The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom letter from Jerusalem


6th January 2012

Shabbat shalom everybody. Gosh I am really close to the wire with this weeks missive, but for good reason…………we were out last night and I wanted to bathe my grandchildren to make them squeaky clean for Shabbat then give them chocolates to make them dirty again – a grandmothers right surely!

So much happened in the world this week but apart from a few headlines I really want to tell you about some great things I/we did.

The issue of Haredi power struggles has become a huge media fest and in some cases with good reason. For instance – a very tiny group of Haredim dressed their children with Yellow Stars as if they were being treated like Jews in the Holocaust. Now I disapprove of any media bashing but that is just not on. I believe that when one lives in a country, any country, rights come as a result of fulfilling obligations – first fulfill obligations to G-d’s country.,7340,L-4169332,00.html

Syria – oy Syria. Syrians are dying and the world is still threatening action. Don’t threaten DO SOMETHING. Incredibly the West still wants Assad in power so do not dethrone or even debunk him. Go understand politics.

Iranian sabre rattling is becoming deafening and if the big guys in the world of power don’t do something NOPW I have a feeling we, little tiny Israel, may be forced to act. Of course if we do go in there to save the world we will be told our reaction is disproportionate!!!!

Mitt Romney won Iowa. And I for one am pleased. I cannot believe that in supposedly tolerant and open America a man can be put down for his religious belief!!

Jonathan Sacerdoti wrote an outstanding article in the normally wildly anti Israel New Statesman – well worth reading

How Israel made the world better in 2011

7 reasons the IDF is a Tolerant Military

Israel in figures – every statistic you could ever need to know!!

OK now to the good stuff!!!
On Monday I was at the Knesset, with the International Forum, to meet a delightful man. I knew very little about South Korea except that they have a terrifying enemy to the north, learn specific passages from the Talmud in school, believing that “Jewish Genius” comes from the study of the Talmud and about 25% of South Koreans are Christian. I didn’t know that South Korea was formed in 1948, a peaceful democratic people in an area filled with despots, that they prosper despite their warlike neighbours. The Ambassador, who studied in Kings College, London, spoke warmly and beautifully of the relationship between our two countries since diplomatic relations were reinstated in 1993. He spoke of our similarities, in work ethic, initiative, innovation in industry and determination that our children be well educated. He also alluded in no uncertain terms, to the fact that we both live in a rough neighbourhood.

When I walked into the meeting room, right next to the Prime Ministers office, I was delighted to see an old friend, Tuvia Yisraeli, who served the Foreign Office in Geneva and is now our Ambassador to South Korea. Actually, I was not only delighted to see him I was even more delighted to hear of the magnificent job he is doing in Seoul. In a world which rarely compliments the work of others Tuvia received only compliments! It was clear from what everyone said that improving and strengthening Israel-South Korean relationships – both business and personal through tourism – can only be an advantage. South Koreans already come to Israel – now it is time the great Israeli adventurer fly off to investigate the beauty of South Korea on Korean airlines!

My other big event of the year was when my cousin Joannas daughter Tammy got married!! I love Joannas parents, Cyril and Irene, indeed all their family. When my children were growing up in Reading Berkshire, Cyril and Irene were very much part of our lives and now that they have two daughters living in Israel, it makes me feel part of the family. The wedding was held in a beautiful hall in Nes Ziona and the joy that exuded from everyone was tangible. Zvi and I sat with Cyril and Irene and their friends and watched the world go by, incidentally the pre-Chuppa (ceremony) food at Israeli weddings is the best. Small stands each with a different delicacy from burgers and chips through to roasted vegetables or chicken shishlik or……….. everything in a tiny scale so it becomes finger food. Anyway I digress.

The Chuppa was beautiful, the bride and grooms smiles only marginally brighter than the parents grins, the groom breaking the glass, traditionally reminding us that not only is life fragile but also to remind us of the destruction of the Holy Temple. The dancing was wild, Israeli dancing with a wonderful band, all clearly Yeshiva students with long beards and side-curls but with a different past because the guitar players and the singing was wild and included Bob Dylan and Meatloaf!!! Suddenly, we were asked to sit down and a wonderful flashmob took place, danced by the friends (and Mum Joanna) for the Bride and Groom! Amazing!!!!

Family is everything. Family is togetherness. I was so thrilled to see this family together – my family – here in Israel. Despite poor health they came to be at this wonderful festive occasion. Made me jealous, I adore my family but get very sad that they haven’t seen the view from my veranda.

Lat night we went to the opening of our friend Eli Matityahus exhibition of beautiful photography in Tel Aviv, opposite the newly refurbished Habima Theatre. Zvi remembered how he grew up back-stage of the theatre, the original Habima, because his Mothers cousins were among the founders. As a child, when Tel Aviv was just a lot of sand, his parent used to bring him to Habima where he watched the performances from behind the curtains.

So back to bathing the grandchildren in preparation for Shabbat. They live in Givat Zeev and I was lucky enough to come home past Samuel’s Tomb and get that momentary, breathtaking view of Jerusalem in front of me. Last nights rains cleaned the white stonework of the buildings making that panoramic view even brighter. The towers and the hills forming a wonderful relief map.

And so home – to our newly beautiful veranda, bright red cyclamen in the corner and the lobelia just beginning to contrast their sapphire blue.

The shopping mall is emptying and one can hear a pin drop in Jerusalem as the city prepares for Shabbat. Almost here……….. almost. The car park of the shopping mall is emptying, the aromas of international cooking rise up to greet from our neighbours and the world looks as if it could just learn to relax.

Here is your Shabbat treats – a wonderful Jerusalem video and here is Michel Cohen the incredible winner of an Israeli children’s singing competition. Michel won the audience and the judges over with his rendition of Shir laShalom.
Just read the words – This is Israel.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem – Jerusalem – not next year – THIS YEAR IN JERUSALEM