The view from my veranda

Heroes one and all

29th of March 2024

Shabbat Shalom, a blessed Good Friday and a Holy Easter.

I remember the time when we used to think it funny to say “Chaos reigns and we all get wet” but I stopped laughing on October 7th. Chaos reigns in an ever confused and threatening world. Chaos in a world of inverse morality. Of course, it’s scary but please don’t give up hope, there are still an awful lot of good people who are trying to right the wrongs.

I started this missive counting my fears and concerns instead of my blessings, our blessings, and I just deleted a half hour of writing! It’s not my way, it’s not what you want or need to hear, so let’s try to turn the news on its head and look at the good side of bad news.

President Biden is conceivably the greatest friend, US President, that Israel has ever known. An unapologetic Israphile who has put his determined support before his further political aspirations.  His recent statement has been misinterpreted. He never said that the IDF mustn’t enter Rafiah, he said he wants a day-after plan.

There is much shouting about Shifa Hospital. All I can tell you is that Shifa is a hospital like Mengele was a doctor. No hospital I know hides an arsenal of anti-tank weapons, RPGs and is a bolt hole for terrorists.

The Israeli Supreme Court came to the decision yesterday that young, physically fit Haredi men are no longer automatically exempt from military service and Yeshivas whose student do not enlist to the IDF (places of Jewish learning) will no longer receive government funding. What can possibly be positive about angering an entire sector and risking the fall of the current government? It gives the young Haredim an opportunity to be part of the country they live in – to be acceptable by all. As to causing the fall of this government……… say no more.

It may not be in the news, but the war in the north is heating up with hundreds of rockets destroying Israeli towns and villages irrespective of who lives there.  The UN directive that there be a 30 kilometre no-go area north of the border was broken years ago! Southern Lebanon has become a Shiite stronghold (contrary to UN resolution 1701) since King Hussein exiled Yassir Arafat and his cohorts after an attempted coup in which the King killed some 10,000 PLO supporters. Thank heaven most towns and villages have been evacuated but imagine being told that you are leaving your home for an unknown period “for your own good” and after six months of your family all living in a hotel room you discover that what was your home is a mere shell. That’s what the residents of Kiriat Shmona and many other towns and villages, face.

Israeli heroes come in all shapes and sizes

Amit Soussana, a beautiful young Israeli lawyer, was captured by Hamas and for 5 long months kept quiet about her captivity. She chose to tell her horrific story of rape and abuse to the New York Times, hardly a pro-Israel media outlet. A heroine indeed

Idan Amedi, Israeli singer and personality, joined his soldiers on October 7th and was terribly injured. He spoke openly of his recovery, the psychological turmoil, in a single interview, asking to be left in peace. This week he was invited to light a torch at the forthcoming ceremony on Yom Ha’atzma’ut (Israel’s Independence Day) for bravery and refused it with the words “If they want to present me with the honour for my music or words, I would accept it with pride but not as a hero because there are many heroes and I am just one of them”

Kinneret Chaya Boosany Twig is my personal heroine. Tomorrow is the 22nd anniversary of the terror attack on “My Coffee Shop” on Allenby Street in Tel Aviv. Kinneret was critically injured that day, found by paramedic Itzik Kochav, rushed to hospital with a 2% chance of living, changed her name to Kinneret Chaya (Kinneret lives) and after a three year recovery supported by her parents, siblings and entire family, and despite all medical knowledge of burn victims, is now a happily married mother of four amazing children! One day I will publish the story, having recorded almost every day of her recovery and determination to have a bright and beautiful future.

The young people of Israel are my heroes! In the world happiness index for under 30’s, Israel came in second. Why? Because unlike young people in the West, they know what they want, they know why they are here, they have served their country and come into adulthood with a sense of community, responsibilty and family. For some reason that I cannot fathom, they may be tattooed all over but they are heroes one and all.

After the Yom Kippur War, Zvi had arrived home for a few hours from the front and was in the shower when suddenly he heard huge crash! His mother was in the kitchen listening to the news when the death of soldier Zvi Raviv was announced. She knew that he was home, knew that it was a different Zvi Raviv, was even making him food but to hear it announced was more than her frayed nerves could handle. This week, history repeated itself when we received several phone calls after the news that soldier Lior Raviv had fallen in Gaza reminded us of the greatest fear of every parent. Thank heaven our Leor Raviv is too old to fight, was safely working crazily in his office and is doing well.

Despite calls of genocide, I just wanted you to know that the Gazan population has increased tenfold over the last years. Despite calls of starvation, the number of food trucks, aid for Gazans, has increased enormously, of course it is all appropriated by Hamas but know that we are not the guilty party here. The ones who are not starving are the Hamas leaders who live in luxury in Qatar, $11 billion worth of luxury

Since my attempt at positivity is not complete please read an excellent article about the sheer brilliance of Hamas media strategy. It is a must-read.

Eitan Chitayat speaking about the fact that Israel’s fight against terror is also America’s fight, and that of the West.

April the first for me is one of the most important days of my life, after the births of my children of course! It is the day I officially made Aliya. April 1st 1991 was no April Fool’s Day for me! I will never forget that Zvi came all the way in to the gate to take me upstairs to the hall where I would be given my ID card, my Teudat Zehut, my Israeli citizenship. I had no idea what the future held but knew that I was finally fulfilling a dream I held since 1963, my first visit to Israel. I have seen wars and Intifadas, lost loved friends, watched the world turn on its head hating my beloved country, but have never, for one moment regretted coming here, being at the fulcrum of the Jewish people. I have had unbelievable adventures with Canon Andrew White (we both had dreams of being spies); been taken to secret sites by Malcolm Hoenlein; helped Zvi in his many ventures to promote phenomenal causes in Israel and abroad; become Chair of the most effective educational research institute ( ) that has changed the way that children see those different to themselves in most of our region; seen Zvi’s children marry and become parents; felt the ultimate joy when Rachel not only came to live here, proudly Israeli, but to be present at the births of all three of her children. No regrets, of course it is hard being far from my children and grandchildren in London and NYC and my siblings, but despite being a huge price, the cause of more than one tear, it is one I learned to live with.

Since my Aliya I have seen miracles every day Think about the miracle of the Russian Aliya, which as you know Zvi and Yona Yahav were catalysts. The Russian immigration is conceivably the single most important happening in Israel’s history, bringing fine scientists, doctors, teachers, politicians and some of the bravest of brave soldiers in the IDF. They are hard-working, hungry for culture and know the difference between oppression and democracy and enjoy the ability to speak freely.

As we enter the month after Purim and before Passover, the shops are filling with Pesach foodstuffs. Cereals are disappearing, snacks are changing, slowly the shelves will be scrubbed clean and paper laid down to bring in the new Passover foods, the variety and possibilities dependent upon whether you are of North African origin or European origin (actually we are all from here before the dispersion but that’s another argument entirely). North African and Ethiopian Jews are allowed to eat Kitniot or legumes, such as rice, lentils etc, over Passover whereas the European Jewish diet is far more limited without those luxuries. Many young Israelis have changed from Ashkenaz to Sefardi believing that such rules are just too difficult. I feel as they do but cannot bring myself to make a change that both my parents and Zvi parents would have raised their eyebrows! I’ve prepared my shopping list but have yet to begin cleaning cupboards ready for changing the dishes – yes that too! Nobody said it’s easy being a traditional Jew but my goodness, the feeling that everything is new and sparkling and “different” makes I all worthwhile. We have a relatively small Seder Night (the first night of Passover and traditionally the site of the Last Supper) So far we will be just 16 so our table will extend sufficiently to accommodate us all. Any other details will wait for a couple of weeks!

I started the last paragraph because my prayer, our prayer, is that the remaining 133 hostages will come home, that they will sit with their families whose suffering in inconceivable, that the warmth of the table, the familiarity of the service, the familiar reading of the Haggadah ( )  will ease their pain of being held by cruel and depraved captors. We can but pray, we can but hope that the intervention of others will bring about their return, alive or dead.

This week was much as normal with delightful sidetracks. On Tuesday Noy came to visit! Noy and her friend are collecting Grandma recipes and she came to watch me make my Mother’s and Grandmother’s recipe for bread pudding. She intends bringing a group of others to watch and learn so that these recipes aren’t lost. On Wednesday, Rachel and I went to the plant nursery to choose our summer planting. It is an interesting pant nursery, in Givat Ze’ev, owned by two Palestinian brothers whose parents live in Canada. Yesterday was really wonderful. We drove to Ra’anana to our lovely friends Merle and Frank Friedman for a delicious lunch. The other Guests were Naomi and Tuvia, two amazing people. Naomi created Bet Issie Shapiro following a dream of her late father Issie and Tuvia brought hydrotherapy to Israel. I told you, Israeli heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Since our clocks went forward last night I am running late but determined to go to see Rachel and the children as soon as I finish!

And so to song, to music, because if it truly is the food of love, we all need it.

Idan Amedi writes beautiful words, the words of a man who loves his country, fights for his country yet prays for peace. This song is not new but it could have been written yesterday. No More, words and music by Idan Amedi

Vehi Sheamda is a song and a prayer recited on Passover. It tells that no matter how many times we have been the subject of hate, put into slavery, the Almighty always comes to save us. Yaacov Shwekey and Shlomi Shabbat

Finally, Stand By Me sung by Music Travel Love and a singer from Abu Dhabi whose name I should remember, but I think his name is Arqam. I just love this

Dear wonderful friends. I wish you a peaceful weekend, whether you pray in Synagogue, Temple, Mosque, Church or Cathedral is irrelevant, pray for a kinder world, pray for kindness.

Shabbat Shalom from OUR beautiful Jerusalem