The view from my veranda

150108 Charlie Hebdo killings, snow

8th January 2015
Shabbat Shalom dear friends.
This week the long arm of radical Islam tried to silence the pens of a highly irreverent French satirical magazine. Charlie Hebdo was beyond irreverent, it was incisive and often cruel in its cartoons of all religions, giving no quarter irrespective of the leanings of its victims. The purpose of satire – to lampoon, cartoon, be contentious and and invoke controversy. Each generation and country has its brave souls who shoot down sacred cows – it is an essential part of a democratic society.
The death threats started with a serious book rather than satire, in the shape of Salman Rushdies Satanic Verses when we were all shocked to discover that the written words could bring a death Fatwa on the head of the author. It continued through the Danish cartoons and reached its horrific peak yesterday with the death of four cartoonists among the 12 dead in a cold blooded and highly organised attack at the offices of Charlie Hebdo. It is important to note here that the policeman who was injured and cruelly shot in full view was himself a Moslem – a Moslem, law abiding, proud, French gendarme.
 Having seen cartoons from this particular magazine I found many offensive – exaggerated and racist depictions of the Pope, of Rabbis and of Mohammed, but Jews and Christians simply tut-tutted whereas the Fatwa was first placed then carried out upon those who mocked Mohammed.
If I may sum up my wandering thoughts, apparently there is no humour, no discussion, no questioning in this new and extreme, nay, fanatical form of Islam. Either believe or die. It cannot be allowed and it needs many very brave, normal and ordinary Moslems to stand up and yell “Not in the name of my religion”. The rebellion must come from within and they will garner support from all freedom lovers in this world.
I expressed my feelings on my Facebook page when I saw the words of hate from too many people – a gut reaction to the slaughter of yesterday.
“I would like to make my feelings very clear, I am not anti-Moslem, far from it, I hate no person for his faith. I am against all racial or ethnic slurs and any statement that generalises or includes those who simply want to live a quiet, open faithful life. I am, however, against any belief that imposes, oppresses, denies freedom to any other people and makes religion an excuse to kill, maim and oppress, it is not acceptable under any name, be it Crusades, communism, Maoism, the ultimate evil of Nazism, or today’s oppressors – ISIS, Al Qaeeda et al who claim to fight in the name of Allah”
This interview on Fox News with a French correspondent opens our eyes and tells the truth. I was most disturbed when he tells us that not only was one of the brothers was in jail on terrorism charges yet was released after half of his sentence was served. He said that the last few French governments, left and right wing, have pulled the wool over their citizens eyes as to the extent of the danger from terrorism – and the French governments are not alone – yours does too. When he spoke of “No Go Zones” Gretchen claimed that it is unknown to the US……… oh you have them Gretchen and so do we, areas where the police fear to go.
In the words of Edmund Burke  The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
If you think it is not happening in YOUR country think again.
A group of people who chose to do something are the community of Rabbi David Greenberg. They recognised that young Jewish students are fed many lies about Israel and chose to do something about it. They held a Town Hall Meeting for Students with David Harris. 95 students attended. Questions were asked by the students,  and it’s no surprise to anyone that David answered them in a way that only he can. The fact that 95 students came to discuss the issues of anti-semitism with David Harris speaks volumes about how our temple has touched the lives of the younger generation. They have been given the gift of a profound connection to Israel and Judaism.
They did something  important – they convinced young Jews of their own worth and ability to stand up and be counted. Maybe when they arrive at University these same young people will join Stand With Us
A man who has always done something is Steve Emerson. Steve showed us his first video of a vitriolic Arafat speech translated into English, then wrote his revealing “Jihad in America”which proved to be all too true. His Investigative Project put this analysis of the Charlie Hebdo killings
The Telegraph newspaper ran a fascinating article about those who choose to live outside the Green Line. I did not agree with everything but it is measured and interesting. The Settlers
So the Jerusalem snow came, not the huge storm that they promised or threatened but a light smattering which totally paralysed Jerusalem and the entire area! The police closed all roads to Jerusalem, then had to reopen them with egg on their faces! Mount Hermon got a real snowstorm and the coastal area was subjected to horrendous gale force winds which literally swept people off their feet and brought the rain into dear Sari Singers hotel room! However, Jerusalem’s myriad of snow ploughs and tractors lay idle. Cold it is, but not white. Disappointed children went back to school today, despite the promise of a long holiday and snow-ball fights.
The snow actually threatened to keep even the indomitable Canon Andrew White away – but the call of my promise of a real “Heimische” Friday night dinner persuaded him to take the flight to Ben Gurion, and come to Jerusalem before going to Jordan where some 350 refugees from Northern Iraq await his kind words and both physical and spiritual help. His work would exhaust even a healthy man, and Andrew is really not a healthy man, but his faith in G-d and his deep spirituality keep him going – that and the knowledge that his work is essential and his flock endless.
Of course his love of a traditional Ashkenazi “Shabbes”dinner was based on his time in the Karliner Yeshiva – so tomorrow I will prepare chicken soup with kneidelach (matzo balls), roast chicken, cholent, potato kugel, tzimmes, mixed vegetables, home-made pickles, both cucumbers and mixed vegetables, and apple cake for dessert.
I just hope our guests will manage to get to us! Of course beforehand we will sing the Kiddush and then break bread – home-made Challot, and hopefully Zvi will sing my song. Well, actually, not MY song but the song of all Jewish women. Every Friday night this song is sung to honour the “Baalat ha bayit” which in Yiddish is Balabusta – in English it sounds so different, not nearly as powerful – and translates as the lady of the house…. it is all in a name!
That was a perfect segway to the weekly Torah Portion which is Shemot or Names. This is an excellent explanation of the evergreen question – what is in a name? Have you ever wondered where your name came from – what it means? My “English” (actually Scottish) name is Sheila, Patron saint of the deaf and of music – always thought it a strange combination – but my Hebrew name Sara. Sara was given many meanings including “she who knows!” but my favourite and undoubtedly the most accurate was “The Name Sarah. Means “lady, princess, noblewoman” in Hebrew. This is the name of the wife of Abraham in the Old Testament. She became the mother of Isaac at the age of 90″. The last bit scared me but other than that………. Why did even traditional proud Jews give their children English names? Because immediately after WW2 they did not have the confidence to stand out.
Talking of names – this is such a beautiful song/prayer so appropriate to today – Mi ha Ish Hafetz Chaim? The meaning is -Who is the man who desires life?
This Shabbat I want to add a prayer for good government, for leaders who are not afraid to tell us the truth even if it does scare us and are not afraid to act on our own soil without the need to send its soldiers thousands of miles away but rather put our own houses in order. Leaders that are not afraid to scare their citizens with the truth – the fear response could just save lives.
I know I always finish with an Israeli song or a religious song but this time there was only one that seemed appropriate
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom………. Shalom………Shalom, Salaam, Pax, Pais, Paz. It all comes down to tolerance.
By the way, Zvi pointed out that only in Israel is the smattering of snow called a storm yet the downpour of rockets is called a shower!!!

If the media does not inform us we must inform the media

Facebook      Sheila Silver Raviv