The view from my veranda

180323 Pesach politics and stuff


23rd March 2018

Shabbat Shalom! Hope you are well and had a good week. I am feeling very self-righteous because this morning I managed to clean my fridge, oven and hob…… with a little help from a friend!!! I now feel that Pesach (Passover) is nigh and I will be ready. Of course there is still lots to do but the really difficult and important stuff is done!!! If you aren’t Jewish then I must explain – spring cleaning has nothing on Passover cleaning!!! Every corner and cupboard is cleaned, the contents emptied and stored and the shelves lined – then the new kosher for Passover things go in. Not just food but dishes, utensils and pots – everything! I know it is hard work and every year as Zvi “schlepps” the dishes up 3 flights of stairs from the store-room he grumbles that today the dishes are well glazed so why do we need it! Of course he would be very sad without his Parent’s porcelain dinner set with the gold rims; my parents Seder plate with the little bowls for each of the dishes which represent our journey from slavery to freedom – the story we read each Seder night.

As always, food is a big thing! As I told you before, Zvi’s explanation of each Jewish holiday is “They tried to kill us – we won – now let’s eat”. Strange how history repeats itself – you would have thought the world would have learned by now!

The central object on the Seder Table is the Seder Plate. Parsley to represent new growth; grated horseradish to represent the bitter times; charoseth, in my house a wonderful mix of apples, ground almonds, cinnamon, wine and lettuce, represents the cement which the Jews used in Egypt or alternatively the cement which binds us as a people; a burnt hard boiled egg; a lamb shank or chicken neck to represent the burnt offering and salt water to represent the tears of a slave. The meal goes thus:- We bless the wine, then matzo, then parsley dipped in salt water, then we pray and ask questions, then we read the story in Aramaic, then serve the bitter herbs and the charoses on matza and then the meal begins. Hard boiled eggs in salt water, chicken soup with matzo balls, main course, dessert,  we then let the Prophet Elijah in the house and let him have a sip of wine set out specially for him, say grace after meals, read more of the story then we sing!!! Not any songs of course. One favourite is “Who Knows One”  another is “Only One Kid” which reminds me of the old lady and the fly!!This is a sedate version, I chose English so that everyone could understand but in our house we do it differently!! Of course we sing the song but we make appropriate noises for the cat, dog, stick, bull, fire engine etc, and roundly booooooh the Angel of Death while cheering loudly for HaKadosh Baruch Hoo – the Almighty. It wakes the children, shocks visitors and is generally great fun!

The biggest story here in Israel is the release of papers that confirm that Israel destroyed the Syrian Nuclear Reactor. The act was undoubtedly a good and brave one and the heroes of the tale are clear, as is the villain. President George W Bush, acting on the advice of the State Dept and his Military Advisors, was against the bombing, fearing that it would bring about a dirty war in the area, but Prime Minister Ehud Olmert listened to his own military and secret service advisors and decided to go ahead. Then Defence Minister Ehud Barak was against and was kept out of the circle of control. After the event President Bush, describing Prime Minister Olmert said “That man has balls”. In the aftermath of the revelation everyone, all of those involved, are still positive, knowing they saved us from a tyrant having nuclear power, except Barak. Sour grapes do not suit anyone. Credit where credit is due.

In a separate, extensive and brilliant interview on his own life, Ehud Olmert came out well and it was clear his love and admiration for Aliza, his wife. His greatest regret is that Aliza and their children suffered.

If you think you get the news, the whole news, on your media network news, think again. This is a story they will never tell because it denies their cant of 30 years. The torture of Palestinians by Palestinians Unfortunately they are far more interested in a girl who bashed a soldier going to prison than the true suffering of the Palestinians. Incredibly after the USA and UK, among others, chose to put conditions on UNWRA aid to the Palestinians, the Europeans did a charity drive to give them money outside the regular funding.

Washington Councilman Trayon White was recorded saying that Jews (The Rothschild’s in particular) control the weather and that’s why it snowed again! How insanely racist can one get? Mark Steyn has the perfect response.

President Trump has appointed Ambassador John Bolton as his National Security Advisor and one of Bolton’s first moves was to talk to Khaled Abu Toameh a brilliant journalist and analyst of the Middle East in general and the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts in particular. I have been saying for years that Khaled is the one to talk to get a full picture. Khaled is a proud Israeli, a Moslem, who wishes only the best for the Palestinians and is a humble, erudite gentleman – what could be better?

Professor Nava Ben Zvi and I always make promises to meet but never seem to manage it. This week Nava received a truly well-deserved honour – she is the recipient of the Israel Prize for education. Nava is a forward thinker, encouraging and helping to found the Open University and the Hadassah College to make education within reach of everyone. Navaleh – kol ha kavod.

Sir Eric Pickles is the UK Government Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues and a huge supporter of Israel. Sir Eric spoke here in Jerusalem about the Jewish contribution to Britain.

Time to get back to the cupboards, but not before telling you a bit about our week.

Monday was Zvi’s birthday! He went to Tel Aviv to be with his twin “brother” Itzik Lev while I met with friends from Cardiff, one of whom I have known since we were 4! There is something very special about meeting with friends who already know from whence you came. On Wednesday afternoon we met with Ruth and Jozek (I know I spelled it wrong) to see a wonderful rendition of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel at the Khan Theatre. The production was put on by the students of the Academy for Music and was outstanding. The Khan was once an Inn for the camel travelers on the Silk Route and the conversion to a theatre is gorgeous. Afterwards we went with lovely friends of Ruth and Jozek for supper at the First Station where there were many children’s activities taking place.

While I have been cleaning the apartment Zvi has been in Nes Ziona with the children to give their parents a couple of days off but he comes back after Shabbat and he and Leor will do the schlepping of all 13 boxes of Pesach pots, pans, cutlery, utensils and dishes………. So I need to be sure the cupboards are ready to receive them!!! The entire country smells of cleaning materials and the noise of vacuum cleaners and scrubbing brushes is prevalent…… I love Pesach but have only one complaint. Why is it that the moment I get everything sparkling I then dirty it all by cooking up a storm for 20 people?

So what song do think I chose first? What is appropriate on every level? Pat Boone wrote it and many singers have sung it, it makes on think of Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint and is the theme song of a movie I wish someone would remake. Exodus sung by Cantor Arye Leib Hurwitz

Next? Go Down Moses! The unique and brilliant Satchmo

I hope that we will speak before Pesach – I may write to you on Wednesday, just to check up on how you are doing.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem – city of glorious sights and sites, especially the View from Our Veranda

With love