The view from my veranda

Thousand Oaks, Kristallnach 80, Mid-terms Kaz, Jerusalem elections

9th November 2018

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope this past week has not been too traumatic for you.

Yet again an act of senseless killing, this time in a sleepy Californian town called Thousand Oaks, has shaken the country to its roots. A former Marine with PTSD obtained a gun, legally, and in a well-planned attack, he went into a bar/club where hundreds of students were having fun line dancing on Country and Western night and after smoke bombing he sprayed them with bullets, killing at least 12 and then killed himself. The gun was legal but his mental state was known so how did he obtain it? How often does tragedy have to befall ordinary people, children, families, concerts, schools, parties, bars, synagogues, before changes are made to a law introduced in 1791?

May the souls of those killed rest in peace, the injured heal, and those who are traumatised for life find consolation.

Mid-term elections in the United States and I just deleted everything I wrote and decided to give you the words of Kazim Hafeez, my friend Kaz. Originally British, now American, Kaz is a very special person from whom we could all learn a great deal.

Some of you are feeling pretty jubilant and some of you are feeling completely disillusioned with the results of the elections last night. I don’t care who or what you voted for, I’m sure you did so based on your values and convictions and even if I don’t agree I can respect that. But changing anything, making things don’t better don’t happen in one day, as vital as it is to vote, that one action on one day isn’t all defining. Ask yourself what am I doing, am I caring for those less fortunate, am I living by the morals and conditions I expect of others and am I trying to be a good person. Honestly Republican, Democrat, Conservative, Liberal they’re all labels we impose or are imposed on us, and yes I impose some of those labels on myself. But I’m tired of the disparaging, the dehumanizing and treating people like they’re worthless and stupid for their political choices. Believe me at times things make zero sense to me when people vote, but I believe people have their reasoning and their life experience is different, hence we’re at different conclusions. But I will still treat you as a person, I won’t disparage and call you names and I’ll still be your friend.

America is its people and how we treat one another and those different from ourselves defines who we are.

Jerusalem decides in the second round of voting for Mayor of Jerusalem.

Ofer Berkovitch, founder of Hitorerut (Awakening) party surprised the pundits by reaching the second round. Born in Jerusalem to a father who is an expert on Jerusalem history, 35 year old Ofer already has 10 years on the Jerusalem Municipal Council under his belt. He fought to keep Jerusalem open and thriving for secular, Christian and Moslem Jerusalemites, and of course the large number of tourists of all streams in the City. Ofer has deep respect for religious Jerusalemites, indeed Yossi Daitch of Agudat Yisrael is in his coalition which already has 10 seats on the council. Hitorerut, which has observant, Haredi and secular supporters and members, believes that ALL citizens of Jerusalem deserve equal rights.

Moshe Lion has an impressive background, Former Director of the Prime Minister’s Office among his achievements. He came to Jerusalem from his home town of Givatayim to run for Mayor, last time losing to Nir Barkat, the outgoing Mayor. Lion is backed by Betar, Shas and Degel haTorah who will dictate the direction of his term of office. In the Municipal elections Lion did not achieve even one seat on the Municipal Council thus making him a lame duck Mayor if he does not rely completely on the support of religious Council Members.

Now, for the interesting part! Shock horror, Israel, world leader in technology, doesn’t have electronic ballots! We are sent our ballot papers several weeks in advance and then approach the polling station and room number on that card where our ID cards (photo ID and ID number clearly shown) are checked and we go into the assigned room, under the eye of invigilators of each party or candidate, enter a curtained booth and choose the appropriate paper vote, place it in a sealed envelope and before the invigilators place it in the ballot box. At the end of voting the sealed boxes are taken to a collection point and counted with the invigilators watching over the count. Simple, straightforward, little room for error or cheating!!!!

Kristallnacht, the night of the broken glass, took place on November 9-10 1938, 80 years ago. Never Again have become empty words as it seems that the world learned no lessons other than to mimic the foul rhetoric of Adolph Hitler and his band of evil. BDS is the modern version of Kristallnacht, the Boycott of Jewish shops, the Divestment of Jewish businesses, Sanctions against Israel/Jews. The breaking glass may be through the internet but it is there. The beating of Jews in the street is here already, the killing of Jews in synagogues…… I want to quote a Tweet by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury ” After 80 years, #Kristallnacht has lost none of its horror – nor should it. With the
resurgence in antisemitism, it’s also an urgently needed reminder that we must
stand in solidarity with our Jewish friends and tear antisemitism up by its roots
wherever we see it.”

Aasia Bibi, young, Christian woman in Pakistan, worked in the fields with a team of Moslem women. She was asked to bring water from the communal water source and was immediately accused and indicted of blasphemy against Islam, thrown into jail, given a death sentence and spent 8 years on death row. Aasia Bibi refused to convert to Islam and repent her action staying true to her Christian faith. Her lawyer fled Pakistan after death threats against him and his family and the world finally, after 8 years, listened to the pleas of her husband. This week, miraculously, the Pakistani Supreme Court relented and she was allowed to leave the country. Her sin? Water touched by a non-Moslem is tainted therefore is considered blasphemy. I have no words.

Jewish Ethiopians, a people who suffered horrific oppression, was rescued and brought to Israel, brought home. I will never forget the day Zvi and I went to the Diplomat Hotel to welcome them. A sea of white Shabbat clothing, quiet and dignified despite the trauma of their journey, honoured that they had been found worthy by Hashem to come to Jerusalem. Today the Ethiopian festival of Sigd is an official holiday in Israel and their journey, their prayer to come to Jerusalem is fulfilled. A ceremony takes place on the Hass Promenade, overlooking Jerusalem with the President of the State of Israel, Reuven Rivlin.

Israelis are tired of the corruption charges against people in power. No let me rephrase that – Israelis are tired of people in power using their power for personal gain From leading businessmen to bankers, the dirt has been brushed out from under a hundred carpets in recent years. As the investigation into the Submarine Affair come to a close too many people close to the Prime Minister, too many people with enormous power which should have been used for the good of the country thought of their own pockets. I am not talking about greasing the palms of oligarchs and African leaders, which often is the only way to advance, but rather of a major German shipbuilder which is deeply embarrassed by the entire affair. The problem is that when the average man, finding it hard to make ends meet, hears of the billions in these cases and thinks “If they can why can’t I cheat too”

I would love to tell you about my exciting social life and the fun places we have visited, but I can’t!! I am still virtually housebound! I am getting better but it is too slow for me! Zvi has gone to Nes Ziona to babysit for 3 of his grand-daughters and Rachel is babysitting me with her two daughters!!! It will be a special Shabbat, a Shabbat of tradition and warmth, an all girly Shabbat with my 3 Haredi women!! Yesterday was Rachel’s birthday and tomorrow is Ayalas so we will have to think of what to do that doesn’t involve birthday candles!!!! I am really excited because they promised to take me a walk around our street which sounds amazing, I just hope the rain holds off, but then we all have raincoats.

Of course I’ll miss Zvi’s Kiddush but we girls will manage just fine and Rachel’s delicious challah will take pride of place.

In honour of the Ethiopian immigration and the unbelievable tragedies many suffered on the long trek to Sudan and their constant prayer to come to Jerusalem, I give you their Song – Maasaa, Journey

So much is heard of the anti-Israel sentiment in South Africa today which makes the next song so uplifting. The King David School made a Koolulam video. Absolutely fabulous, the 3,500 people taking part had never met before but listen to the harmony! It just shows what can be done if you bring diverse folks together in song! “I did it all” If you pay attention you will see our lovely friend Danny Adeno Abebe at 3’45”

I just got a phone call to check on my health and progress from an exceptional woman. Tema Gaba was a friend of my late Mother’s, obviously much younger since she is a mere 97 years old, but a good friend nonetheless. Tema has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Cardiff’s Jewish Community and her kindness and joie de vivre is famous. Just by the way her caring nature has been inherited by her daughter Susan who has given me huge helpings of love and good advice over the past month (and long before) with her constant phone calls and concern.

Back to music and back to Koolulam. This time in the Tower of David in Jerusalem singing Bob Marley’s One Love. See how many faces you recognise in the crowd! In the words of the song “Let’s Get Together and Feel Alright”

Let’s take the words of the song, create harmony and relearn the art of SAVLANUT AND SOVLANUT- patience and tolerance. Not tolerance of evil but tolerance, the simple act of accepting that everyone is different. Time to heed Kasim’s words.

Shabbat Shalom to each and every one of you, whatever you believe, wherever you pray and however you pray, the way to a better world is in our hands.

With much love from our veranda overlooking the city of Jerusalem, glistening white after the rains washed away the dust of summer.