The view from my veranda

180810 Hamas, BBC, Brenda Katten and London


10th August 2018

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I’m back with a million sweet memories from this special trip to London, but more of that later. First to business.

I want you to imagine yourself in your home, on a kibbutz, concerned with your family, your friends and your crops, living the rural life and without warning and cause someone begins to launch rockets on your farm, burn your crops and build underground tunnels to come and kill you. Imagine sitting at dinner with your small children and the Red Alert siren goes off giving you just 15-30 seconds to reach the shelter. Furthermore, when your defence forces try to take out the very people who organise these atrocities you are blamed for existing by the foreign press.

I couldn’t help thinking back to Britain in WW2. The Blitz is famous but many cities were bombed from above by the Luftwaffe, by the enemy, Coventry, Cardiff, Plymouth, Exeter, Birmingham, Bath, Bristol, Newcastle and many more. This bombardment on a huge scale resulted in the bombing of Hamburg, Essen and Dresden causing vast destruction by Allied Forces. Basically the bombing of Dresden was to pay the Germans back for bombing Coventry, a civilian target………….. and everyone thought, indeed thinks of Churchill as the hero he was for saving Britain from a vile enemy.

The South of Israel, some 12 towns and 9 kibbutzim have been hit by thousands of mortars and rockets over an extended period to say nothing of the arson attacks by kite and balloon which has destroyed crops and nature reserves. It is said that if you don’t love the land you don’t deserve the land – those who attack us do not deserve it.

I am sure you already know much of this but why oh why are we represented in the media as the aggressor? Most certainly it is racist but perhaps you aren’t active enough in writing to them, or their editors or better still their advertisers saying that what they claim are outright lies because that’s what half-truths are……….. lies. If you want to protest the BBC – be polite but stern

There is a temporary cease-fire but Hamas has achieved its objective – they are back on the media map.

The Nation State Law is a disaster and an unnecessary disaster! It doesn’t really affect the Diaspora, despite the reaction overseas, it has torn us apart – us meaning Israelis. We were hanging on to the ideal that we are one nation of diverse peoples, as stated in the Declaration of Independence a Jewish nation within which all creeds and races have equal rights, but that has changed even if the written word doesn’t necessarily change status. One of the most idiotic clauses is that which demotes Arabic from an official language to a preferred status – why? Why on earth was that important? What difference did it make if Arabic was below Hebrew on all official documents, street signs and medication? English is there too and probably follows the same fate but that is right and proper; to demote Arabic is just wrong. Secondly, by stating what was already in the Declaration of Independence but making it law, that this is a Jewish State, without the addition of all being equal is again excluding those who have been the most loyal and dutiful of citizens – the Druze, Circassian and Northern Bedouin could have avoided the current dissonance. As always my friend Brenda Katten gets it absolutely right

Isaac “Bougie” Herzog has taken his place as world Chairman of the Jewish Agency. His chosen first task, too long in coming, is to bring the Diaspora Jewry back into the fold, to remind them of their importance to Israel and Israel’s importance to them. We have too many enemies to fight each other! Divided we fall! I wish him great good luck in this new endeavor – I truly believe that he is the right man in the right job.

I believe we live in a world of extremes. Everything has to be “my way” and instantly solved – be it a video game or real life. The resultant violence which engulfs our everyday life is terrifying and global. However, it doesn’t have to be. As you know I have just returned from London and there we had some amazing experiences quite apart from the family events.

My grandson Yosef sat in the front seat of a private hire taxi in London, beside an Iraqi driver. The driver asked Yosef what his name was and then began an extended conversation about the Bible between a 13 year old Haredi boy and a Moslem man from Iraq. The driver said that Yosef (Joseph) was his favourite person in the Bible and then they went on to discuss Iraq and Kurdistan and many other subjects and it gave me great hope. Yosef met a delightful Moslem man who he would never have met under normal circumstances and the driver learned that one can have such conversations openly and with understanding.

So, first of all the main man, the reason we all went to London – it was Sammy’s Bar Mitzva. A wonderful old friend Gloria Hermer said I was blessed and I can only agree.

Sammy is complex needs; he is beautiful both in and out and although he cannot walk or speak he is able to give love as no other. Those of us present at the special needs service in the synagogue in Manor House, North London, were thrilled at the efforts of two incredible ladies who make those who are often forgotten feel thoroughly important and we all felt part of something exceptional. Words cannot describe my pride as I took my place up on the Bimah (my first time ever) beside Gideon as he read my pasuch, and Stephanie wheeled Sammy up for his part. He was so relaxed and loved being the centre of attention! His multi-coloured Tallit, chosen by Saba Zvi Raviv draped on the wheelchair and his matching kippa well and truly chewed! Sammy hit the green button and Gideons voice sang the blessing before reading the Torah then afterwards he hit the red button to say the later blessing – his hand guided by his beautiful Mummy Stephanie. The Torah reading was shared between Gideon, his Dad Philip and brother Daniel.

I was so proud that my children, grand-children, siblings and niece and nephew were in the congregation and that all and sundry took part in the Israeli dancing led by the incredible band “Shir”  and “bubble blowing” led by the tallest bubble man in London at the luncheon party afterwards. Jason Millan catered and Sammy especially loved the home cured salt beef which I had the honour of feeding him! Incidentally, only those who know and love Sammy were invited!

A truly magnificent and thoroughly celebratory event. Stephanie, Catherine and Chelsey I have no words to express my gratitude to you for the love and care you give to Sammy, it is not taken for granted, and of course Gideon, Olivia and Zachary too.

I forgot to mention that since Sammy doesn’t need gifts Mummy and Daddy decided to ask for donations to buy a beach wheelchair for the use of Sammy’s school.

It was an insane week of 35 degree heat, no A/C and a determined effort on behalf of their parents (and me) to keep all the children entertained. Some things worked and some didn’t but in general Joshua and Callie from New York, Olivia and Zachary from London and Yoef, Talia and Ayala from Jerusalem had an absolute ball! I hate to say it but after spending fortunes of tourism their favourite activity was definitely the trampouline in Gideon and Stephanie’s garden – and water play at Daniella and Justin’s! I managed to see a few friends who made a special effort to see me – Jacqueline and David Sackwild who ensured that I had my “Fish and Chips”, Judy and Michael Baum who had lots to tell especially since Michael is about to start another book and my friend Jill about whom you have heard so much! Rachel also got to see Jill’s daughter Rebecca and met her friend Luiza before the children went hurtling down the biggest slide in the world at the Olympic Park – 175 metres long and 78 metres high!!!!

London is an exceptionally friendly and open city, everyone talks to everyone, neighbours help neighbours, dog owners stop to exchange stories, in fact, to my surprise nothing has really changed. If I chose my favourite surprise it was the Moslem lady who was the El Al supervisor at check-in at Luton Airport!!! Yes again, the media twists and exaggerates……..

I am absolutely knackered, I’m not even going to Rachel today, but our friends Ruth and Josek are coming for supper so they can hear all about my trip. I am about to go to rest again now – night flights don’t suit my need for sleep!!

Music, music music

Normally I play you songs to welcome the Sabbath but every so often I ring the change with Havdalah, the prayer at the end of the Sabbath – the time for awakening our senses as we move to a normal day. This is sung by “Shir” the amazing group that sang at Sammy’s Bar Mitzva Party

Israel Sheli – My Israel, 

For every argument for every word of dissent there is an answer. Just remember that we are a miracle

With all our love, my Zvi and I, as we sit on our veranda and marvel at the view waiting for Shabbat. We wish you a peaceful Shabbat, a day of contemplation and love.

Shabbat Shalom