2nd of April 2021
Shabbat Shalom, Pesach Sameach, a Blessed Good Friday and a Holy Easter.
Jews have entered a 49 day Omer period of prayer, restraint and holding back from excess, while Christians have just ended the 40 days of Lent; We have so much more in common than that which separates us.
So the 4th elections are over, the indecision continues and the negotiations for a coalition began. Benjamin Netanyahu did many good things during his tenure, but it is time for change, time for him to attend to his legal issues. The belief that Israel will fall apart if he leaves is ludicrous. We are a very strong nation of wonderful, feisty people and despite our arguments, we all contribute to the success of this amazing country. A good leader is very important, as the Covid-19 pandemic has shown, but that doesn’t mean exclusive tenure. It is time to unite rather than continue the created divisions that have torn us apart recently.
There is a new star on the Israeli political stage; his name is Mansour Abbas https://www.knesset.gov.il/mk/eng/mk_eng.asp?mk_individual_id_t=1007 . Abbas is a dentist who studied at the Hebrew University, clever, young and a supporter of both the Moslem Brotherhood and Hamas. He speaks of becoming part of Israeli society rather than a separate entity within, he gives hope unlike the Joint List of Eiman Odeh and Dr. Ahmed Tibi who are generally thought to have done nothing to deal with the ghastly violence in the Israeli Arab society. The strange aspect is that he garnered enough seats in the Knesset to gain recognition in the fight for a sane coalition to oust Netanyahu – I must reiterate, it isn’t to oust Likud, just Netanyahu. Next week, President Rivlin will call the leaders of the various parties to discuss who will be given the task of forming a government. Logic would suggest that the centre-right parties would form a bloc but Gidon Saar and Naftali Bennet have expressed a determination to join a wide political coalition rather than sit with Bibi. It’s going to be an interesting few weeks….
David Horovitz wrote in the Times of Israel https://www.timesofisrael.com/from-the-head-of-an-israeli-islamic-party-a-primetime-plea-for-coexistence/
A light at the end of the Israel/PA tunnel (not one built by Hamas or Hezb-Allah!) came this week with a paper published by two academics who studied together in Oxford. Hussein Agha and Ahmad Samih Khalidi wrote a powerful article entitled “The End of the Road: The Decline of the Palestinian National Movement.” They have now published “A Palestinian Reckoning: Time for a New Beginning.” Instead of reiterating problems, they outline an alternative strategy in which Egypt and Jordan take part. A breath of fresh air
Seder night came and went and most of us added an extra prayer to the fascinating story of our Exodus from slavery to freedom. Thank you G-d for allowing us to be a big happy family again. So far there are no Covid repercussions for the family gatherings since the Seder. The person we should really be thanking for Israel’s incredible success in controlling the pandemic is a 47 year old doctor called Sharon Elroy-Preis, the Head of Public Health in the Ministry of Health. She began the negotiations with Pfizer last year, thus saving the lives of thousands of Israelis.
Israelis love to travel and visit the incredible natural beauty of Israeli lakes, rivers, brooks, hills and………snow! One positive aspect of the pandemic is that Israelis discovered that one doesn’t need to fly anywhere to discover glorious sights and sites right here in our little country. After the rain of the winter, flowers bloom in the rockiest of places, even in the arid Negev Desert and the Northern valleys are spectacular. Kayaking on the River Jordan, Skiing on the Hermon, swimming in the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret), seeing ancient monuments, walking along the coastline or just walking the country trails. We went to the Castel, a Crusader Fortress https://www.parks.org.il/en/new/castel-national-site/ , and as we climbed up the trail I was entranced by the display of wild flowers, from poppies to blue iris, from wild cyclamen and lupins to fine old trees in full blossom. As we reached the upper area around the remains of the Castel the evidence of the War of Independence became apparent. Trenches which hid the Israeli troops from the Jordanian army snake their way to the top, the vantage point over the old road to Jerusalem, the “Seven Sisters” named for the seven sharp hairpin bends toward Jerusalem. Never in my wildest dreams, when I hung on for dear life as our bus took us toward Jerusalem in 1963 did I think that Zvi and I would come to live on the fourth sister! Today the Castel is famous for its fine wines, indeed in the Jerusalem Hills there are no less than 90 wineries. You should try some, we have come a long way from the old sickly sweet Kiddush wines!! To see Israel at her most beautiful https://www.youtube.com/embed/vtdpP0_kBMw?rel=0
The Jews of Morocco celebrated the end of Pesach with the Mimuna, producing a cornucopia, a plethora of colourful, sugary, delicious petit fours and a rather strange crepe-like dessert called a moufletta. Traditionally the house, big and small alike, is open to friends, family and strangers alike, each tasting the delights set out on the tables. The host and hostess dress in traditional Moroccan celebratory robes, or djelabas and the music in the background is also traditional. You know what? Instead of me waxing lyrical, Look for yourself! https://www.israel21c.org/photo-of-the-week-celebrating-mimouna/
I am going to see Rachel and family this morning. I haven’t seen them for a whole week and I miss being with the children, who are fast becoming adults! They are such warm and loving children, despite becoming teenagers they still know how to hug us all! Of course this week she isn’t baking Challot because we are still in Passover but I’m certain there will be a vast amount of food in her refrigerator. Here in Israel you would be hard pushed to find an empty refrigerator, we love our food, we demand freshness, all fruit and veggies are seasonal and both men and women love to cook! Of course there is the fifth question on Pesach, “Why, on this night, does half the population eat pulses on Passover and half do not?” I am slowly, but very slowly, coming round to the fact that it is ridiculous that Middle Eastern Jews eat beans, peas, rice and so on, during Passover while European Jews do not. As Rachel says, “Mum, it’s time we all kept the same rules” It would make life so much easier to eat “kitniot” then I wouldn’t need my reading glasses to go shopping!
March the 30th is ever etched into my mind. On March 30th 2002, in the middle of the Intifada, a beautiful young student was working as a waitress in a Tel Aviv Coffee Shop, on Allenby Street. A young fellow walked into the café and she approached him, asking if he wanted anything to drink. As she walked back behind the bar he simply pressed a button and blew himself up. Our beautiful young woman lay on the floor, the blazing bar on top of her, determined to survive. The MDA paramedic, Yitzchak Kochav, made a final check around the burnt out café and suddenly saw something move. With mighty strength he lifted the bar to find a horrifically burned body underneath. Even in that state Kinneret managed to smile at him. He took her to the hospital never leaving her side, even when her family arrived. I can never forget the phone call from Orly telling us what happened. Kinneret, daughter of our close friends Moishe and Yaffa, was given a 2% chance of survival, burned on 85% of her body. That night a Rabbi visited her in hospital and told the family to change her name from Kinneret to Kinneret Chaya – Kinneret Lives.
As those of you who have been with me for many years know, I recorded every move every new thing, her first mouthful, her first steps, her first visit home, every moment of her miraculous recovery. This young woman who defeated medical science, is now a married lady with four children! Yes, with all the scars and damaged lungs she never gave up. I love her more, though we rarely see each other. I can never forget the moment I went to see her – the first visitor allowed – a tiny charred figure on a pile of green pillows, and through her induced coma she turned her head and smiled at me. Yes, the 30th of March is etched in my very soul. 29 years later KC is thriving. She was told she would never have children and today she is a happily married lady with 4 beautiful little ones! KC I love you Happy re-birthday Kinneret Chaya.
That’s it folks!
One of my favourite Israeli songs tells the story of each of us whose children grow up and away. Oof Gozal – Fly away fledgling, by Arik Einstein https://youtu.be/ez1e2VPsRFw
“Ani Nodadeti Le Shalom” I was born for Peace by Uzi Chitman – so many Israeli songs are about peace…. https://youtu.be/4fz18D68Vdw
Since it is still Pesach, a song from the Passover Haggadah. In these uncertain times of renewed racism, especially against Jews, it is somehow important to hear the lyrics. I warn you though, you will find yourselves singing it for months – the haunting melody doesn’t leave me. Vehi Sheamda by Yaakov Shwekey and Yonatan Raziel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y784Uw96Rbs
Good Shabbes, Shabbat Shalom and a blessed Holy Easter period.
With love from the city that is so special for each and every one of us
By the way, did you know that Henry VIII wrote to a Rabbi in Italy to get permission to divorce Katherine of Aragon and the Rabbi refused?