The view from my veranda

170811 North Korea, Bibi rally, Danny Liwerant and Alex barmitzva


11th August 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends.

As I looked at the date I suddenly remembered that a saga began on this day – a romantic saga. On August the 11th 1935 two incredible people held their wedding in Walm Lane Synagogue in London and a young fashion designer chose to leave the hip centre of design in the West End of London for the simpler beauty of Wales to start a family and raise four children in a fairy tale environment. Yes, Betty (Regina) Glicker became Betty Silver as she stood under the chuppah and married her Jack, the were to become my parents. They set the standard on many levels, of how to express love. I always remember how our family room had a traditional 3 piece suite, two armchairs and a sofa, and we children used to sit on the sofa and my parents in the armchairs to watch the television on our 12″ screened Baird, black and white television. Before long, Mummy would remove the seat cushion from the armchair and lay it on the floor next to Daddy and sit with her head on his knee as he stroked her hair. Simultaneously he would hook his leg over the arm of his chair and with his slipper he would tap tap tap on the carved dark oak fire surround next to him which drove her crazy! Such is marriage, the amazing with the annoying – it all depends on the ratio!

Talking of ratio – a very strange event took place this week. Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Likud party held a huge rally in support of the PM, basically against the judicial system and the police, because of the projected charges of corruption and misuse of power against Mr, Mrs, and young Yair Netanyahu. I can’t remember such an event although many people in power faced investigations and worse – but to be the main speaker at an event which suggests that the judicial system and police are colluding to bring your government down is more than a little surreal. That famous line from Hamlet “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” Comes to mind. Equally from Hamlet is the famous quote “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”

Denmark to North Korea is quite a leap and hardly a leap of faith. Both Democrats (Clinton) and Republicans (Bush) signed nuclear proliferation treaties with North Korea  which should have been a bitter example to President Obama in the case of the treaty with Iran. Broken promises and dire threats began with attacks on South Korea and now their ballistic missiles are capable of reaching your land and certainly mine. Kim Jong-Un is not what one would call the most stable personality on the world stage. He is a demagogue, with aspirations to world domination. His outbursts are made all the more frightening by the strange staccato language of his lackeys in the media who make announcements to strike fear in the hearts of his people and all of us. We are not used to straight talking, if somewhat ineloquent, statements from the White House. We are used to elegant, wordy, diplomatic statements which have sadly been ineffective; perhaps a bit of straight talking is what is needed. I am reminded of the elegantly eloquent but equally spontaneous President Kennedy in the Cuban Missile Crisis. The standoff was no less dangerous and the threat on the USA’s doorstep. By not backing down and clever use of the power of rhetoric, the missiles removed by Russia without consulting Castro and the threat slowly disappeared. Castro would never be Americas friend but that is better than a state of war.

Sunday night the Feinsod family returned to stay with us. Silvia, Avraham, David and Alex carefully prepared for Alex’s bar mitzvah beside the Kotel the next morning. His actual bar mitzvah took place in Mexico but his dream was to say his brachot (blessings) beside the Kotel – and his parents obviously wanted to make his dream come true. Zvi organised a Rabbi and Silvia did what she does best – raced around finding everything she wanted to make his special occasion perfect, right down to a kippa (skullcap) with his name embroidered on it!!! They set off early with Zvi and after a few hiccups managed to meet up as Zvi determinedly grabbed a table for the Sefer Torah and family only to find that Avraham had beaten him to it! The ceremony took place to great joy with members of the Mexican and Israeli family. I met them later in Mamilla for breakfast and everyone seemed very satisfied. I was extra thrilled to see Rosie, Jaime and family there – Rosie promised me some of her phenomenal Mexican catering any time I want! In addition some frozen avocado and tortillas so I can make guacamole any time I want!!!

We seem to be continuing themes today so I will continue with the Mexican theme and take you to a very special ceremony and award to one of the most amazing men in the Jewish world. Daniel – Danny- Liwerant is a good man. He is a leader, an example, a man who has given his life to the Jewish world in general and to Latin America in particular. Yesterday the Latin American Olim Society chose to give Danny a special Yakir award for his unending support. The title Yakir means dear or special – and Danny is just that.  The ceremony and those who came to honour Danny show love for the man. Danny is a mensch, as Zvi’s school friend they have remained tight friends and Zvi loves and admires Danny enormously. A man of his word who understands that our Jewish world needs strong leaders who are willing to stand up and be counted.

Mario Lev is the motor and the heart behind the OLA (Olim Latin America) Society. An incredibly kind and humble man he made it his project to help those who came on Aliya to become acclimatized and absorbed into Israeli society. Natan Scharansky and Greg Masel (Chairman of KH) spoke and both remembered being new Olim. Greg made me laugh when he realised that Natan, Greg and I were the only people in the room who couldn’t speak Spanish!!! His memory of Aliya, like mine, was of the British Olim Society Offices in Jerusalem. After a full week of standing dutifully in the queue for the bus Greg noticed the same sign I found in the office “10 ways to become an Israeli” Number 10 stated clearly that you become an Israeli when you are the last in line for the bus but the first on board!!!!!

I cannot speak about Danny without mentioning his wife Judit. Judit is wonderwoman in real life.  Professor Judit Bokser Liwerant is Professor of Political Science at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM); Distinguished Visiting Professor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Member of the Mexican Academy of Science and a Member of the National Research System; Principal Editor of the Mexican Journal of Political and Social Science and Co-editor of the Brill Book Series on Jewish Identities in a Changing World, Despite all this Judit is an incredibly supportive wife, mother and grandmother… and friend.

Just as I whispered to Judit that I was surprised Zvi had resisted getting up to sing in Spanish with the young vocalist – he did!! To the surprise of the delighted audience he sang in his incredible bass baritone – thrilled as the response!!!!

One hears about incidents all over the world where women in hijabs are harassed in the street (to say nothing of Jews with kippas) I thought this video of women in hijabs in Israel was pertinent  In Israel no hijab is derided or removed from fear. Pertinent? Well Rabbi Jeremy Rosendiscussed the question of hiding ones Jewish or Israeli identity for fear of being harassed or attacked. Have we returned to pre-1939 fears? Are we trying to be inconspicuous? Would I still walk around London with my Ani Zioni badge? Have we become the archetypal Uriah Heep character, submissive and compliant rather than daring to stand up? Perhaps one should take our bravery from Shylocks speech in the Merchant of Venice

Another option is to take on the might of Twitter like this amazing young man

This weeks parasha – Torah reading is Eikev and it describes how Moses upbrades his people, he was so disappointed that they displayed ingratitude and disobeyed the word of G-d after He had sustained them with manna and guided their path, yet they still built the Golden Calf. Gosh is it ever appropriate today?

So we are off to Tuscany with Zvi’s boys and their families. We will rest and play, swim and walk, enjoy the beauty of Tuscany and search out history. I may not write next week so please excuse me. I pray that there will be nothing important to break into our rest time.


Sometimes understanding the words of a song is irrelevant. So it is with Yiddish, the language of my forefathers which is so expressive it needs no more. Dudu Fisher and Sassy Keshet

Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu ve al coolam – means Peace will come to us and to everyone. It is a prayer, a yearning, a plea – Shalom Salaam

The smells and sounds of Shabbat have begun in our neighbourhood; the air redolent with the aromas wafting through the air, evocative of the provenance of each family. Morocco and Kurdistan each have their own Kubeh soup – essential pre-Shabbat lunch even on steaming hot days of summer. One is sour with celery and lemon, the meaty dumplings satisfying hunger and the other is sweeter, rich red with beetroot. Tunisian hamin with brown eggs and lots of beans and fiery fish chreimeh; Yemenite Kubana and Jachnun (if you never tasted jachnun with grated tomatoes you haven’t lived); Ashkenaz chicken soup, gefilte fish, cholent and roast chicken; and probably that singularly Jerusalem delicacy that I am learning to like Jerusalem kugel. It is a weird combination of sweet and peppery, made with noodles and oil, and eggs it is conceivably the least healthy dish yet is also incredibly popular!!!

So that’s it!  Are your tummies rumbling with the thought of all that epicurean travel in one country? No burgers, fish and chips or pasta for us………… although we love them all – it’s not Shabbat and it’s not tradition!!!!

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. With all our love from our beloved Jerusalem


A special Mazal Tov to my niece Sophie and her new husband Rhys and to Ronnie, Sandie, Adam and Deborah. So sorry I couldn’t be with you but my heart was right there.