The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom letter

10th August 2012
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope this letter finds you well.
Now that the almost triumphs and deep disappointments of the Olympics for are over we can relax and admire the efforts of the athletes.  Our expectations were really unrealistic for such a tiny country, but hope springs eternal eh?
Our expectation that the IOC would honour the 11 slain Israeli athletes on the 40th anniversary of the Munich Olympics was also unreal, especially since our own representative on the IOC, Alex Giladi, voted against it. If only he had the same respect for the dead that British Prime Minister David Cameron expressed in a beautiful speech in London’s Guildhall, along with widows of those killed, cabinet ministers, Israeli embassy officials and Olympic chiefs..
You all played your part, you asked your Rabbis and Ministers and Yizkor was said for the athletes and I was deeply moved by the words of Aly Raisman on her Gold Medal performance (to the tune of Hava Nagila)
On a  lighter note, do you know why the marathon is such a strange length? You can blame that on the Brits too!
I received an  email from veteran journalist Marlin (Moshe) Levin, who told me that he received an amazing letter from Serge, a Congolese student now continuing his studies in South Africa. Serge spent time studying here in Israel too and he sent Marlin a copy of his letter to the South African Government concerning  their terrible, misinformed decision to declare Israel an Apartheid State and their intended boycott of Israel. Serge spoke of the incredible treatment he received in Israel and the freedom of all colours and creeds here. His letter was informed, well worded and erudite. I wrote to thank him on your behalf. If he is willing I urge Communities around the world to invite him to speak. I have his email if you are serious…….. we in Israel should laud him for his efforts.
Those cruel Israelis are at it again! The brother in law of Hamas leader and Gaza PM Haniya suffered serious heart problems that could not be treated in Gaza and was transferred to an Israeli hospital, accompanied by his wife, to be  treated in Israel. I promise you he received and will receive the best of treatment.
We caught Israeli Arabs in a terror plot to attack Israelis. The enemy within had a stash of explosives all ready to kill their countrymen….. yes Israeli Arabs.
Israeli intelligence warned the Egyptian intelligence that an attack on their forces was planned in Sinai. The Egyptian Head of Intelligence could not believe that Moslem would kill  Moslems during the Holy Month of Ramadan. He was mistaken, horribly mistaken as rebel gangs attacked and killed 15 Egyptian soldiers. Israel managed to thwart their attempt to enter Israel. The Head of Intelligence lost his job!
Next I send you two articles which help, each in its own way to understand the current horrors of Syria and the next point of combustion, Kurdistan. The first article concerns Syria and is written by Nir Boms with whom I am proud to sit on the Board of IMPACT-SE  Syria Nir Boms – IMPACT-SE
The second addresses the problem of Kurdistan, Occupied by Turkey and Iran it is a rebellion waiting to happen
We never learn. We still trust the basic ability of mankind to be good, because we are too lazy to think differently. We sit in our comfortable homes with our flat screen TV’s, our ipads, iphones and comfortable lifestyles and think it will all be fixed before the advertisements.  It won’t, it wasn’t and it never will be if we don’t do it for ourselves.
A telegram was sent to the World Jewish Congress by their representative in Switzerland  in 1942 to tell them about the Final Solution and its enactment. They didn’t listen, they didn’t take it seriously. We must learn that when someone says he wants ot kill you he means it.
Herman Schotanus is a friend, in fact  Herman and his wife Gerda became good friends when Herman came to Jerusalem during the “Jerusalem 3000” celebrations with Chistenenvoorisrael led by the legendary and beloved Pee Koeliwijn. One of the dreams of the Dutch Christians was to repair the famous Montefiore Windmill so that it would become a working mill, not just a landmark. As one famous man said “If you will it it is more than a dream” – the  Windmill is turning again!!!!
If you ask Herman which city is the Capital of Israel he would have no problem telling you in a loud and clear voice YERUSHALYIM – but the Guardian newspaper (and the US Government and many other media sources ) disagree.  However……… incredibly the Guardian apologised – still didn’t accept Jerusalem as the capital but apologised for saying that the capital was Tel Aviv, claiming that it was because Tel Aviv is the commercial capital of Israel. By those standards NYC is the capital of the USA; Toronto of Canada; Melbourne of Australia and so on. Yes Guardian we believe there was no ill intent – millions wouldn’t but…. actually millions don’t and never will.
And so to this week in the Raviv household!!! Well to start with I am currently sitting in the Tel Aviv museum coffee shop as Zvi and his friends rehearse. Their Choir “Ha Kol Yechasi” is one of just 10 choirs to reach the final of the Israel Television competition to see who is the best! One friend, whose name I choose not to reveal, just told me of her daughter, who has mild CP. The young woman just finished basic training in the IDF and when they chose to be very careful with her, she went and spoke with her senior officer telling him that she is perfectly capable of doing everything and please stop thinking she is stupid and cannot……… I am so proud of her!!!!
You will be happy to hear that I went to three of your favourite places this week!!! On Monday I took Tamara, Zvi’s Mexican cousins daughter, to Shouk Ramle where she discovered that thousands of people can descend upon one crowded and stuffy market, on a boiling hot day to look for cheap things they didn’t need in the first place!
On Tuesday I met my friend Raya in the Botanical Gardens for a delicious breakfast, there is nothing as delicious, varied, colourful and healthy as an Israeli breakfast. We came early so had a table in the shade beside the lake. Who could ask for anything more? Breakfast is a shared affair, indeed most meals are so generous that one should always go with a friend who is willing to eat half! On Wednesday I took Tamara to the shouk…….. should I say THE shouk, Shouk Mahane Yehuda! I wanted her to see the colours, smell the fruit and veggies, hear the costermongers shouts and generally absorb the sense of this most Jerusalem of places.
To start our morning in the right fashion we sat in my favourite spot, Mizrachis Coffee Shop, on the stoop, watching the world go by while eating (yes eating again) another and very different Jerusalem breakfast. We didn’t find tourists to strike up conversations as I do when I am with my darling Arlene – she and I find people wherever we go – but we watched the incredible variety of people as they passed us by, from over-dressed haredi men and women and hijabi clad Moslem women, to priests, nuns, and ordinary folk. Tamara could not believe the sheer variety of the fruits and vegetables and as we got closer to the Halva stand……… WOW! Halva in just about every flavour  including sugar free halva for my Zvi. The stand owner was offering all and sundry to taste his wares……… scrummy!!! Tamara was convinced that the peaches were bigger, the plums sweeter, the mangoes yellower, the aubergines (eggplant) shinier and the herbs more aromatic than any other…….. I agree!
Actually, there was a fourth place, our veranda. We sat together watching the moon rise orange and huge on the horizon as I showed her the herbs, rosemary, basil, melissa (lemon balm), sage, hyssop, louisa, mint and spearmint, thriving in the shady corner, as shady as a corner can be in the searing heat of this summer; the plethora of tiny green lemons, the kumquats and the two pomegranates that survived the sun. We sat on a balmy Jerusalem evening, thankful for the breeze and mountain air, wondering at the view beneath us, each speck of light a world in itself, a family in the rainbow of Jerusalem, under the stars.
So dear friends, another week has passed. The bride of Shabbat is coming closer, Jerusalem will don her white wedding gown and the wedding feast will take form, the aromas of generations of tradition filling the air, Tel Aviv will celebrate a very different Shabbat in the form of the fun day for outings and beach. I love Jerusalem. I love the fact that living in Jerusalem carries a responsibility, not a heavy one, just the feeling that life has a deeper meaning, more than being part of the now and me generation, Jerusalem teaches one that we have a past, an inheritance, that we don’t exist in a void. Jerusalem, her very name is a prayer, a longing and hope. Jerusalem, I am so lucky that it is my home. Yerushalyim shel
Shabbat Shalom everyone especially to my nephew Steven, his wife Claire and their beautiful daughter Carly who is marrying the delightful James on Sunday. I fell in love with the young couple when they came to visit us in Jerusalem last year because James decided that he could not live a Jewish life without coming to Israel and he fell in love with Jerusalem. Mazal Tov my loves Mazal Tov to you and all the Blooms.
Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, the City we love, the city that is without question or doubt the Capital of the State of Israel
Sorry I got carried away today and wrote a long letter but there was so much to tell you!!!!
STOP PRESS!!! Zvi’s choir got the gold!!!!!! They came equal first out of the top ten choirs in Israel!! What an exciting moment.