbirthday gift as a visit to Israel – yeah Rona! Yesterday we went to Yvel, the prize winning jewellery factory and shop of Isaac and Rona Levy. What an amazing achievement and I don't just mean their exquisite pearls and jewels I refer to their programme to teach Ethiopians to become goldsmiths – fine jewellers – with their own collection.

Incidentally I thought you should know that our Mirpesset now has not just oranges, pomegranates and herbs but also green bell peppers, tomatoes and the kumquat and lemon trees are in blossom!!!

Tonight we have a very special guest. Tonight Saul Same, who comes all the way from Melbourne Australia each and every year, will celebrate his 96th birthday on our veranda, our mirpesset. Saul was born 96 years ago in Be'er Tuvia, right here in Israel and although his parents took him to Australia as a child his heart is, was and always will be in Israel. HAPPY BIRTHDAY SAUL

Strangely enough, another man that I love dearly has his birthday on Sunday, my adored son Gideon Saul – incredible father, wonderful husband and great friend – and by the way an a pretty darned amazing son too!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY GIDEON SAUL!!!!

So that's this week and next week holds even more fun!!!!

Shabbat Shalom to you all. I wish you love, laughter and a Shabbat filled with family, contemplation and tradition. Having said that here's a non-traditional thought for Shabbat 1

With love from Jerusalem