The view from my veranda

160715 Terror on the Promenade des Anglais, Theresa May, Breaking the Silence


15th July 2016

Shabbat Shalom dear friends.

My profound condolences go out to the people of France.

Yesterday was Bastille Day, the National Day of France, the celebration of freedom and independence. Throughout the country young and old attended parties and where better to spend the evening than along the famous Promenade des Anglais in Nice. At 22:30, thousands of young people walked in the balmy sea breeze among fine hotels, excellent restaurants – until a 33 year old Tunisian drove a huge truck, ploughed through the revelers, for 2 kilometres, killing and maiming on its deadly route then began to shoot in all directions. After he was killed the police found that the cab of the truck was filled with grenades and explosives.

Why? Why France? Perhaps the number of immigrants from North Africa, particularly from Algeria and Tunisia; perhaps because French troops are quietly fighting Al Qaeeda and Islamic State with great success in Iraq, Syria and the less known areas of Africa; perhaps because France has implemented many new laws coming down hard on terror – or perhaps because of those three words which Bastille Day epitomises “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite” – Liberty, Equality Brotherhood – 3 words which are anathema in oppressive, fanatic Islam.

Until we, all of us, recognize the danger and its source and fight it on every level, especially on the public awareness, we are lost. Scapegoats no longer serve the purpose.

This weeks change of Prime Minister in the UK was probably the most British of events. With grace and good natured humour David Cameron left his position and Theresa May stepped seamlessly into Number 10. The British press was obsessed with her husband’s exquisitely tailored suit as they walked from their car into their new home. Number 10 looks like a normal, if elegant, terraced home but it is enormous and houses the Prime Ministers offices as well as the family home.

Please watch this video of the last Prime Ministers Question time to see the unique humour of the British Parliament.

Mrs May – Prime Minister May – has an enormous task, first and foremost working out a viable deal for Britain with the European Community, post Brexit. The pound is surprisingly recovering, but for how long? Her choice of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary surprised many but having met him, he could well be the most appropriate choice – even if he has offended most of the world’s leaders with his honesty! To be honest – he is a refreshing breath of fresh air in a stuffy and treacherous world. As I look at the country of my birth, which nurtured my family and has a fine history of fighting oppressors (WW1 and WW2) I believe the future is brighter out of the EU than in and Mrs May is the right leader at the right time. I want someone who is good for Britain, but admit I was deeply impressed by her love of Israel and understanding of the Jewish community as shown in this speech made recently at a B’nei Akiva event. Her respect for being in synagogue and wearing a hat is impressive.

Sameh Shoukry, the Egyptian Foreign Minister made a very quiet visit to Jerusalem this week. He met with the Prime Minister and they discussed their common problems and their determination to bring some semblance of normality to our region. Egypt and Israel are working solidly together to rid Sinai of ISIS. It was a quiet visit, as it should be.

Breaking the Silence is an Israeli NGO that purports to put forward the rights of those oppressed by the IDF. Yes, that’s what I said. Former soldiers who believe one can fight a horrific war without harming the enemy. They speak out to the BBC, CNN, the Guardian, indeed anyone who will listen slandering our troops. If they just spoke out on genuine human rights abuses, and took their findings to the government or the Chief of Staff I would applaud them, but they are quislings and endanger the lives of all we hold dear.

After a terrifying time in South Sudan where the IsraAid team were caught up in the civil war, another IsraAid team is in the USA providing aid and succour to those affected by the floods in West Virginia. A local TV station reports.

Here in Jerusalem life goes on as always. We had a new visitor to our veranda, a long-time friend who just hadn’t been before. Gideon Selinger, who came to tell us all about the Tsfat (Safed) College, an unusual place of learning that gives opportunities to those who would otherwise be left out of the system and then, ah then he stepped outside and gasped. “It is even more beautiful than you describe” he exclaimed. “If I lived here I would never go anywhere else. I would sit on the hammock and absorb the view” Gideon – I do but I have an Energiser Bunny for a husband and he pushes me out of the front door!!!

We survived babysitting 7 grandchildren on Friday. Actually we babysat 4 and Amit, Talia and Ayala helped us with the others! When the girls arrived I had Challah dough all ready and each child made a personal challah which was then labelled to ensure the germs stayed in one place.  They all had a ball! I love the way that Zvi’s grand-daughters and mine get on so well. After lunch I took Talia and Ayala home to get ready for Shabbat, to kiss my daughter, take my freshly baked Challah and drive silently back over Samuels Tomb to take in the view. It was even more spectacular than usual, clear as a bell, each building standing out like a puzzle piece fitting beautifully into the landscape, the towers along the horizon as if they were framing the New City and pointing to the Old City.

Amiad stayed for supper with the little ones, Ella and Yonatan, for Shabbat dinner – which was a child orientated menu since we were definitely in the minority! Then we had the pleasure of Amit, Gili and Ori sleeping over. We tried bribes, songs and stories, but somehow nobody wanted to sleep on the mattress all three wanted the bed. After a while I suggested they take it in turns to sleep on the mattress……………… and two seconds later they were all asleep – each feeling she had won!!!!

On Wednesday I went to the beautiful Yemin Mosheneighborhood to hear a fascinating talk by Estherina Trachtenberg at theJerusalem Press Club. Estherina grew up in a deeply Haredi family, member of one of the Eastern European closed Sects, but always wanted to learn, to study, to discover. Her parents, a former Professor and scientist, refused to allow such behavior, deeming it insufficiently humble. Estherina left the sect at 16; worked in a home for disabled children where she had accommodation and studied for her matriculation; she went to Shaare Zedek nursing school, studied for her BA in nursing and now is studying for her Masters in Medical Science. I am proud of Estherina on almost every level, except that she has thrown away the baby with the bathwater and despises all aspects of her religion including tradition. One can be learned and religious as so many have proven, but the suffocating of women in these sects as baby-making machines who work three jobs to sustain their families so their husbands can study is also untenable.

Walking back up the hundreds of steps through Yemin Moshe I had time to think of Estherina. She is brave and ambitious but I still believe that once she made the move she did not have to throw everything away. She is now almost reconciled with her family – occasionally visiting, dressed appropriately, so that she can be with her 11 siblings. She appears so that her siblings will not be deprived of a good “shidduch” because of her actions.

Yestereday we went to Tel Aviv to spend time with Helena Glaser, former President of WIZO, to extend our condolences on the loss of her mother. We spoke of WIZO, Mothers, Zvi’s parents amazing history and life in general. Proud to be considered your friend Helena.

Zvi has gone to the beautiful gym at the University where he takes care of his now lithe and slim body – then he will go to his parliament, somewhat less civilized than the British one. I will finish writing to you then head off to see Rachel, Yosef, Talia and Ayala, back over Samuels Tomb.

This weekend we will be in Tel Aviv, enjoying our friends there. Zvi, of course, will go to his Tel Aviv parliament where the conversation is somewhat lighter, of less consequence, but enjoyable nonetheless.


Adon Olam – Lord of the World – Perhaps the most famous of all Jewish prayers by three wonderful Israeli tenors

Finally, not for the first time, Shalom Aleichem, Peace be with you, This short video brings us the essence of Shabbat.

Shabbat shalom dear friends. May peace be with you and yours. May the Almighty give our leaders the courage and wisdom to recognize who our enemy is and fight them with truth and honesty rather than interests.

With love from Jerusalem, our hearts broken for the French people.


If you want to know the meaning of the prayer Adon Olam –