The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem. Sydney, Australia; EU Hamas; USA Cuba;Chanuka

19th December 2014
Shabbat Shalom, Happy Chanuka. I hope all my Christian readers are counting on their Advent Calendars – only 6 days to go!!!!
The news this week has been terrifying and confusing.
The dreadful and dramatic hostage situation in the very heart of Sydney, Australia caught the attention of the worlds media and of course of each and every one of us who has loved ones in Sydney. We watched every second of the long hours with bated breath, identifying with the hostages and angry that terror had travelled down-under to the seemingly immune society of Australia. It woke us up to the fact that none of us is immune to terror or to the fact that unless we either stand firm or bow down to Fanatical Islam this will grow and invade our every move, ever aspect of our lives. I fear for tolerant Moslems as I fear for Jews and Christians. Sadly as a result of the Sydney tragedy the Municipality came to the decision to cancel the public Hanukkah candle lighting at Sydney’s Martin Place for the first time in 30 years following the terror attack that killed two Australians.
As diabolical as the situation in Sydney was, it shows the incredible racism of the media that the murder, nay slaughter, of over 150 children in a Pakistani school.  The slaughter by members of Taliban barely made the headlines. Why? Equally the beheading of Christian children in Iraq was virtually ignored despite the emotional cry of Canon Andrew White. Why? For the same reason that over 200,000 Syrians have died already in a dire civil war; for the same reason that North Sudan killed hundreds of thousands of South Sudanis with barely a whisper; for the same reason that hundreds of thousands died of Ebola and not a word until it seemed to hit the USA………. the media is racist. The world media is only interested when it touches their comfortable Western orientates audience because dying poor people don’t attract advertising. It is irrelevant to the same media that virtually all the wars and ethnic cleansing in our world today are based upon fanatical Islam, they choose to blame Israel and convince the world thus.
Ask Jerusalemite Kay Wilson about terror. Kay has turned her scars to stars and yesterday she wrote  -” Four years ago today, Palestinian terrorists were hacking at Kristine Luken “Z”L and I with machetes. Simultaneously on that terrible day, Jewish people worldwide were studying “VaYachi” the Torah portion of that week. In this remarkable narrative, Yosef faces the people who tried to murder him. He looks them in the eye and declares, ““As for you, you meant evil against me, but G-d meant it for good.”  May G-d make good out of this heinous, senseless evil. 
May He do it for Kristine’s memory, for me and for my beautiful Israel.  May He do it for the sake of a world that has forgotten that humanity was created in His image.  Am Israel Chai“.
After 54 long and vengeful years, the United States has finally made peace with Cuba. There are many Cubans who live in the United States who are saddened and angry at this political and diplomatic move. I know that it is hard to accept after their suffering, but, as an Israeli I can tell you that a cold peace is better than a hot war. One important outcome is the freedom of prisoner Alan Gross, who went to Havana on behalf of Jewish organisations to help the Jewish Community and was imprisoned. Maybe now the American administration will free Jonathan Pollard.
While the The Luxembourg-based General Court of the European Union ruled on Wednesday that Hamas does not merit the designation of Terror Organisation there are those who claim it is purely procedural. The problem is it is not perceived as procedural it is perceived as actual. Want to understand how they pull the wool over your eyes?  Maybe the Court should have spoken to Gazans who return to the hell that is Gaza under Hamas. In this interview with Khaled Abu Toameh they go so far as to compare it to Iraq under Saddam Hussein. 
Remember the insistence of world leaders and of course the UN that Israel resume delivery of cement for the urgent rebuilding of Gaza (why rebuild such a brilliant location for sad news?) Well, it’s tunnels, tunnels, tunnels again.
Dr Malcolm Hoenlein has long been my hero. Unafraid and outspoken, Malcolm understands the USA-Israel relationship more than anyone else. Here he talks about American Jews and their relationship to Israel.
Chloe Valdery is a phenomenal speaker, lobbyist and verbal fighter for Israel she calls herself the Angry Black Woman……… but in a good way!!!! Chloe wrote this amazing poem for Chanuka
Not all the news is bad you see. Mugoya Shadrach Levi is now a Rabbi and it is official! Mugoya prayed for this day. This is what he wrote. “Dear brothers,sisters,friends and all well-wishers, shalom. Please share with me the happiness and responsibility given to me as the new Rabbi of Namutumba Synagogue,Uganda “!! Mazal tov Mugoya!!!!
Stephen Spencer Ryde came to Israel and as we sat together he asked what he can do to promote Israel in the media. Stephen was already writing brilliant letters to newspapers and media outlets in the UK and to any politicians that he felt were not fair to his beloved Israel. What more can I do? he asked. See the result. Stephen has become a prolific writer and proved what I have been saying for years – the power of one works.
In my infinite ignorance I had never heard of Chazan (Cantor) Yosele Rosenblatt until we went to the theatre last night to see a play with the unlikely name of Rosenblatt Express. Apart from the fact that the play was outstanding I discovered Chazan rosenblatt. What a voice! What a story! What …………….. listen for yourselves
Chanuka!! Festival of lights; significant battle for the right to be Jews in our own land; story of miracles and determination – after all the Greeks were not interested in killing us – just in denying us all the rites and traditions that make us Jews. They did not simply destroy the Temple – they defiled our holiest site.
Many Rabbis write that the body is compared to a candle and our soul to a flame. The connecting force between the two is the wick, in Hebrew, פתילה. This word, when the letters are shifted, creates the word תפילה, prayer. Such a beautiful thought that as we light an additional candle each day greater light enters our souls.
Our first night Chanuka was delightful. Firstly we lit the candles with Zvi’s boys and families with a special treat when Ilana Podolsky came too! From there we went to the most glorious wedding in Tel Aviv, the daughter of our friends Esti and Eliezer Elkon. Eliezer really surprised us when he sang the blessings over the Chanuka candles – I thought Zvi was the only Cantorial expert in the crowd!!! Second night we went to the home of Roz and Eli Ben Tovim where we were delighted by the brilliant piano accordianist Uzi Rozenblatt and sang songs from way back when……….
In Jerusalem the Chanukiot (Menorot) are traditionally glass boxes and sit outside the homes, on a window ledge or outside the gatepost so that the world can see that we are Jews celebrating the bravery of a local family. Judah was the third son of Mattathias the Hasmonean, a Jewish priest from the village of Modiin. In 167 BCE Mattathias, together with his sons Judah, Eleazar, Simon, John, and Jonathan, started a revolt against the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who since 175 BCE had issued decrees that forbade Jewish religious practices. It isn’t just about gifts and doughnuts it is so very much more
This morning began with a delightful “Hangouts” call from London and my beautiful Stephanie and the three London grandchildren. It was like a huge injection of energy! I took Zvi to a performance of his choir, right in the centre of Jerusalem then went over the road to Givat Zeev, past the Prophet Samuels Tomb, where the glorious panorama of Jerusalem was shrouded in a gentle mist giving it an even more ethereal spirituality. Arriving at the bustle of Nehamas bakery and the conveyor belt of piping hot challot and gooey sufganiyot is so funny, but I survived the crush and carefully chose big, fat, jammy sufganiyot for the children. The children were out at their other saftas home so I actually had a few precious moments with my daughter – one on one!!!
Tonight Zvi’s boys are coming to be with us and hopefully will also stay over. I love watching the childrens faces as they first light the Chaunuka Candles then help me light the Shabbat Candles. Imagine, if all the candles being lit for Chanuka and Shabbat brought enlightenment to our world. We are so desperate for some light, love, joy and tolerance to change our world and banish darkness, intolerance and the subsequent hatred.
I love making everybodys favourite food. We will begin with Kitchen Sink Soup – it has just about everything in it but the kitchen sink!!!!! Leek, courgette, lots of pumpkin, sweet potato, potato, a little parsnip and celeriac all finely diced then beans, barley, lentils added and cooked for hours. Real winter joy!!! this will be followed by meatballs, Boeuf Bourguignon and piles of rice………… and doughnuts for dessert of course!!!
The time is almost nigh and Shabbat is nearing. Zvi went to Mahane Yehuda to get some final items before he comes home on the light rail. Actually I know he will bring a lot of totally unnecessary items but he has so much fun walking through the shouk and cannot resist the incredible variety, the veritable cornucopia of delicious seasonal fruits and wonderful fresh produce. I am really kinda jealous!!!
I wish you and yours a truly wonderful Shabbat and Chanuka. Again I pray that the light of our candles with bring enlightenment to an increasingly dark world.
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem.
With much love
By the way – if you want an explanation of the vagaries of Israeli politics and the upcoming election……………. I am almost as confused as you are! Next week OK?

If the media does not inform us we must inform the media

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