The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem. Israeli Independence Day 66 and mourning, Kerry

2nd May, 2014
Shabbat Shalom dear friends.
This week is filled with waves of emotion taking us from Yom ha Shoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, through Remembrance Day to the joy of Yom Haatzma’ut – Independence Day.
On Yom ha Shoah we ate breakfast in the German Colony with John and Adrienne Kraus and their daughter, chatting and gossiping happily, then at 2 minutes to 10 I knew I had to step outside; we all went into the street as the eerie wail of the siren echoed our deep sadness for those lost in the Holocaust, that ultimate expression of hate, too much to absorb, to realise the deep and abiding hatred that became the Holocaust and to recognise that the world is still capable of the type of hate and demonisation that caused that dire evil.
I want you to feel what we feel in Israel on Holocaust Remembrance Day and see cars stop in the middle of the road and Israelis step out and bow their heads in sorrow and respect.
I don’t want to leave the Shoah yet. My dear dear friend Andrea Koven sent me this video. Zvi and I sat in rapt attention as the doctor spoke of his slow understanding that his father was a Nazi officer, a Nazi and all its implications. His dismay as he understood, while watching the Israel flag enter the Munich Olympic stadium, that he remained a Nazi filled with hate, and the realisation that it was just this hatred that led to the Munich Massacre.The headline “Germans kill Jews again”after the botched rescue, caused him to search his past. The words that sank into my soul WORDS OF HATRED FALL ON FERTILE GROUND. THOSE SEEDS GROW INTO ACTS OF HATRED. He calls the Holocaust the eclipse of hatred. Please, watch.
Talking of words of hatred. Israel is shaken by the actions of a tiny, very tiny minority of young men who make up the hateful group called Tag Machir. Tag Machir – or Price Tag, has taken upon itself to avenge, in their words, the acts of terror by going into Israeli Arab villages and towns, including Christian Arabs, and slashing tyres, defacing cars, Churches and Mosques with hateful graffiti and behaving in a manner most unbecoming of Jews. It is the antithesis of Jewish behaviour. I despise any such actions of hatred by a generation that does not understand that the Shoah began in exactly the same manner.
Our closest friend Martin Lindenfeld plucked up the courage and went on March of the Living with his beautiful daughter Ariella and her group. Martin became a Madrich and photographer for the group. Tonight he is in Jerusalem, indeed he just called me excitedly from Mahane Yehuda, and is coming to our home for Shabbat Dinner to relate his emotional journey. I am filled with admiration for his courage and happy that his journey can end with the hope and joy of the view from our veranda.  Jerusalem, the ultimate revenge for those who wanted us gone from the world.
The so-called peace talks have gone off on highly divergent paths. Fatah has come to Sulchah (peace) with Hamas despite the fact that Hamas has basically performed ethnic cleansing of Fatah in Gaza. The representative of the USA expressed his true feelings by insinuating a future apartheid state in Israel while ignoring the undoubted fact that the PA kills anyone who does not agree with Islam – and has virtually wiped out its Christians and bans Jews from its assumed land. This surely proves Mr Kerry is not an unbiased arbiter in the PA/Israel negotiations.
We received an invitation to a Remembrance Day ceremony from an amazing woman. Chantal and Marc Belzberg saw what horrors families suffered during the Intifada – those who lived, the families of those who died and those who hung between the two. They formed One Family, a truly magnificent organisation which loves those harmed by hatred.  On May 4th – the eve of Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism. OneFamily will organize a private Yom HaZikaron Ceremony with families, young adults, and children bereaved of a sibling, a parent, or a child. They will produce a short video of this ceremony – you can view the video from last year here,
Yom haZikaron and the solemnity of the ceremony and the 24 hours of mourning seem to give way, almost seamlessly, with the changing of the guard and the national flag from one “chayal”to another. The solemn music gives way to joyous dancing and musical extravaganza as once again we prove our schitzophrenia – going from grief to ecstasy in one fell swoop.
Each year 12 beacons are lit at the ceremony on Mount Herzl. 12 exceptional people, educators, givers to society, heroes all.This year, for the first time, all the beacon-lighters will be women. The committee evidently had a hard time narrowing down the list of candidates because the 12 beacons will be lit by 14 women! The women are
Of these amazing women one is the unsung heroine of the boys and girls in the IDF. She is the epitome of how a journalist can change the world for the better. Carmella Menashe, the gravelly military reporter on Israeli Radio fights for the rights of Israeli soldiers, takes care of those who need it and is a Mother to all of them.
So, Israel will be 66 years old! Just imagine, no-one thought we would last!! 66 years old and they still claim we do not exist! 66 years old and her lines are still argued, her borders contested and her rights denied but we are here, fighting, laughing, crying and enjoying, surviving and thriving and ensuring Tikkun Olam wherever we can in the world. Whether  our help is need through disaster or poverty we go, we even have a government department that deals only with such issues!!!!
Most of all we have fun! Israelis love to eat, travel and simply enjoy life. We love to promenade and eat, to travel and eat, to party and eat, to visit and eat……. oh and to eat!!!! Our love of food takes us equally to local, honest Middle Eastern delights and trendy haute cuisine. We love kebabs, beautiful lamb and beef ground up and simply add spices and onion – and grill them on the nearest barbeque. We love anything on the grill and especially on Yom haAtma’ut – day of the mangal or barbeque. It has been said that Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the smoke is rising from food not war.
I can think of so many reasons I love Israel. It is home, it is warm and welcoming, it is …………. wait, I think that Barbara Sofer said it better than I can ever do in this weeks Jerusalem Post magazine. “66 plus 1 reasons I love Israel” Just in case you cannot access it she did 63 +1 a while ago
Standwithus on the other hand talked of 66 Israeli “must-haves” which also tickled my imagination Israel 66 must haves
This morning we went to a Brit Mila, the ritual circumcision of a little Jewish boy into the Jewish faith. The Mohel, the man who performs the circumcision, was the same wonderful man who performed the same ritual on our lovely Tomer Silver 16 years ago. He remembered us, which amazed me! The baby, named Ariel Yisrael, is the son of Sagi and Ditti Daren. My relationship to Sagi is too complex for this missive but as I looked at him, a phenomenal young man with three beautiful children – and a beautiful wife – a proud Israeli, a strong Jew, someone who fought for his country and now has brought a new life, another Israeli, to Jerusalem, I was proud – as were his parents Shuli and Steve. I am so proud of them all!
The Brit Mila took place in the tiny Sefardi Synagogue in Yemin Moshe. Yemin Moshe is a beautiful neighbourhood, opposite the walls of the Old City, built around Mishkenot ha Shaananim, the neighborhood fo those who dared. Dared to live outside the protective walls of the Old City. It is so beautiful there.
Yesterday as I drove to Givat Zeev with the children we past the hill just before arriving and saw…………… two camels. The children were quite happy to see their return but my daughter Rachel wanted you to know that she is over the moon excited to see them!!!
When we got home Yosef wanted me to help him prepare for his school trip on Sunday. The trip is to David’s City, the very beginning of the City of Jerusalem. This video tells you the story of the incredible finds including the original blessing given to Zedekiah before the city fell 
So, after the Brit Mila I raced home to get the food going. We have a full menu tonight – although we will only be 8 people. We have Kneidlach soup, Osso Bucco, chicken (for Martin), Meatballs for the children, Potato Kugel and Rice for us and……….. home made pareve ice-cream with Dutch Apple Cake. I made the little girls separate ice-creams in little heart shaped forms with hundreds and thousands on top – because that is what they love. We will finish with juicy fresh apricots, nectarines and peaches which just came into season and one last Avatiach or Water-melon. Since the evening promises to be balmy we will eat outside on the veranda. Zvi will make the traditional blessings over wine and challot as we wonder at the view, the lights twinkling in the clear, cloudless night.
Our Yom ha Zikaron with be spent with One Family – our hearts with Kinneret Chaya and the Boosany family particularly. Then – oh then we begin our celerataions with the Kormans in Jerusalem with a wonderful barbeque (of course) to which I will contribute  a big lemon cake just tart enough to pucker your lips , moving on to the Lotans in Ramat ha Sharon, sleep overnight at Irit and Itzik Lev’s and then go together to the Keidans for a big barbeque – with a giant sized Dutch Apple Cake from me. With any luck we will then go home and SLEEP!!!!
Israel in statistics is interesting but Israel as a living, breathing country is so much more!
The light is beginning to change over Jerusalem. The shops have long closed and the last buses are going back to the terminus. Zvi will soon be back from his rehearsal for his choirs recording of a CD. The table will be set – white tablecloth even when we eat outside. Shabbat is after all  a bride and brides wear white don’t they? We will sit and eat to the flutter of the flags which fly proudly from our veranda high above Jerusalem.
As we draw close to both Yom ha Zikaron and Yom haAtzmaut there is only one song that can end this missive. One song that sums up Israel, Jews, Judaism, and our lives. Hope, The Hope, the words of Hetz-Imber that became todays National Anthem of Israel, and of the Jewish people. Hatikvah
I present you with two versions. One is children who in all probability went up the chimneys of death of the Nazi horror and the anthem of today in our proud and beautiful nation
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom and Happy 66th Birthday to Israel and to all of us.