The view from my veranda

140214 Hadassah, Pinto, Kerry, Spanish Jews, Denmark, Belgium

14th February 2014
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom and since I love to love whatever the source, Happy Valentines Day. To make it a truly Israeli affair let’s see why Sarah Tuttle-Singer loves Israel as her Valentine.
Today is a glorious day, sun and crisp air, knowing that rain will come tomorrow. Has anyone else noticed that the world is suffering awful weather, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions – and we seem to have the opposite? Do you think that HE is trying to tell us something? South Carolina has snow, Wales and Cornwall have awful floods, Java has a volcanic eruption – Here in Jerusalem we have glorious sunshine, clouds and clouds of incredible almond blossom (shekdiot) covering the Jerusalem Hills with their pink fragrance and ……. never mind, just the ramblings of an old lady.
I have to apologise for the typos recently but my ancient lap-top has now lost its spellcheck – it also lost the battery and the keyboard but I manage those. The loss of spellcheck distresses me because I get so involved in telling you the stories that I simply don’t look. Sorry!.
If you had any doubt that Israel is not only our home, not only exquisitely beautiful and filled with innovative people who are noisy but the kindest in the world we are one of the top tourist destinations in the world. See the newest video launched by our Minister of Tourism Dr Uzi Landau
Israel is in shock as the Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein made the heavy decision to indict HaRav Pinto, religious and spiritual leader, of bribery of a police officer – not just any police officer but the Head of Israel’s Anti-Fraud Unit, Police General Arbib. The legal decision to prosecute was courageous and the backlash may be fiery, but it was the right decision. No-one should be above the law.
The other subject of discussion and distress is Hadassah Hospitals dire financial situation. The staff, medical and subsidiary, have not received their salary for a month and prior to that they received only half pay for nearly a year. The blame is flying in all directions but basically it was not the fault of the amazing Hadassah ladies but rather of bad management and to a minor degree the foul Mr Madoff. The problem is that Hadassah is a private NGO and not part of the National Health Service, albeit an integral sector. Please G-d the country will come to the aid of these two gigantic hospitals. Shaare Zedek is taking the bulk of the emergency ambulance patients – and carrying the weight of essential services as the staff of Hadassah is on “Shabbat Service” They deserve to be paid.
John Kerry has taken a huge amount of flak for his efforts to find a solution to the unsolvable situation between the PA and Israel. I do not for one second believe that his efforts carry ill-will. I agree with Avigdor Lieberman when he says that the criticism is not fair. I have never quoted Mahmoud Abbas in a positive manner before but he cleverly said that criticising Kerry is not a very clever route to take – one does not bite the hand that feeds you!
Spain must be running on slow motion because it took them 500 years to recognise that the Jews they exiled during the Inquisition, those they didn’t murder, deserve Spanish citizenship. Well, almost, well maybe, well perhaps and only if they can prove that their names are appropriate………….. next they will ask the descendants to bring their ancestors to prove their Spanish heritage!!! They produced a list of formerly Spanish names
They kill whales don’t they? Denmark, the country that once upon a time had a King who saved his Jews, who was prepared to wear a Yellow Star but has now decided that Shchita – the process of kosher meat slaughter – is immoral and cruel is covering its racial bias with fine words. This is the country that kills giraffes for fear of inbreeding!!!!
Belgium is becoming dangerous. The land of incredible food and the world’s best chocolate is more and more racist. Passengers aboard a Belgian train from Namur to Brussels were stunned to hear an unusual message on the trains PA system: “Ladies and gentlemen, we are approaching Auschwitz. All Jews are requested to disembark and take a short shower.”,7340,L-4487636,00.html
Not all news is bad. The good news is that Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman announced Israel’s membership of JUSCANZ, a caucus of 15 non-European Union democratic states including Japan, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The grouping is part of the UN Third Committee, which deals with humanitarian affairs and human rights issues. Lieberman commented, “Next time you hear reports of diplomatic isolation or a wave of boycotts threatening Israel, know that the reality is very different.”
Friends have recently been producing very good books. If you want a rollicking book about Israel, Jerusalem, the past and one man’s adventure to find the other you should read Avraham Avi-Chai’s A Tale of Two Avrahams
After Shabbat drawn to a close Zvi and I will take our friends and go to a special concert in aid of my favourite NGO – the Yuri Shtern Hoslitic Centre. The singer and entertainer Yoni Rechter has given his performance gratis because he clearly believes in the incredible work of this organisation which gives hope and therapy to cancer patients at their most vulnerable moments. We all have someone in our close circle who has or will suffer from cancer and it is wonderful to know that there is a group of volunteers educated to ease the fear and pain for patients and family. I pray that the concert will mean the work can be enhanced.
So, another Shabbat is nearing. I love Shabbat, even my “Energiser Bunny” husband has to slow down. When we were commanded to keep the 7th Day it changed the world. Human beings need a day of rest, and it may well be the greatest gift that Judaism gave to the world. Sadly the insistence upon having everything now and doing everything NOW – instant gratification has caused us to turn Shabbat into yet another day. Sad.
Even if one were to take the religious aspect out of the picture (crazy but try) we need a day to spend with the family, to eat together, walk together, play together and yes – pray together. Last week Zvi and I went to our friends Moshe and Shula for Shabbat lunch and after the plethora of dishes, Shula and I left Zvi and Moshe playing sheshbesh (Backgammon) and we walked to a house in the neighbourhood where a fascinating mixture of ladies sat around a laden table and read Tehilim – Psalms. As each lady drank her wine, ate her fruit, nibbled a cookie etc she said the appropriate blessing out loud and all said AMEN. We prayed for the health of loved ones, and for the success of business, for the strength to overcome lifes obstacle course. I left feeling so satisfied, so full of hope and the sense of women-power, together saving the world. Who says that Judaism isn’t good for women? Ignorance!!!!
I am not going over to Givat Ze’ev today. I will go for a long and relaxed walk, stopping to smell the blossom in the air before tomorrows rain washes it away. I am so excited I can hardly keep still – my adorable, amazing, effective, kind and beautiful friend Arlene Wittels is coming to Jerusalem and we will have a few special days together. Arlene cries just thinking about Jerusalem and me – and I have some wonderful trips in mind for her. I want to take her up, up, up into the Jerusalem hills, all the way up to Nes harim so that she can experience the clouds of pink that herald spring, the Shkediot.
Our friend Deborah Davidson will be celebrating her grandchildrens bnei Mitzvot here in Israel, and Arlene and I are thrilled that we will be part of that beautiful celebration of two young people reaching the age of responsibility. We will also see Malcolm Hoenlein, who is one of my heroes in this world of Israel’s cause. A brilliant speaker and lover of Israel and I am proud to call him friend although since Dr Hoenlein is bring the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organisations to Jerusalem for a rivetting conference he will undoubtedly be racing from place to place as he and Caroline Greene, his ever present assistant, organiser and friend, try to soothe problems and create a wonderful atmosphere. I cannot wait to take part.
So the food is ready, the table set and I am about to walk up to the local corner store or Makolet. As I walk through the tree lined park to the corner each person who passes will wish me Shabbat Shalom. The fruit an vegetables on display outside the store are ripe for tasting……….. a permissable deed in Israel. This is such an amazing season fro produce – all local. They stock stuffed vegetables and “cigarim” cigar shaped pastry filled with spicy meat, and pastellas, potato filled triangles for those who are just too busy to produce those great additions to the traditional meals. I love the atmosphere – love the greetings – love the Shabbat feeling.
So todays musical offering is easy. As those who do not know better talk of dividing this city perhaps they should listen to this beautiful psalm “If I forget thee Oh Jerusalem let my right hand lose its cunning and my tongue stick to my cheek” –
Ana b’Koach is a deeply spiritual, Kabbalistic song, a prayer and a plea
So dear friends, I pry that you will have koach (strength) for whatever may await and the love and belief to carry you through.
Shabbat Shalom from beautiful Jerusalem and the marvellous view from our veranda.
With love from the heart of our world