The view from my veranda

Zamburot, Bastille and Golda

14th July, 2023

Shabbat Shalom! Happy Bastille Day!

Bastille Day, the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille. The big question is whether one can be happy at what is happening in France today. The Bastille is not in danger but the country is as French towns and cities burn and looting is rife and French Moslems run riot after a young man was shot by police.

I couldn’t help but compare what is happening in France to our demonstrations here, 27 weeks of demonstrations throughout the country and but for a few unnecessary events, it has been orderly, not so quiet with the “Zamburot”, those ghastly noisy fog horns, breaking into the nights, posters, shouts of “Shame” and “Democracy” but generally people standing waving flags (yes stopping traffic for a short period) on any and every square, bridge and intersection determined that their voice be heard. After the resignation of the Tel Aviv Commissioner of Police who refused to follow demands of tougher measures, the police were less “gentle but it was reported that at least 350,000 people demonstrated around the country, worried citizens of every sector.

I had no idea what the reasonableness law entailed, and why it is so disturbing, so I read up on it. It has passed the first reading in Knesset with every member of the coalition voting for, not one with enough moral strength to vote against. It comes from British law, invoked centuries ago. The International Commission for Jurists describes it as “Reasonableness”, a standard of review often used by courts for making a determination as to the constitutionality or lawfulness of legislation and regulations, particularly in common law jurisdictions, and through which judges will assess whether the questioned law or practice can be justified vis-à-vis the objectives targeted and the constitutional rights to be protected.”  It is of such importance that I will stand on squares, bridges and intersections to ensure it is not removed from the Israeli Courts.  This cobbled together coalition government will not lead us away from the straight and narrow path, a path leading to unbridled power.

So that’s the scoop as my big sister Eddie would say. Luckily life in Israel is still amazing on a day to day level which is why we give up our evenings to demonstrate – we want to preserve the way of life that put us in the top ten countries of happy citizens.

Here’s a round-up of the week’s events

Helen Mirren is here again, this time for the opening of the Jerusalem Film Festival with her film about her heroine, Golda Meir. She said “I am very happy to see the huge demonstrations and believe it is a pivotal moment in Israel’s history.

Israel has the highest number of paramedics per capita in the world! Magen David Adom, Hatzolah and others, train our youngsters, Jews and Arabs, from an early age. Bravo!

Israeli football player Manor Solomon has joined the long list of Israeli players to be signed by British teams. Solomon signed this week with Tottenham Hotspurs aka Spurs! Good luck!

Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the commonwealth was knighted by King Charles in Windsor castle for his remarkable contributions to the Jewish community interfaith relations and education. If you recall, Rabbi Mirvis was invited to stay at the home of King Charles so that he could attend the Coronation without breaking Shabbat.

Israel was mentioned far more frequently In the Human Rights Council than North Korea, Pakistan, Nigeria or Sudan, a group of countries including Austria, Britain, Canada and Italy, led by US Ambassador Michele Taylor, were “deeply concerned” at the Commission of Inquiry’s “long-standing disproportionate attention given to Israel in the council.” In an “open-ended mandate with no sunset clause” or closing date.

Using the reports of Impact-se ( ) the European Union has condemned the incitement to hatred in the Palestinian schoolbooks, which we now know are basically written by UNWRA.

Last night I went to the opening of a fascinating exhibit at the Museum of Islamic Art in Jerusalem, right next to the Jerusalem Theatre, with my friend and neighbour Naomi. The Turkish Ambassador, His Excellency Sakir Ozkan Torunlar was present for the opening the exhibition told the story of food in the region, predominantly of the Arab Food traditions, utensils from the past and present and examples of local food presented by several chefs, including Chef Moshe Basson of Eucalyptus, in Jerusalem, whose dishes refer to Biblical times and of Rashta restaurant in the village of Ein Rafa. Ranham Barhom, the owner and head chef was at the ceremony with his wife and two beautiful little girls who sat next to me. Yaron Zidkiyahu sat with us, Yaron’s family represent food in Jerusalem, all of which started in Shouk Mahane Yehuda which was equally central to the exhibit. My favourite moment was when Museum Director, the wonderful Gilad Levian, spoke of his grandmother’s cooking, everything on the “ptiliah” something close to a camping stove on steroids, which was the only method of cooking in those days. His description of the aromas which bring back so many beautiful memories I think that those “ptiliot” forced a type of cooking that warmed the hearts of entire families.

Next week President Isaac (Bougie) Herzog is going to the United States to meet with President Biden. It is not the first time that they have met, and certainly not the last, but it is clear that the President of the United States is unhappy with Israel’s current government, several members of which have been less than polite about him and about the United States, which shows their ignorance and their lack of understanding. The PM has already told President Herzog what he can and can’t discuss – but what he doesn’t understand is that Herzog may speak quietly and politely but never ever doubt that he will speak of exactly what he deems important.

I love meeting old friends! This week I invited just a few for lunch on our veranda. Those who live nearby arrived at record speed but sadly those from Ra’anana couldn’t come because of the demonstration at Ben Gurion Airport. I couldn’t decide if that demonstration was fair, thinking of lost flights and blocked roads, but in fact, to my surprise, flights were on time and all passengers caught their respective flights. The logistics were difficult but ultimately, lunch was delightful as were the guests and their welcome home-made contributions toward lunch. There is something very special about meeting up with old friends. It’s as if a conversation held 50 years ago simply continues without hesitation.

Eli and Harley Ungar are special people, very special people. They were beloved friends of my late son Daniel and have ensured that the friendship toward Daniel’s family has not waned in any way. On Thursday, yesterday, I met them at the entrance to Shalva, on Harley’s first visit. I saw the look of amazement on her face as she walked in the door to a bright, happy, noisy lobby, to be met by Sophie who then took us straight up to Dr. Dan’s Room, the studio we created to honour Daniel. Gosh I love the place. As Sophie took us around Harley’s amazement just grew as we saw the workshops, playroom, classrooms and sleepover areas which all help people with special needs to enter their lives armed with the tools of social interaction and independence. We then went down to the excellent coffee shop where we were joined by Kalman Samuels, creator of Shalva, together with his wife Malki, and Kalman spoke of Yossi, their incredible son, and of their determination to bring inclusion into Shalva. As we finished our delicious lunch a young woman came up to us, requesting to speak to Kalman “I just want to tell you that you changed our lives. You gave us hope and joy in our little boy who was born with Downs’ Syndrome and made us realise that we are parents just like everyone else” She proudly showed us her baby boy, sleeping peacefully, a beautiful child who I know will grow to be the very best he can possibly be. Kalman’s book is a fabulous read.

38 years ago my middle son Gideon stood up on the Bimah of the beautiful Reading Synagogue and sang his Bar Mitzvah, this week’s Parasha or Torah reading, the double portion of Matot and Maasei – Matot meaning Tribes and Maasei meaning Journeys. In those days he sang a clear sweet soprano as opposed to his equally beautiful baritone of today. Since that day my admiration for him has grown and grown, not only for his incredible achievements, admiration for him and his wonderful family, but maybe most of all for his choice of partner in life, the amazing Stephanie. Rabbi Jeremy Rosen gives a wonderful explanation of the reading, I hope this link works!

Tonight we have special guests, Zvi’s younger son Leor, his wife Shiri and the four girls, Amit, Gili, Ori and Yuval. The menu will be varied, White fish in spicy sauce for Leor and Zvi, salmon for Shiri and Yuval, pizza for all the rest, the pizza dough is currently in the fridge awaiting the requested toppings. A huge green salad and a chopped salad will accompany, plus a courgette salad and a Moroccan mushroom salad. I am happy to have a little bit of each. It’s just too hot for most desserts so I may well just go and buy some ice cream – welcomed by all. I will set the Shabbat table outside where hopefully the evening will change from searing heat to a quiet balmy warmth. We’ll see.

I’m about to head off to see Rachel, and to pass through my favourite vistas. I always top on the way to buy flowers to decorate her table from one of the youngsters that set up sunshades and sport a huge variety of flowers in buckets of water. They are at almost every intersection both in towns and on the main roads, where passers by stop their cars to buy flowers to take home for Shabbat. On my way home I’ll buy the Challot, the plaited loaves that represent the manna from heaven, two on the sixth day so that we rest on the seventh. On the way home I will stop opposite Nebe Samuel – Samuel’s Tomb – and take in the phenomenal vista of a city reborn, of modern Jerusalem, a city that never fails to fascinate. I’ll think of you as I stand there in wonder at the rolling hills, the dazzling white buildings as far as the eye can see.

If music be the food of love play on – ah if only.

There are occasions where I repeat songs, because their message is of great importance. I love this song, Lean on Me, sung by Koolulam, creates a sense of togetherness, Jews, Christians, Moslems, Hindus, it is irrelevant, all moderate thinkers, everyone who cares for the world around them, this is an anthem.

The Shalva Band has reached heights that nobody ever thought young disabled people could reach, no matter how talented, they changed the paradigm of acceptance, a paradigm change made by Kalman and Malki Samuels and Shalva. v

Finally, the last song expresses our prayer that “Yihyeh Beseder” It will be alright. We are going through a tough time but we are a strong democracy and after all we are have survived far worse. Love this song!  Katan Aleinu – for which there is no literal translation – We can do it is the nearest

Shabbat Shalom dear friend. Thank you for your patience on this rather long missive, but it all needed to be said!

Shabbat Shalom to you all wherever you may be. With love from Jerusalem, the city I love, the city we love, the City of David, where 3,000 years ago, a King sat on its ancient stones and wrote poems to Jerusalem in the exact same language that we speak today.