The view from my veranda

171201 Hotovely, N Korea, Trump, Hoenlein, Yuri Shtern


The first of December 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends.

I have to start with the ridiculous storm in a teacup after Israeli MinisterTsippi Hotovely said that American parents cannot understand what it means to have a child in the IDF. She’s right!!! I have two step-sons, Zvi’s boys, who served in the IDF in dangerous situations and with all the love that I have for them, I am not their parent and I cannot understand what it means to rear a child to serve in a constant war situation. I am here in Israel, I have friends who lost their children to war and if I cannot comprehend fully, how on earth can anyone thousands of miles away understand the parents here. It wasn’t an insult!! It was a fact. The Minister never claimed that Americans don’t support Israel or that no Americans have ever served in the IDF – far from it. There are those who are trying hard to build a wall between the United States Jewish community and Israel and this is just another attempt. Please, don’t be fooled, the connection we have is of ultimate and deep importance for both of us because as the seemingly banal saying goes “United we stand divided we fall” or as Sir Winston Churchill said “When there is no enemy within then the enemies without cannot hurt you”. There are so many enemies without, racist enemies, that we must stop our infighting and find the common denominator rather than emphasising our differences.

This has been a week of extreme rhetoric and a threatening ballistic missile launch. The insanity of Chairman Kim has nothing to do with whatever the American President says – it is innate, inborn, psychopathic megalomania. So determined is he to appear the mightiest leader of the world that he brought the strange television reporter out of retirement to report every move in her staccato, bellowing urgency to emphasise his actions.

We live in a time of extremes, of instant decisions rather than of labored and careful leadership. Everything is instant and encapsulated in a Tweet. Everything is in the words of headlines and people do not read in depth reports – it saddens me. It especially saddens me when the leader of the Western World is ridiculed daily on Western media. He isn’t my cup of tea at all but he is the leader and every item denigrating him gives succour to our enemies – they laugh all the way to their growing arsenals.  Rabbi Jeremy Rosen

I am inundated with information from many and varied sources but this week I received a video, I believe from the lovely Roy Solomon, of a US Representative Jim Jordan speaking on the subject of the American Embassy and Jerusalem. It held me in rapt attention.

A man I have admired for many years, Dr. Malcolm Hoenlein, is the most respected of men. His quiet diplomacy and his behind the scenes work is exceptional. He is currently in direct contact with the Qatari government to obtain the release of Israeli prisoners, both living and bodies, held in Gaza.

On 29th November 1947 the United Nations voted to create two states, a Jewish State and an Arab State in the Middle East. Resolution 181 was very clear, the vote was legal and the newly formed Jewish State accepted 181 with both hands. The Arabs refused to accept it deciding that it was tantamount to causus belli. The result? A thriving, blossoming, cultivated society in Israel and poverty and unassuageable anger on the other.

With all the terrifying news around the world it is always special to hear good news from friends and even better when that good news involves a young Israeli doing well in sport. Or Nassi, the grandson of our friends Carmen and Yisrael, won Gold in the Junior European Championship in Judiko at the Championships in Rome including Gi and No Gi! Bravo Or, you have brought honour to us all.

I am a very lucky person. I have many incredible people in my life from whom I learn every day.
On Wednesday I learned what love can do.
I went with my dear friend Gloria Goldstein to meet Lena Shtern at Shaare Zedek Hospital Oncology Unit, to see and understand the work of the Yuri Shtern Holistic Centre. We met patients who receive the loving care of the specialized holistic therapists, therapists who give of their love and knowledge freely as volunteers for the Centre. Patients told of the life changing effects of these therapies, how lying in the therapy room they suddenly feel like human beings not pincushions for medication. They spoke of the psychological relief as well as the reduction in nausea and the inevitable side effects of chemotherapy – I don’t have words to describe the outpouring of love from both patients and therapists.
Perhaps the most emotional of all, if such a thing is possible, was meeting Dani. Dani is a therapist in the children’s ward, most of his therapies are for palliative care patients and their parents. Dani is an angel.
Each and every therapist has undergone very intensive training on top of their regular holistic training to understand and learn how to treat cancer patients and their families, a very different approach to treatment…. and now a new course on how to treat children, including courses in both the psychology of treatment and parenting to understand how to pass this knowledge on to parents of dying children.
Angels – each and every one.

Shaare Zedek medical staff has welcomed the treatments with open arms, recognizing that it really helps their patients overcome the most traumatic of times.

Just in case you are among those who think that all Israeli women are flag waving settlers who sit on a hill top and shoot Arabs or that all Arab women have a bomb under their hijab or teach their children to hate – watch this wonderful video and learn that everyone responds to love. Thanks to Diane Steinfink for sending this to me

Talking of love, David Geffen just left our home after updating us on the incredible work of his organisation “Loving Classroom”. Loving Classroom reaches out to children and teachers alike teaching children love and self-esteem and ………. Wait, I am not explaining it correctly, what is a truly practical route to tikkun olam sounds flippant in my words so I will let David’s words explain.

Almost Shabbat and Zvi and I are alone this week! We have both been stricken, along with half the world’s population, with a rotten cold so even though we have generous natures we don’t want to give our germs away!!!!

Jerusalem is spectacular today. The sun is shining, the air crisp and as I sat on the veranda with David and Zvi, all wrapped up in a warm coat, I was again taken aback by our luck to live in such an exquisite place, overlooking the city we love. This city with it’s widely diverse population, its troubles and beauty; its fun and intensity; its joy and deep sadness; its trendy bars and restaurants and its religious tensions – and of course its spirituality, perhaps most of all its spirituality. I believe that spirituality has no religion, it has no bounds, it doesn’t know hatred and it has no demands. Spirituality is in the very stones, the paths that inspired King David to write the most beautiful poetry, still read today in his original language, Hebrew. Zvi always describes Jerusalem as a city from Wall to Mall – and he is right!

Back to the veranda………. The geraniums are stunning, their bright scarlet flowers prolific  through the lush green foliage. The little lemon tree is thrilled with the change in the weather and her fruits are slowly turning colour, absorbing sweetness from the gentle sunshine, the kumquats are bright orange and the pomegranates, too bitter to eat, are opening their bounty for the multitude of birds which come to feast on them. I was amazed this week to discover that the bird which sings the beautiful but unexpected song amongst the trees is the local parakeet – a bright lime green and simply stunning.

Zvi is downstairs now, renewing the mezuza of our building – just one of the tasks the Chairman of the Building Committee undertakes! I love that we have a building mezuza as well as each home……………..

As I said – almost Shabbat which means it is time for music

Shir l’Maalot this time with a Spanish translation  – so beautiful

A song most of you will recognise May the Skies be Joyous – Yismachu ha Shamayim sung by the Effi Netzer singers – because we bumped into Effi Netzer last week!!!

So that’s it! I wish you a good shabbes – a beautiful day – a loving weekend and the opportunity to meet wise people to learn from.

With love to one and all from us, here in Jerusalem