The View From My Veranda
Sheila's Letter From Jerusalem
5th August 2022
Shabbat Shalom everyone.
I hope and pray that all our friends in California and Europe where brush and forest fires abound are safe and sound.
Thoughts for the day as we near Tisha b’Av. Tisha b’Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, the day on which we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple and so many other horrific disasters – Both Holy Temples destroyed, Jewish expulsion from England, Jewish expulsion from Spain (Inquisition) both World War One and World War Two began. What do all the above have in common? Hate. Just hatred, refusal to accept the other and a determination to destroy. In Judaism, as I said last week, this is know as Sinat Hinam – unwarranted hatred. This time is relevant for all of us, as I always say, whichever way you turn to pray. So let’s try to put a few facts on the table and consider whether the current rate of ant-Israel rant is warranted or not.
This is where I intended quoting Shylock “do we not bleed” etc, but then I thought about the warnings of disaster that were ignored. Ze’ev Jabotinsky was a born leader. He expended huge amounts of energy trying to warn the Jews of Poland of impending disaster.
JABOTINSKY’S TISHA B’AV PROPHECY Warsaw, Tisha B’Av, 1938
“For three years that I have been calling on you, Jews of Poland, the glory of world Jewry, with an appeal. I have been ceaselessly warning you that the catastrophe is coming closer. My hair has turned white and I have aged in these years, because my heart is bleeding, for you, dear brothers and sisters, do not see the volcano which will soon begin to spurt out the fire of destruction. I see a terrifying sight. The time is short in which one can still be saved. I know: you do not see, because you are bothered and rushing about with everyday worries … Listen to my remarks at the twelfth hour. For God’s sake: may each one save his life while there is still time. And time is short.
I want to say one more thing to you on this day of the Ninth of Av: Those who will succeed to escape from the catastrophe will merit a moment of great Jewish joy — the rebirth and rise of a Jewish State. I do not know if I will earn that. My son, yes! I believe in this just as I am sure that tomorrow morning the sun will shine once again. I believe in this with total faith.”
Black and brown Jews fled to Israel from violent anti-Semitism in Arab and African countries. Most Israelis are people of colour and/or children of refugees, making the cry of colonialism and apartheid all the more ludicrous. Jews come in every colour, shape and size; in every level of religiosity. That’s a fact. Why fight amongst ourselves just because we differ, surely there are enough people in the world who hate us without hating each other? To me it is irrelevant whether, as a Christian, you pray in Church, Chapel, Cathedral or Temple and as a Jew it matters not to me, on a personal level, whether you call yourself Haredi, Orthodox, Masorti, Traditional, Conservative, Reform, Liberal or Reconstructionist, all I ask is that you respect each other’s choice and keep the traditions of our ancestors who ensured our survival as a people.
The Rabbis and sages claim that the litany of disasters begin and end with baseless hatred, giving the ultimate example of Kamza and Bar Kamza, here it is explained in a series of videos. https://www.alephbeta.org/playlist/baseless-hatred-sinat-chinam
Last two items that cannot be ignored then only positive and healthy news and stories!
Firstly, the PA raised the salaries of the Hebrew University terrorist’s families “due to inflation”. That’s your money by the way
Secondly: For those of you who think Iran, nuclear bombs and threats is all about destroying Israel, here’s the latest quote from Iran: We will ‘build nuclear warheads’ and turn NY into ‘hellish ruins”
Now to happier things, positive news and this week’s activities in the Raviv household.
One of the major challenges in the Diaspora, for everyone, is the verbal defence of Israel. Yosef Haddad is Israeli, Moslem and Arab and here he blows all the stereotypes into smithereens as he shows us “You don’t have to be a Jew to be successful in Israel!” https://youtu.be/MmMJAOyaaPk
Zvi and I went to pick up our “new” car this week and I noticed a man, an amputee, coping brilliantly with manoeuvering his way through the maze of desks and cars in order to greet everyone. I had to talk to him, well as you know already, Zvi and I chat to strangers on a regular basis, and as he neared where we were sitting, I complimented him on his wonderful manner and beautiful smile. He then told me his story. He was already injured during his IDF service, and one day he was on a bus when a terrorist, with an explosive device boarded the bus. This man fought the terrorist, got him off the bus onto the pavement and lay on top of him holding him down and keeping his hand from pressing the button to explode until police came. We were in the presence of a real hero, not a film star, his name is unknown but a real, honest hero who fights his PTSD every day of his life by smiling and greeting people bringing sunshine into the lives of others
For football fans (the football that involves only feet) Messi and Neymar brought the entire team to play in Israel and introduce them to this wonderful country https://www.timesofisrael.com/messi-neymar-lead-paris-saint-germain-to-french-champions-trophy-in-tel-aviv/
Sunday was a good day! It began with spending time with Rachel, Talia and Ayala in the centre of Jerusalem. My three girls are so loving and caring, really watching over me! I then came home and in the evening was a momentous event! The wonderful Lola Cohen, born in Birmingham, married and lived in Leamington Spa, who together with her late husband Norman worked for understanding between Christians and Jews. Lola well deserved the marvellous fun party thrown for her by her two daughters, Stephanie and Gail, surrounded by friends. Still fighting the good fight at 90. Lola – Ad 120
The funny part was my journey to Stephanie’s home in Gilo. Apparently an accident had blocked the main roads to Gilo and WAZE sent me through a tiny back road, which is quite normal but this road not only wound and twisted it’s way up the hillside the “sleeping policemen” (road humps) were more like sleeping elephants! I have never seen anything quite like it. I swear each hump must have been at least a metre high. Honestly!
Yesterday began rather earlier than expected. The technician was due to arrive at 07:00 so I was awake but he called me at 05:50 to say he was close! A hurried shower and we both threw our clothes on to welcome David with the new computers. Yes folks, at this very moment we are both sitting comfortably at our own computers at the long desk which was made ready a year ago when we moved in!! David was very kind, so much so I forgave him for interrupting my usual morning routine of coffee, crackers with amazing Israel Cottage Cheese, the newspaper, puzzles, crossword, Wordle and Spelling Bee while sitting in the shade on our veranda (mirpesset) watching the sunbirds drink from the special feeder I bought together with Lola Cohen! Anyway, as happens in Israel, David and I began a discussion about “Sinat Hinam” and the 9th of Av. David is what we call here, Dati Leumi, which means religious but utterly loyal to Israel. Anyway we spoke of acceptance and how he tried to explain to his Rabbi that it is irrelevant how a man prays, but rather what a man does. A good man is David.
As soon as David left us with our new technical toys I ate a quick breakfast and fulfilled my promise to Yosef to take him to Decathlon to get some sports gear. Only problem is that Decathlon is about 70 kilometres away! It was so much fun to talk to him, my incredible 17 year old grandson. We spoke about the car, about his future and of course about what an amazing person he is. It’s a huge compliment to their parents that all three of Rachel’s children are growing into warm, loving, huggy adults.
I came home, collected Zvi and we went off to the supermarket! Well although he was busy he won’t let me carry anything! You must understand that most of the managers and workers in the supermarkets are Arab, local (Abu Ghosh), many are students, mostly women, and here, unlike in Europe, there is no problem with them wearing a hijab, any more than it would be a problem for them to cover their hair as religious Jews do.
We got back home, put the groceries away and collapsed into a stupor almost forgetting to eat lunch!
Then after a crazy day, last night one of our neighbours held a delightful evening of “Shira b’Tzibur” – the highly inadequate translation is a singsong. We just walked down our row of homes to Building 17 2nd floor, with my salad contribution, meeting and greeting other neighbours headed in the same direction. Zvi sang his heart out to the delight of everyone present, it made the rest of us amateurs more confident of singing out loud because he drowned out our mistakes!! It was such a delightful way to meet neighbours we had not yet connected with and one of them spoke of the history of our ”Yishuv”
Through Zvi’s encyclopaedic knowledge I have already told you the story of the Avenue of the Presidents which lies right under our veranda https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/herzls-tree/ , and of the “White House” Convalescent Home in our park, but there is so much more including the exceptional Tel Motza excavations. Firstly Motza Illit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motza_Illit and then the excavations https://www.telmoza.org/ You can even register to the dig!
Tonight our wonderful friends Danny and Judit Liwerant, Zvi’s friends from his teenage years in Mexico, a friend of theirs and our Jerusalemite friend Eli Ben Tovim, are coming for Shabbat Dinner. It will be a fascinating evening of shared memories and Jewish history. There is just one problem, I haven’t prepared the food yet! I’m absolutely certain that by about 15:00 I will be ready to drive over to Rachel’s to get my Shabbat hugs from everyone and to make that climb up to Samuel’s Tomb so that I can stop the car at the new Vista Point and draw a deep breath as I look over all of Jerusalem like a huge relief map set out before me. Once I love to remind myself of the high buildings which acted as my compass, but today there are innumerable tall buildings as Jerusalem grows and grows.
And so to music.
Ladino is the language of expulsion, the language of the Sefardi (Spanish and Portuguese) Diaspora, just as Yiddish is the language of the East European Diaspora. Here Yehoram Gaon sings Adio Querida, which many believe to be a love songs of a lover leaving his/her lover but in fact it is a song of sadness, disappointment and even hatred for Spain where the Jews gave their all, were perfect citizens and then the expulsion came. Adio Querida https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMV1fcH9Hzo I admit that I love it when Zvi sings it but he has never recorded it!
There are many joyous songs to welcome the Sabbath and this little video expresses the tradition of inviting others to join the Shabbat table. It is irrelevant whether you have a mansion or a humble bedsit, the Jewish wish to share food with those who need it is always present. https://youtu.be/Bjd539KCwFw
So dear friends, this is a real “Shehechyanu” the prayer for new things new places, new food and new experiences so I thought, why not for new computers! It has been so much fun sitting beside Zvi and holding conversations as I write. He helps me find words in English that I forget (yes really) and it just feels so much more interesting!! Basically this is not a prayer, it gives thanks to the Almighty for bringing us to the day, to the moment, in which we can experience new things https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zt1YAdyT1I
With much love and wishes for a Shabbat Shalom, a Sabbath of Peace, whether you celebrate on Friday night and Saturday or on Sunday. Greetings from your friend who gives thanks every day for the honour of living in Israel.