Friday, 28 November 2014

Shabbat Shalom from Sheila in Jerusalem

28th November 2014

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Jerusalem is a bit lonely this week since my wonderful husband is in Mexico, San Diego and Miami................... things are just not the same!

This quote by  Canon Andrew White sums up his heroic attempts at Tikkun Olam and our feelings when defending Israel instead of lauding her achievements.
 I spend too much of my time pulling up thorns, and too little planting flowers
To understand his words, see the debate between Andrew, Melanie Phillips and Rabbi Michael Melchior see the video. It is rivetting.

Thanksgiving. What a lovely tradition, admittedly not if you are a turkey, but really beautiful. As a society we are so busy achieving and demanding that we forget the simple act of thanks. Thanks as a Christian country to the Almighty..... an oft forgotten aspect of what has become a secular event.

There is huge internal turmoil over the current proposition before the Knesset that Israel be declared a Jewish State with democratic rights for all her citizens. I do not see why, at this turbulent juncture, it is essential but on the other hand do not see that this declaration in any way impairs the rights of other religions. Britain is a country of Church and State, the Queen the Head of both State and Church and it does not impair anyones right; the United States thanks G-d for the cornucopia of wealth and good life and no-one believes it offends. I really don't understand the need or the rejection of this law. Luckily I have my beautiful friend Rabbi Jeremy Rosen to explain in a far more erudite fashion than I exactly what the pro's and con's may be.

"Is Israel a Jewish state or not? If there are avowedly Christian and Muslim states, why shouldn’t Jews have a Jewish state? Clearly there are some people in Israel have not considered Israel to be enough of a Jewish state up to now, for they have pushed hard for a recent bill in the Knesset to declare that Israel is a Jewish state. "  

If anyone doubts that Israel, as a Jewish State, cannot also be democratic should watch this video of Father Gabriel Naddaf who declares Israel as the only safe haven for Christians in the entire area.

Ron Prosor, Israel's exceptional Ambassador to the United Nations spoke of the current choices of the United Nations and of countries that vote to declare the PA as an independent country. First the Text then a video of the speech at the bottom of the page 
"Members of the international community have a choice to make.
You can recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, or permit the Palestinian leadership to deny our history without consequence.
You can publically proclaim that the so-called “claim of return” is a non-starter, or you can allow this claim to remain the major obstacle to any peace agreement.
You can work to end Palestinian incitement, or stand by as hatred and extremism take root for generations to come.
You can prematurely recognize a Palestinian state, or you can encourage the Palestinian Authority to break its pact with Hamas and return to direct negotiations. 
The choice is yours. You can continue to steer the Palestinians off course or pave the way to real and lasting peace."

A Hamas terror cell planned a a series of attacks on the Jerusalem Soccer Stadium and, among other places, on the Jerusalem light rail. The attacks were averted because our secret services are brilliant and in a massive operation they succeeded in catching the Hamas operatives who planned the series of attacks. Where are their "gang bosses" based? In comfort and safety in Turkey. I pray that your secret service is as alert because never forget what I said a long long time ago - Israel is the hors d'ouevres, you are the main course. 

My dear friend Yitzchok Katz asked if the following information is correct - I added the additional facts.
1. "In Israel Arab Israeli citizens enjoy full rights (including social security, medicine, education, own MK etc)" - Full democratic rights under the law as equal citizens. ​
2. "In the disputed Territories –  Palestinian status – get what you can from your authorities" . ​ That is for those with BLUE identity cards with rights to medical care and social security  - but many with blue ID cards do not have Israeli passports, they have Jordanian passports as per international law.​
3. "East J’lem – invited to become full Israelis’ – few chose to do so". -  Actually many chose to take blue ID Cards. They chose Israeli status and its benefits without actually being Israeli - they are Jordanian according to International Law. East Jerusalem is the most problematic area educationally they still (by international agreement) use Jordanian schoolbooks - which they now changed to Hamas!!!)  To understand the problem one can read the research and report by the impoverished but essential organisation that I am proud to be part of You can also donate to ensure the research and reports to Governments and the UN continue.

​I was just thinking - it happens occasionally - while I do not want to inflame and already inflammatory situation, I see no reason that Jews  and Christians going to the Temple Mount, whether to pray or not, is offensive to the Moslem faith. Jews and Moslems are invited to the Vatican; entry to Westminster Abbey doesn't have any limitations of faith; tourists from all over the world go to see the Mormon Tabernacle or the Bahai Temples; indeed every religion is open to all comers............... so why can't I go to the Temple Mount? One thing for sure - I would not massacre men at prayer.

So I am cutting it close again. Almost Shabbat. I was going to spend Shabbat with my beautiful daughter, her incredible cooking and of course her family, especially the children. I was going but it would appear that missing Zvi made me more vulnerable to passing germs and I have a cold so I don't want to infect everybody. I hurriedly made some chicken soup (what else?), the challot are in the oven and the fish already cooking so I have food for tonight and tomorrow. It won't be the same but at least I can tuck up in my lovely warm bed and drink lemon tea until I am better, probably tomorrow!!!

Jerusalem, indeed the entire country from Metulla to Eilat, was cleansed with life-giving rain this week. Rain? It poured, teemed and rained cats and dogs all together!!! It is so funny because while snow halts the entire area, rain seems to bring people out of their homes to say "I managed to drive in the rain". The Ayalon "Freeway" in Tel Aviv yesterday was not free and hardly a "way", it was much closer to a parking lot!!!! The rain pelted and as I saw the train chugging quickly by I was so jealous of all the passengers in the modern double decker, no worries, just going home.

We needed that rain so much. The Kinneret filled beyond its previous low - we had the average monthly rainfall for November in two days!!!! The hope is for a really wet month ahead - time for lots of soups.
The rain seemed to wash Jerusalem's wonderful white stone, which glisten in the infrequent bursts of sunshine today. Long may it rain, with occasional respite to get out and do what one needs. Children can be bundled up to go to school and even they seemed to be happier in the rain.

One definite highlight of this week was seeing my lovely friend Marcia and her husband Tony in Tel Aviv. Sorry about the rain my loves!!!!

Tonight I will light a special candle to commemorate 51 years, according to the Hebrew date, since my Mother died. I want to wish my siblings a long life, filled with the good memories of a special, magical childhood. It is such a shame my children never met her - she was so much fun.

May you all be blessed by the Almighty, whatever you call Him and however you pray to Him. Pray for tolerance and understanding, who knows he may just be waiting for you.

Tonight I will first light the candle to my Mother, then light the Shabbat Candles and then make Kiddush and break bread alone. Oh well, at least Zvi knows he is missed!!!

For your musical delectation I am spoiling myself. I love Idan Raichel and I wanted you to listen too. Here is a live performance - just listen to his gentleness - although he cut his dreadlocks he is still as sweet.

Finally this joyous Eastern version of the age old Shabbat Song Lecha Dodi

Shabbat Shalom dear friends, Shabbat Shalom


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

Friday, 21 November 2014

Shabbat Shalom from Sheila in Jerusalem

21st November 2014

Dear Friends

Shabbat Shalom to you all from Jerusalem, the most beautiful city in the world

Today I will try to write only positive notes because even after the horror and deep sadness of the events earlier in the week, some goodness came about.

Firstly thousands of Jews and Christians attended the funeral of Sgt-Major Zidan Saif, who was the first to enter the synagogue and gave his life to save the unarmed men at prayer. All of Israel is grateful to Zidan who leaves behind him a little girl of four months and a young widow.

Secondly, this morning Druze, Christians, Jews and Moslems in the North of Israel handed out roses to passers by and to drivers with the motto - Or lo Terror - Light not Terror -  to show the true side of living together in Israel.
I have no time before Shabbat but I wanted to give you reason to smile on Shabbat.

I could have spoken of the foul lies told on th media but we are all tired of their calumny. 

So dear friends, I will leave you with two important songs and the knowledge that we will never forsake Jerusalem - 
Firstly D'maot she Malachim, Tears of the Angels. When the angels cry in the other world then this world is sadder. We are sadder.

The second song is a challenge. A challenge to love even those who love us less - or not at all. With love from a broken hearted Jerusalem." Learn 2 Love the ones who love you less. I suggest maybe we just try.....Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem.

Shabbat Shalom - must run to put the finishing touches to the table, put Rachel's delicious challah under the special cover, Zvi's fathers kiddush cup next to it and then light the Shabbat candles in the candlesticks that I used to light the candles as a child - with my beautiful mother who taught me to love Judaism and Israel. Tomorrow marks 51 years since her death but her traditions live on in her children and grandchildren and all future generations who want her memory to live on. My memories are so sweet and her teachings, together with my Daddy, so memorable that I live life according to their morals and ethics. I thank every short minute I had with her.

With love to you all

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

141118 Sadness in Jerusalem - Terror attack on Jews at morning prayer


18th November, 2014

I wish to G-d I did not have to write this letter but write it I will because you need to know.

This morning in the religious neighborhood of Har Nof, Jerusalem, at 07:01, men were saying their morning prayers, prayer shawls about their shoulders and phylacteries on their foreheads as is commanded; two terrorists walked in to the synagogue armed with machetes and guns and hacked four Jews to death, maiming and injuring 13 others.The lives of 5 others hang in the balance including two policemen that rushed to the synagogue when they heard the gunshots.  So far there are 26 newly-orphaned Jewish children

The terrorists knew each and every one of the men they attacked. One was the janitor of the synagogue, one worked opposite in the convenience store; both were Israeli citizens, with blue Israeli ID's, both were incited to hatred by others and found themselves capable of the most horrific of all. Perhaps they saw the Da'esh broadcasts of beheadings because this is no different.
The immediate reaction of Hamas leader Khaled Mashal was to announce that Israeli Arabs are in the best position to slaughter Jews since they have freedom of movement. The terrorists were from Jabel Mukaber (next to Armon ha Natziv) and the UN HQ was just a tiny village with 10 houses and during the last Intifada while we were busy with exploding buses they built thousands of houses and imported residents from Hebron. 

The BBC barely mentioned it; CNN on line actually said 6 people died in an attack, 4 Israelis and 2 Palestinians after the suspected hanging of an Arab bus driver. The bus driver, a respected member of Egged, committed suicide but the Palestinian Authority spread a rumour he was killed.

Until the world wakes up to the horror of what these people do, that it has nothing to do with human rights or supposed stolen lands, that their single intent is to kill Jews, this will not stop. Thanks to the vast sums of "aid" and the evil UNWRA Hamas is currently the second wealthiest terror organisation in the world but they will not spread the wealth to provide succour to their people because then they will not be angry.

Israel does not release the names of the slain until their families have been informed and until now just two names have been released - Rabbi Meir Twerski, renowned and highly respected Rabbi and humanist. 
Reb  Avrohom Shmuel  Goldberg originally from Liverpool in the UK.

May their souls rest in peace; their families be consoled among the mourners of Zion. Baruch Dayan Emet.
Jerusalem is crying; Israel is crying; I am crying. Will no-one wipe my tears?

With love

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

Friday, 14 November 2014

Shabbat Shalom from Sheila - Canon Andrew white in Jerusalem

14th November 2014

Shabbat Shalom dear friends.

Moshe Dayan once said "If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies." That is the reason that the Israeli Prime Minister met with Mahmoud Abbas and then with  King Abdullah in Amman under the watchful eye of John Kerry. The storms brewing all over Israel over the last couple of weeks needed to calming with a large dose of oil onto trouble waters. The Israeli police and security services announced that despite the heated situation the police and security services of the Palestinian Authority are still co-operating on all issues. The incitement of young Arabs within Israel is extreme and in the Judea and Samaria it is their education and deep disillusionment with their own and all leaders. When the PA chooses it is perfectly capable of calming the situation and that is what Mr Netanyahu was discussing in Amman - to ensure that the Status Quo on the Temple Mount will not be breached.  

Turkey, President Obamas military ally in the northern Mediterranean, is becoming more and more radicalised thanks to Erdogan. US marines, on leave in Turkey, were attacked by young Turks who attempted to put plastic bags over their heads, attacked and reviled by Turks in port.

I don't want to talk politics this week. Not for a bit anyway! I want to tell you about our trip to Massada with the choir!  We all drove down to Massada and went up together in the excellent cable car - then learned the history of Massada with Eva, our dear friend who is also a guide, as we walked the footsteps of the Jews who gave their lives rather than lost their Jewish identity. I thought I knew the history of the Herodean Fortress but Eva enlightened us all with her wonderful stories, making it more personal. After our descent we drove to the Youth Hostel in Ein Gedi, basic accommodation but it didn't really matter since the views were breathtaking and the company outstanding!! 

Zvi's two little grand-daughters were having a great time being the centre of attention! Most of us didn't rest, it was much more fun in the quadrangle, chatting and singing. Then I went with the little girls to light the Shabbat Candles, gosh I love to see their little faces reflecting those special flames. The Shabbat meal was so much fun, lots of singing Shabbat songs and Zvi of course did Kiddush and the children helped him bless the Challah, the plaited loaves. A young group of students on their gap year asked to join us and we all did a very fun version of Grace after meals. From supper we went to a truly fascinating talk by Secret Service man who explained his work which entails "turning" potential and real terrorists so that they sing about their cohorts. I found it so fascinating - yet again began to wish I was a spy!!!!

Shabbat morning, after services and breakfast, we walked through Nahal David, right next to the hostel, the river bed that King David walked 3,000 years ago. The nature reserve is full of gazelles, wild cats, groundhogs, and other creatures native to the area. It was gorgeous and some of the bravest choir-members stood under the waterfall!!!! One of our choir-members was the director of the reserve until he had a near fatal accident and he was able to explain the flora and fauna with Eva's geological knowledge it came to life! After Shabbat lunch we rested then heard a fascinating talk on sink-holes along the Syria/Africa rift and how to change the ecostructure to turn a problem into a solution. The geologist was a fantastic man from the Kibbutz. The journey home was easy and as we arrive home I set about making "bubbelech" (fluffy pancakes) for the little girls before they were collected to go home.

Yesterday my world lit up. Our wonderful friend Canon Andrew White came for lunch.  When Andrew comes he always brings his team of Hanna and Terry, great people, and we invited Elihu Ben On, an excellent journalist who spoke to Andrew in Baghdad many times ( Elihu speaks to Israelis and Hebrew speakers all over the world on a multitude of subjects); Hanan Rubin, one of the young people we mentored for the City Council and he was fascinated by Andrew and had a great rapport with Hanna who lives in Jerusalem; finally I decided to surprise Andrew with Lola and Norman, two wonderful people who came on Aliya many years ago and have been instrumental in their work for Christian/Jewish relations.

In the evening we met with Madeleine and Martin Lewis and went to hear a debate between Canon Andrew White, Rabbi Michael Melchior and journalist Melanie Phillips. The event, organised by Europeans for Israel and held in the historic Jewish Agency building in the centre of Jerusalem.

Melanie opened the debate on the emotive subject "Can religion be a force for good in the region". Her emotive eloquence rang true with  the audience and her love of Israel was transparent. Next came Canon Andrew, a voice of pragmatic reason backed by his infinite belief in the Almighty and his innate love of the human race. Andrew understands the dangers, (the FATWA on his life has risen to $56,000,000) and who understands the demands and desires of who he faces after many years in Iraq and Israel but does everything possible to bring the power of love into the situation; Rabbi Melchior spoke with equal eloquence but many of his views were not conducive with a Jewish democracy. His views were far further than I could imagine for a man who studied the Torah for so many years. 

Canon Andrew spoke of the violent history of the church toward Judaism proving that the leading theocratic group is inevitably dominant and when religion goes wrong everything goes horribly wrong - which brought us to the Islamic fanatics today. Andrew described the talks with the PA and indeed with all the extremists as pulling out the thorns and replacing them with flowers.

In principle the decision was that the language of politics is a language of interests but the language of religion is the language of values - thus if we can talks as religious equals we can gradually reach some kind of respect - mutual respect.

I feel very honoured to have been part of this event - both Melanie and Canon Andrew spoke for me, spoke words of determination and hope. Wherever Canon Andrew walks he leaves a trail of hope that is absorbed and changes lives and thoughts for the better.

Please look at Canon Andrew's book - Older Younger Brother – the tragic treatment by Christians of the Jews -

Almost Shabbat. I have to run and put the final touches to the table. Just Zvi and I this evening and we will be eating Shoshana's gift of Kubah Hamusta soup - its bright beetroot colour calling us to partake of the delicious, meat filled dumplings. A traditional Kurdish dish it brought a great big smile to my face!!!

Now for music - music to lift our hearts from the ever growing truth around us. The most Jewish of music is the niggun, a song without words, because words are unnecessary! Enjoy this one Niggun Simcha - happy tune

The second is Jewish songs of prayer - the first is Eshet Chayil - Woman of worth that every Jewish husband worth his salt sings to his wife on Friday night telling her how amazing she is - worth her weight in rubies.

Shabbat Shalom dearest friends

Love you and Jerusalem awaits you

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

Thursday, 6 November 2014

141106 Tram attack, American elections, US decide Passport Jerusalem, 19 years Rabin, Bet Shemesh, Choir to Ein Gedi

6th November 2014

Shabbat Shalom dear friend.

As I was writing this letter yesterday my daughter Rachel called me to turn on the TV news "Mum there has been a pigu'a" another terrorist attack on the Light Rail line". Yet again an Arab used his  vehicle as a weapon racing down the light rail tracks ramming into cars and pedestrians on a main road in Jerusalem. Why? His family will get a stipend for life from the Palestinian Authority. After ensuring they live in poverty and disillusionment, hopelessness, the PA gives them one possibility of ensuring the financial future for their families - to kill Israelis. Sadly the Border Guard Officer who stopped and killed the assailant, saved the lives of others but lost his own. Jidan Assad, 38, from the Druze village of Beit Jaan. Jidan, father of a 3 year old and with a pregnant wife, died of his injuries and 14 others were hurt, three of them seriously. 

Later in the evening another Arab driver ran down a group of soldiers in Gush Etzion. This is horrific.Wake up world. Stop claiming that the victim is the perpetrator.

So the donkey got a huge kick from the elephant in the American mid-term elections. I don't understand American politics, but one thing is very clear, the people of the United States are deeply dissatisfied with the current administration. Why? Because the President misread both situations overseas and internal policies and failed to fulfill promises

The United States Supreme Court held a special session to decide if a child born in Jerusalem can have his place of birth on his American passport. An American court can decide if Jerusalem is in Israel let alone our capital city, the only place on earth this is in dispute while the capital cities of many autocracies and murdering tyrannies are not even in question!!!,7340,L-4587662,00.html 

There were two major anniversaries this week.
The 2nd November 1917 saw a British Prime Minster agree to and sign the Balfour Declaration on the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine.

The second is the 19th anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzchak Rabin. My friend Carol Gould, a fine journalist, found this article I wrote for her some years ago, for her website Current Viewpoint. It says all I wanted to say  about the man, the leader, the friend.

I would be remiss if I didn't refer to this weeks hearing of Ehud Olmert which has shocked and torn the country apart. As a friend of the former Prime Minister it makes me very sad. If all the allegations are true then things happened around us that in our naivete we could not even imagine. We only know of a wonderful Mayor of Jerusalem, who brought international support and friendship to Jerusalem which overlapped into his term as Prime Minister. Ehud Olmerts personal friendship with world leaders attained important diplomatic gains. Despite the fact that the Prime Minister has not yet had his day in court I am sad. Sad that the allegations against him suggest that while at the acme of political attainment, it was not enough. It is hard to see friends fall but if, and please remember it is still a case of "he said she said", they cause their own downfall they must face their legal fate.

Egypt created a buffer zone on its border with Gaza for clear security reasons and razed about 800 houses - although Israel was denied the right to do the same. The silence of the media prompted Stephen Spencer Ryde to write to newspaper editors - here is an extract. "No country could tolerate the uncontrolled violence coming out of Gaza.  It is violence that has many sources, wide ranging agendas and multiple backers.  It's steeped in terror and whipped up in a fervour of religious extremism.  It is non negotiable and impossible to navigate. It is chaotic terror that the international community play down and more recently the international community started to give ill thought credence to. But here in Europe, the attitude is "if you are Israel, it's your fault and you should know better".  However, "if you are Egypt, you are taking suitable security measures with your own and there's nothing particularly untoward".  One rule for Israel and another rule for the rest.  Hmm, where have we heard that before." Bravo Stephen - one by one, letter by letter we can make a difference.

That well known friend of the West in general and Israel in particular, President Erdogan of Turkey has pulled in his country's financial belt but hardly his own. He opened his new palace - 1,000 rooms and about $500,000 dollars worth! He gives new meaning to "Let them eat cake"

We tend to think of Australia as strong and impervious to Moslem fanatics. After the attack in Canada despite the leadership of Stephen Harper, we now see this video of Australian Moslem Fanatics and their brainwashed children

Speaking on behalf of UN Watch, Father Gabriel Naddaf of Nazareth during the recent 27th session of the UN Human Rights Council.  "ISRAEL IS THE ONLY COUNTRY IN THE MIDDLE EAST WHERE CHRISTIANS LIVE IN SAFETY"

Last Friday we went to the site of Jewish towns and villages, built 3,000 years ago. Mostly situated above the Ayalot Valley (Valley of the Gazelles) near Bet Shemesh, where David and Goliath had their fateful meeting. There were many surprises including a small rounded stone which our archaeologist guide said was like the one that David used in his sling. When David volunteered to face the giant Philistine, he may well have gone down to the stream below us to choose the stone that ultimately killed Goliath. The other surprise was that apparently Goliath was smaller than Zvi!!!!

How we know that these were Jewish villages? Well, their outer walls are built in an oval rather than rectangle and they have double walls. A sure sign is that, in accordance of Jewish law, the cemeteries are outside the walls.  

This weekend we are going down to Kibbutz Ein Gedi on the Dead Sea with Zvi's choir. Early on Friday morning we will wake Amit and Gili (Zvi's little grand-daughters) and set off southward. We will drive past the neighborhoods that are in the news and head towards Ma'aleh Adumim, down, down, down past the sign telling us that we passed sea level and the ever patient camel waiting for riders at the sign, down past the moonscapes until we reach Massada. The little girls are so excited that they will ride on the cable car up to that most symbolic of sites. After walking around the fortress atop Massada we will go to the Kibbutz and relax until Shabbat. Our Shabbat meal will be special as we sing Shabbat songs together with the choir and watch the little girls joy reflected in their faces as they light the Shabbat Candles then we will all chant the age-old blessings over the wine and challah.
On Shabbat we will walk through David's Stream (Nahal David) yet again following in the footsteps of King David. The last time I walked through Nahal David was in 1963, on my first visit to Israel, the visit that caused me to fall in love with this incredible country. It will be so exciting to walk it holding hands with Zvi, singing the songs of King David (Psalms) as we walk. Only in Israel!

So I can't tell you about my menus for this Shabbat because I am not cooking!!!!! Really! It feels very odd but we are going to have fun instead.

I know that you are worried about what is happening in Jerusalem, and your concern is deserved because it is not criminal violence, it is specific, racist, religious, but understand that even with these scary events Jerusalem is still very safe. It is just because violence is so rare in Israel that it hits the headlines.

So Jerusalem is still beautiful, still beckoning, still fun, still ancient and modern, and has the best restaurants, hotels, pubs and clubs in all Israel!!!

I wish you Shabbat Shalom, that greeting of peace which has become banal yet profound.

I leave you with two songs - 
Shir la Shalom - the Song to Peace, sung by Miri Aloni who sang beside Yitzchak Rabin and Shimon Peres on that fateful night 19 years ago

Finally - Steve Lawrence' rendering of "Where can I go?" the story of our yearning for Israel. Now we have where to go.

With love

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