The view from my veranda

Loyalty, Love and Landmarks

13th August 2021

Shabbat Shalom to everyone but especially to my amazing, clever, gorgeous and kind grandson Zachary who will celebrate his Bar Mitzva this weekend and thanks to Covid I can’t be with him or with my family. If only people were less selfish and more understanding that this is a scary pandemic perhaps I could have been there to hug my loved ones. Anyone would think it was a contravention of ones rights to wear a mask or honour isolation rules; it ain’t easy but it protects our right to live healthy lives. Yiddish is an expressive language – whether a joke or a story it somehow takes on a life of its own in Yiddish. No point in making plans in there strange times and the Yiddish expression מענטש טראכט אונד גוט לאכט – Mensch Tracht und Gott lacht, which means Man plans and God laughs.

Phew! I thought that Covid-19, SARS 2 or whatever you choose to call it was out of the headlines, but here we are back in trouble and possibly headed for another closure. The American Centre for Disease Control has put us on a level 4 list, a no-go list, because our numbers are rising, as they are in Florida and California, and I can’t go to my beautiful grandson’s Bar Mitzva. Please before flying anywhere; think twice if you really can’t cope without the annual holiday abroad. Try glamping, camping, hoteling or touring near home. Israelis have discovered the phenomenal sights all over the country from nature to museums, from white water rafting to visiting the Old cities.

I had my 3rd inoculation two days ago and apart from a slight temperature for a couple of hours I feel fine, I feel exactly as I did before the jab but more confident!!

Druze is a fascinating religion that developed out of the peaceful Ismaili Islam and do not identify as Moslems.  One of their tenets demands absolute loyalty to the country in which they live. This week Lebanese Druze caught the Hezb-Allah operative responsible for a rocket attack on Israel and made his life very uncomfortable, had him crying with fear as they crowded around his car. Please understand, Hezb-Allah has brought Lebanon, that beautiful country, to its knees and in the eyes of the Lebanese Druze that is treason. As with the Israeli Druze, who pretty much to a man, serve in the IDF, Border Guard and defend Israel with pride and courage, they live on the Golan Heights, but the Lebanese side.

Lebanon is not the only country in our area devastated by extreme Islam – it is hard to find one that isn’t. However Turkey, that once favourite country for Israeli tourists, is fast diving into third world status. Erdogan has repeatedly chosen the wrong side and is now paying. Horrific fires consume the country and he has no money for firefighting aeroplanes to quench the fires! So sad.

Minister of Finance Avigdor Liberman is contemplating taxing soft drinks in plastic bottles, indeed all plastic disposables. I understand the logic of banning or taxing disposable tableware but the problem with taxing plastic bottles (and what about wrappings) is the alternative which is glass – and glass-making requires a huge amount of dirty energy! On the other hand, it’s a great way for the government to make money!!!

The Poles have taken their denial of responsibility for the horrors of the Holocaust to new levels. Not only did their government claim that Poles were never part of the German death machine but they now deny that land and properties appropriated by their government at the time should be either returned to their owners or be given restitution. The same government demands that Israel give restitution to Arabs from 1948. My father fled Poland in 1910 after a spate of yet more pogroms and he always said that Anti-Semitism is in the very bones of the Poles. It would appear that he was absolutely right.

I have decided that Wikipedia twists truth too. When the usual banal claims of occupation rose again this week I decided to check out which countries have appropriated land after wars, and there are many, very many! Why am I cross? Because the first few on the list – separated by a little box – is Israel and the “occupied territories”!! See for yourself that we are so far from the only country that won a war and annexed the land. Some are logical some are cruel some are hard to understand but I can promise you that we are the only country among the long list that gives those residents full medical care, education, social security etc

I forgot to tell you that last week I finally managed to meet up with Joy Wolfe, the legendary British lady, journalist, fighter for Israel and stalwart of the British Jewish Community. It’s always so refreshing to talk to Joy and we sat in a gorgeous local coffee shop that bakes all its own pastries making it really difficult to forgo – so we didn’t! I was very concerned about the current situation in the UK, the lack of positive action by most of the Jewish organisations to combat rising anti-Semitism – actually reflecting what I hear from friends in Canada, USA and most of Europe. Keeping a low profile doesn’t help folks.

We gave our returning Olympic team a huge welcome at Ben Gurion Airport! Front and centre was Linor Ashram who won a Gold for Athletic gymnastics but everyone got a cheer. Now our Paralympic Team is off to Tokyo for the prestigious Paralympics, often forgotten by the media but of huge importance and cache. Our Paralympic teams are world class, world renowned and bring us huge respect. Time to recognise their achievements and the achievements of each and every team from each and every country.

Think about the word disabilities. Dis-abilities, someone who is not able to. That is one word that the superb Kalman and Malki Samuels refused to accept that word when their son Yossi became blind and deaf. Malki understood the importance of giving respite to the overstretched parents and began to care for other children too, starting with just 5 children plus Yossi who was also hyperactive. Today Yossi is an expert on wines and communicates his brilliant mind through finger language. By the way, Malkii doesn’t have children in her home any more…….. so let me remind you!

Yesterday morning I went with my 3 very best friends to visit Shalva, the most beautiful, incredible centre for children and young adults with widely varied disabilities. Shalva is exceptional and the largest centre of its kind in the world. Gaby Hirsch took us through an amazing video about the creation of Shalva and then throughout the building, 11 stories of pure joy! We then went to visit Dr Dan’s Room going over the incredibly exciting plans which are beginning to come to fruition thanks to your incredible generosity. Rather than talking about the hope, beauty joy and sheer fun that Shalva brings to families that are stretched to their emotional limit why don’t you watch this video.

Last night Zvi and I went to Tel Aviv to the ever welcoming home of Nattie and Yolli Zonszein to meet with a few friends from Zvi’s days at the Yiddische Schule – the Jewish School in Mexico City. Clearly, we split up into those who spoke Spanish at great excited speed about their schooldays and of course about their teachers Alla and Kalman Raviv, and those who, like me, don’t speak Spanish and we spoke in a mixture of English and Hebrew over the excited tones in the lounge!

Today I am really excited because my two cousins, actually the daughters of my beloved cousins Cyril and Irene Silver, are coming to visit! Actually Joanna, Debbie and her husband Zeev will be here in a very short while and I’m still preparing food!!

Tonight Gideon and Zachary will go to the synagogue, and tomorrow morning then on Monday Zachary will read his Torah portion. I don’t know if I told you but their Rabbi, the incredible Jonathan Wittenberg, has done them the huge honour of lending them his family’s Sefer Torah, yes, the Wittenberg Torah, so that he can do his “bit” at home and those of us who are unable to be there can see and hear him on Zoom. How strange and sad is the time in Covid-19. Vayikra from Leviticus is perfect for a 13 year old boy. Gory details of what to do with the heifer to cleanse it for an offering.

I must go to finish cooking and set the table. I left Zvi peeling eggs as our friends came to see the new apartment and take ideas on building etc. Always busy at the Raviv household!!

When thinking of songs for today I had one in mind already. No need for research!  The Shalva group with “One Day”

We have a tendency to ignore the things for which we should be grateful and concentrate on what is missing. This will put you in a grateful mood!

I love the Revivo Project and their incredible Eastern Jewish music. I’m sorry that the translation is in Spanish but I’m still reeling from yesterday!

So, my heart is in London, with Zachary and all my family. I love you with all my heart and I’m so proud of Zac who is an AVID Chelsea fan so the rest of you can switch off or sing along with Zac.

Take care of yourself and of those around you. We have to beat this pandemic and cannot do it if everyone thinks of their own comfort – wear a mask, only travel if you have no choice and get the inoculation!

Shabbat Shalom to you all wherever you may be. With much love from Zvi, me and our veranda