The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom,

27th October 2023

Shabbat shalom dear friends, Shabbat Shalom to each and every one of you

This is going to be a short missive. After all you have been so patient with my daily reports, actually you have expressed your need for true information so I kept right on going.

I am fascinated by two words in Hebrew, Ta’amula and Hasbara. If you look up Google translate or even one of the translation apps, they both come out the same but in the local vernacular, they are very different. Hasbara is rather an innocent word, basically meaning dissemination of information whereas Ta’amula means propaganda. Hasbara means that you have checked your facts and tried to take out the emotion where possible; Ta’amula is propaganda and facts are a side issue often forgotten. Choose carefully what you read, what you believe. If in doubt please, ask me and I will be able to differentiate, if not I will ask Marcus.

Just one important item and then I promise to send you into Shabbat with a smile. In case you hadn’t realised, a smile can change your world and the world around you We are no longer willing to be the “poor me” we must stand up straight and spread kindness.

Rumour had it that the Hamas terrorists of the massacre on October 7th must have been drugged to perform such barbaric acts or cruelty, but it was only rumour, now it is fact. When Israeli soldiers captured Hamas terrorists and on the bodies of those killed, they found packets of synthetic amphetamines called Ceptagon or its generic name of fenethylline. It is trafficked from Turkey to the Middle East. Fenethylline lowers inhibition and is taken like candy during battle to raise aggression. It explains so much. 

Many years ago, during the ghastly second Intifada, I met an incredible couple from Canada, Chantal and Marc Belzberg. They told the story of their daughter’s Bat Mitzva when they asked her what she wanted as her gift, she told them she wanted to take all the money she’d been given to create a fund for Victims of Terror. Thus “One Family” was created and has supported those who suffered and their families ever since. They held Kinneret Chaya’s hand for many years. They now have a whole new situation and One Family needs the finances to reach out to all those families who are traumatised by the loss of their loved ones and the families of the hostages.

Yosef Haddad is an Arab, Israeli who served in the IDF. Here he takes down the interviewer in very few words,

Last night I went to a fascinating and highly spiritual ceremony here in our estate. It was held in the beautiful old building, built in the last century and designed exactly like the White House – really!  Anyway, the ceremony of Hafsharat Challah involves taking the various components of bread (Flour, yeast, oil, water, sugar and salt) and blessing each component separately. We each added a little to the flour and one woman kneaded the result. We then each lit a candle to preserve and keep any soldiers that we know, I chose two families that mean a great deal to me, Shelly, who you know of and the family of Peter Cooper, a family where Peter’s wife, Yaella and their sons all serve. It was very emotional. We sang together and held hands

Right now, Zvi is on “shmira” guard duty At least this time he chose a reasonable hour! It involves watching the screens of all the security cameras in the area, looking for any unusual activities. The centre, or Hamal, is in the local community centre and quite apart from doing one’s duty, one gets to meet wonderful people from the area. In fact, we have so many community activities to ensure unity and support that it is heartwarming.

Anton Delin is one of the Admins of the Facebook group called Brits Living in Israel and he started a campaign to buy warm clothing for soldiers on the Golan Heights where nights can be really cold. Yesterday he delivered them! Special cold weather blankets, coats and so one to keep our boys and girls warm. So proud. Wonderful initiative.

Despite taking our car to have its test and finding that I didn’t have all the necessary paperwork and the accompanying angst, I found a kind, helpful crew at the test station, all Arab Israelis, all kind, all traumatised as are we. They went out of their way to help me sort through all the obsolete paperwork that was in the car and to organise a copy of the 3rd party insurance (to which one adds the private insurance) without which I couldn’t have the essential document to say the car had passed the test. It all worked out in the end but it really was a hopeful experience.

When I got home from the test centre I needed to do something positive, looking forward to better times. What did I do? What I always do, I plant! It really doesn’t matter what I plant just as long as I plant. In this case I had a loads of spring bulbs that were waiting for me to do something positive, so I did. Grape Hyacinth, Freesia, Tulips, Rununculus (which are my favourites) and several unknown bulbs that I had taken from the earth in the spring after flowering.  Somehow, digging in the earth and preparing for better times calms my angst. I then did an inspection of our veranda and its produce. The citrus trees are burgeoning, the tomato plant that Rachel grew from seed is producing nicely and the pepper plants which I grew from seed are excellent although surprising – I took the seeds of a particularly delicious yellow pepper and the plants are producing long green peppers! Rachel and I often do seed swaps, both of us finding solace in our plants. Best of all, my favourite fuchsia, which I call Valerie because my wonderful friend Valerie had one and gave me a cutting, has come back to life after suffering from the searing summer sun. It gave me hope!

I am not being flippant; I just feel that we must find the good in this world or we will sink. The Rebbitsen (wife of Rabbi) who did the Challah yesterday, said that the greatest blessing we can give to our world is to make another person smile. It is what I do automatically, always have done and always will. That is the only way we will come out of the current fears and trauma, especially with children. Smile, Charlie Chaplin understood

Stay strong, be strong. We are allowed to be afraid it is a very scary world right now and as the famous poem by Father Niemoller ends, “and then they came for me and there was no one to stand up for me” We must all stand tall; one must unite and stand up to bullies otherwise they can and will take over our world.

I haven’t even referred to Shabbat! Tonight, it is irrelevant if you are observant or secular, Jewish, Christian or Moslem, light a special candle, even two, add them to your Shabbat Candles, and say a little prayer for those who are in captivity, for those who have family in captivity and for those who have lost loved ones.  The Torah portion this week explains the start of the whole darned mess. When Sarai (Sarah) does not fall pregnant after 10 years of marriage, she tell Abram (Abraham) to lay with their maidservant so that he will have a child, then Sarai herself falls pregnant. The story of Isaac and Ishmael starts here.

Oh well, I suppose I needed to talk to you and the short missive became longer than intended. Thank you all for your incredible moral support. I wish you a peaceful weekend, a Shabbat Shalom, be it Saturday or Sunday

With love from Jerusalem