The view from my veranda

Fears, Friction and Forecasts – 2022

31st December, 2021

That’s the last time I write 2021 unless I’m talking about the past – and no, I’m not going the make a list of what happened over the last year, nor a list of “the most effective people” of that year, because the real movers and shakers of this world are the quiet, behind the scenes people who don’t make anyone’s list.

Shabbat Shalom everyone! Shabbat Shalom and more importantly Shalom Aleichem. I often talk about the amazing institution called Shalva, but the word שלווה  is what I wish you, Shalva means serenity, composure, tranquility – all qualities that have been lost in the mire of political Covid.

We lost our patience over the last surreal period, and it showed in our driving, reactions and behaviour toward each other. We were confused and angry at what we cannot control and blamed our leaders, who by the same token are confused by this erratic enemy too; a virus takes no prisoners and has no known path so our leaders are in an equal state of confusion and their path is far from clear. They take the best medical advice available but the rules of the game keep changing, both they and we have to change with them. So, when I wish you Shalva, I wish you composure to face the challenges of the next year.

We lost our stability, so I wish you composure to face whatever comes our way

We lost our ability to see, hug and love our friends and families, so when I wish you Shalva I wish you calm and the words to let them know that you love them just as much

We lost our financial security, so I wish you Shalva, calm to pull in our belts and pray for better times

We lost our health and that is the hardest of all. I wish you the tranquility to help those who need you and accept the help of those who love you.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the Covid period is that responsibility for educating our children has returned from schools to the parents. Of course it always should but times changed and I’m not talking about mathematics or geography, I mean the moral leadership that modern parents have abrogated, have passed on to schools, the teaching of how to treat those different to ourselves, weaker than ourselves or poorer than ourselves. We have failed miserably, ably aided and abetted by the internet and it’s time to don the parental gowns and take responsibility for our failures.

That’s it. No more Covid talk…….

Many people have eulogized Bishop Desmond Tutu. He certainly brought South Africa out of its darkest hour through his support of Nelson Mandela, side by side with many Jews who bravely fought Apartheid, but he was an out and out anti-Semite and his attitude toward Israel was beyond the pale. Melanie Phillips wrote, what in my opinion, is the most eloquent description of the man and the myth. I quote “Desmond Tutu did some great things. But he had a monstrous side too”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas came to visit Israeli Minister of Defence Benny Gantz’s home for a quick cuppa and a chat. Really! I believe it is a very important event, one of huge significance because when one sits in a person’s home over a cup of tea one changes the entire paradigm of the relationship from enemy to colleague. We have to find a way to accept that we will never think alike, but that is no reason to incur violence. We have to find a way to live as neighbours despite our differences – something which begins with learning about each other in schools, discussing openly, tolerance in education. Adults, particularly politicians, have a tendency to use belligerent rhetoric to reach the lowest common denominator of their citizens through a common enemy, and it is time to stop to enter a new era, a new paradigm of thinking what is best for one’s people.

Talking of new paradigms and neighbours, last night we had a huge party in the wonderful building in our park, the fabulous edifice created in the image of the White House. The party celebrated the opening of our spa and of the success of the building committee in weathering the spurs and arrows of infighting. It was amazing to see everyone dancing, eating (well it was a Jewish affair) laughing and chatting together, all arguments forgotten. Neighbours are rarely what we want, let alone what we expect, but then neither are we! Yesterday turned our neighbourhood into a community and that brings me back to the chat over a cuppa of two leaders, out of the public eye, one of whom realised that he can’t get everything he wants by being a bully.  Just so that you understand the situation, the Israeli security forces, police and IDF, work very closely, many times in tandem, with their Palestinian counterparts, nothing is the way you read in the media.

Talking about the media, the BBC had a field day and was thrilled to air the news that the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Welby, agreed with a statement suggesting that the numbers of Christians in Israel is being decimated due to ill-treatment! What drivel! The numbers of Christians in Israel is increasing daily as they flee the oppression in the PA! In the very near future you will see a response from both Canon Andrew white and former Archbishop George Carey.

Yesterday was an especially good day! First of all the sun shone brightly before the rain; and I received a phone call from my grand-daughter Ayala that she and Talia want to come “just to be with you Safta”! What grandparents wouldn’t be thrilled? We went to collect them and brought them home and we went for a wonderful long walk, chatting all the way, when we met a lovely neighbour, Adi, schlepping two huge bags to the big house. Of course the girls immediately took the bags from her, carried them to the big house then stayed to prepare the place for that night’s party. Then every grandmother’s dream – they came back here to bake cookies and watch “Anne of Green Gables” or as it is called today “Anne With an E” Trying on clothes, giggling with Saba Zvi and talking about everything that most parents are too busy on their cell phones to discuss…..especially the fact that Rachel explains and discusses every subject they raise with the children, as indeed I did.

The girls were absolutely thrilled that Saba Zvi is now a Television star! What? I hear you ask – a television star? How? Why? Where? Patience is a virtue but I’ll put you out of your misery right now!

There is a regular morning TV spot on Israeli Channel 13 all about collections or various items of historic or curiosity value, and our home is full of them thanks to Zvi’s mother’s determined collecting of anything that could be of historic importance. We met an internet auctioneer some months ago and became friendly with him and when I called him to remind him that we have some more fascinating artifacts he asked me to go on his morning television spot. Of course I said no, really not my thing, I write I am not a performer, but that Zvi would love to do it! He was a star! The stories behind the cameras, 8 mm movie cameras and projectors from the 40’s and 50’s still in their original boxes with instruction books were fascinating; the Golda Meir and David Ben Gurion puppets were the favourites of the presenters but everyone was fascinated by the unique collection of pre-State letters, programmes and pamphlets relating to the theatre group created at the Hebrew University by Zvi’s mother Alla in the early 40’s. I often complain about the boxes and boxes, and boxes of items that fill the potential guest room and store room but in fact they are filled, mostly, with the history of Israel. I loved the fact that when Talia saw the video of Zvi’s appearance her reaction was one of curiosity and dismay that she had never seen any of the amazing artifacts and “please Saba tell us about them we need to know about real history”. Of course what makes Zvi a star is not only his story-telling ability but the fact that he grew up in a home filled with the importance of history alongside two people who made history. Kalman and Alla Raviv who lost every tiny shred of close family in the Shoah and understood the meaning of our past in creating our future.

Two added bonuses of collecting the girls from Givat Ze’ev and taking them back home is that I get to see the glorious panorama of Jerusalem from the heights of Nebe Samuel- Samuel’s Tomb, both in day and night. No matter how many times I see it I am in renewed awe of its sheer beauty. Jerusalem, Yerushalyim, Ariel, Moriah, Neve Zedek, Shalem – just a very few of the 70 names for Jerusalem in the Bible. As I look over the new city I wonder what new name should be added to the 70, perhaps City of Miracles – Ir Pla’im, as I look over the skyline of what grew out of an ancient, spiritual, Biblical city and spread its wings to become a thriving metropolis. Here we joke that the national bird of Israel is the “building crane” and it is really true. It seems that every time I put on Waze to find an address for me he takes me on a different roundabout route because of the huge amount of new building going on in the city. However, as usual I digress – that doesn’t change from year to year! The view, the panorama, the rolling hills of white houses and tall skyscrapers that never fail to take my breath away. In the coming year, years, I pray that this city, this view, this panorama will continue to grow, to flourish and to be accepted as the Jewish miracle as a multicultural, free city which accepts all races and faiths with open arms. If only the international media would take off their jaundiced, embittered spectacles and really look at the miracle that is Israel…………..but perhaps that is too much to ask for. Oh, and the other bonus of taking them home? I got to hug Rachel and Yosef too!!!

The words of this song cross every barrier and obstacle because of one word, Together. Together, one at a time, we can change our world, together.

I always loved Louis Armstrong, long before I got to hear about his life. His song “Wonderful World” teaches us to recognise every beautiful moment in our lives. If I had one prayer for you it is to recognise that we really do have a wonderful world.

Adon Olam, probably the prayer on most lips after the Shema. Here the Revivo Project sing it with such joy, joy that I want you to take into 2022. Sorry no subtitles, but each song in this medley is giving thanks to the Almighty for everything we see around us.  

That’s it. Time to get cooking, to put the white cloth on the table, the best china and prepare the apartment for Shabbat. Time to think about all of those I want to hold close but can’t; time to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves and time to remember that just because someone is different does not make them wrong. This week’s Torah reading tell of our release from slavery and escape toward the Promised Land, it tells of the miracles that God showed the Children of Israel through Moses, yet they were hard to convince of Moses leadership and they rebelled exactly as we do today. Some lessons, no matter how old and proven, are not learned!

I wish you a peaceful Shabbat and a wonderful 2022 in which you see the miracles and beauty around you despite the disappointments and cancelled events.

With love from our veranda and from that incredible city, the centre of our world, Jerusalem.