The view from my veranda

160219 Ehud Olmert, Conf of Pres,


18th February 2016

Shabbat shalom dear Friends. I hope this missive finds you well.

Have you ever felt that you fitted a month into 7 days? Well this week I was convinced that time had run away with me. No sooner did I wake up than the whirlwind of life passed through and it was night-time again!!!

Three meetings of the Press Club, a kind invitation from Malcolm Hoenlein to join the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organisations and hoping to see friends too. My husband has been infinitely patient as food is hurriedly thrown in his direction on my way out the door! I haven’t seen my grandchildren this week and………… it has been absolutely fascinating!!!

The plight of our friend, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has knocked the wind out of our sails. The vultures in the media and the government have swooped ominously, their determined attack on the flesh of their prey sickening; their short term memory claiming he was not a good Mayor/Minister/Prime Minister. As we look north to the chaos in Syria, just imagine the threat had Ehud Olmert not blown up the Syria reactors, despite strong opposition from the USA; as we look to the South, imagine had he (together with Ariel Sharon) not taken the Jews out of Gaza as Hamas rose to bloody power? Does anyone really think Hamas would have been defeated had we not left? Look to Turkey, USA, Europe, UK whose leaders he wooed and won. One writer even suggested that Ehud Olmert wrested power from a comatose Ariel Sharon when those of us near him know that Ariel Sharon had taken him from his Mayoral position and groomed him to take over the leadership in the middle of Sharon’s term. Finally, perhaps he came close to the line into a grey area, but compared to others who got away with mild sentences he did nothing to harm Israel’s public image. Please don’t write back with cruel claims – I cannot cry any more. If you check out Facebook you will see that those of us who worked close to him have only kind, nay loving, words for the man who led us.

The UK has outlawed “town hall boycotting” of Israel. In a statement, UK Minister Hancock added that such boycotts “undermine good community relations, poisoning and polarising debate.” Hancock addressed the new guidelines while updating Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday in Jerusalem, commenting “We believe that discrimination is unacceptable and has to be opposed.”

Conceivably the worst instance of boycott and tragedy took place in South Africa, which is suffering one of the worst droughts in history. Vast areas are laid fallow and arid and a Conference on Water was to take place to prevent further tragedy. When they found that an Israeli expert was taking part, with the technology that has been adopted in California, BDS demanded the Conference cancelled.  Bravo BDS, the dead and starving will be on your heads in the ensuing famine.

Yesterday there was another stabbing attack. It was in Shaar Binyamin, outside the green line, which may seem irrelevant but apparently important to the news media. Sky News actually said an Israeli, Tuvia Yanai Weissman z”l, was killed in a stabbing frenzy by two Palestinian youths. I want you to understand something. “Settlements”, so demonised in the press, are in fact a fine example of living together in every way. Jews and Arabs live side by side, work side by side and in the case of Rami Levy Supermarkets, shop side by side –  and hold more interaction than people who live in the big towns and are able to spend a life without any contact with “the other” – other than in the news.,7340,L-4768062,00.html

I am a very lucky person. I am invited by Dr Malcolm Hoenlein to join many of the events for the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organisations of America. Even that incredibly long title doesn’t do justice to the work Malcolm does on every level.

The range of speakers and activities is incredible. From Yossi Vardi who wowed us with a genius 15 year old who is in his 3rd year of University while in 10th grade; a young Haredi man who became fascinated by creation and is now saving to go to University; Dr Shiri Tenenboim, an oncologist, who is caring for the refugees and work seekers who have no medical coverage in Israel; Yigal Barket, VP of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange who survived a gangster, wife-beating father to become an innovator, entrepreneur who still teaches children in schools that the do not have to become what the world tells them they are.

Of course there were many learned speakers on the expected subjects of BDS, Security, Iran, Syria etc, all fascinating, but I was thrilled to hear Yair Lapid speak. It is so refreshing to listen to a politician who admits his mistakes and learns from his experience. Luke Baker is not an easy interviewer, asking the tough questions but Lapid certainly impressed me anew.

Another highlight was a visit to the Friends of Zion Museum.

I have to admit that our friend Pastor Mike Evans, creator of the museum, has been asking me on a regular basis if I have visited the Museum and I just didn’t have time. Thanks to Malcolm Hoenlein I can now say yes. We were greeted by Mikes charming son Michael who then led us into a wonderland of Biblical and Modern History telling the story of those Christians who stood up to be counted among those who did not forsake their Jewish heritage and responsibility, especially honouring the Righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust. An exceptional experience. Kol ha Kavod to the two Michaels.

Inna Rogatchi is a film-maker. We met in Rome where under the auspices of their Foreign Ministry and Vittorio Pavoncello her film based on an interview with Simon Wiesenthal was presented to the community. It is an important teaching tool for us all

I think it is time to turn to lighter subjects and I chose a truly Israeli pan on life. Kippot; Hats; Shoes; Skirts; Coats and of course hairstyles, without even going into trousers!!!

Kippot or yarmulkes or skullcaps or – as my son Gideon says Yid-Lids.

White silk is clearly secular for bar mitzvas and weddings, small knitted kippot are traditional unless worn over the left ear in which case the wearer is proclaiming he is Bnei Akiva! Black knitted suggests a bit more religious and large black knitted is even more so unless you wear a large white knitted, bobbled kippa with Na Na Nachman on it,  then you are Breslauer! Black velvet is already going up to a much higher level especially if it peeps out the back of a large black hat!

Womens head wear is also dependent upon religiosity.  Shmattes, tichels, cloches or headscarves; tied, placed or wound into incredibly intricate mounds; alternatively a cloth shower cap does the job if you are very religious; Wigs – todays wigs are so different from the old simple knot at the back of ones head. Today they are perfectly coiffed and indistinguishable from natural hair; finally the cute hat perty perched on the back of ones head.

Even ladies shoes show your religious standing. If you see a long skirt with white socks and running shoes – you know that is a religious lady, unless she wears thick lisle stockings and black shoes then she is seriously religious!

I haven’t even gone into the pony-tailed priests, their tall, short or wide black hats, nuns wimples and the long black robes……… the leggings and silk coats of the various Haredi Sects and………… of course the rest of us who love looking at the incredible theological fashion show passing by. If you check out the garments worn by the priests and the Kohen ha Gadol in Temple times you will see that they had even more elaborate attire!

I am about to go to visit the grandchildren in Givat Zeev. After being hugged within an inch of my life we will talk about the weeks studies and who is friends and who is not. They will show me their latest artistic efforts and then I come back home, passing the panorama of Jerusalem, to sit on our veranda, take in the vista and dream dreams of tolerance and true peace. Oh how I love the view from our veranda. This time of year is spectacular, the almond blossom (shkediot) like puff balls on the hills opposite. The train will give its las ttoot before Shabbat in the sidings, the buses will go into their Shabbat car park and everyone will go home for a precious day of rest.

I want to check if you read what I say! Take this quiz on Israel and let me know your result!

So now is the time for music, time to reflect, time to prepare. We live in confusing times so maybe I should give you a song that although not Israeli, takes its inspiration from the Bible, from Ecclesiastes Turn Turn Turn

I just found this song, never heard before and although in English it captures the essence of Shabbat, Shabbes.

With love to you and yours. Wishing you a truly beautiful Shabbat, with time to reflect on the joys that are all around us, if we only take time to count them.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, the most beautiful city in the world