The view from my veranda

130916 After Kippur almost Sukkot

16th September 2013
After Kippur almost Sukkot.
Dear Friends
Today saw another cowardly terror attack in the US as a shooting took place in Washington’s Navy Yard. The report from Sky News
Apparently our prayers helped! If one can trust politicians (ha ha) then the USA and Russia have diverted, if not averted, a terrible catastrophe. The cold war seems to have become just a mite tepid.
I am primarily thrilled with any agreement between the USA and Russia just now because my fears of an imminent Bay of Pigs, Middle East style, under the willing auspices of fundamentalist Islam, have been assuaged somewhat. I believe that some kind of watchdog situation whereby the caretakers make it clear that any breeches cause a loss of face for both the US and  Russia is ideal.
Syria is just too dangerous, with huge stockpiles of conventional, chemical and G-d knows what other arms both bought and adopted from Iraq (the WMDs sent overland 6 months before the Iraq war) and made in their own very sophisticated arms factories, none of which we can consider attacking or bombing. There is no knowing the after effects of bombing Syrian arsenals because we know what is in there………. Sarin is the least worrisome!!!!
I can only say thank you a million times that Israel did not heed the USA and bombed the bejeebers out of the Syrian nuclear facility a few years back!!!
OK It can now be said that I have run the gamut of Yom Kippur services. From the very traditional shule of our childhood, whose addressed amused many (Cathedral Road Synagogue, Cardiff to a student synagogue in Stanford University – to a conservative shule in Toronto that my Dad kept beaming at my sister Eddie and I because we sat together – to Mickey Rosen (z”l) s beautiful service in Yakar London which was the first time I found out that my Zvi has a phenomenal voice and thus gained the approval of Mickey as my beau- to an ultra-orthodox one in Kiriat Moshe, Jerusalem – to the Iraqi Beit Knesset in Malha Village with the women screaming out bids in the auction of aliyot for their husbands – to a Conservative synagogue in Long Island wth Arlene and Milty and this Yom Kippur to a delightful Conservative synagogue near Dan and Karen with a beautiful and familiar service but sitting beside my amazing eldest son, something we had not done since his bar-mitzva since he normally sits downstairs while I have the gallery grandstand view.
As the day wore on we went to a Reform synagogue children’s service complete with four piece band (piano, flute, guitar and drums), hand clapping and singing of Israeli songs finally dancing around shule ending in a huge blast of about 10 shofars blown by members of the community. My little grandson was thrilled! The service really spoke to him rather than playing with his Daddy’s tallit and falling asleep from boredom he was very involved and wide awake. I kept imagining my old Rabbi Rogoznitsky’s face – he was a stickler for orthodox Judaism! My Dad would have loved it, although very traditional he loved anything new, but me? Maybe I am just an old-fashioned girl!
I went to visit a friend’s new apartment yesterday for brunch. As I was waiting for my adorable Arlene to arrive Deborah gave me a Foreword to read; foreword to a book she highly recommended. The words are those of Sir Harold Evans, written to introduce a book called A Convenient Hatred – a History of Antisemitism. Read his words, his wise words, conceivably the wisest words I have read in a very long time.
And so to Succot, Sukkes, Tabernacles. In the four days between Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) and Succot Israelis are in a flurry of activity as almost every veranda sprouts a temporary structure – a succah, booth or tabernacle. They vary from the very professional looking prefabricated wooden structures that are easily put together with a few locks and clasps and go down to four flimsy planks of wood and some brightly coloured fabric to ensure the three walls are more than virtual. The greatest difference between the traditional succah of the Diaspora and that of Israel is that Diaspora succot have a plethora of fresh fruits hanging from the slatted roof or “schach” whereas in Israel unless you wish to be either eaten alive by insects or be covered in rotten fruit falling on your head you tend to use glittery decorations and put the fruit on the table! The usage of said succah ranges from the very orthodox who also sleep in the succah to the traditional Jews who eat in the succah and then those who have a succah to entertain friends – or ishpuzin. Each morning we take a lulav (palm fronds with myrtle and osier) and etrog (a special citrus) and pray, and we also ensure that there are four species in the succah. The Biblical origin is in the Book of Vayikra “And you shall take for yourselves on the First Day the fruit of a beautiful tree, the branches of date palms, branches of the myrtle tree, and branches of the willow tree, and you shall rejoice before Hashem, your G-d, for Seven Days.” (Vayikra 23:40)
Since you always ask me about food, oh yes you do! I will tell you about the traditional foods. One that I never liked as a child is Hollishkes or stuffed cabbage – of course my tastes have changed and now I put out all varieties of stuffed vegetables to complement the cabbage leaves, usually stuffed with rice and meat. Some people eat Kreplech, yummy pockets of meat filled dough eaten in – what else – chicken soup!
The Pilgrim Fathers, before their treacherous journey to the New World, spent time with the other group of persecuted people, the Sefardi Jews who were expelled from Spain and lived in Holland and thus spent their Tabernacles together. When they arrived in the New World it was the time of the Autumn Harvest Festival and they celebrated the first meal – which became Thanksgiving. I thought you would like that. In the meantime – rather than give you the full list I found this website which has each country and its traditional Succot fare.
Each year in Jerusalem we still spend our Tabernacles together as the fabulous Festival of Tabernacles organised by the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem draws tens of thousands of Christians to our city to express their joy and support. It is spectacular!!!
So, I loved my time in NYC. My little grandson Joshua is delighted with his little sister Callie and also having fun with Safta! The baby is glorious and my son and daughter-in-law have grown even closer – something I thought impossible! So rewarding to see.
Tomorrow I will go walkabout with Callie and Daniel and then off to see Joyce Claar for lunch before playing with Joshua in the park and then packing my bags ready.
I am nearly homeward bound, arriving in Ben Gurion is such a wonderful “homecoming” feeling. That incredibly well organised ultra-modern airport where the luggage arrives moments before you even reach the beltway!!!! Then the climb or Aliya up to Jerusalem as the air changes and the crisp clear air of Jerusalem tells me I am home……… to kiss my grandchildren and then home, home to open the electric blinds which will rise to give me the most spectacular view of all – Jerusalem.
Have a good Sukkot/Tabernacles and I will speak to you from Jerusalem and talk of “The View from my Veranda”
Gmar Chatima Tova, Shana Tova and Chag Sameach