The View From My Veranda
Sheila's Letter From Jerusalem
5th June 2009
42 years. 42 years since a tiny Jewish country, surrounded by fierce enemies was invaded, bombarded and expected to disappear under the sheer might of the Arab world. Somehow, a miracle happened and the brave soldiers, ace pilots and great leaders took us forward to a victory that has entered the annals of warfare. We won, we didn’t just win we won the war in just 6 days and after 19 years of frustration and longing our soldiers walked back into the Old City, through the Lions Gate and toward the Western Wall. Ephraim Kishon and Dosh (Kariel Gardosh) understood that flaw in that victory with their marvelous book “So Sorry We Won”. Suddenly the world realised that as small as our country was we were no longer dependent, subservient Jews but Jews who were ready to defend ourselves and survive and thrive. The 6 Day War changed our perception of ourselves and gave us pride.
I quote Kishons opening words: “HISTORY TEACHES US THAT THE NATIONS OF THE WORLD LIVE NEXT TO EACH OTHER EITHER IN PEACE OR IN WAR. ISRAEL LIVES SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN………….BELLIGERENT COEXISTENCE.”
We had a marvelous trip to Western Canada, Toronto and New York. The purpose of our journey was to celebrate the wedding of Rena and David with the Slawsky Family in Jasper, in the glorious Rockies. Since Barry’s house was full our gracious hosts were Mu and Pat Lavin, Barry’s next door neighbours and our friends in Ross Haven, on a beautiful lake just an hour from Edmonton. With Mu and Pat we travelled to Jasper via Miette Springs, lakes and forests, deer, elk, moose, mountain goats, mountain sheep and finally, at last a BLACK BEAR! The wedding was marvelous, warm and loving. We ate and danced the weekend away and the following morning hoped to go to the Ice Fields glacier but – upon waking found ourselves surrounded by white – 6 inches of snow!!!
We went back to Ross Haven, reorganized our luggage and next morning set off for the Edmonton Airport, flew to Toronto where Eddie and Ray (my sister and brother-in-law) took us to Toronto City Airport and we flew by Porter Airlines (amazingly good) to New York – to our sons Daniel and Amiad, grandson Joshy and Joshy’s gorgeous Mum Karen. Nattie and Yolli hosted us as beautifully as always. The weather allowed me to play in Central Park with Joshua which was actually the purpose of that leg of the trip!!!
One of our New York days was spent with the Rubenstein family at Halina’s induction as a Rabbi. We were so proud of her, her dedication, her work and her joy. Kol ha Kavod Halina!!!!
Back to Toronto, and to my sister’s home. During the week we managed to see Ruth and Paul, my niece and nephew and their families, to Kiva’s Bagels with Andrea where we had our photo taken for the local press
http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/toronto/archive/2009/05/27/shelter-from-the-storm-and-a-very-large-lunch.aspx Our tummies grew as we dined in with Cardiff family Gary and Andy, Mike and Carolyn and dined out with Maccabiah friends Allen, Maida and Gerry, and of course Yaara who went from being Zvi’s assistant in Jerusalem to becoming, amongst other things, an advisor to the Canadian Government on Middle East Affairs. It was wonderful to spend time with my big sister – we had so much catching up to do and I wanted my family to know my amazing, kind, generous, noisy, clever, giving husband.
Our flight home was uneventful – other than Zvi’s usual problem of stewardesses with trolleys banging into his long legs!!!!
Our first ports of call, upon landing, were to the grand-children to catch up on kisses and hugs – and dole out the gifts!!!!
We had no time for jet-lag since Sam and Debby Bettsak came to dedicate a beautiful clover map, a ceramic rendition of the Heinrich Bünting’s map of Jerusalem at the centre of the world, at the entrance to the Jerusalem Municipality. Followed by a delicious supper in Gabrielle’s restaurant.
The next day saw us with Allen and Maida Gerskup watching a terrific performance of Oklahoma!!
Sam and Debby then dedicated a programme for students at the Interdisciplinary Centre in Herzliya to create “cool” sites about Israel for youngsters. www.coolisrael.com is one. Finally – and then you are up to date……… the Tiberger wedding. World Maccabi friends arrived from all over the world to join Eyal and Ettie as their beautiful daughter married just one month before the Maccabiah Games!!
Arriving home was emotional, walking into the apartment and opening the blinds to see Jerusalem before me, my flowers and fruit trees a little worse for wear butnot much. Unfortunately the pomegranate tree now has no fruits – but maybe it is just resting for next year!. Our return was all the more poignant for the concern in everybody’s voices at the impending Obama speech in Cairo. We have come to expect unjustified censure from world leaders. The speech came and went and the interpretations depend utterly upon the political and national view of the listener. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-at-Cairo-University-6-04-09/ In principle he appears to be asking for a new approach to coming together and trying to oust the extremists, but I am not sure – I just don’t know. I was concerned at certain aspects and pleased wit others. I think that my greatest concern is the naïveté of believing that kind words of hope and new beginnings can change the direction of deep seated hatred. I hope and pray he is right and I am wrong but I don’t want Israel to pay the price yet again. We won the 6 Day War, not by Israeli aggression but by Israel defence against aggression. We didn’t ask anyone to leave – we didn’t ask anyone to be annexed and most importantly we did not keep anyone in “refugee” camps in their own land.
I am happy to report that Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert underwent successful surgery for Prostate Cancer this week. Thank you all for your prayers and I managed to pass on the many messages of goodwill.
Finally, I want to tell you about a lovely man. Col Goldstein always brought light into any room. His smiling determination made him an exceptional leader. Not only did he support Israel through the regular channels but Col was amongst the very first investors in Israel. Col and Gloria have been amongst our favourite people, gentle, kind, giving and fun. I know Gloria will miss him horribly but I also know she has an amazing store of memories, beautiful memories of Col. Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence gave the hesped for a great man http://rabbi.greatsynagogue.org.au/Goldstein.mp3 May his soul rest in peace.
I am thrilled to be home, loved being with my family, sorry I missed my wonderful Arlene and overjoyed to know that Jill is here. Next week you will hear of Mahane Yehuda and Shouk Ramle as Jill gets her way and I rediscover my beloved Jerusalem.