The view from my veranda

170915 Irma, Iraqi Jews, Slichot, Balfour


15th September 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope you had a good week and are feeling well. I remember how we used to snigger at our elders when they wished each other a year of good health, but in truth it is our number one priority. We can overcome almost anything if we feel strong.

I often wonder how people live in Florida, the glorious Caribbean and of course California cope with the repetitive dangers of hurricanes and earthquakes. In fact one can include Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, so many places yet we are frequently asked how we cope with living in a dangerous place! Being Jewish and Israeli we obviously have many friends in Florida and were deeply concerned about the path of Irma, and watched reports to check constantly. Being Jewish and Israeli we were proud of the many aid groups who rushed to the aid of our greatest ally.  Hazalah, ZAKA and many first responders were in Florida and iAid and IsraAid were in Florida and the Caribbean Islands many of which were devastated. It is who we are, we take Tikkun Olam very seriously.

I was horrified to read this week that the State Department of the USA intends returning Jewish books, texts and documents of the Iraq Jewish community to the Iraqi Government. How can they do it? Iraq is in chaos, they decimated their Jewish population that had to flee and yet they give them precious documents, perhaps the last remaining proof of the Jewish Community of Iraq.

The law to include Haredi Jews in the conscription to the IDF passed this week. I have a sneaky feeling that despite Rosh Hashana and Slichot we may have trouble this weekend.

The new code word for the intelligentsia is “Intersectionality”. I hate these cobbled together words with a vengeance but it explains the danger of labelling and factions beautifully. Professor Alan Dershowitz wrote “Intersectionality is another code word for Anti-Semitism”

Extremism comes in many forms, it is not the realm of the right, more and more it shows it’s ugly head on the left. Michael Moore standing holding a poster “I am a Muslim” abusing the Je Suis Paris after the horrific terror attack there. Here in Israel the Screen Actors Guild of Israel has an award ceremony coming up, paid for out of government funds but the Minister of Sport and Culture has been uninvited because her political beliefs differ from theirs. Theatre, a law unto itself without accepting responsibility.

It is time we stopped labelling people, stopped trying to define “Who is a Jew”? -stopped putting people into boxes because underneath – we are all the same. Some good, some cruel, some exceptional, some mediocre, some brilliant, some stupid but we are all the same.

The essence of Slichot, the period before the high holy days where we beg forgiveness for our sins, is tolerance. Tolerance, Sovlanut.Sovlanut comes from the same root as patience in Hebrew – Savlanut– because if you think about it all we all need to achieve Sovlanut is Savlanut. The patience to listen, the patience to observe, the patience to recognise that even if someone is different from us they deserve our ear, not necessarily agreement but to listen to them and find out why they feel and think the way they do. Perhaps they never had the chance to learn otherwise because they were never taught the principles of Savlanut and Sovlanut.

At the risk of sounding like John Lennon – IMAGINE. Imagine that we each accepted the difference, the other, without expecting them to be like us. What an amazing world it could be. Impact-se  is making slow, but definite, progress toward that aim, through research and recommendations to introduce respect for the other – Sovlanut – into curricula around the world.

We reached the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. We all know about the usual statements about it being unfair and illegal, even though it was neither, but every so often someone stands up to be counted. Sajid Javid, a British Cabinet Minister says Britain will celebrate the Balfour Declaration Anniversary with pride.

Incredibly it is a whole year since Shimon Peres passed away. His political journey from right to left led to him being a fine President, recognised for his brilliance and love of Israel. His famous quote perhaps typifies our situation here in the Middle East better than any other “If a problem has no solution, it may not be a problem, but a fact – not to be solved, but to be coped with over time.”

The anniversary of his death coincides with the anniversary of theEntebbe Operation. An operation filled with derring do and heroism, the rescue of those captured in Idid Amins Uganda, Entebbe, is one for the history books. Shimon Peres was the Defence Minister and he spoke thus to the IDF who carried out the mission “You left a very worried country but you returned to a very proud country. We owe you our thanks for this,” he said. “You take a risk, perhaps greater than you realized… this was carried out in an exceptional and perfect way.” Here Peres greets the captives from the aeroplane as they landed in Israel

On Sunday I went with my friend Nitza to the Israel Museum where we saw the excellent Dan Reisinger exhibit then the official guide of the Ai Weiwei exhibit. It really is a magnificent exhibit and the explanation of each of his pieces brings his work to light.

On Tuesday I met a very special lady, Gloria Goldstein, at the First Station, together with her very pregnant grand-daughter Ilana and her husband Elad. Of course the talk turned to babies and birth and I was thrilled to hear that the birth will be at Shaare Zedek Hospital where my three Israeli grandchildren were born. I even gave her a few tips as to which midwife to talk to so she gets immediate attention!!! I love the First Station – it buzzes with activity and has great restaurants.

Talking of the First Station, one of it’s first managers and initiators is Ofer Berkovitch. Ofer has moved on to become Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem and activist for the city. Ofer sees Jerusalem as a city for all her residents, not any one sector and works his heart out to ensure it will happen. We heard his plans at a meeting of his mentors, we heard the problems he faces and the plans he has for the future. Ofer brings hope for a bright future for Jerusalem and I feel very confident that despite enormous difficulties that he faces in the Municipality he will ensure that Jerusalem stays multicultural and free.

The news just came in that a bomb exploded on a London Tubenear Parsons Green Station. So far there are no deaths because it was a very amateurish device but many have burns from the device and injuries from the panic rush to get away from the station. What evil fanaticism can make a person take a bucketful of explosives (apparently also chemicals) onto a crowded commuter train and explode it? What teachings have brainwashed gullible minds? Why would the recipients of every possible social service and kindness decide to wreak havoc in the lives of so many? If they think it will make all infidels turn to Mecca and pray they are wrong. They do a huge disservice to their religion and to their host countries. I am angry.

It seems inane to go from reporting a terror attack to telling you how beautiful Jerusalem is. We are beginning to leave the searing heat behind and our evenings are cooler and breezy. Sitting on our Veranda is becoming a pleasure again. Oh how I love our veranda…….. it isn’t just the flowers, fruits, herbs and the view, it is because all of the above are in Jerusalem. I really miss my family, spread all over the world and my friends, and wish they could all come to sit with us to look over the panorama of Jerusalem and understand why we love it so much – this house always has enough food and a warm welcome.

I was thrilled this week to discover that thanks to Dubi Gordon there are another 500 readers of this newsletter. Thanks Dubi, good Shabbes

Next Year in Jerusalem, the constant prayer of the Jewish people. Today’s Torah Portion speaks of Moses prediction that after we spread all over the world there will be an ingathering. Jerusalem, Jerusalem – this song even talks about our Veranda!!

Peace will come to us, peace will come to all of us. Shalom, Salaam.

Finally, I need to lift my heart and yours with me so………. I Can Be, Yaakov Shwekey

With all our love from beautiful Jerusalem. Zvi and I have a quiet Shabbat in front of us as we prepare for the craziness of Rosh Hashana and Shabbat all together – no diets this coming week! I am going to take my rotten cough to bed now – Zvi has gone to his parliament at the Hebrew University Coffee Shop so I don’t need to worry, all the ills of the world will be sorted by the time he gets home!

Shabbat Shalom everyone!