The View From My Veranda
Sheila's Letter From Jerusalem
16th April, 2021
Shabbat Shalom, Ramadan Kareem
We have mourned for the Shoah and cried over those we lost to war and terror, switching in a flash and a bugle call to the celebrations of Independence.
Two wonderful things happened for Zvi and I on Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day). To his delight and excitement Zvi discovered that the great-grand-daughter of his father’s cousin in Mexico was one of the torch lighters at the celebratory ceremony on Mount Herzl, chosen for her humanitarian work throughout the world, and that this young woman (Gabriela Sztrigler) linked us to a wonderful family here in Jerusalem, a family that hailed from Mexico and knew all of Zvi’s family there and here. It was Gabriela’s great grandfather who had welcomed Zvi’s family to Mexico and seen them through the tragedy of losing Zvi’s little brother Meir. Both Zvi and I were thrilled to invite Gabriela and her lovely Mum Samantha for breakfast next day. We sat together on our verandah, eating home-made Shakshuka and salads, recreating the family ties while watching the air display for Yom Haatzmaut.
This has been a time of re-finding lost relatives, and thankfully discovering that they are wonderful people! Indeed, as if it weren’t enough for me to discover a lost relative, the lovely Frank Eppel in far off Nova Scotia, when I spoke to Frank and his wife Jen………. Wait, let’s go back a bit! When packing some old papers I discovered some beautiful love letters from Daddy (in Cardiff) to Mummy (in London) and the newspaper announcement of their wedding, including the names of the Best Man, Groomsman, Bridesmaids and a glorious description of Mummy’s dress. As I looked closely at the tiny print I saw “Best Man Joe Eppel and Groomsman Max Glicker” Of course I photographed it and sent it to my siblings and also to Frank. Frank’s wife Jen immediately wrote back “I used to babysit for the children of Max Glicker” You could have knocked me down with a feather!!!! Such wonderful discoveries.
The ceremony was beautiful! If you want you can watch the whole recording, https://youtu.be/efzQCVVBRh8 including Gabriela’s presentation, with a special surprise at 27 minutes or you can just watch the “surprise” or you can go straight to the sound and sight of doctors, medics and nurses singing a Koolulam https://youtu.be/fOMpTmLhA9Q
As we sat outside, enjoying our Israeli breakfast I began thinking about our veranda and what it has meant to us, both of us. So many people, of every walk in life, have watched our electric blinds rise up to reveal the view, the vista, Jerusalem stretching before them, from the city centre, over Baka, Talpiot, Beit Tsafafa, Gilo, Manahat, Ramat Sharett, right off into the horizon. Ooohs and Aaahs know no class, political affiliation or religion and just as today we enjoy the sounds and aromas of a thriving city, so 20 years ago we watched the horror of terror, of hatred as palls of smoke and the thud of explosions told us that hatred has yet again been taught and resulted in death and maiming of innocents. That ghastly period is controlled, as is the hate education through the new curriculum introduced by Impact-se in East Jerusalem, but it continues in France, Belgium and sadly in Britain, much less, but exists.
I then got to thinking about the meals served either on the veranda or just inside in the warmth looking out! I devised a method of creating menus, not for the” posh” look but so that I could always look back chronologically and find out what our guests ate last time they visited- my pride would never allow me to serve them the same meal twice! I have served vegan, gluten free, sugar free, lactose free and once Gluten, Sugar and Lactose free in one meal! Guests from Israel (obviously) USA, UK, Jordan, Mexico, Belgium, France, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Germany, Qatar, the Emirates….. in fact I had better stop there because I’m sure that I will miss out some friends and don’t want to hurt them! Best of all, this veranda has seen hundreds, indeed thousands, of family meals, Friday night meals with Zvi’s wonderful voice singing out Kiddush (blessings over the wine) and Hamotze (blessing over the challah) resounding over the entire neighbourhood. From the time when tiny children (Yosef was the first after Tomer and Shelly) crawling around on the fake grass so they wouldn’t hurt themselves or slip on the tiles when they climbed out of the paddling pool to a place where teenagers take selfies in front of the view.
We had a singing evening during the 2nd Lebanon War when everyone was so depressed, all the songs were from the founding of the state, of course ending with Al Kol Eleh. It was a friends bring friends evening and we managed to fit about 80 people in, all leaving feeling a little lighter than when they arrived.
Our children and grandchildren have all enjoyed the freedom of our home…..such beautiful memories. Now……… now is the time to make new memories! The parties will take place again on our even bigger veranda in the new apartment. The children will be thrilled to visit and play in the freedom of our attached and private park with two playgrounds and lots of other children who live in the project. We have already made friends with our neighbours – in fact we went to one of our neighbours to watch the Yom Haatzmaut ceremony – our first party since Covid 19 came into our lives. Obviously we wore our masks to arrive but then, on the advice our friend and resident doctor who ensured everyone had been inoculated months ago, we took off our masks and sang our heads off! That future neighbour also happens to be an old friend from Zvi’s choir. Itzik made a delicious onion soup and was thrilled to find my spinach and cheese penne bake because his Mother used to make it!! Everyone brought something – even if it was just a smile!!
So, dear friends, there is a beautiful light at the end of the dark tunnel of isolation, closures, fear and so much worse. For Zvi and I, our lives will continue in much the same vein but in far greater comfort. No more discussions about who gets the computer…..we will have two in our specially designed office. We have a very neat dining table which grows to seat 20 people and the new kitchen has bar seating on the opposite side to me so friends can chat without entering my space (hahaha). We have a huge veranda (120 sq metres) with shaded seating, room for a lovely table and lots of room for friends. Best of all I have room to grow whatever I wish. In fact the builders answered my prayer and the large plot next to the entrance to our apartments is destined to become a communal herb garden with me as head gardener!!!
Just as we are moving to a new home so Israel will discover that her new reality will be just fine. I don’t know who will lead the country but we are strong, we are determined and if we’d just stop trying to prove each other right then we can concentrate on recovering from Covid with dignity and great success. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MArV8tRKZPQ
So many songs to choose from, all related to our desire for peace. The word Shalom is constant as poets and lyricists alike reach out for the elusive. One of my favourite is Shalom Aleichem, sung on Friday night as the bride of Shabbat reaches out for peace. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=913jZFL1bdE
Once upon a time, many years ago, as El Al came in to land in Israel, they played Hevenu Shalom Aleichem (We brought peace t you) I’m not old fashioned but, yes, I miss it!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JB4RMIWroMY
I am thrilled to be able to tell you that as the limitations thrust upon us by Covid are lifting, so we are able to go ahead with “Dr. Dan’s Room”, a drama, music and arts studio in Shalva, the miraculous centre for people with special needs here in Jerusalem. The plans are wonderful and now we can begin to carry them out! The Shalva Band will rehearse there, children from tiny to teen and beyond will benefit from the facilities and my incredible son Daniel’s life of giving to others will be honoured by the joy his room will bring. His ability to calm the stormiest of situations are best expressed by the Shalva Band in this beautiful song. “Bridge Over Troubled Waters. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIbc7PL8VZ8
Shabbat Shalom. With all my love from this veranda, this mirpesset, that has brought so much joy to so many as they wonder at the “View from our Veranda”, Jerusalem.
For anyone who wishes to make Dr. Dan’s Room even more beautiful