The View From My Veranda
Sheila's Letter From Jerusalem
15th January 2021
Hello! How are you? I wish you a good Shabbes, a blessed Sabbath, Shabbat Shalom!
I am in such a good mood after my birthday that I decided I didn’t want to write about the troubles of our world today, and we most certainly have troubles! What a confused lot we are! The plague that has overcome the world has brought out the very best in people, but also the very worst. Since the media concentrates of the worst I decided to concentrate on the best.
The world is talking about Israel’s ability to vaccinate so many people in a very short space of time and want to know how. In last week’s newletter Dr. Joel Zonszein explained the efficiency of the “Kupot Holim” the Health Funds, but there is so much more to it than the brilliant work of the professionals. It’s also Israel’s young people, the volunteers. When one arrives at the many vaccination centres, one presents the “invitation” which was sent to you and then the magic begins. So many volunteers and young “Sherut Leumi” (a year of voluntary community service for young people before the army, including young religious women) take the non-medical jobs of registration, of entering the time, date, name, ID number of the patient and the vial number of the vaccine as they get the inoculation, all which makes the whole affair run very smoothly. The Covid testing process is even more so. For instance, yesterday morning, Rachel went for a Covid test. She arrived at the site and young Magen David Adom volunteers, dressed and masked appropriately, guided the drivers to the actual test site where nurses and trained volunteers performed the tests which were then taken by more volunteers and put into the appropriate vials. By the evening Rachel had her very welcome negative result. It’s the first time that a negative result of a test was a positive result!!! If one doesn’t drive, call a taxi, specifically ask for a driver who has already had Covid to take you to the test site. If you are housebound then Magen David Adom come to the home, take the test and deliver it to the lab. All of the above is feasible thanks to the combination of ID numbers, volunteers and the amazing medical system here.
Since this is the third closure people are less careful and more fractious, as one would expect, fed up of being home stuck in small apartment with small children, but the Mayor of Givat Ze’ev found a solution. Imagine, a compendium of toys, games and magazines arriving on your doorstep as a gift from the municipality! Such a clever way to amuse the children!
Two days ago Zvi and I went to the supermarket after he had his second vaccination; we always choose relatively quiet times, and as I was perusing the vegetables I heard “Excuse me can you put your mask on” and a delightful elderly gentleman looked very distressed, he had simply forgotten to put it on and his mask was still in the car. “Here take my spare” I said “As long as you don’t mind wearing a pink one” All 3 of us laughed and he went off proudly sporting his pink mask. On my way home I popped into the pharmacy to collect a prescription and as I stood waiting, well distanced, a rather burly, aggressive looking, young man came in with his mask unopened, barely covering his mouth. Tentatively I asked him to open his mask and cover his nose as well. His surly face broke into a big smile “Of course I will, I’m so sorry I forgot” The stupidity of “wearing a mask takes away my right of choice and self expression” is a rarity here. I’m not saying everyone is sweetness and light, we have our self-absorbed rebels too, you only have to see our numbers to know that, but in general, I believe that Covid has brought out the best in most people.
I had a highly successful Impact-se Annual Board Zoom meeting, our CEO Marcus reporting incredible successes in winning through a wall of the West’s ostrich-like habit of hiding from the truth that children are not born hating, they are taught to hate as part of the brainwashing by nefarious regimes. Impact-se is making incredible headway in bringing tolerance in education in cooperation with many governments in the Middle East as I told you last week. www.impact-se.org We discussed the latest, revealing, reports on UNWRA. I feel that I am the luckiest person in the world to have been chosen as the Chairperson.
As I sat in front of the computer screen I heard the front door “ping” to tell me someone had gone out, so I assumed Zvi had gone on his regular 3-4 kilometre walk. I then heard him return home and……. But wait, that’s part of the next story
I have to tell you about my birthday yesterday, thanks to Zvi and a multitude of good people I had the best birthday ever! The entire day proved that despite being stuck at home surrounded by four walls and Netflix, one can have a truly amazing time! Like all things Jewish it all started the night before……..about half an hour after the meeting ended and I left the seclusion of our office to find that Zvi had not gone for a walk – he had gone to collect my favourite sushi and set the table beautifully and poured me a glass of delicious wine! I must admit that it made watching the news later much more palatable. And then……….next morning
08:00 and someone knocked at the front door! It was the delivery of glorious “Breakfast Box” filled with freshly cooked, Israeli breakfast goodies. All sorts of savoury spreads in little glass jars, croissants, bagels, salads, freshly squeezed orange juice, borekas and wonderful shakshuka. I was overwhelmed! Who could have thought of this gift? Upon opening the accompanying card I discovered that it was Zvi’s two sons. Leor and Amiad and their families! So thoughtful especially since nobody could visit! As we were wading our way through the huge breakfast which actually lasted until supper (!) the doorbell rang again and a delightful platter of fruit, cut into flowers, arrived from the wonderful people of Shalva. Next came lovely flowers from Impact and a huge bouquet from Gideon and Stephanie and children. That was when I heard from Rachel that she couldn’t come with the family to do me a big balloon and singing presentation down in our car park! Wait, that’s not all! Gili, aged just 11, got together with Rachel and gathered greetings from our siblings, children and grandchildren and close, close friends and made me a video! All of the above were complemented with non-stop phone calls from all over the world! As I left one phone call I heard voices coming from the study and went to investigate only to find that Zvi, with a little help from the children had organised an international Zoom party!! It was wonderful to see all my loved ones on one screen
I have to admit that the high spot was in the family video when 7 year old Callie did a crablike contortion in the middle of Central Park and sang “Happy Birthday” upside down!
I am so overflowing with love from every direction that I can’t stop smiling! I discovered that ultimately one reaps what one sows in life and my goodness, without all the bells and whistles of a big party, my cup runneth over!
I was determined not to lose the warmth of yesterday – although I am not blind to the horrors surrounding us, which seem to grow daily. While our politicians do their very best to drag us down, I just wanted to show you that good things happen, every single day, we just have to recognise them.
Tell me about the little kindnesses that you have experienced lately. You choose, big or small, a smile or a cake, holding the door open for you or………. You choose
Time for songs before I go to cook Friday night supper and get the Challot into the oven so that they will be hot and crispy for supper.
Why did Nancy Pelosi quote and Israeli song by Ehud Manor, yesterday and not for the first time? Ein Li Eretz Aheret – I have no other country. Here sung by Ninet Tayeb the plaintive music does the meaningful lyrics justice. Since the subtitles are in Spanish I put a link to the English translation too https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzwdYSdrwtY
Shalva sent me something much more than the lovely fruit platter, they sent me a video, a song, a statement of hope. Here is a new recording of the Shalva Band singing “All You Need is Love” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvhhae73wnk
Finally, what else? Louis Armstrong singing “Wonderful World” because when you come down to it, that’s what we have. This period has taught us that we can survive without many of the accoutrements of Western life – we don’t need fancy restaurants, our children have learned to amuse themselves and understand the joy of having parents who help them with their Zoom lessons and homework, we go for walks, do our morning exercise instead of sitting at desks and enjoy the simpler side of life. C’mon, sing along with Louis, you’ll fell so much better https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikiUL9nNab0
I wish you a truly beautiful weekend. As I stand before our Shabbat table, the best china, the aromas of that special Shabbat meal and freshly baked bread, to light the candles which bring light to our lives, light and sweet memories that can only be achieved by doing as our parents did and their parents before them, I will think of you and how blessed I am to have you in my life.
Shabbat Shalom dear friends