The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom Chag Pesach Sameach


12th April, 2012

Moadim le Simcha, Shabbat shalom and Chag Sameach

Imagine the scene, a famous German writer and poet comes to Israel in the late 60’s and the cultural officer of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is asked by the Ministry to arrange events for him. “He denounces the Shoah, he wants to come and talk to young Israelis to support Israel” was basically what they told him. The Cultural Officer of the Hebrew University was Zvi Raviv and the German writer was Gunther Grass. Only 4 years ago Grass finally admitted he was in the Waffen SS during the Holocaust and every word he told the Israelis was a lie. This is the man who received every prize for literature and he is the “trusted” source of criticism, writing a poem calling Israel the source of world unrest. Yeah right.

On a day when groups and individuals are coming to Israel by plane in the “Flytilla” in support of the “Palestinian People” against the cruel and tyrannical Israeli Government I wonder why the general public is so ready to accept the invented truth over the real truth despite the obvious. Pilar Rahola, the lauded Spanish journalist and politician feels the same. “The fact is that in Israel nobody is being massacred for demonstrating, there is no dictator killing the civilian population and the bellicose conflict of decades continues to be nourished for all eternity by Israel’s neighbors in a war that never ends. I include the Iranian menace of massive destruction and although missiles may daily land in Israel amidst its population and fanatical groups of an Islamist army in the South and North continue to rearm, when Israel fires a single bullet, our streets erupt in indignation. Israel has never had the right of self-defense and for many, neither the right to exist. But when the bullets fall are those of old time friends of the Socialist International, those that until a short time ago were considered as the liberators of peoples, – What a powerful silence! “

Mitt Romney is the Republican Candidate for the Presidential race. I tell you time and again that I know little of the system int eh States – so very different to ours – but he seems a very able and honest contender for the title. Let’s see what the next year brings with a confrontation seemingly inevitable with Iran.

The Egyptian Presidential race is on and there are two feasible candidates who will prevent that country falling into the utter chaos of its neighbours and ten candidates in total.

Talking of Egypt………………
I have come to the conclusion that Pesach in Israel proves that we still can’t keep still – we wander every day of the chag mostly to the north but many still walk around the desert! Most people live in apartments and do not have gardens for children to play in they take them out – anywhere!!!

The roads are packed bumper to bumper, and museums, exhibitions and activities are jam packed to say nothing of the parks – every conceivable space has families eating and billowing smoke from the “mangal” or barbeque! I took my daughter and grandchildren to Mini Israel alongside another 30,000 people!! It was hard to see the miniature buildings, prophets tomb, Tel Aviv tower or River Jordan baptismal site for the crush of humanity! The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, Nayot Kdumim, Haifa has its Flower Show, Holon has a festival at the Childrens Museum, the caves of stalactites and stalagmites at Beit Guvrin and an archaeological dig.

Traffic was enhanced in Tel Aviv when it was discovered that Bono the lead singer of U2 and genuine human rights fighter was in Tel Aviv – iphones appeared from every pocket for photo ops as he ate in Max Brenner on Rothschild Blvd and visited the youngsters at all the Tel Aviv bars and clubs.

If only Emma Thompson thought as deeply about what genuinely happens in this part of the world as Bono does. Here is a wonderful open letter in response to Emma Thompson’s inane and ignorant remarks concerning the visit of Habima to the Globe theatre festival.

Last night Zvi and I went to a phenomenal show with raconteur Jackie Levi and legendary Israeli singer Hanan Yovel in Tsidkiyahus Cave situated between Flowers Gate and Damascus Gate. We drove to Mount Herzl where we, together with an awful lot of others, waited moments for the light railway to begin its journey down through Beit Hakerem, Kiriat Moshe, over the Calatrava Bridge to the Central Bus Station, on past Mahane Yehuda Market, down Jaffa Street and finally to our destination at the Damascus Gate. Each of Jerusalems Gates has a name appropriate to its purpose. The Damascus Gate is thus named because the caravans to Damascus left from there. We walked for a few moments and arrived at the tiny entrance to Tsidkiyahus (Zedekiah) Cave.

Walking in the narrow entrance one is shocked at the sheer enormity of the central cave and the multitude of natural caves leading off it was staggering. Huge and ancient, its towering domed ceiling elicited thoughts, ones imagination running wild imagining who walked here in Biblical times. The central cavern was set incongruously, with stage and seating and cushions thrown on dhurries on the sandy ground. The varied audience began to arrive, welcomed by the inimitable Michli who runs the ancient sites of the Old City. Suddenly Hanan Yovel began to sing, almost prayers, and Jackie Levi began to tell tales of Jerusalem, his childhood and made us roll about in laughter as Hanan Yovels songs brought a tear to our eyes. Jackie Levi noticed that before the show began a number of men stood facing what they thought was east to pray the afternoon prayers. “Why did they face east”? he asked “here in the only place in the world where you just face upwards because we are directly below the Holy Temple” As Hana Yovel was singing Shir HaMaalot – I looked around and above me at the miracle of a cave so ancient, so magical, so huge and the privilege of sitting there listening to a beautiful song sung by a true Israeli singer.

This year Pesach is “extended” because of Shabbat. When Shabbat goes out the Maimuna begins. Everything eaten at this Moroccan festival is sweet. Sweet cakes, sugary fruits, sugary vegetables, sugared almonds sugared, led first and foremost by the mufletta – a crepe drowned in sugar syrup and honey! Everything with wonderful loud eastern music. Maimuna celebrates life!

I must run. Our grand-daughter Amit is asleep on our bed, the last cake is in the oven and the myriad of salads ready for tomorrows visitors. Matza Brei a la Zvi will be a major part of the menu but you already know I cannot let anyone out of the house without at least 6 salads and 4 cakes!!!

As a final treat here is a wonderful video entitles “4 minutes in Jerusalem” produced by The Jerusalem Student Philharmonic and Bezalel Academy of Design. I loved it!

Chag Sameach, Shabbat shalom and much love from Jerusalem, heart and soul of our world.