The View From My Veranda
Sheila's Letter From Jerusalem
5th June 2020
Shabbat Shalom dear friends
What a disturbing world we live in. Closure, lockdown, isolation, whatever one calls it, ultimately it has dire effects on one’s sanity. We were warned by many specialists that ultimately emotions would overflow into violence. The reason can be outrage at the cruelty of one human to another but the isolation results in terrifying violence. The rise in domestic violence is disturbing but inevitable but to suddenly see a human being with a policeman’s knee, sucking the lifeblood from him tipped the balance from social disgust to mob rule.
To protest, to demonstrate our horror at an inhuman killing by one who should have protected us is honorable and principled, but to riot and ransack denies the rights of all others and should not be countenanced. As I have said many times, my hero is/was and always will be Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King who would have shrunk back in horror at what is happening. Interestingly enough, not only have they found that outside provocateurs incited the mobs but that at least one third of the actual demonstrators were white. Responsibility to heal falls on each and every one of us.
This article from Chabad says it all
Israel received praise from just about every Western country for our handling of the Covid-19 crisis, the closing of the skies and the repatriation of both Israelis to home and foreign nationals to their own countries and so much more. Of course, no politician missed a chance of making hay out of the situation and the government ignored just about every piece of advice from their medical advisors, but that’s the same almost everywhere. We received praise until the inevitable return to school. The numbers are rising exponentially among teachers and students alike, despite distancing and Alcogel. It is inevitable. As one friend, an advisor to the British Government, “We will all get it, it’s a matter of time” All that I can pray for is that by the time “we all get it” there will be a response whatever form it takes.
Annexation, appropriation, expropriation, land grabbing in fact just about every derogatory term has been used in response to the Prime Minister’s speech(es) about annexing land. Everyone knows that the Jordan Valley is a status quo situation in which the local Jordanian citizens wish to become Israeli citizens, also large towns and cities on the West Bank, so why bring it up now? The only answer I can think of is that chest beating, Tarzan like attitudes win elections and popularity among the right and detract from the trial of the PM. Of course, it does absolutely nothing for Israel’s image. I am all for stating our position proudly and firmly but why incite public opinion when we are the butt of so many barbs anyway!
Talking of the PM’s trial…….. Susan Hattis Rolef writes
Listening to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deliver his scandalous speech just before the opening of his trial on Sunday last week, inside the Jerusalem District Court building – surrounded by obedient Likud Ministers, all wearing protective masks that presented them as faceless – I got the feeling that our prime minister somehow views himself in the role of Joseph K, in Franz Kafka’s memorable novel The Trial. https://www.jpost.com/opinion/the-kafkaesque-trial-of-benjamin-netanyahu-opinion-629865
Few know that the government in Israel borrowed (appropriated) billions of shekels from the Bituach Leumi – Israeli Social Security using a loophole in an agreement signed between the two in the 1980’s. In Israel, Social Security covers pensions, disability, maternity leave and a myriad of other benefits. This last few months have stretched the resources of Bituach Leumi to the very limit and financial pundits announced that Bituach Leumi pensions may cease within 20 years. https://www.timesofisrael.com/government-defrauding-the-public-of-national-insurance-funds-official-says/
Now that you are thoroughly depressed, it’s time to talk about the good things!
Did you know that as a result of reports from Impact-se the Norwegian Parliament instructions calling the PA curriculum “devastating to the peace process”, cited IMPACT-se “credible” report. The Government made the decision to withhold funding for PA education until they change their curriculum. It simply proves that acting in a measured, legal and erudite manner can change the world – bit by bit.
Last night, along with 99 other participants I tuned in to a Zoom lecture by Dr. Cai Parry Jones about the Welsh Jewish community. Although Dr. Parry Jones is not Jewish he became fascinated by the Welsh/Jewish life and the contribution of the Jewish community in Wales to the country as a whole. The lecture was excellent but I must admit that I was thrilled to see so many old friends and family on the screen! The initiators gave us half an hour at the very beginning to say hello to each other and the wonderful Welsh accents from around the world took my back to my childhood! https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jews-Wales-History-Cai-Parry-Jones/dp/1786830841
These last few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster for me. Since my son Daniel’s sudden death I have been searching for a way to honour him, something that all of us, Daniel’s family and amazing friends, above all his wife and children, can be proud of. It has taken time, tears and many memories, (and helpful editing by Rachel) to decide how best to salute Daniel’s exceptional life and work. Daniel exuded love to his patients, especially patients with special needs. The obvious choice was one of my favourite places in Jerusalem, the Shalva Center. The Shalva Center is a place of refuge, learning and love for people with disabilities and their families. A place of joy, laughter and bright colours which fulfils the needs of every member of the family.
Please, if you feel able, go into the link, click on “donate” and together we will build a Music Therapy Classroom in Daniel’s name. “Dr. Dan’s Room”, where, with the help of a specialist therapist, the children will learn to express themselves through the joy of music.
Gosh, that was hard to write.
This week’s Torah reading, Naso, tells us that the Children of Israel finally listen to Moses and as a reward get their Holy Altar. Each one of the 12 Tribes brings a gift of thanksgiving. The assignment of the positions of the Levites (teachers) who will carry the Holy Ark and Cohanim (priests) who will bless the people, is also decided through the word of God. A fascinating hierarchy which is honoured until today, but in our prayer service rather than in society.
This Shabbat will be different to most since Zvi has gone off to Nes Ziona to “babysit” 3 of Leor and Shiri’s four girls. Amit, Gili and Ori are convinced that they will babysit Saba rather than the other way around and hardworking Leor and Shiri get a relaxed Shabbat away from home! Since I am “susceptible” I am at home, well not really at home because I will be with Rachel, Igal and the children for Friday night dinner and then tomorrow going to see my friend Frida. Zvi just left armed with 2 types of soups, extra masks, Alcogel, Dettol wipes and strict instructions on distancing because all three girls are back at school. Amit (13) will be cooking, an art she has really taken to, Gili will make dessert and Ori will set the Shabbat table. All three girls will light the candles and Saba will, of course, make Kiddush. My Friday night meal will take more time as Rachel’s family does the entire Shabbat service – which I love! One thing for sure – I won’t have to worry about cooking, Rachel will have a heaving table as she does every week. I’m so proud of my daughter, she has survived (barely) lockdown with 3 teenagers who are getting more and more antsy being home, squashed in a small apartment!
Zvi and I are trying to stick to our regimen of walking. I cannot possibly keep up with him, since he has 7 league boots, but I’m finding walking buddies so that I can complete my 2 km a day exercise. It’s fun discovering new places, not just in our neighborhood but all around Jerusalem. Rediscovering how beautiful this city is in the hidden lanes and walkways, Jerusalem takes my breath away by her sheer physical beauty, it’s no wonder that so many have painted her and written poems to extol her virtues through the ages. Today I will get to see her from two aspects – the view from our veranda and the view from Samuel’s Tomb. From Samuel’s Tomb one sees the undulating hills covered in white buildings which glisten in the sun, the ever-increasing number of tall buildings standing like flowers in the soil joining the August Victoria, the Scottish Church, St John’s Church, the YMCA, the Calatrava Bridge with less grace but equal beauty – framed with the pine trees that line the roadside.
And so to music.
This is special on every level! Two real “menschen” – good men, Yitzchak Perlman and Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgott performing Yismachu – Rejoice! We all need it! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxyWkx6CfSI
The late Arik Einstein could always make me cry with his words and smile at the beauty of his music. Ouf Gozal – Fly my Fledgling https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ez1e2VPsRFw
Finally “Shevet Achim ve Achiot” Tribe of Brothers and Sisters with a whole tribe of Israeli singers. “Our ancestors are the roots and we are the flowers” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLx6qOdA4OE
With love from Jerusalem