Friday, 25 April 2014
25th April 2014
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope you are well and not too depressed by the constant bad news reports in this world. Remember that the bad news is what they report not the wonderful everyday beauty.
I wish I could start with good news but unfortunately I must begin with the disturbing news that Hamas and Fatah have come to a reconciliation. Rather surprising considering the vitriol that is their normal manner of communication. Mahmoud Abbas swore that he would never join forces with Hamas, indeed Hamas in Gaza is guilty of multiple murders, nay slaying, of Fatah members as in gang wars. This news brought John Kerry to declare his distaste yet neither he nor other negotiators threaten fiscal punishment for this sidewinder which so clearly puts any talk of peace in danger. Arie Shavit describes clearly the ups and downs of the negotiations in his article in Haaretz http://www.haaretz.com/
"Hamas' charter views jihad as the means to capture all of "Palestine" from the Jews and to destroy the State of Israel. It states that Palestine is comprised of sacred Islamic land and it is strictly forbidden to give up an inch of it because no one (including Arab rulers) has the authority to do so. Repeated statements from Hamas leaders define Palestine as including not just the West Bank and Gaza but all of the current State of Israel. In the introduction to the charter, there is a quote attributed to Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan Al-Banna that "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it...." Hamas' terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians are seen as links in the jihad chain." http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/
mfa-archive/1980-1989/pages/ the%20covenant%20of%20the% 20hamas%20-%20main%20points% 20-%2018-aug-8.aspx
Two of the worlds major legal minds, Prof Alan Dershowitz and Prof Irwin Cotler, two of Israel's finest defenders, united to write about the legal rights of Jonathan Pollard "It's a matter of justice"http://blogs.timesofisrael.
Turkish PM Erdogan made a breakthrough statement expressing regret over the deaths of one and a half million Armenians. He did not call it genocide, which it clearly was, but he finally admitted it happened. Armenian leaders are not satisfied but it is a start toward the recognition they so richly deserve. I will not call it a holocaust because Holocaust is specifically the Shoah, but genocide it certainly was. http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/
armenian-genocide- conciliatory-statement-from- turkey-pm-rejected-1.2620240
The European Court of Auditors revealed major dysfunctions in the management of EU financial support to the Palestinian Authority, and called for a serious overhaul of the funding mechanism..... The court criticized the absence of any conditions for EU aid to the Palestinian Authority, an approach that reduces the potential leverage of the EU to push for more reforms from the Palestinian Authority.http://online.wsj.com/news/
articles/ SB1000142405270230345610457948 9243465971348
Maurice Ostroff is indefatigable in his writing to everyone in power or with the ability to print the truth. Here is part of his letter to the NY Times (he doubts they wlil publish it!) "The UN must now reconsider its position as the new PA-Hamas entity is not the same as the body that was granted observer status. The organization that was granted observer status didn't include the Hamas terrorist organization THAT PUBLICLY REJECTS THE VALIDITY OF THE RELEVANT UN RESOLUTION. And the organizations to whom the PA has submitted membership applications must insist on revised applications in the name of the new PA-Hamas entity."
During Passover, a former IDF soldier came to the rescue in London when a car went up in flames trapping passengers in the blazing car. The ex-IDF soldier and another Jewish man heard screams nearby and rushed to rescue a panic-stricken elderly man whose seat-belt was stuck, a child from a car seat, and two other passengers from a burning car. Shortly after, the Peugeot 307 exploded.http://www.israellycool.com/
2014/04/22/former-israeli- soldier-to-the-rescue-in- london-on-passover/
A new scholarship program in Israel has been created to aid Indian women gain the education that they need to rise to the top in corporate India. With the aid of The Bonita Trust and The Israel Asia Center, Tel Aviv University’s Recanati School of Business Administration‘s Sofaer International MBA program will now offer scholarships to prospective Indian women entrepreneurs.http://jewishbusinessnews.com/
2014/04/22/israel-offer- scholarship-program-to-help- indian-women-entrepreneurs-to- succeed/
I am as proud as Punch! Our incredible friend Canon Andrew White is the recipient of the William Wilberforce Award for 2014. "The William Wilberforce Award recognizes dedicated change makers who are working to create lasting impact in our cultures and communities through inspirational Christian action." I cannot think of anyone in this world who is more deserving. Andrew White, aka "The Vicar of Baghdad" epitomises the Christian Ethos of acceptance, love, peace and tolerance - combined with many additional aspects he learned during his year of study at the Karliner Yeshiva and a deep love of Israel. Andrew, we love you.
Two nights ago we went to the opera in Tel Aviv. It was really fun seeing many old friends and new as we mingled in the foyer, and spectacular to watch, see and hear the incredible production of La Boheme under Maestro Daniel Oren's baton. The set was magnificent, the performers, each and every one, outstanding but for us, the absolute star, the most exquisite performance was that of Musetta, the singer. It is not by chance that we loved her, our expectations were high after hearing a quick excerpt of her part at our Seder night as Nadine Sierra sat beside me. We were well rewarded by her fabulous performance. I don't have her singing Musetta but...... http://www.youtube.com/watch?
I just picked my grandchildren up from school. They come out early on a Friday so that they can get ready for Shabbat. First Yosef, from his Chabad school then we race over to the two girls, Talia from big school and then Ayala who is still in nursery school although to talk to her one would think she was at least 35!!! As I sat with Yosef I explained to him about Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel which falls on Sunday night and Monday. I explained that there would be a long siren and we all stand to attention during the siren in memory of those who died. "Did you know anyone who died, Safta?" He asked. "No"I said "it happened before I was born, but Saba Kalman and Safta Ala lost all their families in the Shoah and that is why Saba Zvi has no Aunties or Uncles or Cousins." It was a lot for a 9 year old to absorb and then he asked "How come Safta Ala and Saba Kalman suvived?" To which I responded "Because they were in Israel, not in Poland" He sat quietly then he said "Why didn't their family come to Israel too Safta?" Gosh, how do you explain to a nine year old that Saba Kalmans family didn't come because their life was good, their social position high and their connections excellent and they could not believe that anything would really happen - they thought it was just words. "Darling, they just didn't manage to get here in time"
Today is the third anniversary of Zvi's mother Ala's death and Zvi and I went to the cemetery to place a stone on both their graves. When we pray for them we pray for their families too since Zvi put their family's names on the gravestones too so that they would have a marker of their existence instead of a pall of smoke in a cruel land. The truth is more dramatic and diabolical than any movie. The horror is that the dehumanisation is happening again and no-one is willing to take off their rose tinted spectacles.
Hannah Senesh, poet, fighter, paratrooper faced her killers - her poem Eli Eli was set to music.http://www.youtube.com/watch?
What is different today? Not the words of hate nor the dewhumanisation, that is rampant, the difference today is that we have a country of our own. We came home, we have a place where the world can yell out its vitriol but we don't really care, it is their loss. The PCérs can constantly tell us to "give back" which means "give up" because Jordan and Egypt don't want the land back!!! Israel is a haven, a strong innovative country which is deeply aware of what can happen if we lose this war of words, of untruths and rhetoric. What terrifies me is what happens when the next round of world leaders, indeed Israeli leaders, do not have a direct link to those who died or those who barely survived. If we do not remember what the world was like before we had our own state then ....................
I cannot bear to think about it. I want to reiterate the words of the important song "I have no other land" because we tend to forget. The pictures you will see are from the second Intifada so each time you hear someone talk about the "Wall"remember why it was built. Today we walk with confidence, heads held high. http://www.youtube.com/watch?
So another Shabbat is on its way. The Passover dishes are back in place and we relished our first delicious taste of hummous and pita behind us. Tonight we are back to Challot instead of matza. Zvi and I decided to have an evening alone - no children no guests - no-one. I will still set the table, Shabbat doesn't mind how many we are, and I will make some delicious fish quenelles (the real meaning of that word) and spicy fish fillets with the salads I made yesterday. Oh you want to know what salads? Well I did an aubergine in Tehina salad, cucumber in yoghurt and mint, tuna with lemon, mint and red onion, red cabbage and the inevitable chopped salad. Zvi will sing the Kiddush over the wine and we will think of our parents and the Shabbatot we had with them and those with our own children. Judaism is, primarily a religion of traditions. Tevye got it right!!!
Jerusalem in all her shades is getting ready for Shabbat. I didn't go to the Shuk this week but thought you would enjoy a visit anyway. http://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=PIRLhOGhoDY The rainbow of culture comes together in good will. The Arab fishmonger wished me Shabbat Shalom and it did not feel strange to wish him the same. Jews, Christians and Moslems wish each other a good Sabbath day. Indeed last week saw a very very busy Old City as Christians celebrated to Light, Jews Passover and Moslems Friday prayers. Those who do not have the tolerance and common courtesy will never spoil our peace - our Shalom.
Shalom Aleichem http://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=trUaSv1-jIk Shabbat Shalom. Finally, I leave you with the version I love so much Shalom Aleichem - May Peace be with you.http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=ux5TH9TPSMU
With love from our Jerusalem, our precious jewel, our City of Gold to which Hashem gave 9/10ths of the worlds beauty.
Friday, 18 April 2014
18th April 2014
Shabbat Shalom, Moadim le Simcha, Chag Sameach and a blessed Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Have you noticed that as the counting of the Omer and its required limitations coincides with Lent? Indeed as Pancakes are eaten on Shrove Tuesday so we eat Bubbelech/Chremslech pancakes on Pesach!!! The Last Supper was indeed thought to have been a seder night. We have so much to bind us that the tragedy is the success those who try to split us assunder is even greater.
Chief Superintendent Baruch Mizrahi was driving with his wife and 5 children to Seder night at his Parents-in-laws home when he was shot and killed by gunmen in a terror attack near Hebron. His wife tried to take the wheel to save their children and brought the car to a halt before calling the emergency services. Her husband was laid to rest on Wednesday afternoon at the Mount Herzl military cemetery. Hadas Mizrahi, pregnant with their 6th child said 'With the shriek of a bullet, I lost the love of my life'. A people inculcated with such hatred can cause savagery of these proportions. http://www.timesofisrael.com/with-the-shriek-of-a-bullet-i-lost-the-love-of-my-life/#ixzz2z7Y5YEQ5
Talking of inculcating hatred, a few years ago a British journalist interviewed weird and frightening people all over the USA. One of his investigative programmes was about Americas Nazis. Louis Theroux interviewed Tom Metzger and others, not in the deep South but just one hour from San Diego, California. Having watched this documentary in horror I was saddened but not surprised by the horrific shootings of Jews in Kansas City. I hope you are able to watch - sometimes it says not available in your country. If you find Louis Theroux series - watch http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/louis-theroux-nazis/
The ugly face of Racism and Nazism are alive and kicking in the USA. Terrifying but true. Even the Mayor of Marionville Missouri, Frazier Millers home town, agrees with the actions and beliefs of Miller. http://www.timesofisrael.com/mayor-of-kansas-shooters-hometown-i-agree-with-his-views/
Ukraine/Crimea is it a case of Wag the Dog? Are the headlines a diversion from the failure of talks in this region and general dismay with the Presidents performance? Perhaps that is how it started but most certainly not how it continues. The Ukraine echoes of its cruel past as Jews are told to register - they registered in 1941 and 34,000 were slaughtered in Babi Yar. http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/jews-must-register-flyer-in-ukraine-an-echo-of-babi-yar/2014/04/18/
The talks with the Palestinians continue without Kerry but upon his return from his family seder Martin Indyk is overseeing the continuation. Always worth talking, always worth discussing as long as those sitting around the table realise we cannot kill ourselves in the name of peace.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali was to be endowed with an honorary doctorate for her work against FGM and oppression of women in Islam by Brandeis University. The University backed down at the last minute and decided to cancel this well deserved honoured. Shame on them. We met Ayaan Hirsi Ali when she came to speak in Jerusalem. Her determination to make the world a better place is deserving of honour and recognition. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdItjdFcoWE
The selfie to beat all selfies shows two buddies enjoying a "moment" Obama and Biden in the back of the car! http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/04/16/barack-obama-and-joe-biden-took-a-selfie-today-yes-for-real/
Richard Farwell sent me this wonderful link of autistic soldiers who serve in a high position in the IDF - the caring IDF http://www.idfblog.com/2014/04/10/autism-idf-meet-soldiers-intelligence-unit-9900/
Thanks again to my personal investigative reporter Diane Steinfink for this delightful video of Seder night 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bgeX_8tBCY&feature=em-share_video_user
How do you make Matza? I well remember taking my "Cheder" (Sunday school) children in Reading, Berkshire, to a matza factory in North London. They loved the excitement of the long matza poles and the fire but I had to keep yelling DUCK as the religious men raced backwards with the baked matza to place it aside!!! Aviv Matza is made in sterile factory conditions but no less fascinating!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYQHUsSTZaA
TO BEAN OR NOT TO BEAN - that is the question". Should I go Sefardi and eat Kitniot or stick to my Ashkenaz guns and stay legume free????? So many of my friends, even religious ones, are sick of the divide between the two and simply switch over. So what do you think?
Seder night was wonderful. 21 guests reading the story of our Exodus from slavery in Egypt as our ancestors did, familiar words and a story that has no end even though we came back home. David Efron proudly sported his new business card as Honorary Consul of Israel to Puerto Rico, his pride almost as great as the fact that his daughter Libi made Aliyah two years ago. The children sang Who knows One - Echad Mi Yodeya. This is a translated version - and really funky!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XU-3IuzPEE
To finish we sing Chad Gadya with animal sounds as I described last week. However it is worth reiterating that ever year, year in and year out the official section of the Seder ends with "l'Shana ha baah bÝerushalyim" Last week I gave you the Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach rendition, today a lighter, maybe less spiritual version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54sgApRkzeI
Imagine our exhaustion after the seder. I don't begin to cook until all the dishes are changed over and the house free of all "chametz" so it began at about 06:30 and ended with the last guest at about midnight.
Zvi's boys stayed on to help us put all the furniture back in place and then to our utter amazement the boys and their wives and children (all 8 of them) stood before us in their pyjamas!!! They forgot to tell us that they were staying over! Luckily beds are always made up in this house, just in case and next morning we had a glorious time with the grandchildren as I made Bubbelech/Chremslach (Passover pancakes) for everyone. They left by 10am so that I could clear away the toys and prepare the food and elegant table for the Luncheon!
Lunch was fascinating as three lawyers argued the toss of "Is there G-d or afterlife"? and just about any other argument imaginable. David Efron, Yair Green and Yehuda Ressler argued (mostly Yehuda) with Zvi ensuring his say and the rest of us, including the delightful Arik and Ora Shiffer, Gabby Green, Leah Ressler, Libi Efron and I just smiled and enjoyed a separate conversation completely! By 18:00 I was totally exhausted and thoroughly delighted after a wonderful lunch.
Yesterday I simply took Rachel and the grandchildren to Modiin to finally buy Yosef his birthday present. He was utterly thrilled with the huge remote controlled jeep of his dreams!!!! It was so much fun to be with them. Driving to Givat Zeev, youngsters messing about at the side of the road next to Nebe Samuel (Samuels Tomb), laughing and play-fighting - not such an unusual sight, but these boys were wearing the gold damask gowns of Hassidim. It seemed so incongruous! As I drove on there was a broken down car at the side of the road and another Hassid, head deep under the bonnet, hands deftly repairing the problem! I thought I had seen it all until I got to the two cyclists preparing to cycle down a huge hill, excitement clear on their young faces, their black damask "Kittles" tied up around their waists for better aerodynamics!!!! It simply proves that we are all the same under our uniforms.
Israelis love to travel, to visit and to find new adventures. So many people went to Ein GEdi that they asked them to stop because the roads were simply too full! 100,000 people went to the Kinneret too. I love it!!! http://www.timesofisrael.com/tourist-sites-bursting-at-seams-with-passover-vacationers/
The food continues and my freezer is emptying. Tonight we have friends coming for Shabbat Dinner and then on Shabbat Ronit and Gedi Hofesh are popping in on their way home from Ein Gedi, that glorious Oasis on the way to the Dead Sea. On Sunday Zvi's boys are coming for supper for the second days of Passover, together with our daughter-in-laws family - about 15 of us and then ................ na, it is getting boring already!!!!
To finish I want to leave you with the most emotive, uplifting story of the week, if not the year. Our dear friend Canon Andrew White spent his Pesach in Baghdad. To be exact this incredible Anglican Canon created a real Seder for the 6 Jews of Baghdad, ensuring they read the whole Haggadah and understood the meaning of freedom. He created a seder plate with all the symbols. Canon Andrew White, I know you have been through a really difficult time medically but it seems to make you stronger, more tolerant and more determined to create Tikkun Olam. You are an example to us all.
Shabbat Shalom wonderful people, Shabbat Shalom
With love from Jerusalem, the most glorious city in the world. I now see the View from My Veranda from the lovely new hammock/swing that Zvi bought me for Pesach so that I can sit and watch the view changing, the light turning this city pink as the sun goes down.
The niggun is a tune that is hummed and di-di-di'd by Hassidim - this is one for you - Shabbat in Sfat, Lecha Dodi. Beginning slowly and rising in joy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qclBcUQtvKE
Friday, 11 April 2014
14041111th April 2014Shabbat Shalom Everyone!The Shabbat before Pesach I
canunderstand John Kerry's disappointment that all his efforts were apparently in vain. If it is any consolation Henry Kissinger, John Mitchell, Denis Ross and Ambassadors Kurtzer and Dan Shapiro can sympathise with him. I was equally disappointed by his "Poof"!
What the United States administration does not understand is that while Israel is willing to accept peace at ALMOST any price the Palestinians are not. They have too much to gain by being dependent and the "injured " party because the moment they actually achieve statehood they have to be responsible, build an economy and earn credibility instead of relying on fictitious rhetoric to ensure their survival. The talks went poof over two issues. Israeli reticence to release two dozen terrible murderers and the Palestinian threat to go to the UN - again!
Why does the USA keep trying? It is the only conflict that allows them control, respect and media time. Israel is the only country in the Middle East that cares, even remotely, what the USA thinks since the others get US money irrespective of killing ambassadors, blowing up embassies and burning Old Glory!
Wayne Shur sent me this extremely outspoken article which although not the most tactful I have ever read, explains the situation beautifully! http://nypost.
com/2014/04/09/contemptible- john-kerry-blames-israel-for- his-own-mess/
Two American politicians saw first hand the idiocy of our reverse discrimination. They
were shocked at the treatment they received from the Muslim Waqf guards, who followed the group throughout the tour of the Temple Mount to ensure that nobody uttered a non-Moslem prayer. Senator Bill Johnson and Congressman David McKinley felt the reality for non-Muslims on the Temple Mount. http://www.israelnationalnews.
I said it before and am prepared to repeat it ad infinitum. Jews who touch our soldiers or IDF bases are terrorists just like our enemies, indeed they are our enemies. Defence Minister Yaalon condemned the attack in no uncertain terms. The perpetrators have been arrested.http://www.jpost.com/Defense/
Yaalon-condemns-extremist- settlers-who-attacked- soldiers-police-in-West-Bank- 347870Bayit Yehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett demanded Prime Minister Netanyahu exercise Israeli sovereignty on major settlement blocs in the West Bank in response to recent unilateral moves by the Palestinians. In a letter to Netanyahu, Bennett requested “to have a session as soon as possible on an alternative plan (Plan B) to begin the process of applying Israeli sovereignty on areas in Judea and Samaria that are under Israeli control.” http://www.ynetnews.com/ articles/0,7340,L-4508759,00. htmlBritish opposition leader Ed Milliband is visiting Israel
. His interviews have been emotional and his recognition of his Jewish roots surprising. His
parents were Holocaust survivors and hismother was very far left and somewhat anti-religion but he appears to beopen, visiting his family in Israel as well as his official visit anddespite criticism from his party. http://www.theguardian.com/
politics/2014/apr/10/israel- grandmother-sanctuary- holocaust-ed-milibandFriend on Facebook Bobby Brown said "I am always confused when European countries allow late term abortions as a G-d given freedom, yet want to bar circumcision as barbaric."
Good point!!!No it isn't April Fools -
Israeli Dairy cows eat kosher le Pesach!!! http://www.jpost.com/Jewish-
World/Jewish-Features/Why- Israeli-dairy-cows-eat-kosher- for-Passover-347709Billionaire Roman Abromovich is not worried about cooking for Pesach - he rented an entire hotel of 111 rooms for himself and his family. Not just any hotel but
the luxurious Beereshit in Mitzpeh Ramon. Wow!!! http://www.timesofisrael.com/
abramovich-books-entire-hotel- for-passover/Thanks to Tom Gross for reminding me just how old I really am! This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the only time any band or artist has occupied all five top positions in America's Billboard charts. It was, of course, The Beatles. The Fab Four's Fab five on April 4-11, 1964 was: 1. Can't Buy Me Love 2. Twist and Shout 3. She Loves You 4. I Want to Hold Your Hand 5. Please Please Me. Ah good times eh?
This week in Jerusalem the children are entertained by willing grandparents and excellent shows, designed to relieve their boredom at the cleaning activities around them! Yesterday Zvi took two of the grandchildren, Gili and Amit, to the Bloomfield Science Museum in the morning, fed them there and then to a human circus show later in the afternoon. They were absolutely thrilled. We then took them to a reception at Mayor Nir Barkats home. As the two little girls put on their best clothes and asked me to do their hair Amit said "Safta, we have to look good to show the Mayor our respect. He is the Mayor of our Capital City and that is important" Both the girls became incredibly shy as Nir stood beside them for a photograph - in fact their faces are buried in my sweater unless I am much mistaken!
The Mayor of Jerusalem has no fancy and expensive official Mansion, he lives in his own home, with his family. Indeed I know for a fact that two of the three recent Mayors took one shekel a year salary! Mayor Barkat told us of the improvement in relations with the Jerusalem Arab population to the extent that they hold official demonstrations in the Municipality Square rather than angry ones in the streets. Cultural events have increased beyond belief and the number of students in regular schools has increased enormously too and tourism is through the roof. As to crime, in a recent visit to the USA Nir Barkat spoke to an audience in NYC and told them that unnatural deaths in NYC are ten times those of Jerusalem per capita. Best of all, a recent poll shows that Jerusalem residents are the happiest and most content with their city of all cities in Israel!Uri Geller was in Jerusalem. We were supposed to meet him in the magical wonderland that is Mosaic artist Roslan Sergeev's workshop. A wonderland of huge magical creatures which double as slides and interactive playgrounds, Roslans creations stretch the imaginations of children and many are specially designed for children of special needs. Uri Geller had already left but who cares? We got to spend special time with Roslan, his best friend Igor Sarni and the magical menagerie!!! http://www.ruslan-sergeev.
Han Kim, 17, plays Shalom Aleichem, Rov Feidman by Bela Kovacs for Clarinet and Orchestra arranged by Sun Kim with Changwon philharmonic orchestra conducted by Prof. Chi-yong Jeong. Phenomenal how he captured the very Jewish emotions of the music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Zvis choir - or to be more precise HaKol Yechassi and the Hora dance troupes put on a phenomenal show as the closing performance of the Jerusalem Festival of the Arts. It was truly amazing and both singers and dancers really showed their mettle.
This Shabbat is called Shabbat haGadol - or the Great Sabbath. Why it is so named covers many opinions but I believe that it is because the Jews began to fight back against the edicts of Pharaoh and distinguished themselves as Jews. Pharaoh still refused to let my people go - a fact that angered the first born Egyptians who then killed many of Pharaohs men. It is the Shabbat before the Exodus, the Shabbat before Hashems decision to lead us to freedom in our own land. A Shabbat Gadol indeed. The Parasha, or Torah reading is from Malachi Chapter 3 http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16221/jewish/Chapter-3.htm#v=23
Jerusalem is so beautiful. She looks as if the spring cleaning (aka Pesach) has brightened the white buildings allowing the slight pinkish tinge of the natural Jerusalem stone to shine through. The warm sun of April has brought forth the flowers and the first orange blossom is visible on the tiny orange tree and even one bright red flower on the pomegranate. The leaves are still pale green and new but the trees are strong and flourishing. The day-lillies are about to burst forth and most importantly, our new pergola is absolutely wonderful!!!! It is enough to make me happy the snow destroyed our old one!
Friday, soon to be Shabbat. Shabbat ha Gadol and then Pesach. Zvi made the weary trips back and forth to our store room, 3 floors down without a lift, to lug up the Pesach dishes. It was like greeting old friends whose face one couldn't quite remember as I opened box after box discovering anew old dishes and pots. Pesach, like so many of our festivals, celebrates our determination to be a free people in our own land. Today's slavery is a different slavery. It is a slavery to things and success rather than building pyramids by the lash and starvation. Things, success, money, communication by text not face to face- all tie us down just as the slavery of old. We need to take time, relive our history and be proud of who we are not what we have.
I have to think fast now because I have painted myself into a corner in terms of my need to be ready ahead of time. I will go and buy something to eat for Shabbat - I already stored all my Chametz pots and pans!!!!!
On Pesach we sing Vehi Sheamda and I found you this incredible rendition by Yaakov Shwekey and Yonatan Razel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?
"Vehi She’amda, La’avotainu Velanu Shelo Echad Bilvad, Amad AleinuLechaloteinu Ela Sheb’chol Dor VaDor Omdim Aleinu Lechaloteinu V’HaKadosh Baruch Hu Matzilenu Miyadam. "
"And this is what kept our fathers and what ensures our survival. For, not just one arose and tried to destroy us,but in every generation they try to destroy us, and Hashem saves us from their hands"Shabbat Shalom to you all. Thank you for helping me put my emotional and Zionist house in order each week. Your participation makes me think more clearly and be more pragmatic. You are my leveller. When I write I think of every single one of you and what you may or may not feel about my words and it is like a salve to my wounds that you care.
With love from our Jerusalem. Whatever may be said surely we have paid our dues to be accepted internationally and have our ancient capital city in our hands as ALL her residents desire.Sheila
Friday, 4 April 2014
3rd April, 2014
Shabbat Shalom! How are you? I hope you are well.
I must begin with the news that gripped Israel this week.
The entire country watched with bated breath as the final stages of the trial of 13 defendants wound its lengthy way to a Judges decision. One reason, maybe the main reason, for the public interest and concern is that one of those accused is former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
I believe that anyone, anyone who commits a crime must pay the price - I also believe that the manner in which this investigation was carried out and the continual police leaks were undignified and abused the laws of sub judice. Unquestionably this was trial by media, long before the courtroom and the experienced and wise Judge David Rozen, heard the evidence from all 13 accused and came to his decisions.
We were bombarded emotionally by the media since Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations, difficult on every level as we discover corruption in high places. Whatever love I feel toward two of those accused, I feel that democracy and our legal system have proven worthy and true, does not preclude my sadness and disappointment for people I love and who, in my opinion, did an incredible job of leading Israel and making this country friends among world leaders.
If anything good comes out of this trial may it be that those who let power go to their heads and have not yet been caught, and believe themselves either above the law or too clever to be caught, are now shaking in their shoes.
I know that the rule of the political old boys club and contacts to fill ones bank account is not exclusive to Israel, far from it, but it is Israel that I care about. I want a clean home. http://www.jpost.com/National-News/Olmert-verdict-is-Israels-untarnished-mirror-347102
As morning broke over Jerusalem yesterday, the news came that the Palestinians have walked out of the "peace" talks, which is hardly surprising. Indeed it was PM Olmert who said that each time there were talks, they would reach a generous agreement, the Palestinians would tell the negotiators to prepare the papers for signing and next morning find the Palestinian delegation had left in the night!!!! Bibi was ready for almost all but refused to free certain prisoners and the Palestinians insisted upon the release, Jerusalem as their capital and so much more, indeed one report said that Abbas would be a Shahid rather than sign. Nothing changes eh?
As I was researching something entirely different I came across this fascinating article.
BUONAPARTE, COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE ARMIES OF THE FRENCH
REPUBLIC IN AFRICA AND ASIA, TO THE RIGHTFUL HEIRS OF PALESTINE.
Israelites, unique nation, whom, in thousands of years, lust of conquest and tyranny have been able to be deprived of their ancestral lands, but not of name and national existence !
In 1799, the French armies under Napoleon were camped outside of Acre. Napoleon issued a letter offering Palestine as a homeland to the Jews under French protection.... it marked the beginning of nineteenth century projects for Jewish autonomy in Palestine under a colonial protectorate. After the defeat of Napoleon, it was largely the British who carried forward these projects, which have in hindsight been given the somewhat misleading name of "British Zionism." http://www.mideastweb.org/napoleon1799.htm
A few important news items in short
Prime Minister David Cameron issued a paper outlawing the Moslem Brotherhood in the UK after an investigation into the terror connections of that organisation in Britain. http://www.investigativeproject.org/4335/uk-prime-minister-orders-mb-investigation
In the Gaza Strip, that very small area which claims extreme poverty despite enormous amounts of aid there are no less than 1,700 millionaires. Surprising? http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/178715#.UzuYqHDddWE
“For the first time in 2000 years, we have archaeological finds from the Temple Mount.” Our friend Gabby talking about the sifting of finds from the Temple Mount - http://www.jewsnews.co.il/2014/03/16/half-shekel-coin-from-the-temple-mount/
Talking of Prof. Gabby Barkay, last night we had the pleasure of going to a Ladino choir evening with our lovely friends Judy and Prof. Michael Baum. Michael retired from an eminent career in medicine and is now a proficient artist and has written a book "The Third Tablet of the Holy Covenant" and is currently researching a second book. The Ladino concert included a solo from that other famous retiree, Zvi Raviv!!! Oh yes I forgot, Gabby! Well this morning Gabby met with Michael and imparted some of his encyclopaedic knowledge of First Temple times to Michael for his research. Michael was thrilled to discover that Gabby not only knew about the historical/Biblical aspects but had met and worked with many of the characters of the book. The story of Tel Maresha http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-sites-places/biblical-archaeology-sites/tel-maresha-caves-reveal-lost-world-of-the-idumeans/ I love it when friends meet over a mutual project and Zvi's brilliant idea to get two clever men together really worked. Another introduction to Gabby - a brilliant speaker in almost any language you choose!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRBgxVm79Ms#t=104
Those of you who have been with me since the beginning of the 2nd Intifada will know the beautiful Kinneret Chaya Boosany. Today Kinneret Chaya, 12 years from that terrorist attack on March 30th 2002, is a beautiful, religious woman, happily married with 4 children. Not bad for someone they said could never lead a normal life. If you want to receive her story just let me know. This is what I wrote last year http://shabbatshalom-theviewfrommyveranda.blogspot.co.il/search?q=shalom+kinneret+chaya
My little lemon tree, a beautiful gift from my girlfriends last year, not only survived the snow but is beginning to put forth little green shoots, the promise of an abundant crop this year. In fact the veranda looks astonishing - a burst of colour as the warm spring sun washes over them. Scented orange freesias and perennial purple petunias brighten up the scene as we wait for the orange blossom, the bright red pomegranate flowers and the enormous day lillies. The herbs are growing fast, enjoying the warmth, ready for the tisane which will follow the Seder meal. Best of all the pergola will be rebuilt before Pesach - the last remnant of the heavy snowfall and its aftermath to be repaired.
The cleaning is at full pelt, homes are being renovated and painted in honour of Passover and there is a sense of expectation in the air as cupboards are emptied of their previous, regular utensils and the Passover dishes are moved in. The supermarkets are already preparing for the changeover of foodstuffs, huge paper sheets masking the regular food and the Passover food on proud display. Moslem shopkeepers are proud to follow the tradition honouring our ancestors although some Jews insist upon taking food from "the back" nonetheless. For some reason we never have enough Matza as Pesach (Passover) reaches its end, but are always left with too many. It isn't mathematically possible yet happens every year!!!!
This year we have a relatively small seder, just 23 of us. In addition to Zvi's boys and ever increasing families, we have our "Olim Vatikim" (Old/new immigrants) Valeri and Ira and their gorgeous children Tomer and Sheli; all the way from Miami David Efron, Kathy and David's daughter Libi (another Olah), Yaakov and Nadia Shtrizak. Yaakov is a phenomenal opera singer from the Rimsky Korsikoff Opera in Leningrad who we met last year when they came as new Olim and Zvi helped Yaakov to get auditions for both the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv Operas. In addition we will welcome anyone wanting a seder night. My Mother always kept an extra set of eating utensils on the side in case someone came unexpectedly and I am proud to continue that beautiful tradition. One day my children will be here for that special night too. They will recognise the elements of their childhood and mine as we honour our parents and grandparents by continuing their traditions - except the gefilte fish. I am used to western white, fluffy gefilte fish and cannot get used to carp - grey and glutinous. Sorry Zvi my love.
We sing almost all the story of Seder night each person reading a paragraph, finally stopping for food. After giving our thanks for the night, the food we start singing again. The central song, the prayer, the yearning for centuries, nay millenia, is Le Shana ha Ba'ah b'Yerushalyim - NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM - which is our prayer from the day of our dispersion by the Romans and previous dispersions. Jerusalem, Yerushalyim, Ir Shalem, Ariel, Shiloh, Ir Shalom. Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach z"l with a beautiful rendition. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSn8kDE_Jxs
Rabbi Carlebach was born in Vienna and left with his family in 1939. He tells the story of his childhood. In Vienna it was impossible to walk in the street as a Jew because you just disappeared. He and his brother wanted to see people as they came to pray at his fathers synagogue. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSn8kDE_Jxs Gut Shabbes, Gut Shabbes.
Finally, since we have spoken of dispersion, this plaintive and beautiful song in Ladino - Adio Querido - talks of betrayed love for Spain and the bitterness of our love for Spain after the inquisition and exile of her Jews. Judy dear, this is for you! There is an English translation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1_Fmv3qts8
L'Shana ha Baáh Be Yerusalyim is not a dream for us, we are here. We tell the story of our enslavement and Exodus from slavery to freedom, through wanderings to our Promised Land. We are not going anywhere. Threats and demands don't worry us because we have been through much worse in our inherited memory and every Empire that tried to expunge the Jewish people is long gone and we are still here!!!!
Shabbat Shalom everyone, enjoy your Shabbat, rejoice and bless every moment. Remember, we don't have another country, Israel is the only Jewish country in the world. Ninette Tayeb sings Ein Li Eretz Aheret by Ehud Manor. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARfVjTMAuys The lyrics - "I have no other country even if my land is aflame, Just a word in Hebrew pierces my veins and my soul, with painful body, with hungry heart, this is my home" http://hebrewsongs.com/song-einlieretzacheret.htm
With much love from Jerusalem, heart of our hearts. I wish you