4th March, 2022
1st day of the second month of Adar, 5782
This is the first of Adar – a new month. There are two months of Adar because in the lunar, Hebrew calendar, every four years is a leap year and we have an extra month!! Thus today’s date is 1st Adar2, 5782.
Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov (a good month) and Happy International Waltz Day – really!
I’m sure that, like me, you are sick and tired of the insulting apartheid claims about Israel. If it wasn’t so offensive it would be funny considering the exceptional mix of humanity here, what I call the rainbow of humanity. It insults those who suffered the real Apartheid in South Africa, those who fought to remove Apartheid as a cruel and racist regime. Yosef Haddad is a young, proud Israeli, who happens to be an Arab. He travels the world creating video reports and this week he went to Ireland. For those who don’t know Ireland is one of the most virulent anti-Israel countries in the Western world. In my humble opinion they see Israel as the English absentee landlords who created the potato famine without understanding the truth. Here an Irish MP speaks out after a long meeting with Yosef learning that Israeli Arabs are not only highly regarded in the IDF, Medicine and Pharmacy but in Government and the Judicial system.
I cannot avoid the diabolical megalomania of a Russian leader who is destroying the Ukraine with vile cruelty. Why? Why would he spend eight months of preparation, including inculcating the Russian people with lies and calumny about modern day Ukrainians, claiming they are Nazis. A Jewish President and a Jewish Prime Minister are fighting hard to keep the Ukraine free but…. There are many hypotheses as to the reason for the invasion so I will add mine. Imagine a Russian, old-school Soviet autocrat, whose very basis is Soviet Communism yet his people, apart from a few oligarchs, have a poor standard of living and are losing status on the world stage and to add insult to injury, right there, beside his precious Soviet Russia there is a huge country, independent of Russia, which is thriving! Thriving, accepted by the West, enormous natural resources and wonderful tourism, fast climbing out of oppression and slowly, slowly, building a relevant economy. The Ukraine defies everything this jealous, ruthless martinet is prepared for Russian troops to kill and be killed out of sheer jealousy.
Now comes the question. Former Ambassador Michael Oren has complained that Israel is not doing more on the international stage to help the Ukraine, I disagree with him. Firstly the Prime Minister is acceptable to both Putin and Selensky and amazingly for a country that fits into the pocket of both countries in size and population, both have approached Bennett; Israel in a difficult position with the mighty Russian empire encroaching on Israel’s Northern border (Syria); Russia now has a port in the Mediterranean (not saying who allowed it but we all know); Israel has already accepted many refugees and the government and Jewish Agency have already prepared housing for those who fled the war. Noting in life is black and white, there is a delicate path that must be taken and I’m surprised that Ambassador Oren doesn’t realise it or is he just trying to undermine the current government? The worst thing that can happen, in this instance, is for any foreign troops to enter the fray, that would lead to world war.
This week the Jewish Agency, JAFI and the World Zionist Organisation held their Annual meetings. Some meetings were held on Zoom since many were not comfortable travelling with Covid still rife but many were actual. As I told you, our incredible friend Dr. Kimball Taylor came to take part in the meetings as a representative on the Aliya Committee and as such travelled to Ashkelon to see the planned accommodation for those who are and will make Aliya from the Ukraine and Russia as a result of the current conflict. I want to tell you a little about Kim although he will undoubtedly be embarrassed. We met some 20 years ago when we were told that a kind Canadian wanted to meet us at “Givat ha Matos” (Aeroplane Hill the site of a crashed Israeli plane) where the newly arrived Israelis from Ethiopia were in temporary housing. Kim, as a doctor was fascinated by the hurriedly created clinic and how he could better the facilities. He told us of a story he had just heard “A new immigrant lady of about 50 was complaining that her heart hurt. The very worried medics called for an ambulance and she was rushed off to ER. An Amharic speaking nurse explained to the medics that she wasn’t having a heart attack, she was sad…..heartache! From that moment blossomed an incredible friendship which led to Kim being the only gentile member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency. Kim is a senior member of the LDS Church and loves Israel and studies Israeli and Jewish history in a way that I wish more Jews would do!
We managed to take Kim to Shalva, to see Dr. Dan’s Room and he was absolutely blown away by the beauty, joy and kindness of the largest establishment of its kind in the world. Dr. Dan’s Room is almost finished!! The long wait due to Covid was worth it! The décor is exquisite, the musical instruments already in place, the overhead 3d projection unit is ready to project appropriate scenery to the activity, be it dance, drama or music, and the floor ready for the wear and tear of hundreds of wheelchairs and happy young people. Of course the moment it is ready I will send all of you amazing people who gave so generously, from 25 shekels to large sums, a video of the Shalva Band at rehearsals there. Talking of the Shalva Band, the leader, Shai Ben Shushan was crossing the foyer as Zvi and I arrived with Kim, Irit and Yitzik Lev and I told him who I was and that I hoped he would benefit from the new studio. He became very animated and expressed his delight at the room “The recording studio was my favourite room in Shalva but now, now it is definitely Dr. Dan’s Room”
I usually brag about my culinary expertise (!) but this week we visited several restaurants – all in the same chain! Firstly “Derech ha Gefen” in Beit Zayit; then “Naya” in Beit Nekufa (Middle East – Eastern fusion); and the beautiful restaurant in Shalva. Each has a different style, each has its own brilliant chef de maison and all are delicious! All of their restaurants have lovely, friendly staff but the Shalva restaurant has a great advantage, young special needs adults are an integral part of the staff.
This week has been strange. One day of glorious sunshine than the next of torrential rain, actually spring weather! Kim and I took advantage of one beautiful day and went exploring through the trail which leads to the reservoir and dam at Beit Zayit. It was stupendous!! Not just the views but we couldn’t stop taking photos of pink, wild cyclamen which seem to grow out of rocks, stately, white asphodel, scarlet, wild anemones and glorious almond blossom (shkediot). We walked a short distance because although the sun shone the ground was sodden from the previous days rain. Two days later I persuaded Zvi to take the same walk with me while Kim was in Ashkelon and the ground was already firmer and we walked a few kilometres before, through the trees, the reservoir came into sight. Beautiful, breathtaking.
Impact-se’s press release of last week’s library dedication. “More than 50 honoured guests gathered for the event on February 22nd in Jerusalem, both in representation of the memory of the late Dr. Daniel Cammerman, son of IMPACT-se board member Sheila Raviv, and to celebrate the significance of the momentous occasion of the collection’s release. Guests were joined by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Head of Education Hebrew University, Moshe Tatar, IMPACT-se founder Yohanan Manor, Director of research Eldad Pardo and CEO Marcus Sheff, who each offered remarks. The unveiling brought together the memory of the late Dr. Cammerman with his passion for tolerance and acceptance. Founder Yochanan Manor stated “grief for the premature passing away of Dr. Daniel Cammerman has given birth to a unique source for research for scholars around the world”. The collection is now open at the Hebrew University Education and Social Work Library, where it serves to show the continuing progress of education and how as Sheila Raviv stated “the legacy of tolerance [will] be seen in the next generation”
A video of the event can be accessed via the following link: https://youtu.be/DPTZ2gXHwgY
Obviously I am going to give you one of the fabulous songs of the Shalva Band, but first here are the bios of those amazing young people https://shalva.band/bios/ This song was recorded in London at a fundraising dinner before they became famous. I love it! Yerushalyim Shel Zahav as you have never heard it before https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8HtAOQhyYg
The next song/songs are for a very special lady, Frida Alberanes, who loves songs in Yiddish!! Here Dudu Fischer and Sassy Keshet sing their hearts out!! https://youtu.be/FeG0YFFjGGw
David D’Or wrote the song “Shmor al HaOlam Yeled” – Watch Over the World Child – which is more of an invocation than a song https://youtu.be/e7EV4IWgR2A The words are too often appropriate
Watch over the world child, there are things forbidden to see’
watch over the world child, if you see them, you’ll stop existing.
The hero of the world child, is the one with an angel’s smile;
watch over the world child, for we have not succeeded…
Watch over the world child, don’t think too much;
for the more you know, child, you understand less.
And at a certain hour all the doors will be shut
and all the love will finish, only you will continue to wonder…
Remember that our anthem is Hatikva, the Hope, and our greatest hope lies in future generations. I wish you all, wherever you are in this crazy world, a Shabbat Shalom, a peaceful Sabbath.
With all my love from this incredible, beautiful city of Gold, Jerusalem, where the almond blossom heralds a better day ahead of us.