9th September 2022
13th Elul 5782
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I know it is hard to absorb the depth of sadness that Britain is experiencing now. Queen Elizabeth II represented everything that is good in a leader, albeit a nominal leader, a titular head, but a figurehead representing dedication to post and people, humility, dignity; a woman who took the Monarchy into the 21st century. She grew up unaware of what the future held for her, yet prepared to take on the responsibilities that came with her family. It was the abdication of Edward that threw her family into the front line and led to her taking the crown at the tender age of 26, married barely a year and mother to a tiny baby. Please, watch this excellent short video about our Queen, the beautiful young woman who took the cares of the world upon her shoulders. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYGByWrjyFw
Her sense of humour was legend as we see here, taking tea with Paddington Bear. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UfiCa244XE
Britain is in mourning. Not just an issue of the Union Jack flying at half mast over every public building, but many stores and shops will close, all public institutions too and the crowds will flood to Buckingham Palace Gates to leave their flowers of gratitude to a woman who showed us how to behave in dire situations. It is right that she passed away in Balmoral Castle, the only place where she found solitude and freedom to walk, ramble, ride, drive and just be herself. Her family was around her and while poor Prince Charles has taken more than his fair share of criticism, he is now King Charles and we wish him well. One fascinating fact is that when the Queen’s passing was announced, a double rainbow appeared above Buckingham Palace.
The Queen held the title Defender of the Faith, as head of the Church of England, yet it never ever coloured her decisions or the decisions of her governments. The separation of Church and State was and is irrelevant because it never interfered with freedom of prayer or belief. She was a devout Christian with the openness and humility that entailed. Prince Philip, who always considered himself Church of England was in fact born and christened in the Greek Orthodox tradition.
The world is in turmoil and it is my duty to report upon the issues that touch on Israel, so I will give you a fast run down of the events of this week before trying to lighten our spirits.
Did you know that 15 war correspondents have been killed covering battles and events since May? According to the International Federation of Journalists 2658 war correspondents have been killed since 1990. Nidal Aghbariya was an Israeli Arab correspondent who did not die in battle. He was threatened then murdered in cold blood by Palestinians who wanted to silence his truth. Every Arab Israeli journalist is a target if they tell the truth, they and their families live in fear, yet, the world centres on one war correspondent called Shireen Abu Akleh who was killed by an errant bullet in an area of crossfire. Why? because she was Palestinian. The IDF has concluded that in all probability the bullet came from an IDF soldier, unintentionally, that’s clear, and not a final decision because our pathologists, and I happen to know the senior pathologist very well, were not given access to the bullet. The hysteria has reached the highest levels of government in the USA when they demand that the rules of fire be changed in the IDF! Ultimate Chutzpah! Yet again, one standard for the world and another for Israel.
I’m sorry if I offend any of my wonderful American readers, but this report from Brown University explains my distress “The U.S. post-9/11 wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, and Pakistan have taken a tremendous human toll on those countries. As of September 2021, an estimated 387,072 civilians in these countries have died violent deaths as a result of the wars. That’s not a Republican or Democrat issue, it’s pots and kettles. https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/costs/human/civilians
A great fuss was made in the media about the proposed law related to visitors from abroad visiting the PA from Israel. For some reason the relationship section upset many Americans! Perhaps that’s because they have never seen the visa application form or the questions asked for any visitor from anywhere in the world wanting a visa to enter the USA. The Israel proposed law was based on those self-same questions!!!
“I am ashamed,” German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in front of a grieving Israeli President Isaac Herzog during the commemoration event in Munich. “As head of state of this country and on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany, I ask your forgiveness for failing to protect Israeli athletes and for the subsequent failure to seek explanations,” https://english.elpais.com/international/2022-09-06/germany-apologizes-50-years-after-the-munich-olympics-massacre.html
Guess what? Suddenly the West has come to understand that UNWRA, which employs some 35,000 Palestinians on your penny, is biased and clearly part of the problem not part of the solution to the dire situation in Gaza and the PA https://www.jpost.com/opinion/article-716230
A Memorial to the Children of the Kindertransport was dedicated in the port of Harwich, UK, (pronounced Harritch) this last week. Harwich was the main point of entry for most of the 10,000 children who came to Britain on the Kindertransport, from December 1938 to the outbreak of war in September 1939. Nearly 2,000 children spent their first weeks at the Dovercourt holiday camp just two miles from the Harwich docks. When the doors of almost all other countries was firmly shut, the Brits opened their doors and hearts to these children who had nobody in the world.
If you want to know more – https://kindertransport-memorial.org/
Incredibly 21 years have passed since the world was held in sheer disbelief, watching as two planes flew into the Twin Towers in Manhattan. 3,000 people lost their lives in those towers, in the Pentagon and in Stoneycreek. Incredible bravery saved Washington as the passengers and crew attacked the Al Qaeeda terrorists who had Hijacked their plane causing it to crash in a field in Stoneycreek Township, all on board lost their lives. Have we learned the lesson that when someone says he wants to kill you, wipe you off the face of the earth, you should take it seriously? Apparently not.
Just three days ago Liz Truss travelled to Balmoral Castle to meet the Queen and become the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Conceivably the last official action taken by Her Majesty. I admit that I actually wanted the other candidate to win but I gave up my right to vote so it makes little difference what I believe. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liz_Truss and the other candidate, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rishi_Sunak . Although it has nothing to do with their ability to lead it is heartwarming to know that both candidates are declared supporters of Israel.
Phew What a week!
On Sunday I met with Margie and Dubi Gordon in Shalva where they got “the tour” and came with me to see Dr Dan’s Room. They were blown away by the atmosphere, the beauty, the joy of Shalva, exactly as I hope I describe it. When Dubi writes his weekly missive to the Natick Community of Boston he will tell you all about it.
Many of you ask about where we live. Well, it’s about 12 kilometres outside Jerusalem in the direction of Tel Aviv but happily still high enough in the hills to have wonderful air and no humidity! It is next to the Avenue of Presidents, five minutes from the Castel and close to several pill boxes from 1948 and before. Of course, I could show off and tell you that the village below was one of the first settlements outside Jerusalem, is beside a big reservoir (well in winter there’s water there) and situated on the Seven Sisters Road, the original hairpin bends of the road to Jerusalem. In addition, we have a famous archaeological site under the new road, in Tel Motza, the site of what has been declared the world’s largest ancient settlement of C9,000 years ago. Avenue of the Presidents sounds impressive, it is where Theodore Herzl planted the first tree in 1898, a tree he was told was a cedar but in fact was a common fir! Every President since that time has planted a tree and hopefully next year the area will become a site for visitors to the area as both KKL/JNF and JAFI will make it beautiful and replant the broken and dried up remains of the once beautiful trees planted with such hope. https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/herzls-tree/
This week, our estate opened a new synagogue! The celebration was huge, music dancing, unlimited food and even a few prayers. Of course Zvi discovered that apart from all the people he knows on the estate, the Rabbi is the son of on of Zvi’s friends from the synagogue in Gilo where we used to go with Zvi’s parents. It’s hard for some to understand that here, in Israel, the opening of a new synagogue is not a formal event, it is bringing all the neighbours together, tables laden with every salad under the sun, the “mangal” or barbecue send unbelievable aromas over the entire estate and every so often the smoke billowing in our direction. It was irrelevant whether one was a regular or an occasional prayer-goer, everyone was welcome. The music was unbelievably loud, but joyous Eastern music, the sound of thousands of years of absorbed culture of the Jews from Arab countries who came home when they realised that they were not welcome in the lands they had helped to build. Since the attendees were mixed we were warned with a “Zeh maod Chariff” – That’s very spicy when the salads were distributed! Three new glistening Torah Scrolls were brought into the Synagogue, but not before they were taken, dancing, around the entire estate and everyone who wished could kiss the beautiful silver casing.
As to the Seven Sisters road which was relaced by Road Number One, now there is a new road on the block!!
Road Number 16, The Ariel Sharon Highway, is open, at least the section from our home to Malha. What used to take anything up to an hour, fighting heavy traffic, now takes a mere 5 minutes! A series of tunnels under Jerusalem brings me out next to Shaare Zedek hospital in three minutes! It is really a beautiful piece of engineering.
On Wednesday I met Rachel in Modiin. September the 7th was the day I became a mother, the day that Daniel Joseph Cammerman was born 53 years ago. We sat in a restaurant and talked about Daniel, laughing at what my Mummy would have called his “silliosities”. Just the two of us keeping our memories alive.
Last night we went to a phenomenal concert by the Raanana Synphonette led by Gil Shacham with singers and….all held in a car workshop! 700 guests were entertained and fed like kings by Shimon Barzilai in celebration of his 75th birthday. Shimon, son of Romanian immigrants, brought up in relative poverty, worked his way up the ladder of success by denying all the old saws about car salesmen (like my Daddy) and building an empire full of close friends, warmth, charity and a loving family.
Tonight I am breaking doctor’s orders, simply because I don’t know how to hold back from having a full house! We will be 12 at the Shabbat table, Zvi’s boys and their children, and you will be relieved to know that everyone is bringing something and this time I am not cooking all day! As we near Rosh Hashana and the time to rethink our lives and our relationships with others; time to apologise for words that may have escaped our lips and hurt someone; actions we should not have taken and remember that no amount of throwing our sins and actions into the sea can bring back thoughtless chitchat without an apology to the one we hurt.
As a pre-Rosh Hashana surprise, everyone at the dinner table will get a little gift. Each one will get a chocolate, a spoonful of honey and a little beeswax candle, all representing our wish for a sweet year.
I wish you all, whatever your faith, wherever you turn to pray, however you pray, all I ask is that you be good people, remember that once words leave your mouth they can never go back.
Shabbat Shalom from our home to yours. Sending love from Jerusalem, across the ether, straight to you