25th June 2021
Shabbat Shalom everyone. Today was going to be our 25th wedding anniversary but we chose the 23rd of June 1996 instead…….but more of that later. Today I really intend just giving you a few headlines then telling you about our wedding and why I love being here, in Israel.
A building collapsed in Florida and at least 99 people are still missing, their fate unknown. Champlain Towers, in the Surfside area of Miami, suddenly collapsed trapping those inside. Surfside is a predominantly Jewish area, the building close to Florida’s Chabad. The rescuers and first responders are continuing their search for suvivors https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-57606232
A few days ago the Palestinian Authority refused to accept the first 100,000 Covid-19 vaccines out of over a million offered by Israel, insisting they were out of date in a highly publicized announcement. In fact the vaccines were perfectly fine, they had over month left and were used in Israel.
We have a new Netanyahu scandal as there are reports of major document shredding taking place in the Prime Minister’s Office and home before PM Bennet’s arrival. This causes deep concern since the content of said documents is unknown.
Workers at Europe’s largest digital publishing house, Axel Springer, who complained about an Israeli flag being posted outside their building were told by SE CEO Mathias Döpfner in a video conference with employees around the world.
“I think, and I’m being very frank with you, a person who has an issue with an Israeli flag being raised for one week here, after anti-Semitic demonstrations, should look for a new job”
As you all know, I am deeply involved with Impact-se (www.impact-se.org) and the incredible work done by the team; in the last few weeks the results of that hard work and research are coming home to roost. UNWRA has been exposed and must face the music about its part in educating young Palestinians to hate after Impact-se revealed that they exceeded their mandate by far and wrote the Palestinian curriculum themselves. https://www.jpost.com/american-politics/secretary-blinken-calls-out-unrwa-antisemitism-in-us-congress-670482 In another Impact coup, the false report of the Georg Ekert Institute on the PA curriculum was exposed and finally the new, more accurate, report has been released. https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/eu-study-finds-incitement-in-palestinian-textbooks-remains-unpublished-670505 I suggest that you read both articles to understand the depth of the deception.
An Israeli returned from South Africa a couple of weeks ago – however he came through Cyprus and didn’t tell immigration that he had been in South Africa where Covid-19 is rife. Another tourist came back from Byelorussia and didn’t isolate – their utter selfishness has caused a resurgence of the virus in young, unvaccinated children in several Israeli towns and cities. After finally getting back to school, thousands are isolated missing their last days and most of us are back to wearing masks. Cheating the system is the name of the game.
Before I tell you about our wedding I want to tell you a little story. As you know my daughter Rachel and family live in Givat Ze’ev, oft described as a “settlement” but actually a dormitory town for Jerusalem. There are several Palestinian business owners there, including a fabulous plant nursery, owned by two brothers. Their cars are with PA registration, as are several of the cars in the little car park. Rachel and I always chat with them, about all sorts of subjects and yesterday we found out that the younger brother had moved his family close to Givat Ze’ev and as the older brother sat chatting he suddenly said “If I could I would live in either Scotland or New Zealand” When asked why he said “Here I feel that I don’t fit in. I am not Jewish, I am a practicing Moslem but have nothing in common with the fellow Palestinians with whom I live ” Here are two men whose life is plants, flowers, trees and they are not comfortable in their own identities; their friends are all Israelis.
So imagine the scene, Rachel and Gideon sitting on the floor in our little apartment decorating the poles of our chuppah (wedding canopy) with creamy ribbons and gypsophilia, all of us laughing and happy getting ready for the wedding ceremony that evening.
My next memory is sitting in Alan and Bonnie’s home in David’s Village, together with Rabbi David Rosen as the Rosen family’s representative, signing the Ketuba (the marriage contract), then Zvi went outside to greet our guests. In fact Zvi had appropriated several police barricades to ensure privacy in the pedestrian walkway and I had ordered catering and an international, amazing group of friends and family were waiting expectantly. I remember walking toward the Chuppah, seeing the walls of the Old City lit for the first time ever. The poles of the Chuppah were held by Amiad, Gideon, Leor and Valeri, under the Chuppah were Jill, Rachel, Zvi’s amazing parents Kalman and Alla and my lovely late cousins Jean and Stuart who stood in for my late parents and of course David Rosen and Zvi. Most of the ceremony was a blur, I remember walking 7 times around Zvi, then as we came to the 7 blessings, Benny and Yisrael (Re’im Duo) who were our guests, began to join in and sing, it was spectacular! Of course the last song was “If I forget you Oh Jerusalem” Zvi smashed the cup and then……….oh I almost forgot, as he lifted his foot to smash the cup we suddenly heard the sound of 400 ram’s horns, shofars! The rehearsals for the lighting of the Walls of Jerusalem were taking place nearby and lo and behold – at that crucial moment they sounded loud and clear over Jerusalem. The party was great fun, Benny and Yisrael gave us a fabulous performance as a wedding gift and we all had fun!
Our life together has been exciting, filled with many events, meeting all kinds of celebrities, hard work and an incredible array of visitors who sit at our table; working with and for wonderful organisations and being Israeli. Of course I miss my family, my siblings, my beautiful children and grandchildren who live elsewhere, but we have Leor, Amiad and my Rachel here and we see them as much as possible. I’m no different to anyone else who cannot see their children due to Covid-19 restrictions but it is so hard.
What does it mean to be an Israeli?
You can argue the toss over politics yet be willing to give a kidney to people you don’t know.
Somehow while being absorbed in talking loudly on the cellphone an Israeli will still see the person who needs help to cross the road or climb some stairs.
You insist that your door is always open yet lock it at night!
Your table is always heaving with food just in case someone drops in
An empty refrigerator is anathema
You cook madjadara as easily as kneidlach
Everybody loves Kubeh……but the way you make it decides your ancestry!
Queues are unheard of yet when a soldier or disabled person walks into the room they immediately go to the front.
Each evening, before the news, there is a TV programme which exposes cheats but has built a group of tradesmen who go in and do free repairs to the homes of those who were cheated, Holocaust Survivors, the elderly and infirm or single parent families totally free of charge.
To be an Israeli is to complain non-stop about the government, taxation, municipal mismanagement but if anyone says a bad word about the IDF……………
No subject is off limits. Get used to the idea that someone will ask you how much you earn, what you paid for your house, where you could have bought your car more cheaply and whether your new dress suits you or not!
This is a nation of people whose closest friends were in the IDF with them, served this country in the most important social leveller.
So I married an Israeli with the most developed sense of duty and arms big enough to hug the world which suited my upbringing to a T. We hold the same values and the same ethics and in general enjoy each other’s friends. How did we celebrate our Silver Wedding? We went for a scrumptious lunch at Na-Ya, a wonderful Asian Fusion restaurant just 7 minutes from home in the moshav of Beit Nekufa, next to Abu Ghosh. In the evening we went to the movies and then like two old people, decided we were tired and came home! We came home to our new apartment, ready to make new memories for the next 25 years……or as long as we are given.
We are the luckiest people in the world. Our children are warm, kind, clever and giving people; our grandchildren love us and our lives have deep meaning as we volunteer with organisations and institutions that are of great importance. Life is good.
This week we were able to watch Joshua’s graduation from Middle School all the way in Manhattan which made us so proud. Joshua is a fantastic young man, a wonderful big brother to his little sister Callie and a gentle soul. We now have five out of our nine Israeli grandchildren inoculated……..the others are under the age of 12.
This was a wonderful week. Rachel and I went to see “Poodle” and David for lunch and the best chat imaginable and then the very next day two girlfriends came to me for lunch, Jennifer and Joanna, friends since we were all 14 in Study Group, yet haven’t got together in all those years!!
So what songs?
Ask any Israeli, whatever his faith, what he wants most and chances are you will receive the following answer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5d_i2F2LlF8 Shalom Aleinu
Next is a treat. An entire performance by Duo Reim, Benny and Yisrael to celebrate their 45th year of singing together! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lM5O5-netQ Sorry no translations but you will enjoy anyway!!
Hakol Yachassi is much more than a choir, it is a family. Zvi formed the choir and sings with them and they adopted me!! Here they sing “Israel Mio” in Ladino, the language of Jews of Spanish and Portuguese origin, a song whose lyrics were written by Eli Yaron, who is coming for Shabbat lunch! It is a love song to Israel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oZfs4WjDpU
I wish you all a good weekend, filled with family, fun, new adventures and unlike our friends in the plant nursery, a sense of belonging.