The view from my veranda

Kippur, Succot, Corbyn and Ari Fuld z”l



The Fasting is over now for the Feast!


Yom Kippur is over for another year. I don’t know what happens in your country but for most secular Jews in Israel, the fast is essential but the prayers are not. In fact many just come to the vicinity of the synagogue to hear the shofar sounding at the end of the service, announcing the fact that one can go home and eat, drink and be merry. It is a shame really because the purpose of the fast is that one is so deep in contemplation and prayer that the food should not be a distraction. On the other hand, each to their own, who am I to dictate to anyone else?


My only desire is that we all make our decisions from knowledge. When I was a “Cheder” teacher a parent said to me, “Why do you teach them all about Judaism when we don’t do any of it at home and they probably never will either”? My response was that I was teaching the children the basics and then they could make their choice out of knowledge not ignorance. I tried to explain that most children will not be professors of history or chemistry learned at school but one would never think of denying them the chance to choose.


I am a traditional rather than a religious Jew, but I love the traditions and give respect to those who are more religious than I. After all, I admire a clever mathematician or historian for his greater knowledge so why not admire a Jew for his depth of learning?


OK that’s off my chest for today!!


Yesterday was peaceful; children took advantage of the fact that there are no cars on any roads, by running in the streets, roller skates and bicycles galore. Yesterday was peaceful, but 45 years ago it most certainly was not. Taking advantage of the holiest day of the Jewish year and the fact that everyone, was in the synagogue, the Arab coalition led by Egypt and Syria attacked Israel, taking everyone by surprise. By today’s standards of information technology it should not have been a surprise attack, but our spies relied on less efficient methods then. Golda Meir was woken by the Head of the Mossad Zvi Zamir had gone to London to meet with a source who informed him that Egypt and Syria were going to attack that very evening. The Minister of Defence was Moshe Dayan. It was a tragic war (what isn’t) with terrible losses and it is by fortune that we won. The scars on those who fought have not healed even after all those years. The leader of the coalition of that war was Anwar Sadat who learned that war could only impoverish his people whereas peace could improve their lives; thoughts that brought him to Jerusalem and a peace treaty.


Less than a week ago an American Israeli called Ari Fuld, was stabbed in the back by a 16 year old Palestinian yet despite being critically injured raced after the attacker to prevent his stabbing a young woman. The attacker was in a shopping mall in Gush Etzion, a mall used by Palestinians and Israelis equally; he went into a falafel stall, picked what he wanted to fill his pita, sat outside to eat leisurely then returned to stab Ari and the falafel stall owner. Tragically, Ari Fuld died in the ambulance on its way to Shaare Zedek hospital. Ari was a father of four, a terrific Israeli, in the same field as I but so much better, and is mourned by a whole nation. What was written in the European press “Settler shoots Palestinian after attack” Shame on them. The strength of Ari’s widow and children is phenomenal – last night, after synagogue prayers they built their Succah, their Tabernacle, because that is what Ari would have done. May his soul rest in peace.


Incidentally, the attacker’s family will be rewarded for Ari’s death with a generous stipend. Yup that’s where your money goes.


Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party in the UK, is an Arsenal supporter; my grandson Zachary, an avid Chelsea supporter, would say that’s stupid enough on its own (sorry lovely Brian Kerner) but the plot thickens! Arsenal chose to advertise Israeli tourist destinations so Corbyn has called for a boycott of his favourite club!!! In Britain one would say “What a plonker“! ttps://


A Russian aeroplane was shot down and the world blamed Israel, except for Putin! A senior IDF representative went to Russia to discuss the situation and to extend Israel’s condolences at the loss of life.  The situation in Syria is so confused, so tragic, the powers vying for power, that the brouhaha over the Russian plane seems almost ludicrous. If only world leaders had done the right thing at the beginning 500,000 lives could have been saved.


The eternal strength of nature has played havoc in the Caribbean, the Eastern USA and the Philippines causing death and destruction in the path of storms proving yet again that water, the giver of life, can take it away.


Jerusalem is nearing municipal elections and the citizens are on tenterhooks awaiting the result. The turnout is usually pitiful but hopefully this year they will understand how crucial this year’s elections are. A dear person, Haredi, said “It is essential that Jerusalem stays as the city for all her residents. It will always be a Holy City but it also needs to thrive and if we allow it to become a city for Haredi residents only, there will be no tourism, no services and Jerusalem will fall into disrepair. Zvi and I have no secrets – we support Hitorerut – Awakening – and Ofer Berkovitch who respects all streams and religions.


A Bedouin Village has been gradually growing, and growing, and growing on the hills next to Ma’aleh Adumim. Not buildings per se, rather tents and shanties, on land designated for building. It is completely illegal but since it is Bedouin and not Israeli the EU has insisted that the shanties remain and not be demolished. The Israeli government is prepared to move the Bedouin, who live a gypsy-like life anyway, alternative housing, with all amenities, specially built so that they can remain as a clan, even though they are neither Israeli nor Palestinian citizens. Apparently even that doesn’t please the Europeans. Just another case of double standards or is it more sinister than that?


There was a strange tap-tap-tapping sound in the air as we returned to Jerusalem from Nes Ziona where we spent Yom ha Kippurim with Leor, Shiri and the children. Everyone was putting up their home extensions! No, not the kind that require planning permission, the temporary kind – the Succah. It is such a wonderful tradition, remembering wandering in the desert and the temporary shelters the Children of Israel slept in while celebrating the harvest, the 7 species, the cornucopia of fruits and vegetables of the Promised Land. Succot begins in just 3 more days, the air will be redolent with the aroma of fruit, of wonderful special foods which express the abundance – stuffed vegetables, stuffed pastries, stuffed dates……….kreplach, indeed anything that has something inside something else! We eat and many sleep in the Succah, entertain “Ishpuzin” (Aramaic for guests), decorate with fruits, paper chains and tinsel which looks surprisingly like Christmas decorations!!! We all visit each other, bearing sweet pastries and of course, eat, eat and eat some more!!!! The Succah, above all, embodies the impermanence of life, especially for the Wandering Jew.


Sunday was delightful! I went to the King David Hotel to meet up with three very special ladies from my past and my future. Three Cardiff ladies all of whom live in Israel.  Averil Wien Weinstein, Susan Gaba Yakir and Tema Gaba. Tema is my link special to my late Mother, my link to my childhood and an incredible lady of 96 years old. She is full of incredible stories of Cardiff and of wisdom earned during the last 96 years, and a keen sense of humour. I often think that Tema is younger than many of my friends. She is so special. The King David veranda was decked out for Succot, a thousand tassels hanging from the “schach” (temporary roof) I felt like a Princess but then Tema would tell you that I always was!!!


Sunday evening and we were on our way to a very exciting event. It was a celebration of 69 years of the People’s Republic of China, to which we were invited by two lovely people, Leo and Emily Mao. It was spectacular!!!! A lovely kosher reception with great food, the indefatigable Tal Brody was also an invitee, then into the auditorium of the Tel Aviv Museum for a truly magnificent show by the Beijing Opera. Chinese Opera is more acrobatic dancing, every move has deep meaning; humour; rather high pitched singing and drum accompaniment and most importantly, story telling. The Chinese Ambassador gave a delightful speech and Israeli Minister of Science, Technology and Space Ofir Akunis spoke of the deep co-operation between the two countries – he also mentioned that 20,000 Jews fleeing from the horror of Hitler’s Europe found safe haven in Shanghai; that 150,000+ Chinese visit Israel and over 50,000 Israelis visit China each year. Indeed China is Israel’s largest trading partner. To my amazement Leo (a well-established journalist in China) wrote about us in the China Times and our photo appears! Fame at last.


Last night Zvi took Yosef and Talia Go-karting. I gave the excuse that I need to write to you guys and then when they got home I took them to the First Station where food and culture meet. It was fun! Throngs of happy people out on a balmy Jerusalem evening (actually it was rather chilly!) There was a rock band playing in a free concert; craft stands galore; restaurants and my favourite store in Jerusalem which has every type of mind puzzle imaginable, not that I can do any of them! Wooden shapes that never fit into their designated spaces and metal shapes that miraculously fit together for the young people who sell them to you but just won’t work for me. In fact, I love the fact that the First Station is full of people who just want to have fun – whatever their origin or faith, something we take for granted, but in our region only happens in Israel.


Talia and Yosef slept over at our place last night, giving Ayala a rare evening alone with Mummy Rachel!


So what songs do you want to hear? For Kippur the music was solemn but now we can sing – I had great difficulty finding a song about Succot, or one that made sense to me, but finally I found one!


Simchat Torah – the joy of the Torah – is the Festival which abuts Succot. It is the completion of the reading from the Torah and the beginning again from Bereshit – Genesis, expressing so clearly the circle of life and of our story. Dancing and singing is an important part of this joyous festival. I found this beautiful Simchat Torah song in Yiddisch – sadly I don’t have it with translation but the accompanying paintings tell the story


Let it Be – more of a prayer than a song – from two superstars who support Israel. Paul McCartney and Billy Joel


Shabbat Shalom, Chag Succot Sameach, Moadin le Simcha, Good Yomtov


I promise that I will look out over Jerusalem from our veranda, a special long look just for you – can you feel it?


With all our love for a joyous year.