22nd of January 2021
9th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat in the year 5781
Shabbat Shalom! How are you? Have you had your vaccine yet? One or two?
I will explain the reason for placing the Hebrew date at the top of this missive, but not yet, I’m saving the good stuff!
A beautiful inauguration ceremony, glorious voices raised in song, a beautiful young poet and a sense of joy. You see, that’s already got some of your backs up and I simply stated my impression of a ceremony! Here we go again!
I remember well that when I wrote about the Trump inauguration ceremony and begged people to give him a chance because his furniture had not even been moved in to the White House I was lambasted by the Democrats, now I have absolutely no question that if I write that one must give President Biden a chance to get his feet under the White House desk before criticizing or predicting his failure, I will be lambasted by the Republicans among you! I proudly posted a photograph of Zvi and I on Facebook, saying I was hopeful that Joseph Biden would be a fair and thoughtful President and I was called names, “You obviously have a low IQ and no knowledge or understanding of politics, you must be a stupid Dem!” It is a sad comment on our society that if one does not agree then it becomes a free for all of biting insults and angry words. The whole point of a democracy is to accept diversity, to allow for alternate thought. I spend days and nights of my life working with David Lui, Marcus Sheff and all the Impact-se team to alert the world of the danger of hate education, the cruel brainwashing effect of teaching children that any thought other than theirs is worth killing for and here we are, the enlightened West, teaching our children to hate anyone who doesn’t vote our way! Gosh I needed to get that off my chest.
For those who fear Joseph Biden’s policies toward Israel, read what former Ambassador Dan Shapiro (who lives here now) has to say https://www.jpost.com/american-politics/ex-us-ambassador-joe-biden-is-israels-stalwart-defender-in-the-us-un-656247
Incredibly it is 30 years since the Gulf War with its scud missiles and gas masks. It was a fascinating time to live in Israel, indeed my son Gideon chose that time to come on his gap year Israeli trip, to spend 6 months on a kibbutz. His journey by cab to the kibbutz from the airport included intermittent “shooting stars” of missiles in the sky, but the cab driver was very reassuring! The next weekend Zvi and I were just about the only car on the road as we drove to see Gideon and take him for a good meal to Dvora and Gabby’s in Haifa, only to spend a few hours in their basement bomb shelter wearing our gas masks! For some reason it wasn’t frightening! It was at that time that Israel began seriously developing our own anti-missile devices and look how successful that has been!
Next Wednesday the world will commemorate International Holocaust Day. The big question is will it really make its mark on the general public? Will the TV stations, including the News Media, give the day a glance, a moment? Although it doesn’t coincide with Isrel’s deeply moving Yom Ha Shoah, I want you to listen to the BBC Commentator Richard Dimbelby describing his arrival at Bergen Belsen camp with the British troops https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VP9BLKZENbc In fact I don’t just want you to listen I want you to make sure your children, grandchildren listen to this report because if they don’t understand then “Never Again” is a hollow statement.
Israel is heading to her fourth election in two years. The reasons are multiple, the cost astronomical and the confusion of the populace complete. As former parties break up new ones are appearing like mushrooms in a dark and dank forest. All our hopes of some kind of coalition fell apart as time and again Prime Minister Netanyahu humiliated and discredited his Co-Prime Minister Gantz. Frankly it was embarrassing to see a fine man, an honest man demeaned and confused. Credit must be given, however, to the Prime Minister for thinking ahead and buying vast quantities of vaccine but his handling of closure after closure has failed horribly for two reasons. One, following the economic rather than the human path; Two, for refusing to hand over at least some of the task of ensuring adherence to closure to the IDF rather than overloading the police and also allowing two sectors of society to get away with murder……. Literally. The Arab and Haredi sectors have not stuck to isolation, closure or vaccination and it has caused the spread of Covid. The loudest voice against the actions of the Haredi community comes from Yehuda Meshi Zahav
Haredi Israelis in general have earned their bad name but there are many who are a light unto nations and we must not forget their contribution.
Yehuda Meshi Zahav (the founder of Zaka) and his siblings took great care of their elderly parents knowing that Covid-19 is rife in their community. Yehuda’s brother went so far as to sleep at his parent’s home in order to take care of them. Sadly their younger brother died of complications of his heart condition and after the Shiva, the brother who stayed with his parents had to go abroad. Yehuda’s mother decided, against his strong objection, to host the family for Chanuka, and she caught Corona. At first she was just unwell then suddenly this week she became terribly ill and died. Yehuda appeared on television yesterday, lambasting his own community for not abiding by the rules and killing so many through their stupidity.
“I have dedicated my life to saving others all over the world, yet due to ignorance they killed my Mother”
Yehuda lives away from Mea Shearim where his family founded Neturei Karta and lives in Givat Zeev. His sons all serve in battle units of the IDF. https://www.timesofisrael.com/blood-on-rabbis-hands-haredi-emergency-chief-says-after-moms-covid-death/
Getting back to Israel’s huge success in vaccinating her citizens. Wait a minute, first I want to respond to the populist reporting that “Israel won’t give the Palestinians Covid vaccinations” First of all we trained their medical staff in the treatment of Covid patients and gave them a lot of equipment and secondly, they keep saying they don’t want to be “under” Israeli occupation, want to be independent, are an independent entity, so if the PM tells them to buy their own, that we don’t have enough for our own citizens of all creeds, they need to use some of the enormous funding to buy vaccines!
Sorry, I wanted to explain why the system of vaccination works so well here. Of course the Health Funds (Kupot Holim) have been exceptional, getting their act together in record time but there is one important aspect which has helped enormously. We all have swipe cards of our specific Fund (Kupa) and as we arrive at the vaccination sites we swipe our card and all our medical information comes up immediately which protects us, if there is any reason not to have the vaccine, and the moment we have the vaccine it goes into the system. This week I went for my second vaccine and decided to go to the huge and modern vaccination site in the basketball arena near home rather than the old clinic where I had my first one – and where I would have stood outdoors in the rain both while waiting and the 15 minute wait period afterwards. The only bad thing was that people were split into 3 groups – Aleph for those having their first vaccination, B for those who had booked their second vaccination and me, Beit for those who had no appointment!! Of course I waited about 20 minutes but my turn came and I was directed to a very large, male Haredi nurse, who turned out to be absolutely lovely, I didn’t even feel the injection and he told me jokes in Yiddish!!! Apart from a slight lethargy I had no after effects whatsoever and I wish I could remember the jokes! Zvi and I decided to go for a walk in the Park ha Messilot afterwards but sadly, it absolutely poured down and we ran laughing back to the car!
I told you that I would explain why I put the Hebrew date right up there at the beginning of the missive – well it’s because the 15th of Shvat, known as Tu b’Shvat or the New Year for Trees falls next Wednesday. I remember as a child planting a tree both at home and for KKL or JNF in Israel. This tradition, this very Jewish “thing” of planting, refreshing the land, has been one of Israel’s greatest successes. We are the only country in the world that has an increase in the number of trees planted every year. The Jewish national Fund was established at the 5th Zionist Congress in 1901, initially to buy land but the land erosion after the Ottomans stripped the trees for the railway and housing demanded a Jewish solution and the tradition of tree planting went even further than Tu b’Shvat the festival of renewal, preparing land for the future harvests.
I have to brag before going to song……. Impact-se (www.impact-se.org) has uncovered UNWRA incitement to hatred through their own schoolbooks. Watch this space or click on the link!!
This song just caught my heart. I’m sorry there isn’t a translation but it’s all about mothers and it will make you cry as you listen to these two boys sing in the TV programme “Music Academy” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Riq7cCyMI8&feature=emb_logo
Uziya Zadok, then just 12, sang “Sh’ma Yisrael” in competition and everyone cried. It has no translation but you won’t need it! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_TBMtzeK08
Finally, staying with children….. We are the world, Children of Hope choir https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tRLowGHh4c
For those who worried, we can’t take our verandah to the new apartment but the view, which is in my heart, will come with us, I promise.
Shabbat Shalom and much love from Jerusalem, the view and the verandah on a chilly, bright and sunny Jerusalem day.