29th January 2021
Shabbat Shalom! How are you? Did you know that I’m green?
Don’t worry, it’s not some obscure new virus, “being green” in Israel means that the Ministry of Health has issued a “Green Passport” for you. That means you have had both vaccinations and a week to ten days later they issue a certificate, you get it automatically on-line and print it, carry it with you and you can go to the cinema, theatre, anywhere you fancy! Sounds wonderful doesn’t it? Trouble is nothing is open, there’s nowhere to go and the government, or rather the “Corona Cabinet” has decided to convene in another week instead of yesterday. In the meantime the government is earning nicely from all the fines related to gatherings and shops opening. We are stuck at home, no schools, no stores, no museums and no parks….
It is a strange combination of successful vaccination (soon half of the population will have received the first vaccine and one third the second) and utter management chaos on the situation. Why? It’s all politics. Politics kept the skies open. Politics initiated flights to and from Dubai which culminated in an infection rate of 2.9 persons per traveller upon return which is insane; politics kept the police back from entering certain areas so their infection rate went through the roof; politics has allowed schisms in society that have never been before; worst of all it was infection by example as those in power fought to stay in power rather than worry for the daily bread of their constituents. Yes I know, no worse, or better than anywhere else but at least we have the vaccines. In the Pfizer research based here in Israel it was found that the Pfizer vaccine is 92% effective. In other words keep your masks on but see the grandchildren!!!!
I’m waiting for grown-ups to inhabit the “House that James built”, the House that Dorothy, Madame Dorothy de Rothschild, declared as the culmination of her husband’s father’s dream for the State of Israel. When Ossip Klawein’s design won the competition to build the new Knesset building atop a hill in Jerusalem, the chosen ones understood the miracle that was a Jewish State. That government, led by David Ben Gurion, understood that they were there to serve the people. Perhaps Dorothy, recognised what the future held and decided to donate and oversee the building of the new Supreme Court Building, a magnificent structure, her only demand being that it sit higher than the Knesset, to indicate that the government is never above the law. The resultant building is a triumph of architecture worthy of the onerous task of the Judges within https://supreme.court.gov.il/sites/en/VirtualTour/Pages/00_vtour.aspx
We are a resilient people, we have survived many attempts to wipe us out through the ages, by every means possible and we will survive this too, but why? Why can’t the grown-ups act responsibly?
If you were to read this, which sector of society would you immediately accuse?
“They smashed the windshields of the train and the windows of the station with rocks and threw sticky paint on the train car, they then poured concrete on the tracks filling the rails, depriving the wheels of the train purchase on the tracks, causing the cars to come off the rails, and either capsize, thereby endangering the lives of hundreds of people trapped in the cars, or to careen out of control and collide with passengers waiting at the station, endangering their lives too.” Terrorism yes, but not the Palestinians, it was the ultra-extreme faction of the Haredi community. They besmirch the name of the Haredi community as do their cohorts in Bnei Brak who threw rocks at the police and burned a bus, beating up the driver. Why? Because the government demands that their schools (Kolels, Yeshivas, Talmud Torahs) close for the time that the rest of us are in closure. Their leaders say that if the children are not learning every day they drop out of religion – surely two weeks of not learning cannot shake one’s faith in Judaism. It makes me so angry because antipathy to their actions turns young people away from the religion I love.
Just as we need a responsible grown-up to lead the country as a whole, we need responsible grown-ups to lead the Jewish religious community – in fact, all the religious communities, to understand that we are all equal but different.
The World Corruption Index. Seriously disturbing! https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_Perceptions_Index
A round up of news.
Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales is Patron of the British Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and as such he gave a very moving speech https://youtu.be/7wDZca3dgHY As I am sure you are aware, his grandmother Princess Alice of Greece, Prince Philip’s Mother, is a Righteous Gentile.
The Canadian Government is the latest in a line of countries to launch an investigation into their funding of UNWRA after the www.impact-se.org report on hate education in their schoolbooks was launched.
Still on the subject of Impact-se, The Australian Government is also investigating UNWRA’s misuse of funds. https://www.spectator.com.au/2020/12/palestinian-kids-in-un-run-schools-are-being-taught-to-hate-and-kill/ Even the New York Times wrote about the Impact-se report on the Saudi curriculum!
President Biden intends halting the sale of F35 war planes to the Emirates. The fear is that the other, less stable governments in the region will demand the same.
On a less serious note, “IZZY – Stream Israel” https://www.streamisrael.tv is an internet channel for Israeli programmes and so much more. Thanks to Martin Lindenfeld!
Due to the pandemic I haven’t been able to visit Shalva and move forward with the “Dr. Dan’s Room” project that so many of you helped to bring to fruition. The room is already in use but without the design, instruments, equipment and stage that turn an empty room into a true Music and Therapy Room in that oh so incredible haven for children and parents alike. The amazing “Shalva Band” came out of the love and teaching of the staff. Yesterday Gaby Hirsch and I had a wonderful and very important Zoom meeting, with the incredible Nitzan, the musical director of Shalva, a dedicated and enthusiastic young man who described exactly what is needed to bring joy to the children and young people with special needs and their connection to music. I promise that very soon, with or without pandemic, we will begin creating a room that my beautiful son would have loved. https://give.shalva.org/daniel
Zvi and I try to walk each day, obviously masked and distanced, but within the rules of no more than one kilometre from home we manage to explore! A permitted trip to the dentist, doctor or supermarket is a great excuse to leave the circular track that is our street and walk along the railway tracks, either at the beginning in Baka or at the end toward the Biblical Zoo. Since it has been raining, the wild and wonderful Deer Park is out of the question! It feels so good to be out in the fresh, crisp air of Jerusalem.
So that brings us nicely to the music that you all love
Aki Avni is an Israeli actor and singer. For Holocaust Memorial Day he recorded this beautiful song, from poems written by 3 children in the camps. Miroslav Kosek, Hanus Lowy and Eli Bachner, now aged 90 and living in Israel, who created a book of the poems to honour his friends and the one and a half million Jewish children who were brutally killed by the Third Reich https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFxexvipMO0&feature=youtu.be
The songs of Shabbat are not always traditional and they travel through the many countries of the dispersion. Shalom Aleichem (May peace be upon you) which is sung to welcome Shabbat is sung in a hundred different variations. I fell in love with this one! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pll0QNbdfkE
Finally, this song is dedicated to a very special Bat-Mitzva girl. Mimi Selig is the daughter of Daniella and Justin Selig who live in London. Justin’s more familiar identity is “Paddy”, my Daniel’s best friend. Paddy and Daniella light two extra candles, bright and colourful candles each Friday night, known as Daniel’s candles and when I asked them what Mimi wanted for her birthday they answered, “a donation to Shalva”. Mimi, we all love you and wish you a fun Zoom Bat-Mitzva. The song? One Day by Koolulam. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqvKDCP5-xE
So that’s it! If I don’t go now my Challot will have risen over the tops of their tins!
I wish you a wonderful weekend wherever you are, however you pray. Can you just put in an extra prayer for Canon Andrew White who had a relapse of his MS and then caught Covid. As I have always said, prayer is not a matter of whether you say it on knees, bending down, crouching or standing, prayer is in your heart. With love to you all, my friends.
Shabbat Shalom from rainy, beautiful Jerusalem
For the brave among you here is a quiz of 72 questions for the 72nd anniversary of the Knesset! https://main.knesset.gov.il/en/About/Pages/birthday/Quiz.aspx