14th April, 2022
Shabbat Shalom, Chag Pesach Sameach a Blessed Easter and Ramadan Kareem
How appropriate that we all celebrate our festivals together, the three monotheistic religions. If only we could all celebrate together irrespective of our different traditions, our different prayers because after all, we all reach out to the same God.
Here in Israel the lead up to Pesach is, as always, a tense time coinciding as it does with the month of Ramadan, a time when Imams raise the mood and the gullible believe the incitement of Daeesh, Islamic Jihad, Hamas et al who promise that they will ensure their place in heaven by killing those who do not follow Islam, indeed killing anyone in Israel, Moslem, Christian or Jew. While so many of our neighbours in this region are turning their swords into ploughshares sadly our next-door neighbours are doing the opposite.
I swore that today I wouldn’t talk about terror or politics but rather about the sense of expectation that overtakes Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular. I would love to tell you all about the huge cauldrons on street corners ready to “dip” utensils, pots and pan etc ready for Passover – Well I would have done that but ……….. wait, let me start from the beginning.
Last weekend Zvi and I joined the choir (HaKol Yachassi) for a trip to the South of Israel. Everyone had to provide a negative antigen test before joining and off we went. The bus collected us near home and we drove Southward toward the Negev Desert toward the Salad Trail at Talmei Yosef. https://www.israel-in-photos.com/salad-trail.html Two things you should know about the Salad Trail. One is its geographic position right next to Gaza and secondly, because of its geographic position it was offered to Arafat to provide a contiguous State but his “experts” said that the Israeli Government was cheating them and the land offered was arid. Well today it is Israel’s fruit and vegetable garden, the land is incredibly fertile and all that was needed was water! Anyway we were all like children in the “pick your own” farms and continued our journey munching on kolrabi, multicoloured carrots (did you know that carrots were originally white?), blood oranges and strawberries. Next Stop – Kibbutz Ze’elim and Boaz Kretchmer’s museum of the incredible medal and medallions that his grandfather and father created, every one a piece of history- including insignia of the various armies that were here during the Second World War. https://www.jta.org/archive/arts-culture-medallions-found-on-israeli-kibbutz-tell-the-story-of-the-countrys-founding We then set off for Kibbutz Mashabeh Sadeh to prepare for Shabbat Dinner. As we took a walk on Shabbat we saw an incredible sight – a field of 400,000 mirrors which reflect on a tower topped by a collection point which glows eerily and provides electricity for some 60,000 homes! It was a marvellous weekend until first Zvi began to feel rotten, then as we got home so did I and other members of the choir – yes we all caught Covid! We haven’t decided if it was at the coffee stops on the way or where we got it but we did – at least 10 members of the trip. So that is why this will be a very short missive! We have both been laid up, feeling very sorry for ourselves!
As you can imagine my preparations for Passover and the traditional meal have been somewhat curtailed. Zvi and I will have the Seder alone, instead of 20 diners and the atmosphere will be somewhat sad. It’s really hard to be enthusiastic about the reading and singing without the children but of course we will read from the story of our slavery and leaving Egypt and what the various Rabbis taught us from those stories. I refuse to even attempt to do our family Had Gadya (Only one Kid) with all the appropriate sounds – actually it would sound really crazy since I’ve virtually lost my voice!!
Perhaps the most important song, actually a short sentence, in the whole of the Hagadda, the Story, is right at the end, when we have eaten the bitter herbs, the parsley, the combining (I have the best recipe for Charoseth which came with me from my parents home. Grated apples, ground almonds, cinnamon, a little sweet wine or grape juice and very finely chopped lettuce. No specific amounts just until it tastes right!!!) hard boiled eggs in salt water and – where was I, oh yes, the most important sentence which comes after the reading, the meal and grace – “Next Year in Jerusalem” Le Shana Haba’ah b’Yerushalyim. 2,000 years of prayer.
Last week I broke into my thoughts as a terror attack was reported in Tel Aviv, it was not the first and will not be the last, but the confluence of all our festivals, Pesach, Easter and Ramadan should bring us together not drive us apart.
Wherever you pray, whatever foods you are or are not allowed to eat or when you are allowed to eat it is irrelevant. It is time to find a way to understand each other. Too many wars based on religion, too much hatred of those who differ from us. Religion is not a competition it is a way to reach the Almighty, even if the route is different. Ramadan, Lent, Omer, let’s try adding one prayer to all our faiths “Please God make me strong enough to accept those who differ from me”
The medication is kicking in and if I don’t end here you will be subjected to a disconnected, if loving series of disjointed sentences. Is this newsletter different to all other newsletters?
Some lovely Passover songs
First is a medley beautifully performed by Carmel A Capella
Secondly the Israel Philharmonic with “Who Knows One” Ehad mi Yodeya
Finally, a tribute to the City of Gold, the City which binds us together but is so beautiful that everyone claims it as their own. It was written by Naomi Shemer as a lament for the city we could not reach, then soon after she wrote it we were invaded from all sides and in the 6 Day War, the last two verses were added. We were finally able to return to our Holy sites. The late Ofra Haza sang it at Israel’s 50th Anniversary https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x49vr2
Chag Sameach, Shabbat shalom from Jerusalem, still visible every morning as I wake up, her lights glimmering as I go to sleep. Jerusalem, the city which proves that we came from slavery to freedom. When we ask if this night is different from all other nights, the answer is yes. Ensure that we do not produce the 4 sons; that our children always know what to ask and we take the time to answer them.