The View From My Veranda
Sheila's Letter From Jerusalem
Friday the 13th!!
Shabbat Shalom everyone. I know, it feels as if we are part players in some horror movie, but as long as we don’t star in it then we will get through it. For some reason my brain is in loop singing “Atishoo Atishoo, we all fall down”
I have a feeling that the outcome will depend upon how efficient our governments and civil service is, how quickly they respond and more importantly, how well we behave. Italy is the prime example – Greece too. If the edict is to stay home, not in isolation but home, then we should do it. It really isn’t ours to question in this case. One of the advisors to the British Government on prevention of COVID-19 spreading in the older sector (that’s most of us) is very clear in his advice – stay away from the grandchildren! Apparently they often carry the virus but show no symptoms thus spreading it like wildfire. It’s hard, it’s sad, but we have to be sensible.
Anyway, enough about COVID-19, or Corona Virus as it is known, because if you haven’t taken notice of your governments advice thus far you won’t listen to me!
As the election results here in Israel have caused even more confusion and political tricks it is to my great surprise to find that the current medical crisis may just lead to a broad based emergency government. I hope and pray that none of the parties involved will insist no Arab parties participate! It makes me mad! Talking of which, Israeli and the Palestinian Authority medical authorities have been working closely together after a serious outbreak occurred in Bethlehem as a result of (apparently) Italian and Greek pilgrims visited. So the fact is that out of the chaos some kind of order has fallen.
Can I please tell you all about my wonderful walk through the Valley of the Cross? I went with our friend Dana and it was like walking through a magical horticultural wonderland! Wild cyclamen seemed to emerge from the very rocks, covering them with an abundance of pink flowers, their tiny petals reaching for the sun; the wild anemones or wind flowers, covered the grassy areas with their cheerful crimson petals and here and there we still found some almond blossom, although most was already covering the ground with snowy pinkness. Children played between the colourful display and the Scouts built a huge structure, somewhat like an adventure playground but really big and strong, sitting in the sunshine pleased with their work.
It was so wonderful, the sun shining gently on us as we strolled, checking out each outcrop.
Purim was basically cancelled, none of the big municipal events took place, weddings were reduced to a few guests and economies are suffering, but it’s all in a good cause. Actually Zvi’s choir decided to get together, no hugging or kissing, keeping our distance, in a friends home, and I decided that my fancy dress would be appropriate and protective. I went with a long blonde wig, rouged cheeks, heavy eye make-up, red lipstick, my breathing mask, gloves and a sign that said “Safe but Sexy” – nobody realised that I was wearing my mask for protection.
Yesterday, as I took Rachel home, I saw the panorama, my favourite vista in Jerusalem, over the hill of Samuel’s Tomb. Gosh it still thrills me every time. The undulating hills of Jerusalem, pearly white houses interspersed with green trees topped with ever increasing towers. It is fascinating to note, while travelling along Route 443, that on the Israeli side there are green trees and landscaping and all the buildings and homes have gardens but on the Palestinian Authority side it is stark, not a patch of green even after the rains, the land eroded from lack of planting. At first I thought, “Well of course they don’t have money for landscaping” then I remembered that they get billions in aid while we don’t so what’s the reason? It’s all about priorities. We believe that one’s surroundings influence our attitude, our way of life but in the PA they seem not to care about the wellbeing of their citizen’s attitude. It made me very sad.
Yesterday was a glorious sunny day when I walked in the front door and like a flash, by the time I reached the glass doors to the veranda it had broken, a violent gale force wind had whipped up the furniture and then the rain started. It was incredible!!!
I’m not going to whitter on because truthfully, there is little to write about that you don’t already know! Of course I could always tell you about my theories of how this dreadful situation came about – but that would not serve a purpose so I’ll wish you a good shabbes, a day of rest and a period of remembering how to play games with our children, of talking to each other and taking life more slowly.
Yedid Nefesh or Soulmate is a magnificent Shabbat song, usually sung at the “Seudah Shlishit” or third meal of the Shabbat. The words are exceptional https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mqtc4UVTlYQ
One of the most beautiful renditions of Jerusalem of Gold by Shulem Lemmer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niTWPbC8gXo
We share so many things, all of us, all religions and all sectors, perhaps the one we realise least is a beautiful psalm, the 23rd Psalm written 3,000 years ago by King David right here while sitting in the sunshine under the skies of Jerusalem. It is irrelevant if you call it Mizmor David or The Lord is My Shepherd, we really do have more in common that what separates us. It’s all about accepting the beauty of being different. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYpjoUDqbU4
Have a good weekend, go for long walks and remember, don’t be generous with your germs!!!
With love from Jerusalem and our storm battered veranda