The view from my veranda

Mid-week from Miami


January 18th 2011

Shabbat Shalom doesn’t fit and it is well past Shevua Tov so I will just say Mid-week from Miami!

Zvi is concerned because as soon as we left Israel too many things started to happen in our geographical neighborhood!! At least now I understand your perspective of searching for the truth on the situation! It would appear that the feet of clay of the Arab world are crumbling in full sight.

The Tunisian street finally rebelled against the dictatorial government raising fears in many other similar regimes in the Middle East that do not take note of popular opinion. Egypt, Iran and many others are uncomfortable with this precedent.

In Lebanon, Hezb-Allah denied all knowledge of the assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri. Recent findings not only implicate Hezb-Allah but that the assassination was at the direct initiation of Iran with complete co-operation of Syria and Syria’s President Assad. Despite the clear proof Saad Hariri , son of the assassinated Rafik Hariri, refuses to believe that Syria was involved although the UN tribunal believes differently. Thus the inconsistencies of the Middle East continue through lies and disbelief.,7340,L-4013827,00.html

Ahmedinejad isn’t thrilled with the revelations in Lebanon and warns us that if we (the West) continue the sedition we will have our hands cut off.

In Israel, Ehud Barak left the Labour Party, joined the Netanyahu Government and the Labour Party left the Government. In order to form a separate faction of any party in Israel one must achieve at least a third of the original faction, which Barak obtained, and the move must be approved by The Knesset House Committee. The new Party will be called Atzma’ut or Independence. The Netanyahu Government assured ,Atzma’ut, which includes the very effective Matan Vilna’i, for whom the position of Minister responsible for Homeland Security, has been created in the Cabinet.
It almost certainly means the demise of the Labour Party whose divisions were greater than their loyalties and over recent years has consistently moved left, those remaining are almost certain to join with either Kadima or Meretz depending on their leanings.
Barak describes “Atzma’ut” as “centralist, Zionist and democratic.”

With thanks to our host David Efron, Zvi and I went to a SPME (Scholars for Peace in the Middle East ) Conference in Miami. Speakers included Prof. Alan Dershowitz, Prof. Irwin Cotler and Ambassador Michael Oren. All three are outstanding proponents of the Israeli cause, all very different. What really moved me was that when Professor Dershowitz stood to make his short speech he turned to Prof. Cotler and described him as his hero. You are not alone Prof Dershowitz – Irwin Cotler holds hero status for many of us, his quiet, unassuming manner has achieved enormous results. The essence of this conference was to encourage University Professors and lecturers, indeed all involved in putting forward a message, to stand up and be counted. We cannot simply avoid the subject of Israel, we must stand before our students and make sure that they know of our beliefs. Prof. Dershowitz said that he normally get a 10 in his student assessments, being a very involved teacher who takes his students home to dinner and is involved in their problems and their joys. When he got the results of the assessments he saw that 90% approved of him utterly and 10% gave him 0% – those were the students who disagreed with his stance on Israel and refused to be involved. We have to accept such censure for the right to speak of what we believe. We must have courage, the courage of both our convictions and the subsequent results, good and bad.
The ticket to success for a 5th rate teacher at a 3rd rate university is to deprecate Israel, and they do!

We came to Miami for a very special occasion, indeed a double occasion, the Bar Miztvot of Ilan and Jeremy, the twin sons of Helene and Martin Lindenfeld. One comes prepared for something special, such is the nature of the Lindenfeld Family, but just how special it would be took my breath away.
The celebrations began on Friday night in the Chabad Synagogue in Coconut Grove, with a Shabbat service led by the Barmitzva boys. They did a phenomenal job, singing in harmony those prayers and tunes which have been handed down through the centuries, ever encouraged by their “Big Rabbino” Rabbi Yakov Fellig, a true Jew in his beliefs, attitude and inclusion of all who wish to take part in that wonderful life experience called Judaism. From the service we all went into the main body of the synagogue to have a traditional Shabbat Dinner, including “Zmirot” the traditional songs a Shabbat meal from the song-book we brought from Israel. It was a truly joyous occasion.

As I told you, any event with the Lindenfeld Family is exceptional and the festivities continued in the most Jewish of manners. Monday morning everyone assembled again with Ilan, Jeremy and the Big Rabbino at Chabad Coconut Grove for the ceremony of the Tefillin.

Under instruction they built their own tefillin (phylacteries) before putting them on their arms, near their hearts, and on their foreheads, as described in the ancient prayer of Shema. The boys then conducted the service in full, without skipping a beat or missing a note. It was an incredible feat which they carried out impeccably to the intense pride of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brother, sisters and of course the entire congregation made up of those who love them and their family. From the synagogue we made our somewhat sodden way to their home and a party to beat all parties held on their lawn (luckily covered by a very large marquee – tent). Even the heavy Florida rain couldn’t dampen the spirits or the joy.

What impresses me most is the deep commitment of Helene and Martin to instill a sense of tradition and Jewishness in their children which will hold them firm in their path for the rest of their lives. They also instilled in them a fabulous ability to dance as both boys gave a wonderful performance on stage at the party!!!!!!

Here is Miami we have seen old friends and made new ones – and have yet to see many others. David celebrated my 65th birthday with a cute crinoline cake which we managed to light a fewminutes before midnight! In addition to our two hosts we spent time with the Haritons, Zanzuris and Zvi found an old friend who took us to a 35th wedding anniversary held in Yiddisch reminiscent of the Catskill Mountains in the ’50’s, and last night we spent with our beloved friends Linda and Nikky Gandel from Melbourne and of course Lauren, David Efrons daughter who is making her final plans for Aliya in the summer.

The excitement of Miami is an extension of the joy before we left. My son Daniel and his beautiful family of wife Karen, son Joshua (oy I could eat him) and Karens Mum Ellen visited from NYNY. Zvi and I loved showing Ellen Jerusalem on this her first visit to Israel; sitting on our veranda and seeing Jerusalem before us; sensing the quiet of a Shabbat in Jerusalem; watching Joshy giggle as he played crazy Israeli style with his Israeli cousins, Yosef, Talia and Ayala; seeing Joshy’s initial concern then absolute joy at being thrown in the air by his Saba Zvi……. all 6’7” of him! To see a little boys face at the achievement of touching the ceiling is sheer joy!

Jay and Lisa Massirman were amongst the first recipients of my Shabbat Shalom emails. Jay and I sat together at the Bar Mitzva and talked of my setting up a real website with my own domain so that I can reach out even further. Jay suggested that I reach out to you, my loyal friends, to help me. I earn nothing from my writings and Zvi and I have dedicated our lives to Israel and the Jewish people so we accumulated amazing friends, deep pride but no money!!! I anyone is willing to help me fund it…… please write to me and Jay will help me set it up.

To end todays update I though you would like to know some facts presented at the SPME conference.
Of 190 States, less than half are democracies
Israel is older than over half of them
Only a handful never had a coup d’etat
Israel deserves respect for her democracy, her fairness, her stance in a free world.
For the Americans amongst you –
Abraham Lincoln- The greatest dream is when the Jews return to Palestine
Woodrow Wilson – pushed the Balfour Declaration
Truman – I am Cyrus
Bill Clinton – his surrogate father told him – Never turn your back on Israel
Madison spoke fluent Hebrew
William Bradford said – Let us return to Zion and finally, did you know that you nearly had Moses leading the Jews to the Promised Land as the Seal of the United States instead of “a follically challenged bird”

I wish you a wonderful remainder of this week and a truly thoughtful Shabbat

With much love from Jerusalem through Coral Gables!