The view from my veranda

Up, Up and Away


8th October 2021

Shabbat Shalom!

I will not be writing my Shabbat Shalom next week because I am going to New York with Rachel for Joshua’s Bar Mitzva! I am so excited. We are only going for one week and will be very caught up with family, so please don’t be upset that we won’t have time to see anyone. This will be a purely family orientated week spent reconnecting with Daniel’s children, my grandchildren, Rachel’s niece and nephew, who we haven’t seen since the funeral. It will be a week of mixed emotions, of the joy of being with the children and Karen of course, but a deep sadness that my boy will not be there. I can’t wait to show them the designs for Dr. Dan’s Room and pray that they can come to the opening. I have a sneaky feeling that it will be a Zoom opening thanks to Covid-19.

Did you know that we have receptors for temperature and touch and that they determine how and where we feel pain? David Julius together with his co-researcher Arden Papatoutian from the University of California in San Francisco, won the Nobel Prize for their research, which it is believed will be of great importance in dealing with chronic pain and its link to sensing heat, cold and mechanical force. The Prize for most of the sciences is usually overshadowed by the Nobel Prize for Literature or Peace, less dramatic, famous or of public interest yet it is those Nobels which change our lives.  David Julius is a Jew whose family fled the anti-Semitism of Russia and is very proud of his heritage.

In October 1986 a young Israeli Air Force Navigator and Weapons Systems Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Ron Arad went missing in action over Lebanon. His disappearance has been a source of human interest ever since. Israeli Secret Service have been looking for him ever since, believing that he could still be alive, but knowing that he was moved from country to country, possibly including and almost certainly orchestrated by Iran. Recent DNA studies suggest that his remains have been found. His wife Tami and daughter Yuval have heard nothing since that fateful day, indeed Yuval was only a baby when he was captured. Tami, unlike others, has said that if his remains are found then Israel should not pay the heavy price of his return.

Did you know that United States troops are in Syria? It was announced this week that they will stay there to fight the Islamic State and rebuild a civilian infrastructure. It appears that their presence was in doubt during the last Administration but the current Biden Administration feels that Syria, unlike Afghanistan, can still be saved. It is of ultimate interest to the Kurds of Syria who have been oppressed for many years particularly under the shadow of the current civil war. Kurdistan, a large tract of land and home to the Kurdish people has been occupied by no less than 5 countries; Syria, Armenia, Iraq, Iran and Turkey, none of which is willing to return the land to the Kurdish people. This occupation is constantly under the radar while Israel’s “occupation” is constantly under the headlight of international condemnation.

The Pandora Papers are clearly well named because they have opened a Pandora’s Box of corruption and hidden fortunes. The alleged perpetrators are not known criminals but leaders and esteemed politicians and Royalty. Listen and be disturbed

Yet another Arab Airline has started regular flights from Ben Gurion Airport. Egyptair began direct flights to Cairo, following Bahraini Airlines,  and of course daily flights to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. As the rest of the world becomes more and more anti-Israel the Arab world is growing closer and closer recognising the fact that the real “Neighborhood Bully” is Iran.

Trying to organise a journey these days is not quite as simple as one would think. Booking a flight is the easy part even though most flights (including ours) are changed, moved and cancelled at some point. Then there is the paperwork! It starts with the normal green pass which states that one has been vaccinated 3 times or recovered from Covid in the last 6 months. Then there is the international declaration of vaccination – for travel. Next the declaration form which states that one is able to fly and has taken all the necessary tests before flying; now for the PCR test taken at the airport within 48 hours prior to flying, yes at the airport so one has to go to the airport before going to the airport. One then waits patiently for the result of the PCR and prints it off to add to the very bulky sheaf of papers, because although it can be on one’s phone all we need is a WhatsApp situation whereby one of the applications or even worse emails, is hacked and falls.

I always try to fly El Al. It isn’t that they are necessarily the most luxurious, although they are very comfortable and don’t have those awful, sticky, leather seats that so many airlines prefer; it’s the sense that one is home. The crew is fun, the food is more than palatable, the movies good, and if Heaven forbid, anyone feels poorly there is always a doctor on board! There is something heartwarming about hearing Hebrew, listening to the familiar music as one boards the aeroplane, the knowledge that despite the announcement to stay in ones seat on landing that at least 50% of the passengers will jump up and hope to find their carry-on luggage before the “ping” which tells us we are at the gate! The pilots are IAF trained and the crew all speak great English, most speak other languages and all are Israeli, of all faiths.

This week has been filled with unexpected guests. I am not surprised and I love it, which is why I have an extra freezer filled with home-made cakes and quiches! New neighbours have learned that our door is always open for a cup of coffee or tea and something fresh from the oven. So far all entertaining has been outside on our veranda – I love the gasps of surprise when guests walk out of the full width doors and see the fabulous flowers. Our lovely upstairs neighbour Benny arrived with some bulbs, excess to their needs because he knows all about my love of gardening since he looks down upon the array of brightly coloured flowers and the burgeoning fruit trees. Benny and his wife Osnat had carefully preserved the bulbs in dry earth and although they appear somewhat shriveled they should produce spring colour. Next year I will explain to them that if one lifts bulbs the best thing to do with them is lay them dry in a dark cupboard – but that I used to leave them to multiply on their own in the earth as nature intended!!!

For some time now I wanted to visit the wonderful Lola Cohen since she lost her husband Norman. They really have been a power couple in the world of Hasbara (dissemination of positive information about Israel). Lola is still active but finds it hard to get about- but is still a beautiful, bright woman at nearly 90 years old. While admiring her outreach to the Christian world especially their close friendship with Canon Andrew White, I have an admission to make – I not only love Lola for who she is but for her phenomenal, unbeatable, unmatched Shortbread biscuits!!!Nobody, but nobody can bake shortbread biscuit like Lola. I hope that now that we have a lift right up to the apartment and she won’t have the trial of two flights of stairs in front of her Lola’s daughter Stephanie will bring her to visit. Obviously with shortbread biscuits!

I’m almost packed, done between visitors and stocking the freezer for Zvi who has already been invited by numerous friends and neighbours, and all I have left to do is the PCR test with Rachel tomorrow night. Tonight we are alone, but tomorrow we will celebrate Leor’s birthday. Friends tell me I’m crazy having 15 people for Shabbat lunch the day before flying to the USA, but it’ll be fine. The menu begins with “Orange soup” a blended smooth soup with all sorts of veggies, leeks, courgettes, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, potato and red lentils, with s&p, garlic, ground coriander, turmeric, all blended together into “Orange Soup”. The children have no idea that they are eating healthy lentils! We will then have loads of salads, stuffed peppers, spring chicken nuggets in teriyaki, ground beef patties and probably roast potatoes. Dessert? Apple compote and a delicious pareve chocolate birthday cake which came from our friend Moshe’s bakery in Ramot.

Before lunch, Zvi will take Ella and Yonatan to our neighbour’s home where he has built a real ninja course – they love it!

And so to music.

I thought about playing “Leaving on a Jet Plane but that it just to corny so why don’t we listen to the ultimate American Jewish Barry Sisters?

Erev Shabbat, Sabbath Eve, has many aspects that are missed. The most important is the sharing of the wonders with a lonely stranger, what is a blessing if it is just for us and ours? Although this presentation is, for some unknown reason, in a large mansion, the warmth of the Shabbat is apparent, the songs familiar and the family element clear.

Ana Bekoach, Please One of Great Power – a Kabbalistic prayer that it is thought can change our view of the world and the world’s direction. Perhaps we should all pray together?

I wish you all a weekend of peace and contemplation and Shabbat of family. This week’s Torah reading is the story of Noah, filled with pain, mystery and family feuds!

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, centre of our world, heart of our faith.