The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem


12th December 2012.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom from wet and windy Jerusalem.

Chanuka. Every Jewish Festival tells a similar story; they tried to kill us, we won now let’s eat! Well Chanuka tells that story as well but in a much more involved and important way, it is the only battle fought to preserve our very identity. The Greeks didn’t want to kill us, they were tired after 6 years of war and thought of a much better way to make us disappear as a Jewish entity than slaughter – they decided to ban all of the rituals which make us Jews. They banned Kosher slaughter; circumcision; Shabbat and so on and so forth. Many of the Jews chose the easy path until the third son of Mattithias of Modi’in, a priest of Samaria called Yehuda took over the battle against the governor of Samaria which led to stunning victories over large Greek armies at Beth-Horon & Emmaus. Gathering his tiny army Judah captured Mt. Zion, purged the temple of Hellenistic idols and reconstructed the sanctuary according to Torah prescriptions and re-consecrated it. Yehuda ha Maccabee from Modi’in proudly returned their identity to the Jewish people. Isn’t it strange that today Samaria and more recently Modi’in have been claimed as “disputed territory” by the EU and UN and that more and more countries try to ban both circumcision and kosher slaughter?Strange or highly relevant? Where are today’s Maccabees to stop the Hellenisation of the Jews?

Every ten years Britain holds a population census. The British Census revealed some worrying facts on the number of British born citizens as opposed to all other categories. The two largest centres of emigration to the United Kingdom are from Poland and India but most have already arrived.

Denmark that brave country has changed so much that last week the Israeli Embassy issued a warning not to wear kippot, a Star of David or show other signs of being Jewish in public and not to speak Hebrew in order to ensure personal safety! This time the Danish Government has done nothing to protect the Jews.  This is the country that came out and wore the yellow Star of David in defiance of the Nazis. We all knew about Sweden but Denmark?

Jordan has issued an edict disallowing any public signs of Jewish prayer. Jordan is not the only one; it is true of most of the Gulf States. Can you imagine if we said no Islamic prayer in Israel? the USA? Britain? France? Canada? Australia? We would be castigated as racists and probably several important institutions would be blown sky high!

Denmark, Finland, Ireland and Portugal tried to block a motion by the European Union to condemn Khaled Mashaal’s speech calling for the annihilation of Israel, while simultaneously condemning building in E1! Where is the moral equivalence of a few JEWISH houses which are still in the planning stage or stated determination to commit genocide?

David Horovitz, former editor of the Jerusalem Post and founder of the Times of Israel went to China. His article about that visit is a “must read”. As he says “The world’s second-largest economic power knows very little about Israel, although those who wish us ill have been telling it plenty. We should and can change that, and the sooner the better”

Talking of former editors, Conrad Black wrote a truly enlightening article about the situation here. Conrad Black erudite, intelligent – his words ring true and his message clear.

Ethnic cleansing in the Middle East? I claim no responsibility for the website but I wanted you to see the map. The truth of Ethnic cleansing in the ME

After 12 years of spending vast quantities of public money (ours) delving, investigating, chasing and questioning, to say nothing of many trees-worth of files, the hounding of Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman is finally coming to an end. “Barely a day went by over the last 6 years that I was not called for questioning” he said. If someone does something wrong charge them – if it takes 12 years to find and it is spread all over the papers it becomes personal and political not legal and cannot be worth the heartache of the country to pursue.

This week saw the excellent Jewish Film Festival at the Cinemateque in Jerusalem. My favourite of all the incredible films shown was “It is no Dream”the story of Theodore Herzl. I thought I was pretty knowledgeable of his life, having spent a great deal of time at the Herzl Museum but discovered so much more. Should this documentary come to your town or community you should see it If it doesn’t come – bring it, its relevance to today is terrifying!!

Rabbi David Greenberg is holding an Israeli wine tasting for Chanuka at Temple Shaareh Tefilla and it reminded me of what incredible Israeli wines are available. Gone are the days of Carmel and Manishewitz sweet Kiddush wines as the only choice; now we produce incredible and highly sophisticated wines of high quality.

My favourite quote of the week came from President Peres. When Richard Quest, the quirky quest of CNN, asked President Shimon Peres if he had really considered running for political office in the upcoming elections the President replied with instant wit “Not really, I am too young for it”!!

To those of delicate constitutions, please ignore the following offering by the inimitable Pat Condell. For those who are prepared to …….. enjoy!

I love going to the supermarket on a Friday. I love the fact that total strangers wish you Shabbat Shalom; the women at the check out bless you and the security guards in the complex wave a Shabbat greeting too. Then at the petrol station everyone is saying Shabbat Shalom, Jews and Arabs greet each other in the time worn traditional blessing. After the supermarket I went to get my pre-Shabbat kisses from the grandchildren, surely the best part of the day and then, driving back home, I saw a sight of such beauty it stopped my heart for a second.

Reaching the Tomb of the Prophet Samuel one has a phenomenal view of Jerusalem spread before one as a carpet of white stone, which in itself is a glorious sight but today I had a special treat. As I said it has been raining and the sun suddenly peeked out and washed the city with light creating a rainbow over Jerusalem. It was stunning. The double meaning of rainbow including all varieties of Jerusalemites now includes the whole city. I loved it!

So the Challot are bought; the white cloth on the table and the last minute touches to the food are in place. Time to go onto the veranda to watch the magic of Jerusalem slowing down in these last few hours before Shabbat. Magical because at least there is one place in the world where they can’t tell us not to wear a kippa or speak Hebrew or “look Jewish” or express our Judaism in any way. That is why we must support and love our country, the only one where our freedom is ensured, and visit as often as possible… least until the next Judah Maccabee comes along.

Shabbat Shalom, dear friends, with love from Jerusalem, beautiful Jerusalem.