Friday, 29 November 2013

Shabbat Shalom from Sydney

29th November 2013

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom from Sydney Australia

This week Zvi and I received some very sad news. A dear dear friend, Guiora Esrubilsky,  passed away suddenly and prematurely in Florida. The official obituaries will tell you that Guiora was the President of Maccabi World Union, Vice-President of the World Jewish Congress, Member of the Board of the Latin American Jewish Congress, Member of North Dade Committee AIPAC. For Zvi especially Guiora was an old and beloved friend alongside his wonderful wife Marta.  Born in Argentina Guiora, came to and loved Israel. He spoke a wonderful, musical Hebrew, with a strong Argentinian lilt, and promoted Israel and Maccabi in his every thought and word. There is an old Jewish saying that a man has three names; the one he is born with, the only his friends call him and the one he leave behind. Guiora left a fine name behind him. He will be sadly missed, personally and most certainly in the Jewish World where his determination to put forward Israel's case was unmatched. Baruch Dayan Emet 

We wish Marta and their children the ancient Jewish Blessing.  "May God comfort you among the  mourners of Zion and Jerusalem" (המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים, transliterated HaMakom yenachem etchem betoch sha'ar aveylei Tziyon viYerushalayim) May the family know no more sorrow.

David Horovitz has written extensively on the Iranian-USA-Western situation and its intricacies, here he elucidates on a complex situation made infinitely more complicated.

I fear that the talks promised a great deal but ultimately led to a return of the "overseers" of the Iranian nuclear ambitions - just as we had before when Mohammed El Baradei led the watchdog team that ignored the nuclear facilities built in underground bunkers - and El Baradei turned out to be a front for the Moslem Brotherhood. Who will be todays watchdogs? I pray that my cycism is unwarranted yet somehow the words of Winston Churchill keep ringing in my head - when virtually alone 75 years ago, he warned of the follies of Munich, his words are frighteningly relevant today "We have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us in history. Do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup" Thanks to Tom Gross for posting it.

Perhaps the most disturbing statement on Iran came from that well known democratic leader, Assad of Syria who said that Rouhani has succeeded in enshrining rights of developing countries to pursue nuclear energy.

Our dear friend Dr. Kimball Taylor's Children of Israel Foundation has a brand new website. I am so honoured that he has chosen to include the video of me showing you my veranda  - when scrolling down to my photo, remember to read of the incredible work of the Foundation.

We left Melbourne for Sydney and I must tell you of our incredible adventures down under where we saw everything except Ned Kelly!!!!

For starters, as we headed to the hotel breakfast room we bumped into our dear friend Robert Simons! Robert, who like many of our Australian friends, was one of Zvi's original UIA young leadership which Zvi set up in 1974. Robert was in town for the meetings of the Australian Friends of the Hebrew University of which he is the President. 

On Friday night we went to the home of Saul Same for Shabbat Dinner. Saul, who celebrated his 96th birthday at our home this summer is one of our very favourite people in the world and it was a joy to spend time with him, his sisters, sons and grand-daughters. Saul Same - mensch.

Our next stop was a visit to the Country. Rolling hills, exquisitely manicured vineyards, amazing natural landscapes and a view that only Mother Nature could have created. The ocean, Phillips Island and most incredibly........ kangaroos (roo, jack, buck, boomer, Jill, flyer and of course the baby Joey) About ten in a field among the eucalyptus, the big Boomer standing to attention, watching his ladies and babies.

The next day we visited the heritage town of Maldon - created during the Gold Rush of Australia which lasted from 1850-1915 when all the men went off to war and there were no miners left. This is a particularly Australian situation since they have supported their allies in every battle and war, never reneging on their duties.The Union Hill Mine is in Central Victoria and we drove down into the belly of the earth and right under the town of Maldon. I particularly loved Ians pride in the fact that his mine will soon contribute to Australias impressive production of gold. We had an amazing time and were so impressed with Ians knowledge, then my delight was complete as on our way back to Melbourne I saw an entire flock of white cockatoos dipping and playing above a field.

Our visit to Melbourne ended with breakfast with Dr Paul Zimmet, who is hosting a 10,000 person conference on Diabetes this weekend and a delightful dinner at a vegan restaurant with Deidre and Keith Beville. Again the topic of the conversation, after our mutual grandchildren bragging, was the poor hasbara of Israel.

From Melbourne we flew to Sydney and to Kitty Hammerman's welcoming smile beside the baggage reclaim! We took the spectacularly scenic route to Peter and Kitty's home in Double Bay. 

We had lunch with Rabbi Jeremy and Mandy Lawrence who I have known since we were all  much younger, and now they are the Rabbi and Rebbitsen of the Sydney Great Synagogue and parents of 4 children! I am so proud of their incredible contribution to their community. Kol ha Kavod

Wednesday evening was very special. In honour of the first night of Chanuka, Kitty and Peter invited dear friends from the former UIA (Keren Hayesod)  Trendsetters and Young Leadership that Zvi established in 1974. Most were spontaneous invites and Stanley and Harold were there to represent the "younger generation" who today have risen to major leadership positions in Australia and in Keren Hayesod worldwide. 

The talk of old times was truly heart warming and Bobby came armed with old letters between himself and Zvi. Old photos of Zvi sporting a Viva Zapata moustache leading the "Yachdav" mission to Israel that bonded so many friendships. Fond memories of outstanding work and a time when it was easier to fire people up into action or maybe it isn't the times but the lack of impetus from head office to excite todays youngsters. In those days Zvi motivated people to be as excited as he was about Israel, Aliya and education, through his ability to convey his love of his country. It never fails to amaze me how a shared love of Israel draws people together and creates lifelong friendships. 

Few people within the powers that be in Israel understand the deep concerns of Israel lovers worldwide at the apparent lack of positive hasbara. In general it seems to be left to people like me, people who write newsletters and blogs; ordinary Israelis who "adopt" foreign journalists; writers who receive information that bypasses the official press office. Nonetheless, it is fair to say that the press office puts out excellent information mailings that are never picked up by an antagonistic media. I just miss Danny Seaman.

My gorgeous nephew and niece, Claire and Steven Bloom, are going to Buckingham Palace - just like Christopher Robin and Alice! An invitation to the Royal Garden Party depends not on aristocracy or wealth but rather on exceptional charitable and community work. Well done Steve...... I am inordinately proud of you and Cardiff is a safer place with your taking great care working with the local Welsh police. 

Israel lost a great singer/composer this week. Arik Einstein was more an institution than an entertainer and his beautiful songs will live for many generations to come.  
Ani ve Ata - You and I will change the world. and  Ouf Gozal - fly fledgling (the story of children leaving the nest)

The phenomenal generosity of the Aussies, the glorious scenery, the flora and fauna have made this visit wonderful, but I must admit I miss my view! I miss collecting my grandchildren from school and driving past the panorama of sparkling white Jerusalem from the Prophet Samuels Tomb and the hug at the end of my journey as I reach Rachel. I miss the scent of ethnic Shabbat dishes of our neighborhood; the garbage collectors, road sweepers, shopkeepers and passers-by wishing me "Shabbat Shalom" and the ever present aroma of freshly baked Challah. I miss our little grand-daughters blessing the Candles and Challah and Zvi's beautiful voice singing the Kiddush- the blessing over the wine- as we all admire the view from our veranda. 

Talking of Zvi, he and Peter "did an Oprah" and climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I wonder if the Bridge developed a new height record when Zvi stood up  up! Tonight we went for dinner with Charmaine and Stanley Roth, Harold and Rebecca Finger and Robert Simons to put world to rights, feed the hungry, solve all Israel's problems and decide what to do about the Iran situation... and enjoy a giggle and chatter. 

Today we are going to the Jewish Museum and then take a yacht ride in the harbour to absorb the exceptional aesthetic beauty of this city, thanks to Ian's unending generosity we will do so in comfort, well fed and cared for and with dear friends. Then it will be Shabbat again - even though here in Oz it is more likely to be called Shabbes!!! Shabbat dinner wherever we are in the world, candles, kiddush, challah and calm, friends and tradition.  

Chanuka, each day brings a new story and another candle. Chanuka - the time of miracles, lights, heroes and chanuka Gelt! By the way, do you know why we give Chanuka Gelt (Chanuka coins)? Apparently as an act of triumph the Maccabees minted a new set of coins, thus we commemorate their victory. Interesting eh? Here are 8 things to do in Israel for Chanuka

So it is time for me to choose a few songs for your delectation
We start with Nefesh b Nefesh Chanuka
Wonderful children of Kinderlech

We wish you a joyful Chanuka, a happy Thanksgiving and a peaceful and contemplative Shabbat, remembering our blessings and forgetting our grudges. My prayer is that we will not need to be heroic yet again but rather that we will simply be accepted.

Happy 60th  birthday to Martin Lindenfeld - it was just a bit too far to come to give you a kiss! Martin received the best birthday gift in the world - a new grandson!!! Love you Martin - Ad 120 

Shabbat Shalom, thinking of Jerusalem and that amazing view from our veranda
With love

Friday, 22 November 2013

Shabbat Shalom from Melbourne Australia

22nd November 2013

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom and G'day Mates!!!!

Did you know that Australia is a very very long way from Israel? I have developed a new respect for our Australian friends who make that trip twice a year to visit friends, to attend meetings and support the organisations they are proud to be part of. A truly active and warm community.
From the moment we landed in Melbourne, to discover two of our suitcases had not arrived from Sydney, we felt the enormous warmth and real Aussie welcome of our friends here. Suddenly the 27 hours of flights dissipated as we were wrapped in a flurry of visits and hugs.  Lunch in Toorak with Linda, Pauline and Ian then a quick sleep and supper at the beautiful kosher restaurant with John and Adrienne arriving back at the hotel just in time to catch up on our lost sleep.
Yesterday we visited the Jewish museum with Ian and Linda. I am speechless - both Zvi and I were so incredibly impressed by this unusual and all encompassing musuem.  The exhibits explaining Jewish life and rituals is wonderful. Jewish life in Australia and a timeline of the provenance of Jews who came to Australia, and where they ultimately settled. A truly worthwhile visit.
From the Museum we went for lunch with friends of Ian and Linda who are visiting from Malaysia. Although raised a Moslem Rama is an open and delightful woman who happily explained that the Islam she was taught is a million miles from the Shi'a and Sunni Islam that we have come to fear. Zvi and I hope to fulfil their long-time wish to come to Israel where they can learn the truth which so differs from the perception according to world news.
After lunch we visited the Victoria Museum of Art to see the exquisite Japanese exhibits in the Pauline Gandel Gallery. It was a beautiful experience and we are so proud that our friends are able to give so generously to Australian culture.  Lesley Kehoe, curator of the Gandel collection, then showed us an exquisite collection of Japanese Lacquer Boxes - explaining in detail the painstaking process which could take more than a year to produce even one box - the spiritual and emotional investment of each movement, each stroke, each tiny element of this rare and special art form.
In the evening we were invited by our gracious hosts to the graduation ball of Mount Scopus High School. I really didn't know what to expect since I was used to very informal and somewhat raucous parties thrown for the kids in both Israeli and British Schools. The hall was filled with tables of parents, siblings and grandparents who cheered as their progeny filed out to the hall and then were called up to receive their graduation certificates accompanied with an amusing description of their aims and achievements and a photograph of their arrival in kindergarten at the school which then took care of their secular and Jewish education for 15 years. As each beautiful youngster walked accross the stage and their ambitions read out, at least 60% intended going to Israel for 6 months, for a year, to Ulpan, to study or to make Aliya and go into the IDF - and those of Israeli parents all intended going home to do their IDF service. Their confidence in being Jewish, their wide knowledge of who they are and why is living proof of the success of this school system. Whatever they do and wherever they go these young people will always know what it means to be a Jew - both the responsibility and the joy.
This morning we had a delightful surprise! We discovered that our wonderful old friend Robert Simons is at the same hotel........... and we thought we wouldn't see him til Sydney!! The meetings of the Hebrew University Committee are taking place here in Melbourne and as the Australian President of the Hebrew U Robert is here of course. He introduced us to Barry - a lovely man who is the current Chair. Robert together with another lovely friend, Harold Finger, worked hard to  ensure that Sydney Jewish schools have the same sense of excellence and Jewish values as Mr Scopus in the Moriah School, building it up to the large school it is today.
Tonight Zvi and I are spending Shabbat dinner with a truly incredible man, both legend and mensch. Saul Same, born in Be'er Tuvia in Mandate Palestine, Saul was taken to far off Australia as a child, but his heart never left Israel. Saul built a beautiful life and family with the love of his life, his Lucy (z"l) establishing a legacy of love and warmth - a love of Israel. Last year we had the honour of celebrating his 96th birthday at home with our family in Jerusalem. Dear Saul, maybe he stopped running the 10k a couple of years ago but he is still active, intelligent and a leader - a born leader who draws love.
I hate to tell you but I have absolutely no idea what is going on in this world right now!!!! We have not had time to watch television or read a paper so excuse my ignorance. I am certain that the media is full of more indecision on Iran, or more situations where Russia is filling the void and making decision and of cours eof the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. I still find it difficult to talk about tha tmoment since as the nescaster announced the death of a President Doctor Grossman came down the stairs in my home ot tell the family that Mummy had died. It is not easy to separate the two events in my mind and obviously the tragedy of the loss two young lives intertwined by fate, one a world leader the other a fine human being, stays with me forever.
So I see no view from my veranda although it is always in my mind's eye; I cannot pick an ornge from my tiny tree or a watch the lemons turn from green to a warm buttery yellow; there are no white stone-clad buildings but what we have is a young, vibrant country whose greatest advantage is being a long long way from most of the strife in this confused world. While never leaving her allies unsupported in war or strife Australia has the vast advantage of not having any neighbours other than the Great Barrier Reef and dolphins!!!!
One of the only sad things I have heard here is that the Australian media has not reported the wonderufl support Israel is giving to the Phillipinnes in the form of over 150 IDF doctors, nurses and medical support staff with field hospitals -or that the first child was born in the field hospital and his name is .....................ISRAEL!!!    Since then many other babies are born and cared for and the sick and destitue also. IsraAid is performing wonders co-ordinating other NGO's to help rebuild in the most devastated areas.
In a few minutes we are going for lunch and some retail therapy in a large shopping mall that everyone tells me is outstanding - I have already warned Zvi that shekels are not acceptable here but he is allowed to use his credit card!!
I wish you Shabbat Shalom from Melbourne, home of cricket, Australian rules football (it makes Rugby look lame and the most welcoming, caring, adorable and wonderful friends imaginable.
Be well, be strong, be proud of who you are and accept others for who they are.
For your musical delectation this week we have Waltzing Mathilda - not the Australian National Anthem but the most famous and of course for Shabbat a surprising video from Russia
Finally - Chanuka. Zvi always says that in Judaism every festival is "They tried ot kill us, we won - now let's eat" and Chanuka is no different -----latkes and sufganiyot!!! Here Technion sutdents sing the traditional song with a difference and then sung with all the different types of chanukiot
Shabbat Shalom, Chag Chanuka Sameach and loads of love from down under


If the media does not inform us we must inform the media
Facebook      Sheila Silver Raviv

Friday, 15 November 2013

The View from our Veranda - Soldier stabbed, Philippines aid, Iran, Kerry,


14th November 2013

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom

Picture a young illegal, crossing your border to search for work, illegally, and deciding that if he doesn't find work that day he will kill a soldier so that he can go to an Israeli jail, get himself an education and be fed well (Halal food of course) and his family will be given recompense by his government for their brave sons work with the clear knowledge that he will be freed in a short time because a third country tells you to. Well read on dear friends
Other passengers cried as they told of the incident - “We just couldn't stop him in time” What kind of insanity is an education system that incites to such hatred?? Well look at the link for IMPACT-SE and click on the Palestinian Authority textbooks

While the USA and UK send warships to help in the Philippines, Israel sends people. IsraAid is already on the ground and the IDF sent over 150 personnel to set up field hospitals in the stricken areas. The Philippine Ambassador thanked Israel and her NGO's for their instant aid and assistance.

Diane Steinfink, our friend, sent this report of the debt Jews owe to Philippines during WW2

The Orient Express from Mecca to the Vatican. Christians in the Cross Hairs by Reuven Berko tells us more about the chronic, tragic situation of Christians in Moslem countries.

Israeli Ambassador Alan Baker wrote a letter in response to John Kerry's claim that "settlements" are illegal
Still on the subject of John Kerry, It would appear that Kerry is the kind of friend that created the joke "With friends like this who needs enemies" as he tells senators to ignore Israel when making decisions on Iran. Gee thanks Mr Kerry – happy you lost the vote!
I try not to go into politics but right now it seems that since the USA has lost control of Iran and other areas of the Middle East the easy way out is to blame Israel for anything – to make Israel the scapegoat – since we are the easy target. Don't condemn murders and oppression, condemn a few houses as scuppering the “PEACE” talks. Sounds familiar eh?

The media frenzy in the wake of a Swiss laboratory report on Yasser Arafat's remains has all the mystery, suspense and false trails of a detective thriller; an Agatha Christie style "whodunit". More seriously it illustrates the unfortunate prevalence of irresponsible and lazy reporting in mainstream media.. The excellent Maurice Ostroff responds
When a UN interpreter thought her mike was closed she utter words of truth. Anti Israel votes are a bit much!!!

Zvi has been so busy with the WZO and the Jewish Agency meetings this week that I have hardly seen him! I think that he becomes frustrated that new voices suddenly come in and believe they reinvented the wheel. At one point someone started speaking about joint ventures with communities in the Diaspora to bring young people from Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular, together. Brilliant eh? At one point Zvi simply said that the plans are in place, the procedures passed but that it all happened when he had hair and Jack Smorgon's hair was black................ in other words everything was in place some 36 years ag but no-one implements it! So frustrating.

Some great news!!!! Our dear friend David Efron has become the Honorary Consul for Israel in Puerto Rico. David, who is a true and proud Zionist, has done so much to put forward the case and cause for Israel, sometimes in hostile environments, that he truly deserves this honour. In addition his daughter Libi made Aliya to Israel two years ago so he has even more impetus! Kol ha Kavod David – proud of you. I have one I have to call you “Your Excellency”??

This morning I met with a dear old friend in the quaint Jerusalem neighbourhood of Baka. Andrew Stonewas my madrich (leader) in Habonim (scouts) when we were both infinitely younger and living in Wales. Our paths have both diverged yet run parallel on so many issues, maybe because we both have a deep moral sense, and I love talking to him or rather listening to him. These two Welsh Jews have become, on his part, a Judeo/Buddhist/Vegan who sits in the House of Lords playing a very active role but keeps his heart in Israel where he fights the only fight worth fighting – to bring peace and justice to this fraught area. Then there is me, still a Jewess, not much changed there, still proudly a strong Zionist who lives right here in Jerusalem. I sit at my computer rather than in the House of Lords but I too fight the only fight worth fighting – to bring peace and justice to my home. In other word – Tikkun Olam, leaving the world a better place than you found it. Both of us agree that Norman Berg was our Israel catalyst through Habonim, but my parents were utterly and totally committed Zionists from day one and my Mummy was a leader of WIZO. We talked of fond memories of our childhood, of our children and now grandchildren and if you were to ask either of us to burst in to song it may well sound like this – well a bit gruffer but -

Talking of things Welsh, Sir Tom Jones, aka Jones the Voice, came out against the evil BDS which blackmails artistes into boycotting Israel. There's lovely Tom Boy!!

Last week Debby Bettsak was in Jerusalem – I adore her enthusiasm for this city and for the organisation she so loves – the Friends of the IDF. A truly amazing organisation.

Shabbat is coming – coming to bring a calm over Jerusalem, a sense of family and beauty. The Hebrew date of the passing of the woman who taught me the meaning of Shabbat has been, with the traditional lighting of a memorial candle but the historic Gregorian date is yet to come. It is now 50 years since the 22nd of November 1963, infamous as the date on which an American President was assassinated but for me, the moment my darling Mother passed away. “Eshet Chayil mi Yimtsa”? Regina (Betty) Glicker Silver was a true Eshat Chayil and while missed every second of every day she left all of her children, indeed everyone she touched in life, with a sense of love and kindness, of warmth and generosity rarely seen. I am a very lucky woman that I had 17 years to absorb the righteous, funny, gentle presence of my Mother. May her soul rest in peace.

So, in a short while, Zvi will go off to his Parliament, after collecting the graduation certificate for his course at the Hebrew University, and I will make my way over that very familiar peak, past the Prophet Samuels Tomb, past the fields of olive trees and the tiny vineyard, collecting the incredibly aromatic Challot from Nehamas bakery, into the gates of Givat Zeev to spend time with my daughter Rachel, who is feeling much better, and the grandchildren as we prepare her home for Shabbat.

May each home be blessed on Shabbat as the children of Tevye One of the most beautiful Shabbat Songs is Yedid Nefesh a poem of love for the Almighty written by Rabbi Elazar Azriki

So dear friends, I wish you a Shabbat Shalom from our veranda – a veranda I am leaving for a few weeks. I will try to keep in touch and tell you tales of far flung places and close friends.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem

For those of you who still have not seen the movie “The Wave” then I strongly suggest you sit down for 45 minutes and understand our world as it is right now.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Shabbat Shalom - MK's pot, Toronto Mayor on Crack, Liberman, Iran, Chanuka,


8th November 2013

Shabbat Shalom to everyone but a very special Shabbat Shalom to my daughter Rachel who celebrates her Gregorian 40th birthday today, having celebrated her Hebrew date three weeks ago.

Our news has been full of admissions to pot smoking by various Members of Knesset – in particular Yair Lapid and Shelley Yachimovitch, bot leaders of parties! In general we thought their zigzag denials and confessions were something of a joke particularly when we hear the drug and alcohol abuse by the Toronto Mayor which hit all the headlines this week!

In the meantime, in a relatively low key election New York has a new Mayor. Here is a light-hearted look at the new Mayor who claims to have fallen in love with Israel despite his left-wing politics. Bill de Blasio has a huge task and I wish him all the best in the world because we need a strong and efficient manager in that wonderful city.

Here in Israel the biggest story is that Member of Knesset, former Minister and future Minister Avigdor (Yvette) Liberman had the charges dropped on one case and was found not guilty on another in the lower court – a unanimous decision by three judges. So much can be learned from this case, and many cases brought against politicians. It took 17 years of police investigation, rooms full of files, many allegations that amounted to nothing and an enormous amount of public money to find sufficient evidence to bring the two trials to court, apparently to no avail since the first case was thrown out by the Attorney General, a decision not lightly taken. There are two possible conclusions to be made from this and other similar situations; one is that the police work was insufficient and the other is that the constant determination to discredit Liberman and others is politically based. I do not follow Mr Libermans political ideals – far from it – but he has suffered 17 years of harassment which needs to be addressed.

Iran - new President same problems. Vacillation in dealing with the Iranian nuclear programme could cost the West the game – the end game – which is clearly being played out. It is a game of nerves which we are losing through lack of determination, lack of conviction and lack of leadership. The moment the messages are mixed between threats and appeasement the Iranians take the appeasement as weakness and continue on their path to world domination through terror. Yes I know, you all think I am being a scaremonger and even thinking I am a right-wing troublemaker but I am neither – I want us to come to an agreement with the Iranians but not with their evil leaders who cannot be trusted. Until we can find a safe way to dispose of nuclear material in a safe manner no-one is safe.

The latest “talks” between the Israeli and Palestinian diplomats, in an attempt to find some common ground seemed to have reached a possible status quo – there was even a tacit agreement that the Palestinians would get some prisoners – with blood on their hands - and Israel would get to build homes in disputed areas without too much fuss. I don't know what the repercussions for Abbas may have been but the Palestinians are threatening to walk out of the talks. Of course Kerry is coming to try and calm the situation but since each time we get close to any agreement the Palestinians walk out and Israel gets the blame.
As I look out over our veranda – our mirpesset – and absorb the glorious view, I feel truly privileged. I love the look of amazement when friends walk out for the very first time and take in the panorama that lays before us. From Gilo to Beit Tsafafa, from Talpiot to Ramat Rachel; From Baka to the German Colony and beyond. Last night I sat there with my beautiful son Gideon and I couldn't help wondering why this amazing and vibrant city is under attack from so many places. Why? Why is it that one tiny Jewish state bothers everyone when there are multitudinous Moslem countries which seem to be utterly acceptable. More importantly, why does the world ignore the simple fact – that none of the Arab/Moslem countries has absorbed the Palestinian “refugees” and that the countries that surround Israel are deeply racist yet are without condemnation. One tiny country that pays her dues to the UN, gives so much to the world in every conceivable sphere, reaches out to the poor and underprivileged providing succour, aid, medical knowhow, agricultural and agronomic systems and most importantly teaching civic leaders from third world countries in special courses at the Hebrew University to run their countries and cities in an efficient manner. Outreach of both governmental and NGO

Even though it is a while before Chanuka, the “sufganiot” are already taking pride of place in every supermarket and bakery. Big ones and little ones, plain sugar rounds with jam in the centre or phenomenal conditorial delights with fascinating toppings, those with separate vials of succulent flavour and with beautiful roses iced on their chocolatey toppings. A veritable cornucopia of fried obesity!!! Favourites tend to be Rum and raisin, Red Raspberry, Dulche de Leche, Chocolate, Pistachio cream and of course the inevitable sugar free for the large number of diabetics in Israel. Just take a look!

Talking of diabetics, indeed of medical research at all levels, Israel really is a leader. I believe it is the Tikkun Olam syndrome. Even I was amazed when my lovely friend Andrea sent me this wonderful video, made in Israel, all the way from Toronto.
Andrea also sent me this beautiful video about the Israel Medical Clowns – we saw them in action in hospital.

Zvi and Gideon are currently in the Old City on a culinary tour – seeing things that even “Mr Jerusalem” has never seen! In and out of the back streets visiting bakeries and sesame and tehina factories of the Arab quarter as the Muezzin calls his flock to prayer. Just another example of the freedom of all religions in this city. Gideon will come home soon and go to spend his sisters birthday with her and her beautiful children. Igal, Rachels husband sings the Shabbat Songs and the Kiddush in the Mizrachi fashion, his beautiful voice lilting and lifting. Yosef, their son, learns at a Chabad school and loves to amuse everyone at the table with his excellent “Ashkenaz” rendering of the prayers – it is so funny to Israelis to hear the “oys and boys” of the Poilischer Hebrew!!!!!

Music is of ultimate importance in Jewish life. Be it prayer or niggun, psalm or lullaby – we sing. Each week I try to give you something unusual – familiar yet different. For your Shabbat this week we have David d'Or, a fine singer captures the beauty of his voice with the ultimate prayer – Avinu Malkenu – Our Father Our King and Sarit Hadad sings Shma Yisrael

I wish you a truly amazing Shabbat and to my daughter Rachel I wish her love, laughter, joy and health for the next 80 years – Ad 120

Shabbat Shalom

Friday, 1 November 2013

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem - Syria, Sigd, Druze and Bedouin Officers, Hasbara


1st November 2013

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Thank you so much for your good wishes and prayers for my daughter. She is slowly doing much better thank you. Thank- G-d a million times she is a strong woman surrounded by love. Her friends are amazing and her religious community has rallied to her side with help and hugs.

The Ethiopian Aliya was both the most miraculous and the most complex. Bringing a people whose entire history was based on ancient Judaism, Jerusalem and oral traditions to a 21st century society brought its own challenges but one generation later it has proven its worth. I still remember standing on Givat haMatos in Jerusalem, first stop for many Ethiopian families, and hearing from our wonderful friend Dr Kim Taylor, the story of an Ethiopian woman who was rushed to hospital after complaining that her heart was hurting. Only when a translator was brought in did they discover that in fact she was trying to say that she was sad. It prompted Dr Taylor's Children of Israel Foundation to fund a clinic with Amharic speaking nurses.

A truly pure form of Judaism and a beautiful and dignified people celebrated the Sigd Festival on Thursday on the Haas Promenade overlooking the glorious city they prayed for so many years of exile.

Their journey is celebrated in this wonderful song by Shlomo Gronich with the Sheba Choir I dare you not to cry. One aspect of Aliya from countries of oppression is that every single person has a price on their head. Whether it is Russia (FSU), Ethiopia, Syria or anywhere the Jewish Agency and the Government of Israel pays the price per capita to bring our people home.

The biggest story this week in Israel is the controversial completion of the prisoner exchange. 26 terrorists with blood on their hands were freed to Gaza and the West Bank. During their incarceration they changed from ignorant, isolated thugs to educated (up to PhD), sophisticated people who have had every opportunity to meet and plan with others of the same ilk. I don't understand the exchange of terrorists for “permission “ to build homes but I surely hope that our leaders do. I also hope that our leaders do not buckle under the impossible pressure placed upon them by the current world leadership. Now back to the prisoner situation. Compare the conditions of Palestinian prisoners in Israel described above to the conditions of Palestinian prisoners in their own jails.

88% of prisoners in the PA remain incarcerated without trial As Palestinian criminals cry about conditions in Israeli jails where they receive medical attention, education to doctorate level, conjugal visits, Red Cross visits etc etc etc it is worth recognising the simple fact that 88% of prisoners in Palestinian jails are held without trial or rights

Another story which hit the headlines yesterday is that Israeli fighters flew over Syria and bombed an arms depot of highly sophisticated rockets and other arms intended for Hezb-Allah. While the world is talk talk talking – Israel is walk walk walking.,7340,L-4444576,00.html

The IDF is oft described as the great social leveller. After 18 years of insular family living soldiers find themselves thrown together with people they would never normally have contact with; not just meeting but living together and most importantly depending upon each other for ones life. Origin becomes irrelevant when one has a common enemy and create common allies. This week the IDF again proved its fair and honest approach to quality soldiers as they proudly announced the First Bedouin tank commander  and even more impressive a wonderful, brave Druze is to take over command of the elite Golani unit of the IDF

Israel's hasbara (dissemination of information or PR) is oft described as abominable even though there are many of us outside the political or diplomatic sphere who do our best and official sources do nt have a willing audience. In a young world of apps, vybers, wotsapp, bytes and info we need the youngsters of Standwithus to show us how to reach vast numbers of people in an instant – or in an instagram!!! Watch this report from Israel's Channel 10 news. (English)

Talking of information, it is quite popular to spread the lie that the UK stopped Holocaust education. This video horrified me that apparently the States never started it as these American students show they don't know what the Holocaust was, when it happened and from whence it emanated

Equally distressing was the fact that Arabic is mandatory at a New York Public School!!!

Hisham is a Saudi comedian. This video he made about the idiotic laws concerning women driving is a must. Based on the Bob Marley tune he calls it “No Woman – No Drive”

More and more stars are coming to Israel, both to perform and to visit. Last week Tom Jones blew the lid of Tel Aviv as he sang his old songs and new in that amazing Welsh voice. So great was demand that he is doing a second concert! and

A week after her television rival Simon Cowell made a large donation to the Friends of the IDFPaula Abdul came to Israel. She never shouted of her Jewish background but she finally came on a visit to Israel, and fell in love with the country and President Shimon Peres who she described as “sababa” or cool. President Peres told her he was sure that “wherever you go you will feel the warmth and love of the people of Israel, you will feel at home here.”

and so to Shabbat.................................

This week Zvi's son Leor is coming with his beautiful family for Shabbat Dinner and we will be joined by our dear friend Debby Bettsak. Both Zvi's and my families had fish for Friday night supper (no we weren't Catholic) but todays youngsters want meat, meat and more meat! I couldn't decide upon the menu but finally came to the conclusion that a child-friendly filling warming meal was in order for the cool autumnal evenings in Jerusalem. We will start with red soup – my daughters wonderful creation of onions, tomatoes, red peppers, red lentils and coriander whizzed to perfection – enough to warm the cockles of any heart. For the main course we will have good old fashioned British cottage pie and lovely fresh spring chicken fillets served with all the usual salads and rice with beans. My daughter gave me one of the amazing “Chatzil baladi” or wild aubergine (egg-plant) which is huge, purple and bulbous, so unlike the usual uniform shapes one is used to, roasted over a flame until blackened, peeled and served with home made tehina and red pepper sauce. I always tell you that Israeli salads are multitudinous and their variety phenomenal and they don't have any soggy lettuce – not in even one!! Well............ open this link and see that I was not exaggerating even if I wax lyrical about the veritable cornucopia of delights!!!!!

My veranda has reverted from the wild and spectacular colour of summer to the gentle greens of autumn broken by the fabulous peach colours of the hibiscus bushes, the red and purple of the fuchsia, the deep deep purpley red of the pomegranates, ready to burst their skins and reveal the rich and juicy red seeds within, the oranges on the tiny tree and the kumquats in various stages of ripeness. The lemons are still green, the herbs starting to die back, telling me it is time to pick nd dry them for the winter season.

I did my usual drive from Givat Zeev to Jerusalem yesterday and although the panorama was no less breathtaking I began to think about Givat Zeev and its surrounding villages. The wonderful plant nursery at the entrance to Givat Zeev, and the car-wash beside it are owned by Palestinians who live in the next village and do very nicely; the businesses next to Givat Zeev, owned and run by Palestinians, thrive and many Palestinians work and earn in Givat Zeev. According to the American and European viewpoint – especially the Beeb and CNN – Givat Zeev is full of wild-eyed settlers and the poor Palestinians suffer from their very existence. Humbug! Rubbish! Lies!

Jerusalem, beautiful Jerusalem. City of dreams and hope, of history, spirituality and exciting, bustling streets; Jerusalem – her very name is a paradox because she is the centre of warmth and godliness yet the most violently fought over city in the world. It is a privilege to live here – a privilege to welcome others to see the sheer wonder of its incredible rainbow of humanity and its breathtakingly beautiful sites and sights. Here you walk the Bible – whether Old or New, it is here that it all started.

On that thought I bid you farewell with some utterly diverse songs about Jerusalem for Shabbat.
First is Mattisyahu in a reggae version
Then the funky
The very Anglo
and finally the spiritual Lecha Dodi welcoming the bride of Shabbat. Western style and a wonderful version from Africa.

As you see I am pretty much back on form and life is slowly returning to normal.
Wishing you a beautiful Shabbat and a boring week with only good surprises – me too!!!

With love from Jerusalem