The View From My Veranda
Sheila's Letter From Jerusalem
Friday, 10th January 2020
Shabbat Shalom, Shabbat Shalom to you all.
This week I discovered that life goes on, mostly around me, but it goes on. The sun has a habit of rising no matter how one feels. Today I will collect the girls from school, go up the steep climb atop Samuel’s Tomb, pop into Nehama’s bakery for my Challot and an hour before sunset I will light the Shabbat candles.
At first it appeared to be yet another aeroplane accident when a Ukrainian Airlines Boeing fell out of the sky. Then the cell phone photographs began to come in showing an explosion well before the plane hit the ground. So, now it appears that an Iranian missile brought down the Ukrainian jet ‘by mistake’. BY MISTAKE! Can you imagine now if Iran had a nuclear weapon and fired that ‘by mistake’? PM Justin Trudeau, citing a preliminary review of the evidence, called for a full investigation “to be convinced beyond all doubt.” 63 Canadians were among the 176 passengers and crew who died.
Imagine that Belgium was an inferno, what would be the world reaction? Well, the raging, all enveloping fires in Australia are just that, the size of Belgium. The beautiful city of Sydney is engulfed in acrid black smoke as the Australian firemen try to contain the uncontainable. Without rain, a downpour I can’t see how it can be held back. It is now summer in the Southern Hemisphere and rain will not fall. Of course Russel Crowe blamed climate change but from what I hear there were several cases of arson, of intentional incendiarism and it is a danger every year whereby even back garden barbeques are banned. Our hearts go out to the people of Australia, to all our wonderful friends in Sydney and pray that although it is so far away, many countries will send fire-fighting aeroplanes to help quench the flames.What do Rachael Rizby Raz, an Israeli and Australian Ex-Pat and Gal Gadot have in common? Both have started campaigns to help save the wildlife from the fire and IsraAid is in the process of sending help, but the situation is still dire. ttps://www.fromthegrapevine.com/nature/australia-fire-animals-israel-humanitarian-aid
A military zealot dedicated his life to murder and mayhem, yet when “exterminated” by those he threatens to kill, not only his nation goes into mourning but some misguided leaders actually reprimand the USA for acting. The media would have us believe thus, but millions of Iranians who either remember life before the Ayatollahs or their parents have told them about it, rejoice the killing of an arch-terrorist who has brought mayhem on their heads. The rebellion in Iran is strong and growing, despite the risk. Hundreds have died while protesting the dire oppression of the theocratic regime. The killing of Qassem Suleimani did not occur out of thin air; two Presidents balked at targetting him, fearing the Iranian response, but it took a Donald Trump who recognised that the only way to stop oppression is to face up to the bully. The celebrations which followed the killing of Osama Bin Laden have not been repeated but they should, because the decision didn’t come out of a vacuum. The last straw for the American President. Unlike the attack on the Benghazi Embassy he would not let such an attack go unchallenged.
“Anti-Semitism is a multi-headed hydra. It comes from both the Left and the Right. I believe that, currently, the Left is more dangerous than the right. The Right’s white supremacists and fascists are crude, brutish and often mentally challenged thugs. They are dangerous and crazy – but marginal. The Left is accorded serious academic and political status at the highest levels. The internet facilitates both sides to spread hatred as never before.” http://jeremyrosen.com/2020/01/anti-semitism.html
As I am sure you know, finally realising that his game is up, that Prime Minister Netanyahu has asked the Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein, for immunity from prosecution. https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/EXPLAINER-Questions-and-answers-on-immunity-612898 Israel has no working government over a year; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has no money because funding cannot be approved; ditto the Health Ministry, creating financial disaster in hospitals; the promised rise in disability pensions has been delayed indefinitely. The country is being held to ransom yet MKs gave themselves a raise in salary and their parties millions to yet another election campaign. It could have been avoided with even one iota of honesty.
Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef made a statement that shames his father’s name. He clearly stated that the immigrants from the FSU were either non-Jews or haters of Judaism who should not have been given the right of return. The most productive and positive Aliya ever, all of whom serve in the IDF and have contributed to science, culture and art is mocked in such a disgusting manner? I am so disgusted I refuse to comment further https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Recant-Chief-Rabbi-613469
The rains came and while blessing Lake Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee, and covering Mount Hermon with wonderful snow, Tel Aviv and towns along the shore suffered dramatic floods, Nahariya in particular suffering raging flood waters causing destruction in their path. Tragically five people lost their lives in the last week as a result of the floods. Jerusalem will get her share of rain but because it is hilly the floodwaters run down to the Dead Sea flooding the Negev and Road 90. We need those rains but the sheer massive quantity over a short period is causing havoc. Ever the optimist I am already thinking of the blossoming of flowers in the Negev Desert in a few weeks.
A fascinating fact. The centre of Jerusalem is King George Street and when it rains the waters to the East run down to the Dead Sea and those to the West run down to the Mediterranean!
My heart goes out to Canon Andrew White whose loving Mother Pauline passed away this week. May her soul rest in peace.
Time for the good news!
An Israeli debate team has won the World Universities Debate Championship for the third time. The debate took place in Bangkok. Hadar Goldberg and Maya Saveliev of the Open University Debate Team, made history as the first Israeli women’s team to win the competition by defeating 750 contestants from around the world in the English as a Second Language (ESL) category.
We have been talking about the miracle of Iron Dome for a long time, about the wonder of Israeli inventiveness; well, we have excelled ourselves again! A laser-based anti-missile device which cuts the cost of bringing down missiles from tens of thousands of dollars for each Iron Dome to a few dollars using the new laser technology.
Quentin Tarantino won a Golden Globe this week and after he thanked his cast, he said, “And my wife who’s watching from Tel Aviv, who’s pregnant with my very first child,” then switched to Hebrew to say, “Toda, geveret,” Hebrew for “Thank you, Mrs.” Going back into English, he said, “I love you,”
I love Jamie Oliver, the very British chef who tried to change the eating habits of American and British school children by teaching the “dinner ladies” how to cook economic and healthy school lunches. He came to Israel recently and visited the wonderful Kalo coffee shop in the Baka neighborhood of Jerusalem. Jamie praised the Israeli breakfast as the best in the world!! https://www.timesofisrael.com/naked-chef-marvels-at-israeli-breakfast/
Impact-se is living up to its name and is making a huge impact on tolerance in education. Their new partnership with Keren Hayesod is of ultimate importance as is their planned two day conference in Washington where their reports have been tabled for discussion in the House.
I know, I know, you want to know how I am doing. A strange mixture of gratitude for what I had; a determination to take care of who I have; a deep sadness for what could have been and concern for Karen, Joshua and Callie. My feelings are natural and unnatural and I just let them happen. Life will return to some form of normal but never be the same. There is a huge hole where Daniel existed in my heart but he will find his own place, quietly, kindly and determinedly, a place in my heart that will make me feel calm, because that is what he always did.
In a short while I will get myself dressed, put on my Safta (grandma) face and go and get Talia and Ayala from school. We’ll stop at the roadside flower stand just before Samuel’s Tomb and choose “something pretty” for Rachel for Shabbat, of course the girls choose the coolest colours, then over the hill toward Nehama’s bakery to get a treat for Yosef, Talia and Ayala. As we near Rachel and Igal’s apartment the air is redolent with the aroma of baking Challot. Yes, outwardly things return to “shigra” routine, and it’s those things, rather like traditional Judaism, which ease our pain. Traditions keep us warm and sane, they are familiar, handed down by the generations before us.
Friends have been coming in a constant flow of love, which really helps. Zvi has taken on a new task, he has become an expert “tea-wallah” ( a term from the days of the Raj) making a really good cuppa (only referring to tea no other beverage). Actually the truth is he has been amazing, taking care of me as if I were one of his children, or mine.
- Now to music.
Modeh Ani. Each morning as we wake up we thank Hashem for giving us back our life. The original prayer is “I offer up my thanks to You, Hashem, for mercifully restoring my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great.” But Omer Adam takes it even further, thanking Hashem for putting bread on his table, clothes on his back…………. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEgrqzmTwJs
Daniel and Gideon had a party piece at every family gathering, Arthur Sullivan wrote it and it is about a Tenor and Baritone. Funnily enough when they started Daniel was the Baritone and Gideon the Tenor but then as Gideon’s voice went lower and lower……. They switched. This rendition is the closest I could get to theirs which sadly I don’t have. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47vwpFDTqXg.
Surrounded by loved ones there is only one song that can possibly express my gratitude to all those who wrote, came, baked, cooked, hugged and called. Bridge Over Troubled Waters by Simon and Garfunkle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xC5gFakHeMk
I wish you a good Shabbes. I send you love. The view from our verandah is as beautiful as ever even as the skies cry their tears alongside mine. As I light my Shabbat candles tonight, listen to Zvi’s beautiful Kiddush and break bread over Rachel’s Challot, I’ll be thinking of you and smiling.