Friday, 19 December 2014

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem. Sydney, Australia; EU Hamas; USA Cuba;Chanuka

19th December 2014

Shabbat Shalom, Happy Chanuka. I hope all my Christian readers are counting on their Advent Calendars - only 6 days to go!!!!

The news this week has been terrifying and confusing.
The dreadful and dramatic hostage situation in the very heart of Sydney, Australia caught the attention of the worlds media and of course of each and every one of us who has loved ones in Sydney. We watched every second of the long hours with bated breath, identifying with the hostages and angry that terror had travelled down-under to the seemingly immune society of Australia. It woke us up to the fact that none of us is immune to terror or to the fact that unless we either stand firm or bow down to Fanatical Islam this will grow and invade our every move, ever aspect of our lives. I fear for tolerant Moslems as I fear for Jews and Christians. Sadly as a result of the Sydney tragedy the Municipality came to the decision to cancel the public Hanukkah candle lighting at Sydney’s Martin Place for the first time in 30 years following the terror attack that killed two Australians.

As diabolical as the situation in Sydney was, it shows the incredible racism of the media that the murder, nay slaughter, of over 150 children in a Pakistani school.  The slaughter by members of Taliban barely made the headlines. Why? Equally the beheading of Christian children in Iraq was virtually ignored despite the emotional cry of Canon Andrew White. Why? For the same reason that over 200,000 Syrians have died already in a dire civil war; for the same reason that North Sudan killed hundreds of thousands of South Sudanis with barely a whisper; for the same reason that hundreds of thousands died of Ebola and not a word until it seemed to hit the USA.......... the media is racist. The world media is only interested when it touches their comfortable Western orientates audience because dying poor people don't attract advertising. It is irrelevant to the same media that virtually all the wars and ethnic cleansing in our world today are based upon fanatical Islam, they choose to blame Israel and convince the world thus.

Ask Jerusalemite Kay Wilson about terror. Kay has turned her scars to stars and yesterday she wrote  -" Four years ago today, Palestinian terrorists were hacking at Kristine Luken “Z”L and I with machetes. Simultaneously on that terrible day, Jewish people worldwide were studying "VaYachi" the Torah portion of that week. In this remarkable narrative, Yosef faces the people who tried to murder him. He looks them in the eye and declares, "“As for you, you meant evil against me, but G-d meant it for good.”  May G-d make good out of this heinous, senseless evil. 
May He do it for Kristine’s memory, for me and for my beautiful Israel.  May He do it for the sake of a world that has forgotten that humanity was created in His image.  Am Israel Chai".

After 54 long and vengeful years, the United States has finally made peace with Cuba. There are many Cubans who live in the United States who are saddened and angry at this political and diplomatic move. I know that it is hard to accept after their suffering, but, as an Israeli I can tell you that a cold peace is better than a hot war. One important outcome is the freedom of prisoner Alan Gross, who went to Havana on behalf of Jewish organisations to help the Jewish Community and was imprisoned. Maybe now the American administration will free Jonathan Pollard.

While the The Luxembourg-based General Court of the European Union ruled on Wednesday that Hamas does not merit the designation of Terror Organisation there are those who claim it is purely procedural. The problem is it is not perceived as procedural it is perceived as actual. Want to understand how they pull the wool over your eyes?  Maybe the Court should have spoken to Gazans who return to the hell that is Gaza under Hamas. In this interview with Khaled Abu Toameh they go so far as to compare it to Iraq under Saddam Hussein. 

Remember the insistence of world leaders and of course the UN that Israel resume delivery of cement for the urgent rebuilding of Gaza (why rebuild such a brilliant location for sad news?) Well, it's tunnels, tunnels, tunnels again.

Dr Malcolm Hoenlein has long been my hero. Unafraid and outspoken, Malcolm understands the USA-Israel relationship more than anyone else. Here he talks about American Jews and their relationship to Israel.

Chloe Valdery is a phenomenal speaker, lobbyist and verbal fighter for Israel she calls herself the Angry Black Woman......... but in a good way!!!! Chloe wrote this amazing poem for Chanuka

Not all the news is bad you see. Mugoya Shadrach Levi is now a Rabbi and it is official! Mugoya prayed for this day. This is what he wrote. "Dear brothers,sisters,friends and all well-wishers, shalom. Please share with me the happiness and responsibility given to me as the new Rabbi of Namutumba Synagogue,Uganda "!! Mazal tov Mugoya!!!!

Stephen Spencer Ryde came to Israel and as we sat together he asked what he can do to promote Israel in the media. Stephen was already writing brilliant letters to newspapers and media outlets in the UK and to any politicians that he felt were not fair to his beloved Israel. What more can I do? he asked. See the result. Stephen has become a prolific writer and proved what I have been saying for years - the power of one works.

In my infinite ignorance I had never heard of Chazan (Cantor) Yosele Rosenblatt until we went to the theatre last night to see a play with the unlikely name of Rosenblatt Express. Apart from the fact that the play was outstanding I discovered Chazan rosenblatt. What a voice! What a story! What ................. listen for yourselves

Chanuka!! Festival of lights; significant battle for the right to be Jews in our own land; story of miracles and determination - after all the Greeks were not interested in killing us - just in denying us all the rites and traditions that make us Jews. They did not simply destroy the Temple - they defiled our holiest site.

Many Rabbis write that the body is compared to a candle and our soul to a flame. The connecting force between the two is the wick, in Hebrew, פתילה. This word, when the letters are shifted, creates the word תפילה, prayer. Such a beautiful thought that as we light an additional candle each day greater light enters our souls.

Our first night Chanuka was delightful. Firstly we lit the candles with Zvi's boys and families with a special treat when Ilana Podolsky came too! From there we went to the most glorious wedding in Tel Aviv, the daughter of our friends Esti and Eliezer Elkon. Eliezer really surprised us when he sang the blessings over the Chanuka candles - I thought Zvi was the only Cantorial expert in the crowd!!! Second night we went to the home of Roz and Eli Ben Tovim where we were delighted by the brilliant piano accordianist Uzi Rozenblatt and sang songs from way back when..........

In Jerusalem the Chanukiot (Menorot) are traditionally glass boxes and sit outside the homes, on a window ledge or outside the gatepost so that the world can see that we are Jews celebrating the bravery of a local family. Judah was the third son of Mattathias the Hasmonean, a Jewish priest from the village of Modiin. In 167 BCE Mattathias, together with his sons Judah, Eleazar, Simon, John, and Jonathan, started a revolt against the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who since 175 BCE had issued decrees that forbade Jewish religious practices. It isn't just about gifts and doughnuts it is so very much more

This morning began with a delightful "Hangouts" call from London and my beautiful Stephanie and the three London grandchildren. It was like a huge injection of energy! I took Zvi to a performance of his choir, right in the centre of Jerusalem then went over the road to Givat Zeev, past the Prophet Samuels Tomb, where the glorious panorama of Jerusalem was shrouded in a gentle mist giving it an even more ethereal spirituality. Arriving at the bustle of Nehamas bakery and the conveyor belt of piping hot challot and gooey sufganiyot is so funny, but I survived the crush and carefully chose big, fat, jammy sufganiyot for the children. The children were out at their other saftas home so I actually had a few precious moments with my daughter - one on one!!!

Tonight Zvi's boys are coming to be with us and hopefully will also stay over. I love watching the childrens faces as they first light the Chaunuka Candles then help me light the Shabbat Candles. Imagine, if all the candles being lit for Chanuka and Shabbat brought enlightenment to our world. We are so desperate for some light, love, joy and tolerance to change our world and banish darkness, intolerance and the subsequent hatred.

I love making everybodys favourite food. We will begin with Kitchen Sink Soup - it has just about everything in it but the kitchen sink!!!!! Leek, courgette, lots of pumpkin, sweet potato, potato, a little parsnip and celeriac all finely diced then beans, barley, lentils added and cooked for hours. Real winter joy!!! this will be followed by meatballs, Boeuf Bourguignon and piles of rice............ and doughnuts for dessert of course!!!

The time is almost nigh and Shabbat is nearing. Zvi went to Mahane Yehuda to get some final items before he comes home on the light rail. Actually I know he will bring a lot of totally unnecessary items but he has so much fun walking through the shouk and cannot resist the incredible variety, the veritable cornucopia of delicious seasonal fruits and wonderful fresh produce. I am really kinda jealous!!!

I wish you and yours a truly wonderful Shabbat and Chanuka. Again I pray that the light of our candles with bring enlightenment to an increasingly dark world.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem.
With much love
By the way - if you want an explanation of the vagaries of Israeli politics and the upcoming election................ I am almost as confused as you are! Next week OK?

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

Friday, 12 December 2014

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem. Elections, Ziad Abu Ein, CIA Torture,COGAT, IsraAid

11th December 2014

Shabbat Shalom dear Friends

What a week! The news was not always good but my goodness it came in fast and furious.

The United States reported severe torture of security prisoners by the CIA and security forces, then managed to divert attention by blaming Israeli standards and reports!!! They then further diverted attention after the deeply regrettable death of a Palestinian Minister during a demonstration. 

A reporter from Sky news said on air that Israeli medics tried to help Ziad Abu Eid who clearly suffered a heart attack but were pushed away. This Sky News article shows two videos. In the first you see the commentator saying that Abu Ein was part of a demonstration against the "settlement of Shilo" and in the questioning of IDF Spokesperson Lt Col Peter Lerner it is claimed it was a peaceful tree planting to honour Human Rights!!!!

The arms cache of Hezb-Allah was destroyed in an attack by "unknown" sources. I don't know who did it but thank Heaven they did. It is a bit like the bombing of the Syrian nuclear facility (or Iraqi) no-one claimed responsibility but thousands of deaths were averted.

A young Israeli Jew, Levi Rosenblat, was stabbed outside Chabad House in Brooklyn, for being a Jew 

Busaina Abu Ganem, an Israeli Arab woman from Ramleh was shot and killed while in a car with her children - by whom? her Ex-husband, husband and brother because she had talked to another man. Honour killings are a worldwide aberration. 

A Canadian Moslem newspaper published an article praising the killing in the Har Nof synagogue

From Shachar Zahavi - "We are honored as IsraAID to be a part of the international task force by offering pycho social assistance and trauma care, helping both affected communities and service providers cope with the Ebola outbreak in western Africa.  There is still allot more work to be done our teams on the ground are working hard and we hope you can join us by supporting our efforts to fight this horrible epidemic."

My thanks to Jessica Glesby for sending this good news. After a long legal battle the Polish Constitutional Court found the ban on Kosher slaughter unconstitutional,Polish-court-finds-ban-on-ritual-slaughter-unconstitutional 

While working on Facebook I saw a wonderful video placed by Standwithus. It tells the story of COGAT, the Israeli governmental organisation which gives both physical and medical aid to Palestinians. I am so proud of the humanitarian work we do all over the world and with our close neighbours.

I avoided discussing the upcoming elections for long enough. I am so sick of a system that creates instability by forcing coalitions of diverse and often incompatible beliefs - who said proportional representation was fair and right? Tsippi Livni is changing parties yet again........ joining with Isaac Herzog (well I can't call him Boojie if he he intends to be my leader!!!!), Yair Lapid is in talks with Kahlon and Naftali Bennet (see what I mean) and the polls still have Benjamin Netanyahu as the clear leader. I am just afraid of the newcomers because Prime Minster of Israel is not a place for basic training. It isn't that I am a huge fan of the current Prime Minister but at least he knows the ropes. I have yet to be convinced by one of the above, anyone, that they can lead us forward with greater decisiveness and more charisma to gain us more support in the world. 

As usual........... Now for something entirely different.

Zvi flew to Mexico for two happy family events. First was the Barmitzva of Alex, son of Sylvia and Avraham Feinsod. Alex amazed the entire community by not only performing his Maftir and Haftorah but conducting the entire morning service and the whole reading of the Torah. Incredible, this 13 year old certainly became a man that day in the synagogue! Bravo Alex, you are my champion!

The other occasion was the wedding of the grandson of Zvi's late, beautiful, cousin Frieda Kershenovitch z"l. Just a few short hours before she passed away, the groom, Yair, the groom, and his father Jorge sat beside Frieda and sang an exquisite mystical song  "Ana BeKoach". When the wedding day came Yair and his beautiful bride Liora included the song under the wedding canopy, the chuppah, bringing their late grandmothers spirit to the service through the ancient Kabbalistic chant.   

Zvi also visited his Mexican cousins in San Diego and is now in Florida with Helene and Martin Lindenfeld. He spent time with our dear friend Michael Meir, whose beautiful wife Dr. Rivka died so tragically a short time ago. It was a very emotional meeting but very important to both men. Zvi visited his friend Jacobo Skolnik whose brother Moshe passed away this week, Zvi had known Moshe since 1968 through WUJS - the World Union of Jewish Students. May his soul rest in peace. 

Senor Zvi also spoke at several meetings in Mexico and in Cecilia Kleinmans home in Florida. Although retired from official positions he was, is and always will be an outstanding motivational speaker, his knowledge of Israeli and Jewish history unparalleled.

I am busy getting the apartment ready for my husbands return, if everything is in the same place when he gets back home he will be really worried!!! I love changing things around, it makes life more interesting!

I spent a lot of time with the grandchildren while Zvi was away and Shabbatot with my beautiful daughter and family. Last week was the birthday celebration for three generations, Amit, Ori, Shiri and Menashe in Nes Ziona and this week I collected the children from school two afternoons and we went to have fun. While I was waiting to pick the girls up I suddenly realised what was in front of me. I was in the neighborhood of Ramot and right across the trees was Ramallah!!!

Ramallah was once a Christian town, not very big but 100% Christian. Today it is growing, huge shopping centres and tall, modern apartment blocks spreading very quickly towards Jerusalem, a few hundred metres from the edge of Ramot. Now an exclusively Moslem town, Ramallah is the administrative capital of the PA. Not a word from the American or European administrations on the incessant PA building on the disputed territories, not a word about Ramallahs non-existent Christians, only about a few buildings in Jerusalem, which according to the misinformed leaders, scupper and chances of peace!!!

Our veranda benefitted from the downpour last week. The tiny lemon tree has over 25 yellow, succulent fruits ready for picking, the kumquats are bright orange against their dark green leaves and the hibiscus blossoms, bright yellow and peach hues, relieved that the searing sun has taken its winter rest. I love the ever changing view through the leaves and branches, the mist softening the panorama of white stone houses, rolling hills, some built up, some verdant; the bustle of the shopping mall and the proximity of the football stadium and basketball arena. Best of all the sun always shines on our veranda - as the pottery sun, that Zvi carried all the way from Mexico on one of his visits, smiles down from the wall.

Zvi will soon be home and life will return to its normal energetic confusion of friends, meetings, movies, theatre and dinners. Greeting him in at the beautiful main hall of Ben Gurion Airport with its waterfalls and coffee shops is always exciting. Each greeter with his/her own story and expectant faces wheeling their luggage trolleys carefully searching the faces outside for a familiar face. 

I am not a fan of Rap, I guess it is a matter of age! However, Ari Lesser wrote a brilliant Rap song about Hamas.

And so to Shabbat. This week we read Vayeishev - the story of Jacob, Joseph, his brothers and Pharoah. Rather more complex than the traditional children's story!

In honour of the Joseph story and of my wonderful children, Daniel, Gideon and Rachel, who adored the "tape" of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and sang along with every word  Listen to the words they are so relevant. I tried to find the original recording by Paul Jones and Tim Rice (does anyone have one) but ........ Donny Osmond does a good job.

So dear friends, I wish you a Shabbat Shalom. Chanuka is just around the corner and then the Yuletide, Noel- Christmas. It's good to have such beautiful expectations.

With love from Jerusalem, my home, our city, heart of our faith.
Shabbat Shalom

I just got an email from Paul Zimmet, proudly sending me the link of an article n The Australian about our wonderful mutual friend Pauline Gandel. I am delighted to show you what an amazing lady Pauline is.

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

Friday, 5 December 2014

141204 Rami Levy Mishor Adumim, Compare Jerusalem crime,Elections name calling, Olga Meshoe, Nicholas Winton 105

4th December 2014

Shabbat Shalom dear friends.

Two days ago, a 16 year old calmly walked into a Rami Levy supermarket in Mishor Adumim, walked past the guard, pushing a trolley, like all the other customers, took out a knife and began to stab customers leaving the store. He succeeded in injuring two middle aged ladies, lightly, before the guard and an off duty policeman stopped him, shooting him and lightly injuring him. The off duty policeman was in fact one of the Prime Ministers Office security staff. 

Yes I know, crazy 16 year olds everywhere hold up supermarkets but this was different on many levels. One his intention was to kill Jews and those who shop with them. Secondly Rami Levi has an equal opportunity employment policy and in Mishor Adumim, former home to Sodastream, both Jews and Arabs work and shop together, they thought without fear. Commenting on the incident Rami Levi stated adamantly that he will not let a 16 year old ruin the wonderful "du kiyum" co-existence in his stores. 

Hatred comes from Jews too. The Co-existence school in Jerusalem was defaced and classrooms burned. Arrogant and uninformed Jewish oafs wrote hate messages in spray paint. Yes again, I know, it happens everywhere, but the stakes are so much higher here. 

I don't want you to believe that Jerusalem is a dangerous city. It is always in the news because the media presence is huge and after all, this is Jerusalem. I looked up comparative urban violence in the world and was amazed. One friend who hails from Miami was scared to come to Jerusalem so I present the comparison first to Miami.  

Talking of violence, the horrific events in the USA over the last week, Ferguson in particular, are beyond my understanding. I know the cause, I know the effect but........ yet again Rabbi Jeremy Rosen says it better than I

There is so much going on here and now, just to make our lives perfect the Prime Minister has been forced to call elections. The accusations are flying, Lapid suggesting the PM is detached from reality of life for ordinary folk and of the immense changes in the American administrations attitude to Israel; the PM says Lapid should grow up and learn the ropes before trying to solve the complexities of the Exchequer; Prof Steinitz also accused Lapid of political immaturity and ego; Livni, well, Livni will always go against former allies.
It is insane, we can't waste the vast amounts of money required to pay for elections and Israelis are sick of a system which denies us political stability in a neighborhood that demands political stability. The problem, in my opinion, is not with the politicians (not that they thrill me) but rather with the form of voting. We cannot be ruled by small parties that care infinitely more about their political future than the good of the country. Unlike the States, Britain has smaller parties although they have to pass a specified number of votes to be considered - there is even Screaming Lord Sutch Monster Raving Loony Party (yes really but it is known to be a lampoon of politics. It is unusual that a third Party takes part in government. Proportional representation is wonderful on paper but constituency representation demands greater representative responsibility. We must change the electoral system - URGENTLY.

Yesterday there was a serious ecological accident in the Aravah, the South of Israel A major crude oil pipe broke spilling huge quantites of crude oil onto the virgin soil of this nature reserve. The bigger creatures like the fleet-footed gazelles, managed to escape but smaller creatures and plants did not survive. We yet have to discover the extent of the damage.

Olga Meshoe brought a group of young black South Africans to Israel."We know what Apartheid was, because we still suffer from the scars of it and my parents were directly impacted,” says Olga Meshoe, COO of Defend, Embrace, Invest, Support Israel (DEISI) “How in the world, seeing what we see, knowing what we know and being educated as to truth, can we say Israel is an apartheid state?” 

Now to something completely different!

Last week was the birthday of an incredible man, a humble, brave and exceptional man who was true to his own morals, ethics and humanity and saved the lives of over 650 children in WW2. Sir Nicholas Winton, 105 years old kept his beautiful secret until 50 years after his heroic work, his wife discovered a scrap book in the attic. Get out your Kleenex's

The weather has been phenomenal, glorious, but gentle winter sunshine and the temperatures are perfect - about 20 degrees C. Based on the wonderful weather and the uncertainty of the returning rains, yesterday I went to the beach with Rachel, Yosef, Talia and Ayala. It was the most glorious day and we decided to steal an hour or so of sunshine before dark so we drove to Palmachim and the children had so much fun running on the sands and finding incredible seashells. Yosef even took a very, very short dip in the rather cold winter sea!

Yet another Chanuka is nearing and Israelis diets have gone west! The reason? Sufganiyot - donuts - doughnuts - rosquilla -ciambella -toesen (that's Welsh). Just see the incredible variety!

And so to music. For those who forget those who fought so hard to found this nation - the State of Israel Dudu Fisher sings the words of Exodus and Pat Boone sings his original version. He wrote the song for the movie but put his heart into the composition and donated the lyrics to Yad Vashem.

Jerusalem still feels kinda lonely since Zvi is still with his family in Mexico. Our children are making sure I don't have Shabbat alone ( although last week I was really poorly with a terrible cough and he was in Mexico with a stomach bug!!!!!). Tonight I will spend my traditional Friday night meal with Rachel and Igal and the children. Igal brings new and beautiful Kurdish  Shabbat traditions to the family and Rachel, Oh what a brilliant cook and balabusta my daughter is!!! Tomorrow Leor and Shiri, Amiad and Noga and their children will make my Shabbat another family day - Shabbat is family after all.

This weeks reading from the Torah is particularly relevant today. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks describes it thus "Power is like a contaminant, a disease, which once introduced will gradually but inexorably become universal in the system of competing societies.”[11] Shechem’s single act of violence against Dina forced two of Jacob’s sons into violent reprisal and in the end everyone was either contaminated or dead. It is indicative of the moral depth of the Torah that it does not hide this terrible truth from us by depicting one side as guilty, the other as innocent.  Violence defiles us all. It did then. It does now."

With much love from Jerusalem, most beautiful and spiritual city in the world.

Shabbat Shalom


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