The view from my veranda

160205 Kotel mixed, Gaza tunnels, Tibi, Hadar Cohen

5th February, 2016
Shabbat Shalom dear friends,
Yes I know I am writing a bit late today but we had a surprise birthday party for Danby Meital this morning and I have 15 people for dinner tonight so please excuse me!!!
This has been a week that rocked the religious establishment and the earth for the people on the edge of Gaza and for me – week that lifted my heart from the doldrums of tragedies at home and anger at the international media.
I guess I should begin at the beginning because I confused myself and I know what I am trying to say.
The religious earthquake is that the government decided to set aside an area of the Western Wall for Reform, Conservative and mixed prayer. It is both logical and less revolutionary than it appears. The Western Wall is about three times longer than the current Western Wall Plaza. It continues past the Mugrabi and Robinsons Arch (which is in fact a staircase not an arch) into the Davidson Archaeological Park. The area beyond the current Western Wall Plaza will be cleared and prepared (without damaging antiquities) in order to give an area for mixed prayer. It was approved of and recommended by the Prime Minister. It will not in any way interfere or inhibit the prayer of those who choose to have separation, a mechista, whose needs will be firmly upheld. Just by the by – I was at the Kotel in 1967, Rosh Hashana Eve actually, and took a photograph. It was before they dug down, before the synagogue or tunnels, it was rubble all around and in the picture you see a very religious man standing talking to his wife right at the Kotel – so some minhagim, traditions, are self imposed and quite recent.
The physical earth moving has caused turmoil within and without the IDF. Residents of kibbutzim and moshavim along the border with Gaza have long complained of the sound of power tools, to no apparent avail. The sounds clearly indicate that Hamas is digging terror tunnels under their homes. This week the army began to check but for the families it is too slow and too late. God forbid those tunnels are completed and entire villages wiped out.
MK Dr. Ahmed Tibi, who grew up in Jerusalem and went to the Hebrew University to study medicine, became a Member of Knesset, was Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, went to the White House to discuss inequality of Israels Arab population! Somewhat ironic isn’t it?
Three Members of Knesset of the Joint List decided to go and pay a compassionate visit to Arab families whose children died at the hands of the IDF this week. Sounds logical? The trouble is those families, those children were Shahidim – terrorists who died for the cause of Allah!!! Their actions have been brought before the Knesset Legal Committee by the Prime Minister, and if their actions are found to be treasonable, they will be removed from their position.
In 2014 three Israelis tortured and killed a young Arab boy. The entire country was in uproar and many many Israelis went to visit the distraught parents of the boy, Muhammad Abu Khdeir. This week one murderer got life plus 3 years and another got 21 year sentence. The third has an insanity plea under consideration. Of course Muhammads mother is not satisfied but – in Israel we punish those who kill, we do not reward them. A life is a life is a life.
In Nigeria the diabolical Boko Haram burned children to death, whole schools, churches without a word from the leaders of the West who apparently care not a jot for the lives of the poor and the Christians.   Ban Ki Moon chooses to remain silent on the horrors of Boko Haram yet decides to chastise Israel for incurring the wrath of the Palestinians!!!
Hadar Cohen always wanted to join the Border Police. She achieved that honour just a few weeks ago. This week she became a heroine, saving the lives of many but losing her own in an act of supreme bravery. We salute you Hadar, as your Father did at your funeral. Hadar Cohen z’l.
Yesterday I had quite a discussion with our friend Michael Gallop, the culmination of which was that basically we disagree on politics but totally agree in principle!! A quote that Michael used summed up my feelings, that the West is left in a leadership vacuum, and clearly his but from very different viewpoints.
The Italian philosopher, Gramsci defined the concept well: ”The old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum many morbid symptoms arise.”
I am so proud of our friend Debby Bettsak who has written a firm letter outlining the reasons that  Israeli singer Achinoam Nini (Noa) should not perform at a JNF event in Atlanta. Noa has constantly denigrated Israel and the Government and should not represent either.
OK So I promised you the good things! At the weekend we saw out lovely friend David Efron, the Honorary Consul of Israel to Puerto Rico, and his daughter Libi and son in law Eitan, who then came to Jerusalem to a show of the Hora Dance Troupe at the First Station. We met for lunch and a promenade in Mamilla which was packed after David and Zvi went to the Kotel. The Hora show followed by dinner in the absolutely packed entertainment area of the First Station.
Then came Wednesday – wow was it really only one day?
The day began wonderfully with a lecture at the Jerusalem Press Club in the beautiful Yemin Moshe neighbourhood, a lecture given by the exceptional Professor Shlomo Avineri. Such words of wisdom fall from his lips every time he opens speaks. He took us from the 30’s and 40’s when Israel’s political camps were formed, through partition, Peel and the UN Resolution of 29th November. We chose partition because we knew we could never get support for Eretz Yisrael, and they chose war. Had they chosen partition today we would all live in peace. He took us through the changes of 1967 and the return to the call of Eretz Yisrael and the blame game with the Arabs. You know what – you don’t need me to explain when the Professor can do it so much better himself
Then, oh then it happened. With grateful thanks to my dear friend Andrew Stone (Lord Stone of Blackheath) I met with a truly fascinating man, originally British, like me, who chose the road less travelled – like me, and he has changed the lives of children, thus adults. His name is David Geffen, Rabbi David Geffen. David created a new concept in teaching, one that exudes love, not in an airy fairy way, but in a positive and concrete method of reaching children, especially those who fall between the cracks. As he says Build on the positive and the negative will disappear. David created Loving Classroom
Even before meeting my instincts told me there were two meetings I had to arrange for him. One was with IMPACT-SE where he found a fascinated audience whose research complemented his method and hopefully, judging from the hugging that was prevalent at the meeting, great works will be carried out together. The second meeting was with Canon Andrew White. This was a case of like-minded, warm, open, giving people who will work together to help the refugee children at FRRME school in Jordan. Only love can rebuild their shattered lives. As we left Andrews and I dropped David back to his car I felt an elation that I cannot remember……….. I was walking on clouds and haven’t come down yet. My next shidduch for David is with the wonderful Shachar Zahavi of IsraAid. Life is so good when you meet the right people. I know we are all nuts but hey – if you cannot think outside the box you cannot perform Tikkun Olam.
Finally but most certainly not last – Zvi and I met with Michael and Dorothy Goldstein and their daughter Ilana and son in law at, yes you guessed it, Caffit in the Botanical Gardens! I love meeting them, such warm and positive people I always leave with a smile on my face.
Today is a truly magnificent day. The sun is shining, the air is crisp and when you stand in the sunshine you feel your winter bones warm through. As we stood on Danby and Marvin veranda for her surprise birthday party, the cries of the Muezzin drowned out all conversation and the broadcast words of the Imam sent chills up my spine, despite the sun. Who knew what he was saying?
Anyway – I have to finish the cooking, although everything is ready to go…… Oh now I am crying!!! My daughter Rachel just called me before Shabbat and she and the children sang me a song they made up “Safta Safta (grandma), Safta Safta, We love you – Safta Safta, Safta Safta you are the best Safta in the world”!!! So tell me – wouldn’t you cry?
So back to the cooking! Tonight we are eight adults and seven children, and I am doing a milky meal. Vegatable soup, Pea Soup (Gilis request) Fresh Salmon Teriyaki, Moussaka with Tivol mince, Fishballs in Chraimeh Moroccan Sauce, Gratined Potatoes, Tivol Sausage Rolls for the children, various salads and no doubt a few other treats.
You want a song or two? It really has become important to me so I hope it is for you.
Perhaps the most appropriate song this week is Halleva’i – If Only- sung by Boaz Sharabi. If Only indeed
Another song that expresses Israel is Al Kol Eleh  I know I have played it for you before but as those students in Hillel House London learned the truth of convincing a deaf world of the wonders of Israel I would play this song so loud in my office that they wound up singing along with it and it gave them heart.
Shmor na li Eli Ha Tov – and never ever forget the Tikvah – the Hope. As David Geffen would say, Humanity. Head. Heart. Hand. If you think with Humanity, use your Head, give your Heart and helping Hand the world will be a better place.
Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, the city of light and hope. Worry not, we will be just fine.
With love

If the media does not inform us we must inform the media

Facebook      Sheila Silver Raviv