The view from my veranda

170310 Purim, Netanyahu Russia, Boris Johnson


10th March 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope this missive finds you well and happy – after all we are in the Jewish month of Adar and are supposed to celebrate!

I had a really relaxing week. Yes I know you thought I wasn’t capable of relaxing and doing nothing, but this week we both decided enough is enough and simply relaxed. Well, almost. Last Friday night dinner we were 14 people, which was a logistical problem since I was not at home all week but as always, the magical Shabbat meal was on the table on time, helped by Rachel’s challot.

For a change I am starting with the good news. Israel, little Israel, is so far unbeaten in the baseball world series! Yes, honestly! Admittedly many of the players are former Americans because except for Canada, few other countries play baseball, but we did it anyway!

If we are talking of sport – Zvi and I went to the spectacular opening of the Maccabi World Union preparations for this summers 20th Maccabiah. Brilliant evening

Two excellent appointments show the stupidity of suggesting that Israel is a racist country. Professor Hossem Haick is a senior lecturer at the Technion University and a leader in the early discovery of cancer through nanotechnology

The second appointment is of Dr Aziz Darwashe as Head of the Trauma Department of Hadassah Hospital. Dr Darwashe was from a simple family but all of his siblings and his children are highly educated Israelis.

Just in case you think that those are the only innovations recently see this brilliant video – 57 minutes long but worth every second. The video was sent to me by Ruth Omsky

We have to talk about the less pleasant aspects of life too but I will try to cut them short.

Mr Netanyahu visited Russia for talks with Vladimir Putin. We are aware that thanks to the inaction of the West, Russia has a port on the Mediterranean in Syria, but the major topic of Mr Netanyahus concern was that Iran may well acquire a port through their action in Syria. Iran has never been truly curtailed in her efforts to rule this area, and maybe much further. Do not be fooled, the Iranians are highly educated and very clever and were able to fool the world about their nuclear aspirations – the man chosen by the United Nations and the Western leaders to oversee the Iranian nuclear programme was a member of the Moslem Brotherhood. We should be worried – worried by the missile testing that took place last week – worried by the ease with which they have reinstated their nuclear programme, albeit with apparent transparency.

The ugly face of anti-Semitism has shown itself in the USA. It has almost always been there but in a more sophisticated manner. Golf Clubs; the inability to study medical specialties in many hospitals (hence the creation of so many hospitals by Jewish benefactors); and a tacit understanding that we were good at money but not always socially acceptable – but this is a new wave unleashed from the ghastly far right nationalists and the far left anti-Israel factions. I cannot believe that it is just because a President was elected – it has to have been boiling under the surface for many years. Perhaps it is time to remind you to watch “The Wave” an experiment in a school in Palo Alto California in 1967; an experiment which proved a terrifying undercurrent

British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, a known Israelophile, was here on an official visit, and spoke in depth with Prime Minister Netanyahu, also Yitzchak Herzog, Yair Lapid and President Rivlin – reiterating his enjoyable sojourn on Kibbutz at the age of 18. Mr Johnson announced that in the near future a member of the British Royal Family will come on an official visit (they have been on private visits before) a surprise for the Foreign Office whose policies are similar to the State Dept!

Great excitement for the women of Israel because Richard Gere came to visit – not just to promote his newest movie “Norman” but is staying on for a private visit this week and unlike most other famous stars, he is staying in Jerusalem. We went to see “Norman” last night and I highly recommend the movie and commend the acting, but be prepared to recognise the characters portrayed.

Rabbi Zacharia Barashi was the oldest man in the world, but Guinness couldn’t accept it because in Kurdistan they didn’t have birth certificates, he only knew he was born in 1900. HaRav Barashis mind was clear to the very end. He died this week and the stories of his life poured forth – of his kindness and wisdom. He was the great-great-Uncle of my son-in-law Igal. May his soul rest in peace

Like the elephant in the room, there is something I have to speak about. Israel is a country where women have always taken positions of importance and power. Sexism occasionally raises its ugly head in the workplace but not in the IDF. Recently religious Members of Knesset and Rabbis have suggested that if a girl goes into the IDF she will come out secular so they must not enrol. It strikes me as ludicrous to suggest that serving her country, learning a profession and gaining confidence can possibly damage her religious values.

Purim is so much fun, expressing joy at winning over yet another a nasty enemy and ensuring his just desserts!!! Once upon a time the girls dressed up as Queen Esther and the boys as Mordechai but not any more! The costumes are varied and clever – some parents still buy a ready-made costume but many really invest time and effort. Traditionally it rains on Purim but it apparently doesn’t stop the fun!!!! Many towns will hold an Ad Lo Yada – (Until he doesn’t know – remember that I told you that we are not allowed to take revenge so tradition has it that we become tipsy so don’t know to differentiate between enemy and ally the) traditional Purim celebrations

OK that’s that! I just got back from Givat Zeev to see the children’s fancy dress for Purim. Ayala was home helping her Mummy prepare “Mishloach Manot” gifts of foodstuffs etc that are traditional at Purim  and Yosef was out with his friends playing football and Talia with her other Safta – avoiding helping!!! They already have their costumes ready, Yosef a scary golem, Talia a Bezeq engineer and Ayala a wind up dolly.

On the way back from Givat Ze’ev, past the panorama toward Ramot I saw a field full of wild red anemones (Calaniot) and a big Jolly Roger flag in the middle!!! A family stopped at the side of the road to take photos of their children in fancy dress and the oldest was….. a pirate of course!!!

Zvi and I are going to Leor and Shiri tonight where all Zvi’s family will congregate. Zvi is thrilled because he is wearing his Mexican outfit that hasn’t fitted him since he was 18 and I decided that baggy clothes fit my figure better so will go as Charlie Chaplin. Don’t worry, Shabbat will still be Shabbat with the girls gathering around to light the candles with their Mummy and Zvi will still sing the Kiddush – even if we all look rather strange!!! Real Purim is not until Sunday, and Monday in Jerusalem, called Shushan Purim after the walled city in Persia where the story took place.

The aromas are rising from my neighbours kitchens; Moroccan, Kurdish, Yemenite and fusion Ashkenaz dishes combine to remind us of our provenance. Moroccan hamin with delicious dried fruits like jewels among the meats; Yemenite Jachnun, fragrant rolls of dough cooked overnight ready for breakfast; Kurdish lamb with wonderful spices and of course the good old gefilte fish, chicken  soup with kneidlach and roast meat and chicken with roasted veggies. Having said that tonight I provide the wonderful tender salmon, roasted then left to cook in its own juices. On the eve and then the day of Purim children come to the synagogue in their fancy dress ready to make a noise!!!! They carry greggers (like football noise makers) and every time Hamans name is mentioned while reading from the Story of Esther (Megillat Esther) they stamp their feet and swing the greggers – and get sweets…….. of course they love Purim!!!!

For music I decided to continue our romance with happy things. Pharrell Williams Happy – in Happy Jerusalem

Traditional Childrens Purim Songs

Finally, as a way of saying thank you for the incredible world we live in Halleluja from Milk and Honey

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Sorry I am late but I really didn’t want to miss out on going to Givat Ze’ev! By the way, just in case you thought I was slacking, we have a Pruim party for Zvi’s choir here on Sunday night – just about 45 people!!!!

With love from our glorious city, from our Jerusalem. I feel that I am the luckiest woman in the world every time I step out onto the veranda and see Jerusalem beneath me.