The view from my veranda

170602 Jerusalem Embassy, Bghdad Icecream parlour, Mahane Yehuda


2nd June 2017

Shabbat Shalom! I hope you are well and not too disturbed by all the various news reports.

If you are surprised by the about turn on moving the Embassy to Jerusalem then you have a very short memory! At least this time it is deferred by 6 months rather than vetoed. If you remember Zvi and I were in the House when the vote was taken- the 104th Congress Bill 1322 “The Jerusalem Embassy Act” enacted on November 8th 1995. It passed the Senate by 93-5, passed Congress 374-37 and was enacted by the 10 day rule which is when the President fails to sign or veto within a 10 day period. In other words the democratically elected bodies overwhelmingly passed it but all Presidents “vetoed” it. Why? It was said that in general they were piqued that the House ignored the Foreign Policy of the United States. Ergo, the State Department didn’t approve. Sounds like an extreme case of “Yes Minister” to me.

Canon Andrew White loves ice-cream. In fact he loves anything sweet but especially ice-cream. He used to take children from his congregation at St Georges Church in central Baghdad for ice-cream at the very best ice-cream parlour in the entire area……… but two days ago ISIS blew up the parlour he used to take the children, killing up to 40 people and maiming many more. The area is, or was, predominantly Christian. Such tragedy. In fact the Christian community in the Middle East is slowly disappearing, subject to very real ethnic cleansing.Bethlehem, for example. Bethlehem, the Holy Christian City, site of the Nativity, was a Christian city, now has just 5% Christians and life for them is tough. Our friend Boutrus called us the other day – Boutrus is a house painter, a devout Christian, who cannot manage to earn a crust in Bethlehem and crosses into Israel every day where he is welcomed. His knowledge of Hebrew and Israeli history are unparalleled. Boutrus called because his son is getting married and he cannot afford to give him a wedding. Oh that we were rich and could help him. His is the plight of those left in Bethlehem…….Horrific.

On Shevuot religious people stay up all night praying and debating the real meaning of the festival and of life. I know it is a “mitzvah” a right to do that all-nighter, but I can tell them the true meaning of Shevuot in two words. Tikkun Olam. The receiving of the Torah, of course, including the rules of kashrut (kosher food) are the basis but the meaning, the true meaning, is definitely to leave the world a better place than you found it. I believe that in we are pretty good at obeying that principle. In general we give to charity, always beyond the prescribed tithe; build universities and hospitals; are deeply involved in medical research; surprisingly expert in agriculture; innovators in water preservation, purification and desalination; we are great songwriters, poets and artists; and of course philosophers – oh yes we are great philosophers – which I believe comes from the sharpened mind of the Torah student. We in Israel also give that knowledge freely to the world – to make it a better place. MASHAV is a governmental body within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs whose sole task is to help, not financially but with projects tailored to each country’s needs and of course the myriad of NGO’s which reach out in time of need. So perhaps we have learned about Tikkun Olam, the lesson of Shevuot, through osmosis, absorption through our forefathers – I don’t know but it is worth noting that we reach out even to those countries that do not recognise our existence.

I try hard to understand how so many countries have swung left – Canada and France in particular – when the pundits say that logic should take the vote right in response to the horrific terror attacks around the world and the general threat of ISIS. The latest shock is the UK. Theresa May was doing well on the popularity scale and Jeremy Corbyn was a source of both fear and disparagement, his policies (other than the social aspect) off the map left. He openly castigated Israel although it is not in his manifesto, he stated that both Hezb-Allah and Hamas are his friends, indeed he has taken the Labour party to lengths that are very distressing and just about as far as Harold Wilson as one can get, yet, despite all that, he is climbing the polls! How? Why? How can a friend of ISIS climb the polls despite the horrific Manchester bombing? I am confused and disturbed…………. But equally disturbed and worried that Israelis are moving further right. I haven’t decided if it is simply demographics of what. In fact – perhaps it is demographics everywhere.

Zvi’s cousins Billy and Ruth Szapiro just left for London. I think that Zvi has really given them a fantastic tour of every new thing in Jerusalem. Ha ha, it is seems like an oxymoron to say “new things in Jerusalem” because most of the amazing sights and sites are ancient but still fun to go to the new ones. Last Shabbat, as I told you, I didn’t cook. We ate the most delicious Mexican food prepared by Ruth’s sister in law Rosie. Rosie and her husband Jaime and two boys came in laden with the most amazing delicacies, all my favourite foods. Rosie is a professional chef and prepares for homes, events, weddings and bar mitzvas – she’s really good! Gosh, I ate too much but it was worth it to see Zvi’s joy at eating “Mexican”.

This week they went to the Childrens Museum on Holon and raved about it. They were met by a very beautiful young woman who took them by the hand and explained how she became progressively blind then took them into an area of total darkness so that they could experience being blind themselves.

Yesterday Zvi took them to the Islamic Museum where there are many exhibits including my favourite, the horological exhibit  From there a quick trip to Mahane Yehuda and home to rest before the big event. Last night was the opening of the Israel Festival with a huge “Groove Party” concert in the Sultan’s Pool. Happily Rosie and Jaime came too and once there Zvi met up with our Australian friends Deidre and Keith Beville. Apparently it was spectacular under the walls of the Old City, very enjoyable but rather nippy!!

Talking of Australian friends, the last place I expected to experience Sharia Law is Australia. However according to this article it is happening.

Three important journeys occurred last night. My sister Doreen flew to see our sister Eddie in Canada and to meet our new found cousin Frank and his family; Billy and Ruth flew to London and Josephine and Tom Linden landed in Israel!!! This is so exciting because I have been nagging her for years to see the phenomenal changes since her last visit and because I happen to love her! Once I have finished writing to you and Zvi wakes up we will go to get them from their hotel and show them the wonders of Mahane Yehuda. I truly am not sure which I am most excited about – seeing Josephine or going to Mahane Yehuda!!!

The sheer culinary delights would be “dayenu”

The colours and aromas “dayenu”

The characters, bustle and costermongers “dayenu”

The incredible piles fruits and vegetables “dayenu”

The freshly baked pitot and challot “dayenu”

The amazing array of nuts and seeds “dayenu”

The mountains of spices and herbs of every variety “dayenu”

The fascinating arts and crafts “dayenu”

And finally the tastings, coffee shops and restaurants complete the job.

Friday in Mahane Yehuda – enough to convince a man to buy a home in Jerusalem eh Andrew?

Almost Shabbat.

Lecha Dodi is a prayer said or sung to welcome the bride of Shabbat. It has been set to every type of music – this is the most recent

In Judaism, even though some aver that it is a Patriarchal religion, the woman is revered above all else. In fact there is even a specific blessing said by the husband before continuing with the rituals and traditions of Shabbat. I am sure that ardent feminists would find fault with the words but they forget that they were written in different times. “Woman of Worth” Eshet Chayil, sung by the Barry sisters

Finally – just for the heart warming, spirit lifting of this video as a little girl performs for America’s Go Talent and steals the heart of Simon

Shabbat Shalom dear friends, I have to get ready to go to Mahane Yehuda – promise to tell you all about it next week.

With love from Jerusalem