26th May, 2017
Shabbat Shalom! How are you? I hope this week has been a little calmer than ours, but then this is Israel where we live life at a rate of knots and Jerusalem where every day is interesting!
On Tuesday we watched the 5 helicopters circle and circle above us, occasionally shooting off flares into the blue sky and finally coming to land to take the President to the airport. You probably thought that the traffic jams were over when President Trump climbed aboard his helicopter for the short flight to the airport – so did we! Of course it didn’t happen. The only time Zvi was not sat in a “parking lot” situation over the last few days was when he came back from the airport with precious cargo, cousins Billy and Ruth Shapiro from Mexico, at 03:00!!! The very next day was Jerusalem Day and we all went to a delightful Brit Milah (Circumcision) party for our downstairs neighbours, Kobi and Michal’s first grandson. Understand here in Israel a brit milah is generally like a wedding – huge and in an event hall; this was a small affair, just 250 guests.
We then tried to get to the reception held by the Mayor of Jerusalem to celebrate Jerusalem Day. I say tried because every road had a police cordon and we couldn’t get near to the Tower of David where the reception was being held. The reason? We found ourselves next to the beginning of a Parade on King George Street next to the Great Synagogue, the Jerusalem Day Parade was preparing to march toward the Old City. Dancing and singing, Israeli flags flying high, young and old and tiny children so full of joy it was a delight. Ruth, Billy and I jumped out of the car to mingle and take photos and absorb the pride. It really was spectacular. This video shows mostly youngsters but there were people of all ages, from around the globe and of all religions.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hV7Ld34m77o
Incidentally the phenomenal “Son et lumiere” show on the walls of the Old City went on for 3 nights and people came from all over Israel and indeed the world for the event.
Perhaps it did not make the news in your corner of the world, but on Jerusalem Day something unexpected and equally remarkable happened……….. perhaps one of the most remarkable events since the reunification. The parliament of the Czech Republic voted to recognise Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel. It is so incredible that I will repeat THE PARLIAMENT OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC RECOGNISED JERUSALEM AS THE CAPITAL CITY OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4967031,00.html
The Lancet, conceivably the most prestigious of medical journals in the world, accepted an article accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza by an outside contributor. The reaction was instant and very strong and an apology of sorts appeared. The editorial staff apparently regretted the article and have now printed an entire edition lauding the Israeli contribution to medicine, medical research and peaceful coexistence within the medical community and patients in Israeli hospitalshttp://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.788162
In honour of Billy and Ruth’s visit we have a gathering of Zvi’s family for Shabbat with Mexican food as the central theme! Ruth’s brother Jaime and his lovely wife Rosita will provide the comestibles, they often cater for private homes, Leor and Shiri will provide their home and I will provide the desserts. I am sure the children will be thrilled to see their Mexican cousins.
This morning Billy and Ruth have gone out for breakfast with the lovelyRosa Medrez, their friend for many, many years and mine for a short but sweet time. Zvi wants to show them everything and last night he took them to see Mahane Yehuda by night. It is a transformation verging on a metamorphosis…. From noisy, packed street market to fun, young and teeming night life with dozens and dozens of coffee bars, pubs, music and street activities. As the sun goes down so do the shutters on the produce stalls. The wonderfully painted shutters hide the fruit and vegetables, the chairs come out of their hiding places, the bar tables and deejays, the wonderful sound of young people having fun reverberates in the alleyways. A sight worth seeing to warm your heart!!!
Judaism doesn’t really let us diet adequately. Zvi always claims that Jewish festivals are “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat” but Shevuot (Pentecost) is different. It is a harvest festival, a joyous ending of the 49 days of mourning (Lent) after Pesach (Passover) and more than anything a celebration of receiving the Torah. It is a festival of purity, of white, of milk produce – so many things together. As always, my wonderfully erudite friend, Rabbi Jeremy Rosen, explains it far better than I. http://jeremyrosen.blogspot.co.il/ and for the eating part (we don’t eat any meat or chicken over the festival and cheese anything goes) I actually have a wonderful low fat cheesecake recipe – which can even be sugar free. I’ll put it and my adaptation at the end of the missive.
Last Friday night we went to our friends Meira and Michael Partem, and there we met a British couple, Rabbi Andrew and Rebbitsen Sharon Goldstein, who, as it turned out, knew many people that I do (for the uniformed it is called Jewish geography. The minute you meet you find common friends!!). Indeed the evening was basically spent covering two topics; one was the question of diversity/conflict within the Jewish religion and the acceptance or tolerance of that diversity; the other was how we all love Norman and Lola Cohen! Wonderful Lola and Norman have been involved in inter-religious discourse for many years and co-founded the British Israel Grouphttp://britishisraelgroup.weebly.com/
I believe that Rabbi Andrew Goldstein is right, there should be representation for Reform and Conservative Jews in Israel, but we disagree on how. Zvi is on the Board of the Jewish Agency and sees first hand that their discourse is coming at the issue from the wrong angle. They need to join society rather than fight it. I am certain we can find a common aim and common ground. Indeed it is essential we fight together rather than each other. Of course this isn’t a Jewish problem, it is in all religions, but we do our fighting just a little too publicly!!!!
I just got back from collecting the children from school. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, the thrill of seeing YOUR grandchild running toward you in anticipation is incomparable. The stories, told in such a rush of words that they are barely discernable, act as testament to the relationship you have built up with love, unconditional love. All three of my Israeli children are in religious schools and all three are doing well academically, their schools do not change who they are, they are, and always will be the most affectionate and loving children imaginable. Yosef was fascinated that you know him through my words and wanted to know whether I write about my journey back into Jerusalem. I told him that I always describe Samuels Tomb and the view over the whole of Jerusalem almost to Tel Aviv and he was pleased. He also wanted you to know that we buy flowers for Shabbat once we have picked up the girls and he asked me to say hello and Shabbat Shalom to you!!
So back to Jerusalem Day and rather than find other songs I thought you would like to see the further videos of the illuminations together with two deeply important songs – Halleluja and Jerusalem of Gold
A truly joyous Jubilee.
So my friends – I hope I will manage to write to wish you a beautiful Shevuot but if not, Shabbat Shalom from our beloved Jerusalem. The reason it is a bone of contention, almost always has been, is because Jerusalem is the spiritual heart of the world. While it has been the very heart of Judaism, the streets that King David walked as he created the most beautiful songs – the psalms – in the language that we speak and pray until today, we have never been jealous, we have always shared it with joy. I wish you a holy Pentecost, a spiritual Shevuot and a blessed Ramadan.
May your G-d bless you and keep you safe from harm. Savlanut and Sovlanut – if you remember – are the secret to a peaceful life – Patience and Tolerance.
With all our love from Jerusalem and the veranda
The delicious no bake lemon cheesecake.
My adaptation is that I use 5% cream cheese or 5% ricotta and sugar free biscuits as the base – if you replace the sugar with sweet and low, you are ready to invite all your diabetic friends!!!!!