The view from my veranda

Impact, Greenblatt, Mahane Yehuda and Daniel

6th September 2019


Shabbat Shalom!


Tomorrow marks 50 years since I became a Mother. Incredibly, Daniel, my eldest son, is 50 years old tomorrow despite the fact that I call him baby!! He is far away in New York City and my deepest sadness is that I cannot hold him, hug him, kiss him, tell him how much I adore him as I did the moment he was born. From afar I wish him a phenomenal next 50 years, filled with love, joy, friends, kindness, good health and a huge dose of laughter.


Keats wrote “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, close bosom friend of the maturing sun” and his words ring true as September brings in the hazy mornings, even though the days are still under the searing heat of the sun. My mornings begin each day with a cup of good coffee and the newspaper which I read from cover to cover, stopping to complete the puzzles before anyone else rises. It’s my time to catch my breath and look over my domain, finding it good. Jerusalem in the morning mist, the sun rising like a huge red ball over the horizon, casting a vivid warmth over the city is even more beautiful than at any other time.


There is good news this week, despite appearances! For starters, Accuweather always placed Givat Ze’ev in the Palestinian Authority but this week, miracle of miracles, it now appears as “on the West Bank”. Not exactly Israel but close enough – for now.


As you know, I am proud to be on the board of Impact-Se . For the most part we work quietly, behind the scenes, the research into the curricula of 8-18 year olds in schools in the Middle East and Israel, carried out by Professors and Post-Doc students in the Middle Eastern Studies Department of the Hebrew University.  Many meetings are held with governmental bodies in the UK, USA, Europe and major work with the UN, UNESCO etc. This week we went public, officially, when Fox News chose to be the only media outlet to commend our work!!  Our CEO Marcus Sheff is quoted throughout and outlines a radicalised curriculum suffused with martyrdom and Jihad – as opposed to the improved curricula of Jordan and Tunisia.


Other NGO’s have claimed kudos for the Impact reports, but then as we know “Success has many fathers while failure is an orphan” No other NGO took part in the research, no other NGO took part in Marcus Sheff’s outstanding presentations which were hard earned.


Jason Greenblatt has resigned as the chief USA peace negotiator between Israel and the PA. As a parting shot he referred to the very important Impact-Se report in his Tweet “Appalling. The Palestinian Authority is radicalizing kids, encouraging them to sacrifice themselves and teaching them abt martyrdom and Jihad instead of how to thrive in a peaceful world. Sadly content supporting peace has been removed from the curriculum.” Even a determined man such as Greenblatt loses hope of ever bringing serious negotiation to the table when one side is inflexible and uncompromising. Hanan Ashrawi has been fouling the negotiations with her lies and Saeed Erekat has been the Chief Negotiator for the PA for 20+ years which in itself tells a story – if he was seriously seeking a solution surely he would have achieved peace?


Some say that President Trump is the most pro-Israel/pro-Jewish President ever. Jeremy Rosen has written about President Truman’s support for partition, against strong opposition and of George Marshall, he of the Marshall Plan. I learned many political aspects that were hidden in the back pages of history.


It is 80 years and 3 days since Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain came to the conclusion that negotiations with an inflexible, uncompromising enemy cannot work and, in the name of the British Government, declared war on Hitler and the Third Reich. Chamberlain is only known for his appeasement but today that is exactly what every government does, including mine, to avoid war. Here is the speech, including the warnings and instructions given to the people of Britain which would be their everyday lives for the next six long years of soldiers fighting and dying, food rationing, blitzkriegs and destroyed towns and German occupation of the Channel Islands.


Yesterday PM Netanyahu flew to London to meet with PM Boris Johnson to discuss Iran among many other things. Boris Johnson has made a determined effort to push an acceptable Brexit deal through after seemingly interminable negotiations and kow-towing to the EU bigwigs by Theresa May who didn’t want to leave at all!! Boris Johnson is not scared by failure and is determined to pic Britain up by the ears and demand a feasible exit from the European Union. Let’s hope that, like the USA, all the anti leadership rhetoric will fail and he will succeed. Britain needs the trade with Europe in the interim period before she creates new trade agreements with the world. Maybe then the Pound will shoot back up! Incredibly the shekel is one of, if not the strongest currencies in the world. Great exchange rate for Israelis but not for tourists and not for Israeli products abroad.


Now to the fun part! My friend Jill was here for her annual two weeks of sunshine, Israel, Jerusalem and reprieve from her everyday life in Leeds, Yorkshire. I admit I was a bit worried that she would wind up just sitting on our veranda, gazing at the view and reading her pile of books, but we actually managed to do a lot, which means I am finally getting better!


After Friday night at Amiad and Noga’s we had a quiet Shabbat followed by the HaKol Yachassi end of summer party!! The party held in Ora and Avner Rosengarten’s home in Tsur Hadassah, a beautiful dormitory town just outside Jerusalem. The party was a great success, it is almost like a family get together with everyone bringing food and drinks. Ora and Avner had invited a “Memory Man” to give us an insight into how to improve our memories – I have a feeling that I am a lost case!!


On Sunday lunchtime Zvi, Jill and I went to Jozek and Ruth for an impromptu lunch which was delightful then in the evening we went with Ronit and Yossi Dagan to the Brigham Young University Auditorium for an exquisite guitar concert. The view through the arched windows is peerless. One hears gentle music while absorbing the panorama of Jerusalem. After 1967 the American Ambassador of the time approached Teddy Kollek saying that almost every country had a building or colony in its name except the United States, thus this amazing building was created with the very best view in Jerusalem!


Monday we went to Shouk Ramle, always worth a flick through the multitude of un-necessaries that one really must have! I love the fact that those who frequent the weekly shouk are of every conceivable ethnicity. That evening, as Jill and I finished our delicious “Oreganatto Batata” salad in Caffit, relaxing at our favourite table beside the water lily pond of the Botanical Gardens, I received a distress call from Zvi. “The car has broken down in Pat Junction and I can’t find the emergency triangle. I am currently trying to direct the heavy traffic around me” Obviously we raced to his aid and parked behind him, hazard lights aflash!! Please understand the car in question is a little, 19 year old Daihatsu that serves us well as a second car and isn’t worth selling! We found him wearing his compulsory reflective vest and realised that his biggest problem was that every car that passed stopped the traffic because the drivers wanted to help him (This is Israel)! He had called our towing company and the police (to direct the traffic). I gave him my emergency triangle and he insisted I went home. About ten minutes later he walked in the door. One driver pulled in front of him, got the car started and followed him home to make sure all was well, so Zvi cancelled both tow and police and we bought a new battery the next morning!!!


Tuesday, morning and we planned to go to Mahane Yehuda Market and spent an hour finding the easiest bus or light rail route to get there (the battery man hadn’t arrived yet). Standing downstairs a neighbours daughter saw us and insisted upon driving Jill and I to the main light rail terminus on Mount Herzl!! The light rail is wonderful, fast, clean, inexpensive and for people-watchers it is a joy! Walking around the shouk was just as exciting as ever. The fruit and vegetables look as if they had dropped from the vineyards, orchards and fields straight onto the shelves, piled high the costermongers declaring theirs are the best, the freshest and the most delicious and of course each claim was true! Unless you have been to Mahane Yehuda you can’t imagine the aromas of fresh fruit; every possible flavour of halva; huge bowls of exotically flavoured tisane mixes; the spice shop has dried sweet peppers, Persian dried lemons, mounds of vibrant paprika, foot long cinnamon sticks, fresh turmeric roots and every conceivable mix for making rice dishes. Of course a visit to Tzidkiyahu’s Deli is a must, just looking at the 20 types of olive makes one’s mouth water! The hustle and bustle is jovial, everyone just happy to be there! Many tourists speaking in a polyglot of joy!


On Wednesday morning I went for a course while Jill met with Dana in the local coffee shop, then we collected Ayala from school on our way to visit Jill’s Kibbutz family in Be’erot Yitzchak.  Her mentor and teacher, the beautiful Katy is now 97 and very frail but the connection was still there – the sparkle in Katy’s eyes is less frequent but it hasn’t dulled. It was a truly wonderful time watching as during our entire visit Jill and Katy held hands. Katy’s story is fascinating but not unusual, sadly. Born in Baghdad, she escaped from Baghdad to Shanghai, from Shanghai to India and from India to Israel where she became a religious mentor to many young people and the epitome of a true, Torah loving, humble Jewish woman.


Finally yesterday I took two wonderful people, Shifra and Peter, to show them the incredible work of the Yuri Shtern Holistic Centre in Shaare Zedek Hospital. We were met by Mirit, the co-ordinator of the 160 volunteer therapists and went up to the 7th floor to the oncology departments. They were both amazed at the lightness, efficiency and friendliness of the departments, the privacy afforded to patients and the warmth of the staff. Head of the day facility Dr. Ora Rosengarten spoke of the emotional and even physical benefits of the therapies which relax the patients and in many cases reduce the pain and side effects of both chemotherapy and biological treatments “More effective than cannabis” she said with a smile! To retrieve the sense of self, of being just a person, of receiving a relaxing, healing, pampering time instead of being just another patient trying to cope with having cancer and coping with everyday life is what the Yuri Shtern Foundation is all about.


At three o’clock Rachel and the girls arrived for a final hug with Jill before she set off to the airport and a return to sunny Leeds. Life will return to normal but with many lovely memories of experiences shared.


And so to music!

One of my favourite singers is Yaacov Shwekey. Here he sings with some of the greatest voices in Jewish Music. The song – Pity, Rachem


Arkady Duchin’s “There is love in me and love with prevail” by Koolulam “Between confusion and disasters, know there is a solution and it is called love”


My final song is for my incredible son Daniel. I yearn to hug you, wish I could be with you for your 50th birthday. I wish you only joy and good health. For you, the song I sang to you each night to lull you into a sweet sleep. Di di di Daniel


Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem. I wish you a peaceful Shabbat filled with hope and love



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Involvement The Yuri Shtern Holistic Center