The view from my veranda


12th December 2023

6th night of Chanukah and the 9th day of Advent.  

I have so much to tell you as I haven’t written for a few days, I decided I needed a break Sorry and grateful thanks to those of you who worried about me!

I am starting with something wonderful with the prayer that I will have other hopeful stories for you today. At a time when too many people are scared and hiding their Jewish identity, dear friends, the Isaacs family in London, celebrated Chanukah in Tami’s bakery right on a main road in Hampstead, by lighting their Chanukiot (Chanukah candlesticks) for the whole world to see through the shopfront. I’m so proud of them and of the Karma bakery. Incredibly some of the Chanukiot were actually challot (bread) in the shape of the traditional 9 armed lamp.

Another fascinating story for Chanukah is that each night Zvi and I light the Chanukiah which was made out of spent bullet casings for his father, Kalman, by one of his soldiers after the War of Independence in 1948. Each candle holds a blessing that finally, our war of independence, of recognition, will finally end.

Miluimnikim! OK it’s quite a difficult word mil-oo-im-nik-im, meaning reservists in the IDF. Men and women who have served their allotted time in the IDF but then volunteer to serve in times of need. As I think I told you 120% of possible miluimnikim immediately volunteered after 7/10 amounting to some 350,000 reservists. Thanks to the efforts of the amazing “Achim le neshek” or Brothers in Arms, and many other incredible organisations, they are well equipped and some people, some exceptional people even fly to Israel and bring suitcases full of warm coats for the soldiers who have not been home in over a month. One such person is Carmel Sarano, who happens to be a family member, and she is a non-stop proponent for Israel. So proud of her and she gave me permission to tell you about it, as humble as she is. Her Instagram account is and she posts very important material every day.

Back to the miliumnikim. The vast majority are family men and women with small children, businesses, offices, which they leave behind to save our country and by the way, to save you too! The enemy is not just here, not just over our borders (and some within). The enemy is winning the battle for our youngsters, for the next generation of leaders and it does not bode well for the future of the West unless someone wakes up. It is all very nice to claim that the sight of half naked Hamas operatives handing over their weapons does not make good propaganda, but nobody complained when the captured Israeli soldiers were stripped naked in captivity. The AlJazeera claim that the clip of the rather plump man handing over weapons was staged was disproven by (surprisingly) the BBC fact checkers who said it was genuine. Actually, the claims that  Gazans are starving was disproved by the size of the captive Hamasniks….or it proves that if you are a member of Hamas you get food if not you starve.

Sorry I got sidetracked again, the miluimnikim are brave, seasoned soldiers and sadly giving their lives to save Israel. So many young widows and orphans it is ghastly. Each morning and evening on the news, we are given the names and photographs of the fallen, thousands go to the funerals of our heroes and at each funeral friends and family members give a “hesped” or eulogy. It is heartbreaking as they speak through their tears. The bravery of those left behind amaze me.

The ethos of the IDF is that it is led into battle by its officers and this week we saw a former Chief of Staff and Member of the war cabinet suffer the loss of his son and his nephew within days of each other. Gadi Eizenkot and is wife Hannah lost their son Gal fighting in Gaza and within two days came the news that his nephew Maor had also fallen in battle. As he spoke of his son, Gadi Eizenkot, the man, allowed the tears to fall freely.

The hostages who have returned home are talking. Stephen Spielberg is recording their testimonies which tell of the horrors of their captivity, the conditions, the lack of food, of being held in dank, dark places and of beatings, rapes and worse, the constant determination to scare the living daylights out of the children.  This article in the Wall Street Journal is honest, terrifying and describes the insanity of October 7th. I believe you should read it and then ask yourselves why all the women’s organisations, literally ALL the women’s organisations have said nothing, done nothing, as if heard nothing, like the three wise monkeys

To understand Israeli society, just look at the actions of the families of those who have returned and their continued and loyal support of the families of those who are still in captivity, for whose health and wellbeing we are deeply concerned. In fact, Hostage Square beside the Tel Aviv Museum, is packed every day with volunteers and visitors who want to show their loyalty to the families; the hospital beds of the injured are surrounded by well wishers and people who bring home made delicacies for the families; young men, amputees, are determined to get well enough to go back and join their comrades in arms; this is a different society from anything you have ever known. Of course, it’s easy to say, “stop the war, stop fighting, give Hamas what they want and then they’ll return the hostages. We did that with Gilad Shalit and the result was October 7th.

During the Congressional hearings Senator Hawley questioned Secretary of Homeland Security Mayorkas about the possibility of deporting pro-Hamas students on student visas and the incredible revelation that one of his immigration officers posted River to the Sea and death to Israelis on her web pages but is still employed by Homeland Security. The responses of Mayorkas are of the same standard as the University Presidents On the subject of University Presidents, apart from the resignation of one, at least one University has had the courage to do something.

 Changing tack once again, are you aware of the fighting in the North of Israel, that missiles are launched on Israeli towns and that entire communities are now evacuees? The Timeline is fascinating, so different to Gaza. Remember that Beirut was once known as the Pearl of the Middle East, with thriving tourism and economy. What happened? 1. Black September after Arafat’s attempted coup against King  Hussein of Jordan 2. Hussein killed some 10k Palestinians (remember Jordan is also Palestine) 3. Syria refused to take them and pushed them into Lebanon 4. Lebanese war, basically Christian against Moslem, Christians fought with Israel, South Lebanese Army who then wrought revenge on the Palestinians in Sabra and Shatilla, then fled to Israel where they live until today 5. America and Israel left; Iran came in 6. Hezb-Allah, Iran’s proxy, basically took over, Christians lost control and Lebanon fell into utter disarray. Why this pincer attack? Very simple. Add two and two and it brings us right back to Iran and her proxies Hezb-Allah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Houthi, and their purpose is to dispose of the little Satan and move on to the big Satan, which is the Goldener Medinah taking in Europe on the way.

Beauty and bravery in the face of Hamas inhumanity. Young survivors of October 7th put on a fashion show, here we see brave survivors of the ruthless October 7th massacre to model dresses inspired by the brutal atrocities. Each model who took to the catwalk was either a survivor who witnessed the massacre, or had lost a loved one.

Since I know that the current situation confuses me I can’t imagine how confused children are! If you wonder how to explain to your children, this video by Eytan Chitayat does the job beautifully without scaring them.

OK, history lesson over! I just went out to get some more wool to knit hats for soldiers. Actually, I am cheating, my granddaughters loved my knitting so much that I made them one hat each in a lovely light grey and then Yosef wanted one too, so he’s next, then I’ll go back to knitting for soldiers to keep their heads warm under their helmets. Obviously it’s cold up on the Golan but it’s also getting cold at night in Gaza, anyway, anything we can do to make their lives a bit easier. I just came back from buying some more wool at the Hobby shop just five minutes from home and I saw at least five young fathers, in full uniform, collecting their children from school and kindergarten. Those young fathers are, of course, miluimnikim, reservists, young fathers, husbands, professionals and artisans, who have come home from the front for a few hours and going back to who knows what. It is very much part of our lives and yet, and yet, Zvi and I have been with friends almost every night this week. Chanukah parties, performances, dinner parties, all accompanied by the lighting of the Chanukah lights. Two nights ago we were at our friends Sima and Uri with the choir and each of us held a candle and the person next to us gave us a blessing. The candle lighting included an additional prayer to bring home the hostages and our boys and girls of the IDF. Yes, our very being is absorbed in this battle for our survival.

In an hour or so I’m going to my mind and movement class and then tomorrow I will go to meet a friend for coffee and in the evening we are going to dinner at the Dagans. The determination to have a normal life in a surreal situation is paramount. Zvi goes to his rehearsals with both choirs, we try to get to the Habad sandwich making once a week and hopefully Zvi will manage to go to the South to pick fruit and vegetables on the kibbutzim. Me, I write to you and try to help our wonderful CEO at Impact-se.

As you know I am a great big softie and this song brought me to tears, and I’ve listened to it many times! Shulem Lemel and Andrea Boccelli. When they do a duet it is heavenly. Fall on Me

Jonny Turgel sang Acheinu, Our Brothers (and Sisters) to the background of the huge pro-Israel rally in London. I chose this because it shows that we do not back down.

I believe that’s it for today. Don’t be upset if I don’t write every day, I promise to keep you informed.

When you light your Chanukah candles or open the window of the Advent Calendar, I want you to add a prayer, please. Pray for the release of the 137 hostages still held in inhuman conditions, children, men women, elderly, pray for their return home so that we can hold and support them through their ordeal. Pray for the soldiers, every one of them, pray that they return home to their families. Pray that there will be no more orphans.

In the words of Isaiah. “Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, that we may walk the paths of the Almighty. And we shall beat our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation—neither shall they learn war any more.” NEITHER SHALL THEY LEARN WAR ANY MORE – That is what my work and the work of Impact-se is all about.

Sending love