The view from my veranda

Elections, Iran, Yom haShoah, Spring is coming

25th January 2019

Shabbat Shalom! How are you? I know that in Melbourne it is 40 degrees celcius and in Toronto it is almost at the other end of the scale so I won’t complain about the rain that was and will be or the glorious sunshine that is today!

I was thinking, something that happens on occasion, that I am deeply grateful to my parents who taught us that no matter what Jewish house you enter, you are at home. They taught me that it is irrelevant if the home is Reform, Reconstructionist (not that there was Reconstructionist in their day), Traditional, Religious or Haredi, know who you are and respect their beliefs. They taught me about our traditions and prayers so that I would never feel ill at ease in any of the above.

I put an article on Facebook, it was called Yidiots. I didn’t agree with much that is written, I don’t believe it is a situation exclusive to the United States. The article referred to those Jews who find their Judaism irrelevant, they care not a jot about their Jewish identity and even less about Israel – actually they are intensely embarrassed about both. I know a few and I am sure you do too but I cannot fight their determined blind ignorance. The title could just as easily be Chridiots for Christians, Lidiots for LDS, Mosdiots for Moslems – people who have no sense of history and deride anything connected to their ancestry. I pity Jews who stand with BDS, hate Israel and laugh at Jewish tradition, they are missing so much!

Sorry I had no intention of going there! I actually wanted to relate my opening paragraph to the Shoah. International Holocaust Remembrance Day is on Sunday and our world is full of people who have no sense of history and wish to rewrite it. How does this relate to my first paragraph? Because all of us, every Jew, whether whole, half or quarter, connected or disconnected, observant or unaware, was taken to the ovens of the Third Reich. On the way to the ovens nobody checked the size or colour of their Kippa (skull cap) as they were stripped bare, degraded and slaughtered.  Our infighting as to who is right, who is holiest, who is a true child of Israel is irresponsible and sad and both ends of the scale have to be more accepting instead of “right fighting”. Only as one strong entity can we stand up to the terrifying onslaught that we see today, the rhetoric reminiscent of 1936. We have to open our eyes and understand that there are those who want us gone and they are in positions of power, be it Congress or Parliament. Complacency doesn’t work.

Hamas decided that the deep and all-encompassing poverty of the people of Gaza is less important than beating their breasts! The Security Cabinet of Israel decided that this months $150,000 which came from Qatar to alleviate the poverty of the people in Gaza should be remitted despite the continued violent riots on the Southern Border. Hamas said they don’t want the money because it serves the electioneering platform of the Israelis!!! Of course it doesn’t bother the leaders; they live in luxury, have fine clubs and supermarkets filled with food while their people starve. Why does the world condemn Venezuelan President Maduro (rightly) but lauds Hamas’ Haniya and his cronies?

Talking of money, the Palestinian Authority pays out at least 502,000,000 shekels to prisoners in Israeli jails. 230,000,000 to current prisoners and 176,000,000 to ex-cons. Remember all of them are in prison for terrorist activities. I suppose it is a matter of priorities.

If you think Israel is in confrontation with Syria, think again. Israel confronted Iran, Iranian arsenals and Iranian troops in Syria. We cannot and will not stand by as Iran takes over the entire area and her leaders claim to have moved in to “wipe out the Jewish State”. We have moved our defensive weapons throughout Israel because we believe in preemptive precautionary methods. The IDF is called the Defence Force for a very good reason. The pincers of North and South are closing in and both are run by Iran. Like Trump or hate him he recognises the danger of a nuclear armed Iran because we are the hors d’oeuvres and the USA is the main course.

Aya Massawya, a 21 year old Israeli exchange student was brutally murdered in Melbourne Australia while talking to her best friend on Facetime. Israel mourned, Israelis attended her funeral and consoled her parents but what did the Guardian choose to write? The Guardian was angry that Aya was described as Israeli but not Palestinian! Her family is furious, Ayas family is Israeli, Israeli Arab, not Palestinian.

Yesterday Zvi and I went to the gorgeous Jerusalem neighbourhood of Yemin Moshe, passing the synagogue that belonged to a friend of ours, Yitzchak Mussachi and his family, until Teddy Kollek chose to move the simple people out and move the artists in. Glorious winter sunshine bounced off the Jerusalem stone of the buildings as we walked down the steps that lead to the Jerusalem Press Club right behind Mishkenot haShaananim. We were to hear a lecture on the Israeli election by famed political broadcaster Yaron Dekel and Professor Gidon Rahat. It was fascinating and we learned much of the internal machinations of the political parties but it didn’t help us choose!! The system here allows anyone to form a political party, it isn’t a choice between two or three. Britain has the Monster Raving Loony Party of Screaming Lord Such, but there it is a protest vote for the young – here we are beginning to feel that everyone is a Monster Loony Party! Over the last few weeks we have seen about six new political parties formed, three of them by former Chiefs of Staff! Although Israel has a large percentage of floating voters it is from party to party not right to left or vice versa. The choice should be on security and international relations but sadly the entire Likud Campaign has become not only about Bibi, demeaning the legal system and the police. Incredibly corruption doesn’t affect the voters!! There are two deciding factors in Israel – pocket and security.

The Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, is 70 years old. The celebrations are limited because of the impending elections but I thought you would like to see a potted history of that noble (sometimes) institution. The building stands upon a hilltop and was donated by Lady Dorothy Rothschild. In her will she left the funds to build the Supreme Court with one stipulation, that it be built slightly higher than its neighbour, the Knesset to express the importance of the judiciary.

Enough of politics and diplomacy, it depresses me!

Shalva is a truly magnificent organisation. Their home is right next to Shaare Zedek hospital on a Jerusalem hillside. Colourful expressions of love stand greet us as we walk to  the entrance, an apt expression of the attitude of Shalva. Children and young adults with special needs come to Shalva after school to ease the load for working parents and parents learn coping skills. They have classes and therapies, playgrounds and services and the coffee shop is amazing! Shalva, through their music therapy programme has discovered incredible talent and now their band is in the running to represent Israel in the Eurovision which will be held in Tel Aviv in March. Watch this incredible video all the way through, it is worth every second.

Even though it is relatively chilly for Israel, we actually got down to 4 degrees Celsius, spring is beckoning and that very Israeli harbinger of spring, of the Aviv, is the almond blossom. It is beginning! Soft pink clouds of blossom cover the Jerusalem Hills dotted with the crimson rununculus (calaniot), pink wild cyclamen (rakafot) and equally red poppies (pereg). The cyclamen amazes me as the lush flowers grow out of seemingly hard rocks, finding the only vestige of earth in the stone and using it to create a cushion of green leaves with glorious pink flowers. The wonderful rains mean that the desert will also bloom, as the water flows from Jerusalem, tumbling down the hillsides to emerge near the Dead Sea. Mount Hermon will not see flowers for a few months as the snows provide wonderful skiing to excited Israelis. For Tel Avivim it is worth sitting in hours of traffic jams just to feel the cold snow! Every white crystal of snow is precious because as it thaws it will flow into the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret).

Up North the migrating birds are still enjoying the relative warmth of the Hula Valley, hundreds and thousands of herons, storks, cranes and white pelicans pass through whether it be for a few hours, weeks or months. Tiny Israel sports more species of wild birds than does the whole of North America! The Hula Valley was drained for agriculture during the founding of the State and only many years later did scientists realise that it should be returned to its natural marshy state to provide respite for the birds on their thousands of miles migration. We feed them so that they will not destroy the crops of local farmers and life is good.

Our veranda has gone into hibernation, gathering strength to burst into bloom in the imminent spring. I’m not sad though because I still wake up every morning to the phenomenal view and bright red sunrise of the season. The odd hibiscus dares to show its face but the others are looking forlorn!

I’m not going to Rachel today and the girls will go home on the bus, so we will have to make do with my own Challot! They will not be as good as hers, but I don’t want to give her or the children my streaming cold!

To honour those who perished in the Shoah I give you the former Chief Cantor of the IDF Shai Abrahamson with El Malei Rahamim, at the Birkenau Camp

Adon Olam, Lord or the Universe, is a traditional song, repeated in most synagogue services, sung in a most untraditional manner by Yossi Azulay!

Finally one of my favourite songs by a singer whose lyrics taught me Hebrew. Shlomo Artzi and his son Ben, then a small child, singing a song that I call “kama zeh oleh lanu” how much does it cost us although its real name is Under the Middle Eastern Sun.

So that’s it! Shabbat is nearing and I must plait my Challot. It’s just Zvi and I tonight but we will see Zvi’s children tomorrow.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Be strong, be wise, be proud of who you are and remember, each and every one of us can make a difference in our world.

With love from Jerusalem


If the media does not inform us we must inform the media

Facebook      Sheila Silver Raviv
Involvement The Yuri Shtern Holistic Center