The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom letter from Jerusalem


18th November 2011

Shabbat Shalom for glorious rainy Jerusalem!

I love the rain, it cleanses the air, the city, the soul and gives life to the earth. I imagine the tiny seeds and bulbs hiding in the cracked arid earth suddenly springing into life, preparing to burst forth in the spring.

I am so furious with the so-called humanitarian organisations. They spend all their funds and energy on the Palestinians when there are so many others who truly need their attention. The media too but they have a different agenda because if you check their advertising almost all of them are dependent on either ownership or advertising of Moslem companies. Emirates and CNN, Sky, even Fox!!! Let me explain.

The killing in Syria continues and as CNN reporter John Vause cleverly observed more have died in this uprising, killed by their own government, than in all the Israeli/Palestinian debacle. Just yesterday another 19 died and all they get is a smack on the wrist.

The Sinai Desert elicits thoughts of snorkelling, scuba diving, sunshine and tourism? Not if you happen to be a refugee from the genocide in the Sudan and want to reach freedom in Israel. The Bedouin of the Sinai trade these refugees and on route they beat, rape, kill, and steal their organs. Where is the outrage? Where are the humanitarian organisations? Stop concentrating on the Palestinians and look to those who really need you!!!!

If we are already talking about the Sudan, where was the outrage at the slaughter, the ethnic cleansing that took place by the Moslem North on the predominantly Christian South? Why was Israel the first nation to accept the newly emerging South Sudan?

The most self-destructive actions seen recently concern Iran. For years, Mohammed El Baradei, a man with highly suspect affiliations to the Moslem Brotherhood, was responsible for overseeing the Iranian nuclear capabilities for the IEAE, supposedly to conform with the non-proliferation treaty. Nothing will convince me that no-one knew. The dire situation we now find ourselves in was due to sheer negligence on the part of our leaders.

Aah, the idiocies and interests of NGO’s, media and governments – who was it who said “Nations don’t have friends, nations have interests” and sometimes that is made very clear by open-mike incidents when the French and the Americans – both known for never ever going back on their word!

OK enough bad news, I just switched on the TV and the movie “Exodus” is on. It is so outdated and so brilliant! I love it, try to ignore the romanticised version but adore the scene when the British Officer claims he can always recognise a Jewish face and Paul Newman (aka Ari ben Canaan) asks him to see if he has something in his eye……….. and of course fools him! As Ari ben Canaan and Mrs Freeman sit on the terrace of the King David one feels that time stood still – the glorious view of the Old City hasn’t changed, although now we can go inside and walk to the Kotel in freedom and then, as they walked through the main lobby I half expected to see Adnan behind the Concierge desk!!! Even the Irgun prisoner scene was taken in the actual prison near the Russian compound. The United Nations vote on partition, partition of the land into a Jewish State and a Arab State (Jordan) and Ben Gurions declaration of that vote and his thanks to the British troops who”Carried out their task with honour” and to the Arabs to join hands and live in peace as the crowd sang Hatikva. What a story, what a movie and Pat Boone captured the urgency and desperation of those who were coming home through the theme song and its wonderful lyrics. It may be a movie but it is so close to the truth of the horrors of the escape from the Holocaust and the fight to create a state from a Biblical dream. We need Exodus to be re-released.

I found an amazing video for you – celebrating 60 years for the IDF. It is in Hebrew but I am confident you will understand anyway.

The second video shows the first ever film of Jerusalem, shot in 1896, showing Jews at the Train Station and in the streets. The narrator tell us that at that time the City of Jerusalem had approximately 45,000 citizens with a clear a Jewish majority. 28,000 Jews, 8,500 Moslems and 8,700 Christians. That is over 60% Jewish, and about 20% each for Christians and Moslems. As such evidence is uncovered the truth is becomes clearer.

This week Zvi met with a fascinating man to hear of a truly important project. Shmuel Willenberg is the only living survivor of the Treblinka death camp. Zvi made contact with Shmuel after a newspaper article about him in Zvi’s search for information about his family, all of whom perished in the Shoah. Zvi’s Uncle Josef Ribak, a physician and footballer in the Polish national team, became known as the “Doctor of Treblinka” where he took care of the 600 workers in the camp. It was known that when patients thanked Dr Ribak for curing them he begged them not to thank him for returning them to hell. Dr Ribak died shortly before war ended.

Shmuel Willenberg and his wife Ada take groups to Poland, to Treblinka so that we will never forget. Shmuel and Ada wanted Zvi to meet Sigmund Rolat, a Polish/American Jew who Helped to build the Museum of the History of Polish Jews and now wishes to help fulfill Shmuels dream to build a Visitors Centre at Treblinka. Shmuel and Ada’s daughter is a fine architect and has designed the project so that those who come to pay tribute to that most Jewish of death camps can rest, learn, lecture and contemplate on the site. Treblinka had the highest percentage of Jewish in-mates and dead, although much smaller than the other camps, over 90% were Jews. Zvi wants to help – after all that is as close as he can ever manage to get to any of his Uncles, Aunts or Grandparents – all of whom perished.

Rain, cleansing, life giving rain has made the view from our veranda even more beautiful than usual. The hills stand out against the hazy horizon and the buildings are sparkling clean. The flowers breathe a sigh of relief and their colours seem to smile at the grey and cloudy skies. Did you know that the rains that fall on Jerusalem go in two directions? Really! King George Street is the line, the ridge from which the rains flow either to the Mediterranean or to the Dead Sea.

The skies are closing in and the rain strengthening as soggy Jerusalemites wend their weary way home. This is the real weather for Hamin or Cholent, warm and satisfying as it sits overnight on the hot-plate. Meat, potato, beans, onions, carrots and turnips – the difference between the two is that Hamin has whole eggs in it the shells browned by the long, slow cooking and Ashkenaz Cholent has Kishkeh – stuffed intestines (yes really). If one is too tired or too lazy to cook one can go to the haredi Meah Shearim neighbourhood and take home entire pots filled with the succulent Shabbat dish. The aromas the come from the slow slow cooking whet appetites and awaken memories.

Time to finish cooking and prepare the apartment for Shabbat. Zvi will sing the kiddush in his wonderful Bass-Baritone voice, the same kiddush that Jews around the world will be singing to their families to bless the wine and welcome the bride of Shabbat. He will bring the challot home from Angel’s bakery, the one in the petrol station after putting the world to rights with his parliament as so many Israeli men and women do on a Friday morning.

Shabbat Shalom to you dear friends, Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem
With much love

By the way Stanley – the pomegranates are red and juicy and the oranges turning a bright sunshine colour as the ripen on the little tree