The view from my veranda

161007 Hurricane Matthew,Prince Charles, Shiloh, Yom Kippur


5th October 2016

Shabbat Shalom dear Friends – did you know that today is International Smile Day?

I am sure that the people of the Caribbean Islands, Georgia and Florida are not smiling as yet another storm hits. Who said that it is paradise on earth in the Bahamas – right now it is closer to purgatory with many dead. We all have our challenges to face but this is dreadful. Haiti is, yet again, a victim of the worst of the Hurricane Matthew; partly because the housing is so poor and partly because their government and unending poverty has left them unprepared. One thing I do know is that the incredible people of IsraAid stayed on to help rebuild and give psychological and educational aid to the people of Haiti since the devastating earthquake. IsraAid is already on the ground.

This has been a week of late news – late because it is all after the fact! Prince Charles, as I told you, went to visit his grandmothers grave on the Mount of Olives. It was not an official visit (indeed his attendance at the funeral of Shimon Peres was private not official) it was respect for his exceptional paternal grandmother, Princess Alice of Greece who is buried beside her mother in Gethsemane, the Church and Convent of Maria Magdalena, a Holy Christian site and nothing to do with anybody’s peace process. The media decided his visit was kept a secret, that he went over the green line………. Indeed, after the fact the media in general is making a real mish mash out of a private tribute. I am still delighted by his regal kippa!

If you heard that Israel attacked Gaza this week – we did. Actually not Gaza per se and we didn’t attack but apart from that the reports are accurate. Israel responded to 2 rocket attacks on Sderot by searching and responding to the rocket sites. Sadly, while returning from the response Major Ohad Cohen-Nov z”l died after ejecting from his F16 fighter jet. May his soul rest in peace.

The American administration is angry that there is new building in Shiloh, (Yehudah and Shomron). What they don’t tell you is that Shiloh is one of the “large areas of Jewish habitation”, is in the Binyamina region and the houses are being built for those Jews evicted from the illegal, hilltop settlement of Amona by Supreme Court injunction. To suggest that the so-called peace talks are failing because of a few houses is ludicrous. It is failing because instead of attacking the crux of the problem the USA. Europe, UN and so many other bodies have failed to understand that one side, the one they see as belligerent, has done everything in her power to make peace and the other, the one they see as the victim, has not honoured any of its commitments, starting with their school curriculum. Go to the Impact-SE website  and understand that from birth Palestinian (indeed all Arab countries) schools teach hatred of Israel and of Jews and Christians. All the above organisations and countries need to start there.

A group of women decided to take a small boat from the southern tip of Europe and head for “war stricken and blockaded” Gaza. They were taken into custody by the Israeli Coast Guard, which included predominantly women soldiers. Trouble is that before they left they made videos saying that if the videos are seen by the world that means they were captured by the “Occupying Israeli Forces”! Oh come on! If these women, including a few Israelis and a Nobel Prize winner, really cared about Human Rights, surely there are many places in our region where the very existence of women deserves their attention? Do they recognize that the only entry for aid and goods to Gaza come through Israel’s Kerem Shalom Crossing? Do they know that Egypt closed off Gaza entirely? No of course not.

Rosh Hashana is behind us and Yom Kippur before us. The ten intervening days ) are days of introspection, atonement – Selichot ( asking forgiveness) North African Jews perform the rite of Selichot for 40 days. It is a time to rethink our manner and way of life – hopefully finding reason to change and the strength to do so. The tenth day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei; 10 days after the creation of man in the form of Adam; 10 days of repentance until the ultimate repentance, Yom Kippur. Why? Why should we repent if we didn’t do anything bad? We are asked to repent the sins of humankind, the unintentional sins including those when we said “Gosh did you hear about ****, they say he did so and so” Admit it, we all do it!

If we are talking about repeating lies which have no foundation in truth perhaps the biggest lie, so prevalent and fashionable at the moment is that of anti-semitism and anti-Israel cant. Perhaps it is worth listening to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks theory as to what are the foundations of anti-semitism “The Mutating Virus”

We had family to us for first day Rosh Hashana lunch, then a group of diverse friends came for second day. It was wonderful, totally spontaneous and the food was basically ready for the 14 of us. Canon Andrew White came with Hano, Ilan and Cilla Horowitz, Leah and Yehuda Ressler, Rina and Yechiel HalOr, Dvorit and Meishi Schreiber and Prof Gabby Barkay and Ester. The conversations ran thick and fast because all had heard of each other but none knew each other! Andrew gave us a short insight into life in Baghdad for the last Jews and Rina and Cilla discovered they had a common close friend!

The vast quantities of food consumed over the past weeks will simply increase with a 25 hour hiatus over Yom Kippur. Since I have a vast number of guests over Succot I need to precook otherwise it becomes just too much. Yesterday, Zvi went to stay at his son Leors home to babysit the girls because Shiri, Leors wife, gave him a birthday treat and they had a beautiful night in a fancy hotel including dinner. What a great idea and it gave me time to cook!!! I made Potato Kugel, stuffed mini veggies (with rice and herbs) which I layered into a tall container, cooked and then when the time comes I will heat and turn out onto a platter, layer upon layer of tiny green courgettes, baby sweet peppers of bright red orange and yellow, onions carefully peeled off and rolled, cabbage leaves……….. I hope the plan works out!! I baked lemon cakes and fruit cakes and right now I have to go and make that most British-Jewish of dishes “Fried Gefilte” Mmmm delicious!!

Some people have already built their Succahs/Tabernacles. I wonder if someone will complain to the UN that there is a great deal of illegal building in Israel this week – perhaps the judgement is that the buildings must come down within eight days of usage!!!! Succah may be a simple job, special fabric that one wraps around poles on the balconies or it may be a more solid Succah made of sections of light wood – one thing all have in common is the “Schach” or roofing. In the UK we used any greenery that we could legally clip, but in Israel the  acceptable Schach is Palm leaves, huge fronds which cover even the largest of Succahs. In the religious communities most buildings forego their parking area for a communal succah, rather than each home building separately, but in general those families with children build their own.

I want to wish any Moslem readers a good Muharram – the Moslem New Year which fell almost at the same date this year. Here Druze soldiers celebrate

I must go and fry my fried gefilte fish, it really is delicious I promise. I already collected Yosef from school, hugged the girls and drove back home over the height of Har Shmuel – past Nebe Samuel (Samuels Tomb) past the panorama of Jerusalems hills back home to the best view of all – the view from our veranda. The stores are closing now, the last frantic shopping to replace the goods used in cooking for Rosh Hashana replaced, the aromas rising from busy kitchens whch means it is time to find some beautiful songs.

First and foremost I want to post something from The Boss, Bruce Springsteen who has decided that it is high time he came to perform is Israel. If Springsteen is looking for the Human Touch – I promise he will find it here

How can I take us to Yom haKippurim without Kol Nidrei, the opening prayer. Cantor Helfgott, together with Maestro Yitzchak Perlman – breathtaking

I am still deeply moved by David D’Or singing Avinu Malkeinu at the funeral of Shimon Peres z”l at the special request of Shimon Peres z”l. We say this prayer on both Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur – here it is with translation

Anyone in Israel on November 1st – the Bat Dor Ballet Ensemble is putting on a charity performance at the Jerusalem Theatre to raise essential funds for the Yuri Shtern Holistic Care Centre for Cancer Patients and their families. In fact – all donations will go to a truly magnificent cause

If at any time I have hurt you, though without ill intent, I beg your forgiveness and assure you I will do better in the coming year.

With love from Jerusalem, the most beautiful city in the world which will come to a total halt as the Rabbis prepare to sing Kol Nidrei and nary a vehicle will move until Ne’ilah (the closing) is ended. Nothing moves except emergency vehicles, Israel wears white and walks, families together, talking and conversing in a way they forget during the year as cellphones remain on bedside tables.

Shana Tova to everyone, whatever their origin, whatever their creed, colour or leaning. May we all learn to respect and show tolerance to the “other” whomsoever they may be