The view from my veranda

Andrew Neil, Danny, Ishmael and Dona Grazia

29th November, 2019


Shabbat Shalom! How was your Thanksgiving? Did you remember just how many things we have to be thankful for?


November 29th, Kaf Tet b’November, the 333rd day of the Gregorian Calendar, 72 years ago the United Nations General Assembly voted to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab States joined by economic unity. The partition map proposed by UNSCOP allotted the Jewish state only a small part of Western Palestine. Despite this fact, the Zionist Organization and the institutions of the Jewish community in Eretz Yisrael agreed to accept the plan, since it recognised the right of the Jewish people to a state and not only a “national home” as stated in the 1917 Balfour Declaration and the 1922 Mandate for Palestine.

Sometimes the surrounding buzz makes us forget how lucky we are, even how lucky we are to have annoying, disruptive politicians in our lives. Believe me, it is infinitely better to live with mendacious politicians than to live in a cruel dictatorship or theocracy, ruled by tyranny.


The confusion and enormous responsibility of living in a free society can sometimes reach breaking point, especially when one’s leader ignores the mores of acceptable leadership as is happening here or the possibility of an anti-Semitic, mendacious politician changing the entire social structure of one’s free and open society. In Britain, the only good thing that can be said about Jeremy Corbyn is that he has consolidated the determination of Chief Rabbi Efraim Mervis, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Reform Senior Rabbi Laura Janner and a former Director of MI5, all of whom express their fear of the danger that is Jeremy Corbyn.  Andrew Neil is a veteran, brilliant journalist and his interview of Jeremy Corbyn is bordering on the genius. This interview is like watching a walrus toying with and then catching a slippery eel.


So, ladies and gentlemen, we are not going to talk about politics, either local or international, we are going to talk about the wonderful things that happen in Israel. However, before we get to the good stuff, if you don’t mind, I want you to understand what it means for children who are in the line of fire from Gaza and then tell me who is oppressing whom. A mother in Ashkelon decided to film her children during a Red Alert, the child, after danger is passed, wants to stay in the safe room, terrified to go home.


Some good news for a change!!


  1. A brave and beautiful Moslem woman on London Tube tackled someone bullying a Jewish man and his children.
  2. A Lebanese man bought Hitler mementos so they wouldn’t fall into the wrong hands
  3. 25 Palestinians from Hebron went hiking in Wadi Celt on Friday night. They had no food or drink and the night drew in, it was cold and they were lost. Men from nerby Jewish settlements formed a search party, despite Shabbat, and rescued the terrified hikers.


Danny Adeno Abebe is an Israeli journalist and now author.  His book “The Journey Isn’t Over” or in Hebrew “המסע לא טם” begins with his family’s journey home from Ethiopia; the horrors of the Transit Camp in the Sudan which Danny describes as a “little Shoah”; to their arrival in Israel. We were so honoured to be considered among Danny’s friends and received an invite to the book launch. After all the politicians had their say Danny described the first meeting with a fridge and made the audience laugh, “In Ethiopia everything we ate was fresh, we went and picked it for ourselves. We thought the fridge was a cupboard and put our clothes in it! Only later we found that food came from the supermarket and went into the fridge – after it was plugged in” Today Danny is very much a sophisticated Israeli, educated, well-travelled father of four glorious children. His story takes us from Ethiopia to Israel and his journey into acceptance and ultimately his shlichut to the South African Jewish community. Why the title? What is unfinished in his journey? Too many young, educated Ethiopian Israelis have not been accepted and sometimes graduates find work as security guards. It certainly cannot be said of Danny. Politicians from the extreme left (Nitzan Horowitz of Meretz) to the extreme right (Rafi Perez – Minister of Education) and everything in between expressed love, friendship and admiration for Danny. Even Minister of Culture and Bibi Groupie Miri Regev took time out of the Pro-Netanyahu demonstration to come and hug Danny. Danny also has an interesting perspective on the remaining “Falash Mura”


Another exceptional Israeli is Ishmael Khaldi who has also written a book about his experiences called ” A Shepherd’s Journey: the story of Israel’s first Bedouin diplomat” Ish was born in the Bedouin Village of Khawaled, near Haifa; an exceptionally bright young man he went on to study at Tel Aviv University and also took young Jewish Israelis on hiking tours of the Bedouin villages. It was these tours that piqued his interest in foreign relations and his ultimate entry into the Israeli Foreign Service. Ish was an advisor on minorities to the IDF . During his second posting in London the community loved him! He visited almost every community big and small and spoke openly and lovingly about Israel. Ish recently arrived in Miami as the Israeli Consul and is still finding his feet. I trust all our friends in the vicinity to welcome him to Florida


Last Saturday a free bus service began in the Tel Aviv area. It is not a regular service but for those who have no other form of transport – be it low income, carless Israelis, Christian and Moslem Israelis or tourists – it is a huge change. The service is free because by Israeli law one cannot have a paid bus service, but I see it spreading allover Israel. Many people are simply stuck at home, unable to go anywhere, on their one day of leisure in the week and this releases them. Not everyone is religiously observant.


Sacha Baron Cohen is best known for his highly irreverent, honestly coarse movies such as Borat, but little is generally known about the proudly Jewish, eloquent, Cambridge Graduate Londoner. Baron Cohen gave a brilliant speech to the ADL


I know that I am jumping from subject to subject today but I would be horribly remiss if I didn’t tell you about a phenomenal Jewish woman by the name of Dona Grazia. We celebrate her 450th anniversary this week. Born in Portugal, the daughter of a wealthy family she married a major banker, lived in Antwerp then fled to Venice and on to Turkey where she believed she could live freely as a Jew. In 1552, Dona Grazia settled in Kushta, the capital of the Turkish Empire, where she devoted her life to fostering Jewish culture, poets wrote in praise of her many achievements as a patron and helper of Jewry in those dark days. She built synagogues, established Yeshivot (centres for Jewish study), libraries, supported Torah scholars and Rabbis and resettled hundreds of Marranos enabling their return to Judaism. Donna Grazia decided to establish a refuge for Jews in the Land of Israel, in Tiberias, the city on the Sea of Galilee, where it was written that “from Tiberias, Israel will be redeemed and it will be the spiritual centre of all Jewish communities of the Diaspora”. 1558 Donna Grazia leased Tiberias, in Palestine, from Sultan Suleiman, for a yearly fee of 1000 ducats and, in 1561, Joseph Nasi obtained ruling authority over Tiberias and Safed, developing major new centres of Jewish and religious settlement which thrive until today. It came to pass that Donna Grazia succeeded in being the Visionary of the State of Israel, with the support of the Turkish Empire, 300 years before Theodore Herzl recognised the fate of the Jewish people at the trial of Dreyfus in France. A true example of the role of a woman in Judaism.

Talking of an amazing women, Shelly Silver is the daughter of Ira and Valerie Silver of whom I have spoken many times. This week Shelly graduated with honour after her entry course to the IDF in a ceremony. Unfortunately I couldn’t go to cheer her on but I want to wish her a great big MAZAL TOV and tell her that I love her!

Songs. What music should I choose this week?

One expression of gratitude that is oft forgotten is to the soldiers in WW2. This beautiful accolade requires at least one box of Kleenex as the D-Day Darlings sing Vera Lynn’s “There’ll be Bluebirds Over the White Cliffs of Dover”

I love the Revivo Project and their wonderful renditions of traditional songs with a Mizrachi (Eastern Jewish) twist. “Mi ha Ish” Psalm 34 13-15 carries a message for all of us. “Who is the man that desireth life, and loveth days, that he may see good therein? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depar​t from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.”

The IDF choir sings “Because of the Spirit” – Whatever comes I will change because our world is changing all the time and we must rise up to face the future.

The rain still hasn’t come to dampen our parched earth, but it will. It seems that half the earth is praying for rain and the other half is praying for a break in the rainfall. The veranda is a glorious splash of colour as the evenings draw in and get cooler. The Hibiscus particularly thrives on the cooler weather giving forth a glorious show in gratitude. Bright red, orange and peach coloured it is spectacular. The herbs are dying back, except for the mint and lemon balm and the kumquats are slowly turning orange. The sunsets are becoming redder and redder, as if announcing the imminent winter.

It’s time for soups again! Tonight it is just Zvi and I then tomorrow Amiad and Noga are bringing Ella and Yonatan so that Saba Zvi can take them around the corner to the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. It really is a spectacular zoo with every animal imaginable set out in continents. I love the place.

I wish you a Shabbat Shalom. Put the calumny and spitefulness of politics aside for 25 hours and rejoice in what we have.

With much love from our home to yours