The view from my veranda

Hamlet, Honesty, Haredim and High Holy Days

4th of September 2020


Shalom lovely people. Shalom, Shabbat Shalom, Blessings and wishes for good health.


Shakespeare was the journalist, the reporter of his day. Somewhat long-winded and poetic but my goodness he understood society and power. As we come closer to elections in the USA and it would appear that yet again (sigh) may be closer to yet another round of elections in Israel I look around the world at the leaders, young and old, clever and stupid, benign and cruel and chose a quote from Hamlet for you to contemplate.

One may smile and smile and be a villain. Why Hamlet? Perhaps the chosen quote should have been Something is rotten in the State of Denmark


I cannot begin to describe the confusion created by our Prime Minister’s fear of losing his ever growing power and going to trial. He simply proves that being a brilliant orator and a seasoned politician do not a leader make.


We are all very good at moaning and ranting about our leaders but the truth is we, as the people, chose them. They may not have been our choice but choose them we did! That is the problem with democracy……but I wouldn’t exchange it for any other form of government. When choosing, don’t go for the smile or the appearance or the fine words – that’s what happened in Hamlet! Those who report to the big wide world on the actions of our politicians do so from a point of interest; advertisers, editors with agendas, owners with even more difficult to swallow agendas, all have vested interests………… the truth is rarely evident, hidden by half-truths which are often worse than outright lies.


There was a Rabbi, a journalist and an Ex-Pat Brit. It sounds like the start of a joke but it really isn’t. The three people whose words really, really reach out to me, even though there may be times I disagree with their views, their words should always be taken seriously. Why? Because when they write they write not only from the heart but from what they see and know to be fact. They are Rabbi Jeremy Rosen, Khaled Abu Toameh and Brenda Katten


Brenda’s article in today’s Jerusalem Post expressed the frustration of most of us who love this country


Professor Ronni Gamzu, just 54 years old, was at the very peak of his profession as the Director of the Sourasky Medical Centre in Tel Aviv when he answered the call to become the “Covid-Projector” the Director of Covid-19 in Israel. A fiery, astute and creative man he took on the impossible task of a system that had been scuppered at every turn by internal politics and interference by government. Yesterday, he lost his temper, took the microphone in a very public press conference and brilliantly told everyone exactly what he thought of them!


Israel, accustomed to gaining first place in international sport and mathematics is now number one in the Corona stakes. Admittedly there are two sectors that pollute the statistics, not necessarily through their own fault; the Haredi and Arab sectors. Both tend to live in overcrowded conditions which make isolation nigh on impossible. Don’t think that secular Jews and Moslems are any better, they are simply more aware of what’s happening in the world and better able to isolate. They are also willing to be tested if they are unwell. All have been guilty of holding parties and celebrations without any respect for mask/distancing.  According to Prof. Gamzu, about 28% of infection is in Arab society and 22% is among ultra-Orthodox. He revealed on Wednesday that 80% of new infections are in Haredi cities.


Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky is a major Chassidic Haredi leader, who in the past has shown a degree of understanding when he declared that child abuse should be reported under Jewish Law, but his statement 2 days ago that Yeshiva students should not be tested for Corona because then they will be in isolation with all their children and be unable to concentrate on their Torah studies caused a tsunami of condemnation, especially from those who have to run the country’s Corona control.


The previous two paragraphs bring me to a discussion I had this morning with Rachel. We both agree that the most “obedient” group during this pandemic have been the modern orthodox “kippa sruga” Jews. They wear masks, keep distancing, offering their gardens for small wedding and bar-mitzva celebrations keeping to the limitations set by the Ministry of Health, in fact, they are really first class citizens. That is the crux of the matter. They are first class citizens, open, thinking Jews, educated in the dangers of disobeying the Ministry’s Covid-19 instructions. Fascinating.


We knew that the return to school would be a problem and surprisingly the call for a preventative total lock-down before the High Holy Days came from Rabbi Arieh Deri of Shas. He’s right. As much as we all want to be with our families, to go to the synagogue, to pray as a community, this year it is dangerous. Of course it is hard, not so much the praying by oneself, God is all around us so he is in our homes and gardens just as he is in the synagogue, but to be without our families is really hard. As a pair of “alte kackers” or to be more polite, an old couple, Zvi and I, along with all the other grandparents, have been warned to keep away from our grandchildren who’ve returned to school.


Sacha Baron Cohen is so much more than Borat. Here he talks about the dire effect of Facebook’s lack of responsibility and Mark Zuckerberg’s assimilated PC views.


News in short.

Qatari leaders have been in Gaza, then coming to report to Israel, attempting to stop the horror of incendiary balloons and missiles. (By the way when they stay in Gaza City I can promise you they stay is the finest hotels and mansions that CNN, BBC indeed none of the media, show).

The United Emirates peace programme is going ahead full speed. More important than diplomatic agreements were the celebrations in the synagogue in Abu Dhabi as the shofar (ram’s horn) was blown to herald a new dawn.

Israeli aeroplanes, on their way to the Far East and Australia, flew over Saudi Arabian air space for the first time.

At long last Malka Leifer, known child molester, has been declared fit for extradition to Australia where she will finally face her victims and trial. How sad that “someone” paid for her years of appeals and more appeals to prevent her extradition. In Judaism it is said that we walk the straight lines of the law and honour the circles of justice. This was indeed a victory for the circles of justice.

Impact-se has been all over the British media after revealing the Palestinian textbook study, currently being undertaken by the Georg Eckert Institute in Germany as commissioned by the EU, a ‘farce’ following revelations of mistakes contained in the review. British MP’s strongly criticized the handling of the review. Conservative parliamentarians wrote to the government calling for a further investigation into how British taxpayer money is being used to fund such a hateful curriculum. “It is unacceptable that these children will continue using textbooks that promote violence and hatred of Israel and Jews, taught by teachers paid for by the UK.”


MASA is a wonderful project which was established by the Jewish Agency to bring groups of young people to study or work in Israel for either 6 months or a year. It has been highly successful on every level and now it has taken on a new face – bringing people on Aliya. To our delight many young members of Zvi’s Mexican family have come on MASA over the years and this year Alex Feinsod, Jessie Podolsky and Alexa Litvak are among the MASA participants who are currently in isolation, arriving on a special aeroplane together with families coming on Aliyah from Mexico. We wish them luck and learning amid the fun of being in Israel.


The temperature at 07:00 this morning was already 31 degrees C. Last night as I walked out onto the verandah for my nightly relaxation, enjoying the view and quietly winding down the day I quickly returned to the air conditioning – it was like walking out into hot soup!!!


I spent time with dear childhood friends yesterday; friends who, without a word, lifted my spirits as we talked of “Cabbages and Kings” and enjoyed wonderful food in the safety of a home, observing masks and distance yet sensing the warmth and hugs. Without the incredible support of my Zvi, my family and a few very close friends, especially Roy Salomon, I am not sure how I could have coped over the last months since Daniel’s death. Losing a child is a blow from which it is almost impossible to recover but we must. Finding the strength to support Gideon and Rachel became mutual support, and of course trying to find the words to console and give reason to smile for Daniel’s wife Karen and children Joshua and Callie is a challenge I can only hope to aspire to.  Knowing that “Dr. Dan’s Room” in Shalva will ensure that Daniel’s memory will continue giving to young people with special needs, has become of ultimate importance. We have chosen the room, are about to decide on appropriate design for the Music and Drama Therapy Room and are almost, almost at the raised target. You can still give, no matter how big or small your contribution. Just click on sponsor when you open this link. When you have sponsored on “Remembering Daniel” go to the Shalva website it is magical.


We tend to think of young religiously observant Jews as somewhat morose and introspective……… think again!! Time to get Clarity


One Day – everything will be alright. We will get the leaders who will unite us not those who tear us assunder


Finally a song of hope. I may have given you it before, but I love it. I love the message of this song – not just of deaf and hearing people together but people of all faiths singing about unity. That’s the secret – we must unite, all of the normal, rational people of this world. Just imagine if we united and told the extremists on both sides of the political spectrum to get off their soapboxes and allow us to have a voice! YACHAD!!


I wish you well and strong enough to count your blessings despite the state of our world. We send get well wishes to our amazing friend Kim Taylor who is recovering from a nasty accident. As Zvi remembered, his mother Alla always referred to Kim as the “Canadian with the kind face” and I am sure that the love that always shines out of Kim’s eyes will ensure that his kind face will be healed. Just one thing, Kim, go for the George Clooney nose rather than the Tom Cruise!!!


So have a good Shabbes, a restful weekend and remember that you always have love coming from our veranda into your home