The view from my veranda

Do you want the good news or the bad news?

18th June 2020


Hello dear friends, I wish you a Shabbat Shalom, I wish you shalom – peace.


I don’t know about you but I am sick of gloom, doom, viruses and politics. So, after I’ve tackled the question on everyone’s lips – it’s good news only – well actually a “Do you want the good news or the bad news?” situation!


A very bright and intuitive friend told me that “American Jews are very disturbed by the annexation issue” so are Jews in virtually every country. No-one has actually explained why the PM decided to announce a change in the status quo when his “Co-Prime Minister” is so against it.


I understand your confusion – the annexation announcement was bad timing and diplomatically unwise, but then the world doesn’t exactly give a standing ovation when Israel announces a change of any nature. On the other hand it is hypocritical to condemn Israel for acting in the same manner as virtually all the countries that are her harshest critics. Are we, as a people, too easily embarrassed by anything that might rock the boat? Are we, as a people, overly concerned that our boat will be rocked out of our Western complacency? Why does the announcement, so many thousands of miles away, create such antipathy? Only you can answer that one.


Perhaps this week’s Torah reading Shlach –to send, explains the sentiment. Moses sent out 12 scouts, one from each tribe of the Children of Israel, to check out the Land of Israel before they went in. Each (except for Joshua) came back with a story of giants and ogres and ……. Basically they were scared to go and find out for themselves so they made up stories. In truth it was a land of milk and honey not of ogres and famine but based on the false stories the Children of Israel begged to go back into slavery in the land of Egypt. I rest my case.


I was very sad to hear that a dear friend, Ishmael Khaldi, aka Ish, the first Israeli Bedouin to become an Israeli Diplomat, was accosted and thrown to the ground at the entrance to the Central Bus Station by security guards as he made his way home from meetings in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. What’s good about that? After lodging a complaint with the police Ish put this sign on Facebook. “I am a proud Israeli along with many other non-Jewish Israelis who live in one of the most culturally diversified societies and the only democracy in the Middle East. By any yardstick you choose, Israel’s minorities fare far better than any other country in the Middle East.” He has been inundated with messages of love from Israelis and everyone he met on his diplomatic postings over the years.


Another “good news/bad news” item is the passing of legislation by Norway, leading the way to halting funding to Palestinian school curriculum which is extreme in its incitement to violence and hatred. Here Marcus Sheff, CEO of Impact-se explains


The horrific riots of last week, not just in the States but all over the UK and Europe, seem to have calmed down. The reason was valid the reaction was gratuitous violence and the expression of inverse racism. However, the repercussions are not all bad. A determination to change and change perceptions are coming to the fore perhaps all schools should follow the lead of this amazing teacher to help young children understand how easy it is to become a racist.


Dame Vera Lynn epitomised the British spirit of World War 2 when London children spent much of their time in the Underground or Tube tunnels used as bomb shelters as London was bombed incessantly by the Germans and whole communities sang the songs of Vera Lynn. The men were fighting in Europe and she kept up the spirits of soldiers and their families alike. Dame Vera continued her good works for all of her 103 years and yesterday she passed away peacefully. Songs like “We’ll Meet Again” “Bluebirds Over the White Cliffs of Dover” and so many more are her legacy. May her soul rest in peace.



OK it’s now official! Chicken soup is the perfect remedy for almost everything including Covid-19!! Many hospitals are even putting recipes on line! Apparently it replaces the elctrolytes lost in illness helping the body to recover. A 93-year old Jewish great-grandmother, Betty Bobbe from Hendon in London, has beaten COVID-19 with a combination of chicken soup and “brilliant” medical care. She is now home after being discharged from hospital.

Not only chicken soup but good news for gherkins! Israeli scientists from Ben Gurion University working with Chinese scientists have discovered that probiotics produced in the pickling process can slow the buildup of dental plaque.

President Truman had a close friend throughout his adult life, his name was Eddie Jacobson. They were business partners, army mates and so much more. Their friendship was to have historic consequences for the State of Israel.  Here Eddie’s daughter tells the fascinating story.



On Sunday Rachel, Yosef, Talia and Ayala came with me to Shalva ( They really weren’t prepared for the sheer beauty of the building and the wonderful atmosphere of joy. Our guide was Gaby Hirsch and as we walked through the building and saw the activities the children they understood why this was the perfect place to honour their Uncle Daniel’s memory. You have more than done me proud with your donations to “Dr. Dan’s Room” the Music Therapy Room in Daniel’s name. Those of you who have enjoyed my weekly offerings over the years have rewarded me with outpourings of love which have warmed my broken heart. If anyone has donated through the Shalva USA office without mentioning that the donation goes to “Remembering Daniel” please let me know. Daniel’s father, Philip and his wife Barbara have really joined the effort wholeheartedly. I hope it is as healing for him as it has been for me.


Yesterday, together with three girlfriends, I escaped isolation and we met up in a deserted Keren Kayemet park! Sitting two metres apart at a picnic table in the shade of an olive grove we each unpacked our contributions to lunch (well we are Jewish so to meet without food would have been unthinkable)! Smoked salmon or “eggie” sandwiches, coleslaw salad, a red cabbage salad, organic chopped salad, a gluten free sweet potato quiche, and a huge box of local, freshly picked Israeli cherries all served on recyclable, disposable plates. We were so excited that this wasn’t another WhatsApp conversation, as wonderful as they were, we were actually, physically together!  Keren Kayemet parks are all over Israel, many with cycling or walking trails through antiquities and wonderful peaceful forests and clearings.


Virtual Israel tours with JNF. The whole family can enjoy a week of JNF virtual Israel tours with a licensed Tour Guide. See biblical and modern Israel, famous and off-the-beaten-path sites, JNF projects, hidden gems, The Old City of Jerusalem, Ayalon Institute, Rosh Ha’Nikra, Akko, Sderot, Be’er Sheva, Timna Park and more.

Despite the cries of gloom and doom, an Arab-Israeli alliance is taking shape. Ed Husain, writing in the UK Spectator magazine, claims that new maps of the Muslim mind are being drawn and old hatreds are on the run. He cites recent events in Oman, Abu Dhabi, the UAE, Dubai, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to suggest that this may yet be the decade of peace. This article is pre-pandemic but still relevant


Last night we took part in a wonderful Zoom party to celebrate our friend Marvin Meital’s 80th birthday. His children managed to gather friends from around the world who have known Marvin since he was a child in the USA. Congratulations marvin, Mazal Tov dear friend – Lyana, Talia, Yochai and Matan really did you proud.


And so to Friday! Zvi will meet with his parliament friends, again keeping to distancing and masks but the sense of social interaction is returning. I haven’t decided yet if I will just have a quiet evening in or go to Rachel! You won’t hear from me next week since I am, yet again, going in for surgery – anyone would think that I support Shaare Zedek surgical team all on my own! I’ll be fine and by this time next week will be feeling better. I am lucky, although I tend to have surgery every 6 months I am actually very healthy!



Micha Gamerman creates wonderful animated clips of Jewish melodies and prayers. I love this one of Shabbat Songs


“Lean On Me” sung by 8th graders in the USA who missed being together during lockdown


And so to Dame Vera Lynn. I don’t know if anyone outside the UK can possibly understand the positive influence of one woman on the emotional wellbeing and fortitude of the British people at a time of cataclysmic danger. Her voice gave hope to citizens and servicemen alike


With love from Jerusalem on a wonderfully balmy day giving the city respite from the heat. The plants all give thanks for the cooler weather and tomorrow we will be reminded that it is still not officially summer with the promise of rain!


Shabbat Shalom dear friends, see you in two weeks