The view from my veranda

Calamities, Covid and Archaeology

16th July 2021

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Here I am again, telling you my thoughts on the world and hopefully enlightening you just a little bit about what really happens here without the angle of the BBC or CNN.

Two days ago I wrote to my family in the UK worried about the impending floods – which were meant to hit the British shores. In the end, Britain wasn’t hit and the storm took a turn southward and Germany is suffering devastating floods. It is believed that deaths are in the hundreds. Water, that essential element to life can also take life in a moment.

Saturday night the fast of the 9th day of the month of Av, Tisha b’Av, begins. Most people have no idea of the significance and implications of that day. “What it’s all about? It isn’t like Yom Kippur”? is the usual comment. In one sense it is many Yom Kippurs in one, but it is not about atonement, it is a day of huge sadness. So many horrendous events took place on the 9th of Av, too many to be ignored. Predominantly the destruction of both the First and Second Temples; the defeat of the Bar Kochba rebellion causing the deaths of 580,000 Jews; the expulsions of Jews from England, France and Spain; SS commander Heinrich Himmler formally received approval from the Nazi Party for “The Final Solution.” As a result, the Holocaust began; in modern times the AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires took place on the 9th of Av…… and so it goes on through the centuries and millennia.

The overwhelming reason behind the destruction of both Temples is hatred, in Hebrew we say “Sinat Hinam” which is the opposite of “Ahavat hinam” or free love. Internecine hatred almost wiped out the Jewish people. The reason I found it important to state came to me in a headline – a headline that chilled my bones, my Jewish bones. A poll taken in the United States found that 25% of American Jews believe that Israel is an apartheid state.  I have not yet decided whether they are self-hating, gullible or just plain stupid! They care not that Jews and Christians are treated as second and third class citizens in most of our neighbouring countries, they just jump to a conclusion fed them by the media and the Palestinian disinformation machine. I will bet that none of them have ever been here or realise that I, as a Jewish Israeli, cannot go into the PA.

Following the fallacious beliefs of that 25%, can they explain how Arabs are in government and in the Knesset, and the new Covid-19 commissioner for Israel happens to be a Druze? Prof. Salman Zarka was the Director General of Ziv Hospital in Sfat (Safed), an epidemiologist by profession, IDF Centre for Medical Services, reservist in the IDF and highly qualified for the position……  

Prof. Zarka has his work cut out. Israelis love to travel and the last government lifted travel restrictions for Israelis, although retaining the limitations on incoming tourism. As a result the infection rate has leapt up. PM Bennet sent out a WhatsApp message to Israeli citizens begging them to take care and meet outdoors only, especially when visiting older relatives; he, together with Minister of Health Nitzan Horowitz and Defence Minister Gantz, has also asked everyone to wear masks indoors, in malls, cinemas, theatres and other places of gathering. The pain of not seeing family is tangible…..I hope and pray I can get to the bar mitzvas of two of my grandsons. It is believed that the current wave of Covid was started by just two people – one came back from India through Cyprus, without telling immigration that he was in India and not going into isolation.

The British Government has demanded that social media honour the definition of Anti-Semitism as set out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Let’s see if Mr Zuckerberg complies!!

Incredible! Fantastic! Exciting! When Zvi and I chose our new home we knew it was an important site, but not the extent of its importance in the history of this land. A 9,000 year old settlement has been uncovered in the Tel Motza dig, incredibly enough much of which was discovered when the changes to Road Number One were made; since sections of the road are on stilts it allowed the archaeologists to work underneath! Last night we went to a lecture on the subject in our local community centre. The lecture was given by two young women archaeologists, spurred on by their mentor Prof. Hamoudi Khalily, Deputy Director of the Israel Antiquities. Here are two links, one announcing the find and the other with incredible photographs of Tel Motza, the largest ancient settlement ever found!

This week, Rachel and I finally went to meet with the amazing team at Shalva, the unique and beautiful centre for people with special needs in Jerusalem. Over the last eighteen months of Covid few activities have taken place and the walls remained silent for too long. On Monday, however, it was abuzz with excitement and laughing children because finally and at last it was activity day!! The purpose of our visit was to talk about who Daniel was, is and always will be. Dr. Daniel Cammerman, adored husband, father, brother, son, friend and paediatrician. I managed to get through talking about my boy and his beautiful family, thanks to Rachel’s support, and with thanks to the team who, like us, want the Dr. Dan’s Room, the Music, Drama and Dance Therapy Room in Shalva to reflect everything that Daniel loved. For the hundreds of you who donated to Dr Dan’s Room, I am proud to tell you that it is underway, finally, after a long Covid-delay! The room has been used in its bare state but by October it will be beautiful and serve a wonderful purpose. If you still want to donate toward this amazing cause, or just read about Daniel, click on

Many years ago, while on a holiday in Antalya, in Turkey, we met a delightful couple who were to influence our lives in many ways. Our paths crossed on so many issues, all good, from hasbara, connections with the Christian community and our mutual love of Canon Andrew White. Norman and Lola Cohen; Lola and Norman, truly good people. We loved our Saturday afternoon tea, with Andrew White, at their home, Lola making a terrific cuppa and shortbread biscuits, scones with cream and jam and then listening to Norman’s stories and witty Biblical explanations. Norman has been sick for some time now and last week, at age 98, he passed away. My heart goes out to Lola and their daughters who have lost an amazing man but have so many beautiful memories.

The veranda looks amazing! I love spending time out there, despite the searing heat, trying to stay in the shade as much as possible. It is huge! I was so thrilled to discover that Zvi and I would have a really large entertainment space (Zvi’s favourite activity) but filling the 120 square metres is a challenge. We brought some plants with us, but we have added to the citrus tree collection, in addition to the Kumquat, Lemon and orange trees we now have a lime tree. The little lemon tree which struggled in our old home, is thriving! It is not only sporting dozens of baby lemons, but has decided to come out with a second blossoming! The kumquat is so covered in blossoms that its healthy green leaves have disappeared under a blanket of white flowers! Despite have arrived just two weeks ago, the lime tree is already sprouting new leaves and branches and the orange tree…………. well, one cannot win them all. Zvi’s sons, Amiad and Leor and their families, bought us a fabulous housewarming present of a garden sofa and chairs, it is sheer luxury to sit outside on a balmy evening and eat supper, surrounded by the trees, birds and lovely neighbours!

Talking of birds, my favourite winged visitor is the “tsufit” or Sunbird. They are tiny, hover over the flowers to take the sweet pollen; they aren’t humming birds but are similar in the way they hover and dart from flower to flower. The male is a beautiful iridescent black and his mate is a soft sable brown. They often visit in pairs and I try to photograph them but they are far too clever for me, even the slightest movement sends them off to the neighbours garden instead! They love the hibiscus flowers and instead of using long tongues inside the flower like the humming bird they pierce the base of the flower from the outside reaching the pollen. They cause the flowers to drop but it is worth it just to catch sight of them.

Yoni and Nina Tokayer are a fascinating couple who formed a singing duo called – you guessed it – Yonina! Their popularity has taken them aback but if you listen to this song, watch their video including their baby girl Ashira, you will know why! The sheer joy of their songs…..

Yonatan Raziel is a talented Israeli musician, from a musical family. I love this prayer/song. Katonti – I am unworthy.

If there is one thing that holds us together, that holds us up, it is the prayer for peace. Peace is the subject in virtually every Israeli song and poem, we even greet each other with the world for peace. I believe I have given you the next song before, but in this ever hate-filled world it expresses our desire to live in peace.

I wish you a good weekend and pray above all that we learn the lessons of the 9th of Av and learn tolerance of those who don’t look like us, don’t pray like us, don’t vote like us in fact learn to respect everyone irrespective – you don’t have to agree with them!

With much love from the ancient settlement of Motza! Do you remember when the words settlement and settler were positive? They were certainly positive 9,000 years ago!!!

Shabbat Shalom to all…..with love