The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom, Happy 2013 and 21 Years since I became an Israeli!

28th December 2012
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. This week you get a quick run-down of the news and then, then a surprise for the New Year!!
Professor Alan Dershowitz condemned the UN for acting against peace, encouraging terrorism and showing unbridled anti-Semitism. The Kurds, Armenians, the Tibetans, can’t get on the door yet those nations that refuse to recognise Israel’s right to exist roundly support “Palestinian rights.”
“No nation that fails to recognise Israel’s right to exist should be allowed to vote in the UN on any issue relevant to Israel.”
The London Telegraph came out of the closet of denial and published an excellent article aboutChristiaphobia in the Middle East to honour Christians at Christmastime.
Many Israelis were satisfied with last week’s decision of the Central Elections Committee to disqualify Member of Knesset Haneen Zoabi’s candidacy for the upcoming Knesset as a result of her anti-Israel actions. The issue is now before the Supreme Court. Read more:
John Kerry is to become the new Secretary of State and I wonder if he will take advice or come with the unsuccessful preconceived ideas of the State Department. His success worldwide will depend upon his advisors and his success in this region will depend upon his ability to carry out thoughts expressed to Zvi and I on the veranda of the Jerusalem Municipality or or simply do what he is told. As to the choice of Secretary of Defence…………….. we are still praying!!!
Ihow many armies around the world provide daily sustenance to their sworn enemies?

This week we went to the Shiva for a strong woman, Marcelle Ballas z”l. Mrs Ballas was a poor immigrant from Iraq who had 8 children, 5 girls 4 boys, truly poor she often had no money for food but determinedly bought books. Her children grew up educated and ambitious lawyers, teachers, nurses and one daughter, Dalia Itzik, who became speaker of the Knesset. Israel is the dream.
Zvi and I have become involved in a wonderful project – “Hitorarut” or awakening, which encourages and mentors young Jerusalemites to serve in the Municipal Council and ultimately to reach the Knesset. Understanding how to bring honesty and good will into the political arena is not easy but they are succeeding! Watch this space!
On the 25th of December 1991 I made Aliyah and this year I celebrated 21 years as an Israeli. I actually arrived here on April 1st but made the absolute decision on Christmas Day. I thought I would tell you about my journey to become a true Israeli who still celebrates St Davids Day (the Welsh National Day) alongside the other 499 Welsh Israelis.
My Aliyah took place right in the middle of the Gulf War, when scuds rained down on Haifa and Tel Aviv whose residents ran to Jerusalem for safety. As I arrived at Ben Gurion Airport Zvi was waiting for me in the baggage claim (in the days before 9/11) and took me straight up the stairs to immigration. The hall happened to be empty, clearly between flights from Moscow, and I was called immediately to the young woman at the reception desk. She took all my information, the official approval papers from the Jewish Agency Aliyah Department in London and then to my sheer delight at receiving my “Teudat Oleh” – proof positive of my Israeli Citizenship and rights to Ulpan (Hebrew language school), to socialised medicine, social absorption and to be very very proud! My right to vote would take another 6 months when I also received my passport.
I can never forget the pride on Zvi’s parents faces when I arrived with my papers – they had to work far harder to re-create this state as members of the Haganah before they got their citizenship in 1948! My son Gideon was also in the country dodging scuds in a kibbutz in the North of Israel where he was working as a zoo-keeper in the children’s zoo, his rugby tackling experience coming in handy when a goat ran away! Soon after my arrival we drove up to take Gideon to Zvi’s cousin Dvoras home in Haifa where all of us experienced sirens, shelters and gas masks for the first time………….. and last!!
My wonderful husband has always believed I am far cleverer than I am and took me to a philosophical debate between Prof.Avi Ravitzky, the Israel Prize laureate and Prof Yeshayahu Leibowitz, biochemist, neurophysicist and philosopher – in HEBREW!! What amazed me is that I followed the debate, simply proving that Hebrew was my true Mother tongue and the stork had simply dropped me and my family in the wrong country!!
It isn’t easy to move from country to country, especially if you are not 15 years old. One loses everything, status, language and confidence – retaining only your accent. One leaves behind many precious people and familiar sounds and sights but I knew this was right I knew this was my destiny. I loved walking the streets to familiarise myself with the incredible beauty of Jerusalem and the noisy warm people. In order to understand the work ethics of Israel I took a job with an agency, Manpower, taking anything they gave me, earning a pittance. I began by helping to edit PR material for the Hyatt Hotel – of course wound up working for the entire managerial staff; began by typing abstracts for an International Conference of the Atmospheric Sciences Department of the Hebrew University and ended up running the entire event; I helped out Zvi (without payment but with daughter) when two weeks before a huge group of young people (400) came to Israel on a Keren Hayesod “Yachdav” mission his secretary went AWOL, claiming to be sick. Zvi went to Prague with the group and I ran the mission from his office…….. and loved it. All of the above and so much more helped my absorption but more than anyone else it was Zvi’s incredible parents. They became my parents, they loved me, guided me, helped me, spoke beautiful clear Hebrew with me and showed me by example how to be incredible citizens and good Jews. They taught me of the struggle to build this country and related amazing stories of battles and relief, starvation and good food, determination to succeed over all odds and they proved to me that life can throw the most awful curved balls but one can still come out on top.
Talking of curved balls, I began my weekly missives before the Intifada but as the situation became more and more untenable and the world was not giving you the truth I began to widen my scope and chose to inform those who would otherwise depend upon the NY Times or the Guardian. My letters changed yet again as the story of Kinneret Chaya emerged, a story of Israeli heroism and determination – of a literal Phoenix rising from the ashes of a terror attack.
Zvi and I have had the privilege of knowing Prime Ministers and foreign diplomats and politicians, being right in the middle of the “scene”, which of course gave me material for my letters and an inside track on what really happens behind closed doors!
It isn’t always easy, the hardest part is coping without siblings, or sibling visits – even when Rachel, my daughter got married. Nor when Amiad and Leor, Zvi’s sons got married, but this is still where I want to be, where my heart is. I want to show my sisters the incredible life we have here and would do anything to make that happen. I want them to know my husband, the man who has selflessly given his life to the Jewish people without thought of financial reward and who helped me return to be the woman my parents wanted me to be after years of being unable to do so.
The high-point of my time in Israel is probably the day I went to Ben Gurion Ariport where Zvi organised a pass for me to go through to the baggage claim, to receive a new Olah, my beautiful daughter Rachel and her husband Igal decided to come on Aliyah jut 7 weeks before our first grand-son, the exquisitely beautiful Yosef Eliyahu (Joseph Elijah) was born. I took part in the birth of my Israeli grandson – I had a Sabra!!!
We now have a large family of five children between us (3 here and 2 overseas) 10 grandchildren and one more on the way and a beautiful, busy, insane, active, giving, intelligent, warm, fascinating life. We are involved in volunteering in amazing organisations and I understand that life her has relevance, a relevance that is hard to quantify.
Sorry for rambling on but I needed to tell you and didn’t know how!! Today we go to Haifa and Dvoras home again. No scuds but rather a huge event where she has been dipping into Zvi’s family genealogy – maybe, just maybe we will discover that not everyone perished in the flames of Auschwitz…… maybe someone is alive and well here in Israel.
I am now off to Givat Zeev to see my Jerusalem grandchildren and kiss the Gut Shabbes. I
wish you a Shabbat Shalom and a truly joyful 2013.
See you next year!!!
Love from a glorious crisp and sunny day in Jerusalem. I am off to London on Monday – to immerse myself in my London family, to smell the children, kiss them and hug them and bring back memories for me and them….. and of course to cook their favourite dishes!!