The view from my veranda

180302 Sochnut BOG, Kim, Purim


2nd March 2018

Shabbat Shalom, Shushan Purim Sameach and happy St David’s Day!!!

Yesterday I was a panther and Zvi was a rather sinister looking Moroccan in his Djelaba that he bought in Morocco with Barry Slawsky! It was fun doing the make up and even more fun to see all our friends arrive looking just as crazy as we did……….that’s Purim!!! When I was a child everyone dressed as either Queen Esther or Mordechai the Jew – nobody really wanted to be the evil Haman, or even dumb King Ahashueras let alone Queen Vashti but today it’s different, virtually anything goes. In fact if it were today most of the characters in the story would be accused of sexual harassment, incitement and corruption but instead as we read the story each year on Adar 13 we remember that not only did a simple Jew and his beautiful niece save the Jews of Persia, Hodu and the Cush from execution, as per the edict of the King’s Viceroy Haman, but Haman got just desserts and was executed after being paraded around town on a mule – a fate he intended for Mordechai. The celebration is for the fact that we stood up for ourselves – no Persian dictated our fate then and certainly not now.

Yesterday morning I drove to Givat Ze’ev to hear the Megillat Esther – the scroll of Esther – read in the synagogue as I sat with Rachel, Talia and Ayala. Doesn’t get more special than that.

This week Zvi and I concentrated on learning what is happening in the Jewish World rather than the greater world as we attended the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency meetings in Zichron Yaakov. Zvi is a member of the Board, representing that marvellous organisation Maccabi World Union – a job he does with great distinction and I am a fly on the wall.

It is such a shame that most people, especially Israelis, have no concept of the excellent work, amazing projects, executed by the Jewish Agency, if they have heard of the Sochnut at all. It is not just a vehicle to enable Aliya, far from it. The projects in Israel and abroad are many and varied, for Jews, Christians and Moslems alike.  We started in the centre of Zichron Yaakov, one of the first Jewish cities in Israel. Here the Baron Hirsch decided to being the young Baron Rothschild to found the first wineries and ultimately made Israeli viticulture an essential part of the economy.

We talked to young graduate immigrants in a wonderful Ulpan (Etzion) in Haifa, where they learn Hebrew, apply for work in Israel and receive accommodation for their first 6 months. We went to a Druze village where we met children in a mentoring programme in good citizenship and self-confidence – their mentors being those who went through the same courses in the past. The children were so happy and fulfilled, and we all helped them make the Druze flag, each table creating a coloured shape finally putting them all together to form the Druze flag.  As we got off the bus to see the spectacular view from the village over towards Lebanon and Syria our bus driver Nahil told us a little about himself. He is Druze, born in Israel, served as an officer in the IDF then in the Israeli police for nearly 20 years. After his retirement he decided to drive tour buses. As we stood together and he realised I spoke Hebrew he said to me “I don’t know why all these people go back to America and Berlin when here in Israel it is Gan Eden – the Garden of Eden. We have everything! If we look over the countries around us for two minutes we can see how amazing Israel is in comparison to anywhere in the world”

Of course the Jewish Agency meetings are an awful lot of gas and gaiters – that is inevitable, and not a small amount of politics among the lay leaders, but the real heroes are the permanent staff who perform miracles, quietly.

Each time I accompany Zvi to these events I am impressed by the strong and clever women who ensure vital discussion on essential issues. Helena Glaser from WIZO, Judit Liwerant, Ellen Hershkin and Marlene Post from Hadassah and so many more, women play a huge role in preparing the ground for future generations. I am even more impressed by the common sense suggestions so eloquently (and vociferously) put forward by my husband and of course by Danny Lamm.

Our wonderful friend Dr Kimball Taylor was staying with us for the Board of Governors meetings. Kim brings a different perspective to all the discussions, while being an integral part of the Board Kim is able to look at what is happening and the effect it has on “the world” through fresh eyes. Kim is a senior member of the LDS and an equal Israphile with Canon Andrew White!!!!

We drove back to Jerusalem filled with thoughts, questions and doubts, made all the more interesting because we dropped Danny Lamm at the airport to wend his way back to Melbourne. As we arrived our lovely family member Shelly Silver was waiting for us. Shelley, a girl scout, came to Jerusalem with a double purpose, to go to a Purim party and to volunteer at our local scout hut.

The next morning Kim and I went to Shaare Zedek hospital to meet up with Varda and Lena of the Yuri Shtern Holistic Centre to see the phenomenal work the organisation does. Since Kim is a doctor his conversations with patients, spouses and therapists held deep meaning. Kim also met with oncologist Ora Rosengarten, a dear friend, who gave him the scientific, medical perspective that not only does it alleviate nausea and trauma, but that after therapies the patients are more receptive to treatment. It never fails to make me cry, not because I don’t want to be in the oncology department but because I am so proud to be a minute cog in the incredible wheel that is the Yuri Shtern Centre. We never have enough money, obviously since all the therapists are volunteers and we do not charge anyone, patients or family, for treating them in Shaare Zedek . We desperately need your help to continue with both therapies and courses – please any amount will be happily accepted

While I was preparing for the Choirs Purim party Zvi and Kim went to the Friends of Zion Museum in the centre of Jerusalem. The Museum, the brainchild of Pastor Mike Evans and created under the watchful eye of his son Michael, is a tribute to the relationship between the Jewish State and our Christian friends. Well worth a visit.

From there they went to the Ai Wei Wei exhibit at the Israel Museum – wish I had had time to go again!!!

Kim then left for the interminable journey back to Cardston, Alberta, and I finished the last touches of the Purim party – and our fancy dress!!! The party went wonderfully, loads of food, singing Israeli songs old and new and just being together. We are a very huggy lot, my favourite kinds of people! Merav and Igal stayed to help us put the house back in order and we managed to be in bed for 01:30. Really! Thirty people arrived and 19:30 and didn’t want to leave!!!! Incidentally nobody guessed the origin of the Welsh flag hanging on the wall in honour of St David’s Day!!!

Today we go to Nes Ziona to see the children, then Rehovot to say goodbye to a dear friend and finally to be home for a quiet Shabbat dinner – ALONE

During our very busy week the world didn’t work out its problems. Even more poor souls were killed in Syria and Yemen, the lies and power struggles continue unabated, talk of corruption is government abounds and as individuals we try to do our best to be good people. One exceptional piece of news is that Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are coming on the first ever official visit to Israel and the PA. Prince Philip and Prince Charles have both been on private visits but this will be with full ceremony. Excellent.

Yesterday I was sad to hear that the exceptional Dr Malcolm Hoenlein is retiring from his post as Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Major Jewish Organisations in the USA. Malcolm is an exceptional leader, a great mentor and probably the most effective person I have ever met. His love of Israel is unmatched and he has the ability to present that view to the US Administration. I have a feeling that this is not Malcolm’s swan song – he has so much still to give.

Gosh, time to get myself ready for the day! I chose special music today – this one is called One Day and is a song of hope from just about every sector of Israeli society

This song has a special meaning – One call away, the disaster relief and humanitarian work of the IDF

Shabbat – Lecha Dodi

Today in Jerusalem and Tsfat it is still Purim ‘ Shushan Purim, celebrated in walled cities only, yes another day of happily inebriated men!!!

Shabbat Shalom lovely people. Remember the power of one? Well Mordechai understood and look what one man achieved.

With love from Jerusalem