The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Sheila – Canon Andrew white in Jerusalem

14th November 2014
Shabbat Shalom dear friends.
Moshe Dayan once said “If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.” That is the reason that the Israeli Prime Minister met with Mahmoud Abbas and then with  King Abdullah in Amman under the watchful eye of John Kerry. The storms brewing all over Israel over the last couple of weeks needed to calming with a large dose of oil onto trouble waters. The Israeli police and security services announced that despite the heated situation the police and security services of the Palestinian Authority are still co-operating on all issues. The incitement of young Arabs within Israel is extreme and in the Judea and Samaria it is their education and deep disillusionment with their own and all leaders. When the PA chooses it is perfectly capable of calming the situation and that is what Mr Netanyahu was discussing in Amman – to ensure that the Status Quo on the Temple Mount will not be breached.
Turkey, President Obamas military ally in the northern Mediterranean, is becoming more and more radicalised thanks to Erdogan. US marines, on leave in Turkey, were attacked by young Turks who attempted to put plastic bags over their heads, attacked and reviled by Turks in port.
I don’t want to talk politics this week. Not for a bit anyway! I want to tell you about our trip to Massada with the choir!  We all drove down to Massada and went up together in the excellent cable car – then learned the history of Massada with Eva, our dear friend who is also a guide, as we walked the footsteps of the Jews who gave their lives rather than lost their Jewish identity. I thought I knew the history of the Herodean Fortress but Eva enlightened us all with her wonderful stories, making it more personal. After our descent we drove to the Youth Hostel in Ein Gedi, basic accommodation but it didn’t really matter since the views were breathtaking and the company outstanding!!
Zvi’s two little grand-daughters were having a great time being the centre of attention! Most of us didn’t rest, it was much more fun in the quadrangle, chatting and singing. Then I went with the little girls to light the Shabbat Candles, gosh I love to see their little faces reflecting those special flames. The Shabbat meal was so much fun, lots of singing Shabbat songs and Zvi of course did Kiddush and the children helped him bless the Challah, the plaited loaves. A young group of students on their gap year asked to join us and we all did a very fun version of Grace after meals. From supper we went to a truly fascinating talk by Secret Service man who explained his work which entails “turning” potential and real terrorists so that they sing about their cohorts. I found it so fascinating – yet again began to wish I was a spy!!!!
Shabbat morning, after services and breakfast, we walked through Nahal David, right next to the hostel, the river bed that King David walked 3,000 years ago. The nature reserve is full of gazelles, wild cats, groundhogs, and other creatures native to the area. It was gorgeous and some of the bravest choir-members stood under the waterfall!!!! One of our choir-members was the director of the reserve until he had a near fatal accident and he was able to explain the flora and fauna with Eva’s geological knowledge it came to life! After Shabbat lunch we rested then heard a fascinating talk on sink-holes along the Syria/Africa rift and how to change the ecostructure to turn a problem into a solution. The geologist was a fantastic man from the Kibbutz. The journey home was easy and as we arrive home I set about making “bubbelech” (fluffy pancakes) for the little girls before they were collected to go home.
Yesterday my world lit up. Our wonderful friend Canon Andrew White came for lunch.  When Andrew comes he always brings his team of Hanna and Terry, great people, and we invited Elihu Ben On, an excellent journalist who spoke to Andrew in Baghdad many times ( Elihu speaks to Israelis and Hebrew speakers all over the world on a multitude of subjects); Hanan Rubin, one of the young people we mentored for the City Council and he was fascinated by Andrew and had a great rapport with Hanna who lives in Jerusalem; finally I decided to surprise Andrew with Lola and Norman, two wonderful people who came on Aliya many years ago and have been instrumental in their work for Christian/Jewish relations.
In the evening we met with Madeleine and Martin Lewis and went to hear a debate between Canon Andrew White, Rabbi Michael Melchior and journalist Melanie Phillips. The event, organised by Europeans for Israel and held in the historic Jewish Agency building in the centre of Jerusalem.
Melanie opened the debate on the emotive subject “Can religion be a force for good in the region“. Her emotive eloquence rang true with  the audience and her love of Israel was transparent. Next came Canon Andrew, a voice of pragmatic reason backed by his infinite belief in the Almighty and his innate love of the human race. Andrew understands the dangers, (the FATWA on his life has risen to $56,000,000) and who understands the demands and desires of who he faces after many years in Iraq and Israel but does everything possible to bring the power of love into the situation; Rabbi Melchior spoke with equal eloquence but many of his views were not conducive with a Jewish democracy. His views were far further than I could imagine for a man who studied the Torah for so many years.
Canon Andrew spoke of the violent history of the church toward Judaism proving that the leading theocratic group is inevitably dominant and when religion goes wrong everything goes horribly wrong – which brought us to the Islamic fanatics today. Andrew described the talks with the PA and indeed with all the extremists as pulling out the thorns and replacing them with flowers.
In principle the decision was that the language of politics is a language of interests but the language of religion is the language of values – thus if we can talks as religious equals we can gradually reach some kind of respect – mutual respect.
I feel very honoured to have been part of this event – both Melanie and Canon Andrew spoke for me, spoke words of determination and hope. Wherever Canon Andrew walks he leaves a trail of hope that is absorbed and changes lives and thoughts for the better.
Please look at Canon Andrew’s book – Older Younger Brother – the tragic treatment by Christians of the Jews –
Almost Shabbat. I have to run and put the final touches to the table. Just Zvi and I this evening and we will be eating Shoshana’s gift of Kubah Hamusta soup – its bright beetroot colour calling us to partake of the delicious, meat filled dumplings. A traditional Kurdish dish it brought a great big smile to my face!!!
Now for music – music to lift our hearts from the ever growing truth around us. The most Jewish of music is the niggun, a song without words, because words are unnecessary! Enjoy this one Niggun Simcha – happy tune
The second is Jewish songs of prayer – the first is Eshet Chayil – Woman of worth that every Jewish husband worth his salt sings to his wife on Friday night telling her how amazing she is – worth her weight in rubies.
Shabbat Shalom dearest friends
Love you and Jerusalem awaits you

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

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