The view from my veranda

Shabbat, Lammas and Eid-el-Adha

31st July, 2020


Shabbat Shalom, Happy Lammas and Holy Eid-el Adha!


You know what Shabbat is although this is a special Shabbat after the spiritual cleansing of the 9th of Av, Lammas is the Christian Festival of Bread (tomorrow) when many Christians eat popcorn and bake bread, and Eid-el Adha the joyous festival of sacrifice which marks the end of the Hajj. I wish you spiritual honesty and religious freedom.


It’s only when we are united that our voices become too loud to ignore


I want to begin with a good news bad news situation! Firstly, well done Canada! The Canadian Jewish community, together with wonderful non-Jewish supporters, successfully took on the Canadian education system and had anti-Israel video material removed from the Canadian school curriculum. It was swift action and a united community who fought back with great success.


The bad news is that a similar battle is being fought in California, with the support of some 150 Jewish organisations, but the process of gathering the support is lengthy and less effective as the element of surprise is lost. I’m sorry if I step on any toes but the biggest difference is the solidarity of the Canadian community. There are no anti-Israel voices to be heard among them – no politics involved. The community just stepped up and did what it had to.


Iris Borman, a reader, sent me an article from Algemeiner about who is taking over from Bari Weiss. His name is Max Strasser, he’s Jewish so they can’t be accused of anti-Semitism, but a deeply anti-Israel apologist. There have always been, and sadly always will be, Jewish revisionists among the so-called intelligentsia. I have never worked out why they deny Israel, whether it is complacency or the need to “fit in” to their chosen social group. I find them sad.


Daniel Pearl was a journalist and intellectual yet his last words before he was beheaded were: My mother is Jewish. My father is Jewish. I am a Jew.”

In Hebrew there are two words that sound very similar, some would say that the meaning is similar but they are worlds apart. One is Sovlanut – tolerance, the other is Salchanut – forgiveness. One means to accept the other under all circumstances, the other is to forgive but not forget. I feel that too many have forgotten.


Here in Israel many people are angry. Angry at the mismanagement of the Corona situation, angry at being home too long, angry that they quite probably won’t have jobs to go back to and the government is not reviving the economy, in other words the same fear that most of the Western countries face. The difference is that it has become very personal, not surprising because our current Prime Minister made it all about himself, put himself at the helm, and while the majority of demonstrators are non-violent, those who have taken it upon themselves to support Bibi, especially a group of Betar supporters called “La Familia” have waged in ready for a fight. Here in Israel we aren’t use to it! Our enemies are outside Israel not within. Their actions strike fear in the hearts of the ordinary Joe who wants to exercise his right to demonstrate, people across the social and religious spectrum, but they are afraid. Such a shame.


On Monday we had the most talked-about non-event in Israeli military history. Well maybe it is an exaggeration to say nothing happened, but it really was a strange situation that had all the military experts racing up to the northern border after the fact! In short, Hezb-Allah decided to avenge the killing of one of their most militant leaders by “I don’t know who” and simultaneously launched a missile at Israel while a group of their fighters infiltrated through the Har Dov area into Israel. However, they were unaware of Israeli women-power. A 19 year old “titspatanit” or visual scout, noticed the infiltration, alerted our troops and they were sent back to Lebanon with their tails between their legs. Israel decided not to elevate the tension and let the infiltrators go without injury. As I said, a non-event thanks to a 19 year old IDF soldier. We do not know if Hezb-Allah intends breaking their silence of many years, but the feeling is that although they are aching for revenge they recognise that Lebanon has enough problems right now. It isn’t easy being a neighbour of Syria.


Rabbi Jeremy Rosen reminisced this week over his many years of visiting or living in Jerusalem and the “other side” of the religious communities here. I loved it and found is so pertinent to yesterday – the 9th of Av – which reminded us that lack of sovlanut of understanding the other, brought about tragedies of enormous proportion.


Israelis have rediscovered this incredible country. Israel is tiny, I mean really tiny, but has a varied climate and phenomenal flora and fauna, nature reserves, brooks and rills, to say nothing of the Biblical and historical sites. Since the travel ban B&B’s in the north and south are filled and hotels all over the country are at 90% capacity and more. The hospitality industry has overcome the restrictions of Covid and provide a wonderful alternative to “chutz l’aaretz” that oh so Israeli wanderlust.


You too can still go on a tour of the north or south and of course Jerusalem. Just go on line and see! There are proper individual guided tours or freebies – and the ones of Jerusalem are amazing. On the other hand you can take a virtual tour of Herod’s rebuilding of the Temple


Did you see “Unorthodox“? Strangely enough we went straight from Shtissel into Unorthodox on Netflix, one advantage of the Covid isolation! I found it fascinating because it showed the many sides of religious life within a particularly closed Jewish sect and the “escape” of one young woman from those restrictions. It is in no way anti-Haredi, anti-religion, it just shows her journey. The star, Shira Hass, is one of the nominees for an Emmy, and starring in the mini-series taught her a great deal about her Judaism.


I think we all moan far too much about just about everything!!! I belong to a Facebook group called “Brits Living in Israel” which isn’t strictly true because we are all Israelis now but still. Today I found a fabulous story from a lady I don’t even know, and I just had to tell you!!! An only in Israel story….”Last Sunday I went to Misrad Hapanim (the Interior Ministry) to renew my Israeli passport.  I was informed the passport would be delivered by registered mail in 14 days.  On Wednesday I received an SMS to say my passport was with the Israel Postal system.  Early afternoon yesterday I got a WhatsApp message from the postman with a photo of the envelope containing my passport and a printed message stating that due to Covid-19 he cannot deliver the passport in person so I can message him back and state if I want to pick up at the post office or write a note and sign it giving permission for him to put the envelope in my letterbox.  I wrote the note and took a photo and sent to the postman by WhatsApp.  At 5pm I received a photo from the postman showing my letterbox and stating the envelope had been delivered. What a great service”


Apart from several Zoom meetings this week has been very quiet. Our most exciting moment came when Zvi and I collected Yonatan from his afternoon school, called a “Tsaharon” and sat at home with him to play TAKI! I haven’t seen him, except on Facetime or WhatsApp, for over a month which is more than any Safta can bear! It really was wonderful and his 6 year old face lit up since we had time alone with him!


Each evening Zvi and I go for a walk, appreciating the relatively cool evenings after the searing 37-40 degree heat of the day. We tend to stay in our neighbourhood, which is fine. We cross the road and walk through the park opposite, greeting neighbours as we all pass each other. We walk to the end of the road and round the roundabout before heading home. The greeting of neighbours made me think. It is said that one sees the soul through one’s eyes, whereas a smile can lie – with our masks we see only the eyes, do you feel that we see into people’s souls in a way that we would never normally do?


Being home so much I have really spent time and effort on our veranda. The view is mine without needing to do a thing but the flowers need tending. It’s so hot that the geraniums need dead-heading almost every day, but the real joy is that the kumquat tree is blooming and tiny fruits are forming; even more exciting is that my little lemon tree, given to me by precious friends, has come back to life and even has flowers promising some super juicy, sweet and sour little lemons later in the year. The avocado sapling, which I grew from the stone of a particularly delicious avocado, is thriving and my cherry tomatoes are turning a glorious bright red – also grown from squeezing the seeds onto the earth. Even the sweet capsicum plants are flowering! This morning as I sat out on the verandah, alternately reading the paper and watching the activities of Jerusalemites, I couldn’t help but think to myself how lucky I am.


I want to dedicate the first song to Tomer. Tomer Silver whose parents became our family when they arrived on Aliya from Moscow. Tomer’s Brit Milah was held in our living room, his first clear enunciation of “Ma Nishtana” at our Passover Table, his wonderful discussions debates and downright arguments made us love him even more. He and his sister Shelly have made us so proud. So Tomtom, as you go out into the world after completing your IDF service, this is for you, Mum Ira, Dad Valeri and sister Shelly. Love you arms and legs


HaGashash Hachiver was a brilliant group of satirical actors and singers. This song from 1981 is still apt. “Ovdim Aleinu” about how governments promise everything but never fulfil their promises


When Naomi Shemer heard the Beatles  song Let It Be, it touched her heart. She decided to write “Lu Yehi” which means Let it Be in Hebrew.


So with that I can only pray that it will be – if we will just let it be.


Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Be well, as tough as it is right now it will get better and we will come out of it with a greater understanding of just what a fabulous world we live in and how sweet it is to breathe fresh air without a mask.


With love from Jerusalem