The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Fort Lee

5th October 2012
Dear Friends Shabbat Shalom
We are not sitting on the veranda nor are we preparing Shabbat, not even salivating at the aromas of ethnic Jewish foods wafting from our neighbours……….. we are in Fort Lee New Jersey at the home of our unbelievably kind hosts Drs Rivka and Michael Bertisch Meir. It isn’t Jerusalem but the sheer warmth and “nedivut” generosity and warmth of both Rivka and Michael and their infinite patience with three tiny girls and four adults taking over their home is worthy of the Israel prize!!!!
The Middle East has gone even more berserk since we left with the Syrians lobbing a mortar over Turkey and the Turks responding with an armed attack. Of course the world reacted – after all this isn’t thousands of missiles over Jews this is one idiotic missile launched by Syrians over Turks – yes yes I know that the world ignores the suffering of Israelis and furies over any response we make while accepting Turkeys response but, hey nothing is new in this world. I wonder if Turkey has apologised to Syria for bombing the heck out of them!
The situation in Syria worsens daily. Why isn’t someone doing something rather than talking about it? Thousands of people lose their lives between the two sides and the world talks………. talks……….. talks. The powers that be talk when a huge and infinitely wealthy fanatic Islamist country threatens to wipe out a fellow member of the United Nations and burns the flags of the two greatest democracies in the world – actually the three greatest democracies in the world. There is a point when talk is not sufficient one has to confront the bully. Confrontation on a genuine level can prevent war – bullies do not respond to reason but calling their horrendous bluff may just work. The most common question asked here is “Is Israel going to attack Iran”? Sorry guys but it annoys me………. why should the smallest possible country, surrounded by enemies just waiting for an excuse to join Iran’s attack on her, attack a huge and highly armed country to save the world when the rest of the world can’t be bothered to stand by our side? Henry Kissinger may be brilliant but his comment that no-one else has the right to decide on Iran apart from the United States is more than a little arrogant. The American decision to reject the Iranian 9 part proposition may well be right but surely it should be discussed.
Moslems rioted on the Temple Mount and rushed the Mugrabi Gate requiring a strong reaction from the Israeli Police who held the crowd back. Since the Mugrabi leads directly to the Western Wall where Jews pray one would assume that even the foreign press would understand the need to hold the hordes back although I’m sure they concentrated on the cruel Israeli police! 
The Christians of Nigeria, although the vast majority, have been suffering terrible terror attacks, particularly on churches for some years. This week they chose to respond. Finally and at last the Christians of Nigeria are fighting back against the Islamic Extremists in that nation.
Flying home to South Africa after visiting Toronto for a family function should be a straighforward affair. It should be but it isn’t if you land in an Arab country in transit. 77 year old  Dr Cyril Karabus thought he was just resting in a hotel before his onward flight only to find himself arrested, suspected of murder. Some years ago Dr Karabus treated a young girl for leukemia and she sadly died and that is the case held against him. Doctors of the world unite and express your disgust.
I am usually a very “on the ball “news fiend and it is a little strange for me to be on vacation and not in touch……… except for the Presidential Debate, vacation or not I had to watch it! It fascinated me to see the formality of the debate, the precise timing and the questioner or chairman demanding fair play…….. loved that! I thought both men performed well, it is much harder to be the defendant than the accuser/prosecutor and Mitt Romney was, of course, the prosecutor who found all the holes in the current administration, with extreme civility but very strongly and it was the encumbents duty to defend his policies. Mr Obama pointed out that economic problems are inherited but didn’t reveal that the problem goes back through many Presidencies to Mr Carter!! As you well know I do not comment on who I would support, and certainly want the best man for America but I think round one went to Mr Romney in terms of debate, he was cool and ready with answers but then his position in the debate was easier to defend because he is not the man in the hot seat.
I love Manhattan – not only because my little grandson Joshua is here although that is a great reason – but I love the city. I am very very much a country bumpkin yet the trees and of course Central Park make this a wonderful place to be. It is a city for people watchers and shoppers, the variety of folk is quite incredible and their reactions to the homeless that increasingly occupy their sad positions on the streets tell the story of their characters. As always, the sound of Hebrew permeates the stores, museums and streets as Israelis find each other. Israelis love travelling and absorbing the cultures around them…….. especially the store culture we are great shoppers!!!!
Going to Joshuas school was the absolute highlight for me. Watching his face light up as he realised that Safta came with Daddy obviously helped but the beauty of his classmates was exceptional and warmed my heart. Joshuas class is special with normative and complex needs children sharing a curriculum that includes communication, not of the Steve Jobs variety but of actually communicating and touching and talking. I loved it!!!!
Two days ago I met with our wonderful friend Daniel Schwartz, my favourite Zionist!!! Daniel grew up in a home that understood the importance of teaching children responsibility through example especially responsibility of being a good Jew. Daniel understands the need to act instead of just talking.
On Sunday night I will be going with our friend Sari Singer to speak at her synagogue and take a Q&A about Israel. I hope to explain the joy of Israel as well as the reasons we must defend ourselves.
Tonight we will celebrate Shabbat with our hosts, with Zvi’s son Leor and his beautiful family and with friends and my son Daniel who will pop in to wish us all good Shabbes as Jews all over the world have been doing for centuries. Tradition, tradition in the food, tradition in the blessings, tradition in the songs. Tradition we pass on to our children and to their children and their childrens children. Tradition as three little girls – our grnd-daughters Amit, Gili and Ori – help light the Shabbat Candles, the light leaving a glow on their faces that is so much more than candlelight, joining Saba and Michael in singing the Kiddush and then the blessing over the two challot…….. followed by Rivkas epicurean delights. Tradition.
 I leave you with a special song, one that I have given to you before but it embodies the spirit of Shabbat as no other.
Shabbat Shalom from the great USA with my heart in Jerusalem.