The view from my veranda

Waste, Wonders and Women

12th November 2021

Shabbat Shalom! Did you notice today’s date? Should I say that if you are not American, did you notice today’s date…. 12/11/21. Don’t ask me why I like it, I love numbers, dates and times which “rhyme”, which is really strange for someone who is as far from a mathematician as possible!

Today I want to talk about life in Israel, or “only in Israel’ situations – but first a few updates.

So many conferences on Global Warming and the environment – too many broken promises from politicians, and nothing is effective. I asked myself why. Not why is our earth warming up, I still believe that we go through cycles, like the ice age etc, but rather why we are so pernickety about cleanliness in our homes yet foul our seas and lands. We overbuy just about everything, our electrical goods and cars have built in obsolescence and we throw our excess rather than finding someone who needs it, we are wasteful.

Have you noticed, however, who are the main agitators against governmental inactivity on Global Warming and waste? The most wasteful generation to date!! They demand air conditioning in classrooms, the latest in clothes, gadgets and technology, drive cars to school rather than taking buses, in fact they are probably the greatest consumers of energy. Why do schools not ban cars on campus? The old phrase of physician heal thyself comes to mind. We must be responsible, actually this, for once is something that governments can legislate with ease – stop all plastic packaging for produce and product. Have you ever thought about the fact that tiny implements come in huge, impossible to open, plastic prisons? Apparently, one London dairy has begun to deliver milk in reusable bottles. Ah the sound of childhood, the clinking of the bottles as the electric, ecologically sound milk float wends its way down the street.

I, without qualification, apologise for the pain and the hurt and the indignity and the damage that apartheid has done to Black, Brown and Indians in South Africa,” Brave words of Frederick William De Klerk, the man who ended Apartheid and handed over to the African National Council headed by Nelson Mandela; De Klerk passed away this week at the age of 85. It took an infinitely brave leader who grew up in an Afrikaans society – a white South African, to recognise the sins of the past and declare that Apartheid was a cruel and oppressive regime. May God Bless his soul.

The Bevis Marks Synagogue is the oldest consistently used synagogue in the United Kingdom. Its home in London was threatened with plans to build a 48 story high rise building right next door and the City of London Corporation has vetoed the building saving the synagogue. Bevis Marks has a truly rich history, do read about it.

We not only have a budget for 2021, we now have a budget for 2022! Miracle of miracles, after nearly 3 years of prevarication. If such things interest you here is a short explanation

In a raid that was the culmination of a year-long undercover operation, the Israeli police and Secret Services confiscated 66 weapons including 25 M-16 rifles, 14 guns, an anti-tank missile, a machine gun and explosives.  Highly commendable, but the prime target was not the arms cache but rather the gun runners behind them. 65 criminals were arrested, a small start but hopefully the beginning of a halt to the diabolical internal violence in the Arab communities.

What a weekend!!

Toured the phenomenal Roman mosaics of Zippori; from Zippori we travelled to a Druze village called Pki’i’n where we held our Shabbat dinner, with Zvi singing the Kiddush. Pk’i’in where the Zohar was written, where on Yom Hazikaron – Remembrance Day, four religions (Greek Orthodox, Druze, Catholic and Jews) stand together to mourn those lost fighting for Israel. It is unthinkable that anyone, any man, not serve in the IDF. We were guided by a former Druze officer in the IDF (of course both his father and his son fought in the IDF); prayed in an ancient synagogue, where IDF Cantor Shai Abramson filled the ancient walls with is glorious voice, touched a piece of the 2nd Temple and the choir sang under a 300 year old strawberry tree. Citizens of all 4 faiths live, and pray there in harmony. Druze who make up 70%. Our guide surprised the predominantly left wing group by asking who they thought was their champion in the Knesset….Avigdor Lieberman. After Shabbat and a climb up Mount Meron (which I avoided) we came back to reality as our bus driver coped with the traffic jams of Saturday evenings! Thank heaven for WAZE which took us a tortuous but effective route avoiding the accident on Road 6!

As you know, I am the Chair of the Board of Impact-se (I refuse to say Chairman of the Board it sounds so pompous) and the CEO, Marcus Sheff, together with the Board, decided to name the library of 25 years of research into tolerance in education, to be created in the Hebrew University, after my eldest son Daniel, Dr. Daniel Cammerman z”l. I’m thrilled to tell you that it will not be a white elephant; not only will the research be open to students but in the tradition of Impact-se symposiums will be held on the newly resurrected subject of tolerance in education and the effect of hate teaching on the susceptible minds of children. As we near the second anniversary of the dreadful day of the accident it warms my heart that Daniel’s name continues through projects that ensure the safety of children.

Nothing pleases me more than to hear from you, whether you agree with what I write or find it annoying or worse still that I offend you with my words. I happen to believe that loving those with whom one disagrees, those who differ on almost every level, is healthy and one can learn so much from other cultures and views. Rabbi Jeremy Rosen writes this week about the late Rabbi Nachum Rabinowitz, a man of high principles and a mind open to the thoughts of others. A fine scholar and a real mensch.  

OK, so I told you I wanted to talk about life in Israel so let’s begin with last night. A few of us (about 15) met at Keren’s home for a get to know you evening. Keren is my next door neighbour and the evening was only for invited women – each get-together will include different women. Of course the table was laden with goodies that everyone brought and the warmth of the gathering kept out the chilly Jerusalem evening became much colder! We talked about where we came from and how we chose this project to live. I admit a sense of envy as each spoke about childhood friends and family who live in the area, something I can never achieve no matter how long I live here. Israelis keep friends. Friends from kindergarten, school-friends, friends who served with them in the IDF, a long history of friendships that with the best will in the world immigrants cannot reach.

Israelis, when they first meet someone new ask several questions. Where do you work and what do you earn; where do you live and what did you pay for your house (you should always have paid less); where did you go to school, where did you serve in the IDF and when you answer the inevitable “Do you know so-and-so, they live at number 23?” As one who fell in just about every worthy street in Jerusalem I can tell you that if you have to tumble do it in Israel. Your only danger is being suffocated by all the people who rush to your aid! It may sound a strange thing to like about a nation, a people, but here funerals are a natural thing. Hundreds come but not in fancy, elegant black dresses or suit and tie, people come in whatever they were wearing when they heard – jeans and T-shirt is totally acceptable – but they come to show their respect to family and the departed. Finally, we are a curious people, not only in medicine, technology and science but about other cultures and most of all about our own beautiful country. I was thrilled to hear that they had to close the roads to the Hula Valley last weekend due to overcrowding at the bird sanctuary! Yes I know it’s the emigrating season for the cranes, herons and white pelicans but I love that parents take their children to understand nature.

What else? I love the fact that just walking down the street, any street, people, perfect strangers, wish each other peace. Shalom. Shalom Aleichem (peace be with you). Always wishing peace. This argumentative, noisy, annoying people is the best. I wouldn’t live anywhere else.

Song number one is the wonderful voice of Lt. Col. Shai Abramson, who we had the pleasure of meeting last Shabbat, singing Halleluya together with soldiers and young people

One of my favourite songs sung by some of my favourite people! The Shalva Band and the children of Shalva with All You Need is Love…. It’s true isn’t it!

So few songs express how we all feel during this pandemic. The people we miss, the hugs we can’t give, the need to kiss family far away. Koolulam did it.

I wish you a Shabbat Shalom, a blessed Sabbath, a wonderful weekend and love, after all, that’s all we need.

With love from Jerusalem