The view from my veranda

Cellphones, Colour and a busy week

11th February, 2022

Shabbat Shalom to one and all!

Today I should write about all sorts of news items, many of them just about as gloomy as the skies outside our window, but apart from a quick half paragraph ( I promise to try) I am going to tell you about our week! Actually, one very bright spot is that a special lady flew into Israel all the way from Australia just two days ago, on her birthday! Thanks to Covid and its many variants she hasn’t been able to return for two years at least – welcome home dear Gloria Goldstein – Israel always feels extra sunny when I know you are just 50 kilometres away! Hearing your voice announce “I’m here” made my day!

Are Jews white? What a strange question! Apparently Whoopi Goldberg is not the only confused “person of colour” when it comes to delineating what we are, perhaps because, thanks heaven, we come in just about every conceivable hue, and quite frankly, colour is irrelevant when discussing who is a Jew. We are a nation of intermingled and argumentative people whose outside appearance has nothing to do with how they pray! Since our very “whiteness” is an excuse to vilify us why should we accept that fallacious definition.

Actually I’ll split this into several small paragraphs – or maybe medium sized ones and then I’ll tell you about our week!

We have a woman Attorney General. We’ve had a female Prime Minister and women have served in just about every governmental position, but it’s our first time for AG. As Mandelblitt leaves his stormy term of service, having to make major decisions about the Prime Minister, she said that she is ready, willing and able. Good luck Gali Baharav-Miara.  She will have her hands full with decisions over the latest police/NSO scandal over Pegasus spyware.

I am Conflicted about spyware on telephones. I want the police to catch criminals; I have nothing to hide so they can spy on me if they want; they must be able to predict terror attacks; gosh it is confusing! I know that most Americans, both left and right, will argue with my point of view, but while overuse is disturbing, I don’t want the hands of the police to be tied. Classical mythology describes Pegasus as a winged horse created from the blood of Medusa, perhaps the spyware was so-called because of the tentacles of its reaching out to trap bad people?

Talking of bad people, sadly the crime rate among a very limited sector of Israeli Arabs is causing horrific internecine battles and killings in the North and in mixed Israeli towns and youth crime in the South by Bedouins – both burglary and driving wildly endangering everyone on the road. It must be addressed despite the fact that the international media will undoubtedly claim racism. As to terrorism, thanks to the strong co-operation between the Israeli and Palestinian police (yes really) it has been kept in check although always below the surface. We must never forget that Arab violence in the region began long before 1948, to claim otherwise is to transfer blame from the perpetrators to Israel. The Hebron Massacre springs to mind but it began well before that but I promised you short paragraphs so you’ll have to dig into history for yourselves! While researching the start of Arab violence against Jews I found this fascinating website. I don’t know whose t is but it is history in a nutshell.

That’s it! I want to start my Friday with a smile and a story of great generosity. I am happy to say that we have many friends in Australia, love them one and all. This week a friend of ours who works with Hadassah Hospitals told us about an act of exceptional generosity and I want to tell you about it, because those incredibly generous people are our friends, our very special friends, Pauline and John Gandel. Pauline and John have chosen to build a beautiful, new Rehabilitation Unit in Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus. This incredible couple have built hospitals in their native Melbourne and many projects here in Israel but this, this is exceptional and both of us, Zvi and I, are so proud to call them friends, true friends. There are a very few amazing people in this world whose sole purpose is true Tikkun Olam. Now isn’t that wonderful!

Monday, Rachel and I went to Mahane Yehuda! Gosh it feels like forever since we were there. We really missed the hustle and bustle, the cornucopia of fresh local fruit and vegetables, the bright colours, the aromas and of course yelling of the costermongers. We started outside, of course stopping for a coffee in Aroma (best coffee in the world) then when we realised that the covered area was fairly empty, we had arrived early and it was only Monday, not a shopping day, so we wandered through the stalls drinking in the fabulous atomosphere. There are now many upmarket shops and stalls with everything from jewellery, Judaica bake-shops etc and we had a ball!

On Tuesday Zvi announced that he was going to Tel Aviv to meet his friends Yolli, Alberto and Yitzik for lunch so I called my friend Rocheleh and by chance she was home and ready for lunch and a chat! Of course getting into Tel Aviv is a hassle – wonderful wide roads all the way, and despite the four lanes in both directions the Ayalon “freeway” always gets backed up no matter what time of day! Anyway, The guys had fun, Rocheleh and I caught up on all our mutual friends and our family news as she plied me with a cornucopia of cheeses and salads. Zvi and I then went to surprise little Yonatan and collect him from his football (soccer) game. We then raced home (hahaha) meeting heavy traffic out of Tel Aviv of course. This time because of a nasty accident on the other side of the highway and everyone stopping to “rubberneck” on our side. The good thing about driving so slowly is that as we neared Jerusalem I saw the newly flowering “Shkediot”, almond blossom, the harbinger of spring. We haven’t reached the clouds of pink and white blossom that will soon cover the Jerusalem Hills but it was a heartwarming start.

Wednesday and I met up with my Rachel, Rachel Feuerstein and Poodle (Alex Reichman) outside Shalva. We were met inside by the lovely Alex (I hope that Gaby is feeling better now after a nasty bout of Covid) and after a magnificent breakfast in the Shalva Coffee Shop, we began our magical mystery tour of Shalva. I loved seeing the most amazing place through the eyes of the other three, the happy children the incredible facilities, the loving volunteers – and the story of how a personal tragedy created the largest facility for people of special needs in the world. We saw the Mummy and me swimming class for babies and Mums, the various classrooms, the sleep-over area the synagogue and then we headed toward the purpose of our visit. Rachel F. and Poodle were and are very close friends of my son Daniel who as you know was killed in a terrible accident in Central Park two years ago and we headed off to see “Dr. Dan’s Room”, the Studio for Music, Drama and Dance we chose to create in his name and so many of you donated to bring it to fruition. Although the room is still a bit of a building site, it looks phenomenal! Three walls, each with an incredible depiction of its purpose, a brightly coloured Dance Wall with a mirror of wheelchair height; The Drama Wall with a softly coloured depiction of a book and the Music Wall with fabulous musical instruments including a clarinet by special request from Daniel’s Dad Philip. Each area will include a curtained “proscenium arch”. Since there cannot be a stage one will be projected onto the floor to give the sensation of a stage without danger to the children in wheelchairs. The fourth wall has huge windows overlooking a fabulous panorama of Jerusalem. We all left with a big smile and a warm heart knowing that this studio was exactly what Daniel would have wanted.

 Still on Wednesday, I told you it was a good week, we went to meet with Nancy and Harry Bloomfield in The Eucalyptus Restaurant, right underneath the walls of the Old City. The Chef of Eucalyptus is the wonderful Moshe Basson who is an expert in Biblical dishes, from Makluba, to Siniya and on through a plethora of deliciousness using only herbs, spices and meats and fish mentioned in the Tenach, the Bible. It was a great evening covering every subject under the sun over the last two years since Nancy and Harry were here last, since Covid closed the gates of Canada! I actually got to hug Moshe who has been a great support to his close friend and fellow chef Shalom Kadosh after Shalom nearly lost his life in a robbery.

The rains have been really constant, oh, I forgot a very important event! When it rains in Jerusalem the waters flow down to the Dead Sea creating spectacular waterfalls and flooding of the roads; Zvi, his son Leor’s in-laws, Menashe and Galia, Zvi, Amit, Gili, Ori, Yuval, Maayan, Gal and Ziv (7 children) headed off to find waterfalls! I stayed home and in the 2 hours they were gone I prepared a huge lunch for everyone, each to their age-taste! They didn’t find waterfalls but they certainly found mud which they brought home in the car. Which reminds me I must go to the car-wash since it is beyond my capabilities!!!

Tomorrow, Shabbat, promises to be a beautiful, sunny break in the rainfall. We will have Shabbat lunch in Leor and Shiri’s garden and celebrate 5 birthdays! I’m taking three varieties of baked salmon…….they are taking care of the children’s choice of food!

I must go to get myself ready to leave and collect Ayala from school, a rare treat since I’m usually too busy on a Friday but when she called to say she misses me……well what would you do?

I love Fridays. The sense of expectation, not only for the more religiously inclined but for everyone here however they choose to celebrate Shabbat. Children visit parents and grandchildren get to hear the stories of their grandparents – all about when Israel began, long before we became the sophisticated society we are today. Undoubtedly they will lament the days when we trusted our politicians and everybody was the same – no separation of rich and poor……. Everyone struggled for a crust of bread and children would walk merrily to school alone and head off to the shops for groceries. Lament? Yes, all of us wherever we live in this world lament the days of innocence. This week’s Torah reading is fascinating, explaining how we received the instructions of what to wear, Cohanim (priests), Levites (teachers)

On that note! Time for music, music, music.

Firstly, Each Friday night the husband sings a blessing to the his wife, the mother of his children called Eshet Chayil, Woman of Worth. Here the IDF choir sing led by Shai Abramson

Then Friday night Kiddush (the blessing over the wine before the meal)

I have an admission! When everyone got very excited about the fact that Maroon 5 are coming to Israel in the summer I said “What is Maroon 5”? Well Rachel just called to say good morning and suggested I look them up. 208,553,199 hits on Youtube!! Not only that but they really sound good, very musical…. So here goes – Maroon 5 and Memories

I wish you a wonderful weekend filled with family, friends and laughter and a very special Shabbat of joy.

With much love from Jerusalem, the City so special that she has been occupied by virtually every Empire in history, which is why we should never take her for granted.

Shabbat Shalom