The view from my veranda

Acharei ha Chagim – After the Festivals

1st of October 2021

Shabbat Shalom, Blessed Tabernacles

There is an expression in Israel used by anyone who wants to put things off, in other words to procrastinate, “Acharei ha Chagim” which means after the Festivals meaning the festivals of the month of Tishrei. Basically that means they will never really get to the task in hand! Well, we are now after the festivals, Acharei ha Hagim, so it’s high time to get things done.

Confusion as to which day of the week it really is because this year the festivals fell on Mondays, Tuesdays and a Wednesday, and then one has Shabbat in the middle and one’s body clock goes just a might haywire. Luckily I remembered that it is time to talk to you about Simchat Torah or the Joy of Torah.

It is not only fascinating and joyous as the Torah is carried around the synagogue as a dancing partner, to be kissed and revered, there is a definite purpose to our joy; after all, we end the readings with the last verse of Deuteronomy and begin again with Genesis. I tis a time for children to receive sweets and chocolates, even those who are not normally allowed such things before food!

This year we went to the synagogue in our beautiful old building in our park. The service was wonderful, children laughing and giggling in delight and since it was a “Jerusalem” service they men brought the Sefer Torah, beautifully encased in silver and enamel, are brought for the women to kiss as well. The community gave Zvi the huge honour of being given the first “Hakafah” or circling of the synagogue in honour of his help in setting things up. Immediately after the service the officers of the synagogue set out a “seudah” or meal of wonderful Middle Eastern foods and salads on the grass of the park and the fun continued! We left feeling an even greater part of the community.

Even a short while ago, I couldn’t have made the following statements. The Saudis have made huge changes in their school curriculum, still a way to go but nonetheless, they are talking to Impact-se, along with other Arab States, learning how to change. Foreign Minister Lapid has flown to Bahrain to open the Israeli Embassy and to meet His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa; incredibly, the Bahrainis have started direct flights from Ben Gurion Airport. The $7 billion  Dubai Expo 2020 opens today, in a spectacular including performances by Lang Lang and Andre Bocelli and for the first time in an Arab country Israel has a pavilion showing our way of life, our industry and our inventions.. The Abraham Accords combined with a huge amount of diplomatic work have really borne fruit.

The gradual and sometimes painful opening of Arab countries has another first, Najla Bouden Ramadhane, a university engineer with no political background, has been appointed by President Kais Saied to fill the post of Prime Minister of Tunisia, the first woman leader in the Arab world.

In the meantime Prime Minister Bennett spoke to the plenum of the United Nations in New York City. Unlike his predecessor there were no tricks, although not a performer, he spoke in measured, clear tones, in excellent English and despite the near empty plenum his words hit the correct audience through television and the Zoomers who listened carefully to every word. The Iranians were not thrilled by the Prime Minister’s words about Israel being able to defend herself but that’s fine and we can if we have to. One aspect of his speech that did not please the Israeli Medical establishment is when he said that the Covid policies could not be decided by the Medical experts but rather in cooperation with the leaders of the country.

In the USA attempts by “The Squad” in the Congress to censure Israel and the Iron Dome failed miserably with the vote of 420 -9 for Israel, but anti-Semitism is on the rise and not only in the USA. One example caught my eye in the press; Kaleb Cole, self-proclaimed Nazi leader of the “Atomwawaffen” Neo-Nazi , has been sentenced to prison after sending offensive mails to ADL personnel and many other racist, anti-Semitic crimes. Students all over the USA in particular and the West in general do not know what “Never Again” means because it is happening again and our young people re so badly educated in their heritage that they have become anti-Israel because it is fashionable and they believe the lies fed to them daily on campus – lies of Goebbels proportions. 83 years after the Munich Agreement was signed by Italy, France, Britain and Nazi Germany allowing the annexation of the Sudetenland, a large part of Czechoslovakia inhabited mostly by Germans. This naïve move led to the Third Reich. Why do I say naïve? Because nobody understood the sheer horror of the German War machine and their insane leader. Kaleb Cole is not alone in the USA and students are not the only ones being taught that Israeli an evil occupier of land that belongs to the Palestinian people, or that Jews are responsible for the Covid outbreak. If the Saudis, Bahrainis, Egyptians, Moroccans, Emeratis and many more have removed hate from their curriculum understanding that for so many years they have fed their children racist lies, hate education, why can’t our universities and colleges control hate speech? When does free speech spill over into the inculcation of hatred to our students? When did the sport of beating an “obvious” Jew become acceptable?

Israeli school children are back at school! It finally happened and only time will tell if it is the right decision or not. The teachers are pretty angry that they have to check each child’s note, at the school gate, showing proof of frequent PCR testing. It is so important that the children return to being social animals rather than Zoom hermits. I love to see the children setting off, ridiculously large backpacks perched on their shoulders, laughing together as they walk to school. Although there are more and more parents who take their children in the car, the very Israeli phenomenon of small children walking to school unaccompanied still thrills.

As you know I usually go for my evening walk around the paths in our park with friends we have made here in our new home and Zvi goes into Jerusalem and meets his good friend Motti Friedman and they walk and talk together then go for coffee opposite our old apartment. This week Zvi persuaded me to try out a new route nearby, a route discovered by Leor as a beautiful bike ride for his girls. We drove 5 minutes down the road, under the construction of a new traffic bridge (Israel is a web of new roads, tunnels and bridges) and parked our car. I knew that we were going to walk alongside the Beit Zayit (meaning house of olives) Reservoir, but also knew it had been drained during construction, but off we set and then despite the dry bed of the reservoir, discovered a delightful path, well set up for both walkers and bicycles, and beautiful greenery climbing either side of the path. It was so beautiful, the air so clear, that I didn’t notice the distance and doubled my target! I can’t say that there was a great deal of conversation since keeping up with the pace of my man who is two metres tall and wearing his seven league boots took most of my lung capacity!

Autumn is bringing much kinder weather and the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Since we now face north (a good thing in hot countries) I get to see both the rising and the setting of the sun. I admit that I am a cloud freak, I love clouds, was it Joni Mitchel that sang “Both Sides Now”? In the morning the sun rises over Jerusalem to the East, a huge red ball of fire tinting the city a wonderful red-gold and then, oh then as the sun sinks in the west the clouds become tipped with pink the a fiery red and in the west the moon comes up so quickly that one almost misses it peeking over the horizon. It takes my breath away and friends jump up from the table and rush to their phones to take photos in every direction!

This is a country of great unrest at times, surrounded by enemies, but things are changing. Israel is being recognised for her initiative, inventions, outreach to provide aid and succour to countries which cannot help themselves especially in times of natural and human disaster. There are governmental institutions like MASHAV, so much more than a department in the Minstry of Foreign Affairs , IsraAid, Save a Child’s Heart and so many more who teach modern agriculture to countries that cannot feed their population. I am proud to be an Israeli, wouldn’t change that for the world.

Today I am going out with some girlfriends instead of cooking! Yes I know it is a miracle. Zvi will head to his parliament of journalists and men who think they can change the world and run the country better than anyone else – something that happens every Friday morning, all over the country. Let me explain, parliaments are just that, a place to “parle” or parley, to talk, where old friends meet up, the group starts when they are young, virile and capable and continues through their dotage. Most parliaments are single sex, for reasons I have yet to discover, and everybody feels able to speak their mind openly and most do, noisily. Of course, this is Israel so the talking is always done around the table of either coffee shop or restaurant. Nobody opens their mouth until satisfied by a good cup of “Café Hafuch” (literally meaning upside down coffee) and some borekas, salads and good pastries. We are a food orientated society and apparently the world accepts that the “Middle Eastern Diet” is the healthiest! A fascinating aspect of these groups is that they also form support groups. If someone is ill, suffers a loss, everyone rallies around them. Many parliaments are from the days of IDF service and continue throughout their life.

Gosh it’s time to go! So what music would you like this week? I hope you realise that I take requests!

Pete Seeger and Ruth Rubin love this song and I used to sing it to my son Gideon, it was his favourite. Tumbalaika, the song of a stringed musical instrument……

Each morning, as we wake up we thank the Almighty for returning us our soul, our life. Omer Adam, Israeli singer sings a modern version of the prayer. So beautiful

Teach Your Children Well, sung by Crosby, Stills and Nash

I wish you a good weekend, a Shabbat Shalom, a peaceful, thoughtful time surrounded by family and friends. Try holding a parliament – just gather friends for coffee on a morning, and make it a habit.

With much love from Jerusalem, still beautiful on my horizon