25th March 2022
Shabbat Shalom! Yes I’m back in Jerusalem after the most incredible week in London. Gathering and dispensing hugs and love was number one on my list of “do’s” and that was exactly what I did. Family and friends, Gideon, Stephanie, Sammy, Olivia and Zachary opened their home and hearts and I came home very very happy. Of course the night flight was hard, even if it was short, and Zvi came to get me at 05:00 at Ben Gurion Airport – then to add insult to injury we lost an hour last night!!!
The main topic of conversation and dismay in the UK was exactly the same as everywhere else. Ukraine. I read an explanatory article on the plane, it went thus
“It is hard to know what went on in Putin’s mind. But the past two weeks have shown that he has planned his war according to KGB rules rather than classical military strategy. He has relied on massive and indiscriminate use of force, and where Gerasimov and the professional military are concerned about losses among their men, he has been focused on wreaking as much havoc as he can. His model is Ivan the Awe-Inspiring (Grozny). He wants to terrorize people into abject submission, as his forces did in parts of Syria where he and his allies hang on to an illusion of power.
In a classical war, the immediate aim is formulated with three words: conquer, cleanse, control. Putin’s idiosyncratic style of war, however, measures success by the size of debris created and the piles of civilian dead left behind.”
Ukrainian PM Zelensky demonstrated his lack of diplomatic experience coupled with his undoubted desperation when he spoke to the Knesset by Zoom and instead of wooing Israeli help he berated Israel for not fighting alongside the Ukraine. To claim that Israel and Israelis are not sympathetic, empathetic to the Ukrainian crisis is both unfair and shows lack of understanding of our situation. Rare is the Israeli that has not had to run to the bomb shelter at some point in the recent past and he forgets that the description of Putin’s war on the Ukraine is an exact copy of his war in Syria, just over our Northern Border. We have openly and constantly criticised the Russian invasion; are giving safe haven to those Ukrainians who want to come here; sent the first aid groups to go to the Ukraine and its borders and now have set up a field hospital within the Ukraine not just on the border. We cannot give him the NSO spyware and major defence ware he demanded, it is against international decisions. Here Liat Collins explains https://m.jpost.com/opinion/article-702255/amp
Locally an unexpected drama unfolds. “The enemy of my enemy is my ally” is a known expression in various forms, here it is becoming more and more real. Israeli Prime Minister Bennett, Egyptian President Al Sissi and UAE leader Ben Zayed met recently and declared their disagreement with the American led nuclear agreement with the Iranian regime. This so distressed the American government that Secretary of State Blinken is coming to Israel to meet with the three. The historic site of their meeting, perhaps the most symbolic of all, is in Kibbutz Sde Boker, the former home of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, who against all odds and against his government and world opinion declared the State of Israel.
Simultaneously, UAE-USA relations have been cooling over the last period, precisely as the UAE- Israel relations have been strengthening daily – especially on the level of educational cooperation with www.impact-se.org .
Beer Sheva, Beersheba, ancient city, the capital of the South of Israel, suffered a diabolical terror attack in a shopping mall this week. A man from the Bedouin town of Hura who was “known to the police”, had served a prison term for his ISIS connections, went on a horrific knife attack killing four Israelis and critically injuring two more before he was shot and killed. Four families destroyed, the lives of all who saw the attack changed forever, through a hatred taught, no child is born hating. https://www.timesofisrael.com/4-killed-several-wounded-in-stabbing-attack-at-beersheba-mall-terrorist-shot-dead/
To get away from war and disaster, the Sea of Galilee, the glorious lake Kinneret, has reached its highest level! The constant rain and snow of the last couple of months has paid off – here we rejoice in rain and the refilling of the formerly parched earth around the Kinneret is wonderful news. Strangely enough my visit to London was enhanced by glorious weather, sunshine and chilly but beautiful days and I returned to “sunny” Israel amid torrential rain and low, cold temperatures! Even stranger, snow is falling in the north of Israel again! Yes, I know it is spring and the roles can be reversed at a moment’s notice, but it seemed strange somehow!
The Bible reading this week, Leviticus 9-11:47, introduces us to the dietary rules of Judaism, Kosher, Kashrut, the why and wherefore. We are what we eat. We do not eat bottom feeders nor animals that scrounge in the dirt. Perhaps the most important, most empathetic aspect of all the dietary laws is “do not eat the kid in its mother’s milk” the law that goes so much further than the literal into the moral aspect of eating the meat of any animal together with what may be its mother’s milk, thus separation the of dairy and meat dishes. The laws are not just about the logic of hygiene as many would have it, but rather to consider the moral aspects of what we eat and how. I think about the moral logic of that law every day.
London, Britain, was incredible. Not only the special time spent with Gideon and his family, seeing Gideon in full “uniform” of a Queen’s Council, even on Zoom Court sessions, but going to see the children’s school and re-establishing my relationship with my incredible, gorgeous, fabulous grandchildren who I hadn’t seen for nearly 3 years! I cannot even begin to relate the love I have for my daughter-in-law who …..but then she knows how I feel about her and her Mum Catherine. I’m a little scared to give the names of all the people I saw, chatted with and hugged because then I will offend anyone I leave out, but I have to tell you about one of the days – a walk through Kenwood House on the edge of Hampstead Heath with Judy and Michael Baum. Kenwood House and its gardens exemplify the legendary English Country Garden. The magnolias are simply phenomenal (actually in almost every garden in the area too), the fields of daffodils had me quoting Wordsworth and the crocuses dotted between the daffs gave a sense of fun. The rhododendrons and azaleas were just beginning to emerge, teasing the eye with their huge brightly coloured blossoms. It was sheer joy and then Michael, formerly a docent of the art collection of Kenwood House, gave me a quick tour of his favourite Vermeer, Rembrandt and so much more https://artsandculture.google.com/story/the-iconic-art-of-kenwood-house-english-heritage/nQWBVFcEkAypJQ?hl=en
Sadly most tourists see Central London, Oxford Street and the usual tourist haunts without seeing the real London of its suburbs. Half rural, half suburban with a touch of village most suburbs of London have their own character – very multicultural in the best sense of the word. An open and welcoming society with a strong sense of community, irrespective of origins, I felt so good there, without tensions, without fear.
So I am home again, filled up, replenished emotionally, and so proud of our travel procedures and the arrangements for Assistance for travelers with mobility issues. Here in Israel it is automatically accepted that the wheelchair travelers go to the front of any queue, have special gates to let them through to the check-in desks before all others or check-in at the business desk. A buggy or wheelchair right up to the door of the plane and smiles, always smiles. Sadly in Heathrow, as in every US airport I have travelled to, there is no special passage for wheelchairs, you queue like everyone else, people get cross if your assistant asks to go through and the waiting room is foul! In fact at Heathrow the special mobile chairs came to collect us for the flight after the flashing red “Flight Closed” sign had been up for ten minutes!! Most frightening was that so few travelers wore masks
On arrival at Ben Gurion Airport a smiling assistant was waiting, I flew through passport control, he collected my baggage and I was whisked to the PCR test (everyone gets one on arrival) and he took me right out to Zvi who arrived just half an hour after landing. Oh yes, we are really good at caring for anyone who needs it!!!
Despite the torrential rain it was so good to get home. I was surrounded by love in the UK warm loving atmosphere and my beautiful family, but in truth there is nothing quite like one’s own bed! By the time I woke up my PCR result was waiting on my phone, always good to get that negative result!!
Tonight, Leor, Amiad and families are coming for supper, for Friday night dinner, Zvi’s Kiddush and the belated celebration of Zvi’s birthday. They are bringing most of the food with them since I haven’t quite returned to normal activity. Last week I felt enormous pride as Gideon sang the Kiddush, he has an incredible baritone voice, and the children did the blessing over the Challot. Chicken soup, kneidlach and a truly delicious meal was prepared by Stephanie and we loved chatting in the kitchen preparing dishes together, a rare treat. In truth Gideon often makes Friday night dinner but since he is deep in a case he was excused!!
I’m already thinking of Passover, changing dishes (hopefully we will find them in the overstuffed store room since we moved after Passover last year) and in addition to the family we will have a Ukrainian family joining us, a family that came on Aliya in the last month. We have a tradition that everyone reads a paragraph from the Passover Story, the Haggadah, in their own preferred language so hopefully they will feel at home.
That’s it! Or as they say in the UK “That’s yer lot” Now to music
As we assemble for Shabbat, after the table is set, the Challot covered, the candles lit, be it family, friends or a mixture of the two, we sing. The Shabbat is welcomed with this beautiful song “Shalom Aleichem” a song of welcome to the angels which accompany us to the Shabbat. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szSb2abAaWU
Ana b’Koach is a Kabbalistic, mystic song of enormous beauty and power. I feel that the world needs it right now.
Please (We Beg Thee), by the great power of thy right hand. Untangle our knotted fate. Accept your people’s prayer song. Strength and purify us. Please, Mighty One. those who pursue your unity. Guard them as the pupil of an eye. Bless them. Purify them. pity them. May your righteousness always reward them. Tremendous Holy One. In Your abundant goodness. Lead your flock. Unique One. Exalted One. Face Your people who remember Your holiness. Accept our prayer. Hear our cries. He knows mysteries. (Blessed is the name of his noble kingdom forever and ever.)
LaTet, to give, to be aware of others, those you love and those you have yet to meet is the greatest gift you can give yourself. To give is to learn of true Tikun Olam – to leave the world a better place than you found it. Boaz Sharabi is a wonderful Israeli singer and this is conceivably his most famous song Le Tet https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5E7Xtl2IXjs
I wish you a Shabbat Shalom, a sweet weekend. Be grateful for what you have and always be ready to share, to give “Le Tet” to those who least expect it.
With love from beautiful Jerusalem, her white walls glistening in the rain.