Friday, 21 August 2015

150821 Iran, Khaled abu Toameh, Huchabee, Trump, Tel Aviv

21st August, 2015

Shabbat Shalom from Tel Aviv! Yes here we are in Jerusalem's smaller neighbour, enjoying meeting with friends and seeing how the other half lives!

The Israeli media is no better than your media for taking things out of proportion. For instance, Tel Aviv has a number of bridges, fairly short but take traffic over the Yarkon River. One such bridge, rather insignificant and ugly, has to be blown up, in order to prepare the foundations for Tel Aviv's light rail (tram) system. It's name is "Gesher Maariv" the Maariv Bridge, named for the newspaper. The demise of this particular bridge reached headlines proportion on the national news for a whole week and........ a group of young people who have no idea of its significance or lack thereof, held a vigil demonstration at the mythical bridge!!!!! Hey guys, it's a bridge and the only people who will be seriously affected are the businessmen near it, until the tram is in operation. We went through it in Jerusalem and it was tough but now, the light rail is incredible above all expectations. In truth I am thrilled it reached the headlines because that means nothing worse was going on - or was it?

A political earthquake is taking place in the USA over the so called "Iran Deal".

Donald Trump has been calling a spade a shovel and while the media is horrified the public is amused and interested.

President Obama, while still in office, began fundraising one billion dollars to build a library and complex in his name when he completes his Presidency. In Israel they put Prime Ministers on trial for much less!!!!!!! 
A homicide bombing in Bangkok killed 20 and injured many more. It would appear it was not just the opposition party but far more sinister.

A super terrorist whose gory job was to recruit suicide/homicide bombers, Mohammad Allan, went on hunger strike and due to his resultant medical condition he has been released from prison but held in hospital. The ethics of force feeding are explained here by the exceptional Maurice Ostroff.

Khaled Abu Toameh writes beautifully, speaks eloquently and tells the world the truth - the simple truth. The other day he wrote about the Ethnic cleansing of Palestinians - an accusation usually directed at Israel, and another excellent article which displays the ignorance created by the rhetoric of the PA to such an extent that young Palestinians join the Islamic State- aka ISIS, their oppressors

Mariah Carey came to Israel. The media made a big deal of her refusal to be swayed from this visit but then why should she? Why do we think that it is heroic to come to Israel "despite"? She came to Israel because she wanted to and refuses to listen to bully boy racists. Israel loved you Mariah, loved your performance and didn't even complain when you began the show an hour and a half late!!!!

September 6th Israel versus Wales in Cardiff in a UEFA European Football Championship qualifier at Cardiff City Stadium. My family will be there and I hope they have a flag in each hand!!!!

The week began beautifully with a wedding. The son of Elihu and Niva Ben Onn got married and it was a truly beautiful, very Israeli affair. Food before and after a gorgeous outdoor chuppa and a lovely welcome from Elihu to their guests. For those who don't know Elihu has a radio programme talking predominantly to Hebrew speakers all over the world about what they do and where they are. Well worth listening into him on Reshet B.

We came to Tel Aviv for a few days, visiting friends and generally enjoying life. I will not have to cook Shabbat dinner because we are going to Eilata and Shmulik for dinner but not before popping in on Gloria, glorious Gloria Goldstein for a Shabbat kiss. Today we visited Orly and Yossi, yesterday we saw Irit and Yitzik, tomorrow Zvi's cousin Dalia and the weather has calmed down a bit so it isn't too bad.

Both yesterday and today I had the honour of getting to know our friend Flory Haritons family. Her Mother Dalia is such a delight, as is her Aunt......... indeed I thoroughly enjoyed being with them. My only problem about being in Tel Aviv is that I don't get that special Shabbat feeling. I don't see the grandchildren, do not drive past the incredible panorama atop Samuels Tomb, can't watch the city going to sleep, no sunset from our veranda...... yet, don't let anyone tell you differently, Tel Aviv also goes into Shabbat mode!!!

Sure you feel the sense of a real Shabbat more in Jerusalem but Tel Avivim also have a siesta before families meet up for a Shabbat meal. Tel Aviv also slows its pace, sure many go clubbing afterwards, but then in Jerusalem too. 

No recipes this week so I will try to find you better music instead! The first video isn't musical but is music to my ears. The Shabbes Project is a wonderful worldwide project for people to try a real Shabbat just for one day to know how it feels.

Idan Raichel is an amazing musician and his Project exceptional. Here they sing a song for Shabbat. The words are simple.  On Sabbath day I shall praise the living God of my salvation and I shall make sacrifices of spices on the day of the return of my temple.

A little more traditional (!) is a beautiful niggun - music without words. Most of the niggunim are written in the minor key and tend to be somewhat maudlin, but this one is called the Happiness Niggun so I thought I would leave you with a smile on your faces!

With much love from Tel Aviv - after Shabbat we go back to Jerusalem and feel the fabulous fresh mountain air on our faces. After all these years the climb up - the Aliya - to Jerusalem still gives me goose bumps of the best kind. The anticipation as we begin to see the white city before us is inexplicable and exceptional. Love it!

Shabbat Shalom to one and all, whatever you are, whoever you are, from whence you come is irrelevant - what matters is the path you choose.


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

Friday, 14 August 2015

150814 Shee Zvi 25 years, Zvi Yechezkely, Special Olympics Israeli medals

14th August 2015

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Today may be a short letter because last night three of our Israeli grandchildren came for a sleepover and I am somewhat tired but I can't promise!!  

They were amazing, I loved every second, played a funnnnnny game with them where we each had to mimic someone in the family and the others had to guess who it was. Cousin Steve was easy - I just went brrrrrroooom broooooom and Uncle Gideon even easier - they just ate and said it was delicious! I can't wait for them to come back - just to give me a week or so to recover!!!

I don't know about you but I am sick and tired about the scapegoating of Israel when I know for a fact that in most countries in our region, and throughout Africa and most of South America, the idea of human rights is so far from their social and political ambitions that the multiple resolutions against Israel have become an international folly of the first water. Indeed it is so negative to democracy and justice that one is forced to question motives - even of our greatest allies. Europe and the USA unwittingly (????) give money for Palestinians to build illegally on disputed territory and remain silent on their terror yet reprimand, castigate and lecture Israel on a relatively few buildings in a contiguous Jerusalem.

Israel reaches out to the world, provides both education and aid to so many countries I lose count. The official governmental MASHAV a Childs Heart and so many more. We give and give, yet are found lacking when  compared to a non-country that takes and takes.

Last night, the excellent journalist Zvi Yechezkeli went into Jenin to talk to ordinary people. Jenin is flourishing although it has not received a penny of the aid YOU pay for - Israeli engineers and civil management experts have assisted in building and rebuilding the city that is more Israeli than Palestinian even though it is in the so-called disputed territories. Indeed I saw that for myself when Dr Malcolm Hoenlein took me to see the beautiful new centre and we spoke to Salam Fayaad, the only Palestinian leader who knew that they had to change and build a financial and physical infrastructure - which is why he was thrown out!

Gaza, Gaza is still a big bomb site - despite the infinite funds given by the USA and Europe, UN - the squalor and poverty levels rise - despite the vast amounts of basic foodstuffs and utilities that Israel provides - why? Because we have recently discovered that all the money has gone into building hundreds of more tunnels!

Now to your country, wherever you may be - even Australia and Canada who really try to keep a level playing field. Worth reading Douglas Murrays excellent article concerning  Anjem Choudry to truly understand watch Yechezkely's Allah Islam - . As I have told you a thousand times -  this phenomenon is international - it has no boundaries and relies upon our values of freedom of speech, creed and democracy to grow. Men like Choudry who openly told Yechezkely that if the Queen didn't convert to Islam she should leave Buckingham Palace which will become a Mosque, are replicated the world over. It has already affected the Los Angeles Gay Community - indeed the Beverley Hilton owned by the pro-Sharia Sultan of Brunei where Sharia law has been enforced.

And now for something entirely different!

Israel has a bobsled team for the Winter Olympics! Before you fall down laughing - remember the Jamaican team in Cool Runnings?

Israel's Special Olympics team won no less than 61 medals in the Special Olympics in LA. Bravo team - bravo Israel

A bete noir in Israeli society is the question of conversion. While a recognised route, learning and rules, must be adopted it has become the domain of the ultra-orthodox. Rabbi Goren knew how to do it. He checked new immigrants, their pedigree and their knowledge and converted those who were appropriate without too much hardship. His liberal and humane approach has been criticised but now major Rabbis have put forward a change in the laws of conversion - taking the sole responsibility from the Chief Rabbinate. Watch this space!

No, I am not going to mention Iran. I cannot cope with it any more. Excuses and lies - indeed..... politics and diplomacy!

Today, the 14th of August, 25 years ago A brilliant and ridiculously tall man asked me out! Yes it was my first date with Zvi. He chose to take me on a tour - what else? - and we set off early in the morning from Jerusalem, drove north to Tiberias and continued to the Golan Heights, from the Golan we drove to ancient Sefat, in each place he gave me a complete historical tour, then drove down to Tel Aviv where he left me at my hotel and went to give a lecture to a group of Keren Hayesod. A full day and one which changed both our lives. We fell in love that day - crazy as it may seem. Yes, it was a day when two people found their future. We were meant to meet when we did - both grateful for the amazing children who came out of our first marriages - no regrets - yet coming together at a time when we were meant to - in Yiddish one says "Beshert" it was meant to be. Since that time we have helped each other in our determined Tikkun Olam, our ethical and moral values walk in tandem and our devotion to the best 5 children and the most incredible 13 grandchildren in the whole wide world - sorry no argument!!!! If I were to wish for anything it is another 25 years of hyperactivity and love but maybe that is greedy, so I wish our children a life as fulfilling as ours. Zvi helped me return to being the woman my parents wanted me to be.

Last Shabbat was yet another amazing meal. For you it may sound like a fairy tale - for us it is quite normal! A Vicar sang Kiddush alongside Zvi and then made the blessing over washing his hands before taking bread. Canon Andrew even managed to tell everyone off for speaking before taking challah. Along with Andrew was the wonderful helpmeet Hanno, who is Israeli Aramaic, our friend Dr Michael Dor and his wife Mali, Michael is a doctor who not only sits on many Knesset committees but has been a major influence on legalising medical Marijuana for those who suffer chronic pain, Parkinsons, MS and spoke of its positive effect on ADD and ADHD. Fascinating. To complete this amazing trinity was Navonel Glick of IsraAid who has just returned from Irbil in Iraq where IsraAid is working to help the Yazidis - which Andrew is also doing, obviously. I am sure you wish you could have been a fly on that wall!!!!

Sunday night was reminiscing with Carol Minton (her maiden name) and Adrienne Spiner Arkin both from Cardiff. Sitting eating supper on our veranda, overlooking that view - THAT view - was even more special than normal.

So, to celebrate the silver anniversary of our first date - here is Zvi's choir singing a beautiful song, lyrics by Eli Yaron and Music by Adi Hayat with the dancing of Liron Mussachi. The song, in Ladino, is called Israel Mio - My Israel.

Next is a beautiful rendition of the traditional Shabbat Song Yedid Nefesh. 

Finally -the warmth of Mizrachi (Eastern) religious music, the Revivo Project with a Shabbat compilation

Since I am late Jerusalem is almost asleep! The shops have closed, the shopping mall car park empty, the bus park full with silent green buses as their drivers go home and the train station silent, even the escalator stops for a Shabbat rest. The sun is softer, the heat of the day slowly dissipating and the breeze beginning to refresh the parched trees on the hillside opposite. The aromas of Shabbat meals are rising through the building and making the joy of families enjoying their togetherness closer. The children are at home now, shining and scrubbed clean for Shabbat - enjoying the aromas of Ima Rachel's freshly baked challot and conucopia of salads!

They loved their time in the UK, adored being with all their cousins, some of whom they met for the first time and extra thrilled by my beautiful, special big sister "Auntie Dordi" who they finally got to hug but very happy to come home to Jerusalem and their Daddy Igal.

So dear friends, I wish you a beautiful Shabbat of respite from our insane world. Enjoy your families, remember to recognise the we each make our own world, our surroundings depend upon what we create from what we have.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem - Jerusalem.

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

Friday, 7 August 2015

150807 Iran, Maccabi Europe, Shira Banki, Duma fire, Andrew White

7th August, 2015

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. 

This week I promised our wonderful friend Ron Carner, President of Maccabi USA, that I would dedicate an entire newsletter to the European Maccabiah. Held in the Berlin Stadium that the United States agree to remove two athletes from team USA because they were Jews. Marty Glickman and another Jewish sprinter, Sam Stoller, were taken out of the 200 metre relay team. 79 years later, Jewish Olympics held in the self same stadium and Nancy Glickman, daughter of Marty, wore his unused Olympic Uniform to the Games, the Jewish Games.

The Games went off with great success, not only Europeans, over 300 Americans came too! It was an historic event, deeply emotional, held in the place that no Jew was allowed to tread and thanks to Maccabi - they ran, jumped and leapt there this year!

I can procrastinate no longer. This has been a ghastly week. Fanaticism created an emotional earthquake here in Israel as a 16 year old girl, Shira Banki z"l, was stabbed to death for supporting her gay schoolfriends at a small Gay Parade here in Jerusalem. The perpetrator, Yishai Schlissel , was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his knife attack at the Gay Parade 10 years ago and the Supreme Court saw fit to reduce his sentence despite the fact he never expressed remorse for his actions. 10 years and 3 weeks afterwards, Schlissel took a long-bladed kitchen knife and attacked marchers. His crime is against Judaism, against all our ethics, morals and tenets. We do not have the death penalty in Israel, but he should be denied all rights as a religious Jew because he is not. He does not represent any aspects of a deeply tolerant religion.

The village of Duma is close to Nablus, biblical Shechem. It is normally a quiet village but this week it hit the headlines for the worst of reasons, terrorists threw Molotov cocktails into two houses, and in one a family slept. Eighteen-month-old Palestinian toddler Ali Saad Dawabsha died in the resulting inferno and three members of his family are still in serious condition in Jerusalem hospitals. The first reaction of all Israelis, all Israelis of conscience which is 99% of us, was shock, horror and remorse. The Prime Minister, President and religious leaders all spoke out of their sadness that such a thing could happen. Israelis turned out in the thousands to demonstrate against such repugnant violence.

I was among those who felt despair that Israelis could possibly have committed the crime which is the ultimate antithesis of Judaism - In Judaism the loss of life is considered a failure, a failure to save, a failure to change. I admit to a sense of shame that someone in my country, my Israel, could have done this - what have we come to? Then I began to analyse the situation, because before I write to you I have to put things into perspective rather than give you knee jerk reactions.
Shootings, stabbing and arson are everyday events in most part of the world but here it is felt.
We took care of the family in Israels finest hospitals where they receive everything they need
We will never laud the acts of these fanatics or name streets for them. They will be hunted down and imprisoned.
No sweets will be handed out to children in celebration of their heinous crimes.
Our religious leaders, both Chief Rabbis, made a joint announcement condemning the acts 
Our political and diplomatic leaders expressed disgust and fury at what was done
All our leaders, secular and religious, described these acts as terrorism.
So dear friends, do not compare us to our neighbours who laud such acts, or their religious leaders who call for death - we are a moral society which reached out and displayed regret not jubilation when a baby died. Think back to the Fogel Family - and the nightlong celebrations in the PA at killing those babies.  Do not compare us, do not think these terrorists represent anyone. I pray they will be found and incarcerated together with all the other terrorists and let them do what they will and leave us to live in peace.
Our problem is that these disgusting youngsters are clever. They remove all clothing use in the act; the refuse to speak or give names etc to the police and it is very tough to get the to make incriminating statements. The police decided to refuse them the right to a lawyer and are held on suspicion and so it will continue at six monthly intervals. 

Even these foul acts brought a beautiful response as Rabbi and Palestinian peace activists held a solidarity meeting.

Yesterday, a car driven by an Arab man drove intentionally into 3 soldiers waiting at an official hitchhiking site. Two are in serious condition one has light injuries. The soldier with light injuries succeeded in shooting the attacker and injuring him. I doubt if it made the back page in the news media where you live!!!  Bassam Tawil explains it

The New York Times write that our relief at the release of Jonathan Pollard shows that we Israelis don't understand the USA. Yeah well, maybe their dismay at his delayed release shows that the NY Times does not understand what espionage means, because according to this official definition, Pollard did not commit espionage. Espionage - The act of obtaining, delivering, transmitting, communicating, or receiving information about the national defense with an intent, or reason to believe, that the information may be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation. Espionage is a violation of 18 United States Code 792-798 and Article 106, Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Meanwhile, the Republican leadership debate took place last night, apparently dominated by the man who creates a birds nest on his head because he loves the camera, The Trump. I don't believe that he is crazy, but Presidential Candidate? Not sure about that.  One thing I do appreciate it his desire to bring in a third political Party to the American system. It would possibly level the playing field and prevent the absolute power of either Republican or Democrat. Worth thinking about.

Last weekend at Kfar Maccabiah was gorgeous! Being in Tel Aviv enabled us to meet up with lots of friends and then on Shabbat the children spent the day with us revelling in the  two pools and the beautiful gardens. It really is a childrens paradise.

On Sunday Zvi, Eli and I went to the Yuri Shtern Holistic Center to meet with the founder, Lena Shtern. We had great news for her! In October the Choir is organising a national choir festival which will be held in Jerusalem. At Eli's suggestion the choir is giving 150 tickets to the Center to raise money Eli says that I live and breathe the Yuri Shtern centre!!!

On Monday, despite the horrific heat, I braved Shouk Ramle - the once a week market that has just about everything you don't need, very cheaply. I love the babble of voices, the yelling of the costermongers (yes it seems to be international that costermongers yell their wares) as you pass from children stickers to cheap dresses, bras, lighting, awful pictures, make up and so much more!!! I love it. Zvi says he always knows where I am between 9 and 10 every Monday morning because I try to get out before the crowds arrive!
Last night we went with friends to a gorgeous performance of Ha Gevatron - the famous choir from Kibbutz Geva in the North. It was a rare cool evening with a beautiful light breeze enhancing our enjoyment - such a relief to feel normal!!! The choir has been performing for over 60 years and incredibly some of the original sopranos still sing - beautifully - you can hear her stand out in this video. 86 years young,  Incredible 

When we got home the late summer moon was rising and what a sight!!! Suddenly I saw a huge bowl, orange and tipped sideways, rising from the horizon. It was breathtaking.

Tonight I am thrilled to tell you that my lovely friend Canon Andrew White is back in Jerusalem and at our table for Shabbat Dinner. Andrew just got back from Baghdad where he successfully underwent treatment and saw his beautiful community. We will have his favourite Gefilte Fish to start and then I made a, hopefully, delicious concoction which is as close as this Polish/Welsh girl can get to Moroccan Chicken!!!! Lots of onion, prunes, apricots, cinnamon, ground coriander and cumin seeds, garlic, pumpkin and of course chicken!! Salads and Couscous and then Andrew's other favourite, chocolate cake, for dessert.Among the other guests will be Navonel Glick, who has also come back from Irbil, Iraq, where IsraAid is helping the Yazidi community - yes Israel goes to the places others won't even consider.

Tomorrow we meet up for Shabbat lunch with a large number of Zvi's friends from his youth, most of whom I am happy to say have become my friends too. I love hearing the stories of way back when............. of an Israel I rely on their memories for rather than the incredibly modern, technologically advanced, green and beautiful country which has everything that I came to.

On Sunday 6th September the Israeli football team will be playing Wales at Cardiff City Stadium, to qualify for Euro 2016. It’s going to be a huge match, and we want as many Israel supporters as possible to be there on the day. We’re also going to give the Israeli football team the welcome they deserve. We’ll be holding a celebration of all things Israel-related outside the stadium before the match, with food, music and plenty of flags! Sadly, BDS bigots plan to protest in the city on the day, so we want to make sure that if they reach the stadium, they’ll be confronted by the sight they hate the most: hundreds of proud Israel supporters enjoying themselves! Coaches from around the country will be available, and tickets for the match will only be £20, so come and join us, fill the stadium with blue and white! For information,

So, time to set the table. I think we will eat indoors, although I haven't quite decided. I am afraid it will be too hot, even if three of the guests have just come from Iraq where the temperature reached well over 50 degrees!

I dedicate the first song this week to my incredible grandson Sammy, Samuel George, who taught us all the real meaning of love. Yaacov Shwekey I Can Be

Nearly 20 years ago I sat in the Rotunda in Washington for the opening of the American celebrations of Jerusalem 3,000. Despite the vast number of famous faces around me I was so excited to find my self sitting next to Cantor Joseph Malovany, arguably the finest Chazan of all time. He stood and sang Hatikva in the Rotunda and I was transfixed. Here he sings niggunim for Shabbat.

Wishing you Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem. This is the most beautiful city and it is a city of peace, as her name suggests - Ir Shalom. It really is amazing!  Just before I go - Stanley, Stanley Roth - I succeeded in saving the lemon, orange and pomegranate trees and most of the herbs!!! In fact the pomegranate tree is flowering afresh! I am so happy but next week will go and replace all the dead myrtle bushes - not a problem, life goes on. The veranda will be even more beautiful afterwards - everything happens for a reason.

With love

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