The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Sheila

26th January 2012
Shabbat Shalom lovely people! It seems strange to write ot you when I cannot see the View from our Veranda – nor the preparations for Shabbat which include the frenzied shopping/cooking leading up to the relative calm. We are in Puerto Rico for a very special occasion – the wedding of Jenny Efron to Aubrey Duffy and the view from today’s veranda is one of the ocean and an ancient fort. Jenny’s father David, an old friend of Zvi’s and a relatively new friend of mine (only about 20 years) – was born to parents who escaped Europe, then Cuba and found refuge in Puerto Rico. Today David’s girls grew up in Miami and David has a home both in Puerto Rico and Miami. Their connection to Israel is irrevocable and strong and David and his girl-friend Kathy come to our Passover Seder each year and visit Israel many times in between – especially since Lauren, Jenny’s little sister, made Aliya last year. As we sat having supper last night I made a toast to Aubrey and Jenny telling them the secret of a great marriage. “Always look out for and defend each other, be for one another and be kind to one another never let anyone get between you”
Footnote or “Shulayim” is an incredible movie about the relationship between a father a son and their approach to religion it is now a contender in the five finalists in the foreign film category for the Oscar after winning the Palm d’Or. It is Joseph Cedar’s 2nd nomination and Israel’s 4th nomination is 5 years. Not bad eh?
Several Iranians were discovered trying to cross the border in an attempt to murder the Israeli Ambassador to Azerbaijan and were stopped by Azerbaijani security forces. Unfortunately this now puts Israel in a position of gratitude to the Azerbaijanis who do not want Israel to recognise the Armenian genocide. Diplomacy is always a double edged sword.
Today is International Holocaust Day, a day when the world should remember the atrocities that took place under a regime knew no tolerance or acceptance. The problem with the Jews in particular was their inability to give up on their beliefs whether through force or persuasion, so they were singled out for execution as the first in a line of victims – Catholics, homosexuals, the disabled and the Gypsys. Throughout history our determination to be loyal to our host countries while holding on to our faith has brought trouble many times as different armies and leaders took over our land from the Greeks, Romans, Turks, Philistines………… we were taken in slavery, murdered and almost annihilated but we prevailed and our ultimate revenge is that we thrive again – and again – and again. Today life is different, we have Israel, we returned home. We have so much to be proud of, having Israel has made us stronger but, we also have a repetition of the old problem – Jews who are shamed of themselves, ashamed of Jewish traditions, of the Jewish Land and find the only way to deal with their lack of self-worth is to speak against Israel and Judaism. They did not prevail in the past and will not today. Remember – remember, never forget but use the knowledge of where we are today to lift your hearts.
Last Friday night we were hosts to some wonderful friends and three Australian Psychologists, Louis, Caren and Warwick who came to Israel under the auspices of the Israel/Australia Chamber of Commerce and the lovely Paul Israel. All three were fascinated by their experiences and amazed at the difference between the media perception and the fact. Caren has been here many times but for WArwick and Louise it was a first visit. They met with Israeli counterparts and had seminars on trauma treatments and went to see the Fuerstein Institute for Austism. We had such a delightful evening – none of the other guests was involved in psychology – and conversation led to theatre, food and fun – as it should be!! We talked about Kinneret Chaya and our natural schizophrenia – an acceptance of our reality while quenching our thirst for enjoyment, culture, food and children.
Monday evening and our “Nesher” sherut (a mini-van taxi which picks up passengers form their homes to take them to the airport) arrived exactly on time before heading off at breakneck speed to pick up the other passengers. So began our journey toward San Juan Puerto Rico. We flew US Air to Philadelphia where we landed after an interminable flight and after checking our luggage through to PR we headed off to town where we met the delightful Jed Margolis of Maccabi USA. Jed pointed us in the right direction for the Constitution Hall and LIberty Bell. The Constitution Hall was great and fascinating and our guide was delighted that we were her onlyustomers so that she could respond to our questions and ask us about Jerusalem. One felt the importance of the history within that old building and the decisions made as George Washington sat before 13 men and created a nation which was to become an example of democracy to the world.
We then moved to the adjacent Philadelphia Museum of Jewish American life. The Museum is beautifully set out taking one from the first Jews to arrive in teh USA – through the trials and tribulations of intense racism as Jews were not allowed to rise intothe upper echelons of society or enter the professions. It was fascinating to walk through history but when it came to WW2 the museum simply skipped over the “Voyage of the Damned” on the St Louis and the shame of the Jewish immigrant quota. As we went to retrieve our coats, the volunteer lady asked where we are from – “Jerusalem” “and how are YOU GUYS coping over there? How is life in Jerusalem” “Great fun” I responded “Oh yeah really” she smiled to herself “Oh yes really” I said “We are a people that goes out most nights, socialises, goes to coffee shops restaurants and theatres, movies and concerts” I cannot forget the look of amazement on this womans face. Incredible eh?
Before heading back to the airport we popped into the Maccabi USA’s offices where Zvi spoke to Bob Spivak who has been rather poorly. Be well soon Bob. Jed and his staff showed us some of the incredible work that Maccabi USA does for young Jews, not only the athletes but primarily athletes who want to come ot Israel either on Maccabi Birthright or for the 19th Maccabiah Games which will be held July 2013. Who tried to tell us we weren’t good athletes????
Finally two exhausted Israeli reached their destination as we landed in San Juan Puerto Rico. David Efron and his daughter Libah (Lauren) were waiting for us. Lauren, beautiful and a great fashion stylist lives in Tel Aviv and can’t wait to get back to Israel, but is equally thrilled to be here for her big sisters wedding. Jenny and Aubrey get married this weekend and we came to wish them a truly exciting wedding but more importantly a beautiful marriage.
Tomorrow we are all going to the rain forest before preparing for Shabbat Dinner. We have a full weekend of nuptial delights, meeting old friends and maiking new ones. David’s Uncle Sy is a fine example – he fought in the Machal (soldiers who volunteered from overseas) during Israel’s War of Independence – what wonderful stories he has to tell. Sy still keeps in touch with his former fellow soldiers – even after all these years.
That’s it for now dear friends. Next week we will meet in Coral Gables as we prepare for Shabbat Dinner at Helene, Martin, Ariella, Ilan and Jeremy’s and the following week with our beautiful little grandson Joshua.
Have a good shabbes and try to keep me up with what is really happening in Israel as I am now in the fairy tale land of American media…..OK?
With much love