The view from my veranda

171027 I’m back!


27th October 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Gosh, 3 weeks have passed since my last letter. I have reasons not excuses but I hope you understand anyway!

The first week was still Succot (Tabernacles) for you, even though it wasn’t in Israel I have a policy never to offend anyone religiously (or otherwise I hope!); the second week I was in London and my beautiful son Gideon decided that since he took the day off work I should spend it with him not with you (logical); last week I simply ran out of energy since I spent a lot of time with my daughter Rachel who wasn’t feeling well.

During most of this period Zvi was in Mexico and San Diego on a speaking tour and meeting up with old friends from the Yiddische Shule (the Jewish School in Mexico City where his parents taught Hebrew and he spent his teenage years) and family. His speaking tour was a resounding success, which hardly surprises me, or anyone who knows him!!!

My visit to my grandchildren in London was wonderful. I do not wander around, my purpose is to spend beautiful time with Sammy, Olivia, Zacky and their Mum and Dad, but while they were in school or cheder (Hebrew school) I managed to see a few friends who lived close by. Yaffa and Martin, an interminable bus ride to Brent Cross for a very short visit with Judith and Marcus, lunch with the Rydes to talk about Israel and British politics and catch up on the latest news of old friends and finally coffee with Judy and Michael Baum who I hadn’t seen for ages. Michael has written a new book called Aaron’s Rod. He researches his works so deeply he amazes me!! A trip to St. Albans with Stephanie and the rest of the time was spent enjoying the family. My greatest moment was when Olivia asked me to be on a WhatsApp with just the two of us so we can communicate when I am in Jerusalem!!!! Oh Joy!

So much has happened during my absence. More hurricanes (one popped over the pond to the UK), threats, rhetoric and general unpleasant noise from most of the world’s leaders – noise which seems to get louder and louder and rhetoric which descends further and further into the realm of outright lies.

While I was searching the net I found this incredible video of Dema Taya, Israeli Arab defying the attempts of a Palestinian Television interviewer. I love Israel –  Dema, proud you are Israeli!

Since we are on the subject of speaking out, just watch the body language of the Palestinian delegates in the UN as a former Hamas member speaks out about their corruption, lies and lack of leadership. Mousab Hassan Yousef you are a hero

Two things made me very angry this week. One was the demonstrations of the Haredim which paralysed Jerusalem and the other the disgraceful graffiti accusation that our wonderful President Rivlin was a Nazi. The former was disgraceful because of two aspects. The extreme faction of the Haredi community demonstrated against the IDF (ergo Israel) for purely political reasons. They refuse to go to the enlistment centres for their release from serving in the IDF – yes they are not forced into the IDF, they do not have to serve this country they so abhor, no Yeshiva student has ever been forced to serve, the object to going to the enlistment centre to receive their release! Their leaders have lied and spouted rhetoric to such an extent that they are a danger to us. They pay no taxes, do not participate in the country, support our enemies – I repeat, reiterate, this is not the average Haredi man who either studies or works, these are members of a fanatical faction who by disrupting traffic on the main roads stop those of us who love and serve our country from getting to work.

As to the graffiti, what disgusting anti-social fool would suggest that President Rivlin, a man whose service to Israel is absolute, is anything but a good man? I am happy to say that on Wednesday evening, President Rivlin and his wife Nechama came to honour the 50thAnniversary of the Khan Theatre in Jerusalem. The crowd of fine Israelis got to their feet and applauded them as they came in, showering them with warmth and appreciation. President Rivlin, known to this crowd as Rubi, was the Chairman of the Board of this tiny theatre, situated in an ancient Khan, or Inn and exuded love as he hugged his friends. The play which followed the celebration (great food by the way) was outstanding too.

Israel has a new President of the Supreme Court and for the third time in a row it is a woman. Justice Esther Hayut follows Justice Miriam Naor and Justice Dorit Beinisch. Israeli women are strong and have no constrictions to achieving high position.

Bravo Israel! Tal Flicker won the Judoka gold in Abu Dhabi, but was forced to mouth the words of our anthem since he was not allowed to have either flag or anthem to celebrate his win. If that isn’t racism/antisemitism I don’t know what is!!!!

A short letter – 67 words that barely covered half a page – changed history for the Jewish people. On November 2nd, 1917 Arthur, Lord Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary, wrote a letter to Lord Rothschild, leader of the British Jewish Community, a letter which was to become the hope, the plan and ultimately the realization of a 2,000 year dream of the Jewish people to return to their homeland. 67 words which would become a cause for wars unimagined and anger from the Arab world. British Prime Minister Theresa May stands by her determination to honour and celebrate that letter both in word and deed. It is irrelevant as to whether it came about through convenient diplomacy or Chaim Weizmans discovery a method of mass producing acetone essential to the British war effort. Weitzmann was in high demand within the British upper classes and government circles, indeed he was an accomplished socialite, a virtue he used to achieve his personal dream of a Jewish State.,7340,L-5020262,00.html

On Wednesday Zvi and I spent a delightful few hours with Jaime and Eva Podolsky at the Israel Museum. We went to see the incredible Ai Wei Wei exhibit, an exhibition that requires explanation, which expresses his distain for the oppressive Chinese revolution through his art.

This week, yet again, I saw the idiocy, perhaps the evil, of the claims that Israel is a racist society. Through several visits to walk in Emergency, we met the most wonderful young Arab Israelis, doctors and paramedics, who are exceptional in their ability and very much part of Israeli society. Indeed, yesterday morning, we went to the special blood tests unit where there is the most incredible young nurse, in her colourful hijab. She can find even the deepest veins first time – and as I went in I saw a little sign on her door – “Smile – it’s good for your health” . I asked her about it and she told me that she went to the car park of the American Independence Park in Jerusalem (where many Arab families picnic) and put her sign on every car.  She chose English rather than Arabic or Hebrew because it is neutral. Gosh she is amazing!!!

So did I manage to catch up?

For our musical interlude this week I chose this fabulous video of an audition for Israel’s X Factor. 17 year old Eden Helena’s voice is phenomenal and her presentation…………….. see for yourselves

Adon Olam (traditional Jewish song) as you have never heard it before!!! The IDF Rabbinical choir at home!!! In case you wondered the unbelievable tenor is the Chief Chazzan of the IDF Shai Abrahamson

As the Yahtzeit (memorial) of a year since Leonard Cohen’s death approches it seemed appropriate to give you Hallelujah by the IDF choir.

Zvi is in Nes Ziona (Flag of Zion), watching over his little grand-daughters, actually going on a school walk and making sure they are ok, while their parents are in Eilat. He will then take them to Tel Aviv to Amiad and Noga where they will sleep tonight – imagine 4 little girls and one confused little boy in one 2 bedroom apartment!!! I am home, don’t want to move anywhere, just to relax. If Zvi gets back in time I’ll drive over to Givat Ze’ev to see Rachel and her family while Zvi goes to his parliament.

I love Shabbat in Jerusalem. I love to watch our world gently settle down, become a little quieter, the roads and the car parks empty and the city takes on a different flavour as families gather. As the younger members of the families arrive one sees huge saucepans and containers preceding the passengers as they bring delicacies to the Shabbat meal. Each family with their own epicurean traditions brought from the lands of their dispersion Israel is a melting pot of over 120 nations coming together because after 2,000 year they came home, for a million reasons.

For many it is a day of family, excursions and adventure, for others a holy day of prayer and contemplation – and sometimes a mixture of the two. Each to their own but Shabbat is special, very special.

I wish you a special Shabbat and that your corner of our world will know peace and calm.

With much love from beautiful Jerusalem.