The view from my veranda

160415 Sanders, Pesach, weddings


15th April, 2016

Shabbat Shalom to you, to yours and to all those for whom you care.

What a week! As you probably noticed I have done my very best to stay out of American politics, after all I get cross when our politics are misunderstood and those outside Israel think they understand when they don’t, so do my best not to make the same mistake. However, even my wonderful personal watchdog couldn’t keep me away from something that made me furious this week. The “proudly Jewish” Bernie Sanders took a new advisor. If I may paraphrase (with some careful editing to keep the language clean) Caroline Glick, with whom I rarely agree “Let us note that Bernie Sanders is running the most openly anti-Jewish campaign in presidential history. And like him, the chief purveyors of his animus to Jews, are other Jews. His new “Jewish outreach coordinator” Simone Zimmerman is a frothing at the mouth, potty mouthed Jewish anti-Semite who constantly demeans and derides Prime Minister Netanyahu using foul language to do so.

I have no love lost for Cruz and one can fairly criticise policies or personalities of both Trump and Clinton, but both have expressed pride in their daughters adoption of Judaism, even Trump has refrained from overly criticizing Israel and now this populist, supposedly proud Jew has thrown us to the dogs. If I have overstepped the mark then I apologise now to my Daniel, but that is how I feel. Sanders is equal to Member of Parliament Gerald Kaufman, the most anti-Semitic, anti-Israel Jew in Britain who also claims to be proud of his ancestry.

This campaign is not about Israel, it is about the United States, her standing as the leader of the Western world and her need to reduce the enormous fiscal debts. However, all of the candidates have made this about Israel. In a debate yesterday Hillary Clinton responded to a Sanders barb about mistreatment of the Palestinians with

‘And let me say this, if Yassar Arafat had agreed with my husband at Camp David in the late 1990s to the offer that Prime Minister Barak had put on the table, we would have had a Palestinian state for 15 years already,’

That’s it. Believe you me we have enough problems with our own politics and certainly with our own politicians. When you look at the Knesset, some are in prison, some are on trial, some are going to prison and then we have those who are so anti-Israel it is tantamount to treason!!! Haneen Zoabi was on the Mavi Marmara and worst of all we have one Member of Knesset whose wife won’t be in a hospital bed next to an Arab, or treated by an Arab midwife or obstetrician and her MK husband agreed with her. You know what – that is also treachery.

Gosh, before Pesach I didn’t want to speak of such distressing things but we all have to face facts. This is a time for cleaning our houses, both personal and national. It is up to us, up to our ability to speak out and stand up for what we know is right. To an extent we can only do that with our votes but we can also do what Stephen Ryde has done with his letters to Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the British Labour Party. Every single day Stephen writes an “Anti-Semitism Report” to Corbyn and other Labour leaders.  Every single day, they receive a report, written politely and strongly, and they now take note. They really do. Stephen, our one-man right-fighter. Kol ha Kavod.

I am really going forward with my Passover preparations, but managed to have a busy and fascinating week too.

On Sunday our lovely Australian friend Gloria Goldstein came from Tel Aviv (her car goes directly to the car park of the David Citadel so that is where we met) and headed off to Mahane Yehuda market. After mooching around for a little while, enjoying the sounds and aromas of that magical place, we walked down one of the many little alleyways and found ourselves at the “Casino de Paris”. The purpose of our visit was not to eat but rather to meet with a very special group of people. The founder, staff and patients of the Yuri Shtern Foundation. for a little “haramat cosit” a raising of glasses to those who give of themselves selflessly, to help Cancer Patients and their families. One beautiful lady spoke, I didn’t know her but now I cannot forget her. She spoke of her brush with cancer, the fears and uncertainties of treatments and most of all of how this unique organization, based in Shaare Zedek Hospital, eased her life and the lives of her family. I was deeply moved and felt enormous pride to be involved in an organization which struggles financially yet soldiers on to ensure that the toughest time in most peoples lives is met with kindness and therapies which ease their healing. Gloria now joins me in her admiration of their work and I was proud to introduce her to the staff.

Monday is Shouk Ramle day!!! I raced in going directly past all the costermongers yelling out their “just 5 shekels – everything for 5 shekels” and arrived at my destination – the sticker stall!! They had everything we need to ensure happy children at the Seder. Haggadas (the story of our Exodus from Egypt) which double as colouring books, quiz books about pesach, stickers for Pesach, indeed everything – and all at 10 for 10 shekels!! I managed to get back out in five minutes without being tempted by the cookware, shoes, spices, linens and underwear so that I could get to Osher Ad in time for opening. Osher Ad is a humungeous supermarket where all the goods are “Mahedrin” (super duper kosher) but every sector of Jerusalem society goes there to shop because they have great goods. As we stood outside, trolleys at the ready as if at the starting gate of a Grand Prix, we began chatting and at one point the lady next to me notice that I had a list of Passover necessities in my hand. “Can I see your list. I know I will forget things” Of course I gave her my list and then we began exchanging recipes at which point many others joined in. That’s Israel!!!!!

On Tuesday I joined the Press Club at the Benedictine Abbey in Abu Ghosh, where we met Father Olivier. If you can imagine a French Benedictine Monk in a Moslem village singing Adon Olam in Hebrew with the phenomenal acoustics of the crypt of the Abbey……… you may begin to understand Israel!! Abu Ghosh is the name of the family, or clan, of Abu Ghosh who came from Chechnya many centuries ago. They are not Arabs, are totally attached to Israel, study the Israeli curriculum in schools and although predominantly Moslem, is a modern integrated town which enjoys economically from being a part of Israeli society. On the main Jerusalem Tel Aviv highway – it is well worth a stop and their hummus is absolutely scrummy! The Abu Ghosh music festival is an essential part of Israels cultural scene and simultaneously the Abu Ghosh Hummus Festival is a wonderful sidetrack!

We went to a gorgeous wedding last night and today, ah today is the culmination of a fascinating rite of passage for the daughter of one of our closest friends. Lauren Libi Efron came on a Masa trip about five years ago. As she studied, served, learned and volunteered I saw a complete turnaround from a fashion conscious child/girl to a socially conscious young woman who today will become “Sadie Sadie married lady”!!! Libi is marrying Eitan in Tel Aviv. Zvis little grandchildren are the flower girls (and boy) and I can already see her father Davids pride as he walks her up the aisle. David Efron is the Honorary Consul for Israel in Puerto Rico and outspoken proponent for Israel. Mazal Tov! The Efrons, David, Kathy, Libi and Eitan, will join us for Seder night as they have done for many years.

If I were to describe the ultimate Jew, it would be a kind, gentle, honest, proud Jew who works for Tikkun Olam, loves the country in which he resides while supporting the country of his ancestors. In fact I would be describing Saul Same. Saul, proud Australian, beloved of Prime Ministers for generations, never missing a chance to tell everyone he was born in Beer Tuvia in Palestine. Saul Same, whose love for his Lucy was legendary; Saul Same who never missed an opportunity to tell you he loved you. Saul, who was described by one Australian Prime Minister as the epitome of a Mensch, finally went to join his Lucy. Saul passed away two days ago in Melbourne leaving behind him a legacy of honest and love. We miss you dear Saul – miss knowing such a fine man exists in our every increasingly difficult world. May your sweet soul rest in peace.

Tonight we return for Shabbat and will have Shabbat dinner with Jay Massirman who is here on an Israel trip and loving every second. Adventures galore including a helicopter tour of Israel from above, north to south (it doesn’t take very long we are a tiny country!). So happy he is here and thrilled with every moment of his trip.

I guess that is it for this week. Next week the final “shvung” into Pesach. Zvi is already complaining that he can’t find anything but that is normal. We have 27 for Seder night and I am relieved to tell you that I finally learned to ask for help. George and Elisabeth Gelb are stepping up and helping out at whatever I need! I no longer have an excuse to hold back since my surgeon announces he is really pleased with me yesterday – but admittedly warned against overdoing it…….. trouble is I don’t know how to underdo it!!!!

I know this is a bit of a long letter but I must tell you one last thing. I happily made a shidduch between Elisabeth and David Geffen, creator of Lovingclassroom and it worked out! David is going to British Columbia in May!

I know you will love this  music sent to me by my friend Sheila Zucker.

Each Seder Night, after we have told the story of our Exodus from slavery to freedom and all the reasons and explanations – and eaten ourselves silly – we sing. One of the songs the children love is Ehad Mi Yodea – who knows one. Here is a translation and wonderful version.

I hope I will manage to write next week but am not sure. Between easing Zvi’s back after schlepping our Passover dishes and utensils up 3 flights of stairs from the store room – to cooking and preparing for our big Seder night -I may not quite manage it but promise to try.

I know I have missed many aspects of this weeks news, but sadly, in our world of today, every day becomes more distressing. We live in interesting times.

On that happy note – I wish you Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem. Remember the importance of standing up and standing out. The fear of being seen and heard is our greatest enemy.