The view from my veranda

Missiles, Matzo and Hard Boiled Eggs

19th April 2024

11th Nissan, 5784

195 days since October 7th

Tonight we begin Shabbat haGadol, the great Shabbat, directly before Pesach. We read from Leviticus 14 – 16 and learn all about Elijah whose role in Judaism and Pesach are fundamental.

Shabbat Shalom to all who care, Shabbat shalom to all who believe in our ability to survive and thrive once again, just as we did in the story of Pesach Haggadah (Passover story). Reading the story of the the Children of Israel’s passage from slavery in Egypt to freedom in our own land will be read in millions of homes in just three days. Not only Jews will read the story, many Christians who understand the significance will also read it, although few who are not Jewish will eat bitter herbs or eggs in salt water!!!

We woke this morning to hear that Israel had retaliated to the colossal Iranian attack of Saturday night. Oh, I forgot, we didn’t chat since then. OK I’ll start at the beginning. We had a lovely Shabbat, quiet, eating, walking through the nature reserve and chatting to neighbours, basically, doing what we love to do on Shabbat. That evening we watched the news then, what????? Iran was attacking Israel? Rockets, drones and ballistic missiles literally raining down on us? How can it be? Then the announcement that the ETA of the missiles etc was anything from 2 to 8 hours. The tension rose but for some reason I trusted the IAF to deal with everything, actually, there was nothing we could do but wait and check the contents of our emergency foodstuffs in the Safe Room. We were on line with our closest friends all over the world, they seemed to know more than we did. What’s that? American (USAF) and British (RAF) planes joined the Israel Air Force to repel and eliminate the various flying objects and keep us safe, joined in part by the Jordanians and the Saudis, a very important aspect of our common enemy. Red Alerts (sirens) all over Israel! My fingers were sore from responding to everyone on WhatsApp. By 02:00 we were exhausted so we did what all good Israelis who have seen many wars do, we went to sleep. 700 varied lethal flying objects sent from a huge and powerful country to eliminate a tiny country deemed as an enemy. Why enemy?  Because the Jews dared to return to an abandoned corner of what they see as an Islamic Empire. Imagine if any other country were to launch 700 missiles on another, they would be flattened out of existence in the retaliation!

The most ironic aspect to this situation is the Russia/Iran alliance – the Putin/Khameini alliance. The godless allied with the religious fanatics is surely the epitome of diplomatic irony!

Apparently, the response was not huge, nothing compared to the attack, but hit a specific target near Isfahan. Of course, Ben Gvir was very disappointed, called the retaliation “dardeleh” which means minimal in Hebrew slang, but thank heaven he doesn’t make decisions on such things.

Not everything is bad news however.

The United States, the Biden Administration, has made the decision to withhold over $400 million from UNWRA based primarily on Impact-se’s reports. We warned about the hate education that ultimately created the atmosphere for October 7th years ago and our reports are the basis for the consideration for most Western countries. Please watch our exceptional CEO Marcus Sheff explain on i24 news.

Finally and at last, Minouche Shafik, President of Columbia University, has reached even her limit.  A large pro-Palestinian (anti-Israel) demonstration/sit in on the front lawns of the University was dispersed by NYPD who arrested over 100 demonstrators. Soon after answering questions at a Congressional Committee, where she prevaricated before finally admitting that the anti-Semitism on campus was beyond control, Shafik ordered the police to break up the demonstration. For your curiosity as to who this woman is……. Baroness Nemat Talaat Shafik, is an Egyptian, British, American aristocrat who also served on the British government. Her understanding of American students is, to say the least, scant.

Israel is, of course, known for her innovation and innovators in almost every field. The man most praised this week is Dr. Daniel Gold. Brigadier General (res) Daniel Gold, inventor of the Iron Dome.   In fact, not just this week, not just this month, not just this year but the years of constant bombardment from Gaza, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen…..the list is long, Daniel Gold saved thousands of Israeli lives. I know that Facebook is the site for those too old to be bothered with Tik Tok, but it was incredible to see the outpouring of love and admiration for this brilliant young man.

Seder Tables were set in many countries around the world, not in homes but in public places. Empty chairs, each place setting in hope for the return of the hostages. Even the most optimistic amongst us is losing hope. Realism is creeping in and we understand that our enemy is cornered and like every cornered rat they react with violence. An interesting point that was revealed (not verified)  on the Israeli Channel 13, not given to false claims, is that Qatar offered to exile the Hamas leaders living in utter luxury at their expense in their talks for the return of the hostages and it was not taken seriously by the allies. Such action would mean that the Qatari demand that we do not eliminate the Hamas leaders on Qatari soil would no longer be relevant.

And now to wonderful, normal, boring, traditional events! Pesach cleaning! I started late this year, my mind on Iran rather than Exodus, but somehow, managed quietly to not only catch up but be ahead of myself! The hardest aspect of the preparations is undoubtedly shopping. Imagine that Sunday morning, the morning after the night before, when I thought everyone would be sleeping late after Iran’s bombardment, I went to my less favourite supermarket, Rami Levi, to stock up on the special Kosher for Passover items I hadn’t bought previously. I was not alone! Oh boy was I wrong! It wasn’t the manoeuvering between the multiple trolleys trying to work out which shelves held the precious items, I actually succeeded, more or less, but then of boy, then I realised that the long line of people chatting beside their trolleys was not a social event, it was the queue for the check outs!! It would appear that many of the cashiers simply hadn’t turned up for work. I seriously thought of abandoning my shopping and running but, that’s just too anti-social for me, so I stayed where I was, began chatting to my co-shoppers, discovered that one of them had worked with Zvi many years ago, two were from Abu Ghosh and virtually everyone was patient and tolerant of the wait! Perhaps the night before led to a sense of proportion!

I would love to meet Hussein Jabar, an Israel who lives in Abu Ghosh. Hussein who works in the Ramada Hotel Jerusalem, becomes a very wealthy man for just one week every year. The Jerusalem Rabbis trust Hussein with the task of buying all the Hametz, or not Pesach foodstuffs, every year and that includes entire businesses too. He signs a document proving that it all belongs to him then “reneges” on the deal after Passover! Hussein is not only a very wealthy man for a week, he is also a wonderful, utterly trustworthy man all year round.

In 1970 Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir was interviewed on British Thames Television. Her responses, her ability to explain are outstanding. Oh, that she were here today.

The Passover meal, the Seder, is very much a family affair. We begin with the blessing over a glass of wine, children recite 4 questions, the head of the household responds with the story of our determined fight for freedom from slavery, we discuss the four sons (I believe the four generations of dispersion), ten plagues and then food, starting with blessings over the bitter herbs, mortar, matzo, parsley…… my favourite par tis the charoset, or mortar representative, for which I follow my grandfather’s (my beautiful, beloved Zeidy) recipe. Ground almonds, grated apple, a little wine or grape juice, a little very fine chiffonade of lettuce to represent the combining, a dash of cinnamon and mix until perfect. Best made a day before. Yum!  After eating hard boiled eggs in salt water, Never mind about my description, here’s the real thing  

Why is this night different from all other nights? Well, this night we will set a place for those who cannot celebrate Passover this year, we will drink a fifth cup of wine, we will say a prayer for their return and for their families and for the families of those who can never come home, the victims of the 7th of October. This night will be different from so many over the past 80 years. We prayed that we would never need to say those extra prayers but pray we must. Here I combined the words of several suggested prayers to express what I feel.

The bitter taste of Maror is on our tongues, our tears are in the salt water. On this night when we celebrate our freedom we cannot rejoice until every soul heartlessly held captive is released. Help us, dear God, to bring them home. Please plant brotherhood, peace and friendship in everyone’s hearts. Remove jealousy and baseless hatred, and spread over us the shelter of Your peace; and we should soon merit to sing before You a new song.”

The songs this week came to me easily. The first is in Hebrew, but doesn’t need words to understand the pain behind the voices. Based on a song written after the Yom Kippur war, it is called the Children of the Winter of 1923 Ha Yeladim Shel Horef 1923

The next song is taken from the Passover Seder, the lyrics are part of a prayer that is so appropriate this year “And this (Hashem’s blessings and the Torah) is what kept our fathers and what keeps us surviving. For, not only one arose and tried to destroy us, rather in every generation they try to destroy us, and Hashem saves us from their hands.” Sung by Yaakov Shwekey and Yonatan Razel who arranged the music.

The last song may seem inappropriate considering the way things are in the world today but I refuse to apologise for my choice or my attitude. The highly irreverent Monty Python writers and performers, so intrinsically British with a clever and irreverent sense of humour hit the nail right on the head. Life of Brian, one of my all time favourite films, made fun of all religions yet managed to make us laugh at ourselves. So here it is, not the original but Eric Idle singing his heart out to the delight of a huge audience. “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”

I must quote my adored Auntie Lena yet again. In the days when we all collected autographs, usually family signatures, she always, but always wrote this blessing “May all your troubles be as thin as Matzah and they will surely Passover”

May all your troubles be as thin as Matzah, may our hostages come home and the families who lost their loved ones be consoled. We are a strong people; history has taught us to hold our heads high and expect better days.

Shabbat Shalom dear wonderful people. Remember the final words of the Passover Haggadah

Next Year in Jerusalem

With love