Friday, 27 June 2014

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem - Naftali Frankel, Gilad Sha'ar and Eyal Yifrah, Andrew White,ISIS,

27th June 2014

Shabbat Shalom dear Friends. I hope this letter finds you well and that your loved ones are well too.

As you can well imagine we are all deeply involved in the search for the 3 boys so cruelly kidnapped by Hamas. The incredible work done by the IDF and the Shabak have born fruit but we still don't have the boys home for Shabbat with their families. We know it was Hamas, we have the names of the terrorists, who are recidivist prisoners on terror charges,  Marwan Kawasme and Amar Abu Aysha are from Hebron and longstanding Hamas members. The Shin Bet added that both were wanted as soon as security forces learned of the kidnapping.

Thanks to UN Watch and the excellent work of Hillel Neuer, the mothers of the three boys,  Naftali Frankel, Gilad Sha'ar and Eyal Yifrah, spoke before the United Nations. What incredible strength.

As the IDF continues the military operation in Judea and Samaria following the abduction of the three Israeli teens, Israeli doctors of Save a Child's Heart (SACH; <>) continue to save the lives of Palestinian children at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon. Why? Because we honour and respect life.

Canon Andrew White reports the horrendous slaughter continuing unabated in Iraq and the horrific plight of Christians.  Canon Andrew, aka the Vicar of Baghdad, is a light in a dark dark region. How sad that for the lack of one single word Babylon is burning - what word? Tolerance. Tolerance is sadly missing in todays world and we are all expected to follow one route to prayer, one route to God, one route, one manner, one regime. How sad, all for the lack of tolerance. There are, as I said, beacons of light and this week Canon Andrew presented The Prize for Peace and Reconciliation in the Middle East to Lord and Lady Carey the former Archbishop of Canterbury and his wife for their untiring work for peace and understanding in this troubled world. Congratulations. 

ISIS is now threatening the USA if they defend Iraq. These threats have been delivered through messages on ISIS's #CalamityWillBefallUS hashtag and feature images of the 9/11 attacks; dead American soldiers; the body of slain U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens; a threatening message from Anwar al-Awlaki, the late leader of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP); and the Nick Berg beheading video among others. "We will kill your people and transform America to a river of blood". Know that these ar enot empty threats, they mean every word.

David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, believes that wider surveillance is essential for Jihadist groups in the UK. In the debate Liam Fox, Former Minster of Defence said "The whole area of intercept needs to be looked at. We have got a real debate, and it is a genuine debate in a democracy, between the libertarians who say the state must not get too powerful and pretty much the rest of us who say the state must protect itself." 

The Jerusalem Forest suffered a huge fire two days ago. From Hadassah Hospital to Yad Vashem including the neighborhood of Kiriat Yovel. Homes evacuated, fire damage but most importantly, thanks to the incredible work of the Jerusalem Fire Service nobody was seriously hurt. The weather didn't help, searing hot and windy, but the police and fire investigators are certain it was arson. Fires simply don't start in 6 separate areas at once. 

The Jerusalem Light Festival took place all last week. I thought you would enjoy seeing two videos - one of the Damascus Gate and the other of the "Circus"on the Rothschild House

As promised, our wonderful friend Dr Kimball Taylor, arrived all the way from Cardston, Alberta and we dropped him right into the Raviv lifestyle. Our quiet Shabbat dinner grew (of course) and was fascinating. Ambassador Zvi Mazel and his authoress wife Michelle; Eli and Eva Yaron and Sharon and Reuven Rosenfelder. I loved the direction of the conversation and the beauty of the night, the moon made its appearance again to the delight of all of us as we sat at the Shabbat table out on our veranda.

The most spectacular moment of the week was when Zvi fell, like a log, diagonally, from the pavement right into Arlosorov Street in Tel Aviv. Of course in my usual crazy fashion I jumped into the road and did my Superwoman act of stopping traffic. Thank G-d a million times there was no car on that incredibly busy road and after Kim checked him thoroughly we went back to Jerusalem. Bruised, scratched but other than that.............

Shabbat with the Bettsaks, Sam and Debbie, visiting from Atlanta and then both Kim and Zvi were deeply involved in the Keren Hayesod and Jewish Agency Congress.  Decisions made for the future of the Jewish World had a simple thread throughout - the link between Israel and the Diaspora must be strengthened based on the premise that life outside Israel is becoming increasingly uncertain. On our 18th wedding anniversary there was no time for romantic dinner for two, actually there was no time for anything during the Congress. Instead we went to the Knesset as  the Prime Minister and Knesset Speaker Edelstein welcomed us  to the Knesset Chagall Hall for a reception to honour Jimmy Tisch as  he leaves his position as Chairman of the Board of the Jewish Agency. Both spoke of the 3 boys and of the essential link between Israel and the Diaspora. I love, but love going to the Knesset. Not only is the entrance beautiful but the Chagall Hall with its huge tapestries is truly magnificent.  The tapestries form a triptic telling the story of Exodus - exquisite 

On Tuesday morning we took Kim to the Bible Lands Museum (well worth a visit) to see the Book of Books Exhibit. It was fascinating in fact so fascinating that Zvi went back for a third time with Sam Bettsak determined that Sam would also enjoy it - well worth it.

I went to my little grand-daughter Ayalas graduation ceremony - graduation from kindergarten of course!!! I was so proud of her as she sang and danced with perfect precision for the entire hour show. She was so beautiful! Even at this wonderful and happy celebration her Teacher, Noa, reminded us to say Tehilim for the 3 boys. 

Last night we went with Sam and Debbie to a beautiful event to honour Naftali Frankel, Gilad Sha'ar and Eyal Yifrah and their families. Before the concert Danby Meital gave me some yellow ribbon to give to passing people. I stopped one lady who told me that two of her sons was in the IDF and searching for them in the Hebron area.  Noa Voss, daughter of Sharon Voss who initiated the evening,  sang Tehilim in her beautiful soprano, another singer  sang Shlomo Carlebach  which was fun and yet spiritual then came Shira. Shira Golan sang so many beautiful songs but the one that really touched my heart was - Ha Ish ve ha Or - The Man and the Light. May the heavens open to all our prayers for the safe return of the three boys, an end to the tears and prayers of their mothers and a return home for all the soldiers who search for them.

We ended the evening by going to "The Tahana"which was originally an Ottoman then British train station and now is the "go to" place in Jerusalem. Despite the late hour all the stalls were open, the restaurants seething, the dancers who come each Thursday evening to Salsa, Rumba and Tango to their hearts delight laughing and smiling, and the kids on the beach - yes they even brought a beach to Jerusalem for the summer - enjoying a wild graduation party  and families enjoyed the activity while just out for a stroll.  Sam commented on the fact that at 11 o'clock at night the  place was still rocking!!!!

I haven't given you a Pat Condell video for a while which is a major oversight on my part. Here is one of his latest offerings - I think you will love it - I did!!!

And so to Friday - as Shabbat comes closer I must go and prepare our home for the bride - the bride of Shabbat. Tonight it will be just my Zvi and I. He is now at his Parliament, solving the major problems of the world while I just report them. In a few minutes I will prepare the table, the challah and the wine, the beautiful dishes and the traditional white cloth then when my work is done I will sit out on veranda, swinging on the hammock and watch Jerusalem slowly take pause from the hustle and bustle of daily life and prepare for Shabbat. 

The Torah portion this week, V'Yegash is incredibly appropriate, it talks of Josephs betrayal by his brothers which forced him to spend most of his life in a foreign land and their ultimate meeting when they came to beg for food to discover their brother. Rather than remaining in jail Joseph became a high officer in Pharoahs court - he took what he had, he strived despite his initial captivity and never forgot from whence he came. He didn't want revenge for his suffering he wanted his father to come and see him. He wanted his father.

My prayer is that age old prayer Shema Yisrael - Hear Oh Israel. It is a prayer that goes up to heaven - it is a prayer from our hearts - make it a prayer for our boys that they come home safely.

I leave you with the words of the three Mothers - Mothers just like you and me.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom
If the media does not inform us we must inform the media
Facebook      Sheila Silver Raviv

Friday, 20 June 2014

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem - Bring Back Our Boys, Mohammad Zoabi, La Traviata,

20th June 2014

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. It is a sad letter today, very sad. Yes of course we did some lovely things this week but with a heavy heart.

Three of our beautiful children were kidnapped and are now suffering a horrible existence, if they are alive, at the hands of Hamas. We know they are almost certainly in Hebron, they did not manage to take them elsewhere, but their fate is, to say the least, uncertain.

My heart and mind go back to the last time three boys were kidnapped, that time to Lebanon, and the pain of the families, the uncertainty, the fears and the sleepless nights. Haim and Edna Avraham used to come to us, to our home, to relax a little after fruitless visits to the Knesset and I cannot forget their heroism in the face of a parents greatest terror and dread. Please G-d this time it will end with the boys alive and well.

One Family took the initiative of letter writing to the families. Israel is praying, pleading, hoping and trying to continue normal life but it is hard. These are OUR boys, children, Send a personal letter of support to the families of Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrach - the letters will be delivered on an ongoing basis,

There are incredibly emotive videos of the brave mothers of these children, showing support for the IDF and their dangerous search for their children, but perhaps the strongest and most incredible is that of young Mohammad Zoabi, proud Israeli. Mohammad has suffered death threats for his video in which he describes Gilad, Naftali and Eyal as "our boys" and says "Am Yisrael Chai". Mohammad is the nephew of Hanin Zoabi, anti-Israel Member of Knesset who proudly rode the Mavi Marmara.

There are good things even during this awful time it is how Israelis function. Stuart Katz is organising bagels and drinks for the soldiers - just going out and gicing them support and a treat with anyone who answered his FB call. More seriously the IDF and Shabak have succeeded in arresting many Hamas operatives in Yehuda and Shomron, including some of those freed for Gilad Shalit, and a clean-up operation has taken place in Gaza. Sad reason, good result. We will, however, not rest until those boys are returned to their families and to their Israel. In the meantime, while the IDF does its work, we pray. My dear friend Yaffa Glass sent me this beautiful video. 

It is important to note the very small statement made by the Prime Minister that we know much more now than we did a few days ago. I just pray that we find them in time.

Our dear friend Canon Andrew White is devastated that he cannot return to Baghdad, it has become just too dangerous. Carnage, massacres, bombings, sadly these have become everyday existence for the Iraqi people. NOt just in the north where the horrific ISIS have taken control but throughout that forsaken and forlorn country. Iraq does not get the publicity of Syria but the situation is no less dangerous. Iran has offered military aid but that undoubtedly comes with a huge price tag.

Hamas in Gaza reached the ultimate in audacity - 5 Hamas operatives died when their tunnel collapsed and Hamas blamed Israel!!!!!!!
New York, Opera and Art , hardly the usual source of disinformation and foul play but when the New York Opera chose to stage The Death of Klinghoffer they burst through all the boundaries of good taste and fair play. A foul crime was committed when a 69 year old disabled man was murdered, thrown off the deck of a ship twice. The opera suggests that the act of murder arose from the despair of the murderers. The librettist is one Alice Goodman who during the writing of the opera rejected her American Jewish heritage by joining the Anglican Church. The NYO ended the performances due to pressure but should never have considered it in the first place. I ask the Anglican Church to defrock this woman who now leads a flock in the UK. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is a good man and will listen to your pleas to remove this blot on his church.

The reason that the Palestinians hate us so much - indeed the Moslem world - is because their children are carefully brainwashed from year one
One of the most important aspects of understanding the mentality of those who hate us is to research and try to change their schoolbooks, their curricula of hate and introduce tolerance. One of the only sources of such research is IMPACT-SE, a tiny, impoverished organisation based in the Hebrew University which researches in great depth said schoolbooks and reports to UNESCO, Israeli Government Offices, the USA, UK and others. I am proud to serve on the board, please look at the facts laid before you and ensure your politicians are aware of them.

I often talk about the schizophrenia that makes life here possible - it is a bit like living in LA or Washington and knowing you cannot safely walk in the streets but continue life as if it was normal - except ours is much more sinister - less dangerous but more sinister and personal. So please do not think that I am being flippant if I go on to the lighter side of life.

Friday night dinner was a resounding success and our joy was increased by the addition of Evelyn Shachter to the table. Zvi's beautiful rendition of Shabbat Shalom, Eshet Chayil and Kiddush were extra special and the food was duly appreciated. Even the moon conformed and made a spectacular appearance.  On Saturday night we met up with the Glesby family and Evelyn Shachter to walk the "line" of the Jerusalem Lights Festival. It was amazing! We chose the white route which took us through the Jaffa Gate, down through the Armenian Quarter and on through the Jewish Quarter. From floating elephants which changed colour to an amazing "circus"display on the old Rothschild House. The Old City was teeming with laughing, happy humanity of the full rainbow of Jerusalem society chomping on Jerusalem bagels with a little packet of Zartar, and simply enjoying the event. Loved every moment!

Sunday and my beautiful grandchildren Yosef, Talia and Ayala came to me from school for a bit of Safta spoiling - I loved it. Zvi was in Nes Ziona with Amit, gili and Ori so we each had our special time.
On Monday we took the bus at Binyanei Ha Uma and travelled the road past Jericho and all the Biblical sites I described last week to the foot of Massada. Yes, we went with Rosa and Bernardo Romanowsky to La Traviata at Massada. The performances were excellent but for me the high point was when, at the very beginning, Maestro Daniel Oren asked the audience to rise and sing Hatikva. Massada was suddenly washed in blue and white and I could not help but cry.

I owe my friend Joy Wolfe a huge apology for not meeting her as promised. Joy - next time we will spend twice the time - I am so sorry.

I had never heard of American Rapper Eppic until I discovered that he made a wonderful video with Daniella Millo and Rudi Baynesay from Israel. The video was initiated by Stand With Us for which they deserve a great big slap on the back and by the  Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel.  I doesn't resemble my usual Shabbat Music but I love it  Bravo Eppic!!!!

We all have friends that we like, friends that we love, friends that we admire and a very few that we like, love and admire. My friend Rabbi Jeremy Rosen falls into the last category. We go back a long, long way, to Cardiff of course, the place where everything begins. Jeremy and Mickey z"l were our playmates and my goodness how they grew to greatness, including little brother David. I love Jeremy's eloquently irreverent blog and this week he outdid himself with GEEOHDEE - a taste
It has now become a requirement of Orthodoxy that wherever one writes the word made up of the letters GEE OH DEE in reference to the Holy Name, out of reverence one does not write the name in full but with a dash, to wit: G-D. Now my father always insisted that if we were writing English we ought to write English and not some bastardization of it. Just as when we used the Hebrew language we should be grammatically correct. For centuries, the name in English for the creator of the Universe has been GOD. Or as wags often like to joke, DOG backwards. Should we need to treat the Divine Name in a different language with respect? Should we bury dollar bills because they bear this name in English (or perhaps American)? Times change. My father’s generation is long gone, and G-D has now swept all before it in the religious world, so has Alm-ghty, and doubtless soon so too will Div-ne, and perhaps Cre-tor as well.

I am about to leave for the school pick up. The littlest of Rachels children, Ayala, is Mother Shabbat today and her Mummy has gone to see her and her little buddies with their Shabbat Pinata - yes even that is my daughters speciality!!!!! I will drop Zvi for his parliament, drive to Givat Ze'ev, sing with the children, rush home and prepare supper.

Tonights supper is very special since our wonderful friend Dr Kim Taylor is arriving. Gosh I love him - he is in the category of like, love, admire too. As a special treat to celebrate Kim's arrival we are having equally special guests for dinner. Ambassador Zvi Mazel and his wife Michelle who wrote my favourite book for years -nearly finished it - The Jericho Enigma Our other guests are Eli and Eva Yaron, Eli sings with Zvi and Eva is a brilliant tour guide (they are in the last category too).

So that's about it. If I don't get going there will be no supper, no beautiful Shabbat table, which I will set out on the veranda so that we can enjoy the unusually warm evening after a steaming, searingly hot day. So you want to know which songs I have for your delectation this week.  Somehow, this song by Shlomo Artzi seems sadly appropriate this week although I pray that the ending is happier this time  then "Noladeti le Shalom"I was Born for Peace

My belief in a greater power, whatever your name for Him, in GEEOHDEE, is what keeps me alive, keeps me hopeful, keeps me kind, thoughtful and Jewish. This belief is expressed in the song Ani Maamin - I believe. This niggun - tune, expresses all our longings and beliefs from wherever we come.

With all my love from Jerusalem, centre of the earth and a wonderful Shabbat filled with family, love, laughter, contemplation and hope.

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

Friday, 13 June 2014

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem - Iraq, President, Kaz,

Friday 13th of June 2014

Shabbat Shalom dear friends,

Last night I sat on the hammock on our veranda (mirpesset) talking to my beloved sister on Skype and trying to decide what on earth to write to you today. Jerusalem spread before me, but for once it did not calm me despite a wonderful week. One question kept racing through my mind and wouldn't leave. 

Iraq is being torn apart by the extreme Islamist group ISIS, the Jihadi “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” is so extreme that they find Al Qaeeda weak, and the Western governments are doing nothing more than chest beating. Iran, Iraqs natural and long time enemy is the only country to come to their aid. What does it mean?

The Middle East is aflame - in Lebanon, created as a Christian pearl, Sunni and Shia are killing one another; in Syria the murderous regime is deemed a better option than the Jihadists and the slaughter continues unabated; we have lost touch with many of the other states since we toppled their leaders, foul but sources of information, and their ability to massacre is unknown; only Egypt provides a tiny glimmer of light as the outgoing President Mansour put forward a law to outlaw wife-beating. It sounds banal but in these countries it is essential; the Hamas-Fatah agreement is already showing cracks and will undoubtedly result in further killing of Fatah members in Gaza; finally, Iran, which until the interference of President Carter, was a forward thinking, relatively modern state, Iran is still happily making WMDs. Indeed we are so stupidly naive that we chose a member of the Moslem Brotherhood (El Baradei)  to oversee their nuclear programme until he retired!!!!

The long arm of the Jihadists is killing Africa too. Nigeria is left to her own devices, the 300 schoolgirls forgotten while Europe and the USA ignore their own enemy within. What makes this scenario even more fantastic is that the only country to receive censure is Israel!!!!!

Twice the United States opted for isolationism and twice it led to World Wars.

Australia's announcement that describing the annexed areas of Jerusalem as occupied is legally incorrect, has not pleased the Jordanians who actually occupied East (misnomer since it includes South) Jerusalem for 19 years. Prior to that time it was under either Ottoman or British rule. The Australians are right of course and the formerly Jordanian areas are an essential part of Jerusalem - Jerusalem capital city of the Jewish people.

Many believe that the Israeli decision to build homes in Jerusalem is a direct result of the bi-partisan government of Hamas and Fatah. Firstly, no it isn't, we need housing, this is Jerusalem not some outpost of extremists; Secondly, why on earth shouldn't we build since no-one is telling the Palestinians not to build in Israeli Jerusalem neighborhoods; thirdly, there are far more important things happening in our area and only a weak and ineffective West can equate building a few apartments with the massacre of innocents.

Amazingly it was a Palestinian Ambassador to London who emphasised the logic of recognising Israel as a Jewish State in exchange for recognition of the PA.

Every so often something happens which restores ones faith in human nature. It happened for me when I met a young British Moslem here in Jerusalem. Kaz was volunteering for Stand With Us and his joy at being in Jerusalem was infectious. Having grown up in a strict Moslem family he accepted all the hatred toward Jews and Israel that his culture spouted until the day he picked up a book, a very important book written by Alan Dershowitz, The Case for Israel. It changed his life. Kaz emigrated to Canada and I am thrilled by the announcement -  B’nai Brith Canada, the Jewish community’s grassroots advocacy and social service organization, is proud to announce the appointment of Kasim Hafeez as education and community relations officer for its Midwest region. Love you Kaz.

Once again the modus operandi for the election of the Israeli President has proven  inefficacious. I am not unhappy with the result rather with the methodology. The fact that MK's can promise all the candidates their vote to curry favour but in the final count change their secret vote is ludicrous. The you scratch my back I'll scratch your coupled with the determined rumour mongering does not ensure the best person winning. A clear example is Prof. Dan Shechtman. Nobel Prizewinner, internationally known, elegant and brilliant he did not play the political games, believing it beneath his dignity, so he only got one vote. The new President elect, Ruby, Ruvi, Reuven Rivlin is a seasoned politician, from a many-generational Jerusalem family and I am sure that with the advice of his diplomatic aides he will do a good job. Israeli Presidents are not supposed to be politicians - they, as the titular heads of state, are diplomats, ambassadors and hosts, they are the oil on troubled waters of the State of Israel. May President Rivlin prove himself to be a fine representative of the Israeli people.
This week was no less insane than our usual weeks and maybe just a little more so!!!

After Shabbat we went to Kibbutz Zora, near Beit Shemesh, with friends and Leor, Shiri and the girls. The occasion? The harvest festival which is part of Shevuot. Children dancing, adults singing, teenagers singing and dancing - all about the fields, the crops, the animals and the pure life of  farming. It was so gorgeous and then we sat on the grass for a picnic. The little girls were so excited by the entire show especially when at the end they were invited ot join the kibbutz children to  release balloons into the sky, blue and white balloons of course! 

On Monday I caught the morning bus to Eilat to join my beautiful daughter and her family in the rented house for a few days.  The bus ride was terrific, so efficient and no problems like getting to the airport, check-in and so on - just booking, going to the Central Bus Station right here in Jerusalem and getting on the bus then off in Eilat four and a half hours later - with one peepee/coffee stop! My journey was eased by my neighbour, a young man from Philadelphia called Bennet. The views are breathtaking but the history even greater. Passing through Jerusalem going down toward the Dead Sea, near Jericho, through the Judean Hills into the Judean Desert, caves where David hid from Saul, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, Massada, Lots wife, Sdom .............. and so on until reaching the modern town of Eilat, on the Red Sea coast. The house was enormous, the pool glorious, the children and their Daddy Igal had a ball and I got to spend precious time with my beautiful daughter! The temperatures were horrendous - 40 degrees centigrade - which this Jerusalemite found difficult!!!!

I came back to Jerusalem on Wednesday and of course my husband had theatre tickets for that evening! Great play, slept a bit but got the gist!!!! Next morning, Thursday and it was time for the Cardiff girls to meet again, but this time it was for a very special reason. Our friend Sue - aka Susan Gaba Yakir - was celebrating a birthday and her return to good health. Sue invited a fascinating variety of women to partake of a truly incredible, typical Israeli breakfast in the lovely, leafy Jerusalem suburb of Beit Zayit. I loved the incredible variety of backgrounds, views, opinions, beliefs all brought together by Sue and her natural charisma. Best of all I got to sit next to Sues amazing Mum "Auntie"Tema who aged over 90 is more than capable of any and all conversations that come her way responding with wit and humour and an incomparable memory of the Cardiff "girls" and our parents. It felt good to sit with someone who already knew everything about me and accepted me as I am.

Last night Zvi was guest of honour at a very special event for very special people. Tsamid is the Jerusalem Municipality organisation for people with special needs. It was a fabulous affair and a chance for Zvi to catch up with old friends and me to rest! After the event Zvi went with a group of buddies to a mutual friends home to watch the opening of the World Cup. Brazil, it engenders all sorts of romantic images but is really quite violent especially right now where the population is angry at the cost of the Mondial and expressing their anger very clearly.

And so to Shabbat!

Tonight we have about 16 people coming for Shabbat Dinner. Yup 16 people coming for Dinner and I am sitting here writing to you!!!! Zvis family from Argentina - the Solnikis,  also from Argentina Julio and Monika Jarak, Daniel and Naomi, Vancouver Glesbys and maybe a few more!  I have yet to put some finishing touches but the food is mostly ready. The table will be extended to its utmost and the dishes will probably not quite match as I only have a full dozen of the "milky" set but no-one will mind! My usual "Orange"soup (pumpkin, yam and carrot), Fresh salmon, Sea Bream, fried fish balls, salads galore, Israeli new potatoes, broccolli and cauliflower ending with home made ice-cream and Rayas 7 minute chocolate cake!

The weather is perfect today, our guests being entertained by Zvi who took them to the Holy Book exhibit at the Biblelands Museum  and of course everyone will go to the Light Festival in the Old City

Daniel Schwartz is here from Manhattan for his nephews bar mitzva - hopefully he will manage to come for dessert tonight so that I can congratulate him on his recent wedding!

Shabbat is about family but it is also about sharing. My Mummy always kept a spare set of cutlery and crockery ready on the sideboard, just in case an unexpected guest arrived. She never wanted anyone to feel that they were unwanted or caused a problem by arriving. Shabbat is exceptionally beautiful here in Jerusalem. It isn't just the sense of expectancy that I often write about, it is so much more. One has the feeling that this is where it all started, this is where we put down our roots and have been celebrating Shabbat for 3,000 years, this is tangible, touchable, actual Judaism, this is Jerusalem.

I frequently think of what my friend Jill said when asked to describe her love of Israel. "Israel is both my Mother and my child. " she responded. "Israel protects me as a mother protects her child and I love Israel as a Mothers love for her child." That is how I feel about Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular.

Yet again I digress. As Shabbat nears big puffy clouds scutting across the sky casting incredible patterns as their shadows pass over the white buildings below me. I can just imagine the excitement of the first timers on our veranda where they will get a virtual tour of the panorama below them  before coming inside to the traditional part of the meal. Zvi will lead the prayers, first Shalom Aleichem, moving on to my favourite part - Eshet Chayil - Woman of Worth - a blessing to his wife - that's me,  then the blessing over the wine - Kiddush. Kiddush, a reminder to keep the Sabbath Day, a thank you for the grapes of the vine and for taking us out of slavery and the sanctification of our nation ending the ceremonial part with the blessing of the Challah. And so to food!!!! Tradition is surely the most important part of our religion - tradition honours our ancestors. Here a Russian non-Jewish group sings some of my favourites

Wishing you a beautiful Shabbat and just in case you think that Shabbat in Jerusalem has to be a serious and solemn occasion just watch this video!!!
With much love from beautiful Jerusalem.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem - D-Day, 6 Day War, Australia, Hamas Fatah government, Rolling Stones, Moshiko, Shevuot

6th June 2014

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope this missive finds you well.

This is indeed a week of anniversaries of historic events.
70 years ago the  D-Day landings and the ensuing battles began The day's commemorations began at midnight with a vigil at Pegasus Bridge near Ouistreham, marking the first assault of the D-Day invasion when British soldiers began the first Allied action of the campaign.

47 years ago The Six Day War was in its second day and those of us outside Israel were on tenterhooks, waiting for any news items to tell us about the advances of the tiny IDF against the multi-nation onslaught. Israelis were terrified for their very existence yet outside Israel we saw only the enormous victories.  The history  and the unmatched emotions “I felt truly shaken and stood there murmuring a prayer for peace. Motta Gur’s paratroopers were struggling to reach the Wall and touch it. We stood among a tangle of rugged, battle-weary men who were unable to believe their eyes or restrain their emotions. Their eyes were moist with tears, their speech incoherent. The overwhelming desire was to cling to the Wall, to hold on to that great moment as long as possible.” –Chief of Staff Yitzchak Rabin

In its own small way yesterdays announcement by the Australian Government was historic, saying that it was a mistake to consider Jerusalem as "occupied" recognising that under international law it is untrue. It is too easy to follow the rhetoric of the Palestinians and turn it into "fact" - but in the peace agreement with Jordan relinquished control of the West Bank  and left it to the contestants to reach a solution, that cannot be contested. Whether we want control of all of it or not is another matter since that changes Israel demographically but legally we have every right particularly since there was never an historic claim over the territories.

Yet another disappointment as the leaders of the West run to accept a unity government between Fatah and Hamas. Maybe they forget that under their own criteria Hamas is a terror organisation and the likelihood of them becoming more moderate is at best dubious. Our decision to build in Jerusalem neighborhoods is not a tit for tat situation but rather recognition that whatever we do will be deemed wrong so we must do what is best for us. The buildings are in Gilo, Har Homa, Ramot etc,  much needed housing for ordinary folk.
American Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro was interviewed on Israeli radio on the subject of his administrations acceptance of the new PA unity government. Ambassador Shapiro speaks excellent Hebrew and his message was clear and hopeful - but despite his goodwill it was not clear to most Israelis that the USA is on our side. Shapiro, in an Israel Radio interview, stressed that Jerusalem transferred NIS 500,000 in collected tax revenue to the PA on the very day that the Fatah-Hamas government was sworn in on Monday. Furthermore, he said, Israel said it would continue security and civilian cooperation with the PA. Those are practical decisions, because Israel understands – as we do – that if the Palestinian government collapses, it will have to assume responsibility for the Palestinians in the West Bank, and lose security cooperation that recently helped preserve stability,” the ambassador said.

President Peres and Mahmoud Abbas are going to the Vatican on sunday to pray for peace together with the Pope. It sounds like a joke (If a Jew, Moslem and Catholic pray together what is the outcome?) but I will be praying with them here in Jerusalem, praying for peace. It cannot hurt after all.

The Israeli Presidential race is heating up. Since the position is titular the procedure is totally different to the USA. It is the Knesset that ultimately chooses the candidates by secret vote and thus the President. Right now the candidates are utterly diverse, from Rubi Rivlin, Dalia Itzik, Fouad Ben Eliezer, Dan Shechtman; in other words from 9th generation Jerusalemite through Iraqi immigrants to a Nobel prizewinner. Who will it be? I for one have absolutely no idea!!!!

Had Mick Jagger put his name in the running this week he would probably have already taken over from Shimon Peres! The Rolling Stones did not just come and perform, they toured, they spoke, they accepted the warmth (and selfies) of Israelis with great good humour and elegance. Their concert was a sellout and they moved the timing back by an hour to accommodate those who could not come at the earlier time because they celebrated Shevuot. Mick Jagger stood on stage and gave his greetings in the most awful but well-meaning Hebrew. Young and old, many of them born well after the enormous success of such songs as Satisfaction, has a rollicking good time. Was I there? Nope, but that's life!

Isn't it strange how life takes us to all emotional corners? After the beautiful memorial service Zvi did for his parents, his little grandson, alias Moshiko, was given his true name when he had his brit milah - his entry into the covenant of Judaism. The proud parents chose the most beautiful name - Jonathan (Yonatan). Yonatan behaved beautifully as the very small group gathered in their home with the Mohel, a religious surgeon performed the ritual. Saba Zvi was the Sandak (Godfather) holding little Yonatan securely on his knee. Since the Sandak has the power to use the priestly blessing for  those present it was beautiful to see Zvi bless his sons and daughters in law and of course I got a special blessing too in the name of Sarah Rivka Rachel and Leah.  Mother Noga, Father Amiad, sister Ella and Baby Yonatan are all fine.

This week we went to the Old Yishuv Court Museum in the Old City to meet with the Director Ora. Walking in through the Jaffa Gate, turn left just before the Armenian Church and walk through the arched passageway to the Museum. In fact museum is a misnomer - it is a home, a continuum of Jewish life in the Old City with artifacts from the everyday life  of those who never left this beautiful city excepting the 19 yearsof Jordanian rule. Although needing a generous input of funds the museum and its contents give a view of this city that cannot be found elsewhere.

Shevuot was so interesting. Even Tel Aviv participated in the new/old and beautiful tradition of study, of Torah study, of the need to rediscover our roots and raison d'etre and perform the ritual learning as our ancestors did. Even Tel Aviv was quiet as a mouse.

Shevuot dinner was at our friends Memi and Liora's home where we saw old friends and had lovely chats with Ilan. We invited friends to our place for Shevuot lunch friends, from Zvi's past and my present and our lovely friends Danny and Judit Liwerant all the way from Mexico City. Despite the unbelievable heat (37 degrees) we really had a delightful time.  They did not have a free ride however, after enjoying a huge milk based lunch they answered a quiz, questions about milk, cheese and of course Shevuot.  Some questions were silly like "What colour is Yak's milk?" but the Shevuot questions were much more serious.  For instance - "Why do we study all night on Shevuot"?  The given reason was because when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments the Children of Israel were sleeping, not just sleeping but had built the Golden Calf, and Moses had to wake them and destroy the idol. So came the tradition of staying awake all night to study lest we forget the giving of the Torah and build ourselves a modern Golden Calf.

Congratulations to t​hree  Australians.​
Louis Platus for winning the 2014 Hal Goldstein Lifetime Achievement Award in his native Sydney, Australia  the first time that anyone from Maccabi has won this prestigious award.
Professor Paul Zimmet about whom this article was written​
​and last but far from least
Darren Gandel for receiving his doctorate - Darren Gandel Ph D.​

And so to Shabbat. The weather is glorious today, the heat subsided and the sun is kissing our veranda gently. Last night Zvi and I sat swinging on our hammock  enjoying the incredible view of the lights and activity below us in the cool and balmy evening.  Tonight we will eat Shabbat dinner with little Yonatan although his menu will be rather different to ours!

The aromas of the ethnic cornucopia of Shabbat food, gefilte fisch, fish in spicy sauces (Moroccan chraime), chicken cooked a hundred different ways, including wonderful upside down chiken in a pot with rice, chicken paprikash and of course Cholent/Hamin with each family's secret recipes bubbling away in the pots, the steam joining together and rising to make the mouth watering, subtle, pervasive  atmosphere of Shabbat. 

I will leave you now to prepare myself to take Zvi and Yoel to the Parliament so that we can all rest easy knowing the world is being put to rights and I will go to see my grandchildren, bathe them and prepare them for Shabbat and the undoubted delicious foods their Mummy, my Rachel, has prepared for them. Rachel, just 10 years in Israel, makes the most incredible variety of delicious salads I have ever seen!!! With a bit of luck she will give me a taster of them all.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Be well, be kind and remember, we are all human beings, even those who have never known the beauty of loving mankind.

With love from Jerusalem


​I just got back from the children and as I drove past the incredible sun-kissed panorama of Jerusalem I thought how lucky we are. This song "Jerusalem, surrounded by hills" sung by children expresses it all and Yaakov Shwekey sings "If I forget thee oh Jerusalem"​


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