The view from my veranda

Tunnels, Tim Sebastian, Bat Mitzva and Rain

7th December 2018

Shabbat Shalom from incredibly rainy Jerusalem. Glorious rain is one thing but this is crazy!

Last night was Zvi’s (ours) grand-daughter Amit’s Bat Mitzva Party in Rishon le Zion. Zvi left early to help in the preparations and I went with Rachel, Talia and Ayala. The party was delightful, lots of children and only the required number of essential family oldies. Lots of music, dancing, good food and Saba Zvi lighting the Chanukah candles and Amit’s Great-Grandmother Ruth, aged 98 who made Aliya just 2 years ago, well she couldn’t wipe the smile off her face! On the way home we were prepared for the heavy rain, even for the huge puddles and aquaplaning, but although the girls loved the inverse Niagara Falls that I engineered as we ploughed through puddles, the one which actually covered the entire car was a teeny bit disturbing! Please understand, I’m not complaining. We have heating in the apartment and every single drop of precious water is a gift from heaven.

The big news for us this week is the “discovery” of tunnels, Hezb-Allah tunnels from Lebanon into Israel, with the intention of taking the town of Metulla and its citizens hostage. In truth the people of what is known as “Etzba ha Galil” or the Galillee Panhandle, heard the sounds of heavy digging machinery for some time, but nobody would confirm their fears, particularly not the politicians. The IDF was aware of the danger but carefully and secretly watching. Former Chief of Staff and Defence Minister Moshe “Boogie” Ya’alon admitted he lied about the tunnels “To confuse the enemy and ensure Israeli security”.  Russia, Britain and Germany have backed Israel’s right to deal with the tunnels and Hezb-Allah – as if we didn’t!! This video shows the inside of the tunnel, much less sophisticated than Hamas, and a surprised man as the camera he discovers explodes and sends him scurrying home.

In the meantime tyro Congresswoman Rashida Tla’ib has announced that her first move as an American Congresswoman will be to visit the “Occupied Territories”. Does she really represent you?

Rather than risk another Lebanon war we asked UNIFIL to destroy the sections of the tunnels on Lebanese sovereign territory while destroying the one (so far) that is on our sovereign territory. Lebanon, that once Christian country, has been over-run by the Iranian backed Hezb-Allah. Beirut, once the Pearly of the Middle East is a mere shadow of its former glory. That’s what happens when destruction is one’s only goal.

On the surface it seems strange that Israel approved the Qatari donations of $15,000,000 a month to Gaza, but in fact it is carefully planned. None goes to Hamas! It is a genuine attempt to alleviate the horrendous poverty in Gaza, poverty imposed through a corrupt and evil regime, called Hamas. The funding is distributed through banks and only on the production of an identity card and with signature or fingerprint; each family gets a set sum so that finally they can feed their families and the information is given to Israel for confirmation. At last the devastated people of Gaza can eat.

Talking of Gaza, I love Tim Sebastian! Tim Sebastian is a British journalist of rare quality. Tough but honest and fair, Tim used to present the BBC’s HARDTalk, and he did so brilliantly. He takes no prisoners but does it without favour – the only time I ever saw him soften was when, with great respect, he interviewed Yitzchak Shamir. Tim has left the Beeb and has started a new company called Conflict Zone, where nobody tells him what to do! This interview with Sa’eb Erekat is phenomenal – I cannot find a less flamboyant description. Sebastian doesn’t let go, his terrier tactics put Erekat on the spot as never before. 26 minutes long it is essential viewing to understand the dilemma of Gaza.

From the recent visit of the President of Chad to Israel and our increasing relations with Moslem countries to two incredible and positive items

First of all, you already know of my admiration for Rabbi Jeremy Rosen and the late Rabbi Mickey Rosen with whom I grew up, well, the youngest Rabbinical member of the family is Rabbi David Rosen who performed Zvi and my marriage, and has long been our representative to the Vatican and many other religious forums. His latest forays into the unknown have produced exceptional results from attending the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies in Abu Dhabi where he lit Chanukah Candles with Sheikh Abdullah bin Baayah, a great religious leader. What a family! Of course it is their Welsh connection that created the atmosphere of excellence and outreach!

Another amazing fact, the Jewish Community of Dubai has come out of the closet! Dubai has a growing Jewish community, a synagogue and those who live there tell tales of real acceptance from their Moslem friends. I love it!

It is still Chanuka!! Jews around the world performed the Mitzvah of lighting our candles, adding another light each night for 8 days of the miracle – always in the hope that we can spread light from those little candles out of our homes and to the world. In fact one wonderful friend of mine, a former Moslem in love with a Christian girl decided to have a Christmas tree, light Chanukah candles and place a big Shalom between the two!!! Anyway I digress for a change – Chanukah is the story of our victory over the Hellenite attempts  to divest us of all traditions and essential parts of Judaism – not all of them actually Alexander the Great was pretty nice to us even if he slaughtered thousands of others!! Instead of my wittering on about it why don’t I let the eldest Rabbi Rosen do it for me!!

Chanukah and Christmas are times to think of those less fortunate, to give to good causes so I took the interview I did for the Yuri Shtern Foundation and asked them to cut it properly just to my part – and the result? I find it very strange watching myself but I ask you to think of donating, the amount is irrelevant – big or small.

The biggest shock for my children when attending various birthday parties, bar and bat mitzvahs etc is the Israeli tradition of making speeches. Not a roasting as they are used to but speeches, poems and songs of praise of ones parents, siblings or friends. At my last party, my 70th, my children froze, I hadn’t warned them!!! Perhaps by my 80th they will be ready to stand up and sing!

Our Friday night with our Tel Aviv friends was wonderful! They all brought contributions to the meal so that I wouldn’t exhaust myself and it was absolutely delightful! Although most are secular they all loved Zvi’s Kiddush, most joining in, remembering their upbringing. Shabbat was a relaxing day, as it should be. On Monday we were with Yosef, Talia and Ayala to light the Chanukah Candles which Yosef did beautifully. Tuesday was special. I made it finally to Mahane Yehuda Market! I finally gathered enough strength to go to my favourite place in all of Israel! It was wonderful, the fruits and vegetables seemed even brighter than usual, as if they had missed me for the last two months and were putting on a special show. The shouts of the costermongers, the bustle of the shoppers, the laughing faces of the tourists as they went from stall to stall tasting the cornucopia of delights – even David the fishmonger was smiling! Of course the busiest “duchan” in the entire shouk is Tzidkiyahus pickles. They don’t just have pickles, oh no – every imaginable variety of olive, aromatic roasted garlic, pickled lemon and orange slices, at least 12 varieties of salad, roasted chicken, stuffed vines, cabbage, aubergine and courgette and of course Zvi’s favourite, spicy meat patties filled with tehina!! Yaron Tzidikayhu is a force ot be reckoned with, very involved in local politics, a fine and highly intelligent man he spoke of the recent Jerusalem elections and promised me that Moshe Lion will be a positive Mayor unlike the last  years of Nir Barkat. I sincerely hope it is true.

Wednesday and we went to Gadi and Rifka in Tel Aviv to meet up with lots of Jerusalemites from Zvi’s past and hopefully my future. What a delightful evening. Last night was the Bat Mitzva in Rishon le Zion and tonight, we will be with Zvi’s children and grandchildren for Shabbat. Tomorrow, after Shabbat we go back to Tel Aviv to Noa and Avi’s for Noa’s birthday and candle lighting and finally, we have Yosef’s birthday on Sunday – ending a truly amazing week!! I am so happy that I am doing better, still not eating normally but that will come. Friends tell me I should slow down, I was ill, but I thrive on meeting friends and adore driving so I will adopt Zvi’s expression of “I’ll rest as much as I want after 120”.

Got to go and make the last remnants of Shabbat dinner, the children go crazy for my pea soup so that’s what they get but the grown-ups will have a real hearty, very British vegetable and lentil soup – what I call my Kitchen Sink soup!!

Instead of 3 songs I want you to watch this amazing video taken by Sharon Marks Altshul of the Chanukah celebration projection show on the Walls of the Old City

I say Chanukiah and you say Menorah……. But what is the difference? A Menorah is traditionally a 7 branch candlestick but a Chanukiah is a 9 branch candlestick which is lit on …..Chanukah!! Here’s a wonderful rendition of the Chanukah song by the boys of Boys Town Jerusalem

Another incredible rendition from Kookulam – love it!

I hope you are well, I pray you are happy and that the kindling of Chanukah lights has spread at least a little light to lift even the darkest heart.

We bring you love from our wonderfully wet and rainy veranda where the incredible view is just as glorious as ever.

Shabbat Shalom


Couldn’t resist one more song from a beautiful 12 year old in Israel

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

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