The View From My Veranda
Sheila's Letter From Jerusalem
20th March 2020
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope you are abiding by the rules or as I call it “Activity in the Shadow of the Crown”
Tell me something, how many Presidents decide to calm all the worried children in his country by reading them children’s stories? Ours does. Our amazing, wonderful President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin took time from dealing with naughty children (aka politicians) and chose a story by Leah Goldberg to read to Israel’s children. See for yourselves – it has subtitles https://youtu.be/8O0jVoLhyzQ
Israelis have really, almost every single one, shown the best of the togetherness that is normally saved for wartime. Here is one of my favourite examples. Two youngsters decided to mobilise the entire country, irrespective of creed, to come out onto our balconies and gardens and clap. Yes, to applaud the doctors and nurses of Israel who are putting their lives on the line and working non-stop to save us, to ensure that we will be safe. We did it!! Anyone who really cares did it! Our neighbourhood rang with applause and cheers, so too did this neighbourhood, I don’t know exactly where. I hope you can see this from Standwithus Facebook https://www.facebook.com/StandWithUs/videos/2860910793990887/?t=6
Gal Gadot is in isolation without make-up as are most of her buddies in Hollywood. They got together on line and this is the wonderful result. I have a feeling John Lennon would have approved. https://youtu.be/bQK32bwvRuI
Well that was nice, wasn’t it? All sorts of heartwarming thoughts on the COVID-19 Situation. However, this is Israel and our leaders cannot cope with one crisis at a time so they create new ones! It is so confusing that I don’t think even they understand!! OK here goes.
Netanyahu is not giving up his position, and now his trial has been deferred until May (as is our agony). His Ministry of Health has done an amazing job of protecting us, asking self-isolation for weeks now and halting all incoming foreigners – yet the Minister belongs to the Gur Hassidim and they refuse to follow the rules, unwilling to accept the “minyan” rule of 10 people at any gathering and self-isolation if returning from abroad or being in contact with anyone declared positive of the virus, holding big weddings, etc. OK, that’s by the by, back to the infighting.
So after 3 elections, we are in the same stalemate, but an emergency coalition is suggested and accepted, but who will be the PM? The whole ethos of Blue and White has been that they refuse to sit in a coalition with a PM under indictment and now they are suddenly willing…..but are they? Several members of B&W will leave the party if they unite with a Netanyahu led Likud! Are you with me? Now there is the question of the B&W coalition. Balad is part of the Joint List but not pro-Palestinian and B&W wanted them in the broad coalition but Likud is not willing!
The rather draconian edicts about human contact and what one can and cannot do all made sense, even accepting huge invasion of privacy methods such as using cell phones to find out who met with carriers of the virus – even that we accepted, with trepidation, but accepted. Now we have reached the stage that the police have been asked to arrest curfew breakers…….. What can I tell you, it feels like 1984!!
I keep digressing from the political implications of what is happening while we are obsessing about the Corona Virus! So, back to the Knesset. The swearing in for the new session was really weird. Four people sat in the Assembly for the ceremony – President Rivlin, Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein, PM Netanyahu and Leader of B&W Benny Gantz. Edelstein read the traditional opening and called up the two politicians to respond to his demand that they swear allegiance (I swear) and then they left. On his way out Bibi felt the need to tell the Speaker and the President to sit further apart to obey the rules!!! From that time on Members of Knesset arrived at the door 3 at a time to swear in, from the door and honouring the 2 metres distance one from the other. The door was held only by the steward wearing gloves. What strange times we live in!!!
We thought that the two major parties would work it out and form the much needed emergency government and then, yet another surprise! Edelstein declared the Knesset session over, two days after opening!! I give up! https://www.timesofisrael.com/president-to-speaker-a-likud-mk-reopen-knesset-avoid-harm-to-democracy/?fbclid=IwAR1X2y3Njr-VhuqaFKm0oTWQVWr-thUDCGzf8uk0NlENZMqeKk95RD6nnTs
Zvi and I decided to continue our 2 kilometre walks, obviously wearing our masks and I wear gloves. Each day we set off to walk around our neighbourhood but yesterday decided to walk in the gazelle park just down the road – of course it was closed. When too many people used parks as a meeting point to cheat the isolation the government closed the parks!! So we decided to walk along the ancient brook, in what was a wadi running along the railway lines to Bet Shemesh. It was a “brisk” day, in other words bloomin’ cold, but the sun was shining and it blew the cobwebs out. We saw glorious wild cyclamen, wild rosemary, sage, mustard and a variety of water birds. For the entire 35 minute walk we only saw 3 other people!
Feeling refreshed and brave we decided to head for the big supermarket under the silent, closed shopping mall. Again we wore masks and gloves, as did virtually all the customers and all the staff. As everyone went in their temperature was checked, which made me a little more confident! We cleansed the trolley handle and bought what we needed, got back in the car, used Alcogel and went home. I felt as if I had climbed Anapurna!!
Most of our time is spent sorting through all the mementoes – I believe that Zvi’s wonderful Mother Alla recorded every event, particularly of her beloved son Zvi, and he has a daunting task ahead of him. I think he is such a hero to tackle it. My stuff was easy. After changing homes 17 times until this one, I was forced to discard so much, so many memories, that it is almost all from the last amazing 30 years with my Zvi. I did however find some beautiful photos of my children, all three of them, so as you can imagine many tears were shed.
That’s it folks, if only the virus responded to rain because we have had vast amounts!!
Some music to cheer you up
I love President Rivlin, Koolulam and my favourite song, as you well know, is Al Kol Eleh, so https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxzR9Z-kG6Q
The inimitable Tom Lehrer had an answer to everything, even the Corna Virus!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frAEmhqdLFs
Finally, back to my childhood! Yom Zeh l’Yisrael, my favourite Shabbat song, but then all of them are!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBlX_XWb_DU
So stay home, find what to do, be active, exercise, if you take the dog (or your spouse) for a walk, wear a mask and if you go to the supermarket wear disposable gloves. I don’t understand what is going on, don’t know if it is real or a big conspiracy but we don’t take risks – don’t be generous, keep your germs to yourself!!
This week’s Torah reading gives us a glimpse into the beginning of internecine fighting as Jacob works for the hand of Rachel and through his sons, some with Rachel some with others, the 12 Tribes are born. https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/parashat-vayetze/
Shabbat Shalom. I know we are all upset that Pesach will be rather lonely this year, but hey, think of Anne Frank and realise that being cooped up at home really isn’t so bad.
With all our love from our rainy but ever beautiful verandah.