The view from my veranda

160902 Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem


2nd September 2016

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem. Gosh it is wonderful to wake up on a Friday morning to the sunrise over this city and hear the clatter of pots and pans as the cooking begins. Men and women bring the traditional dishes of their dispersion and prepare them to celebrate Shabbat, irrespective of depth of religion, it is all about tradition. More of that later, first I must first perform my duty of informing you of what really happens in our region, then we can have fun with the myriad of dishes which make up our society.

We are all guilty of generalisation. Americans believe that anti-semitism is confined to Europe without looking at their own campus situation; Europeans believe that Americans are unwilling to take the plight of others into account but don’t really do anything about helping themselves; Australia is so far away they don’t care about anyone;  Asia is lost; China is insular with an eye to taking over the world; Russia, well that is a long story of corruption and the Arab world……. Oy Vey. You see? In one paragraph I generalised just about every nation! When you consider individuals you realise that there are those who are aware, tolerant, erudite in all societies. Please read this excellent article about the other Europe. There are other voices in Europe by Ariel Bolstein

Talking of generalisation, did you know that Arab Israelis compete on equal terms in all sports? I loved this story of the team captain of bell ball representing Israel in the Paralympics in Rio next week

Khaled Abu Toameh is a truthteller, however painful. This week he wrote about the 3,500 Palestinians killed in Syria without a word from the worlds media, because they were killed by Arabs not Jews.

The millionaires rocket blew up. The Zuckerberg/Musk financed, Israeli designed satellite was within a rocket which simply blew up during a test. The why and wherefore will follow. I do not usually quote “The Sun” newspaper (rag) but their report was perhaps the fullest.

As a people we tend to be somewhat paranoid, but with good reason, as the joke goes “Just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean no-one is after you”! Rabbi Jeremy Rosen speaks about the John Loftus book which sets out precisely, accurately, the multitude of times foreign governments – including yours – have tried to blame Israel for their own spying blunders. Yes I know we also spy on others but let’s face it, everyone is spying on everyone!

We are not a perfect society. We are made up of people from disparate nations, albeit through enforced dispersion by many Empires. From Russia and Yemen; from Morocco and Bulgaria; from Kurdistan and New York………… ad infinitum. Each new wave of immigration had its problems being absorbed, which is natural. Emigration and the ensuing immigration, even when coming home, is not an easy process. You go from being important to being impotent, the only thing you bring with you is your accent. It has been hard for the Ethiopian community. The children have adapted brilliantly flying high but, an ignorant sector of Israelis have never fully accepted them.  I know that some of you hate it when I point out faults in our society but if I ignore the faults then my reports are not valid. I am ashamed of any form of racism, but extra angry about this one. I promise you that as of this week I intend helping our dear friend Danny Adino Abebe, a senior journalist in Israel of Ethiopian parentage, to overcome the misconceptions. I want him, indeed many young successful Ethiopians to go into schools and ask each child where their parents came from, what hardships they suffered in their country and then tell of his peoples hardships. I pray it works.

When we were in Holland we met with Gerda and Herman Schotanus(Herman was key to the refurbishment of the Montefiore windmill in Jerusalem) and as we talked of world leadership today Gerda quoted the story from the book of Daniel and his interpretation of Xerxes dream. The Statue had a head of gold, a torso of silver, hips of copper, legs of iron and feet of clay. The interpretation can so easily relate to today where sadly our leaders take a body of gold and silver yet at the end they all have feet of clay.

Gene Wilder z”l. A proud Jew who made us laugh with his sad face and sudden hilarity. An actor who insisted he was not a comedian, he will be missed. Surely the Frisco Kid was a brilliant teaching tool of Judaism! A dear friend, Martin Myers, sent me this poem by said Mr Wilder, lamenting his lack of Yiddisch. May his soul rest in peace.

A YIDDISH POEM by Gene Wilder (Jerome Silberman)

Yiddish was the secret code, therefore I don’t farshtaist,

A bisseleh maybe here and there, the rest has gone to waste.

Sadly, when I hear it now, I only get the gist,

My Bubbe spoke it beautifully; but me, I am tsemisht.

So oi vei as I should say, or even oy vai iz mir,

Though my pisk is lacking Yiddish, it’s familiar to my ear.

And I’m no Chaim Yonkel , in fact I was shtick naches,

But, when it comes to Yiddish though, I’m talking out my tuchas.

Es iz a shandeh far di kinder that I don’t know it better

(Though it’s really nishtgefelecht when one needs to write a letter).

But, when it comes to characters, there’s really no contention,

No other linguist can compete with honorable mentshen:

They have nebbishes and nebechels and others without mazel,

Then, too, schmendriks and schlemiels, and let’s not forget schlemazel.

These words are so precise and descriptive to the listener,

So much better than “a pill” is to call someone ‘farbissener’.

Or – that a brazen woman would be better called Choleria,

And you’ll agree farklempt says more than does hysteria.

I’m not haken dir a tshainik and I hope I’m not a kvetch,

But isn’t mieskeit kinder, than to call someone a wretch?

Mitten derinnen, I hear Bubbe say, “It’s nechtiker tog, don’t fear,

To me you’re still a maven, zol zein shah, don’t fill my ear.

A leben ahf dein keppele, I don’t mean to interrupt,

But you are speaking narishkeit…..

And …A gezunt auf dein kop!”

Another good friend, Elisabeth Gelb, takes on all subjects concerned with Israel and Judaism. She is a great warrior and a super person. A subject close to her heart right now is that of Jacobs Sheep. Interested? Read on

Yosef came to sleep over last night. Since he is 11 years old I was thrilled he still wants to be with us! We sat together, talked, enjoyed each other, went out for a pizza and I realised that I am the luckiest Safta (Grandma) in the world. Between us we have 13 grandchildren each and every one of them a pearl, and Yosef will always be our first. He met Zvi’s cousins Victor and Mirtah Solnitsky and Prof. Yitzchak Srugo yesterday as we sat in a restaurant in Mamilla and I noticed that Victor was very taken with Yosef. I loved it when he turned to Yosef and carefully explained to him that the world rests on his shoulders because we didn’t do a good job…….. Shmor al ha Olam Yeled.

Soon, I will take him home to help his Mum prepare for Shabbat. Undoubtedly the aroma of fresh Challot will waft down to the street as we approach their apartment. My daughter is a brilliant cook a real balabusta and all the children join in the preparation for Shabbat. That is how traditions are passed on, by doing things as a family. Next week I will be with my sister Doreen and her family for a Welsh Shabbat then the following week I will be with my son Gideon, daughter in law Stephanie, Sammy, Olivia and Zachary for an “English” Shabbat. I love hearing Gideon’s strong baritone belt out the Kiddush as we sit around the table together. Tradition!

Diane Steinfink sent me a wonderful link about modern Jewish music – or rather the Jewish contribution to music. It is fascinating and very surprising. After all, whoda thought that White Christmas was written by a Jew?

Time to cook, as much as I enjoy talking to you. Zvi and Yosef are sitting in their pyjamas playing dominoes and if I don’t move they won’t either!!!

Before I begin the preparations for Shabbat, I will go and sit on our hammock and contemplate the View from our Veranda. We shared that view with Judy and Harvey Sternberg last week and they confirmed the number of lemons on the little tree, the fact that there is a humungeous orange on the orange tree, the pomegranates and of course the kumquats to say nothing of the flowers and herbs. They were as enchanted as I am each time afresh, by the phenomenal view. Jerusalem lays before us in her beauty and diversity for our delectation each day anew.

I suppose that this weeks music choice must be about Jerusalem otherwise the Segway will be incomplete.

The Ethiopian community in exile dreamt and prayed about one place. Jerusalem. This song tells their story

Usually I give you traditional music – this time I am going against convention! Matisyahu and Jerusalem

Oh alright……… If I forget thee oh Jerusalem……. How could I not?

Shabbat Shalom to all, wherever you may be, to you, your family and your loved ones.

I wish my beautiful friend Arlene a full and painless recovery. I love you dearest friend.

With love from Jerusalem.