Monday, 16 September 2013

130916 After Kippur almost Sukkot

16th September 2013
After Kippur almost Sukkot.

Dear Friends

Today saw another cowardly terror attack in the US as a shooting took place in Washington's Navy Yard. The report from Sky News

Apparently our prayers helped! If one can trust politicians (ha ha) then the USA and Russia have diverted, if not averted, a terrible catastrophe. The cold war seems to have become just a mite tepid.

I am primarily thrilled with any agreement between the USA and Russia just now because my fears of an imminent Bay of Pigs, Middle East style, under the willing auspices of fundamentalist Islam, have been assuaged somewhat. I believe that some kind of watchdog situation whereby the caretakers make it clear that any breeches cause a loss of face for both the US and  Russia is ideal.

Syria is just too dangerous, with huge stockpiles of conventional, chemical and G-d knows what other arms both bought and adopted from Iraq (the WMDs sent overland 6 months before the Iraq war) and made in their own very sophisticated arms factories, none of which we can consider attacking or bombing. There is no knowing the after effects of bombing Syrian arsenals because we know what is in there.......... Sarin is the least worrisome!!!!

I can only say thank you a million times that Israel did not heed the USA and bombed the bejeebers out of the Syrian nuclear facility a few years back!!!

OK It can now be said that I have run the gamut of Yom Kippur services. From the very traditional shule of our childhood, whose addressed amused many (Cathedral Road Synagogue, Cardiff to a student synagogue in Stanford University - to a conservative shule in Toronto that my Dad kept beaming at my sister Eddie and I because we sat together - to Mickey Rosen (z"l) s beautiful service in Yakar London which was the first time I found out that my Zvi has a phenomenal voice and thus gained the approval of Mickey as my beau- to an ultra-orthodox one in Kiriat Moshe, Jerusalem - to the Iraqi Beit Knesset in Malha Village with the women screaming out bids in the auction of aliyot for their husbands - to a Conservative synagogue in Long Island wth Arlene and Milty and this Yom Kippur to a delightful Conservative synagogue near Dan and Karen with a beautiful and familiar service but sitting beside my amazing eldest son, something we had not done since his bar-mitzva since he normally sits downstairs while I have the gallery grandstand view.

As the day wore on we went to a Reform synagogue children's service complete with four piece band (piano, flute, guitar and drums), hand clapping and singing of Israeli songs finally dancing around shule ending in a huge blast of about 10 shofars blown by members of the community. My little grandson was thrilled! The service really spoke to him rather than playing with his Daddy's tallit and falling asleep from boredom he was very involved and wide awake. I kept imagining my old Rabbi Rogoznitsky's face - he was a stickler for orthodox Judaism! My Dad would have loved it, although very traditional he loved anything new, but me? Maybe I am just an old-fashioned girl!

I went to visit a friend's new apartment yesterday for brunch. As I was waiting for my adorable Arlene to arrive Deborah gave me a Foreword to read; foreword to a book she highly recommended. The words are those of Sir Harold Evans, written to introduce a book called A Convenient Hatred - a History of Antisemitism. Read his words, his wise words, conceivably the wisest words I have read in a very long time.

And so to Succot, Sukkes, Tabernacles. In the four days between Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) and Succot Israelis are in a flurry of activity as almost every veranda sprouts a temporary structure - a succah, booth or tabernacle. They vary from the very professional looking prefabricated wooden structures that are easily put together with a few locks and clasps and go down to four flimsy planks of wood and some brightly coloured fabric to ensure the three walls are more than virtual. The greatest difference between the traditional succah of the Diaspora and that of Israel is that Diaspora succot have a plethora of fresh fruits hanging from the slatted roof or "schach" whereas in Israel unless you wish to be either eaten alive by insects or be covered in rotten fruit falling on your head you tend to use glittery decorations and put the fruit on the table! The usage of said succah ranges from the very orthodox who also sleep in the succah to the traditional Jews who eat in the succah and then those who have a succah to entertain friends - or ishpuzin. Each morning we take a lulav (palm fronds with myrtle and osier) and etrog (a special citrus) and pray, and we also ensure that there are four species in the succah. The Biblical origin is in the Book of Vayikra "And you shall take for yourselves on the First Day the fruit of a beautiful tree, the branches of date palms, branches of the myrtle tree, and branches of the willow tree, and you shall rejoice before Hashem, your G-d, for Seven Days." (Vayikra 23:40)

Since you always ask me about food, oh yes you do! I will tell you about the traditional foods. One that I never liked as a child is Hollishkes or stuffed cabbage - of course my tastes have changed and now I put out all varieties of stuffed vegetables to complement the cabbage leaves, usually stuffed with rice and meat. Some people eat Kreplech, yummy pockets of meat filled dough eaten in - what else - chicken soup!

The Pilgrim Fathers, before their treacherous journey to the New World, spent time with the other group of persecuted people, the Sefardi Jews who were expelled from Spain and lived in Holland and thus spent their Tabernacles together. When they arrived in the New World it was the time of the Autumn Harvest Festival and they celebrated the first meal - which became Thanksgiving. I thought you would like that. In the meantime - rather than give you the full list I found this website which has each country and its traditional Succot fare.

Each year in Jerusalem we still spend our Tabernacles together as the fabulous Festival of Tabernacles organised by the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem draws tens of thousands of Christians to our city to express their joy and support. It is spectacular!!!

So, I loved my time in NYC. My little grandson Joshua is delighted with his little sister Callie and also having fun with Safta! The baby is glorious and my son and daughter-in-law have grown even closer - something I thought impossible! So rewarding to see.
Tomorrow I will go walkabout with Callie and Daniel and then off to see Joyce Claar for lunch before playing with Joshua in the park and then packing my bags ready.

I am nearly homeward bound, arriving in Ben Gurion is such a wonderful "homecoming" feeling. That incredibly well organised ultra-modern airport where the luggage arrives moments before you even reach the beltway!!!! Then the climb or Aliya up to Jerusalem as the air changes and the crisp clear air of Jerusalem tells me I am home......... to kiss my grandchildren and then home, home to open the electric blinds which will rise to give me the most spectacular view of all - Jerusalem.

Have a good Sukkot/Tabernacles and I will speak to you from Jerusalem and talk of "The View from my Veranda"
Gmar Chatima Tova, Shana Tova and Chag Sameach

Friday, 13 September 2013

Shabbat Shalom - the view from my veranda: Yom Kippur 2013- 10 Tishrei 5774

Shabbat Shalom - the view from my veranda: Yom Kippur 2013- 10 Tishrei 5774: 130912 12th September 2013 Shabbat Shalom dear friends This is a very special Shabbat which coincides with Yom Kippur, the Day of...

Yom Kippur 2013- 10 Tishrei 5774

12th September 2013

Shabbat Shalom dear friends

This is a very special Shabbat which coincides with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Traditionally this is a day that we fast - not as a punishment but rather to indicate that we are so deeply into our devotions and determination to improve ourselves that we forget about the self-indulgences of food and drink.

What always impressed me is that we do not simply beg for forgiveness of our sins but rather of mankind in general and Jews in particular.

We are aware of the usual sins - killing, lying, being snobbish, harming others physically, etc etc but often forget about the sin that requires the forgiveness of another human being rather than of the Almighty. That is the sin of public humiliation. It can be face to face or through gossip but for that sin we must beg forgiveness from the one we harm indeed it goes even further - we must continue to beg their forgiveness but if they refuse to forgive after three attempts the sin reverts to them.

What does that teach us? That to lie and harm the quality of life of another human being is the ultimate sin.

Israel does everything possible to make this world a better place. We give and give, saving lives of friend and foe alike, creating medicines, medical technology and high-tech but still there are many who slander us. We would not need three apologies should they accept us for what we are,  we would accept the first apology with open arms!!!!

Norman and Lola Cohen are exceptional people whose purpose in life is to make the world a better place by extolling the virtues of Israel - the real Israel. This week they wrote of all the wonderful things that Israel does for those who offer no apologies for their libel. We tend the sick of our neighbours, we have offered succour to Syrian injured who cross the border, Syrian doctors bringing their worst cases to the border and handing them over to IDF doctors who either tend to them in the field hospital on the Golan or take them to major Israeli hospitals;  we send out love and aid to the most heavily stricken parts of the globe and we do not need apologies before doing good -we also do not apologise for being good.

That is the secret of Yom Kippur. Not just to apologise to G-d and beat our chests for our sins of the past but to determine to do better - tikkun olam. We should not wait for someone to prove friendship in order to offer the hand of friendship; we should not wait for other countries to accept us before improving their lives
We must not forget the Yom Kippur war. The war that caused many a brave young man to leave his prayers and  save our country. Men and women who were not eligible for call-up volunteered and took the workplaces of those who went to the fronts - yes fronts for we have more borders than land! Avigdor Kahalani was a hero of the Yom Kippur war. Here you see him in the clips that accompany the IDF Cantor Shai Abrahamson, who sings for Yom Kippur.

I wish you a peaceful year, a better year, an easy fast, a heart full of love and love requited. I don't want everyone to be like me, of like us, or like you........ I just want us to accept each other and our differences. Indeed I want us to celebrate our differences.

Of all music that represents Yom Kippur it must be Kol Nidre - the evening and opening prayer of that solemn day. This exquisite music, sung by even the most simple of men, opens our hearts and minds to change - to acceptance and to recogniition that we are not alone in this world.  Itzhak Perlman and Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot - Kol Nidrei

With much love to you from New York City where I am thrilled to be with my beautiful children and grandchildren. My heart is in Jerusalem, always will be, but I cannot foget what happened here in this city 12 years and two days ago........... for that we must expect repentance.

If I have in any way offended you, harmed you or anyone you love then please accept my repentence and know that I will try to do better

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Shana Tov from Jerusalem 5744 - Syrian injured in Israeli hospitals

3rd September 2013
Rosh Hashana 5744

Shana Tova to you all – a year of joy, laughter and a great deal more logic and compassion!

If you had any doubts as to the insanity of diplomacy, this is the only piece of news I feel I must give you before we start the New Year. I suggest that all the Western leaders beg forgiveness for their negligence in their duty to protect those who have no power and atone their sin of turning a blind eye to their suffering

In an unexpected and positive move, 5 East Jerusalem schools have switched to the Israeli curriculum

From Australian Ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma in the town of Sfat (Safed) in the north of Israel, one of Judaism’s Four Holy Cities, the front-line of the conflict in Syria feels very close. At Ziv Medical Centre, without fanfare or publicity, they are treating a steady and growing stream of wounded Syrians from the conflict. Some 72 Syrian patients have been admitted to Ziv Medical Centre since February.

There are now 8.081 million Israelis! The most recent census shows that this little country is not only economically astute but we are good at producing citizens too!
Jewish population numbers about 6.066 million (75.1% of the total population).
Arab population number about 1.67 million (20.7%).
Non-Arab Christians, members of other religions and the non-affiliated about 345,000 residents (4.2%).
In 5773 (October 2012 – September 2013), population increase was 1.8%, similar to that in the past few years. 163,000 babies were born in Israel and about 40,000 people died. 19,000 people came to Israel on Aliya.
The Chinese are very clever. As opposed to the West and their idiotic BDS movement the Chinese search out the label “Made in Israel”! Could this be yet another reason the West is waning while China is waxing?

Australian friend Barry Pryer sent me this fascinating trivia question for Rosh Hashana
When was the last time Rosh Hashanah began as early as September 5th?
Give up? Try
It will be another 76 years (2089) until this Rosh Hashanah comes this early again.
Rabbis everywhere are scrambling to finish sermons and Jews everywhere are asking, “has the Jewish calendar gone crazy!?”
Well, not exactly. In reality the Jewish calendar works on a 19 year cycle adding a 13th month (Adar 2) in years 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17 and 19. This is year 17 of that cycle and represents the longest possible year in the Jewish calendar of 385 days.
The Jewish calendar which is based primarily on the lunar cycle, makes these adjustments in order to keep the holidays in sync with with solar seasons. This keeps Passover in the spring and Sukkot in the autumn. Every four years the calendar adds a month during leap years for the holidays to be “early” or “late”, what is different this year is the extreme “earliness” in relation to the secular calendar.
The next time Rosh Hashanah will fall on September 5th will as mentioned above be in 2089 or in the Jewish counting 5850 which is why this year is so special.

Latma's New Year video is very very close to the bone and quite excellent!

Another video that I love is this one - Shana Tova le'chooooooolam (to everyone)

Remember what I said about the Chinese wisdom? Well a Chinese new year blessing is “I wish you a boring year” and the curse? “I wish you an interesting year” I don't quite know what happened last year but it certainly was interesting!!!

So my dear friends, I wish you a boring year with patches of interesting fun and laughter, huge dollops of love and smiles and the power to change the world for the better. We all have the power of tikkun olam, bit by bit, person by person and minute by minute – we just need to try.

To change the world we must first change our view and wipe out preconceptions. Here is a fun video, I call it the flying “yeshiva bochers” and it tells us so much in a fun way

I send you love from Jerusalem, our Jerusalem. A city that holds 9 of the 10 portions of beauty in this world and is so incredible that everyone wants her. Everyone wants her but she is ours – ours to care for, ours to share, ours to protect and ours to hold.

Shana Tova