Friday, 31 January 2014

Shabbat Shalom from Sheila -Scarlett Johansson and Sodastream, Kerry plan,


31st January, 2014

Hello, Shalom, Bonjour, buenos dias, Yachi da, g'day mates, Salaam and of course Good Shabbes, Shabbat Shalom

This has been a fascinating week.
A Hollywood starlet proved that she is a moral example to us all when Scarlett Johansson stood up to the BDS and Oxfam after doing the major Sodastream advertisement. Oxfam decided that Johansson, one of their honorary ambassadors, was not suitable as their representative since Sodastream has its headquarters in Mishor Adumim, or "the territories" despite that fact that Sodastream has been cited as the ideal equal opportunity employer of both Jews and Arabs of the area. I hope you are still with me!! Anyway, the extremely beautiful and clever Miss Scarlett decided that Oxfam was not moral enough for her!
Sodastream has decided to invite Miss Johansson to Israel and to their factory – I can promise you that she will get a huge and rapturous welcome here!!!

As you know, I have a pet peeve, actually pet peeve is an overly polite way of expressing my disgust with Christian leaders and their abandonment of their Middle Eastern flock. A Moslem academic has chosen to defend the dwindling Christians of this area. Qanta Ahmed believes that we are what we tolerate

I rarely agree with Bob Simons in his reportage of the Middle East but this time he did a good job about the plight of the Copts in Egypt in 60 minutes.
Martin Indyk is the US special envoy to the peace talks. I don't know exactly what that means because I thought that was what you pay Kerry for – but he is. Indyk insists that there will be no surprises for either Israel or the PA and that the Kerry plan is fair. It, apparently, includes an exchange of land whereby the vast majority of the Israeli towns and villages will remain under Israeli sovereignty and several Moslem towns and villages will become part of the PA. As to refugees – according to rumours the Kerry plan includes compensation for Jews who fled Arab lands and arabs who fled Israel. Let's wait and see.
Tony Blair, former PM of the UK said of the current negotiations
“I believe this is a profound moment for the opportunity to make peace, I hope on all sides there is the courage, vision and determination to move forward. We will continue to work very hard to put alongside the political process the economic initiative to improve the lives of people on the ground to give them hope and a stake in the future. It can be done and it should be done but it needs a political wind behind it. We’re all striving very hard and particularly with all the turmoil this is the right moment to create out of this part of the Middle East some sense of hope based on the principles of societies that are open-minded and tolerant and economies that are modern and offer opportunity for our young people.“

Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen is no longer Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs but her influence remains. The Committee passed legislation to strengthen USA- Israel strategic relationships. A hopeful sign indeed

There was a huge hoohah in Israel about Yair Netanyahu's girlfriend at the Hebrew University - because she is Norwegian and not Jewish. Some deeply unlikable Rabbis (and Sara Netanyahus religious brother) used the foul word "shiksa" - and prompted Rachael Risby Raz to write this excellent response
I agree with Rachael but disagree with those who jumped on the bandwagon and started saying we don't need full Rabbinical conversion. I disagree. First one has to learn the rules and then choose what path you take. Hey we do it for a drivers licence so why not Judaism? If you don't know that milk and meat should ne'er be mixed, or how to put on your tefillin, or when to light candles, what you can and can't do on Shabbat how can you teach your children???
Dr Malcolm Hoenlein has given his entire life to the Jewish people. This week he achieved the ultimate accolade – Haaretz wrote against him!!! Malcolm, dear Malcolm, I congratulate you with all my heart.

Last weekend we managed to meet up with Harold and Rebecca Finger who are here from Australia. Harold and his best buddy Stanley are the leaders of Keren Hayesod in Oz and so much more! W alsoe had the honour of being invited by the Italian Ambassador to the showing of an incredible movie which had its premiere last week in Italy. Brilliant. It tells the story of a young girl who comes to her Aunt after the Shoah. It is unlike any other movie I have ever seen. Anita B a must! see
I just got back from my regular trip to collect Yosef from school, go to buy the Challot for Shabbat and take him home. Once home we bathe the children and get them ready for arest before Shabbat. The table was already set with its white cloth and 16 little challot (home made of course) and my beautiful daughter had prepared her usual incredible feast of Israeli salads and delicious fish for tonights meal with guests.

Leaving her home I thought about the warmth of the Shabbat Shalom greeting from everyone, including Mohammed at the corner store. I hate to repeat myself so I won't tell you that the white clouds scudding across the azure sky over the panorama of Jerusalem because I tell you that each week, instead I will tell you what made me smile. Every country has hitchhikers but the Friday afternoon hitchhikers in Jerusalem are very special. Today I passed a Haredi man in his full Shabbat finery of big fur Shtreimel (hat), long robe and white knee-socks, thumb out patiently waiting for a ride!!! What a sight!! It is as if the religious community is on the move, each little group of people with their roll-on bags racing for buses or lifts or equally hitching rides. I think it is a singular sight!!

Tonight we will spend with Zvi's boys and their families – sharing the cooking of course. Why shouldn't we join the incredible saucepan race from house to house? Tomorrow we have friends coming over. I tis our honour that Canon Andrew White are coming again to regale us with his latest feats – and feats they are. This trip he managed to take a former Hamas activist who he has cultured over the years, and turn him into a peace seeker!!!. Andrew claims he will not eat but it may be just too much for him when faced with my roasties!!!

Tomorrow we have veggie soup, boeuf bourginon and roast chicken, roast potatoes, stuffed veggies, lemon cake, chocolate cake, apple cake and home made pareve icecream. I know it is a lot of desserts but Andrew loves sweet stuff!!!
After Shabbat I go to meet the Doppelts, Steve and Carol, at the Eldan Hotel. Each year they bring a group of volunteers to Rambam Hospital in Haifa and spend a weekend in Jerusalem. I love meeting them since the enthusiasm of the Doppelts is carried on to their friends!!!
See it and believe it! A group of Indonesian Moslems sing the religious song Ha Ben Yakir li – my son who is dear to me -
I am sad. Pete Seeger, truth teller of the '60's died this week. I wish we had a truth teller today the words taken from Ecclesiates taking a meaning felt so deeply during the Vietnam war
Perhaps Pete Seeger would have approved of David d'Or's song Tishmor al ha Olam Yeled. The translation of the first lines is Guard the world child, there are things you should not need to see. Guard the world child because we did not do it well.

Wishing you a special Shabbat with your loved ones. A Shabbat Shalom and since it is also Rosh Hodesh (a new month) – Chodesh Tov – a good month

With all my love from Jerusalem, our wonderful and beautiful city which is the centre of our prayers, the city to which we turn when praying and my home.
With love

Friday, 24 January 2014

Shabbat Shalom from Sheila - Harper, Tibi, UNESCO, Dan Shechtman


24th January 2014

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Hope you had a good week and you are in a good mood because there is a vast amount of news this week, although I promise to skip through the tough ones.

Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper spoke with both conviction and emotion in the Knesset and amused the nation with his lively rendition of Hey Jude for the Prime Minister of Israel and a wide audience. Israelis absolutely love the Canadian PM and expressed it warmly at the Kotel.

Dr. Ahmed Tibi is a former Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, now a Member of Knesset and a physician who dishonoured his position, his country and himself when he had the gall to heckle Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as he spoke before the Knesset plenum. Tibis claims that a fellow Member was underprivileged because he had no running water or electricity in his home was disproven and Tibi, who also complained that Arabs are second class citizens was shown to be a liar. Incidentally it was Tibi who screamed at Ariel Sharon on that fateful day on the Temple Mount.

Israeli secret services discovered a plot to kill as many Israelis as possible as they were enjoying ia concert at Jerusalem's largest concert hall. The plot was by Jerusalem Arabs, some with Israeli identity cards, who are open members of Al Qaeeda. The plot was discovered, the men arrested and the attack prevented.

UNESCO chose to cancel an exhibition on the history of Jerusalem due to pressure from the Arab countries. The exhibit, Book, People, Land - The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People With the Holy Land”, put on by the Simon Wiesenthal Foundation, will now go ahead in June thanks to pressure from Canada and the USA.

If the above worries you, then consider this -
Former Egyptian MP Mustafa Bakri Threatens To Massacre Americans In Egypt If Al-Sisi Is Assassinated;We Have 90 Million Ticking Bombs. If Anything Happens To General Al-Sisi, No American Will Be Left On The Face Of The Earth - Not In Egypt, Nor Anywhere Else

The most horrific thing I have seen for a very very long time is the Hezb-Allah baby. Dressed as a Shahid the parents received rewards galore from the Lebanese hospital! Thanks to Shirlee Finn for this

Desptie these distressing events there are moments of relief. I call it Divine intervention. The Jihadist who was killed by the Taliban, maybe he wasn't wearing his Gaza Marathon T-shirt, or maybe he just thought he was immune
Or the Neturei Karta, anti-Israel man in Holland who was beaten badly by anti-Semites in Holland.

Not everything is dark and frightening – far from it so in the words of Monty Python – Now for something completely different!

At the last Presidential Conference on Tomorrow, several months ago, Zvi met with a delightful and brilliant man called Dan Shechtman Nobel Laureate for Chemistry, wise and apolitical. Zvi took him aside and suggested he enter the race for President of the State of Israel since President Peres, who returned the dignity to that post, was retiring. When we returned from Thailand a few weeks ago Dan Shechtman sat beside us on the flight and again Zvi raised the option. Well, it worked! Prof. Dan Shechtman has announced his interest in becoming the 10th President of the State of Israel. Someone outside the rat-race and dirt of politics, a dignified and erudite man and remember – if it were not for a Chemist way back during WW1 the Balfour Declaration would never have been written and we would not have had our first President,Chaim Weizman. Appealing no? This article is called “Don't know much about politics” but anyone who has worked in academia may argue!!

A few days ago I went to collect some laundry from down the road. The owner was out and a delightful young man, sporting a Taglit T-shirt served me. Why is that so amusing? Because the young man was a Moslem Arab who clearly had no idea what was written in English on his T-shirt. I loved it!

I didn't get to Mahane Yehuda this week. Zvi volunteered and he had a great time going to all our friends there – tasting the goods and enjoying the atmosphere. He brought me amazing goats cheeses from Shmulik, tehina filled meat-balls from Yaron, who discusses the political situation mushroom-filled “cigarim” from Boaz and then he walked past the kiosks with Judaica, jewels, fruit, pure unsweetened dried fruit, seeds of just about every type and flavour (here sunflower seeds come in at least 10 different varieties and pumpkin seeds too- with and without the shell), past David Dagim where the fish is so fresh it is still a'jumpin' and finally to our usual fruit and veggie stand where he is greeted with “Ahalan” “Ma shlomcha?” – and bought aromatic tomatoes on the vine and incredible cucumbers that actually taste sweet! This amateur video captures the aromas, the sounds, the cornucopia of delicacies and the ultimate Jerusalem that is Mahane Yehuda!!!

Since Zvi's foray into the epicurean delights of Mahane Yehuda I have far less cooking today but that doesn't stop the aromas rising from Shoshana, Michal, Daisy, Sarit and Meira. Oh gosh I love the culinary mix of this wonderful society! I borrow from everyone as long as it isn't too spicy. Most of our friends find me a great source of amusement when faced with “harif” (spicy) food! I am know as the local “vousvousit” which come from the original Eastern European Jews who when faced with strange foods would say “vous is dous?” or What is it? White tablecloths are washed and ironed ready for the Shabbat Table; fine linen, fine crockery and cutlery, silver candlesticks; silver wine goblets and the embroidered cover for the Challah or Shabbat bread. All ready for the blessings and songs so special to Shabbat. This week I have something special – we have a competition which is a bit like the X Factor but gentler. Two amazing young people sing here with Idan Reichel. It is in Hebrew but enjoy...

A Shabbasdik touch with Eliyahu ha Navi – Elijah the Prophet
To go out on a limb I absolutely adored this rendition of Shema Yisroel and hope you will too
The Torah Portion this week is Mishpatim, or Judgments which set out the laws for the Israelites and standards to live by. A truly important portion (starting with Exodus 21:1-24:18). It is incredible that we follow these very laws until today. The laws that give our society a moral compass

I just got back from Givat Ze'ev. Whether in Palavanis corner store, Nehamas Bakery and its myriad of challah types constantly coming out the oven to be grabbed instantly by eager customers with burnt hands (!!!) to the fish shop and even at the traffic lights everyone is calling out “Shabbat Shalom” one to the other. Strangers and friends alike “Shabbat Shalom” and as one leaves the store there is a final “Shabbat Shalom le coolam” Shabbat Shalom Everybody. Gosh I love it – it is so real, so Jewish, to beautiful – Shabbat Shalom. I couldn't stop smiling on my journey home over Samuels Tomb – smiling and loving the panorama. It never fails to amaze me that as I looks over the grazing goats and sheep to the Palestinian Authority it is as if one drew a line in the land. On our side there are trees and flowers and landscaping and on the other side of the road – stark wilderness with barely a blade of grass for the animals. Why? It cannot be lack of funds, we did it when there was no money now reaping the benefits of our labour and we do not get billions of dollars from the UN. I guess it is deeper than that. It is such a shame because beautiful surroundings and greenery change society for the better. If you cannot buy a plant then plant a seed – for tomorrow.

I wish you a beautiful Shabbat with people who love you and that you love in return. Maybe Prime Minister Harper should have sung All We Need is Love?

Shabbat Shalom from beautiful Jerusalem. It really is a truly special city and by the way, remember the song Ein li Eretz Aheret?
I have no other country. Even a word in Hebrew seeps into my skin and my soul. With broken body and broken heart – even if my land is burning- This is my home”

Friday, 17 January 2014

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem - Ariel Sharon, Biden and Blair, Al Jazeera, be like Israel


17th January 2014.

Shabbat Shalom dear Friends. How are you? I hope you are well.

Clearly the event of greatest importance this week in Israel was the funeral for Ariel Sharon. We were honoured that both Tony Blairand Joe Biden came to pay their respects since, after all, he was not a serving Prime Minister at the time of his passing. This was a matter of respect not protocol.

Had you listened only to the BBC report of this great soldier and leader, you would have thought he was a monster of the ilk of Chavez, Saddam Hussein or Assad at the very least. The distortion of truth was phenomenal in most of the world's media – yet the words of both Biden and Blair suggested a very different man.

Born Ariel Sheinerman in Kfar Malal, near Tel Aviv Arik Sharon became a General in the IDF.  He led an army, an army of defence but nonetheless an army. His decision to turn his back as the Christians of Lebanon went into the camps of Sabra and Shatilla was unwise, ultimately tragic, but it is easy to blame him in retrospect for the deadly venting of years of frustration of the South Lebanese Army after violent oppression by the leaders in those camps.

Yet here he was not just soldier, leader, farmer and adoring husband and father being spoken about in words of warmth and love by those who genuinely knew the man. If you listen to former British PMTony Blair you get a true sense of who Arik, the Bulldozer, was.

President Peres.
"He defended this land like a lion and he taught its children to swing a scythe.  He was a military legend in his lifetime and then turned his gaze to the day Israel would dwell in safety, when our children would return to our borders and peace would grace the Promised Land."

Above all, first and foremost Ariel Sheinerman Sharon was a Jew. May his soul rest in peace and those who chose to forget that this man did all he could to bring peace to this region even to the anger of his own people when he withdrew from Gaza. May his rest in peace beside his beloved Lilly in the farm he loved so much.

As an example of the way the press changes the truth to make it a lie please see this video of Nelson Mandela, a great man of conscience -what he really said and the edited version. Understand how manipulated we all really are

Tom Gross, international journalist of note,  shows us in his most recent Middle East Dispatch, what the world outside the BBC and CNN really thinks of Israel – this comes from Al Jazeera where they implore the Moslem countries to be humane fighters like Israel.

Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, does not blindly accept the statements of the media; he makes up his own mind about world affairs and the Middle East in particular. Mr Harper is coming to Israel and will speak before the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament. Mr Harper has been an outspoken supporter of Israel even when it has been to the detriment of Canada in the UN.

In a week where 16 Grad rockets were aimed at the children of Ashkelon and the IDF managed to foil yet another terror plot, we need a little bit of sympathy, even empathy from the media. We are the only country that actually stands by their criteria for a democratic state yet they continue to lie about us and our leaders.

On Sunday Zvi and I went to Tel Aviv for an evening to honour our friend Prof. Zeev Segal z"l. Zeev's wife Lilli produced a marvelous film showing the fun side of this very important legal brain. The thought that stayed with me all week is that one sees a serious man, a brilliant man, an international lecturer and consultant and never understand the other side of him – please meet Zeev Segal

My birthday was delightful! It began with my husband singing Happy Birthday to me, followed by my London Grandchildren and my Welsh sister!!!! Indeed the telephone wires were burning and Facebook filled with good thoughts – thank you!

My beautiful daughter Rachel had booked the morning of my birthday to go to breakfast in the Botanical Gardens, and we were joined by Rosa Romanowsky, our dear friend. The weather was perfect although there was quite a nip in the air so we even chose to sit in the sun, overlooking the lake. The food was amazing as always and the sheer joy of sitting looking out at the peaceful scene simply completed out enjoyment. In the afternoon Rachel brought the children who sang "haYom Yom Huledet" and brought me wonderful home made gifts and balloons.

The evening took a different turn as Zvi took me for a romantic meal, with Rosa and Bernardo, in a fine restaurant in the centre of Jerusalem – Gabriel – oh boy it was amazing!!

I then went for lunch with Betty and Dana to a lovely restaurant in Yemin Moshe – delicious again – what is it with Israeli food, it is always good!!!!

Now it is almost Shabbat. My cholent is made as is the chicken concoction that the children like alongside the chicken soup. If I hurry I may even manage to make some rice stuffed peppers – it is so easy!!!

Zvi is in the Golan Heights with his Parliament. I am sure they argued all the way there and probably all the way home but they will have fun just being together. The Golan Heights is such a beautiful place. Wonderful farms, wine and history. When he gets back we will go straight to our neighbours, Shula and Moshe for Shabbat Dinner. Tomorrow the family will come for lunch and all the goodies I prepared today.

Since I am a bit late writing I can describe the slowing down of Jerusalem with greater accuracy as I see it before my eyes. The shopping mall is closing, the last weary salespeople wending their way home. The buses are lined up like soldiers, waiting for Shabbat to end before starting up their engines again. Indeed the quiet that descends on Jerusalem is so special. I brings that sense of something special, of expectation, of quiet excitement as we know that Shabbat, the day of rest, is about to fall. Families gather, children shine from their special Shabbat scrub and the aromas of a thousands traditions rise above the skies of the Golden City.

I chose several songs for your delectation this week
Shir ha Maalot = a prayer and a poem
Shlomo Gronich and the Sheba Choir singing Adon Olam

And finally – two songs, modern songs, both the same yet so different. Written and sung by Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits, the first is from their 1984 visit to Israel  and I thought to dedicate the second one to Ariel Sharon and the young soldiers he so loved. Knopfler wrote this song for the IDF, Brothers in Arms.

Wishing you a blessed Shabbat in a kinder world and a more truthful one.

With love from Jerusalem, heart of our hearts, the very core of our faith.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Shabbat Shalom - Kerry, Tu b'shvat,Ariel Sharon

10th January 2014.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends, Shabbat Shalom

Ariel Sharon is finally losing his greatest battle, the battle to live.
The former Prime Minister was a fighter of the old school who understood the importance of defence alongside the search for peace. Ariel Sharon was a farmer and a fighter, a tough leader and romantic husband and possibly the most maligned of Israel's Prime Ministers. This man who showed great respect for the Arab leaders, many of whom returned that respect for his honesty in negotiations and diplomatic relations. His enormous bulk made him the butt of many a cartoon, and he was unfairly labeled as an adamant opponent to peace. Today, Ariel Sharon's life hangs in the balance, doctors say only hours now. He was a giant of a man, born on the 26th February 1928 in Kfar Mahal, Palestine farmer, soldier and family man who loved Israel as few others.

There is great discussion of "exchange of population" in the talks guided by John Kerry. Exchange of populations? Does that mean a physical move or moving boundaries and if so who is consulted?  I remember when Yassir Arafat stated that he wanted Beit Tsafafa and the Old City incorporated into his vision of Palestine and the residents of those two places raced to ensure their Israeli citizenship because they feared the loss of freedom involved in being a Palestinian. The majority of Israeli Arabs want to stay just that......Israeli.

Israel's Christian Arabs are different to Israel's Moslem Arabs and want to identify as such

I believe that the diplomatic emphasis on Israel is simply because this is the only region where anyone, even America, has any influence, rather than Syria where hope is lost

When I saw the following headline I could not contain my astonishment. The United States Government denied demanding recognition of the Jewish State from Arab leaders! Are you kidding!!! The USA has to deny demanding recognition for its only, repeat, only ally in the region. How low can one stoop to satisfy megalomania?

Michael Dickson is the leader of Stand With Us the incredible movement of students who proudly put forward the case for Israel. Michael wrote this blog for the Times of Israel. Well worth reading because it touches all of us "Do you ever get Weary about Israel?

Hannah Blech is incredibly wise, eloquent and unafraid. Hannah Blech is an example to us all. Listen to her amazing talk at Hunter college entitled "Downplaying the Holocaust".

Arik Einstein, Israeli musical legend died recently and Zvi was thrilled to find this rare video of Ayala Asherof, daughter of Zvis cousin actress Dalia Friedland, singing with Einstein. Enjoy – we did.

I love Idan Raichel. His music reaches out to youngsters, his Idan Raichel Project is representative of us all and he loves Israel. Back to Jerusalem is a fine example of his work, not like my usual somewhat traditional choice but wonderful

Tu b'Shvat
The number one tenet of Judaism is tikkun olam, the literal translation is to repair the world. We take it to mean that we must leave the world a better place than we found it. This tenet is apparent in everything we do, from prayers to actions and most apparent of the physical actions is to plant trees. Tu b'shvat is the festival of new trees, one of the seasonal festivals related to harvest and renewal, when we are required to plant, be it tree or flower, to make the world more beautiful.

The need to make the world more beautiful and more livable created Keren Kayemet l'Yisrael (The Jewish National Fund). When the KKL began its purpose was to buy land and plant trees and it is thanks to KKL that Israel is the only country in the world with more trees than 100 years ago. Indeed over the last 100 years Israel has planted a phenomenal 240,000,000 thus saving the wonderful earth of this blessed country after 700 years of Ottoman rule where they uprooted virtually all the trees using them for railways and building. We really did return the earth to the Land Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence made this video to explain this festival of Jewish ecology.

I am not going to Givat Ze'ev today – I am taking a complete rest, apart from writing to you of course, but then that is a pleasure! Unable to keep away from my daughter or her glorious children I went to see them last night instead!!! As I walked in the door I was greeted by a phenomenal aroma from the oven, Rachel decided to make rhubarb crumble in my honour!! It was absolutely gorgeous. Yes more proof of the diversity of culinary tastes here in Israel!! Gosh, its tart and fresh flavour satisfied all my food yearnings! Please understand, I adore kubeh soup, hamin, mufletta, falafel and humous in pitta but oh my goodness, when I find rhubarb!!! Anyway enough of my epicurean peccadilloes…….. what I really wanted to say was that my return to Jerusalem was still over Samuels Tomb but this time it was dark and the lights of Jerusalem spread before me was just breathtaking! I pulled the car over onto the hard shoulder just to take a moment to absorb the rolling hills that make up this city. Each hill holds its own Biblical secret, just waiting to be uncovered. This is a part of the world where we don't just pray, we live our past, our Bible. We walk where our forefathers walked and we sing the songs and pray the prayers in the same language. Who needs our enemies to recognize us? We don't need it because we know who we are and as long as we don't forget that we are safe. This isn't the first time the world has denied our heritage and it probably won't be the last.

Anyway – back to food. It is high time I finished my cooking! Zvi is at his parliament, thrilled to call me and tell me that next Friday I am getting up at 05:00 to take him to meet the parliament to catch a bus up to the Golan Heights. Oh well – life is never dull in this household!!!

I wish you a Shabbat Shalom, a world that plants trees not bombs and as a flower child of the '60's I am still waiting for the rifles to have a rose in their barrels. The Beatles probably said it best as they sang through their pot-induced haze, words that epitomize that period of social rebellion…….. All You Need is Love't it be amazing if the biggest threat to our society was the Maharishi? Oh how times have changed.

Shabbat Shalom from a very happy Jerusalemite who knows and understands that her prayers have been answered and her baby girl is doing just fine thank you.

With love

Friday, 3 January 2014

Shabbat Shalom from Sheila - Another year another prayer


3rd January 2014.

Shabbat Shalom to you all. The first Shabbat Shalom of a new year, of 2014.

 I thought of writing a synopsis of the past year but decided that not only have others done so ad nauseum but looking forward is of far greater importance than looking back – unless we can really learn from the failures and successes of the past year and build on them or correct them.

If, however someone were to ask me which politician stands out above all others for his determination to stand up and be counted in this world I would choose Stephen Harper Prime Minister of Canada and his Foreign Minister John Baird. Both have taken much flak for their outspoken support of Israel and recognition of the threat presented by Islamic extremist terror.

I would choose Khaled Abu Toameh as the bravest and most honest journalist in his determination to expose the truth of the Middle East.

Our dear friend Canon Andrew White is my choice as the most effective pursuer of peace, of understanding and of tolerance between nations and faiths. His untiring efforts and eternal hope are an inspiration to all of us. Illness and danger do not stop his efforts, his heart big enough to include all who are willing to listen or read his words. He is not a politician which is his greatest advantage. He is not constrained by rules and regulations – only the pure and complete love of G-d.

I would choose Israel as the most humane country, offering succour and aid even to those who desire our annihilation. Syrian and Israeli doctors have saved lives and the 200th Syrian patient was tended and nursed back to health at the Ziv Hospital in Sfat. We were the first to arrive in the Philippines and the last to remain in Haiti, still helping that devastated island back to normal life. Our government organizations provide essential training and further education for African civil servants and agricultural advice in hunger infested countries  and of course IsraAid, that incredible organization of volunteers who rush to any part of the world that needs medical and disaster aid.

My favourite expression of the year is VEXATIOUS LITIGANTdescribing with absolute accuracy the United Nations Human Rights Council toward Israel. Vexatious Litigant is someone who repeatedly and frequently sues or accuses a person or body, bringing them to court and losing their case yet still continuing their persecutory prosecution. The UN Human Rights Council does so with great regularity using OUR money!!!

Guiora Esrubilsky was the World President of Maccabi World Union. Guiora was introduced to Maccabi at the age of 12, a young Argentinian who had no connection with Judaism or Jewish life he suddenly discovered who he was and for the next 50 years devoted his life to Maccabi and World Jewry. Guiora and his beloved Marta came on Aliyah and built a life in Maccabim, until meeting a young man called Zvi Raviv he decided to take a position with Bank Leumi which took him to South Latin America and then to Miami. Guiora and Marta never lost their love of Israel and in his eulogy, former Prime Minster Ehud Olmert spoke of Guiora's determination to speak a grammatically perfect and beautifully singsong Hebrew, instantly recognizable on the phone. Guiora was a friend to those he loved, a true friend and as one after another the speakers (Eyal Tiberger, Leo-Dan Bensky, Ehud Olmert and many others) spoke of him their eyes filled and their throats tightened. Guiora, you will be missed. Shalom Haverenu.

John Kerry is back. One must admire his determination even if his demands seem somewhat one sided. The biggest question is whether Israel can possibly agree to returning to a situation whereby she is almost cut in half, only 9 miles wide at one point; can accept the concept that the USA is willing for large tracts of land to be Judenrein and while a demand to stop terrorism is on the table there is no demand to recognize and accept the Jewish State without which Abbas could not even begin to survive!!!!

Former Prime Minster Ariel Sharon fought bravely to stay alive for seven years, even through his near coma. Sadly it appears that his fight is all but over as his body closes down. He, like Menachem Begin, recognized that only a right wing leader could truly make peace. The West made him into an enemy of peace, as if his pre-arranged visit on the Temple Mount was a plausible reason for the horrific second Intifada – which was later revealed to have been prepared months prior to his visit. Ariel Sharon was a great enough leader to change his path to bring peace to his country. Ariel Sharon who brought the only man he trusted to work beside him and ultimately take his place. Ariel Sharon trusted Ehud Olmert to continue the path he started and would have been horrified by the methods the press and his opponents used to bring down his protégé. Ariel Sharon a man of history.

New Years Eve is a restaurant evening but not a big party evening in Israel. We have so many amazing Jewish holidays that the Gregorian calendar is usually a business affair. I hate to sound like an old lady but I fell asleep before midnight! Actually, ever since I came here and therefore don't hear Big Ben strike midnight I really don't seem to care!!!!

Yesterday was a phenomenal day!! Not only was my daughter feeling infinitely better but Canon Andrew White came for lunch! I love him so much and his expressed love for us is so genuine and emotional I see him and want to cry!!! Andrew and I worked together on the Ezekiels Tomb project in Iraq a few years ago and we were helped and taught by the incomparable Prof. Gabby Barkay but the two men had never met. Canon Andrew, who for those who don't read my letters thoroughly, is the Vicar of Baghdad. Andrew, as you saw earlier in this missive, is a truly incredible person who does not believe in limits – certainly not limitations on love. Andrew is a realist yet a true Christian and believer in the Christian principles of love, hope and charity TO ALL. His latest book "Father Forgive – reflections on peacemaking"  includes two chapters on the mistreatment of Jews at the hands of Christians. Andrews newest project is a conference in Cyprus including leaders Christian, Jews, Sunni and Shi'a, in the hope of bringing some form of sanity to the insane internecine fighting that is slowly but surely killing us all.

Lunch was fun! Everyone loved my "Orange Soup" (carrots, pumpkin, lentils, leeks with a hint of ginger and orange) and Andrew was especially thrilled with the roast potatoes since he missed out on them at home in the UK when they had electricity cuts at Christmas!!!! As always he stepped outside to breathe in the spectacular view of Jerusalem from our veranda.

I am about to set off for Givat Ze'ev to see my grandchildren and hug them all before Shabbat. Andrew was there today having breakfast with the Karliner Rebbe who he met when he, Andrew, studied at the Karliner Yeshiva many years ago. I will see my favourite view of Jerusalem from Samuels Tomb – the many towers of Jerusalem, from the tower of the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus, to Augusta Victoria and St Johns Church; from the Scottish Church and the Sheraton Plaza in town to the Holyland Tower and the Calatrava Bridge. Gosh I love this city it is unique in its spirituality and its unending beauty.

So that is it! Another year has flown by and I only just got used to writing 2013.

My amazing daughter in law Stephanie is 40 years old today. What a fine woman! I cannot think of anyone better as my son's partner in life. Steph my love – I wish you health and joy for the next 80 years – Ad 120!

I am sure I missed out a great many important issues but those were the issues I felt most strongly about.

For your musical enlightenment today we have Mi'Ha"ish" a beautiful song about who we should aim to be.

My desire, dream prayer for 2014 is that peace will finally come to us all. This song is a prayer, Peace will come to us all Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu.

Shabbat Shalom dear people. Shabbat Shalom, peace will come, we just have to pray harder and do more.

Love from Jerusalem