The view from my veranda

160826 Holland, Anne Frank, Jewish Museum, Turkey, Kurds, Italy Earthquake


26th August 2016.

Shabbat Shalom from  Jerusalem! Yes we are back! There was no chance of my writing last week since we were deep in the countryside ofLandal Migglenberg, Holland…… a delightful place, deep in the country. We had a big cottage for all 11 of us and the children had a ball. We cooked our own food and travelled all around to the places of interest. Watching clogs and cheese being made; windmills; theme parks; boating and of course shopping!  One of the days our beautiful Dutch friends Herman and Gerda Schotanus came to visit. It was such a delight – we love them very much.

It was fun in Migglenberg, I highly recommend the site but it was even more fun to set off for Amsterdam.

In Amsterdam we were very honoured to visit two marvellous museums. At the Jewish Cultural Museum we met the director Prof. Emile Schrijver, with grateful thanks to Jaap Meijers. A learned man of the book Emile showed great enthusiasm for his subject, Jewish life, books and this marvellous museum – we highly recommend a visit. A wonderful place which is of interest to those who know of the extensive Dutch Jewish history and an excellent teaching tool for both children and adults who want to learn who is a Jew.

Continuing the rich Dutch Jewish history we went to the Anne Frank House. There we had the honour of being met by the director Garance Reus-Deelder. The Anne Frank House has over 4,000 visitors a day and is a truly moving experience. As we climbed the impossible Dutch staircase she took us aside into a small locked area right into Otto Franks Office and kitchen/laboratory. I felt the presence of the family intensely and the children listened intently to the story of a little girl just a few years older than they. Standing in the office one could hear the creaking of the footsteps above, in the now famous attic where Otto, Edith, Margot and Anne Frank, Hermann, Auguste and Peter Pels and the dentist Fritz Pfeffer. They had to keep very still all day and only move at night lest the workers below hear their movements. Only one survived, Otto Frank who discovered the diary when he returned to the attic after the war and incredibly Fritz Pfeffer – Annes nemesis – sent his son to the UK with the kindertransport thus saving his life. Many years later his son, who moved to California, changed his name to Pepper and raised a family, came to the Anne Frank House – all 26 of them – and stood at the spot their father had slept. 26 people proved the Nazis did not win.

We intended taking a train to our flight in Brussels Airport but then decided that 7 people, including 3 children, 7 suitcases and umpteen packages was just too hard the delightful driver who came to take us to the station was happy to drive us to Brussels Airport. His price was reasonable and his company excellent. He is a marvellous driver and big, comfortable Mercedes van – he is well worth calling if you are in Holland and need an airport pick-up or to travel around. His name is Jan Lindeman, he speaks Dutch, English, Spanish and some French. ( +31 6 52 732 110) Just tell him Zvi sent you!!!!

We loved Holland, but there is something special about getting on to that El Al plane, hearing Hebrew, Israeli smiles, special meals for children, delicious food (I love the El Al pasta bolognaise!!!) and then a perfect landing on Israeli soil.

This morning I took off to Rachels to get the biggest and best hugs from the children and a ton of food from Rach so that I wouldn’t need to cook for Shabbat……. That’s why I have time to write to you!!! That oh so familiar drive over Samuels Tomb was all the sweeter for missing it. The difference between the rugged hills and the flatness of Holland was staggering!!!!

While we were away Italy suffered a horrific tragedy as an earthquake hit a small village close to Perugia. Such sadness when people die through no fault of their own. Yes I know, it is happening every day in almost every country in the world – even those that purport to be peaceful.

Turkey used the excuse of ISIS to invade Syria. Excuse? Yes. The purpose of the invasion is to attack Kurds. The Kurds, or rather Kurdistan, was split into 4 sectors in the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement, each sector given to a different country – Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. Since that time the Kurds have been fighting to get their country back. Turkey doesn’t want to lose territory and has been fighting the Kurds (as have the others) and since the Kurds have been helping the Syrians it presented a fine opportunity. What a thoroughly mixed up part of the world!

While in Amsterdam we met a young Kurdish waitress who had visited Israel with an Israeli/Kurdish friend. She loved the freedom of Israel and recognized the yearning to be returned to a land taken from them.

Our dearest friend Canon Andrew White reminded us that his weeks Parash is Eikev Deuteronomy 7:12–11:25

In the Parshah of Eikev (“Because”), Moses continues his closing address to the children of Israel, promising them that if they fulfill the commandments (mitzvot) of the Torah, they will prosper in the Land they are about to settle as in G‑d’s promise to their forefathers.

Moses rebuked them for their failings in their first generation as a people, recalling their worship of the Golden Calf, the rebellion of Korach, the sin of the spies, the angering of G‑d. “You have been rebellious against G‑d,” he says to them, “since the day I knew you.” But he also speaks of G‑d’s forgiveness of their sins, and the Second Tablets which G‑d inscribed and gave to them following their repentance.

Their forty years in the desert, says Moses to the people, during which G‑d sustained them with daily manna from heaven, was to teach them “that man does not live on bread alone, but by the utterance of G‑d’s mouth does man live.”

Moses describes the land they are about to enter as “flowing with milk and honey,” blessed with the “seven species” (wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olive and dates), and as the place that is the focus of G‑d’s providence of His world. He commands them to destroy the idols of the land’s former masters, and to beware lest they become haughty and begin to believe that their wealth was self-made.

A key passage in our Parshah is the second chapter of the Shema, which repeats the fundamental mitzvot enumerated in the Shema’s first chapter, and describes the rewards of fulfilling G‑d’s commandments and the adverse results of their neglect.

Today, more and more, we are building the golden calf of prosperity, of fine cars and big houses without listening to our spirit or our hearts. I am not suggesting we live in righteous poverty but rather to strive for success while remembering to be humble. If we think only of ourselves we will lose our identity and our homeland.

I finished reading our lovely friend Professor Michael Baums book The Third Tablet of the Holy Covenant and was thrilled to the very last word. I highly recommend his book which combines history, archeology, medicine and yet succeeds in being a thriller!

Music, ah sweet music

Modeh Ani is a prayer said each morning as we wake returning our soul to our bodies, our clothing and our food. Modeh Ani – I am grateful.

A truly Shabbat song – Matanot Ktanot – small gifts. This song is again sung by children – after all what is purer than the heart and song of a child

Shabbat shalom dear friends. It was wonderful to be with Zvi, his boys and their families but as always, there is no place like home and no hugs like those of Yosef, Talia and Ayala!! Yosef didn’t even want his presents – he insisted I was enough!!!

Tomorrow we meet Harvey and Judy Sternberg – friends of Barry and Cristine Slawsky……. What a marvellous life we lead.

With love from the happiest Safta in the world right here in Jerusalem……… for one week then I am off to get more hugs from my British children – NYC, London and Jerusalem and a vacation with Zvi’s boys – can’t get better!!!

Happy birthday to the glorious Ms Callie – my adorable grand-daughter in New York.