The view from my veranda

Racism, Religion and Resilience

12th June 2020


Shabbat Shalom dear friends. How are you? Have you read any good books lately? Seen any good movies or series on the telly? Zoom meetings and Zoom grandchildren? It’s a funny old world we live in when people who have kept to the isolation/quarantine/lockdown religiously are so angry that they take part in mass, violent, demonstrations. While understanding the frustration at constant harassment I believe in changing the world through the law, I believe in Dr King. Even when there are no pandemics I am not for lawless stampedes.


To me, the declaration “black lives matter” is superfluous…..of course they matter! I believe that every life matters, black, brown, white, Jew, Sikh, Moslem, Christian all of which come in a multitude of colours. That is a given, I have never cared what the outside packaging looks like, only what’s in one heart, but in too many instances it matters that one’s skin is not pale pink. We should use this time of restless frustration to change attitudes, to exhibit tolerance.


What happened last week during the arrest of a criminal was inhuman. The officer involved should have been taken into custody and charged with murder and the other three officers charged with aiding and abetting a murder. It was a ghastly crime which took place before cameras and was shown around the world. The ensuing riots did not help the cause.


The defacing and smashing of statues occur because the vast majority of people think with today’s moral codes. Most movies, plays, statues reflect the times in which in which they were written or the history they tell. “Gone With the Wind” is romanticised history, but it happened. What is the point of removing it from the HBO playlist? What, I wonder, would happen if we, as Jews, banned Shakespeare or Dickens?  Destroying the evidence of the past ensures that such events will be repeated.


Before anyone becomes an officer of the law, and takes an oath equal to the Hippocratic oath, each one’s racial proclivities must be thoroughly investigated. It is a worldwide problem, admittedly prevalent in the USA, but must be addressed at its core in order to return honour to the essential task of defending the law.


The fuss over the PM’s announcement of annexation made me think – on many levels. As I have said before, the timing of the announcement is terrible! The current status quo works, why rock the boat? Why leave us open to remonstration by our allies and joy to our enemies. David Horovitz analyses I began to think about other countries, those who are currently decrying “Israeli Occupation” have annexed land all over the globe!! The UK can still boast the largest number of overseas territories. Its dependent and unincorporated territories include places such as the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar and Bermuda. France still has a sizeable number of overseas territories including Guadeloupe and Réunion, 16 in all. Guam and Puerto Rico are among the best known U.S. overseas territories and it has a grand total of 14. Hypocrisy is the name of the game.


The Norwegian Parliament has taken the decision to withhold education funding to PA based principally on the Impact-se report. Of course the PA blamed Zionist intervention – well it was! In this i24 television news report our outstanding CEO Marcus Sheff explains  In another instance of Impact-se initiating revolutionary change, 93% of the 110,000 Arab school students in east Jerusalem study the Palestinian Authority curriculum which promotes continuous war, drawing on a culture of martyrdom and rejection of negotiations. IMPACT-se partnered with the Municipality of Jerusalem to ensure that the textbooks taught in the recognised East Jerusalem schools meet international standards. This is the first time since Israel unified Jerusalem in 1967, that Arab schoolchildren in the city have been exposed to values of peace, tolerance and good neighborliness.


According to Maimonides the concepts of Kiddush HaShem (honouring God’s name) and Hillul HaShem (dishonouring God’s name) are the most essential principles of Judaism, above and beyond mundane practices. To “be a good Jew” is to be a good and honorable person, to teach by example, to honour the name of the Almighty. As I read Rabbi Jeremy Rosen’s offering this week I thought of the number of times I have cringed in shame as the name of a criminal appears in the news and that name reflects his Jewish heritage. Maimonides was a physician, philosopher and lived at a time when Jews were being forced to abandon their identity for fear of reprisals. In today’s terms he got it. I quote from the explanation – “The first section of Mishneh Torah is called The Foundations of Torah, Yesodei HaTorah. After discussing God and the soul, Maimonides goes on to deal with the rest of the Halachic legal system. And you will never guess what the first of these laws is. Not ritual, keeping the Sabbath, what you eat or how you pray or go to synagogue. No, it is the obligation to sanctify God’s name. To glorify God by behaving in a way that encourages others to behave likewise – ethically, sanctifying God’s name.”


Last weekend was “interesting“. The first part was a delight, Zvi went to Nes Ziona to “babysit” Leor and Shiri’s four girls, Amit, Gili, Ori and little Yuval, I didn’t go with him since they are back at school and I am off for yet another surgery in 2 weeks. He set off mid-morning, forsaking his parliament, to collect Yuval from her kindergarten. Parents and family wait outside during the Covid period and Yuval was duly handed over to Zvi who began to walk down the path to the road. One rather stupid father let go of his (empty) baby buggy which rolled into the path and Zvi went flying. Thank Heaven he was wearing his Perspex visor which has a sponge strip on the forehead because he landed on his face. The visor took most of the impact and Zvi came away with a few grazes, the baby was fine – shocked but fine. Of course he continued with his duties, not telling me or Leor of the fall.


Last Friday night I went to Rachel and family for Shabbat Dinner, a truly wonderful evening. Igal, Rachel’s husband has a beautiful voice and sings the Shabbat songs in the Mizrachi style, while the children join in. Just gorgeous and the food – oh the food! My daughter should get at least 3 Michelin stars!! The next morning I pottered about the house and sat on the veranda, reading quietly before visiting our friends Sam and Frida. Chemotherapy doesn’t stop Frida cooking – but now it has become a combined effort with Sam. We ate a delicious home cooked meal of meat filled pastries and salads for hors d’ouevres, then incredible meat stuffed aubergines for main course. I drool to think of them! We had a lovely time laughing and talking about everything and anything, chemo doesn’t take away one’s need to be told jokes! I then came home to rest and await Zvi’s babysitting stories.


As Zvi walked in the door after Shabbat I knew something wasn’t right, perhaps the large graze and bruise on his chin were a clue! He could finally relax and realise how lucky he had been. Saved by a Corona visor! Of course, he needs to replace the one with battle scars, scratches and dents!


On Sunday Zvi and I went to meet with Gaby Hirsch, Avi Samuels and the legendary Kalman Samuels who founded Shalva together with his wife Malki, as a haven of joy for children with special needs and their families. Please understand, arriving at Shalva is to smile. Not only the entrance and its brightly coloured Gerstein statues or the gigantic butterfly mobile in the lobby; the secret is on the stairway with the motto “You don’t have to see the whole staircase just take the first step”. We sat together to talk of the final details for the “Dr. Dan’s Room” project, the Music Therapy Room in the name of my beautiful son Daniel. I have rarely met such good people in my life. We discovered that Kalman (aka Kerry) Samuels grew up in Vancouver and knew many of our dearest friends! Jewish geography wins through again! “Dr. Dan’s Room” is in good hands and we are on our way, thanks to the incredible generosity of good people. Dear, lovely readers, friends, please go to the “Remembering Daniel” page and give according to your ability. The children of Shalva will be ever grateful.


Tonight, Leor and Shiri and the girls are coming for Shabbat Dinner on the veranda, I just hope it will be warm enough. For Israelis from the Tel Aviv, Rehovot, Nes Ziona area Jerusalem gets cold in the evenings – for Zvi and I, cool means that it is beautiful, balmy! Supper will be as per the request of 2 year old Yuval (salmon) and 11 year old Gili (veggie lasagne) with lots of salads to satisfy the rest of us. I cheated by buying individual “fries in a box” so that we can ensure no cross-contamination – the edamame will also be presented in individual portions. We will end the meal with dessert made by 11 year old Gili and then feast on watermelon and cherries. Israeli water melon tastes different to any other! Almost seedless with a rich flavour, eaten really cold from the fridge with cherries grown in the north of Israel and the Golan. To me, fruit tastes much better when it is not only fresh but that incredible first taste of seasonal fruit, that blessing thanking the Almighty for reaching this time – I gorge my merry way through cherries of every colour, from deep, rich burgundy through crimson red to the pale butter yellow with a pink blush (my favourites) with the taste that only freshly picked fruit has.


When I have finished writing this missive I will take my coffee out onto the veranda, together with this morning’s Jerusalem Post and sit enjoying the gentle morning sun overlooking a still sleepy Jerusalem. Of course, that includes admiring my own work on the “garden”. Despite the recent heatwave, everything is blooming very nicely! As the day progresses Jerusalem wakes, gets busy, becomes a multi-cultural kitchen then slowly sinks back into the gentle calm of approaching Shabbat.


Love Letter to Jerusalem” is a song all about this city written and sung by a delightful Canadian couple. When Roy Salomon and Bobby Ackerman and Steve Linde all sent me this video I knew it had to be special


The Shalva singing group grew out of that organisations Music Therapy! Here they sing “One Day


You don’t have to be religious to know Adon Olam (Lord of the World). It’s everyone’s favourite! There are many different renditions and music variations and here they are all together!


Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I wish you a peaceful and healthy Shabbat.


With much love from Jerusalem