The view from my veranda

170210 Miami, Trump, Haredim, Miami, Gideon Saul


10th February 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends

Yes we are back home and I was very moved by the number of you who asked what happened to us! Well, I tried to write to you, indeed wrote but then found I didn’t have the means to send it!!! Never mind, perhaps it was better that I didn’t send it so that fewer feathers will be ruffled. Since we arrived in time for the inauguration we were also in time for some rather over-exmeited reactions!!!!

So, since we last spoke Zvi and I had a truly rotten experience with Expedia who forgot to tell me that our flight from Barcelona to Miami had been cancelled some 4 months ago (they continued sending me reminders) and we found ourselves having to stay overnight in Barcelona, not exactly a punishment but a rather large expense since none of the airlines took responsibility since they get at least one such incident every day with Expedia!!! Anyway, a delightful, if very cold, walk through the Ramblas and a night in a hotel we set off for Miami and David Efrons home.

I will not write too much about the elections and inauguration but just to tell you that Davids partner, Kathy Fernandes Rundle, Miami State Attorney who is very high up in the Democratic hierarchy, said it simply and clearly; the elections are over and it is time to move on and prepare for the next ones. In my opinion all the demonstrations against President Trump; the shunning of friends over their votes; the reactions of Democratic Congressmen; the angry and pointless outbursts and the fact that CNN still hasn’t accepted the results do not enhance the USA or democracy.

Just by the way, it is not the first time that racial profiling was in place in the USA! President Obama did it against Iranians to such a ludicrous extent that our own then Minister of Defence Shaul Mofaz was refused entry! Just 7 out of 56 Moslem States are on a hiatus of entry into the USA excluding Christians who seek refuge. Probably because not many Christians blow themselves up in either aeroplanes or shopping malls.

Incidentally, anti-Trump mania reached the House of Commons when the Speaker, who is by definition apolitical, announced that President Trump would not be welcome in the Houses of Parliament because he is racist and sexist! After all the tyrants, despots, and so on that were welcomed it is a disgrace and a fall from honour. Melanie Phillips talks about this and much more  iincluding the fact that nobody seems bothers that Jews and Israelis are banned from so many Arab and Moslem countries!!!!

There, that’s finished!

Israel has been on the back burner of the news, except for the issue of settlements (surprise surprise) and Prime Minister Netanyahus visit with Theresa May, the British Prime Minister which apparently went very well. Actually Mr Netanyahu has had his hands full recently with the legal authorities finally questioning his hedonism. This morning I heard an excellent interview on Israeli radio with one of the other cabinet members where the interviewer asked the MK “Had the person being investigated been Ehud Olmert who you castigated for his “gifts” while you were on the Opposition Bench would you have been as lenient as you clearly are to the PM’s wrongdoings?” Incidentally PM Olmerts entire case was built on $15,000 whereas the extent of gifts Mr Netanyahu has received makes that look minimal. Isn’t it strange, the case against Mr Olmert was because he raised election funds and Mr Netanyahu because he accepted gifts (a lot of gifts), both of which would not be considered a crime in most countries – except the two I have lived in!!!! No doubt that will raise a few eyebrows from all of you but, hey, that’s why you read what I have to say!!!!

A very big issue here is that on the day we arrived there were riots. Haredi riots. The riots were not even against being called up to the IDF but rather because in order to get the title of conscientious objector you have to appear at the induction centre and that is what they are rioting about – harming the policemen who were sent to keep order and disrupting traffic. If they are so against this amazing nation, hate Israel, think we should all pray all day and not work or serve the country then they should also not receive social security to study; free medical service; social services; roads, transportation and all the services given by the taxpayers. I am all for religion; I adore our Judaism and our principles; I think that there is no religion with traditions of giving like ours; Many of them came here from elsewhere and have not taken Israeli citizenship so that if they do earn they do not need to pay taxes.

If they don’t want to be part of society and refuse to contribute to that society then let them leave. Gosh, you see, this normally very moderate and balanced author occasionally gets worked up. I don’t want to offend my religious friends because as far as I am aware none of them fall into this category, they all work hard and contribute to society in general no matter where they live.

One constant question on peoples lips was “Why isn’t Saudi Arabia on the banned list” Well, Saudi Arabia is as much in the line of fire as Israel, in fact even more so. In case you hadn’t realised the Middle Eastern conflagrations are all about the Sunni/Shia divide. Iran is Shia Moslem and Saudi Arabia is Sunni which makes them a clear target. President Obama decided to fall on the side of the Shias who represent only 15% of Islam, including Iran and her satellite organisations of Heb-Alla and Hamas, leaving the others outside – not very wise. Saudi Arabia is Sunni and now turns to Israel for her defence weaponry and technology. The materials and operators fly to either Cyprus or Jordan and then on to Saudi Arabia in unmarked planes and set up the defence systems. Read here

“Safta and Saba, what was the high point of your visit?” asked Talia. Well obviously for me it was visiting my NYC family and getting to really know my little grand-daughter Callie who at 3 years old only kinda remembered me and spending time with the amazing Joshua – and of course Daniel and Karen and for Zvi it was going to Mexico and seeing his family there. Having said that our sojourn in Miami was filled with great experiences and wonderful visits. Our initial purpose for travelling was that after a talk in the community of Rabbi David Greenberg in Bedford, NY Bob and Faith Krasnow invited Zvi to talk at his wonderful synagogue in West Palm Beach. They really did us proud and Zvi was, as always, fascinating. I don’t know how he does it, his eloquence is unmatched and happily the community of Bet El were thrilled. I was extra excited because a group of readers came especially. In shule the Rabbi asked a highly pertinent question “Who was the Mother of Jesus”? a somewhat surprised community looked back at him but almost everyone knew the answer “Now tell me what Moses mother was called”? almost silence – only two of us knew the answer Talia Carner confidently called out “Yochevet” while mine was an uncertain whisper. “Indeed Yochevet, and none of you knew the most important woman in Jewish history!” A point worth contemplating! How many of you knew Yochevet or the one who watched over baby Moses or the one who saved him?

We saw many friends and family, in fact I don’t want to start naming names because I don’t want to hurt anyone!!! Friends gathered friends to hear our views on what is happening here and our relationship with the USA and the new President. I must mention one name though, Rabbi David Steinhardt who invited me to speak to a small group at his shule in Boca Raton. We have known David for some time and despite my reticence at speaking his warmth gave me confidence and for the first time in my life I stood up and spoke clearly and even Zvi said I did well! Perhaps it was because very special friends were in the audience – I have to mention Audrey in particular. Her tears of joy when we met, having been through so much together during the time when Kinneret Chaya was injured, were joined with those of Sari Singer, Jane and Harvey. Kinneret Chaya, one of the main reasons I will never stop writing. Kinneret Chaya, daughter of close friends, blown to smithereens by a terrorist in Tel Aviv, given a 2% chance of survival and now a mother to 4 exquisite children. Those of you who do not know her miraculous story – just ask me and I’ll send it to you.

Rachel collected us from the airport together with a vast amount of luggage – Zvi cannot go to Mexico without going with his cousin Ruth to the markets, and buying, and buying – all good stuff but it took one whole suitcase!!! We managed to get everything in and then dropped Rachie home before heading off to our freezing cold apartment! I didn’t have to strength to unpack just dropped into bed leaving it all for the morning.

As I drove to see the children this morning it was as if we had never been away. Climbing the hill of Ramot, over Samuels Tomb, down the other side to Givat Zeev, the children calling every two minutes to see where I was – happy. Their excitement was total and I realised I was home – where I am meant to be. Driving back to Jerusalem I couldn’t help but glance over that phenomenal panorama of Jerusalems many hills set out like a beautiful white puzzle of small houses, behind them small apartment blocks growing in height until the tall modern buildings of the city completed the horizon. It really is spectacular.

My veranda survived the cold and the flowers are blooming, even the hibiscus said hello! Tomorrow we will be with Zvi’s boys and their children which made me think – what a glorious month this will be – I got to see all of my children, all of Zvi’s children and all of OUR grandchildren all within a short period of a month. Life couldn’t be better.

No sooner have landed than I am off again, this time to London on an extremely exciting visit. On Monday morning my amazing son Gideon Saul is being invested as a Queens Counsellor in the House of Lords and then at the Court of Appeals (like the Supreme Court) and I will be there to burst with love, admiration and pride. My son will be a bigwig – literally – as he dons a new robe and a long wig which will be his court uniform from now on. Gideon Saul is a special person who has a strong sense of justice and determination which foretold of his calling. Thanks to his beautiful and equally clever wife Stephanie he has achieved his dreams and long may it continue.

Zvi just got back from his parliament where the main topic of conversation was all of the above!!!!!

Music, music is the spice of life, the reason to smile the reason to cry – music brings back memories almost as easily as scents, smells aromas, so let’s try to bring back some good memories with the following:-

Tu b’Shvat is generally known as the New Year for Trees, but that is a misnomer, it is the festival of potential both human and agricultural – it is a time to plant, a time to grow a time to think of future crops. Here is a short song of Tu b’Shvat in Yiddish

Perhaps this little video about Israel is also appropriate for Tu b’Shvat – All about Israel in 4 minutes

Naomi Shemer is arguably Israels greatest poet/songwriter. One day she heard the Beatles Let it Be and decided that she would write a song of hope in the same vein – her prayer for peace is clear and beautiful Lu Yehi

Oseh Shalom – May He make peace

So dear friends, old and new, it is time for Shabbat. I am sorry I didn’t manage to talk to you for a few weeks but here we are now, deep in our conversation as if there had been no break. I have to admit I missed you too.

Tonight it is just Zvi and I but the prayers will be full, the traditions complete and the light that Shabbat brings will fill our home. It is always good to be back but no matter where we are Zvi’s glorious voice will fill my heart as he sings the Kiddush – the blessing over the wine.

May G-d bless you and keep you safe from harm.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, ever beautiful, ever golden, ever ours.