19th January 2018
Shabbat Shalom everyone! Gosh three whole weeks since I last wrote and so much has passed!! To start with, the world is a year older, I am a year older and Zvi and I went on a cruise!!
The best part of the cruise was being with old friends and meeting new ones. I suppose that we are, above all, people people – we love meeting new people and talking about ……..Israel!! The cruise left Barcelona for Casablanca but in fact we went to Tangier where we took a tour to Tetuan, birthplace of many friends especially of our dearest friend Shmuel Benalal who was killed in a terror attack in Mali. Sadly the tour passed by the Jewish Quarter and was generally disappointing. The most incredible part is that the Old City of Tetuan, dirty, poor and distressing, is considered worthy of the prized title of a UNESCO site while the Old City of Jerusalem – multicultural, thriving, beautiful, is not.
From Tangier we sailed for the Canary Isles (so named for the local dogs) through very stormy waters which did not agree with my equilibrium. Grand Canaria, Tenerife and Lanzarote were absolutely wonderful, beautiful and incredibly clean. I love what our taxi driver said when Zvi commented on it “There is no fine imposed if you throw rubbish, it is taught from birth that you just don’t dirty your own land”
Malaga. Malaga is simply gorgeous! We did an excellent walking tour and toward the end were rewarded with a fine sculpture of Shlomo ben Yehuda ibn Gvirol – the irrascible but brilliant Jewish poet born in Malaga. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g187438-c155565/Malaga:Spain:History.Of.Ben.Gabirol.html Our final stop before returning to Barcelona was in Alicante, but my thoughts were still filled with Malaga. Barcelona for my birthday and a visit to the Kosher restaurant Maccabi with Danny, Eva and Eli to celebrate. We were all amazed that while people are scared to visit Jerusalem where they are safe thousands and thousands walked the Ramblas. Despite the protests of the Mayor of Barcelona, large cement blocks now protect the walkers, a bit.
During the cruise I read one of the most informative and fascinating page turners of all time! Our dear friend Professor Michael Baum has yet again come up with a rollocking story filled with Biblical and archaeological facts. Aarons Rod – you must read it!!!https://www.amazon.co.uk/Aarons-Rod-Michael-Baum-ebook/dp/B075FJ5WPW
While we were away there was a cowardly terrorist attack killing Rabbi Raziel Shevach z”l, father of six. Two nights ago our special forces entered Jenin and killed those deemed responsible.https://www.timesofisrael.com/palestinian-said-killed-in-firefight-with-idf-commandos-in-jenin/ The newscasters describe Jenin as a refugee camp but those who have been reading my letters for many years will remember my visit to Jenin with Dr Malcolm Hoenlein, together with a group of major politicians. The Gilboa Regional Council worked tirelessly with the Jenin Mayor to rebuild the town, with a fine museum, municipality, beautiful housing on a fine square, a fun fair for the children – the slums of poverty gone – so what happened? How long can a town be called a refugee camp when it is a town?
As I said, Zvi and I love talking to strangers and getting to know about them. One of our favourite lunches was spent with a family from India who, like me, were searching for vegetarian food! The conversation started when I overheard the fathers voice and said “With that voice you must be a Barrister” He, and his wife and son, burst out laughing because I was right!!! Our conversation led to the fact that they live in South Africa and how similar the Indian and Israeli societies are and how we have common enemies. Neither of us knew that as we spoke Prime Minister Netanyahu was on his way to India to be greeted with great warmth by Prime Minister Modi at the airport. The essential photograph beside the Taj Mahal was overshadowed by the PM’s visit to the Mumbai Bet Chabad with little Moishy who parents were killed in the horrific Mumbai attack. Moishy is now 11, just 2 years away from his Bar Mitzva and the PM requested an invitation to the big event, which Moishy happily extended https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5063887,00.html
One question that was on everybody’s mind was “Why was it a surprise that President Trump intends moving the Embassy to Jerusalem? Why is it in question that it is the Capital of Israel? Yet again, Rabbi Jeremy Rosen speaks my thoughts in his latest offering.http://jeremyrosen.com/2018/01/islam-and-jerusalem.html
The moment I step onto the El Al aeroplane I feel happy, I feel at home. The crew are friendly, the language mine, the food really good and the service outstanding. Landing at Ben Gurion Airport gives me a true sense of coming home – no matter how many times I do it! The voice of Idan Raichel came over the tannoy system welcoming us home. My excitement rises as we near the terminal and this time, for unknown reasons, we came in the old entrance which proclaims “WELCOME TO ISRAEL” and found ourselves in the baggage claim to sound of cell phones ringing out their welcome back! Rachel waited excitedly outside the terminal and of course we hugged before putting the luggage in the car – not only are we a huggy family but this is a huggy country! I love to see the children racing into the big circle of the greeting area, balloons flapping and big smiles and squeals of delight when they spot a family member!
We dropped Rachel in Givat Zeev and climbed up to the panorama of Jerusalem from the Prophet Samuel’s Tomb, as breathtaking as ever. Arriving home is always special but before climbing our stairs I went across the road to our local supermarket to be greeted as a long lost friend!! Gosh I love it!
The day after arriving we went to Tel Aviv to help Amiad move into their new home. Collecting Ella and Yonatan from kindergarten, their joy at seeing us, was very special. It was so much fun to see the children running around and playing football with Saba Zvi in their garden, quite a change from the tiny apartment they had until now!!!
I’m about to go to collect Talia from school, on a rainy, hailing, thundery day. When we get home we will be greeted by the phenomenal aroma of fresh Challot, just out of the oven. My children tell me that their memory of coming home from school on a Friday was the aroma of my Challot, hot and dripping with butter as they walked in the door. Tradition? Tradition!!!!
Shabbat. Last week we celebrated Kabbalat Shabbat on board ship, this week in our home. Shabbat. Of course we sand Lecha Dodi, the beautiful song to welcome the bride of Shabbat.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWmcQpzUMHY
Friday night, Erev Shabbat, a time for family, for traditions, prayer, contemplation and for joy at the arrival of Shabbat. Not the first time I send you this song but I love it so muchhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Wsax3A4mS8
Years ago, as we landed in Israel, at Ben Gurion Airport, we did so to the sound of this song – and loud applause!! I wish we still did! Hevenu Shalom Aleichem – We Brought Peace unto youhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JB4RMIWroMY
Shalom Aleichem – Salaam Aleikem – Peace be with you
Shabbat Shalom and much love from glorious Jerusalem