The view from my veranda

Brits, Russians and Moslems

26th August, 2022

Shabbat Shalom! Did you miss me? I felt really guilty about not writing last week, I think the first time in many, many years, but soon got over it! Instead of writing I spent Friday morning with my children and grandchildren walking through the English countryside picking blackberries which I turned into a blackberry and apple crumble using the incomparable Bramley Apples which disappear in a delicious fluffy mouthful!

As you can well imagine my sojourn was just amazing with all three families coming together from Israel, New York and Leeds all for Gideon’s 50th birthday celebrations which were stupendous! Not only did all the grandchildren get to know each other and renew their love for each other, seeing Gideon and Rachel hugging was special and my two daughters in law couldn’t stop smiling and …… Gideon and Stephanie’s famous hospitality reached new heights. All of their closest friends, including many from childhood, were at the party, the food didn’t stop coming (catered by Jason Millan) and the love was tangible. We celebrated each other and of course Daniel was always in our minds, always uniting us never causing pain.

Rachel, Yosef, Talia, Ayala and I stayed at Julian and Hayley’s home, yes really! They were in the States on holiday and without a second thought offered us their home together with instructions on all the machines and dishes in the house! Through their generosity we learned about Borehamwood, a suburb of London, and the incredible Kosher shops, restaurants, coffee shops and bakeries on Borehamwood High Street. Julian is my dearest friend Valerie’s (and Martin’s) younger son. Valerie and I “grew” our children together in the tiny Reading community and Julian’s response when I told him how grateful I was for their kindness was “Auntie Sheila (I love that this 50 year old still calls me Auntie Sheila), you were my second Mum for so many years and I spent such wonderful days in your house, this is a natural way to say thank you” Wow!

Thanks to Rachel’s bravery at driving me to Oxford in a gear car on the other side of the road, I also managed to see my siblings, Ronnie, Sandie and Doreen at my lovely cousin Lynne’s and Mike’s; had lunch at Susan’s, tea at Valerie and Martin’s and had the most glorious walk through the best parts of my past. The warmth and love enveloped the Israeli clan, of course including the Seligs and Rob Rab.

I should start at the beginning. Our flight included a group of British Moslems from Derby, near Birmingham, quite a large group led by a Sheikh and an Imam. The delightful young man sitting next to me had joined the group at the last minute, together with his two brothers. He was born in Pakistan and raised by his grandparents, whereas his father had remarried and come to Britain and had two more sons. His name is Adnan and when I asked him what he thought about Israel he looked me in the eye and said “Gobsmacked” which for the uninitiated means wow! He talked about his amazement at the freedom of movement and prayer in the Old City for all faiths, of the fun in the new city, of the sense of ease walking everywhere with the traditionally dressed Imam and Sheikh, and his dismay that Israel is portrayed so badly in the general media and often in Mosques. He and his brothers are coming back on their own and bringing their families to see the real Israel.

Actually Noor Dahri, an observant Moslem and Zionist, came to Israel and wrote thus

“I visited Aqsa Mosque and Kotel (wailing wall) and prayed in both places.

I was so ashamed of to see that I had free access to any Jewish religious area in Kotel to pray and no any single religious Jew ever bothered to stop me but Jews weren’t even allowed to come closer to Damascus Gate! (One Jewish came close and said “God Bless you” when I was filming video).

Where is freedom of religion and expression. We Muslims have right to go anywhere in Israel but Jewish people have no right to even go to certain areas of Jerusalem. This is the great example of Muslims Apartheid in Jerusalem.”

I have described much of our visit above so it’s time to get you up to date with what happened in the last two weeks that you don’t already know!!

Impact-se ( determined to reveal and repair lack of tolerance in education wherever it appears, not just in the MENA region, decided to prepare a report on Russian schoolbooks and the report revealed a disturbing lack of tolerance, even distain, toward Ukrainians, not just recently. I am so proud to be Chairman of the Board because we don’t concentrate on the obvious but change our world quietly. The report  Please excuse the long link but I couldn’t find another media report on the Russian attitude to Ukrainians

The West seems set upon self-destruction by entering yet another nuclear agreement with the Iranians who have never upheld the promises in the past. The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency states that the Iranians are but 10% away from capability.  Should the current policy toward the Iranian nuclear capability continue Israel will have no option but to destroy the facilities alone. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert did not heed George Bush and ordered the destruction of the Syrian reactor – imagine what would have been had he listened, had he not recognized the danger to Israel, and Assad, who had a free hand in slaughtering 500,000 Syrians and used chemical weapons on his own people had a nuclear facility. It doesn’t bear thinking about. Danger thousands of miles away takes on a very different light when a stone’s throw away. Ask the Saudis, Qataris, Emeratis, Bahrainis, all of whom know that they are also in the line of fire. Iranian schoolbooks emphasise Iranian hatred of the United States, determination to eradicate Israel and world domination through Islam.

One of the guests at Gideon’s 50th birthday party was Dr Dan Lasserson. The lovely Dan was and is a senior doctor concerning Covid among the geriatric sector in Britain. He was amazed (should I use the word gobsmacked again?) when Rachel explained to him what happened, after the mistakes of the initial stages of Covid in the Haredi communities here in Israel, the Haredi community gathered together and helped each other, bought oxygen machines, tanks and oxymetres for those who needed it, ensured helplines and on-call doctors. I also learned that each child in the Haredi school system that wants to pass their bogrut (baccalaureate) must do a full course in first aid and CPR and perform many hours of volunteer work. As a doctor Dan was amazed and impressed, as an Israeli I realised that the secular community has a great deal to learn from the Haredi community…….. Of course there will be cries of “but they do not serve in the IDF and so on” I agree but that does not negate their sense of community.

The United Nation’s Pillay Report, conducted by former human rights head Navi Pillay, concerning Israeli treatment of Palestinians was slanted and mendacious as one would expect. All of us have a hard time explaining the truth about Israel but thank Heaven there are a few who do so beautifully. Yosef Haddad is an Israeli, a Moslem, an Arab and served in the IDF, he also speaks out. Here he tells the Security Council exactly what he thinks of the Pillay Report  

Pillay obviously never heeded the words of Former UK PM Tony Blair

“The best answer to the de-legitimisation of Israel lies in the character of Israel itself and in the openness, fair-mindedness and creativity of ordinary Israelis. That character and those people built the State of Israel. They remain its guardians. They are why to de-legitimise Israel is not only an affront to Israelis but to all who share the values of a free human spirit.”

Hadassah hospital has revealed a huge breakthrough in the treatment of Aortic Aneurisms. They can save lives without open heart surgery!!

I think you are now up to date! It was a truly incredible visit to the UK. To be with all my grandchildren together was so fulfilling, so heartwarming and to be with all the family, my daughters in law, Philip and Barbara, the friends, siblings, cousins…..and to walk in a British field to pick blackberries…..all amazing. I must tell you of one special moment on Shabbat. Philip spent some time with Rachel and her children all of whom are used to the Mizrachi tunes and version of the grace after meals. Philip decided to sing the very Ashkenaz tunes of our childhood that I thoroughly enjoyed. Yosef, Talia and Ayala love for their Saba (grandpa) so much and they learned that there is more than one way to pray, after all the words have the same meaning.

I hear you ask, “What did Zvi do while you were busy gallivanting?” He had a ball with his grandchildren! He spent a few nights sleeping at Leor and Amiad’s homes then when Amiad and Noga had to have some home repairs done he took Ella, Yonatan and Ori to the new indoor fun fair in Mishor Adumim, then he brought them to us to swim and sleep, he fed them their favourite pizzas, in fact he had a wonderful time! Both of us had special grandchildren time.

Gideon’s playlist at the party made me recognise why so many of you relate to the music that ends each missive. The songs accompanied the fabulous atmosphere in fact they complemented the atmosphere. So I have to be extra careful in my choice this week.

Steve Lawrence translated this song from the Yiddish “Where Can I Go” the story of a lost people turning to a land of our own! I dedicate it to his wife Eydie Gorme z’l, who passed away last week

Dire Straits performed in Jerusalem in 1985, a huge concert in the Sultan’s Pool under the walls of the Old City. Mark Knopfler sang his own song in his haunting voice “Brothers In Arms” written in honour of the IDF.  So much water has flowed under many bridges in the nearly 40 years since this YouTube video was made but the atmosphere is the same.

This song by Westlife is almost a prayer, it expresses incredible love, be it for the Almighty or for each other, it expresses the love of a child to parents and in the case of Shalva it expresses what we all pray for – that we become the best person we can possibly be. You Raise Me Up

You Raise Me Up also describes the man my eldest son Daniel was. He raised us all up in his gentle urging, his care and his example. He was present the entire time, for all of us, while together. He was there yet so horribly missed. It will be his birthday next week and we will celebrate his birth and his presence, all he was to us and what he still is, but life is hard without him.

This week’s Torah Reading is Re’eh In Hebrew that can be spelled in two ways, one meaning evil and one meaning perception. Coincidentally this week’s reading asks us above all to perceive the difference between good and evil and to make the right choices. There are many laws and customs outlined clearly but above all we are expected to make the right choices, to choose good.

I wish you a Shabbat Shalom, an excellent weekend surrounded by friends and family, warmth and love.

With love from Jerusalem, even more beautiful upon returning.