Friday, 30 January 2015

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem. missiles on Har Dov, Auschwitz 70, JNF-US

30th January 2015

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom after a week that proved so many of our theories, in a very sad manner.

Hezb-Allah attacked the Israeli border land of Har Dov, site of the kidnapping of the bodies of  Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.  The road that many civilians use was just too great a temptation when the Hezb-Allah spotters saw an army convoy travelling to their base. The launched anti-tank missiles which found their target and snuffed out two young lives injuring 7 others. The two IDF soldiers killed in the Hezollah attack on the Israel-Lebanon border on Wednesday are Captain Yohai Kalangel and Sergeant Dor Nini. May their souls rest in peace and their families be consoled among the mourners of Zion.

The immediate reaction from Hezb-Allah was that they do not want an escalation ensuring that  any Israeli response will be met with severe admonishment! Once they knew that two Israeli soldiers had died Hezb-Allah began celebrations in the streets of Lebanon, their way of saying that they avenged the killing of Jihad Mouniah.

As I write a huge terror attack by Da' ish on the Egyptian army has taken place in Sinai. At least 44 Egyptians dead. Why is it that all the terror in the world right now stems from Islamic terror?

The debate on the Iranian nuclear facilities continues. The USA is against wiping them out but then the USA was against bombing the Iraqi facilities but in 1981 Menachem Begin decided to do so anyway - as indeed Ehud Olmert decided to bomb the Syrian nuclear facilities, and thank heaven they did. Both Prime Ministers were admonished but they took a decision and saved millions of lives. The signal of a great leader is in his decisions, not in his popularity.

One such leader, arguably the greatest leader of modern times, was Winston Churchill. While PM Neville Chamberlain is remembered for his naivete in declaring we have peace in our time, he was the leader who declared war on Germany, on the Third Reich. His weakness was never forgiven and it was Britains fortune that Winston Churchill took the Premiership. For three long years Britain, together with the Canadians and ANZAC troops fought tirelessly against the Nazi machine before the USA came into the fight. Churchill fought hard to bomb the train tracks to Auschwitz to no avail, Roosevelt would have nothing of it. Oh how different the world could have been.

70 years ago the Allied Forces liberated the death camp of Auschwitz. Those who found the emaciated bodies of the surviving inmates will never ever forget the sight, the stench or the horror of that place that represents the greatest evil of man upon mankind. Many believe it is a very Ashkenazi experience but that is a conclusion drawn out of ignorance. Yes, the majority of the Jews rounded up and slaughtered were of European origin but that is a matter of geography; the communities of Greece, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Rhodes, were also taken by train to that hell-hole.  

Indeed it was in Skopje that we visited the Jewish Museum. The Museum, almost devoid of artifacts, held a deep impression upon me by its very simplicity. In one room stood 3 silver urns which contained ashes brought from Treblinka to Skopje by a member of the community. Although we believe that most of Zvi's family were taken from Lodz to Auschwitz we know from the records that his Uncle Yosef, a physician and a soccer player in the Polish National Team, was taken to Treblinka, to be the physician of the 4-600 Jews who "worked" in that death factory. We also know that Uncle Yosef, his wife and daughter were killed 3 days before liberation. For the first time in his life, standing beside the silver urns, Zvi was able to say Kaddish over the ashes of a relative from the Shoah.

Never Again? Empty words dear friends, empty words. The preparation of the ground is already under way. The dehumanisation of Israel and the Jews has begun and is very successful, falling on welcome ears. Rare countries stand beside us and Canada is among the very few. Canada has spoken out through her leader Prime Minister Harper and his Foreign Minister Baird and now, Canada produced a special stamp of Canada/Israel friendship in 2010 - literally putting a stamp on her words. 

In the short hiatus as the world felt deep guilt over the ashes of our ancestors we succeeded in getting a vote to establish a Jewish home passed. Israel is not the result of the Shoah but the vote was. The modern day prophet Theodore Herzl gave his life fighting for attention for his determination to fulfill the millenia of Jewish dreams and come home. A war in Europe in 1914-18 and the need for acetone for the war machine enabled a Jewish scientist with excellent political connections to use those connections after successfully producing synthetic acetone for the war machine. Chaim Weizman met with Lord Balfour and the rest is history. Never again? Maybe not but now we have our own home, maybe it should read Never forget.

When Anti-Israel protesters disrupted the a New York City Council meeting, protesting against a motion commemorating the liberation of Auschwitz, this is what Councilman Greenfield had to say about the Anti-Semitic outburst: video

Proudly Jewish actress Maureen Lipman is thinking of leaving the UK due to rising anti-semitism. Winston Churchill is spinning in his grave.

This week Zvi and his parliament were invited by Avraham Kalman and Russell Robinson to join a JNF-US special tour of Southern Israel close to the Gaza Border. Even though the Jewish world is Zvi's speciality he was delighted with the projects they saw. 

The worlds largest bomb shelter cum indoor playground is probably the most used of JNF-US projects. Capable of holding 500-1,000 children at any given time, during the last Gaza War it proved its worth many times over since it is fully protected. Zvi and his parliament friends donated funds so that Ethiopian children in the area could use the facility for free.

On their drive down south the tour passed below Gaza along the Egyptian border (check your maps to see what I mean!!!) where they found a tract of land which was once suggested to Arafat in part exchange for settled areas of the West Bank. Arafats scouts declared it barren and useless and refused the land. Today as JNF-US projects, 3 Moshavim (agricultural communities) excised from Gush Katif in Gaza, conduct a thriving agricultural business growing carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and very high class Citrons (etrogim) on the very land Arafat refused as barren. I guess it all depends upon whether you see milk and honey or war.

Of all the projects that Zvi saw the Aleh Negev Village made the deepest impression. Aleh Negev is a village totally dedicated to severely disabled children. It helps the children and the parents and provides everything they could possibly need in both residential and day care. A truly magnificent project of JNF-US. Please, watch this video if you never see another one.

Incidentally, Israel recycles between 85 and 90% of her waste water which is then used for agricultural irrigation. The next highest water recycler is Spain at 22%. So that there be no confusion all recycled waste water is carried in bright purple pipes.

The tour ended in Beersheva where together with other organisations (Hadassah among them) they are developing a huge park. To understand its size it will be twice as big as Central Park NYC.This park already serves as a drawing point for both Israelis and new Olim to move to Beersheva. Kol ha Kavod to JNF-US and their energetic director and our friend Russell Robinson who celebrates his birthday today!!!

Here in Israel we make strange friendships, actually not strange but unexpected. That is exactly what happened to Ex-Pat British Israeli Kay Wilson and Nazereth born Mohammed Zoabi, cousin to the dreaded Member of Knesset Hanin. Kay's story is one of survival and Mohammeds is one of the decision to stand up for what is right.

So Shabbat approaches again. The Torah portion this week is BeShalach from Exodus. We read that the Children of Israel finally left slavery in Egypt and when Pharoah chased after them G-d told Moses to raise his staff over the sea and it parted and let them through. First the Children praised G-d but then they got hungry, footsore and churlish and began to complain forgetting the miracles that had been performed to get them where they were. We all know about their rebellious behaviour and lack of gratitude and infighting which quite possibly held up any further advances. So it was not until later that Joshua formed an army and the Children defended themselves from all comers. Hmmmmmm sound familiar? Today we rarely recognise miracles and always want more but luckily the IDF is here to protect us.
Zvi is at his parliament in the beautiful restaurant at the Hebrew University on Givat Ram. The campus is so green and lush and the restaurant delicious if somewhat noisy from the opining of his fellow members although these days Elihu Ben Onn, the journalist I have encouraged you to talk to from all corners of the world, Elihu is the chair of their debates making them just that, debates rather than arguments. Right now the topic is going to be the tour with JNF-US and the upcoming elections. Sara Netanyahus antics and Naftali Bennets choices will undoubtedly be top of the list!!!

I am thrilled to say that Canon Andrew White is back in Israel having undergone his treatment in Baghdad. No-one knew where he was which is just as well. Most importantly he is doing just fine.

The sun is shining, the shoppers about to wend their weary way home. The phenomenal aromas of our dispersion reach up to our veranda and waft through the apartment. Tonight we are going to have dinner with Itsik Mussachy and his daughters, then tomorrow we celebrate Tu b'Shvat early with the 2nd birthday of Zvi's little grand-daughter Ella. In honour of being born on Tu b'Shvat her name is a type of tree. The terebinth is native to this region and is mentioned in the Tenach or Old Testament, where the Hebrew word elah (plural elot) is used, although the word is sometimes translated as "oak".

Tu b'Shvat (on Feb 4th) is a wonderful Jewish holiday also known as the New Year for Trees. It is a time to plant trees an act which not only represents hope but is ecology in its purest form.
I must end now before I tire you with the length of this weeks missive. I wish you all a truly beautiful and contemplative Shabbat. I wish you could enjoy Jerusalem through the eyes of my friend Tikvah Ruth who is seeing the city for the very first time. Her exploits and adventures are breathtaking as she discovers the fascinating beauty of this city. Her myriad of photographs on Facebook make me laugh because I understand her emotions, I feel them every single day I live here.
Shabbat Shalom dear friends, Shabbat Shalom from our Jerusalem.

With love

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

Friday, 23 January 2015

150123 Shabbat Shalom. Tel Aviv terror, PM in Washington, Argentina Nisman

23rd January 2015

Shabbat Shalom dear friends.

Wednesday mornings terror attack in Tel Aviv was carried out by one young Palestinian whose mind was poisoned by Hamas and local religious leaders. He got on to a commuter bus and within seconds stabbed the driver, who fought back. Finding resistance he ran to the back of the bus stabbing everyone in his way. Incredibly, the driver stayed in control of the bus, careful to avoid hitting other vehicles. 
Three prison warders on their way to the Law Courts saw the long, articulated, bus weaving then stop at green traffic lights. The driver - Herzl Biton - despite severe injuries managed to open the doors and the terrorist came out, running fast, stabbing a woman as he passed her before the three prison warders first shot in the air then shot the terrorist in the leg to stop his evil rampage.

The reaction of Hamas was one of victory. The young attacker was from Tulkaram, a Palestinian city in the West Bank close to Netanya and Haifa. Apparently he was out with friends til late last night, woke up this morning, bought a large kitchen knife this morning, somehow came over the border with the sole intention of killing Jews/Israelis. Within ten minutes of the attack the Palestinian media was rejoicing.

I am happy to report that Herzl Biton is finally in stable condition, although still in ICU. A brave man indeed.

Prime Minister Mr Netanyahus visit to the United States may be ill timed considering the up-coming Israeli elections; not the actual visit, because he was invited to speak at the annual AIPAC conference, but his office should have gone through the accepted protocol for a country's leader who intends visiting the United States, especially Washington, most certainly to speak in Congress. I don't expect you to agree with me,  the flurry of anti-Obama feeling on the right and in Israel is strong, but it was a serious breech of protocol on the part of the Prime Ministers Office. His Head of Protocol should have known better.  However....... however there was no fuss when President Clinton invited Shimon Peres to the USA and Washington just a month before Israeli elections. Improper maybe, worthy of such a furore? No, I think not. As usual Martin Indyk is at the centre of the critics.

Dennis Ross spent many years trying to bring some sense to the Israel Palestinian talks. I can't call them peace talks because peace was never on the agenda of the Palestinians. Here Dennis Ross tells us all, from his vast experience, stop giving the Palestinians a free pass.

Those of us who are of a certain age remember the duo of Eldridge Cleaver and Angela Davis as the Black Panthers of the '60's. Cleaver has visited Israel and now clearly supports Israel, Davis is still an anti-Semite. It has nothing to do with black, white or pink, we are all panthers fighting for our right to exist in honour. Chloe Valdary is young, beautiful and black American. Chloe is also one of Israels greatest proponents. This is a video she made to honour the memory of Dr Martin Luther King.

Canadian Foreign Minister Baird on the Palestinian demonstrations against him: "On his historic trip, PM Harper said we would stand with Israel through fire and water, I say.. also through eggs and shoes!"  "The great struggle of our generation is terrorism and far too often the State of Israel and the Jewish people around the world are on the front lines of that struggle. And as I've said before, Canada doesn't stand behind Israel; we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with it."

I realised how wise Baird is when he went to Mahane Yehuda Market for a full portion of felafel in an Iraqi Pita before flying back to Canada!! 10 piping hot Felafel balls, tehina, humous, salads and pickles with a few chips (fries for Americans) then rolled up in a delicious wrap and ready to eat!!!

Another world leader who came to visit this week was  Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who arrived in Israel with a very large delegation of entrepreneurs. After an extensive tour of Israeli innovations and businesses Japanese PM told the delegation that he looks forward to extensive cooperation with Israeli businesses.

Corruption at its very worst. Alberto Nisman’s death – the latest traumatic development in a case that has yet to secure a single conviction more than twenty years after 85 people were murdered in the worst antisemitic atrocity since the Second World War – was discovered hours before he was due to appear before a congressional committee to present new evidence that, the Prosecutor said, implicated President Cristina ​Fernández de Kirchner and Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman in a deliberate cover-up of Iran’s involvement with the attack. “Alberto Nisman was the 86th victim of the AMIA bombing,” Soibel said. Perhaps the worst part is that Timmerman was a Jew, rescued by Israel who went back to Argentina and betrayed his faith, his country and the 84 people killed in the vile terror attack on the AMIA for a pot of Iranian gold

I can't remember where I saw it but I searched an interview on Al Jazeera which fascinated me. Jan Morrison decided to stop blaming the victims. In the interview he responds to the accusation that the Charlie Hebdo journalists "asked for it" by dishonouring Mohammed. Long but well worth reading the transcript. 

People tend to think of Jerusalem as the place to pray and Tel Aviv as the place to play. Admittedly there is a difference of only one letter but totally mistaken! Just look at the projects for the coming year in Jerusalem. Incredible! Not just schools and pools but theatres, cinemas and so much more.

Pat Condell talks the talk and offends the left and those who are scared of his truth. This is perhaps his most important and most pertinent video to date. Why I support Israel.

I love Israel. I love the fact that Israel dispenses love and hope all over the world. Operation Smile gives hope and a new smile to children with cleft palates.

Zvi spoke this week at the beautiful and incredibly active Avichai Centre in Jerusalem, speaking to a fascinated audience. The subject of the evening was the Exodus from Egypt and its relevance to today. After the biblical explanations Zvi was introduced to speak on the modern day Exodus of the Jews of the Former Soviet Union.  He told of things even I didn't know - aspects that make his incredible story even more spectacular.

Shema Yisrael - Hear Oh Israel - the prayer we say when we wake up and when we go to sleep. It is the first prayer taught to our children and the last when we close our eyes to this world. It is a very special prayer and a declaration of faith. It comes in many forms, the familiar and the infinitely unfamiliar and it is turned into a personal prayer and song by Sarit Hadad.  or

With love from Jerusalem, exquisite in the morning sun, a hazy ethereal light over the city I love so much. The view from our veranda is always beautiful, but today it is especially so; the rolling hills shrouded in mist, the buildings softened by the winter sun. Somehow it is as if the bride of Shabbat has put her white voile dress over herself to remind us that tonight Shabbat will welcome her as we light the candles and sing Lecha Dodi


Please please pray for Canon Andrew White who is currently undergoing his autologus stem cell treatment for Multiple Sclerosis today. He is unable to receive this treatment in the West so has to endanger his life by returning to a highly dangerous part of the world in order to receive his own stem cells to keep him on his feet and speaking.

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

Friday, 16 January 2015

150116 After Charlie and the snow, Nigeria, Canon Andrew White

16th January 2015

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope and pray you are feeling safe this week, safe to go to your schools and synagogues without fear and without needing police protection.

I am not Charlie. I have never insulted Mohammed, never drawn a picture of him nor am I ever going to, and truthfully I found most of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons quite vile but then that is the job of a satirical magazine. Jews and Christians didn't come out very well in their magazine but we didn't go on a rampage of blood and gore to avenge the honour of our leaders. On my FB page I wrote Je suis Niger, je suis Syria, Je suis Bali, Je suis Sydney, Je suis Israel, Je suis Phillipines, Je suis Iraq, Je suis................ etc.

I am horrified that nearly 3,000 innocents were butchered by Boko Haram in Nigeria this week and the Western media barely mentioned it. Why, because they are innately racist and care only about those who look and think like them, Western Pinko Wets (to quote Margaret Thatcher). Many of the major media news outlets have created the situation we now find ourselves. Their clear lack of condemnation, indeed the condemnation of the victim in the Middle East has been carefully and methodically turned into the aggressor and the aggressor into the victim, a wily, consistent and arch plan by those who don't want to lose their Arab funding. If there are more terror attacks then BBC, CNN, France 24, to say nothing of the NY Times, Guardian and LA Times, need to take their portion of the blame for not having the courage to tell the truth.

Al Qaeeda took the momentum created by the Charlie Hebdo incident to carry out their plan to attack a Jewish School but when one of the terrorists had a car accident he killed the policewoman who stopped him and went to the nearby HyperCasher instead. It was not by chance because that was a very Jewish neighbourhood. Four people died in that attack, although one must say that the worker who saved the lives of others by pushing them into the cold storage was himself a Moslem, as were two out of three policement that were cruelly killed. 
It has been suggested by Francois Hollande, that Mr Netanyahu hijacked the events but when the four families asked to have their loved ones families buried in Jerusalem, how could he refuse? If anyone hijacked the solemnity of the march it was Mahmoud Abbas who grinned his way to the front of the marchers, without telling anyone that in the PA they celebrated the killings. 

The French Prime Minister on the other hand, spoke out that there was not enough outrage, mourning is fine, standing up for free speech is fine but outrage is sorely missing.

This is an open Letter to the French President by A Palestinian Journalist in Ramallah. The writer remains incognito for his own safety

Last night a massive terror attack was thwarted in Belgium - should we all say Je Suis Verviers

The US Consulate in Jerusalem is a most unwelcoming place for Israelis and their most recent move is to replace their Israeli guards for Palestinians. It is against Israeli law to arm Palestinians but apparently the Consulate is above the law.

And to think we were worried about corruption in Israel when the ultimate corruption is in Argentina. President Christina Kirschner's Foreign Minister Hector Timmerman, who was saved by Israel during the rule of the colonels. A severe critic of Israel he then led the cover up of Iran's part in the terror attack on the AMIA in order to "make a geopolitical move closer to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and to establish full economic ties" and to help alleviate "Argentina's energy crisis through a 'grain for oil' deal."  

Stephen Ryde's Letter from London Here is his latest fortnightly blog for the Jerusalem Post from the 11th January.

Since we are talking of London, or of Britain I was distressed to read this article from the Telegraph newspaper. Somewhere between the Holocaust and 2015 it became OK to blame Jews again

This video made me happy. It is called I know which side I'm on - thanks Sally Safdie

On Monday I met with Sari Singer, my dear friend from Bedford, NY. Sari has been in the States for many, many years but her heart is and always will be in Israel. It was fun to see her with our grandchildren and to talk of Kinneret Chaya who will always bind us together. I love Sari.

Last Friday night's meal was deferred to Shabbat lunch. Jerusalem was cut off from the world by about 2 centimetres of snow!!! Actually I am very proud of the police who decided to close the main roads to Jerusalem, the roads are wide and excellent but Israelis do not have special tyres nor do they have the experience of snow driving. While the night and early morning proved lethal, roads covered with ice, the day warmed up and the sun came out and our guests arrived. Sadly Canon Andrew and Terry did not make it to the synagogue in the morning because I told him not to leave home until the ice melted so he prayed at home. They came to us which is all that mattered!! 

I made all his favourite foods and the very few friends who came to eat were entranced by him of course. We also had our lovely friend Prof. Gabby Barkai because a) he is fascinating and b) he helped Andrew and I enormously in the refurbishment of Ezekiels Tomb in Iraq. If I don't tell you that Harry and Nancy Bloomfield came back from Herzliya specially to come to us for lunch I would never be forgiven so now you know that they came together with Shauli and Rochele Lotan and Daniel and Jill Meron and of course Terry and Hanna. My only major gaffe was that although I made tsimmes, potato kugel, chicken soup and kneidelach that he loves, Andrew was very upset with me and refused to start the meal until I brought out his favourite - gefilte fish with chrane (horseradish sauce) - and the other men stood by him! I thought they were going to start chanting and making posters!!! Of course I found a trust jar of very good but ready-made gefilte fish and good humour returned to the table!!!

One visitor, a diplomat, told me something that horrified me. He said that he was in Washington when President Obama came into office and was staggered when friends in the American Foreign Service told him that the first White House directive to them was to remove the words "Islamic Fundamentalism" from their lexicon.

I had a wonderful birthday!!! The day began with Rachel, Yosef, Talia and Ayala singing and then with a phone call from Amman, Jordan and the really melodic tones of Canon Andrew White and Terry Jones singing Happy Birthday!!! The day continued filled with blessings and singing from the other grandchildren - Sammy, Olivia, Zachary, Amit, Ori, Gili, Joshua, Callie, Ella and I would be lying if I said that baby Yonatan sang because he is only 8 months old, but I am sure he smiled!

According to our tradition I went to lunch with my girlfriends, Betty, Dana and Frida, to the Botanical Gardens of course! When I arrived I managed to grab a table next to the lake, the beautiful gentle winter sun warming my body. The other three arrived and we ordered our amazing Oreganatto Salads and a delicious long focaccia served with fresh tehina and began to eat and chatter. Suddenly the chatter turned to chattering teeth as the sun went behind the most enormous cloud so we looked at one another and grabbed a table inside - looking out of the window at the lake instead!!!!! In the evening we went for dinner with our lovely friends Rosa and Bernardo Romanowsky and we raised the average age in the Sushi Bar by at least 200%!

I sometimes forget that most of you don't know what an amazingly entertaining city this is, quite apart from the museums, Biblical sites and antiquities. The best restaurants, fun clubs, great bars (yes even a number of Irish bars sporting Guinness) and a general nightlife of promenading. We, like all Israelis, love to go out and enjoy a good coffee, a great meal, be it a fine white-tablecloth restaurant or a felafel or schwarma on the street. We love life and our children come with us - babysitting is not a huge business in Israel because we take out children with us!!!!

I think that is the basis of the difference between us and our neighbours. It is the reason we have succeeded where they live in poverty. We love life, we honour life, we determinedly lead our children to be better than us, we push ourselves to be better than our forefathers and we are constantly busy with Tikkun Olam.

I wish you Shabbat Shalom from a cloudy Jerusalem where even the clouds are beautiful!
With love

By the way, Canon Andrew gave me an autographed copy of his book Older Younger Brother - The tragic treatment of the Jews by Christians. a fascinating read.

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

Friday, 9 January 2015

150108 Charlie Hebdo killings, snow

8th January 2015

Shabbat Shalom dear friends.

This week the long arm of radical Islam tried to silence the pens of a highly irreverent French satirical magazine. Charlie Hebdo was beyond irreverent, it was incisive and often cruel in its cartoons of all religions, giving no quarter irrespective of the leanings of its victims. The purpose of satire - to lampoon, cartoon, be contentious and and invoke controversy. Each generation and country has its brave souls who shoot down sacred cows - it is an essential part of a democratic society.

The death threats started with a serious book rather than satire, in the shape of Salman Rushdies Satanic Verses when we were all shocked to discover that the written words could bring a death Fatwa on the head of the author. It continued through the Danish cartoons and reached its horrific peak yesterday with the death of four cartoonists among the 12 dead in a cold blooded and highly organised attack at the offices of Charlie Hebdo. It is important to note here that the policeman who was injured and cruelly shot in full view was himself a Moslem - a Moslem, law abiding, proud, French gendarme.

 Having seen cartoons from this particular magazine I found many offensive - exaggerated and racist depictions of the Pope, of Rabbis and of Mohammed, but Jews and Christians simply tut-tutted whereas the Fatwa was first placed then carried out upon those who mocked Mohammed.

If I may sum up my wandering thoughts, apparently there is no humour, no discussion, no questioning in this new and extreme, nay, fanatical form of Islam. Either believe or die. It cannot be allowed and it needs many very brave, normal and ordinary Moslems to stand up and yell "Not in the name of my religion". The rebellion must come from within and they will garner support from all freedom lovers in this world.

I expressed my feelings on my Facebook page when I saw the words of hate from too many people - a gut reaction to the slaughter of yesterday.

"I would like to make my feelings very clear, I am not anti-Moslem, far from it, I hate no person for his faith. I am against all racial or ethnic slurs and any statement that generalises or includes those who simply want to live a quiet, open faithful life. I am, however, against any belief that imposes, oppresses, denies freedom to any other people and makes religion an excuse to kill, maim and oppress, it is not acceptable under any name, be it Crusades, communism, Maoism, the ultimate evil of Nazism, or today's oppressors - ISIS, Al Qaeeda et al who claim to fight in the name of Allah"

This interview on Fox News with a French correspondent opens our eyes and tells the truth. I was most disturbed when he tells us that not only was one of the brothers was in jail on terrorism charges yet was released after half of his sentence was served. He said that the last few French governments, left and right wing, have pulled the wool over their citizens eyes as to the extent of the danger from terrorism - and the French governments are not alone - yours does too. When he spoke of "No Go Zones" Gretchen claimed that it is unknown to the US......... oh you have them Gretchen and so do we, areas where the police fear to go.

In the words of Edmund Burke  The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

If you think it is not happening in YOUR country think again.

A group of people who chose to do something are the community of Rabbi David Greenberg. They recognised that young Jewish students are fed many lies about Israel and chose to do something about it. They held a Town Hall Meeting for Students with David Harris. 95 students attended. Questions were asked by the students,  and it’s no surprise to anyone that David answered them in a way that only he can. The fact that 95 students came to discuss the issues of anti-semitism with David Harris speaks volumes about how our temple has touched the lives of the younger generation. They have been given the gift of a profound connection to Israel and Judaism.
They did something  important - they convinced young Jews of their own worth and ability to stand up and be counted. Maybe when they arrive at University these same young people will join Stand With Us

A man who has always done something is Steve Emerson. Steve showed us his first video of a vitriolic Arafat speech translated into English, then wrote his revealing "Jihad in America"which proved to be all too true. His Investigative Project put this analysis of the Charlie Hebdo killings

The Telegraph newspaper ran a fascinating article about those who choose to live outside the Green Line. I did not agree with everything but it is measured and interesting. The Settlers

So the Jerusalem snow came, not the huge storm that they promised or threatened but a light smattering which totally paralysed Jerusalem and the entire area! The police closed all roads to Jerusalem, then had to reopen them with egg on their faces! Mount Hermon got a real snowstorm and the coastal area was subjected to horrendous gale force winds which literally swept people off their feet and brought the rain into dear Sari Singers hotel room! However, Jerusalem's myriad of snow ploughs and tractors lay idle. Cold it is, but not white. Disappointed children went back to school today, despite the promise of a long holiday and snow-ball fights. 

The snow actually threatened to keep even the indomitable Canon Andrew White away - but the call of my promise of a real "Heimische" Friday night dinner persuaded him to take the flight to Ben Gurion, and come to Jerusalem before going to Jordan where some 350 refugees from Northern Iraq await his kind words and both physical and spiritual help. His work would exhaust even a healthy man, and Andrew is really not a healthy man, but his faith in G-d and his deep spirituality keep him going - that and the knowledge that his work is essential and his flock endless.

Of course his love of a traditional Ashkenazi "Shabbes"dinner was based on his time in the Karliner Yeshiva - so tomorrow I will prepare chicken soup with kneidelach (matzo balls), roast chicken, cholent, potato kugel, tzimmes, mixed vegetables, home-made pickles, both cucumbers and mixed vegetables, and apple cake for dessert.   
I just hope our guests will manage to get to us! Of course beforehand we will sing the Kiddush and then break bread - home-made Challot, and hopefully Zvi will sing my song. Well, actually, not MY song but the song of all Jewish women. Every Friday night this song is sung to honour the "Baalat ha bayit" which in Yiddish is Balabusta - in English it sounds so different, not nearly as powerful - and translates as the lady of the house.... it is all in a name!
That was a perfect segway to the weekly Torah Portion which is Shemot or Names. This is an excellent explanation of the evergreen question - what is in a name? Have you ever wondered where your name came from - what it means? My "English" (actually Scottish) name is Sheila, Patron saint of the deaf and of music - always thought it a strange combination - but my Hebrew name Sara. Sara was given many meanings including "she who knows!" but my favourite and undoubtedly the most accurate was "The Name Sarah. Means "lady, princess, noblewoman" in Hebrew. This is the name of the wife of Abraham in the Old Testament. She became the mother of Isaac at the age of 90". The last bit scared me but other than that.......... Why did even traditional proud Jews give their children English names? Because immediately after WW2 they did not have the confidence to stand out.

Talking of names - this is such a beautiful song/prayer so appropriate to today - Mi ha Ish Hafetz Chaim? The meaning is -Who is the man who desires life?

This Shabbat I want to add a prayer for good government, for leaders who are not afraid to tell us the truth even if it does scare us and are not afraid to act on our own soil without the need to send its soldiers thousands of miles away but rather put our own houses in order. Leaders that are not afraid to scare their citizens with the truth - the fear response could just save lives.

I know I always finish with an Israeli song or a religious song but this time there was only one that seemed appropriate

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom.......... Shalom.........Shalom, Salaam, Pax, Pais, Paz. It all comes down to tolerance.

By the way, Zvi pointed out that only in Israel is the smattering of snow called a storm yet the downpour of rockets is called a shower!!!



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

Thursday, 1 January 2015

150101 New Year, Palestinian statehood proposal to UN, David Greenberg talk, Gilo

The first of January 2015!

Happy 2015! 
The world went crazy with firework displays - each city trying to beat the others. Sydney tends to win but then when you have a firework stand like the Harbour Bridge it must be difficult to lose!!!!
Actually it isn't such a celebratory day for traditional Jews because it is also a fast day - the Fast of Tevet! On the 10th day of the Jewish month of Tevet, in the year 3336 (425 BCE), the armies of the Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem. The 10th of Tevet is observed as a day of fasting, mourning and repentance.

I decided that I don't particularly want to look back on the year that was so difficult from so many aspects but rather to tell you of my dreams and determinations for the year ahead. Nonetheless I couldn't resist this video from the Telegraph of firework displays around the world

The Likud primaries took place yesterday, in advance of the March elections. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won the leadership by an overwhelming margin, garnering 75 percent of the vote.  Danny Danon, captured 19 percent of the vote, with Gilad Erdan leading in the race for the No. 2 slot,  followed by Yuli Edelstein, Yisrael Katz, Ze'ev Elkin, Yariv Levin, and Silvan Shalom.

The Palestinian Statehood proposition to the UN Security Council was thwarted. The United States and Australia voted against, Britain abstained. The proposition was extreme, the demands untenable, the purpose to prepare the ground for future propositions setting the bar very high, so that all changes will make them appear flexible.

Having failed they are now set upon joining the International War Crimes Court. Why? Because Abbas plans to lodge war crimes complaints against Israel; Netanyahu rebutted with the comment that the Palestinians will be in the dock because of Hamas crimes against their own people and ours. 

The huge publishing company of Harper Collins left Israel off their maps for Middle East schools, admittedly by request. Their real map remains the same.  Bishop Declan Lang, chairman of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales Department of International Affairs, stated that the maps will harm peace efforts and reduce chances of peace. 

I am so proud!! Canon Andrew White was voted No 1 on the Archbishop Cranmer's top 100 UK Christians for 2014 chosen by "overwhelming affirmation and democratic consensus". It was stated, "This award is bestowed in appreciation of Canon Andrew White's ministry of peace and reconciliation, and admiration for his faithful dedication to the cause of compassion amidst the deserts of unimaginable suffering and persecution."

Professor Irwin Cotler Cotler is the only true Mensch in international politics today. A fine mind, a fine man. Here is his resignation interview

Aliyah (immigration to Israel) hit a ten-year high in 2014, with the arrival of some 26,500 new immigrants including a massive 7,000 from France. This marks a 32% increase over last year's number according to end-of-year figures by The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption.

Zvi and I met Rabbi David Greenbergs Family bar Mitzva group from Shaarey Tefila Temple, Bedford, NY, for breakfast at the Leonardo Plaza Hotel in central Jerusalem. It was a very special experience. The group was eclectic and delightfully welcoming, ages ranging from about 11 to............ well, let's say over 11! They  were warm, friendly and attentive as I introduced the issues, explained how I met Rabbi Greenberg, through Sari Singer and our mutual love of Kinneret Chaya and told them of Rabbi David's generosity during the last Gaza campaign when he donated money to buy Leatherman kits for the Tank soldiers. Then my Zvi gave an outstanding explanation of the complexities of Israeli politics and some background on the Palestinian proposition for statehood presented to the UN Security Council. Rabbi Greenberg led the group with Israeli guide Nir Nitzan, clearly pleased with the enthusiasm of his congregants.

By the way, talking of Kinneret Chaya, what an incredible woman, she went to Tel Hashomer burns unit this week to give courage to the little girl who was badly burned when a Molotov cocktail was thrown at her family car.

This week Zvi and I went to Gilo. It is very close to our home and a large Jerusalem neighbourhood of about 40,000 residents. Usually I take tourists to the other side and show them Bethlehem just a tiny distance from Gilo but this time we were on the Jerusalem side. I knew of the beautiful views from the top of Gilo but nothing prepared me for the breathtaking panorama that lay before me atop the grassy park. I couldn't control my breathing, my camera or my feet that jumped and sprang like a gazelle (maybe a gnu?) over the grass and brush, gasps of wonder emerging from my throat. Magnificent is not sufficient. I wish I knew how to send you the video! On a gloriously crisp and sunny day I saw the tower of Augusta Victoria Hospital, next to St Johns Church and the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus; the walls of the old city; I saw the modern towers of the centre of the city and the King David Hotel beside the YMCA; the entrance to Jerusalem and the Calatrava Bridge; the sports arena and the football stadium; then I realised I could see all the way to the Tomb of Samuel the Prophet - Oh my! I thought our view from the veranda was the finest but I must admit, this beat it into a cocked hat!

Tomorrow will bring Shabbat. The children are coming for supper, I love to see the way, between playing with their toys, they peek out at the view. They always comment on the quiet, the Shabbat feeling that everyone is sitting as a family. Religious or secular, Shabbat evening is family time in Israel, so when our children are here, Shoshanas children and grandchildren are at her apartment beneath ours and the sounds of children laughing reaches our table; Michal and Kobi's family are also with them, their daughter just got engaged so the numbers increased! So it goes down the apartments, Chaim and Daisy; Kobi and Irit; Meira and her family; Alice with her new grandchild; indeed sounds and aromas rise to our apartment in the most pleasant fashion. Sometimes, in summer we even hear the sounds of the ethnic Kiddush - each home with different tunes. This is close to ours but Zvi sings in his rich bass-baritone and the little ones all join in We encourage them to take part otherwise how can the teach their children?

So what do I pray for, in 2015? 
I want the world to understand who the aggressors are in the Middle East.  
I want reality to set in as to which country gives and gives and gives to this world despite lack of recognition. 
I want the powers that be to spend as much on finding an answer to the Ebola outbreak as they do in aid to the Palestinians (x 4). 
I pray that we spend more effort on building this world than destroying it. 
I pray with all my heart that there will be a breakthrough in Cancer Research. 
I pray that there will be a way to control the food waste in the West and provide succour to the third world.  
Above all I pray for tolerance. Without tolerance intrareligious and extrareligious, we will simply continue destroying any chance of peace. 
I pray that people will not be judged by the colour of their skin nor feel that they have inherent rights to hate those of different colour.
Finally, I pray that this map of conflicts during 2014, will change dramatically for the better in 2015.

Yaacov Shwekey has a glorious voice- hear he sings Im Eshkachech Yerushalyim- If I forget thee oh Jerusalem. Shwekey

Finally as a special treat - a good start to 2015, my favourite song of all time. When I worked in Hillel House in London the entire building would reverberate with Al Kol Eleh, Above All This. The Honey and the Sting are part of our lives, but above all this, the honey always follows the sting

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I apologise for not writing last week and thanks to all of you who wrote to enquire after my wellbeing. I am now back on form!!!

With love from Jerusalem, the most beautiful city in the world - with or without fireworks!!!

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