The view from my veranda

Sticks and Stones, Pesach, Shabbat and Maimouna


21st April 2022

Gut Shabbes, Shabbat Shalom, I hope you had a beautiful Easter and Ramadan Kareem

Time and again I try to understand what drives the international media to villainise Israel. Let me set the scene. The Temple Mount, Harem el Sharif by whatever name you choose, is holy to the three monotheistic religions. A very few times a year, with full agreement with the WAQF and the Jordanian Government, a small number of Jews are allowed on to the Temple Mount. This year in the lead-up to Ramadan and Passover there were already major disruptions of the fragile peace, such as attacking Jews on their way to the Western Wall with sticks and rocks; a gang of Arab youth standing in wait for a public bus carrying Jews and Arabs to the Dung Gate being throwing huge rocks at the bus injuring those inside; the gun and knife attacks you heard of in the news…….in other words something was definitely about to happen.

In the meantime, inside the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, young political hooligans desecrated the Mosque by entering with their shoes on sporting Hamas flags, collecting rocks and fireworks, destroying artifacts, then using all of the above to attack Jews and the police who as a last resort entered the Mosque, arrested the perpetrators and allowed some twenty thousand peaceful worshippers, from all over the area, to finally enter the Mosque to pray. One friend, a devout Moslem devoted to peace, felt dismay and anger at the desecration and sheer terrorism which led to the storming of the Mosque.

Perhaps the best example of the perfect response to antagonistic journalism came from Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Fleur Hassan Nahoum in an interview with the BBC on the subject of the rioters in Al Aqsa

To suggest that we simply do not go to The Old City is to suggest that the war in 1967 was lost and Judaism and Christianity have lost the battle for their holy sites. I still remember my first visit to Jerusalem in 1963 when we could only look over the beauty of the City of Gold from a distance, singing the Passover prayer – Next Year in Jerusalem. We were not referring to the still small new city, nor the number 14 but, not even Mount Herzl, our prayer was for what was held in those ramparts surrounding our holiest of sites, The Temple Mount and the Western Wall.

On the other hand, in a project that has lasted several years, the Via Dolorosa has been made wheelchair accessible! Those of you who know the Old City will understand just how huge the project was, trying not to destroy and ancient stones in the narrow passageways that make up the Stations of the Cross, but it was finished just in time for Easter and the thousands of pilgrims that have returned to Jerusalem after Covid.

So we clearly survived our personal battle with Covid! As I told you our Seder was cancelled, everyone having to hurriedly cobble together food and preparations, and Zvi and I read the Story of the Exodus from Egypt, managing to get almost to the end before collapsing into bed. Our food was made up of contributions from my incredible daughter who left her famous long cooked beef and turmeric chicken, balloons to cheer us up and flowers outside the door, then standing outside to wave and blow kisses with the children; Leor came with the four girls (having just recovered from Covid) after they raided the Kosher le Pesach (Mahedrin even) ready food store in Abu Ghosh – yes that’s what I said, the Mahedrin kosher for Passover ready food store in Abu Ghosh a predominantly Moslem town right next to us . Abu Ghosh shares its Biblical name with Kiriat Yearim, a religious village next to it where obviously many of the clients for the Mahedrin store came from! To continue, our downstairs neighbour Yael called to me to open the door where I found home made Gefilte fish and chicken soup with kneidlach…… and other neighbours acted similarly leaving gifts of flowers and wine!!

The next few days went by in a fog of coughing and generally feeling sorry for ourselves, but actually gave our bodies time to rest from our insanely active lives. We spent a lot of time catching up on Netflix series and eating the wonderful gifts of food. Luckily I always like to be prepared (a former Girl Scout) so all our Passover dishes were already brought up from our storeroom! It was probably the quietest Passover we ever had but we are out of it, received our official letters of “freedom” from the Ministry of Health and yesterday finally both did antigen tests and were negative!!

Just a word about the last week. Do not be disturbed by the public words of the various Arab leaders, especially King Abdullah of Jordan, or to be more accurate his Prime Minister, who condemned Israeli incitement on Harem al Sharif. Firstly the Temple Mount is officially under the direction of Jordan, secondly King Abdullah was having back surgery in German, his population is now 70% Palestinian(remember the last 2-State solution) and his position as a Bedouin leader is tenuous and finally all the Arab leaders speak to the populace but keep to their position re Israel.

Do you know what the Maimouna is? In essence it is a celebration of the end of Passover, Pesach, but it also so much more!! A tradition started by the Jews of the town of Magheb in Morocco, it is an epicurean festival of huge proportions accompanied by enough sugar to ensure diabetes in all who attend!! A fabulous display of multicoloured sweet treats, all lovingly prepared by the hostess. It is said to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Maimonedes, indeed many explanations of both the name and the reason but here it is well explained  We will go to our friends and neighbours Yehudit and Zalman Zvidetski for the Maimounah and if you wonder at their very Ashkenaz name and its relationship to Morocco, Yehudit’s family come from Morocco! Everything has honey, whether the pancake like moufletas, stuffed dates, coconut cookies, little mini finger food style sticky, gooey deliciousness. Luckily for me I have a nut allergy otherwise I would be at least 10 kilos heavier just looking at it all!!

Yesterday was very special. Daniel’s best friend Justin (aka Paddy) and his fabulous wife Daniella and two of their four children, Orly and Sam, came to visit. In celebration of their visit, Poodle came especially from Tel Aviv and Rachel, Yosef, Talia and Ayala came too! It was such a joy. We all sat outside despite the somewhat brisk weather. After checking out the food on the table the children all went inside and did some drawing and painting led by Talia, which left all of us to just be together. We spoke about the Dr Daniel Cammerman Impact-se Library and of course had hoped to go to see the Dr Dan’s Room in Shalva but Shalva closes for Passover. They’ll be back soon by which time the final touches will be made to the Studio and the young people of Shalva will be having fun there. We also spoke about Impact-se and the incredible work done by the organisation/research institute I am so proud to Chair. If I may be very British and tell you that Justin was “gobsmacked” at our work.

I must get to my preparations for the second half of Passover! We are alone tonight but we have wonderful guests on Friday night – Nattie and Yolli Zonszein – and I need to have something really tasty because Nattie always comes up with delicious concoctions for us when we visit them – she is a fabulous cook.

So that’s it for this week. I just hope and pray that the coming week will be more peaceful and that we can celebrate each other’s festivals, our differences are all part of the beauty of Jerusalem, as I always say the rainbow would be very boring if it was all one colour, we need each other to create the rainbow of humanity that reveres the Golden City.

One aspect of Passover is that it is not the first nor the last story of oppression of Jews, although one of ultimate triumph as we leave slavery to freedom, but one song, a short Passover song, that expresses that is V’Hee Sheamda, He who stood up.

And this (Hashem’s blessings and the Torah) is what kept our fathers and what keeps us surviving. For, not only one arose and tried to destroy us, rather in every generation they try to destroy us, and the Almighty saves us from their hands.

Since your favourite songs come from Koolulam and my favourite song is Al Kol Eleh and we all love Shlomi Shabat I decided to combine them all with

The Israeli police and Border Guards get a rotten press and after all they are the front line not only against crime and terrorism but to help us all on every level. They are above all ordinary human beings, Jews, Moslem and Christian Israelis, who have a sense of duty. I loved this The chorus says it all

Here is home, here’s the heart

And from you I’ll not depart

Our forefathers, our roots,

And we are the flowers, the tunes

A tribe of brothers and sisters

Wishing you a wonderful Shabbat and of course a sweet Maimunah. With much love from Jerusalem the city so beautiful that everyone wants it! There’s plenty to share!!

Before I go, I have to beg you to teach your children to accept those different from themselves, it’s called Tolerance. Tolerance has nothing to do with tolerating things that you abhor, it is teaching our children about that rainbow of humanity, that only when all the colours shine in their own space, in their own way, touching but not mixing, will we raise a generation of understanding. It doesn’t happen only in schools, it comes from home, it comes from the heart.