The view from my veranda

150911 9/11, Rosh Hashana

11th September 2015
14 years. Incredibly 14 years have passed since we all thought that we were watching a movie reconstruction, a disaster movie.
14 years since the worst 8 hours of my life, then the best moment of my life when Kim discovered that both Rachel and Daniel were OK
14 years since the world changed and 3,000 families would never be the same
14 years since we discovered that the Fire and Police services were our heroes
14 years and we learned nothing.
Those days after the Twin Towers fell I was on Manhattan and found a different city where the profound trauma of the attack softened the New Yorker and  they greeted strangers and cared for them, irrespective of creed. Sadly, NYC returned to minding its own business.
We forgot who did it. We forgot that vengeance only works if you cut the root not the branches. We forgot to be proud of who we are – and I am not only talking about Americans, it fits the Brits, French, Germans, Jews, Christians…………. and Israelis. Being proud of ones identity is a far cry from xenophobia, indeed only when one loves oneself can one love others. Until we stand proudly 9/11 is just the beginning. Until we learn from the past we can never improve the future.
And so to Rosh Hashana!
Rosh Hashana is both very personal and has a much wider perspective. We beg for forgiveness for our sins and the sins of our world, not through another being but straight to the Holy One – to God. We learn to forgive but not forget; to atone and not repeat; to be humble yet never bend down to another human being; to be a better person than we ever imagined we could be. While the devout do so through Slichot prayers, being secular does not preclude atonement nor self-improvement.
Strangely, even though we call it New Year – it isn’t, not the first Jewish paradox!!!! It isn’t even the renewal of the reading of the Torah – that is after Sukkot on Simchat Torah – the Joy of the Torah- so what is it? Rabbi Jeremy Rosen will explain. My mentor and my wonderful old friend is not only wiser than I, but I owe him for not being angry when I lost his white mouse in his grandparents greenhouse!!!
Ashley Perry is a British Jew, who came on Aliya and like my children, had Rabbi Jeremy Rosen as his headmaster at Carmel College. Since his Aliya, Ashley held a number of important positions as Advisor to MK’s. Now Ashley has taken his family heritage, indeed family pedigree, as a member of the Spanish and Portuguese community as a project. Ashley does not do anything with selfish intent, thus he is not just researching his own family history but helping those whose ancestors were forced to convert to Christianity during the Inquisition and its aftermath, yet feel in their bones that they have Jewish blood, to research their families. This project in no way encourages religious changes, just a way to find out who or what we are. Watch this space – I will post the website just as soon as it is ready.
My childhood friends Michael and Shirley Fine, travelled all the way from Perth Australia to come to Jerusalem and despite the three days of the worst dust/sand storm I have ever had the misfortune to see in Jerusalem /Israel as a whole, and crippling heat (not I am not exaggerating) they had a wonderful time. They used public transport, especially the light rail, to get about and became Israelis for that short 8 day trip. We managed to go out, to visit and to spend time together although not enough – and to Zvis dismay, we spent a lot of time reminiscing our Cardiff childhood.
We live in a world of easy superlatives, I have been guilty of falling into that trap myself. A few too many exclamation marks, calling a clever person a genius – we all do it. However, once in a very rare while one meets a real hero. He isn’t a soldier, nor a politician, in fact chances are you have never heard his name but he is still my hero, and that of Zvi. Izaak Verbitsky has fought Multiple Sclerosis for 53 years. He never allowed it to put him into bad humour, or lose hope. This week Isaak came to Israel. It was no small feat, performed by Zvi, to arrange for him to fly here – Isaak is a quadriplegic, in an electric wheelchair. He came with his nurse and helper, his son and daughter-in-law and told Zvi, through his nurse, that he has a few special wishes. To go to the Western Wall, to climb Massada and to spend both his 79th birthday and Shabbat in Jerusalem. He indeed went to the Western Wall, his muttered prayer of deep significance as he kissed those ancient stones, we will have Shabbat in Jerusalem, tonight Zvi and I will eat dinner with them at the King David Hotel, Zvi’s kiddush bringing a smile to Isaaks lips, and he will go up Massada. My amazing husband made it his project to ensure all promises were fulfilled and Chaim Shkedi, Manager of the King David gave Isaak a grand reception in the Royal Suite on the 6th Floor of the Hotel.
What do I wish us for the coming year? Peace – always peace. We say it when we meet or part; we pray for it at every occasion; Shalom. I loved it when, in the old days, as the El Al flight landed in Israel the planes tannoy used to play Hevenu Shalom Alaichem
I wish us an IDF that does not need to fight and has no necessity to defend because our enemies will understand that we do not threaten them.
I wish us the determination to retain the traditions of our forefathers, the beauty of our heritage, whoever and whatever it may be. I love this blessing given to children, especially girl children on a Friday night before sitting to a traditional meal. “May the Lord bless you and keep you”
May the Lord bless you and keep you through this coming year, remember that we enter year 5776 of Jewish life. We may not be huge like China or India but we reached 8.4 million Israelis – and they said we’d never last!!!!
A special hug over the miles to the best Rosh Hashana present any grandparent ever received –  my glorious little grandson Joshua – Happy Birthday beautiful boy.
Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova. Traditionally we say a sweet year, so I leave you with a song Shana Tova U Metuka.
With love

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