The view from my veranda

Day 266, Martin and Resilience

28th June 2024

266 Days since the 7th of October

Shabbat Shalom dear lovely people, Shabbat Shalom

On a personal level this has been a wonderful week with our friend Martin Lindenfeld. We have been to, travelled to, been with and laughed, but always there in the background, and sometimes in the foreground, think about what is happening just a few miles from our home. I promise to tell you all about our week, but first, I want you to read what Paul Mirbach wrote just yesterday. It is poignant, it is how we all feel when we see yet another face, another story of a beautiful child lost to the vagaries of war. Paul called it “Ironics”

“Our children are soldiers, and our soldiers are our children. OUR’s.

They make us proud of what they do, and then we worry when they do it. (How can our hearts hold both feelings at the same time)?

We do all we can to keep them safe, but we send them into danger, and it is they who are keeping us safe.

When they were children, we were their heroes. Now they are ours.

We want them to see the world, to experience the thrill of discovery. And then they come home, and there is a hardness in their eyes from having seen too much, what no-one should ever have to see.

We teach them to have faith in humanity and then they come home from Gaza, having seen what humanity is capable of doing.

But, just like when they were children, they built their Lego world with plastic bricks, when the war is over, and our soldiers come home, together, we will rebuild. With bricks of faith and the cement of our resolve, we will resurrect our homes, stronger; more resilient. And there WILL BE windows of hope, and doors of opportunity.

Because here is our home and we have no other.”

As you well know, drama is our way of life and this week has proven no different from all the weeks before it. The Supreme Court decision that Haredim (Ultra-Orthodox) must serve in the IDF. An essential element of being Israeli is a preparedness to defend this tiny strip of land. If not actual fighting units then become cooks, clerks or engineers, or serve in the incredible army of young people who do Sherut Leumi – or National Service whereby they volunteer to serve in many capacities. Basically to become part of society rather than the internal strife that occurs now.

Victims of the October7th massacre, have launched a court case in New York, suing UNWRA for $1,000,000. The 167-page lawsuit named the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, as well as seven of its past and current leaders, including head Philippe Lazzarini, as defendants. UNRWA, which coordinates nearly all aid to Gaza, allowed Hamas to use its facilities for weapons storage, tunnels and command centres built under its sites. UNWRA funnelled cash into the terror group’s coffers; demanding that employees’ salaries be paid in US dollars.

Israeli Minister of Defence Gallant made the decision to go to Washington for discussions with the US Defence Department, headed by General Lloyd Austin. His decision was not initially approved by the PM but is an essential healing of the growing rift. “During the meetings we made significant progress, obstacles were removed and bottlenecks were addressed, in order to advance a variety of issues, and more specifically the topic of force build-up and munition supply that we must bring to the State of Israel.” His move could well lead to a move toward the formation of a new/old party which will include himself, Gallant, Eisenkot, Saar and former PM Bennett. Hopefully the entire political centre which will include Yair Lapid thus giving a clearer pragmatic lead in the Knesset, removing the lunatic fringe. It may come as a surprise to you that I have no problem with the Haredi sector being represented, as with the Arab sector, as long as they both take on the responsibilities which are incumbent upon being responsible citizens.

A mere “by the way” in the media is both excellent and distressing news. Germany’s Interior Ministry has introduced new citizenship requirements, including recognizing Israel’s right to exist. A positive move but sad that it is necessary.

Last night, a very Israeli event took place in Park haYarkon in Tel Aviv. We Will Dance Again, a huge open air concert with dancing, all of the major stars giving their performance gratis, free of charge and all funds raised going to help the families of both hostages and those slaughtered at the Nova Festival. We will dance again because that’s what we do. We take our communal trauma, our communal sadness and make it communal determination to survive and thrive. After all, it is the story of the Jewish people.

This has been a crazy week, but a wonderful week. Martin Lindenfeld is not a guest; he just slides into the everyday life of our family as if he has never left. He is such a joy to have around!  Zvi, of course, wants him to catch up on all activities, history and new museums, sites and sounds crammed into one week, but Martin will be back soon, hopefully with his wonderful wife Helene. I digress as always! I wanted to make an attempt to tell you about what we did this week. I may not get it in chronological order but nonetheless will do my best.

Martin got off the plane running…… After Shabbat  he and Zvi went off to the demonstration on Hemed Bridge, to get the feel of the emotions of ordinary people. Sunday and Zvi took Martin to Mount Herzl – the Herzl Museum, the Memorial for the Fallen Soldiers, the graves of the Presidents and Prime Ministers while I went off in search of gluten free pitas! I found them right nearby in Abu Ghosh. That evening we met Rachel and Ayala in Naya Restaurant and I had fun watching and listening to Martin and Rachel catching up on the last few years!

 On Monday, Zvi took Martin to the centre of the city, meeting up for a delicious lunch in the restaurant in Shalva where we were met by Sarah Samuels, the incredible daughter of Malki and Kalman Samuels, the founders of Shalva. Sarah gave us an incredible tour, happy, noisy, fulfilled children running in every direction as they should, both typical and challenged, and then the tour culminated in a visit to Dr Dan’s Room the Studio for the Performing Arts that we created in my Daniel’s name. Martin, who loved Daniel, was very involved in creating the studio from its inception. As Sarah was taking us around we discovered that she not only had a major role in the Shalva Band but is launching her own singing career. You will hear her song at the end.

Then it happened! I mentioned to Sarah that I had never met Yossi, the catalyst for the creation of Shalva.  In case you don’t know the story, know that Yossi, from the age of 11 months, after having been given a tainted inoculation became blind, deaf and hyperactive. Thus began the road to Shalva. Wow! He is phenomenal! A great, funny, clever communicator through tactile signing. Through Sarah we spoke about, wines (he is a sommelier), cars, cigars and his love of travel. This amazing man who has met Kings and Presidents has already invited himself to Miami to sit outside the wine room with martin and smoke good cigars!!!

Monday evening found us in the Jerusalem Theatre for an end of year performance by the Hora Dance Troupe teenagers. It was stupendous! Such professionalism and energy. Israeli folk dancing at its very best.

Tuesday was the Museum of Tolerance, still unfinished but incredible. Their main feature is an exhibition dedicated to the 7th of October. The exhibit is a no holds barred, no prettifying and honest.  From the Museum we went straight to Ben Yehuda pedestrian area for Martin’s essential felafel, then wandering up and down the street in search of a Star of David necklace for Martin – not a small one to hide inside one’s Tshirt, but a beautiful proud delicate one to show the world who he is. Sadly they do not have their testimonies on line but this is the testimony of Naama Samet Rubenstein is a forensic scientist, a coroner, who served to identify the bodies  

On Wednesday Zvi drove Martin Southward to Sderot, the Nova site and to Tkuma where the burned out bodies of cars are piled high in memory of those who lost their lives in them. They then drove northward to Beersheva, to Soroka Hospital, the hospital that took the vast number of injured, horribly injured, on that first horrific day. Martin and Helene are very involved in Soroka Hospital through their amazing sister-in-law Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld and the Urology department in her husband Joel’s name. Joel is a world expert in testicular cancer. From there they went to Tel Aviv to meet with Zvi’s sons Amiad and Leor and families for dinner. What a day!! Needless to say, yesterday, Martin and I begged a day off from touring!!

Zvi and martin are currently on their way to a tour of the new National Library, a truly magnificent building, then this evening we will spend Kabbalat Shabbat (the welcoming of the bride of the Sabbath) in Hostage Square and before Martin goes back to Miami we are going north to the Bedouin Village of Hawalid to visit our wonderful friend  Ishmael Khaldi who is currently the Ambassador to Turkmenistan ( incidentally Turkmenistan, despite being a predominantly Moslem country, has banned the Hijab fearing extremism). I am so excited that I will finally get to meet Ishmael’s family!

Why did I tell you of Martin’s visit in such detail? Because I want you to understand that there is nothing to fear in visiting Israel! In fact, the most important thing you can do to support Israel is to come here as so many of our friends from all over the world have done recently. Reading in the news one would think that we sit at home and quake, no we don’t! That would allow our enemies to believe they have triumphed over the Jews, believe you me we have suffered worse and as I have said so many times, if we refuse to visit friends and family because they suffer tragedy that would be cruel.

Anyway, Martin and I are off to see Rachel later, she has already started on the dough for her Challah, I’m sure it will rise very quickly in this heat!  Zvi will go to his parliament, hopefully to put the world to rights. We will venture forth into the searingly hot weather, even Jerusalem is humid today!!

And so to song.

I promised you Sarah Samuel’s song. It is wonderful, her voice as sweet as her personality. It needs played everywhere, this song dedicated to the families of the hostages. I want it to go viral and need your help to do so.

Halleluya, so many renditions, versions, this one is special. Andre Rieu and chorus.

Last week we read about the 12 scouts that the Almighty told Moses to send into the land of Israel, to report what they found, whether this was really the place to bring the Children of Israel. Out of the 12, 10 claimed that it was barren, had giants who fought them, that the land would devour anyone who tried to settle there. All lied, too complacent with what they already had, except for two, Joshua and Caleb, who described this as the land of Milk and Honey. As we have all learned, to reach the honey, one must suffer the sting. Naomi Shemer is conceivably the greatest Israeli poet and lyricist and based on those words the song, Al Kol Eleh came about, Today is the late Naomi Shemer’s birthday so it is only appropriate that the final song I chose is my favourite, one that I give you often. Al Kol Eleh, this time with the IDF Orchestra.

Remember that the media is comparable to the 10 scouts, insinuating that this country is full of racism and violence but in fact we are still vibrant, we hurt, we mourn but we live, oh boy do we live. We prove that we are stronger than our enemies because we celebrate life not death. Israel is a kaleidoscope, a mosaic made up of a multitude of colours, thought, faith all coming together in a cohesive “balagan”. What is a balagan? It is one of my favourite words! Balagan is a word with a history, having come to Yiddish via the Slavic languages, where it was borrowed from the Persians. In common Yiddish parlance, balagan is a state of chaos, disarray and confusion, but can also mean the mess your kids leave in their rooms. If you just come and see for yourselves you will enjoy the crazy balagan that is everyday life here in Israel! Nothing like it in the world because it is OUR balagan.

Martin chose to wear Bring them home dog tags and a yellow number of each day that the hostages are in captivity along with his beautiful new Magen David (Star of David) and will do so in Miami. I love him for that and for so many other reasons. He really, but really “gets it”. He also never forgets that it was Zvi who started him on his journey as a Zionist.

Have a beautiful Sabbath, a gentle day of rest, of prayer, of family. Think about us as we think about you. Ater all we are family, irrespective of how or in which direction you pray.

With much love from Jerusalem, the centre of our world.