25th of February, 2022
Shabbat Shalom to one and all. I hope you had a good week.
As the excellent British children’s radio programme “Listen with Mother” would say “Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin” Those were innocent times when Mothers sat with their children to hear stories, in fact they used to read stories at a time when cell phones were not invented and parents listen to their children as they sat together. Please excuse my outburst but I feel that children today miss out on wonderful calming radio programmes and true parent time without interruption.
Wow! This time I didn’t just digress, I veered off course! I have a sneaky feeling that you will agree though.
If I may use two expressions in one sentence, the current elephant in the room which came crashing through the china shop is the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. No-one can tell me that Western leaders were unaware of Putin’s intentions. This is not a sudden incursion, Crimea, Georgia and now the Ukraine made it crystal clear that Putin, a true Soviet at heart, intends reforming the FSU into the USSR. Russia gained a foothold to the Mediterranean, alongside Iran, in Syria and the world stood by as 500,000 Syrians died. Weak leadership throughout the Western countries, leaders whose inability to make important decisions has allowed too many Tyrants to continue wreaking havoc while the West points its finger at that easy target, Israel/Palestine. There are so many unanswered questions. We, the ordinary folk knew nothing of Ukrainian nuclear weaponry which apparently was handed over to Russia… I really have difficulty understanding the situation beyond the obvious but the author of this article from the Spectator does. https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/vlad-the-invader-putin-is-trying-to-recreate-the-tsarist-russian-empire
In the meantime an unexpected but welcome move by the EU which is about to freeze funding to the Palestinian Authority after they refused to reform their textbooks removing incitement to hatred from their schools. After many nations in the MENA region have approached Impact-se or accepted the offer of help to take hate out of their schoolbooks the Palestinian Authority flatly refused to do so. Several countries (Norway, Australia, UK, partial USA) have already withdrawn their funding for education but this is really big, requiring a consensus that only through text books can one win the war on intolerance.
Following the Amnesty declaration that Israel is an apartheid state (surprise surprise) The Economist Intelligence Unit released its 2021 Democracy index and guess what? Israel ranked above Spain, Chile, USA, Portugal and Italy! The list is long and so is the link, but it is fascinating! https://legalinsurrection.com/2022/02/israel-rated-more-democratic-than-the-u-s-spain-italy-and-south-africa-amnesty-intl-hardest-hit/
Dreadful storms hit the UK this week, tearing off roofs, damaging the huge O2, Millennium Dome, washing away cars and even homes. As Storm Eunice gained force on her destructive path she tore apart structures in Belgium and Holland. Apparently caused by a lowering of temperature in the Atlantic, perhaps a warning that land masses that were once under the water, may once again head that way.
Over the last few weeks I have hinted at a major problem here in Israel, that is the criminal element in the Southern Bedouin towns and villages. Unfortunately, the situation was allowed to grow, the problem ignored, by the previous government, in fact by several governments, and has now reached a point whereby the police is unable to rein in the unfettered, wild driving and dangerous speed races on the main roads leading to Eilat and Beersheva and the brazen robbery of houses in that area. Fearing international uproar, Israel has not dared to single out a specific sector of society, culminating in unconstrained illegal building and a realisation that they would not be prosecuted has led to a lawless sector. Please understand, the vast majority of Israeli Bedouin are law-abiding, serve in the IDF, volunteer in Magen David Adom Ambulance service, but, and this is a very big but, their young people have a sense of hopelessness which leads to wild behaviour, exacerbated by Covid and the natural restrictions thereof. The problem is complex, is not singular to Israel but nonetheless must be solved.
Each time I write I tend to tell you that “this was an exceptionally busy, or insane, or jam-packed week” Well this one really was, but with some wonderful, bitter-sweet events. So crazy was the week that on our Google diary almost every column (day) was bright blue, my colour on the diary! Usually it is filled with Zvi’s green appointments but not this week!
I’ll start with Sunday morning when our upstairs neighbour invited a few women for breakfast and we learned that she had been the official spokeswoman for Hadassah Hospital during the second Intifada and saw far more than any human being should see. One should never assume one knows a person until they have told their story.
Monday was very special. Zvi and I met my former husband Philip and his wife Barbara, together with Rachel, to see the great advances made in Dr. Dan’s Room in Shalva. First of all we sat with Gaby and the founder of Shalva, Kalman Samuels in the amazing Shalva Coffee Shop for a delicious breakfast before heading off for the full tour. For Philip and Barbara it was truly enlightening, they, like most people, had no idea of the wonder that is Shalva. We toured the huge outside playground overlooking Jerusalem, the hydrotherapy pool, the basket ball court where Yair from The Shalva Band suddenly saw Gaby and had to come and give her a hug, the bedrooms for overnights, the synagogue and events hall, so much to see and love – then we made our way to the purpose of our visit – Dr. Dan’s Room. It was so important to me that both Philip, as Daniel’s father and Barbara see what Rachel and I had worked so hard on – even though it is unfinished – a phenomenal studio for Music, Drama and Dance for the young people of Shalva whose potential and confidence can be opened up by the activities planned. Yes they agreed, Daniel would have loved the joy that the room will bring to so many. I hope to bring you photographs very soon.
Then came Tuesday. Wow, Tuesday. As you already know, I am Board chair of Impact-se (www.impact-se.org) and after 25 years of research into Tolerance in Education, we succeeded in gathering all the reports and donated them to the library of the Education and Social Studies Department of the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus, Jerusalem. That in itself is of huge importance, because within those small volumes one can see the progress of both the organisation and the successes. Teach children hate and they will hate, teach them love and they will love, teach them tolerance and you change the world. The Board, led by our amazing CEO Marcus Sheff decided that my late son, my Daniel, embodied and practised that tolerance every day of his too short life and chose to name it the Dr. Daniel Cammerman Collection. The ceremony was held in the Library and I was both moved and amazed by the number of friends who came to support me. It was very special that Philip was here in Jerusalem to witness the event and help me unveil the beautiful plaque which declared “A man of patience, gentle tolerance and love of learning”. I was so proud of the team who ensured a dignified, humble ceremony.
I suddenly thought of Pink Floyd’s Brick in the Wall, the lyrics written by Roger Waters, and the correlation between those words and the anti-Semitic hate speech of the former singer Roger Waters, leader of BDS. Perhaps we should do research into the influence of his lyrics on an entire generation.
Wednesday was of even greater importance. I collected my gorgeous grand-daughter Ayala and took her to have a haircut a “tisporet”. She has the most incredible waterfall of long, soft hair and she, like her Safta (Granma) and all the women in the family, will only go to Yaniv, who has been doing our hair for the last 20 years at least. As I sat watching him work wonders I thought about the man. Born into a Kurdish Jewish family Yaniv became fascinated by the Shoah. Most of his classmates did not understand that the Shoah, the Holocaust, had relevance for them, their families coming from mostly North African countries and mistakenly thinking that the Holocaust was an Ashkenazi disaster; Yaniv, however, researched and visited Yad Vashem on his own, even as a teenager he had an intense sense of understanding. Yaniv is proof that education can make the man, the whole man.
Anyway, this was supposed to be about Ayala! She left the salon swinging her hair as only a 14 year old can, with a hairstyle to make Jennifer Aniston jealous!
I was supposed to meet the wonderful Kathleen and Earl Cox to take them to Shalva yesterday but was horrified to get a WhatsApp from Kathleen they were in Shaare Zedek ER after a fall. Of course the staff were amazing, but just to ensure the special treatment they so richly deserve in the overworked ER I managed to call my friend Valerie whose daughter Anoushka was a doctor on duty and took over their treatment. Feel better dear Earl.
This evening we are very excited that our lovely friend Kim is flying in from Alberta, Canada for the JAFI and Jewish Agency meetings. He hasn’t been here for over 2 years which is a record! Once he gets his PCR results, which are automatic upon landing in Israel, Leor and family are coming for supper. After such a crazy week my mind wasn’t on cooking…..but we will have a feast nonetheless! Zvi always says that if I am given half an hour’s warning of guests coming, a 4 course feast will be on the table before they ring the doorbell!!!
So, we need some music to take our minds off the side effects of what is happening in the Ukraine. I hope you enjoy.
Happy Birthday! For the 17th birthday of Sammy, my amazing, loving, complex needs grandson and the 80th birthday of my brother Ronnie there’s only one possible song which was written for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King who expressed so much of what we want the world to be https://youtu.be/Qwscb3QIVSg
Rachel just called and told me about a wonderful happy song about good days… Yamim Tovim. Eyal Golan sits in the cinema to watch the original movie and suddenly Ze’ev Revach, star of the original movie is sitting next to him! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5W7TBcnJq4
OK another wonderfully happy song where you even get to see a bit of Mahane Yehuda market! Too many people think all Jewish music is in a minor key but……there are lots of happy songs too. I loved this, although again there are no subtitles. The Revivo Project and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yXyHBVp518
Almost Shabbat, just another few hours to get the table laid with white tablecloth, the cover for the Challot (Shabbat bread) waiting beside the kiddush cup (for the blessing over wine), the food cooked, the Shabbat candles ready in the candlesticks. I always light one for each of Zvi and my children and follow the new tradition started by Justin and Daniella Selig – and extra two colourful candles for Daniel. Shabbat, I always feel that as I light the candles I light the world just a little bit. Tomorrow we will go for a walk to show Kim our wonderful new home, the fabulous puffballs of the almond blossom, the wild flowers that now replace the buildings of Jerusalem in our backyard but with a panorama of Jerusalem in the background.
I wish you and yours a beautiful weekend, a Gut Shabbes, a Shabbat Shalom, one of true peace.