The view from my veranda

Dugo, Demos and Decisions

28th July, 2023

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom.

So, we made it past the 9th of Av, most of Israel realizing that “sinat hinam” or unwarranted hatred is a bad idea, but that we can still continue fighting in our own way against what is felt to be an undemocratic law. I’m so proud of Israelis. I see incredible involvement in the politics of today both through young and old, people in wheelchairs and on crutches, who go to demonstrations to make their voices heard. I see the 63 no the 65% of people who didn’t vote for this government, including those who voted Likud, not just talking the talk but walking the walk, makes me very, very proud. One doesn’t have to be against the government to be proud that ordinary folk are willing to get out there, whatever the weather, and stand up for their beliefs.

I learned something yesterday that fascinated me. As I told you last week, Tisha b’Av is a fast day because of the number of tragedies that happened on that day in history. One particular fact stood out above others. It is believed that Rabbi and teacher Yochanan ben Zakai called out the Rabbis of the 2nd Temple, the Rabbis were the politicians of the time, for corruption and made it very public.  It began a revolution and he then left Jerusalem with a number of students thus able to continue teaching after the Temple was destroyed. Of course, I have simplified, maybe over simplified, the situation, but it proves that history repeats itself over and over again. We have to be careful that since the Third Temple has not yet been built, that we do not bring about the downfall of Israel as we know it, the Start Up Nation. Too many companies, doctors, hi-techers, have already threatened to leave. This is a wonderfully democratic nation and the demonstrations are the living proof of our freedom of expression. We are an amalgam of determination, argument, fun-loving, travellers, healers, ready to help any nation that needs us and driven by a need to make the world a better place. Don’t think the current situation is in any way dangerous or irreconcilable, we will overcome

As you well know I am diametrically opposed to Itamar Ben Gvir or his extreme views, but even a broken clock is right twice a day! No I’m not being cynical in this case. Tisha b’Av, is a very important day of fasting and remembering the disasters that befell us on that date, a day of mourning for the fall of the Temples. Itamar Ben Gvir went up to the Temple Mount and reiterated that Jews (and Christians) should be free to walk, to pray, albeit with respect for others. The Temple Mount is holy to all three monotheistic religions and is not the private property of any.

This was a week in which our Prime Minister fainted again, was taken to hospital, underwent surgery, albeit minor, to implant a very special and expensive pacemaker, was kept in for 2 days and left the country in the hands of Yariv Levine. I wish Mr Netanyahu well, healthy and able to spend much more time with his family. When he went on US television and claimed that the Reasonableness Standard is just a minor law, ……………………………….

Hanan Ashrawi, Palestinian politician, was welcomed to Canada. I resent her celebrity because, as a Christian woman by ignoring the plight of Christians in the PA, she has allowed the world to believe that there is not a problem. In other words, she has betrayed her own people.

I’m not going to spend your time writing about the current political situation because Israel is so much more than what is happening politically, although it is taking all of our time and energy right now, I want to tell you about everything else!

The Israel Antiquities Authority searches every nook and cranny, every cave and rock, in the area near the Dead Sea. Close to Ein Gedi, in a cave atop a cliff, they found a coin just lying at the entrance to the cave; not just any coin but one from the time of the Jewish Revolt against the Romans. The coin is dated 66/67 CE, at the time of the destruction of the Second Temple and has the words “Holy Jerusalem” embossed on it.

Black Christians honoured Rev Dr Martin Luther King this week by marching down Martin Luther King Street in Jerusalem, 55 years after his death. Dr King was due to bring thousands of Christians to Jerusalem to preach to them on the Mount of Olives. Dr King firmly supported Israel as the “land from which Christianity burst forth”

About 100 Christians who belong to the group which regrets the animosity toward Jews by the Christian Church ascended to the Temple Mount to honour Tisha b’Av. Ironically, they were led by Rabbi Yehuda Glick. The group also hosted 27 hours of prayer.

David “Dugo” Leitner became an Israeli folk hero, not for fighting in the IDF but for surviving. A survivor of the horrific Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and of the Death March, Dugo came to Israel and was so emotionally tied to the day that he, a lone 14 year old, began the Death March on the 18th of January, 1945 that he chose to commemorate that day and his subsequent survival and arrival in the Promised Land in a very special way. Dugo ate a felafel every January 18th  ever since his Aliya. His story impressed so many here in Israel and even outside Israel, that January 18th became Dugo Day! Dugo was a very special man and led March of the Living many times and each time that he reached the ovens which took his parents he would yell out their names. I think his story is of ultimate importance, not because of felafel but because of his willingness to tell his story and involve young people. Here Dugo tells his story,  it must be heard for years to come because Dugo passed away this week at the age of 93. May his soul rest in peace and his family be consoled among the mourners of Zion.

The skies over Europe are blazing, the weather steaming and we have to learn to take care of our earth.

On Sunday Zvi drove to Tel Aviv to attend the dedication of a square in the name of our friend Jojo Naim’s Mother Rovina Arbarbanel Naim. A fine honour indeed. On Monday we went to the David Efron Dance Centre to watch the children in rehearsal. Such enthusiasm and joy in their dance, not hiphop but good old Israeli dancing led by the wonderful, amazing Liron Mussachy, daughter of our good friend. I love that the children of Hora Yerushalyim maintain the traditions, the Israeli folk dancing that brought joy to simpler times.

Tuesday my colleagues of Impact-se came to me for a meeting. One advantage of where we live is that it’s convenient for almost everyone! I am overcome with admiration for the people I work with and the magical work they perform to bring tolerance to a world that is increasingly intolerant. Do look at the website, it is astonishing.

On Wednesday we had a special treat. Yosef, my 18 year old grandson, came to stay. I think it’s a huge compliment that he loves to be with us! We went looking for parking near our favourite coffee shop – Pop Up Café  in Kiriat Anavim – but despite several turns around the block not one parking spot was to be found! Everyone was out enjoying food before the fast! We came home and I made him his favourite edamame and mushroom pasta. He wasn’t at all bothered and at Zvi’s suggestion he watched the Israeli series “Red Skies” on the television. Trouble is he was so into the series that he caught up five episodes!!

Yesterday was Tisha b’Av and we stayed home. Traditionally all restaurants and places of entertainment stay closed on Tisha b’Av, although some Tel Aviv restaurants decided to flout tradition and open their doors I happen to believe that the current political situation is not an excuse to be anti-religious, or anti-religion but rather to honour our traditions. But then I don’t live in Tel Aviv…….. and please don’t inundate me with accusations that I am anti-Tel Aviv, I’m not at all. It’s all about a mind set.

Tonight we will spend Friday night with our friends Ronit and Yossi Dagan and then tomorrow evening we have been invited to Gigi and Ehud Tirosh so I don’t have to cook at all! As soon as I finish writing to you I will head off to Rachel and the family on that drive that I love! I actually stopped to take a photo for you last week but somehow it just didn’t do justice to the panorama of Jerusalem, barely distinguishing the hills covered in white homes and tall towers before me…… disappearing into the distance in two directions – toward the sea on the right and Bethlehem and Ramallah on the left.

I will not be writing for two weeks! I am off to the UK to see my family. Gideon, Stephanie, Sammy, Olivia and Zachary will be joined by Karen, Joshua and Callie and then I will go to Cardiff to see my siblings Doreen and Ronnie and families. I will see friends when possible but I am so excited that I will have five grandchildren in one place hat it will be on the hop!!

I often wonder if we learn anything while sitting and learning for major events like Tisha b’Av. Have we learned not to hate? Have we learned to accept that we are all different? I’m not just talking about Israel, nor Jews, but rather the world in general. We have a tendency to expect everyone to think our way.

So to music.

Kabbalat Shabbat means to receive Shabbat, the bride of Shabbat. Here Kippalive sings a medley of Friday night songs

Miri Mesika sings of patience, positivity and hope. Perhaps we all need it right now.

I have given you this song many times, but never too many times. Bridge Over Troubled Waters is what we need now in our ever increasingly angry world. The Shalva band, Tariq al Menhali and Arqam sing with the Jerusalem Symphony led by Gil Shochat.  

So, I’ll see you in a few weeks. I will have the joy of being with my London and NYC grandchildren for Shabbat as Gideon sings Kiddush in his glorious baritone voice.

Please, I beg of you, talk to someone you disagree with, not to convince them of your point of view but to hear why they think what they think.

Shabbat Shalom