The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem. Remembrance and Independence

8th May 2014
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom from a 66 year old Israel, even more beautiful then she was at age 65!!!!
I often say I don’t know where to begin but this week I don’t know where to stop!! I feel that we fitted at least two weeks into this last week as we went from the gravity of Yom haZikaron (Memorial Day or Remembrance Day) into Yom HaÁtzmaut, Israel’s 66th birthday party.
It all began on Friday when we had the honour of meeting little Ariel Yisrael Daren, the new baby of my former nephew Sagi and his wife Ditti. The ceremony was held in Yemin Moshe, beautiful former artists colony now exclusive neighbourhood opposite the walls of the Old City.
Friday evening and Martin Lindenfeld escaped his duties as chaperone/photographer/father of the Miami Walk of the Living group and came to us for supper, for Shabbat Dinner with Zvi’s son Leor and the family. Of course he was entranced by the beautiful little girls, Shabbat Dinner and the View from our veranda,  reward for his courage in taking on this trip. Shabbat we spent with Martin and Ariella, just talking and enjoying.
Israel’s Remembrance Day is special and so different. Leo McGarry, in West Wing, said it better in a few seconds than any tortuous and pompous explanations of sorrow.
Israel’s Remembrance Day includes those who fell from terror attacks, unlike the USA and UK and I was invited to an exceptional ceremony to hear the voices of those deeply affected by this war of attrition. Sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters and parents of those who were touched by the evil arm of terror or as soldiers defending us. Some wrote songs some spoke and some just needed to be together in their enforced family of friends, all had been touched by the incredible warmth and work of One Family
When the Jewish Agency closed the Victims of Terror Fund many many survivors and families were left in limbo without the practical and financial aid for which you generously donated. One Family stepped into the enormous void  doing a truly magnificent job, supporting and treating in every way needed. Marc and Chantal Belzberg founded One Family when their daughter decided to give her bat-mitzva money to Israel to care for those affected by terror and so began their incredible journey.  This is a video prepared by One Family
On Remembrance Day itself I found myself in Shaare Zedek Hospital, opposite Mount Herzl’s Military Cemetery. Hundreds of people walked outside onto the gardens for the 11:00 siren. We all stood to attention, and wept, wept for those lost to insane hatred.
And so to joy…………. as only Israel, in her schizophrenic desire to survive is capable of the change.
25 years ago I was at an Independence Day party in the Israeli Embassy in London. I bent and gathered a little of the earth, putting it in a bag, promising myself that I would have my own piece of earth in Israel and come on Aliya. I thank heaven for my promise to myself every single day.
Party, party party!!! Israel is one huge cloud of smoke, unlike the rest of the Middle East ours is from Mangals not war.  Mangal is a Turkish word for an open heater but now means a Barbeque, lots of meat, chicken and fish accompanied by a range of salads and loads of friends!!! We started in Jerusalem at Betty and Stanleys, then to Ramat haSharon to Shauli and Rocheleh, eating and dancing  until the wee hours. Meanwhile in Jerusalem the official and moving ceremony took place on Mount Herzl. Nefesh b’Nefesh produced my favourite video for Israel’s 66th birthday 
Irit and Itzik Lev gave us a bed for the  night so that we would not need to drive home and the four of us met Ron and Rina Katz for a quick breakfast and hug before going to Herzliya to Shuki and Anik’s party for lunch!!! Insanity!
ILAN.  This is a new paragraph so that our lovely friend Ilan has his own section. We went to both the big parties together and he asked for a specific mention for himself and Tzila (without surname so it would arouse curiosity) and here it is! We were so delighted to see him looking healthy – stay well dear man and come visit our veranda soon!!!!
Our celebrations ended in Latrun, in the amphitheatre of the Armoured Corps Museum in the former British Tegart Fort for the gala closing ceremony of the March of the Living tour. I was staggered to discover that Britain’s young Marchers do not continue to Israel! How can it be? All the other countries came here after the horrors of Poland and Brits not!!! Surely it is very negative for the youngsters to see the horrors without the hope? We said our goodbyes to Martin and Ariella and wended our weary way back to Jerusalem, to step out onto our veranda and wonder at the miracle of Israel. Israel and the founding of Israel is the single most important event of my lifetime as a Jewess and of my people, including those who don’t care and don’t understand!!!
This has also been a week of awards for exceptional people who  richly deserve recognition. As I told you last week Canon Andrew White won the Wilberforce Award and was interviewed using his wonderful British humour to convey a serious message. and this week I was utterly delighted to hear that  wonderful Israeli and journalist Khaled Abu Toameh won a major award – the Daniel Pearl Award for Courage in Journalism. Bravo Khaled
The last two days proved that spring is still sprung!!!! Rain, incredible, life giving torrential rain poured over Israel for about 36 hours, reviving rivers and streams as far south as Eilat. Admittedly some rivers and streams were on the streets and even major roads but hey, you have to take the good and the bad.
Hamas, with whom our partners for peace have signed an agreement, brought out a special video for Israels Independence Day. Unbelievable.
This week I haven’t spoken of world events and more importantly I didn’t want to taint our joy with reports of the foul and unIsraeli “Price Tag” lunatics who write offensive graffiti on Moslem and Christian homes and cars. They should be put in prison – now.
This is the face of Israel, this is the example to the world of how one treats ones enemies, understanding that it is the leaders not the people who wage war. Noga, an angel in uniform.
This is the face of Israel, the IDF, this is what we represent. Every child has the right to serve society – the Special Needs unit of the IDF
Today, I have my little bag of earth, I have my veranda, my flowers, my fruit and herbs. Today I have my Zvi and my daughter and her family live near.  Today I live a miracle every single day of my life.  I fulfilled my dream and the dream of so many, to come home, to live the 2,000 year yearning. Today I fulfill the dreams of my parents who ensured that I absorbed my Judaism and love of Israel through osmosis.
Indeed yesterday I went to the “Jerusalem Baby Home” in Beit Hakerem, my Mothers special project. The Baby Home was initiated by British WIZO as an orphanage for children of the Holocaust and local children whose mothers were building a state. Since then it has grown and blossomed into a phenomenal centre which not only cares for children but has a battered womens centre, a vocational school for problem youngsters where we saw them becoming chefs, hairdressers, sound technicians, computer technicians and gaining confidence to go forward in life, indeed many coming back to teach and volunteer after their army service. I went to the Baby Home at the request of old friend Karen and Adrian Ross, from Reading and we were met by Simi Mor, the Jerusalem President of WIZO, a dear friend. Kobi, the centres Director has worked wonders and proudly showed us a video and books of the founding Mothers of the Baby Home. This video is from American WIZO. Next week I will give Kobi a video of my Mother, in 1953, dancing with the children in the grounds of the home.
My pre-Shabbat preparations are easy this week! My daughter-in-law Shiri decided I needed a week off cooking so I will go to them as a lady! In a short while I will drop Zvi off at his parliament and go to collect the children from school to take them home. The joy on their faces as Safta’s car draws up is worth any amount of rushing to get ready early! Yosef, Talia and Ayala, each in their own way, express delight although now too old to ask what treats I brought them!!!!! I wonder if the camels are still on top of the hill near Givat Zeev?? Maybe we will pop into Nechamas coffee shop for them to choose a treat this time, each of them with their own little paper bag choosing their favourites, and of course something special for Mummy Rachel.
On my way home I will yet again stop at the side of the road near the Prophet Samuels Tomb to wonder at the panorama stretching before me; from the Calatrava Bridge to the Augusta Victoria Hospital and all the wonderful white buildings between. I never tire of the view – Beautiful Jerusalem, beautiful city.
The sun is shining again, not fiercely like last week but gently warming the rain washed Jerusalem stones as they glisten, still, from the cleansing rain. The quiet is not yet here but I feel its imminent presence.
I wish you Shabbat Shalom with a special prayer for the safety of Israel sung by Lt Col Shai Abrahamson, Chief Cantor of the IDF and a  prayer to the righteousness that supported our parents (ancestors) and us today
Shabbat Shalom dear friends, Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem.