The view from my veranda

Trump UK, Nehama Rivlin z’l, D-Day, Bulgaria

Today is the 6th of the 6th 2019. A most propitious date.

6th of June and the 3rd day of the Hebrew month of Sivan.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Shevuot Sameach everyone. I hope this missive finds you well.

A blessed Ascension Day to all my Christian friends and Eid Mubarak to my Moslem friends.

Before writing about this day in history I just want to express my feelings about the bad behaviour of the protesters against President Trumps visit. The American President was in the UK at the direct invitation of the Queen who received him with her usual grace and ceremony. It was a State Visit. I understand if one wants to demonstrate, I accept that Trump is not everyone’s cup of tea, he isn’t mine, however, President Trump was in the UK representing his country and the infantile, inane behaviour of the balloons, mown penises and statues insulting the American President – insulting the USA is inexcusable. Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, a highly educated man, surprised me in his acceptance, nay encouragement of this puerile behaviour. It is behaviour unbecoming – it just isn’t cricket.

Why a propitious date?

75 years ago our wonderful friend Norman Cohen was one of the soldiers, the incredibly brave soldiers who took part in D-Day, the invasion of Normandy and the turning point of WW2. It was a bloody battle, from the air, sea and land – the name for the combined attack is Operation Overlord. British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, American fought fiercely; this was the battle against the ultimate evil, the Third Reich. King George VI said ” Four years ago, our Nation and Empire stood alone against an overwhelming enemy, with our backs to the wall……… Now once more a supreme test has to be faced. This time, the challenge is not to fight to survive but to fight to win the final victory for the good cause. Once again what is demanded from us all is something more than courage and endurance; we need a revival of spirit, a new unconquerable resolve. After nearly five years of toil and suffering, we must renew that crusading impulse on which we entered the war and met its darkest hour. We and our Allies are sure that our fight is against evil and for a world in which goodness and honour may be the foundation of the life of men in every land.

30 years ago a man stood before a tank in Tienenman Square a tiny figure standing, not giving in, as the thousands of demonstrators held their breath behind him. Alone against the giant machine of Communist China.

52 years ago on the  5th of June Israel was invaded by 4 countries with huge armies and the 6 Day War began. First we destroyed Egypt’s Air Force on the ground, the Syrians on our Northern Border, simultaneously taking on the Jordanians, culminating in the battle for Jerusalem. Surely there isn’t one amongst us who was not crying at the famous entry of the 3 Generals through the Lions Gate and Motte Gur’s famous words “The Temple Mount is in our hands” Well, geographically it still is,  but in fact…………. Debateable.

The 6th of June was also the birthday of Israel’s first lady, Nehama Rivlin z”l, she would have been 74.

An exceptional woman, Nehama Rivlin z”l, exceptionally bright, feisty yet humble woman, she didn’t want to move to the Presidential house or engage in the ceremonial life when her husband Ruby, Reuven Rivlin became the Israeli President, but her love for her husband was greater than her love for her garden, her home, her work. She was his balance, his moral compass, their love was one of deep respect and affection. When he was asked, at the end of an interview, what he wanted on his epitaph he said “That I was Nehama’s husband” while she, as her debilitating illness grew worse, had only one worry “Who will look after Ruby?”. In his heart-wrenching speech at her graveside he said ““To you, Nechama, my wife, to you Nechama, my love, I’m having a hard time accepting that these are my parting words… Thank you for being with me…thank you for allowing me to be the partner of the President of Israel’s wife” he said.”

The 6th of June 2019 is also the date that Romania announced the moving of her Embassy to Jerusalem!!!

Member of Knesset Amir Ohana is a close colleague and supporter of Prime Minister Netanyahu. Ohana has just been appointed as the interim Minister of Justice after Ayelet Shaked was summarily dismissed after years of being unable to meet the Prime Minister in the PM’s home due to a prohibition of any such meetings upon the orders of Sara Netanyahu. For some reason Ohana’s appointment has created quite a fuss among the foreign media, but nobody here is even remotely surprised. Why a fuss? Because Amir Ohana is openly gay? How does that affect his ability to function? He is a former Shabak (Secret Service) Agent, a lawyer and a polished politician and his sexual preferences are irrelevant here; all that we care about is whether he will do a good job or whether he is there to create a situation whereby the PM’s hearings will be delayed until after the September 17th elections. Oh didn’t I tell you? We are about to spend billions on another election because the PM was unable to form a coalition government!!! I am angry about so many aspects of this situation but perhaps more than any other because it was Mr Netanyahu who demanded the resignation of PM Ehud Olmert until the summation of his legal issues because, and I quote “You cannot concentrate on the good of the country and its defence while facing possible indictment” and Mr Olmert chose to do the right thing and resigned. Time to take his own advice in which case a broad coalition could be formed immediately, made up of Likud, Blue and White and probably Liberman because Blue and White refused to join a government led by Netanyahu (with an indictment hanging over his head). Anyway I wish Amir Ohana wisdom – he has until September 17th to get it right.

The obvious Segway from Ohana to the Jerusalem Gay Parade aka the Jerusalem Pride and Tolerance parade was too good to miss, but when he visited the Parade, as a gay man who achieved high position, instead of being congratulated he was catcalled and booed! Tolerance? Methinks not. Many thousands of people, LGBT and straight, marched and danced under very strong protection of some 2,500 police officers, including several transgender officers, to ensure the safety of the participants in the face of threats from ultra-orthodox and far right.

It would be remiss of me to ignore the rising anti-Semitic attacks in the USA and Brooklyn in particular. It didn’t start with the current President; it has been lurking for years, under the guise of anti-Israel rhetoric, now exacerbated by the words of Illan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, and the continued defamation by Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright. New York Mayor Blasio has not openly condemned such attacks. The question is not why the attacks take place but rather why do people feel entitled to attack the innocent for their manner of dress or prayer- especially those who for so many years suffered the horrors of racism. Time to revive the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King.

So – we were in Bulgaria! 6 nights and 7 days, new friends and incredible sights without hitting even one shopping mall, casino or beach! More than anything we understood that Bulgaria justifies the EEC! As they ease their way into the European Union Bulgaria sees a better future, a healing hand to find their way into the 21st century after the consistent rape of their country by the Soviet Machine. The land is rich, high winter rainfall yet their agriculture was never given a chance. The old Russian farm equipment is being replaced by state of the art harvesters etc; land husbandry is being taught and access roads improved beyond imagination. Bulgaria is mineral rich yet the copper factories lie vacant and in disuse, their sole customer no longer needs them. The people haven’t learned about customer relations yet, but they will!

We were invited to join this group of travelers by Zvi’s cousins (therefore mine too) Yossi and Rachel Rybak. Rybak was Zvi’s family name until his parents went to teach in Mexico and the Israeli government of the time demanded her representatives Hebraicise their names. Anyway, Yossi and Rachel insisted their friends would accept us and my goodness were they right!! If I were to define our Bulgarian sojourn it would be – new friends, jokes, songs, hugs and kisses and cheery “Boker Tov” before breakfast each day. Batia began each day on the tour bus with a witty summation of the day before – in verse – and a couple of Ladino songs. Once Yossi took the microphone to tell jokes it didn’t take long before Zvi lost his shyness (hahahaha) and got up to sing and tell jokes too and his latest HaKol Yachassi disc played on the bus. Avraham, our tour leader, worriedly checked that all of his chicks came to roost in the bus, a difficult task since everyone was moving around greeting everyone else!!!

Battle sites, stalagtite caves, rose essence factory, pretty vilages and rivers, lakes, brooks, rills, white water waterfalls and dams – with this much water Bulgaria must revive! Talking of revival – Yossi took a tumble in Bulgaria and had to undergo surgery on his return – Yossi, get better soon, we still have many adventures ahead of us!!!

Shevuot, the Feast of Weeks is upon us. Harvest, purity, white clothes and cheese cake, but what is Shevuot? Tradition says it is to celebrate the giving of the Torah and the laws of kashrut (kosher food) but was it always that way? Surely it was the end of the 49 days of the counting of the Omer, the bridge between agricultural seasons but when did it become the Cheesecake festival? Rabbi Jeremy Rosen, as always, answers my questions and hopefully yours too. Jeremy is so much more than a childhood friend, more than a religious mentor, he represents, for me, the intellectual and emotional side of Judaism. Here, read what he says about Shevuot. I learned so much

I wish I understood the words, but I wanted you to hear the dulcet tones of Batia Hermon as she sings in Ladino, just the way she sang on the bus.

Ana b’Koach is a Kabbalistic orison, a plea for heavenly intercession for a better world

This final song is for Helene and Martin – I wish I could do this for you as you arrive…….Shalom Aleichem!!

Arriving back in Israel, the sounds the smells and the sound of a familiar language can only be beaten by the Aliya toward Jerusalem and opening our shutters to the sight of our veranda and the View from Our Veranda. Jerusalem, Oh Jerusalem – how I love you!!!

Shabbat Shalom, Shevuot Tov, with blessings from the most beautiful city in the world.


If the media does not inform us we must inform the media

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Involvement The Yuri Shtern Holistic Center