The view from my veranda

171102 New York City attack, Yitzchak Rabin zl, ANZAC Beersheba


2nd November 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. An eventful week indeed.

A man who was given safe haven by the United States of America after suffering oppression in his home country of Uzbekistan, an undoubtedly cruel dictatorship and finds work, as an Uber driver, and a new life. This is surely a story with a happy end, but no, it isn’t. Saifullo Sayepovplanned his attack, his revenge on America, the West and all things non-Moslem, for over two months, going over his intended path and finding a soft target without any concrete bollards on the cycle path in the Lower West Side, overlooking the glorious view of the Hudson River. He rented a pickup and drove onto the cycle path mowing down those in his path, killing 8 and injuring at least 13. He intended continuing to the Brooklyn Bridge but his speeding van rammed a school bus and stopped in its tracks. He ran amok shouting Allahu Akhbar until he was shot in the stomach by a policeman. I know you have all read most of the details above but, but, I don’t understand – this man was “interviewed” by the FBI some 2 years ago because he attended a questionable Mosque and then released. Why was the Mosque not raided? If he was indeed radicalized while at prayer then others have also been radicalized in that same Mosque by the same Imam. Why was the Imam not arrested?

Our hearts go out to the families of those who lost their lives in such a cruel manner and to Manhattan, the city we all love.

About 4 or 5 years ago, in Jerusalem, I met a delightful, warm and humble young man called Kaz and spent a wonderful couple of hours listening to him and drinking coffee and eating brioche. Kaz is his pet name, his real name is Kasim Hafeez. He told me of his incredible revelation as he went from an angry, anti-Jewish Moslem to an excellent outspoken proponent of the Jewish state. Listen to his words and you will understand what drove Saifullo Sayepov

Yesterday Israel mourned the loss of innocence of an entire nation when an extremist, nay fanatic, Jew killed the Prime Minister of the Jewish State; we mourn the loss of hope because Yitzchak Rabin z”lpresented us with hope that the impossible may just be achieved and our children would know peace. Yitzchak Rabin was the Prime Minister of Israel and rare a human being who was loved by all who really knew him, from humble cleaner to Presidents, Kings and Queens. I know that you have heard my story many times, of the last time Zvi and I were with him in Washington for the opening of the Jerusalem 3,000 celebrations and I had my last hug. I tell the story not to show my own importance, quite the opposite, it is to show the man Yitzchak Rabin was. We were in the Rotunda together with most of the Senate and some Congressmen and a lot of very important people. Yitzchak Rabin was not interested in them, he entered the room with his head down, hands behind his back, and suddenly saw me – I was not of any political importance, indeed not of any importance, apart from being Zvi’s wife, yet he saw me and made a bee line toward me, ignoring the “important” people, deeply concerned that I had come out without my neck brace, having undergone surgery. That is the man we lost. Incidentally that was the day after we heard the vote in the Senate stating that the USA was behind moving the United States Embassy to Jerusalem as the rightful Capital City of the State of Israel. Another broken dream.

100 years ago a Jewish scientist, a chemist, beloved of the aristocrats of the British political and social scene, succeeded in mass-producing artificial acetone, an essential element in the bomb making industry. As with all things political that fact, and his easy, suave personality, helpedChaim Weitzmann reach the ears of both Lord Balfour and Prime Minister David Lloyd George. His request? A letter, presented to Lord Rothschild, leader of the British Jewish Community, stating that the British Government looked kindly upon the formation of a Jewish Homeland in Palestine. That letter, written by Lord Balfour, became the basis of the State of Israel. The words are adhered to, giving absolute rights to those who live on the land already. It is a short letter, not many words, that led to the realization of a 2,000 year dream.

There are diverse opinions on the letter within both the Balfour and Lloyd George families –

Perhaps Professor Simon Schama’s brilliant and emotional words speak to me more than any other.

On a different subject with the same anniversary, we celebrate 100 years since the Third Battle of Gaza on October 31st, 1917 – the Charge of the 4th Light Horse Brigade, a huge military victory over the Ottoman Empire by the ANZAC troops (considered the troops of the British Empire) in the Battle of Beersheva. The battle is little known outside Australia and New Zealand, even here in Israel although of recent years it is widely publicized. Here you see the proud horsemen, descendants of the Aboriginal cavalry. For the full and heroic story

This week the Jewish Agency Board of Governors meetings took place in Jerusalem. Zvi is deeply involved as the representative of Maccabi World Union to the Board. I did not manage to take part this time and missed seeing my lovely friends Helena Glaser, Ellen Hershkin and Nancy Falchuk and many more brilliant and powerful women who fight hard to move the proceedings in the right direction. I am not sure they succeeded, although they, Danny Lamm and my Zvi tried very ,very hard. The most important subjects should be finding unification in that which splits us apart – accepting the diversity of the Jewish community worldwide. The second issue is taking the boredom out of the Board and bringing in young people to continue the work and finally, to organise adequate, effective PR for Israel.

One special event took place this week – one that lifted my heart and healed my troubles. 6 Cardiff women came from Jerusalem, Petah Tivka, Ra’anana, Herzliya and Shoresh and travelled north to a place close to heaven – to Tsippori. Tsippori is an ancient city, excavated to reveal exquisite mosaics, including the Jewish Mona Lisa, but while amazed at the work that isn’t why it was so incredible. Our friend Rachelle Samuels Noymeir together with her husband Micha and their 6 children turned the misfortune of a falling seed industry into the fulfillment of a dream on their smallholding. They cold press olive oil from their own olives, they make soaps and creams and their home, Rish-Lakish, is open to groups from all over the world. They work hard, have little time for play, yet their life is complete. I loved every second. You really ought to visit Tsippori and when you do, pop in to say hello to Rachelle and tell her Sheila sent you. You won’t regret it!!!

So, tomorrow at the crack of dawn Zvi and I will climb aboard a bus (what in Wales we called a charabanc ) and, together with members of the choir and their spouses, head up north to Nazareth. We will visit theCircassian village and Museum, A Druze village, a Bedouin town and finally to our hotel in Nazareth where we will hold our Kabbalat Shabbat. I can already hear Zvi’s Kiddush and the surprised look on the faces of others in the hotel at his mellifluous tones! On Saturday we will walk the town, see the historic and Biblical sights and sites and sing. In fact we will sing on our journey to Nazareth and on the way back as well as during our day there!!! We come home after Shabbat filled with good memories.

For your music this week I thought of Shir ha Maalot, the song of Ascents, Psalm 121. Here 8 year old Shelly Markolov steals our hearts

On the anniversary of the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin it is only right to hear the last song he sang in his wonderfully off key growl. How appropriate that it was Shir Ha Shalom – the Song of Peace

Time for bed and dreams of peace. Who knows? As Theodore Hertzl said “If you will it, it is no dream” and here we are, a thriving, fascinating rainbow of people who come together in one nation under heaven.

Jerusalem is exceptionally beautiful in autumn. The cooler temperatures give the flowers a chance to bloom without the harsh rays of the sun burning them. Everything is cleaner after the rain, sweeter for the gentler weather, softer and somehow even more stunning. We just had a meeting here in the apartment and one of the visitors wandered out on our veranda and caught her breath “How can so much beauty be in one place” she asked. “Because God gave out 10 portions of beauty to the world; nine he gave to Jerusalem and the remaining one to the rest of the world” I said quoting the Babylonian Talmud. Gosh I love this city and next week it will be even more exciting as my dear friend Arlene Wittels, with Milt, Rona and Jack are coming. I know Arlene will cry when she sees me but not because she doesn’t love me, it’s because we love each other so much!!!

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Pray for an uneventful week. Pray for more Kasim Hafeez’s and less of those who believe the evil words of their leaders.

With much love