8th May 2020
Shabbat Shalom dear friends, I hope you are well.
Today’s date holds a place of paramount importance in the history of the world; 75 years ago yesterday the German war machine surrendered and the 8th of May was declared as Victory in Europe Day. The last German military communications decoded at Bletchley Park in World War II have been revealed to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day. They were broadcast on 7 May 1945 by a German military radio network making its final stand in Cuxhaven on Germany’s North Sea coast. The message reports the arrival of British troops and ends: “Closing down for ever – all the best – goodbye.”
After Germany surrendered, VE Day was declared the next day. Brits, overjoyed, after 6 long years of war, bombings, sirens and racing to shelters were able, finally to take to the streets and celebrate! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8YDe_Iejwc
The Israeli Supreme Court or the Israel High Court of Appeals, has come to a decision, finally, that it is legally permissible for Mr. Netanyahu to hold the position of Prime Minister of Israel despite being under indictment for very serious crimes. Strangely enough it is illegal for anyone under indictment to hold a Ministerial position or virtually any civil or municipal position but Prime Minister is allowed. It is a strange glitch in the law and one well taken advantage of. Netanyahu supporters discredited the Supreme Court prior to the decision, insisting they were all “lefties” despite the fact that many were inducted during the PM’s term! Israeli Judges are not political, they are chosen by committee including lawyers, judges and representatives of the two major parties. The fears of these doubters were unfounded but their discrediting of an august legal institution cannot go unnoticed. Jurisprudence in its purest form won through.
The result of the decision is that we will have a government! Finally and at last. The plan is that Netanyahu and Gantz will be PM on an 18 month rotation, Netanyahu going first. Only time will tell if he can really run the country, this increasingly complex country, while attending court sessions to answer to the extremely serious corruption charges. If all the promises of Ministerial positions were to come to fruition there would be no less than 36 Ministers, each of who needs a fully equipped office, however it is highly unlikely that such promises will hold water, not a new situation for Mr. Netanyahu. Time will tell.
On the virus front, much is happening here and most of it appears to be positive. The number of those who contracted the virus has dropped dramatically and one hospital has already closed its Covid unit. The introduction of draconian limitations on the people and the refusal to allow incoming flights seem to have done the trick – although allowing flights from NY airports at the beginning was not a clever decision since it attacked the Haredi community in particular. We can now meet with immediate family while adhering to the 2 metre and mask rule and the parks and open air markets have opened their gates.
Most importantly, Israel has more research into problem solving than any other country!! In fact, the Israeli Institute for Biological Research has made huge advances https://www.israel21c.org/in-significant-breakthrough-israeli-researchers-isolate-coronavirus-antibody/ They also developed a disinfectant that kills 100% of viruses and bacteria, and is currently being used in mikvehs in Bnei Brak; an effective anti-viral coating for surfaces and a mass temperature scan are just a few more advances. Tel Aviv University has decided to open a department dedicated solely to the study of pandemics, the first in the world.
They say that danger brings strange bedfellows which is undoubtedly true but in the case of the PA and Israel it has simply highlighted the level of cooperation between the two despite the political cant. Israel has been training Palestinian doctors in the treatment and prevention of the spread of the “Corona” virus. Of course there is a very different situation in Gaza with Hamas etc who continue with their hatred while ungraciously accepting the flow of staple foods and medication from Israel.
It is beyond my darkest thoughts to imagine that ISIS, ISIL by any other name, could use the confusion caused by this horrific virus to kill and maim, to take control yet again but that is exactly what they have done in Iraq. They have killed hundreds, far more than the virus and a new and cruel leader has emerged Ayman Al-Zawahiri is wreaking havoc, killing without mercy in Iraq, Somalia, Niger and other countries in the area. As always it is under publicized as if the media don’t care.
Of course we don’t have an active social life, apart from that held on Zoom, Skype, Facetime and WhatsApp! We hold meetings, plan strategies, sing, give virtual hugs and try to be in touch with family and friends. The restrictions are slowly being lifted and we are allowed more and more freedom of movement but that worries me much more than being at home!! The great thing is that we are now able to be together with the children and grandchildren while keeping our distance but being able to have a conversation with them all. It’s rather sad that one of the first words that little Yuval, aged 2, ever said was “Corona” because she was confused as to why we weren’t fighting over who hugs her first. The most exciting moment for me was when 6 year old Callie, in NYC, read me a story she had written and illustrated for her “Realistic Fiction” class. Realistic fiction may be an oxymoron but she did a fabulous job at it! Ella has discovered that she is a very able artist and proudly shows us.
Last week we went to Zvi’s younger son Leor’s house for Shabbat dinner together with Amiad and his family – we stayed in the garden, eating out there with Amiad and Leor while the children were inside, but they heard Saba Zvi’s Kiddush and we could hear their laughter and squabbles first hand. Tonight it’s Rachel’s turn and we will have an early Shabbat Dinner with Rachel, Igal, Yosef, Talia and Ayala. It is so exciting to really be with them. Of course we will have to abide by social distancing even though they have kept all the rules for the last few months. It is also exciting because Rachel has had 3 teenagers cooped up in a small apartment for that period!! The boredom levels reached their peak when they decided to rebuild the trampouline that they had previously grown out of! Yosef can do corkscrew flips and lie flat mid-air…. it fills his time when not learning.
Oh my goodness I love Koolulam!! Separation and the inability to gather in one place didn’t stop Koolulam’s Ben Yoffet, Michal Shahaf and Or Taicher. Zoomlulam with “Fix You” by Coldplay! We’re all in this together https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_7jvxBObaw
To celebrate this auspicious day, the anniversary of the cessation of war in Europe, one lady, one heroine, epitomises, until today, the phenomenal stoicism of the British people. She is 103 years old, the beautiful Dame Vera Lynn who sang the songs that brought hope to a people beaten down by the German bombing of so many cities. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5C4meGkNyc
A humerous tribute to the Home Guard volunteers who were too old to go into the fighting force but night after night would go out into the streets, put out fires and protect us all. A tribute to my Father who made certain his children were never afraid. With that wonderful tongue in cheek irony that is so very British, the Dad’s Army theme! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jvr6X054xLY
Shabbat Shalom to everyone, wherever you are. We are in this together and as long as we do what is sensible and make sure our loved ones are safe all will be well. Remember to check on a lonely neighbour, the old friend that you know is alone and scared, and join any volunteer group that ensures everyone has food. A week or so ago I received a phone call from a young man by the name of Uriel. Uriel has a severe stammer, but plays beautiful music. He got my name from a neighbourhood volunteer and he played me a song to cheer me up! Yesterday Uriel called me on WhatsApp video and I learned more about him, especially since it doesn’t matter how hard it is to get the words out, you can give so much pleasure by playing a little ditty on a piano to ensure that someone doesn’t feel lonely.
May your Shabbat be happy and your thoughts positive – we can do this.
With love from Jerusalem, my favourite city in the world