The view from my veranda

161230 UN, Kerry, Mahane Yehuda and Chanuka


30th of December in the year 2016

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. It is now the 7th light of Chanuka and the 7th night of Christmas – a rare coincidence.

I admit I have been putting off writing to you. I am still in shock from the UN vote but even more so by Mr Kerry’s speech. Israel is the main, seemingly only obstacle to peace in the Middle East? You have to be kidding! Since I have spent my entire journalistic life determinedly fighting against harsh condemnation of any government, be it mine or someone else’s, I had to spend time calming myself before writing, then I came across this rather exceptional speech in the United Nations by  Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Rabbi Jeremy Rosen yet again wrote my thoughts in his weekly musings. He writes about Resolution 2334, America, Kerry and Chanuka. Please read his words, it is really worthwhile

No logic explains this Administrations obsession with condemning Israel while giving in to all the demands of the Palestinians irrespective of Israel’s Biblical, historical, legal or factual claims or making demands or conditions that they cease and desist their aggression. . Sadly, my hero and one of the most erudite of American leaders, Dr Malcolm Hoenlein, believes there may be an even bigger parting shot from President Obama.

Israelis, left, right and centre, feel utterly betrayed. As if the vote was not enough, Kerry’s speech left us reeling. The subliminal messaging has been working its cruel magic through the media and the politicians and we are perceived as evil.

As Syria burns, most Moslem countries are in total meltdown with cruel despots at their helm and thousands of innocents are killed every week, the world believes that Israel is the problem instead of understanding that we are the answer.

How was Kerry’s speech accepted in the PA? PLO Executive Committee member Mustafa Barghouti issued a rejection of the peace plan outlined in Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech on Wednesday, indicating how far from compromise the Palestinian leadership remains on the core issues. Barghouti said, “First, you cannot make the issue of Palestinian refugees only an issue of compensation,” claiming a “right of return.” “Second, recognition of Israel as a Jewish state…is totally unacceptable.” “Third, his formula about Jerusalem is absolutely something that the Palestinians cannot accept….East Jerusalem should be the capital of Palestine. How can it be a capital of two states?”Ronald Brandt

On Sunday Zvi came with me to the beautiful Jerusalem Press Club in Yemin Moshe, overlooking the walls of the Old City, indeed overlooking Mount Zion. The talk was intended to be on Mr Trump and Israel but with the UN vote – we went in a totally different direction. Prof Eytan Gilboa gave a riveting speech about the entire highly personal decisions and the UN fiasco. Please take the time to listen

I then went on to see old friend Rabbi David Greenberg fromTemple Shaarei Tefila in Bedford, NY and a very few but highly educated people from his bat mitzvah group. It pleases me no end when those who ask questions have really done their homework! Relevant and piercing I just hope my responses were up to the standard of the questions.

Monday morning and I went to a meeting at the “Jerusalem Baby Home“, the incredible WIZO centre in the leafy neighbourhood of Bet Hakerem, Jerusalem. The Director, Kobi, is an amazing person, his clear love for his work is apparent in everything he does. The building houses a day centre for small children with working Mums, a haven for battered women, vocational school for young people who would otherwise drop out of society, special classrooms for autistic chilren and so much more. The building is in community use every day of the week except Shabbat. For me it is a very special place. I walk in through the front doors and I sense my beautiful late Mother. My mother, Betty Silver, was deeply involved in the “Baby Home” so named because originally it housed orphans from WW2. I look out of the windows and see the grassy lawn where she danced with the children, the hallways and classrooms where she too walked. It makes me very proud. The Baby Home, indeed WIZO, is generational, and my sister Doreen and Cardiff WIZO are holding an event for the Home.

A meeting with Varda of the Yuri Shtern Foundation, another with my Cardiff friend Angela to organise a St David’s Day  Welsh celebration on March 1st, then a trip up North for a meeting and another meeting with Angela at the Caffit restaurant in the Botanical Gardens where we have decided to hold the Welsh event. Then, ah then, Zvi and I went off to Mahane Yehuda market! Actually we had to go to the city for a meeting but used the opportunity to go to our favourite place!!! We park up on Mount Herzl, in the car park underneath the Alexander Calder Stabile, and catch the light rail into the city. I love the light rail for so many reasons. 10 minutes into town, no parking tickets after a long and tiring search for a rare parking spot and most of all the unbelievable rainbow of Jerusalemites in each carriage. It amazes me that everyone is happy, smiles and chatting all around with complete strangers!

After our meeting we began to walk up the pedestrian road (except for the light rail) of Jaffa Street toward the Shouk. First we discovered an open market  and then at the bottom of Ben Yehuda we giggled to see a very jolly Haredi man, dressed in full regalia with Shtreimel and robes, guitar in hand, singing and playing – or as I called him “The Bearded Busker of Ben Yehuda“!!! the walk up Jaffa Street is fascinating – a myriad of small shops and filled with coffee shops on both sides of the road, it has really come into its own.

Then the prize – Mahane Yehuda of course! First Zvi popped intoMarzipan, the bakery that emits unbelievable aromas of freshly baked cookies, cakes and rogelech…. always teeming with buyers. Then to the confectionary shop separated into Mars Bars, local produce and lots of Mahedrin sweets and chocolates in a pick and bag form. Already somewhat laden we headed off for our favourite stop – Tzidkiyahus! The phenomenal array of olives – at least 20 varieties including the bright green Italian olives – and salads and freshly prepared kubeh, knishes, latkes and …….. wow mouthwatering!! Best of all we both love Yaron Tzidkiahu, who has more stories of Mahane Yehuda than you can imagine!!!

And so to Chanuka. It started with all the Israeli children coming to us after Shabbat to light the first candle. I was so excited!!! Zvi’s two boys, Leor and Amiad with their amazing families and my daughter Rachel with hers. It is so rare to get everyone together and we decided to turn it into Yosef’s birthday party too, even though it was a week early. He was so excited! 12 years old! We ate our meal of soup, salmon, salads and latkes (including carbohysrate free ones for the dieters) and then I came out with my proudest moment…….. homemade sufganiyot (traditional doughnuts) which looked amazing with chocolate and sprinkles  or lovely Demerara Sugar– and as we bit into them we realised they were somewhat reminiscent of eating very tasty shoeleather!!! I will give in and buy next year!! After all if you have a sophisticated choice like Roladin……..  Just flip through the flavours!!!!

Watching all 8 of the Israeli grandchildren lighting their own Chanukiah (Chanuka menorah) the glow of the candles reflected in their cheeks, was a very special experience. It was quite hard to get good photos because I was too busy crying with joy!!!

Don’t forget the story of Chanuka. Don’t forget that it is the story of triumph over insurmountable odds, triumph over those who wanted us to give up our rights to what is the essence of Judaism. All those who put us down, killed us, fought us, oppressed us, all are gone……….. every last kingdom and empire that tried to kill us off has disappeared!!

Music. As I listened to the Kerry speech, just one song kept running through my mind. It comes from Joseph and the Amazing Technicoloured Dreamcoat. Close Every Door. I first heard it sung by Paul Jones on the dummy tape made by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber  as my children sang along, but please, listen to the words

Kan Noladeti means Here I was born –

Finally the true song of Israel, the song of the Jewish people, of the honey and the sting –

Al Kol Aleh – Above all this –

Shabbat Shalom, Chag Chanuka Sameach, the continuing days of Christmas and of course a good 2017. My prayer, invocation, imprecation, plea is that 2017 will bring the world to it’s senses, that friends will not stab us in the back and that finally and for all we will be recognized as the positive, giving, generous and innovative country we really are.

With much love from Jerusalem, a truly beautiful city the Capital City of Israel for all her citizens.