The view from my veranda

Shabbat shalom from Jerusalem – 19th Maccabiah in Jerusalem

19th July 2013
Shabbat Shalom everyone!!!
I decided to give you a very little news and a great deal of Maccabiah!!!!!
Former Minister Danny Ayalon explains the arrest of a 5 year old last week in Hebron that hit the headlines all over the world. The facts. The soldiers did not separate the parents and child – and the child threw rocks – a crime which has proven to kill
Before we all burn in hell A Tisha B’Av call for internal Jewish harmony and a return to the moral foundations of our faith
Despite constant attempts by the British European Parliament representative to force the EU to declare Hezb-Allah a terrorist movement the EU has perpetrated the latest travesty of justice over the “Green Line, Melanie Phillips discusses the baseless hatred of the European Union toward Israel
Last weekend we were thrilled to spend our Shabbat with Maida and Allen Gerskup from Toronto. They were very excited to discover that we were eating outside on our veranda and discovered that I was not lying about one aspect of the beauty of Jerusalem, the changes in light as if the heavens heralded the bride of Shabbat and the joy of celebrating Shabbat under the Jerusalem skies. We were joined by a wonderful young couple Maayan and Barak. Zvi and Maayan study together at the University……….. incidentally Zvi sat an examination in comparative religions today and got 90%!!!!
On Tuesday I managed to find time to take my grandchildren to Ain Yael a marvellous Roman village where they teach the children history, archaelogy, anthropology and how to weave, make mosaics, bows and arrows and pan pipes. It gave their Mummy a bit of a rest because she was fasting for Tisha b’Av. It was so much fun and they really learned so much in a painless fashion!
On Wednesday we took a small group of American Maccabiah VIP’s to Mahane Yehuda. Some decided to go it alone but they missed out on all the good stuff!!! We started with a scrummy felafel in a lafa – half portions, and stood in the street making appropriate happy noises. From there we went to see David Dagim, the amazing fish stall, on to Bashers cheeses, every type of cheese imaginable, then to the fragrant spices piled high in a multitude of clours, Tsidkiyahus pickles, the Judaica shop and Marzipan for rogelech! Of course we ended with a quick visit to Mizrachis coffee shop. It was fun – steaming hot but fun!!!
On to the 19th Maccabiah!!!
Phyllis Magerman was a very involved and delightful lady who discovered Maccabi USA and fell in love with the organisation. She, above all, realised that it was so much more than a sports club; it brought young, uninvolved Jewish people who barely know why they were Jews, into the fold and gave them a sense of identity and of Israel. Sadly Phyllis passed away two years ago but her incredible positivity and energy lives on through the Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremony which took place , watched by her loving husband, son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren.
The ceremony was held in Neve Illan outside Jerusalem, led by Rabbi Daniel Greyber of Durham North Carolina, who stood before a wonderful group of sportsmen young and old explaining the reason for them being here in Israel and the importance of this ceremony. The ceremony was immediately after Tisha b’Av and was diametrically opposed to the sin of “sinat chinam” baseless hatred, which caused the downfall of the Temples and almost of Judaism, this outpouring of love was heartwarming and so very appropriate.
Among the bar mitzva celebrants was an incredible young sportsman, a triple amputee – carried up to bimah on the shoulders of a team-mate, his broad grin made the whole evening worthwhile. For me it was a strange amalgam of joy and distress. Joy at the wonderful ceremony and what it gave to all the participants and distress that nearly 150 had never had a bar mitzvah. Maccabi is so much more than a sports organisation – it gave these young people a sense of identity, a sense of who they are and that they are part of something much bigger than themselves. The Rabbi was amazing, his enthusiam contagious, drawing the entire “congregation USA” into the mood by telling us all to use the one Hebrew word everyone recognised -Hallelujah – to raise our arms and call out Hallelujah in encouragement at each reading. The leaders of Maccabi USA – especially our dear friends Ron Carner and Bob Spivak, have taken this project to their hearts as they bring more and more young Americans into the Maccabi USA family.
Yesterday I met with Vivan and Paul Zimmet from Australia whose son Hendrik is a triathlon contestant. We went to the Botanical Gardens for a coffee and a chat. Sitting beside the lake, incredible display of water lilies a gentle breeze ensured that all the diners were smiling as we caught up on the last couple of years since we last met……. and I was happy to give them the news that we had tickets for them for the opening ceremony!!!!
The 19th Maccabiah Opening ceremony began with 35,000 people singing Hatikva and continued with special video messages from both President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron. The celebrations, singing and dancing were interspersed with short speeches from Prime Minister Netanyahu, Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, Maccabi World President Guiora Esrubilsky and President Shimon Peres.
The teams were led in by enormous helium balloons in the colours of their country. Apart from the expected and huge delegations of the USA, Australia, UK, South Africa, Canada there were the first timers……… Cuba, Bosnia, Azerbaijan, Khazakhstan, Guinea-Bassau, Mauritius proudly marching in the parade, welcome new members of the Maccabiah family.
The Maccabiah flame was carried into the stadium by Olympic medallist, judoka Arik Zeevi who proudly handed it over to Noam Gershoni, an Apache helicopter pilot who nearly lost his life in an accident and today is a wheelchair tennis player (Noam stood tall and insisted upon walking under his own steam – with a helping hand from Arik) and finally the flame was handed to Aly Raisman, the Olympic medallist who lit the flame in a spectacular manner.
Michel Grun was presented with a lifetime achievement award by the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and I will tell you about this and of the other presentations next week.
I do not have to cook this Shabbat. NO VISITORS!!!!!
Tonight we join the Maccabiah VIP’s again at Bet Shmuel for a Kabbalat Shabbat and Shabbat Dinner. First Zvi will walk to the Kotel (Western Wall) with the group and then bring them back to Bet Shmuel, to the roof terrace fo rsupper – surely the most incredible place to celebrate this most beautiful of Jewish rituals. We will overlook the Old City Walls, looking toward the most ancient parts of David’s City. They will walk the streets where King David wrote his psalms and Jews the world over have prayed to return to this tiny piece of real estate since our last and most devastating dispersion.
We were slaves in Babylon, Egypt, Rome – indeed almost every occupying power took us as slaves but we are still here! We came home! They couldn’t take away our spirit or our determination to fulfill our deepest prayers “Next Year in Jerusalem”. Well we are THIS year in Jerusalem and intend staying here. Having seen nearly 8,000 beautiful athletes all of whom came her because they wanted to. No longer the Uriah Heaps of the world, we do not bend down to anyone, we are strong, we are beautiful and we are independent……………….….. all because we have come home. Am Yisroel Chai – why? Because we believe – Anachnu Ma’aminim
After the joyous singing of belief in Hashem I thought you could use something a little softer so began my weekly search for a beautiful Shabbat song. I found this exquisite rendition of Sh’ma Yisroel by Sarit Hadad – not the traditional one, but a personal prayer.
I wish you love – both from and to those who are important to you – and the strength to stand up for what you know is right. Whatever happens we must stand strong because no-one is going to send us off into yet another diaspora.
As the Song says – Ayn li etetz aheret – I have no other country – the words are so incredible that I give you their translation…….
Shabbat Shalom dear friends, Shabbat Shalom