The view from my veranda

161020 Succot, Russian Fleet, UNESCO, USA elections


20th October 2016

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom, Moadim le simcha, Chag Sameach, Holy Tabernacles. Succot is on her way out and Simchat Torah is getting nearer. Our Succah this year is spectacular, I decided to have curtains on the side which faces the view so that we can hold them back and see the spectacular view while honouring the tradition of sitting in our Succah.

It is fascinating as to why we spend a week in the Succah….. why would a people with perfectly good houses suddenly build a relatively flimsy extension and eat and even sleep in it? There are many explanations from harvest time, remembering our 40 years in the desert, gratitude for what we have, to returning to nature…………. All of which seem fine but let’s look deeper. Why did we have to wander in the desert for 40 years? Look I know they didn’t have WAZE but 40 years? One explanation is that G-d wanted the generation of slavery to die off and the generation of freedom to build the new land; another says it was a punishment for their mistrust in Moses and the building of the Golden Calf (and all the subsequent revelry and orgies) and the hope that after 40 years they would have learned to accept the social, moral and religious rules of the 10 Commandments. Personally I think it is combination of them all.

Life in this crazy world didn’t stand still just because it is Succot! If only.

The Russian fleet is currently passing through the English Channel, being carefully watched and followed by the British Navy, on their way to Syria. It doesn’t fill me with hope, nor with dread; it deeply concerns me. It makes the choice of American President even more important.

Watching the debates make my heart sink. When will we hear policy? Who will set forth a manifesto? Who will stop the personal insults and name calling first? This is not a personal matter, they are not playing at school debates, Americans have to choose someone who can face down the impending threat of Russian intervention in an already inflammatory situation. My greatest fear is that neither of the candidates can do it. Sorry Americans, but I want a President who can lead the United States and thus lead the world. I don’t want to be Czechoslovakia any more.

UNESCO, what is there to say? Inanity that has become both irrelevant and highly dangerous.   The denial of the Temple Mount’s Jewish origins insults Judaism and Christianity equally. Zvi, who has strong Mexican ties, was very surprised at the Mexican vote in favour of the proposition since the President said no and the Ambassador to UNESCO is a pro-Israel Jew. You will be glad to know the vote was rescinded, the Ambassador is staying and all is well. Irina Bokova, the Head of UNESCO spoke out in dismay at the ratification of the proposition. As a result she received death threats!

As you know, I am on the board of Impact-se, an organisation that set the criteria for tolerance in education for UNESCO and provides data through research to many governments . If we can’t educate the adults then at least we have to save the children.

Incidentally, if they want to claim the Holy Bible isn’t Jewish we can show them this video of how the archaeological scientists have found a way to read the Ein Gedi Scrolls – the earliest scrolls of the 5 Books of Moses

Last week I failed to report on the killing of two people by an Israeli Arab terrorist. The incident, quite apart from our deep sadness at those who were killed, has caused an uproar because the perpetrator was supposed to be in jail but begged the court to give him an extra month before going into jail, to organise his finances. On the day he was meant to report to the police he acted out his Facebook threats. May the souls of his victims rest in peace.,7340,L-4864512,00.html

A major subject of discussion in Israel concerns the young soldier, Elor Azaria, who after a terrorist had attacked his fellow soldiers and was neutralized, still shot and killed him. His defence is that he thought the terrorist was reaching for his belt, a dangerous situation, but the soldier, rather than being tried in military court, is being very publicly tried in the civilian court. The media refers to him as the shooting soldier and in effect his life is paraded before the court and the cameras. Naftali Bennet has come out suggesting he has suffered enough and this very public trial will cause other young soldiers to be overly cautious in dangerous situations. Strangely enough, although I am a pacifist by nature, I agree with him.

I found this quote which fits the situation – although I still want our soldiers to think before pulling the trigger, they don’t always have the time.

Sometimes to protect the flock we have no choice but to kill the wolves

Last night we were meant to go to one of the most exciting evenings of the Jerusalem calendar  – the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem’s Israeli Spectacular. Thousands of Christians here for the Tabernacles celebrations gather in the basketball arena and put on a phenomenal show of support for Israel. Today there was a huge parade. I say we were meant to go because we didn’t! I have a rotten cough and couldn’t gather the strength to go out!! This gives you an idea of the excitement engendered . Of course our dear friend Canon Andrew White spoke at several sessions.

Talking of Christians, Bethlehem, that city so important to Christianity, has become a very difficult place to be Christian, indeed a tiny Christian minority. Our friend Boutrus, a wonderful man, lives in Bethlehem with his wife and 5 children and crosses over to Jerusalem every day to find work. Boutrus is a house painter and handyman, but he cannot make ends meet. He is in trouble, along with most of Bethlehems Christians. The world seems to have lost its moral compass.

In 10 days my favourite organisation, the Yuri Shtern Holistic Centre, which cares for cancer patients and their families at Shaare Zedek Hospital, is putting on a spectacular evening at the Jerusalem Theatre with a special performance by the Bat Dor Ballet Company. If you are in Jerusalem come, I can tell you where to get tickets. November 1st, 2016. It is an outstanding cause

The family came for first night Succot and all 17 of us squeezed into the succah! I was a bit cleverer this time and put all the food out buffet style. It was much more fun and much less work!!! As always Zvi performed the blessings beautifully and somehow sitting in the succah as the full moon rose through the curtains it was even more special. After 20 years the view still takes my breath away. It was so much fun that on Shabbat we are again 17, 17 friends are coming for Shabbat lunch. I love entertaining, enjoy others enjoying our view, love to make people laugh, to let them know that they are always welcome. It is the way I grew up. Mummy always kept one extra place setting on the sideboard, just in case someone came unexpectedly she could quickly put the extra place setting without a fuss.

And so to music!

I can’t decide if I loathe this song or if it amuses me. Shaking the Lulav! At least it teaches us how to shake the lulav in the succah!!!

For those of short memory, it isn’t so long since we were not allowed near our holy sites. The sense of longing was intense and expressed by Naomi Shemer in a song of yearning. The song won the Israel song contest and then miraculously the yearning became reality over a war that lasted just 6 days – Har Habiyit b yadenu – the Temple Mount is in our hands. Naomi Shemer added an additional verse expressing our joy at finally reaching our cherished sites. Yerushalayim Shel Zahav – even UNESCO can’t take that away from us

Zvi and I wish you and yours a peaceful Shabbat and a joyous Simchat Torah…… My childhood memories are of great joy and dancing in the synagogue in Cardiff and the children being given sweeties (still a rarity in post war UK) and “Callers Nibbits”!! It was a time we were allowed, even encouraged, to make noise! If you still don’t believe our sheer joy in the Torah, in the Bible, just watch this amateur video

With love from Jerusalem, and remember, it doesn’t matter what anyone says……… it is ours!!