The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Florida

7th February 2012
I know it isn’t Shabbat yet or even close, but since we are going to be in New York with my glorious grandson Joshua this weekend I decided to write to you now. Priorities are priorities after all, but I couldn’t let the events of this week go by without comment.

Watching the Republican Primaries is fascinating. The candidates stand like soldiers at a Court Martial and respond to questions from the jury – I mean audience. The moderator, usually a journalist, keeps them to their time limit. Sadly too many questions were met with personal insults about the others rather than presenting policies for important issues. Santorum is too young and green but wants to make his name- a rather disturbing aspect of the man is that he is a member of Opus Dei. I knew nothing of Opus Dei apart from Dan Brown, but close Catholic friends are very worried. Ron Paul – ah where do I start? His views are so off the wall that I will not bother although he speaks to the people as if he is serious. I know who I want for the Republican Candidate and that is the one who not only is good for America but is attractive enough to win.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas knows full well that Hamas slaughtered Fatah in Gaza and that he cannot achieve international recognition as long as he is aligned with Hamas but he has chosen to dine with the devil in order to gain power. Prime Minister Netanyahu made this statement on the situation

Few are willing to acknowledge that the Arabs of the West Bank, who predominantly came from neighbouring coutries in the Middle East over the past 60 years and have always had relations with Israel, are very different to those of Gaza – they are two diverse societies and most certainly not one nation.

President Assad of Syria is systematically killing off his citizens and the world barely says a word. 350 people died at his hands on Saturday and yet Russia and China vetoed a motion condemning him in the UN!!! They support every motion against Israel yet when real killers get going they stand by and watch. TIME TO DISBAND THE UN. When the members of the League of Nations realised they were incapable in preventing WW2 they decided to disband and regroup in a different and more effective format – surely now is the time to do just that with the United Nations – conceivably the most morally bankrupt organisation in the world.

Niall Ferguson on Israel and Iran The biggest threat to the Middle East is not the risk of a brief Israeli war against Iran. it is the risk that Western wishful nonthinking allows the mullahs of Tehran to get their hands on nuclear weapons. This war is against leaders who deny the last Holocaust and prepare for the next.
Richard Cohen in the Washington Post “Americas Red Lines in the Sand” There are three red lines when it comes to Iran’s nuclear pro The first is the moment when Iran tunnels so deeply underground that Israeli bombs will be incapable of doing real damage. The second is when the tunneling goes even deeper, and the United States’ “bunker buster” bombs will be insufficient. And the third — well, that has already passed. It is the conviction that the current Iranian regime will never let Israel live in peace.
Essential listening – British Parliamentarian Douglas Murray speaking at the Cambridge Union on teh dbate “This House would rather have a nuclear Iran than War”

By the way one of the Iranian missiles has a range of some 8,000 miles when Israel is only about 1,000 – which means the Iranians are not interested in Israel, they are interested in YOU!!!
We are in Coral Gables in Florida where Zvi and I experienced a Super Bowl Party. We were told that the adverts are the best part! It’s true!!! Of course Madonna made a terrific show but the ads – Wow! Aish ha Torah decided to make a Super Bowl style advertisement but better

On Friday we met with Nora and Marcelo Agudo, dear friends we met through David Efron. We had such fun as they drove us around Miami, old and new, showing us where everything started when the Myaamia Indians, who spoke Algonquin, settled beside the river ultimately giving the city its name. We saw where the Jews settled, the Cubans and all the immigrants began their lives. Fascinating!

On Friday night Zvi went to a local Young Israel synagogue before coming home to Friday night supper with the Lindenfelds. Helene and Martin invited the Silverwasser Family with David Efron and Kathy Fernandez Rundle to make it complete! The conversation covered many subjects, as a Friday night supper does, but then we concentrated on the question of young people and Facebook, misbehaviour and sexual predators – Kathy is the State Attorney for Miami Dade and I admit that I was surprised at some of the consequences when one is arrested but not charged. We did talk of Shabbat but these issues were important when the ages of the children involved in the conversation were relevant. For us, as Israelis, it was an eye-opener to the big wide world where children are at risk.

Then came Sunday. David Efron has his 60th birthday coming up in November and Zvi is determined to make it a brilliant affair! David donated the Efron Dance Center to the Hora Yerushalyim Dance Troupe and we want them to come and dance for David and also give several performances in synagogues and halls around Florida. To this purpose my energiser bunny husband is working hard, travelling back and forth and speaking to communal leaders. One of our stops was at the Bnai Torah Temple in Boca Raton. We met with Rabbi Dr David Steinhardt amid wild activity as the bar mitzva class was holding a “wrapathon” learning to put on their tefillin (phylacteries) It was such a joy! We then sat and spoke with the Rabbi in his office – another pleasure.

From the Temple we visited Cecilia Kleiman whose nephew is a very new Oleh to Israel. Zvi spoke to him and gave him great advice and hopefully we will be able to spend time together in Jerusalem. As we struggled to find our way to Cecilias we asked an old man directions. In a strong accent he said “If you give me a ride I will tell you”. It turned out that he was from Kishniev in Romania, went to Haifa where he worked in a tank factory then emigrated to the USA where he was reunited with his son. He worked as a taxi driver in South Beach for many years. The conversation and his life story were conducted in Yiddish. Amazing Jewish geography. We then raced to hug Maida and Allen Gerskup – Snowbirds from Toronto and Maccabiah Family.

Our Florida sojourn is shorter this year and we head off to New York on Thursday. New York and Joshua!! Gosh I cannot wait to hug him. It is a symptom of the modern family, but being able to actually hug, smell, feel and kiss these wonderful babies is so different to Skype!! We will spend 6 days making memories until their next visit to Jerusalem. Strangely this week I have been talking to my Jerusalem grandchildren by Skype while on this side of the Atlantic!! While I was gone Yosef fell out of the trampoline and Talia learned to ride a bike without stabiliser wheels, Amit bent to smell her first Calanit (anemone) and the others just carry on with life til we get back!!

Today is Tu b’Shvat also known as the New Year for the Trees. If only the world would adopt this festival we would never have soil erosion or climate change again!!! Keren Kayemet (JNF) has planted no fewer than 240,000,000 trees! Israel is the only country in the world with an increase in tree population over the last century! Get planting everyone, here, there or in Israel……….. trees are our oxygen and our earth.
So, that is that. Today we drove north again to Palm Beach to have breakfast with John and Jamie then to meet Ron and Talia Carner and hear Talia speak about her novel From there we met with a delightful gentleman called Sig, ate supper and so back to Coral Gables.
Yaacov Shwekey is an Israeli singer, my little Jerusalem g adore him, he sings Yerushalayim, a traditional song, sung under the chuppah (marriage canopy) to remind us of our dream, our prayer and our longing to return to Jerusalem, yearning for thousands of years since King David walked the stones and wrote his beautiful Psalms. If I forget you, Jerusalem, let my right arm be forgotten- let my tongue cleave to my palate, if I don’t remember you, if I don’t elevate Jerusalem above my foremost joy.
From the Office of Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen – a truly magnificent representative of the United States. Ileana knew and was proud of her Mothers Jewish heritage, indeed at the memorial ceremony after her mothers death just one year ago, which I was proud to attend, the family honoured her Jewi roots. Now, in a visit to Turkey the Congresswoman met her mothers family
With love, dreaming of wonderfully rainy Jerusalem.
Yesterday we heard the sad news that our hostess Helene’s mother passed away. We met and grew to love Helenes parents over the years and the last time we were together was at the twins bar-mitzva just a year ago. Our hearts go out to the Sheinfeld Family – Norman, Helene, Joel, Richard and their families. May her soul rest in peace and the family know no more sorrow.