The view from my veranda

Politicians, politics and inventions

18th January 2019

Hello everyone! How are you? Good Shabbes and happy Christmas to all Armenians. Today is also the celebration of the Epiphany and I missed the Greek Orthodox Christmas on January 6th. We may be confused but at least there are many celebrations!!!

On Sunday night Jews celebrate the first ecological project ever – Tu b’Shvat, the 15th day of the month of Shvat – the New Year for Trees. Traditionally we plant new trees on this day, which clearly was the forerunner of the JNF/Keren Kayemet and the reason Israel is the only country in the world that has a continuous increase in her trees. Planting a tree – new life – is considered so important that Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai said, “If you are in the midst of planting a tree and word reaches you that the Messiah has arrived, do not interrupt your work; first finish your planting and only then go out to welcome the Messiah.” We are taught to plant and build never to destroy.

The young Jewish terrorists that threw stones at Palestinian cars and killed Aisha Rabi were arrested and one is directly charged with her murder. They claim to learn in Yeshiva but obviously were not taught about Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai or HaRav kook who taught tolerance.

I don’t know about you but I feel that our leaders have lost their way, irrespective of which country! Some try their best to enforce the will of the people and are forced into confusion like Theresa May; some just won’t give up their place of power despite legal “complications”, or just the power like Netanyahu; some abuse it horribly like Effie Naveh the Director of the Association of Lawyers in Israel who exchanged Judgeships for sex; some are killed for their goodwill like the Mayor of Gdansk in Poland; some simply annoy the left or right and make rash decisions based on emotions not diplomacy; some are so corrupt with absolute power that they threaten our very existence (yours too not just ours); some have twisted religion to such an extent that it has become oppressive and cruel. As they say – but apart from that!

At least in Israel the sense of democracy is ever present as the number of political parties increases each day! We have great leaders coming forth, or that’s what they say!!!

I rarely put you through British Parliamentary speeches but I felt that this speech by Michael Gove epitomises honest free speech – he also rips Jeremy Corbyn apart in the most British manner

Never believe that Palestinian leadership is stupid, they are wily, clever and genius at PR. Mahmoud Abbas learned that diplomacy is far more effective than terror. Read the excellent Khaled Abu Toameh’s analysis of yet another diplomatic coup at the United Nations

Fresh drinking water is probably the biggest crisis in the third world today and has been for too long. Watergen, an Israeli company, takes water from the air and they have created an emergency water producing vehicle that can be transported to areas of danger. A truly magnificent, innovative, life saving invention.

How many countries have a “partition wall”? How many of them are vilified in the UN and the international media for that wall or fence?

I know that links are tiresome but I want to give you information so that you can respond to the nay-sayers and ill-informed with knowledge. Hope that’s OK!

So tell me, do you think you are right? I mean do you really believe you are right to the extent that you don’t want to listen to any opinion that differs from your own? Are you left, right or centre in your politics? Are you Haredi, observant, liberal, non-involved? Are you a practicing Christian, Jew, LDS, Druze, Moslem? Does it really matter to anyone but yourself and is it anyone else’s business? In the old days one never spoke of religion or politics in polite company, which I never liked. Even as a relatively small child I used to love joining in to my parents friends conversations when we had guests. To their credit I never remember being told to “go away little girl” and they always explained their opinions. I suppose that is why I so enjoy hearing from you as to what you think and pose difficult questions to elicit answers! If we don’t listen then we can never learn; if we don’t ask how can we get responses? Holding strong opinions works only if one is able to heed the other side because nothing is one sided, nothing. Even if we disagree with our leaders they are rarely as good as they think or as bad as we think. Remember that the media, whether televised, internet or printed, has interests and rarely gives us a complete picture. I try to read articles I utterly disagree with, grit my teeth and see if I can learn anything.

I suppose the most annoying articles are those which opine on events I have attended yet rarely recognise so twisted are the views of the author!

The continuing saga of my birthday celebrations began on Friday night at Zvi’s children’s home with a wonderful surprise party for Shabbat! Everyone came to dinner and Leor and Shiri’s number three daughter Ori (aged 8) read me a “bracha” a birthday Blessing that she had made and written all by herself. Perhaps the most emotional moment was when little Yonatan (4), usually very shy, came in and immediately came to me with a minute parcel – a little gold favour with beads inside. He had obviously raided his own cupboard to find it and it meant more than any big gifts.

I spent lunchtime of my birthday with Talia and Rachel in Modiin, we went to the BigA restaurant and had a ball. Talia ate my treat dessert of waffles with icecream and chocolate sauce because I am not allowed it yet. It turned out to be lucky for a very good reason….. later. In the evening we went to “Hamotzi” Moroccan restaurant near Shouk Mahane Yehuda. It was so much fun!! We were with our lovely friends Ruth and Jozec and family Ira and Valeri. It was extra fun for Jozec because although Polish he speaks Russian and could hold interesting conversations with Valeri! The food was amazing, the music just right until suddenly it became loud, before I had a chance to complain all the waitresses arrived at our table with Moroccan drums and fireworks singing happy birthday!!! I highly recommend the place but book, it’s always full!

On Wednesday I was in Shaare Zedek Hospital for a regular check up and as I sat waiting for the doctor I was yet again struck by my fellow patients. In Israel it is irrelevant what you are, or even who you are, you are a patients. Yes I know that happens in many countries but here it also doesn’t matter if your one aim in life is to see Israel disappear!! Our hospitals are a true melting pot as we mix and talk, maybe making a difference maybe not.

Thursday was so special. I was ready, showered and coiffed far too early, so excited to meet my beautiful Cardiff-born friends. We shared our childhood, there is no need to explain anything, our hearts are totally open to each other and our joy at having come to Israel is our glue. Of course it meant the return drive to Modiin and the BigA restaurant but the second we sat down together everything outside our table was irrelevant. We talked of events that we would never reveal to anyone else and it was amazing! Remember Talia enjoying my dessert? Well apparently it wasn’t chocolate, it was Nutella! With my sensitivity to nuts that wouldn’t have made for a happy birthday!!!! In the end we settled on a delicious chocolate volcano cake with ice-cream and 6 spoons!!! As I drove home I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face and it wasn’t only because of the promise of another jar of Averil’s amazing homemade Orange Marmalade, it was the joy of being with women who care deeply for each other, shared so many experiences and are deeply loyal to one another. Strangely we cover the full gamut of Israeli political leanings, but it never stands in the way of our love for each other.

Another Shabbat nears. This week we are at Galia and Menashe’s home and will stay over in Tel Aviv so that we can see our friends there. Galia is even more hospitable than we are and I never know how many will be sitting down to Shabbat Dinner. I am only taking “ptitim” a delicious Israeli dish of orzo pasta with sautéed onions. The kids love it and the adults are not averse!!! Tomorrow we may walk along the beachfront and breathe in the ozone……… I’m ready for it!!!

I have been a Monty Python fan since they first started and my favourite funny, utterly irreverent film ever is Life of Brian. With the world engaging in political somersaults I felt there was only one song that summed up my feelings – in fact I have been known to suddenly burst into song when required. Most of the original Monty Python team and “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”

To lift your heart and make it sing Yo-yo Ma

And to remember to always say thank you for every day and greet it with joy Shehechiyanu

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, shehecheyanu, v’kiy’manu, v’higiyanu laz’man hazeh.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, Sovereign of all, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season. Amen.

This week I said thank you each and every day for the incredible view from our veranda, for the sunrise that takes my breath away and the flowers that soothe my soul.

Wishing you love for a beautiful Shabbat


If the media does not inform us we must inform the media

Facebook      Sheila Silver Raviv
Involvement The Yuri Shtern Holistic Center