The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom Letter from Jerusalem

4th of May 2012
Shabbat shalom dear friends.
Hagai Amir, brother of Yitzchak Rabin’s assassin Igal Amir, was released from prison this morning after serving a 16 year sentence for aiding and abetting his brother in his plot to kill a Prime Minister and change a country. Most of his prison term was spent in solitary confinement. Swamped by journalists his first words as he left the prison gates were that he did not regret his actions. I am furious not only that he feels no remorse but that he and his family are invited to several “parties” to give him a hero’s welcome home. I shudder to think that anyone who calls himself a Zionist can applaud such a heinous crime.,7340,L-4224634,00.html
2nd of May 1860 was a truly auspicious day. Tivador (Theodore Benjamin Zeev) was born to Jeanette and Jakob Herzl, German-speaking, assimilated Jews. Tivadore, Theodore, while aware of being a Jew never felt it impaired his journalistic career until that fateful day in France when he saw a Jewish Officer in France on trial and found guilty of a crime he did not commit – because he was a Jew. The Dreyfus trial was to change Herzl’s understanding of the position of Jews, even assimilated Jews, in our world. On that day the seed of his dream was fertilised to grow and flower into the most beautiful, strong, Jewish and still blossoming country. He of course never lived to see the miracle but we did. Today Zvi and 100 singers from all over the country will sing in Mamilla. They will sing Israeli songs right next to the house in which Herzl stayed as he prepared for his meeting with the Kaiser. We live history every moment and it is up to us to ensure that the dream does not sour and become a nightmare. By us I mean you too – Herzl gave us the dream and the strength to stand up and defend ourselves so ensure that Israel is not the Dreyfus of today.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lost his father and mentor this week and I extend my condolences and sorrow to the son, rather than the Prime Minister. Ben Zion (Mileikowsky) Netanyahu z”l was a great teacher and philosopher who remained prolific right up until his last months. The Prime Ministers father passed away this week at the wonderful age of 102, his brilliant brain active until the end. May his soul rest in peace and his family know no more sorrow. This article written in March celebrates his exceptional life.
Yair Lapid is clever, handsome, charismatic and I fear he is another one who says Yes I Can without knowing what. Yair Lapid decided to leave the world of television and journalism to follow in his father Tommy’s footsteps and form a political party to run in the next elections on the question of rights demand obligations (serving in IDF, working and paying taxes). In principle I agree with him but it cannot be the only subject on his party’s manifesto and he needs to bring some weathered politicians in as his advisors. The name of the party “Yesh Atid” – there is a future – is too reminiscent of Yes I Can. The youngsters of this country are jumping on his attractive bandwagon for the simple reason that they are the ones serving in the IDF, doing reserve duty and working long hours to earn a crust and they are looking to Lapid to solve the problem.
Incredibly is it a year since we lost Zvi’s wonderful Mother Ala. We held a very small ceremony to honour both of Zvi’s parents in the beautiful section set aside for Yakirei Yerushalyim (literally the Beloved of Jerusalem or Worthy Citizen) to honour their exceptional work as teachers, educators, Zionists and volunteers for Jerusalem. Zvi sang the prayers overlooking the Jerusalem Hills.
Tel Aviv friends often don’t know, or want to know Jerusalem, preferring lies in the press rather than discovering the fun of our winding streets and fabulous markets and restaurants. Yehudit and Shula asked me where in Jerusalem is it most typically Jerusalem and I said Mahane Yehuda. I met them there on a relatively quiet Sunday yet it still held the excitement of delicious, fresh incredible fruit and veg, costermongers setting up their wares and mountains of strawberries tempting jam makers as we reach the end of the season; huge, luscious shesek (loquat); the first nectarines, crisp and juicy; a hundred flavours of Halva piled temptingly, as if calling you to taste their sticky sweetness; aromatic herbs and of course the heady scent of a hundred varieties of spice in fascinating jars and baskets. We stopped for coffee in the famous coffee shop, sitting watching the world go by and marvelling at the rainbow that is Jerusalem.
Every time I walked down Rachel Imenu Street in the German Colony I feel my pulse quickening knowing that I am close to the most beautiful building in Jerusalem. The beauty is not just physical, which it is indeed, but because of those who inhabit this building. It is the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem. The ICEJ unfailingly supports Israel and was founded when all our supposed diplomatic allies failed us by moving their Embassies to Tel Aviv. I went with Yossi Tal-Gan, Director of the Israel Festival to discuss two very important events in this years calendar – the Defiant Requiem and the performance of Christus with the Embassies charismatic director Jurgen Buehler who I am proud to call friend.
Paul and Flory Hariton with Flory’s wonderful Mother Dalia Herman to Chavat Hanoar haZioni (Hanoar haZioni Farm) youth village, right in the middle of Jerusalem to see the Clara Herman sports centre and swimming pool in action. It is amazing to see as Olympic potentials are joined by groups of autistic youth, a truly amazing project. While at the pool we were joined by our adoptive “grandson” Tomer who is one of the exceptional students at the village in a programme that allows him to fly academically and join a programme at the Hebrew University for the brightest stars – not bad for a 14 year old eh? Tomer is also a very normal young man who enjoys boxing much to the dismay of us all – we encourage him but worry about the various injuries! I say adopted grandson because Zvi and I adopted his parents Valeri and Ira (or was it the other way around?) when they arrived in Israel from Moscow just a year after I made Aliyah. We have been through virtually all experiences together and when Tomer decided to arrive early Ira and Valeri stayed in our home while he was in the prem baby unit. Tomer had his Brit Milah (circumcision ceremony) in our lounge! Since that time we spend all festivals together and we are as proud of Tomer and his sister, the lovely Sheli, as we are of our birth grandchildren.
We just got back from Zvi’s performance as MC to the choirs who sang in Mamilla. The passing crowds on their Friday morning stroll relished the songs, songs of yesteryear and all I could think was that it was a fitting birthday party for Herzl. Incredible to think that we stood there due to the passionate dream and determination of Binyamin Zeev Herzl and that we then casually strolled the streets he walked to meet kaiser Bill and went for coffee outside the house he slept in to ensure our right to exist. IF YOU WILL IT IT IS NOT A DREAM. He made it reality.
I now have to set the table for Shabbat, since seeing my husband perform takes precedence over my natural wish to be ready well in advance. Tonight the Haritons come for supper and we will be joined by my favourite archaeologist Prof. Gabby Barkay – my hero who saved and sifted even the finest tilth removed from beneath the Temple Mount.
Shabbat Shalom to you all. I wish you peace and joy and tradition – tradition, the essence of our being.
With love from Jerusalem