The view from my veranda

Letter from Jerusalem

27th June 2012
Shabbat Shalom! No I didn’t get confused, I know that today is Wednesday not Thursday and certainly not Friday but since this is a special week and tomorrow is the wedding day of Zvi’s eldest son Amiad and his lovely bride Noga – I don’t think I will have time for anything, even writing to you!!
This was a strange week in which the Moslem Brotherhood won the Egyptian election by a whisper and while their new leader told the world that he would keep all peace treaties while one of his first internal statements was that Jerusalem would be the capital of Egypt .
In the meantime Syrian dictator Assad continued slaughtering his citizens to feeble complaints from the world and missiles rained upon Southern Israel, to ensure a few headlines for the Gazans who felt left out of the news, then another Hudna as they promised to stop! Israel received a visit from Vladimir Putin which resulted in the worst traffic jams I can ever remember a visit to Netanya and a surprise for my son-in-law Igal who went to the Western Wall to pray and found himself next to the Russian visitor!!!!
The BBC realised it made a mistake for callously ignoring the heinous killing of the Fogel family last year and the Israeli police arrested the criminal who defaced, among other places, Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum. Surprise surprise they were Neturei Karta
Germany decided that circumcision is brutal while Israel trained African female doctors to circumcise baby boys to help prevent AIDS in a programme called Operation Abraham. Which is the is a product of the Jerusalem AIDS Project (JAIP).
In the USA Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen chairwoman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs said she would not be surprised if reports that Hezbollah has established a base in Cuba are true. “The Castro regime has long been designated by the State Department as a State Sponsor of Terrorism,” Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement Wednesday.Read more: When will the USA understand that Israel is just the hors d’ouevres and the USA is the entree?
The Jewish Agency Board of Governors meetings took place in Jerusalem and hopefully good decisions were made to improve the Israel Diaspora relations and greater understanding of our interdependence. London is racing to be ready for the upcoming Olympics and we all watched the Euro Football, whether voluntarily or forcibly!!! And…………… and…….. of course the Raviv Family celebrated and continues to celebrate the wedding of Amiad and Noga.
Last Friday was phenomenal! Zvi and I set out to meet our guests, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv buses, at the entrance to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Gavat Ram campus, loaded with bottles of water and baseball style caps with the bride and grooms names for each of the participants. We set off right on time, the Tel Aviv bus under the supervision of Esti and the Jerusalem bus Eitan. First stop was at the incredible site of the City of David in the Old City of Jerusalem where we split into three groups, 2 in Hebrew and one in English. It was a tough walk, in intense heat but no one complained, the sheer joy of listening to incredible guides and learning about our history, our ancient history, the past which made us what we are today. Walking in the steps of the Bible. Ir David’s tortuous path led us down from the Dung Gate, down down to the original David’s City, the wall’s still apparent and recent archaeological finds show the way people lived, our people lived. Many Arab houses have grown around this site over the last 90 years and today it is called Silwan. Until 90 years ago there were just three houses on the land now occupied by the Arab neighbourhood of Silwan, at the spot where our ancestors would come to gather before climbing, ascending to the Temple Mount. Those of us who could not walk any further took the shuttle bus back up to the Visitors Centre while others continued through the tunnels to emerge victorious as they ran to the bus!
Next came the toughest part of our journey, trying to arrive at Emek Tzurim through the unreal traffic and horrendous parking (actually car abandonment) of the masses who came to pray on the Temple Mount (Harm el Sharif) at Al Aqusa Mosque. Gosh there were the worst traffic jams I ever saw!!! Our journey was worth it though as we arrived at the archaeological site of our lovely friend Professor Gabby Barka’i about whom I wrote last week. Here we were at the site to which Gabby bravely brought all the hundreds of truckloads of earth taken from beneath the Al Aqsa Mosque by Sheikh Raeed Salah and his cohorts in one short weekend, nearly toppling the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount and intentionally destroying priceless pieces of our history, without reckoning with Gabby!!! Gabby explained to us the history of returning the truckloads to Emek Tzurim, beside the beautifully eerie Mount of Olives, and the seven years already spent finding incredible artifacts. The methods developed for this painstaking work now serve many other archaeologist who bring their finds for sifting. Our friends sat entranced at Gabby’s explanations and his clear enthusiasm for his subject, helped by his erudition and ability to transmit his message. This is one thing I would highly recommend to any tourist to Jerusalem.
Our guests curiosity was now fully sated but their tummies were rumbling and we had to manouevre our way out of the second set of prayers in Al Aqsa before reaching lunch! My poor daughter Rachel was dealing with the staff at Zion ha Gadol who wanted to go home and these pesky people were now an hour late!!!! Rachel and her three beautiful children entertained those who met us at the restaurant until we arrived and then………………. Shefa! Shefa means abundance….. a cornucopia of Israeli foods. Five tables aching with salads (remember none of these salads has lettuce) of every nature and variety; hot pita, freshly baked,; hot spicy salads and gentle rice salads; followed by spears of juicy kebabs, chicken livers, chicken hearts, and my favourite, young chicken gently fire roasted on spears. I was so busy trying to keep everyone happy that I forgot to eat, so Uzi, the manager, suddenly came to the table, sat me down and began to feed me my favourite baby chicken, carefully cutting it as only the father of six could!!!
Our friend Gadi and Russo sang, everyone clapped and joined in and then Zvi stood up and sang along with them to the amazement of most friends who had never heard his glorious bass baritone voice.
Our guests slowly began to leave, the buses went back to the Hebrew University and to Tel Aviv and Zvi and I went home and collapsed!!!!!
Shabbat morning was the Shabbat Chatan, when the groom is called ot the Torah and everyone threw sweets at them, then the family all came back to us for lunch. In the evening we had a meeting of IMPACT-SE out on our veranda……… with the glorious view of Jerusalem before us. What a way to end our weekend!
Tomorrow Amiad and Noga will marry at a small wedding hall in South Tel Aviv together with a very few, very special friends. Zvi is very lucky because his cousin Jack flew the thousands of miles from Mexico City to be with him and dear friends, Sam and Debby Bettsak, Barry Slawsky, Danny Liwerant, Jill and Victor, and incredibly our dear friend Khaled came all the way from Dubai to his home in Jordan, fought hard to get his visa in time and will come, with his cousin, to join our happy event. How wonderful when family rallies round.
Shabbat Shalom to you dear friends, wishing you a fabulous weekend of family and send you love coming all the way from Jerusalem.