The view from my veranda

161104 Rabin 21 years, 99 years Balfour, Press Club, Yuri Shtern Gala


3rd November 2016

Shabbat Shalom dear friends.

It is 21 years since an evil and inflamed Israeli man killed our Prime Minister and in many ways our hope, not for peace but for a unified Israeli society. I was sitting on a beach in Acapulco with Cecilia Bayon when I heard the diabolical news and subsequently in Billy and Ruth Shapiros home in Mexico City glued to CNN in disbelief. I couldn’t stop crying, I wanted to be home to mourn the friend, the Prime Minister and the rare leader who garnered the love of leaders from around the world. He was a fine soldier and a great defender of Israel. My last hug was in the Rotunda in Washington just 9 days previously when his prime concern was for my health instead of the assembled dignitaries and politicians– how could he be dead? I miss him and his humility horribly. General, Chief of Staff and Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin z”l

I am sure you remember my friend Jill. I often write about her visits to Israel. Jill is very excited because she is coming back in a very short while and she wrote this wonderful note “Recently realised that tomorrow is a very special anniversary for me. 3rd November 1966 I stepped ashore in Haifa, and so began my new life. 50 years, Sheila, and I remember it like yesterday. It was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with Israel that has only grown stronger through the years. I will be reliving that day step by step all day long.

Standwithus is a magnificent organisation which prepares students as ambassadors in academic gowns for Israel. Almost every day they educate me and I am far from being a student! This week is the 99th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, conceivably the most important letter in modern Jewish life.

Kim was here, Dr Kimball Taylor, travelling 30 hours from Western Canada to be here for the Jewish Agency Board of Governors meetings and to see us. Many aspects of Jewish life around the globe are covered in those meetings, some decisions will address the problems we face, some are not sufficiently brave. The Jewish Agency meetings were followed by the World Zionist Organisation meetings where Shlomo Avineri gave a brilliant talk about the genesis of the Balfour Declaration. Prof. Avineri says that the Balfour Declaration never said a Jewish Homeland – it says clearly that the British Government would view with favour a homeland for the Jews but that whatever entity is formed it must ensure the safety and wellbeing of the locals.

Actually, Kim recorded Zvi on stage singing to the assembly –can anyone tell me how to download to youtube so I can send it to you?

Hen Mazziz is a Standwithus star. Hen went to speak at University of London’s University College last week. He and his pro-Israel audience were attacked, some physically, a truly disgusting situation. All over the world this violent behavior is perpetrated by misinformed, or rather disinformed students. One way to protest is to do why my dear friend Yitzchok Katz did. He wrote and asked to be taken off the University College London’s alumni list.

Christians United For Israel (CUFI) is doing a fantastic job of lecturing  and informing. They took a series of wonderful ads on buses in San Francisco thanking Israel for defending our  faith.

The Jerusalem Press Club under the guidance of Uri Dromi, has excellent lectures for both local and foreign press. This weekAmbassador Alon Bar came to talk about the current fiasco at the UNESCO Heritage Committee which has been hijacked by the Palestinians. They have been full members for 5 years, but we are not. Their repetition, ad nauseum, of illegal, occupation etc have tainted the processes and taken over the entire agenda. Their power in that previously august institution has given them the courage to change the highly flexible status quo concerning the Temple Mount, the agreements with the Jordanian WAQF, so that instead of specific times when Jews and Christians can go up to the Holy sites, they now decided that we are allowed only onto a tiny area and, to boot, deny our heritage. Their “bravery” aka chutzpah has taken them to the stage whereby if the Temple Mount is now Harm al Sharif then the Western Wall is also Moslem and the Plaza beside it. What bothered the Ambassador most of all is that despite the great work by the Vatican which has been working together with Israel to counteract the disinformation, many countries voted with their interests not their conscience.

When it comes to my Judaism I am something of a traditionalist but accept the ways of others. I accept Women’s Minyans (Quorums); mixed services, but when it comes to the Western Wall, the Kotel, I draw the line. The government decision whereby  women can pray at the further section of the Western Wall, actually women pray together all the time at the Kotel, was not enough; this involves reading from the Torah and wearing tallit and kippa too. Jewish law has no problem with women praying together, but this week, headed by Anat Hoffman, they decided to flaunt their beliefs and walk men and women together, carrying Sefer Torahs, along the Western Wall Plaza. It is pushing too many buttons and flaunting their stance in the face of tradition, the word that kept us Jewish for 3,000 years. Tradition. A  rather unseemly dispute broke out. When one lives in a holy city with so many options – why flaunt your rebellion if not to create publicity?

Well – it happened!!!! Two nights ago the Yuri Shtern Holistic Center held a gala performance, despite the burglary and subsequent mayhem.

The Jerusalem Theatre was packed! Lena Shtern made a beautiful opening speech, referring to the volunteers blessed work of easing the physical and emotional pain of cancer patients and their families and to the donations which make their work possible. She praised Yonatan Halevi, the Director of Shaare Zedek Hospital whose foresight enabled the facilities within the hospital to be given gratis to all patients and families in the four Oncological Departments. The Mayor praised the work of the Center and promised more financial help and then a marvellous standup comedienne Elinor Sela, poked at all the things most polite society won’t touch. She laughed at cancer, baldness and Lena Shtern’s ever present optimism that calls cancer “the visitor”! The phenomenal young dancers of the Batsheva Dance Company gave the performance of their lives. It was breathtaking. Such agility and ability – and then they came down into the audience and took individuals to dance with them on stage! The finale is the irreverent but quite phenomenal “Ehad Mi Yodeya”

The result of the performance was that the Yuri Shtern Holistic Center staff – headed by Lena Shtern and Varda Hershkowitz managed to turn lemons (the burglary and ransacking) into the most spectacular Lemonade. Thank you to all who donated, you made a huge difference, especially the one friend, a glorious woman by name and by nature, who covered the monies lost in the burglary. I am still walking on air!

Last night our dear friend Michael Goldstein, from Sydney, came for supper. I love Michael! He came to help his newly married daughter Ilana move in to her new apartment and is such a great father he is busy building, painting and repairing. He even brought his own toolkit all the way from Australia!!!

Nearly Shabbat again! Gosh it is hard to believe how quickly the time goes. Zvi’s children and families are coming for Shabbat Dinner – of course all their favourite foods. Since the weather has cooled we have Veggie soup, Pea soup, chicken shishlik, meat balls in tomato sauce, ptitim (a kind of farfel) and a whole slew of salads because Leor and Shiri are off carbohydrates!

I love the autumn – we don’t have the stunning autumnal colours of the British forests but we get life giving rain. Almost time to collect Yosef, Talia and Ayala from school and take them home to the aroma of fresh challot……… it must be a generational thing because that was my children’s favourite memory – coming home from school on a Friday to the aroma of freshly baked challot knowing that a hot and steaming bread roll (bulke) was waiting for them, dripping with butter. Well in those days we considered that a good thing!!!

Music music music!!!

Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach – tells the story of Jews in Vienna in 1939. His story is becoming all too familiar on the streets for Jews in Europe once again.  You must, but must listen to his mesmeric voice and pay attention.

This song is so exquisite that I had to give you the translation  As he sings I dare you not to shed a tear. “When the heart cries”  by Uziah Zadok, aged just 13, who turns a song into a prayer

I wish you Shabbat Shalom; I wish America an election that will bring you a good leader for the United States – A leader who will lead the United States and the world to a better place.

Election Day falls on my beautiful daughter Rachel’s birthday – Happy, Healthy and joyous birthday amazing woman. Just 8 years ago Rachel spent her birthday giving birth to Ayala – whose birthday is on the 9th……… this birthday she will rest!!!!

With much love from Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish world.