23rd May 2014
Shabbat Shalom from wonderfully fresh and sunny Jerusalem!
Now the truth can be told about our whereabouts last weekend. We were in Paris but I couldn’t tell you because we went for a surprise birthday party for one of my readers. Actually it is not just one of my readers, it is the wonderful Ron Carner whose wife Talia organised the delightful dinner party for her Ron invitiing old school friends from the States and relatives from Israel. It was a great evening and Ron really had no idea. Of course as he walked into the room the first person he saw was Zvi – well Zvi, at 2 metres tall does tend to stand out!!!!
Paris was beautiful but it disturbed me even before we arrived. We made a short stop in Istanbul airport where I chatted to the girl nearest to me as we got off the plane. After the usual niceties and finding out she was Parisienne I asked her “Did you enjoy Jerusalem”? in a friendly fashion “I liked the Palestinians but I didn’t like THEM”she said in a French accent. “THEM”? I asked “Then you don’t like me I am one of THEM”. “The Palestinians are my brothers and sisters” she responded. I walked away shaken. My confidence was slightly restored by the young French man who sat beside me on the continuing flight “I can’t wait to come to see Jerusalem” he was delightful and I smiled throughout the flight.
We enjoyed the Champs Elysee, the Tuileries, The Louvre, dinner with Alain and Martine Carnel who took us to a delicious little bistro on the Isle Saint Louis, and we went for a stroll along the Left Bank before the took us on a car tour of the Marais, formerly the Jewish area which is now filled with chic fashion. We met Zvis cousin Christina and her son Rafael where we heard incredible stories to add to our lost history of Zvi’s family and then spent wonderful time with my cousin Laurent whose abilities abound, his creativity unending. Laurent is designer, producer, author, writer, film-maker, photographer and anything else that takes his mind!
Laurent took us to my favourite Museum, Musee d’Orsay and the phenomenal collection of Impressionist art in a wonderful building. We relished the Monet, Manet and all others through to the glorious culmination of the tour – the Van Goch exhibit. We came out to pouring rain but Laurent dropped us in the St Germaine district to take in our final taste.
At one point I was unsure of how to reach a specific place and decided to ask some people in a messenger van, surely they would know! I was slightly bothered when I saw Arabic on his phone but more than that I felt the driver staring at me. Suddenly “What religion are you”? I was stunned into silence and he asked again staring at me. “Vous est Chretienne” You are Christian? Since this was the first time anyone had asked me the question, let alone in a threatening manner, I did not answer “Chretienne”? “Oui” I mumbled and walked away. This was my first experience of overt, tangible hatred, not mild anti-semitism but an overt threat. It was not imagined it was very real.
This incident shook me to my very bones. It made me understand in a manner no number of newspaper articles or reports could ever do. I told Martine and she was not surprised. However, on our flight home I sat beside another young man called Jonathan. Jonathan is French and intends making Aliyah very soon. When he told me that every time he lands in Ben Gurion Airport he feels like a little boy, his excitement is so great, I felt better.
It is so good to be home. At the airport, while waiting for my baggage I stood chatting with a Moslem lady, head covered and completely comfortable in Israel. Oh that it were true for me in Moslem countries.
What keeps Judaism Alive is a question that keeps us wondering and has done for 3,000 years.We watch other religions and Empires rise and fall yet……here we are! Rabbi Jeremy Rosen as the question this weekhttp://jeremyrosen.blogspot.co.il/
Once again, UCLA is the center of anti-Israel radicalism. An Arab sorority passed around maps of the Middle East during a campus-wide diversity festival which completely erased Israel, even from the list of names! When confronted, the students crossed out “Middle East” and instead wrote “Arab.” The pro-Israel students Bruins for Israel called on the sorority to apologize. Support their efforts and also call on the sorority to apologize immediately. http://www.bruinsforisrael.com/blog/2014/5/21/bruins-for-israel-request-for-apology
Rachel Corrie was a fanatical left wing supporter of the Palestinian narrative who walked out in front of a huge tank. Tanks don’t stop on the spot and she died. Her family have continued her fight by taking Israel and the IDF through every court available. In Israel their case reached the Supreme Court. The panel of Judges includes a woman Supreme Court Judge who is both Moslem and wears a Jihab. Justice will be done and will be seen to be done. http://www.timesofisrael.com/top-court-to-hear-appeal-on-american-activists-death/
His Holiness Pope Francis arrives in Israel tomorrow. The visit is filled with expectation for Israelis of all religions but Pope Francis desire to go to the Temple Mount heralds a deep rumbling of resistance from Moslems of the area which hopefully will be kept under control. They believe the Temple Mount belongs only to Islam and not to any other religion. Pope Francis is a harbinger of better days already shown in the decision of the patriarch of the Maronite Christian church, Beshara Rai to join Pope Francis on his historic trip to Jerusalem.
Israelis are excited to see the Vatican flag flying beside the Israeli and Jerusalem standards on the main roads leading to and of the City. We are proud to welcome his Holiness and will show him our warmth and gratitude for his past record and hopefully future friendship toward the Jewish State.http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Editorials/The-papal-visit-353135
Last night we went to the Genesis Prize ceremony/show/dinner/reception at the Jerusalem Theatre in honour of Michael Bloomberg who is the first ever recipient. Jay Leno was exceptional as MC – exceptional evening!!!! Bloomberg used his $1,000,000 prize by returning it to the Genesis Project to encourage young people to create projects which reflect Jewish principles and Tikkun Olam. The panel chose Michael Bloomberg whose personal history was unknown to me and he most certainly fits the prerequisites of this prize. http://www.gpg.org/genesis-prize.html
Jay Leno is in Israel for the very first time and loving it! He loves the fact that we all gesticulate in the same fashion, irrespective of ethnicity whereas in NYC gestures depend entirely upon ethnicity. He loves the fact that people come up to him in the street and want to hug him, kiss him and get an autograph yet he doesn’t fell threatened by it in any way. He said if he said no it would be fine but he felt no need. He loved the modern and the ancient, the fun and the Biblical and intends coming back soon with his family. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4522317,00.html
MACCABI TEL AVIV EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS and the French didn’t care!! Zvi was jumping around in delight but there was no-one to jump with him!! 98-96 against Real Madrid in Milan brought us the cup. See the jubilation in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv as the fans watched in delight – indeed in all Israel celebrated. http://www.jpost.com/Sports/Maccabi-Tel-Aviv-slams-Real-Madrid-in-Euroleage-final-352642
Journalist and diarist Tom Gross made a compilation of all the “Happy” songs of the region.. He is probably the only one who noticed that there is one from Gaza!! Yup from Gaza, hardly fits the oppressed and starving people the left-press would have us believe!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4gu27QVzOc
So I am back in Jerusalem just before Shabbat. Zvi sang with his choir in the “Tahana”, the Hora Jerusalem Choir was outstanding of course, and then we had a quick bite to eat with friends before coming home so that I could finish writing to you before leaving for Tel Aviv and a beautiful Shabbat in Kfar Maccabiah with friends from around the world. Of course our birthday boy will be there, the lovely Ron Carner, and World Maccbi people from North and South American, Europe, Australia and places far and wide meeting together in camaraderie to prepare for sport and enjoy each other.
This weeks Parashah is Bamidbar. It tells of the divisions within the Jewish people, not divisions of anger but rather divisions of interpretation, each group allowing the others interpretation to strengthen the whole. Remember to accept each person as e/she is wihtout the determination to convince him/her to be like you. If we follow these rules then division will not divide us but rather strengthen us before those who would split us assunder.
I am back in my routine, wonderful routine, of going to Givat Zeev, wondering at the vista, the panorama, the gorgeous view of Jerusalem from Samuels Tomb. Since I am a little late today Jerusalem is already sleepy, the cars are parked, the families together having eaten a light lunch before the delights of a Jerusalem Friday night supper. I can already imagine the beauty of the Shabbat tables, pristine tablecloths, best crockery and cutlery and sparkling glasses, the fridges filled to capacity with salads and soups and the Shabbat Hamin, cholent or roasted chicken, the aromas rising to titillate the tastebuds. Gosh I love Israeli cuisine, it beats anywhere else in the world, really, it does. Coming back from France and I can tell you that our food, especially but not exclusively street food, beats anywhere! Our food is fresh, unadulterated and healthy with loads of fresh vegetables and salads. We shop daily, everything is seasonal nothing that sits in a ship for weeks, and gosh it tastes amazing!!!!
Our veranda survived the hot weather when we were away, the tiny pomegranates beginning to plumpen, the herbs flourishing, the Valerie Fuchsia glorious and the citrus trees prearing to flower. Gosh I am happy to be home!!!
Wishing you a wonderful Shabbat, one in which you remember that we all have much more in common, more to bind us than separate us.