The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Sheila – Yom Yerushalyim, MWU,

30th May 2014
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope you had a good week.
In Israel we celebrated Yom Yerushalyim, Jerusalem Day,  47 years since the re-unification of this great city after 19 years  of enforced division, half Jordanian, half Israeli. The Old City was in the hands of the Jordanians and I remember coming to Jerusalem with my late father, just after the Six Day War and walking with him to the Kotel, barely believing the incredible honour. There was no fine plaza, the tunnels had not yet been discovered and the Mugrabi steps still covered, but it was so amazing to touch those stones, to feel the spirituality and to pray. I still think that some of that spirituality is lost in the very neatness and wide modern plaza leading up to the Kotel but that’s just me!
Since that time we uncovered the Southern Wall, the Ofel steps by which the pilgrims would make their Aliya or ascent to the Temple Mount, and we made this precious place available to all. Sadly I can no longer go to the Temple Mount but that is another story!
Jerusalem was filled with joyous young people marching and parading, singing and dancing and amid the joy we mourned those lost in battle in a solemn ceremony on Ammunition Hill.
If you love statistics here are the national statistics for greater Jerusalem released for Jerusalem Day 2014
Meanwhile, the world continues on its erratic path.
In Syria the slaughter continues and Churches and Synagogues of Syria are destroyed in the path of the annihilation.
We are still reeling from the news of the horrific shooting in the Brussels Holocaust Museum.  Israelis killed in Europe at the Holocaust Museum? Is anybody listening? Surely this is a wake-up call to those who claim that anti-Semitism is a thing of the past. Wherever you may live, not just Europe but also UK, USA, Australia or Canada where I feel safe, there are those who love to hate us encouraged by the incitement of media lies and biased reportage which makes killing us a social necessity. Do I mean Israelis? No not just, I mean that it is becoming socially acceptable to hate Jews.
Incidentally a recent survey shows that the highest level of anti-Semitism flourishes in areas that have no Jews! Strange, disturbing but true.
Turkeys leaders made the decision to issue a warrant for the arrest of former Chief of Staff Ashkenazi for crimes against humanity in the Marmara affair. Yes I know they got their apology but they still push onward. Of course nothing they say bears any semblance of truth as this video reminds us.
I read the outraged statements by both Naomi Ragen and Caroline Glick concerning the visit of Pope Francis to the Holy Land and thoroughly disagree with them! The photograph of the Pope at the separation wall angered Jews and was loved by the media, His Holiness also visited Yad Vashem, Herzl’s Tomb and prayed at the Memorial to Terror Victims although only the Israeli press showed those visits. His Holiness also visited the Presidents House and was successful in his determination to bring President Peres and Mahmoud Abbas together in an historic meeting at the Vatican on June 8th. It is both unfair and disrespectful to blame Pope Francis for a photo-op not of his making.
The irony of the so-called liberal press when talking of Israel was emphasised when Terror Survivor Kay Wilson, who  was out walking when Arab youths attacked her and her friend stabbing and cutting them, her friend was killed and she almost killed. Kay is not Jewish nor her friend but it did not stop their attackers.  “There is something perverse, ironic and incredibly frustrating that the Palestinian terrorists who tried to murder me are receiving over $1200 per month from the PA, yet for 3 long years I am still fighting to be given a monthly disability pension from the Israel National Insurance to help me pay my rent. Isn’t it time that the PA transferred the salaries of murderers into the bank accounts of the innocent victims and families that their wicked terrorists destroyed?” Befriend Kay on Facebook and support her.
As President Peres reaches the end of his illustrious term  the list of would be Presidents of Israel is now at 6. MK and former Speaker Reuven (Rubi) Rivlin is front runner. Rivlins ancestry goes back some 9 generations of Jerusalemites so maybe he is most appropriate but a non political President such as Professor Daniel Schechtman would be a refreshing and dignified change. Peres will most certainly be a hard act to follow. Now over 90 he is still as sharp a mind as ever and his connections are unequalled. I believe he has represented our beleaguered little country with honour and an innate diplomacy that is rare in the world.
The wonderful Maccabi family met this week in Kfar Maccabiah. They discussed, planned and explained their countries needs and offerings to the next Maccabi Games in 3 years time and of course elected their World President, the lovely Leo-Dan Bensky, representing his home country of Finland, his loved country of Israel and strengthening the European input to the WMU. Shabbat with our friends was delightful and then, and then on Monday evening we all climbed abord buses and drove out to Moshav Bnei Zion and the most exquisite home I have ever seen, here or anywhere else. Matti and Maccabi Carasso built their home on 4 acres of beautifull designed garden, every inch of the home and estate designed for the enjoyment of the family and friends. Nooks and crannies with televisions and pools, seating and tables, games and a glorious vegetable garden. All just representing the warmth and kindness of Matti and Maccabi Carasso. Einat Saruf sang and everyone danced, of course  Zvi joined her on stage. My favourite moment was when she sang, in honour of Jerusalem Day, Yerushalyim Shel Zahav. Everyone was emotional but most of all I watched Sadi Beceren from Turkey. He was so engrossed in singing every word of that beloved song that when Einat then led us in Hatikva I thought he would burst!!!  ​All way back to Kfar Maccabiah Zvi sang Russian songs in the bus with the Russian Maccabians much to the chagrin of Ron Carner who determinedly tried to sing a medley from Oklahoma!!!!!​
On Tuesday my amazing daughter Rachel threw a huge celebratory party for her 3 childrens birthdays. The pinata she made was the star alongside the entertainer. She made a huge and colourful Pinata filled to the brim with goodies and the entertainer was so much fun. The next day saw me celebrating my friend Danas birthday with a sedate lunch at the Botanical Gardens Caffit, of course with their delicious Oreganatto salads and wonderful Cafe Hafuch, followed by a shared chocolate cake with a sparkler and a song. In the evening  we went to the Jerusalem Theatre to hear the Oratorio performance by a combined Jerusalem choir. Of all the amazing opera and oratorio pieces relating to Jerusalem my very favourite is still the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves by Guiseppi Verdi who understood the hearts of Jews extracted forcibly from their land and made slaves. Here we have a beautiful version with translation
Last night Zvi and I went to the sifting site at Ein Tsurim for a reception and lifetime service award ceremony for our dear friend Professor Gabby Barkaí. Although there was a bus running us down to the site we fund ourselves without time to get to our next engagement and no bus!!!
We wound up running up 250 steps to the car to get Zvi to his ceremony for new graduate teachers, complaining and finding it hard to breathe we reached the top and suddenly something quite different caused me to catch my breath…….. a truly magnificent sunset over the Old City, pink and gold, lay before us. We made it in time and Zvis speech was excellent, the best ever, in front a largely Moslem graduation, at least 60% and he was fabulous and  respectful, even quoting the Prophet Mohammed and talking of teaching tolerance to combat the intolerance taught in society. Zvi told them the story of Amos Oz when Zvi went to a play by Amos Oz who mentioned in his speech that he was a student at the Tachkimoni school in Jerusalem. Zvi asked him if he remembered his father Kalman. “Kalman and Alla Rybak” great teachers and lovely people I will never forget them.
As we left the auditorium I stood on a grassy quadrangle in that Teachers Training College  as I had 51 years ago when I fell in love with this country on my first visit to Israel with the Youth and Hechalutz first ever 16-17 year old group to Israel. We stayed in the classrooms of this august 100 year old institution All new and functional the quadrangle still hold magic for me.
Today we went to the cemetery in Givat Shaul to honour Zvi’s parents on the 10th anniversary of the passing of the beautiful Kalman Raviv-Rybak and also the 3rd anniversary of the passing of Alla his adored and adoring wife. When I look at Zvi I see generations of traditional Judaism, of outreach and teaching, of giving back to the community in which one lives and Tikkun Olam. We honour his parents, their lives and the families they lost to hatred in the Shoah who never got to see what impressive and beautiful people they became or the son, grandchildren and great-grandchildren they created. Zvi reminded us that each person has three names – the one he is given at birth, the one he calls himself throughout his life and the one by which he is remembered. Kalman and Alla Raviv are remembered at fine educators and wonderful people. For me, standing in the special area for “Yakirei Yerushalyim”those awarded as special people of Jerusalem, I looked out at the view, the air redolent with the scent of pines so typical of the Jerusalem Hills and knew they were happy, together and looking out at their City.
So to Shevuot. Next week we will celebrate the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, the spring harvest festival and King Davids birthday, although few know about the latter. Rather than attempt to write myself I turn again to the wise words of Rabbi Jeremy Rosen Shevuot – An identity crisis.
We will celebrate with friends who will come to eat cheesecake, blintzes, quiche, vegetables and so many wonderful dishes relevant to this festival.
In the meantime, Shabbat Shalom to you all. I leave you with one of my favourite songs, sorry I couldn’t find a recording with translation but nonetheless………….. Shebechi Yerushalyim – from me to you

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

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