The view from my veranda

Pompeo, Pounds, Pandemic and gorgeous weather

20th of November 2020


Hello! Bonjour, Guten tag, אַ גוטן טאָג, buongiorno, يوم جيد, buenos días, hyvää päivää, diwrnod da, יום טוב, and most importantly Good Shabbes and Shabbat Shalom. Gosh that was fun! If I missed your language out then please let me know! In fact, I would love you to write back to me so that I know I’m not talking to myself.


I discovered a fascinating photograph of money and flags that were issued during the Mandate period – this British Palestine Pound of 1927, clearly the legal currency of the time, was in Hebrew and English.

The flag of 1939, pre-State, was depicted in the Larousse Encyclopaedia  as half blue and half white with a yellow star in the centre! It is amazing what one finds if one is curious enough! Of course none of the discoveries will help the racism of the United Nations which just confirmed the 2016 UN Security Council Resolution 2334 which called on its member states to ensure that they do not participate in actions of de facto annexation – of course they care not a jot about annexations in other countries, only Israel- in other words they support BDS.


Despite the very warm relationship we now have with the Emirates, they voted with the 126 majority against us.


Talking of the Emirates, the Abraham Accords (notice it is not called a peace treaty) are proving to be a warm and important treaty which is very much to the benefit of both nations in finance, business, tourism and cultural exchange. In the Middle East that is a huge step forward. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia all are recognising our existence (another big thing in the ME) and even Sudan. Of course we all know that Sudan has slavery, slaughters opponents willy-nilly etc etc, but hey, the UN believes they are honoured members of their inner circle and has never condemned their policies, actions or annexations!!!


Another UN Resolution, presented by Israel, promoting entrepreneurship between countries in the region was voted down by Bahrain, UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and all the countries currently promoting entrepreneurship with Israel! Told you, this is the Middle East!


During the Clinton Administration the decision was made to label anything made in the disputed territories “Made in the West Bank” which included areas of Jerusalem, not recognising that 1 million Palestinians depend upon those factories and businesses for a living. 4 Republican Senators are hoping to change that before the change of government so that all products will be labelled “Made in Israel”, in the USA at least. Remember the Sodastream fiasco when hundreds of Palestinians lost their jobs because the factory was situated in Mishor Adumim so that Palestinians would have a means of earning?  In fact, Secretary of State Pompeo, in his visit to Israel this week, assured us that all products from Israel will be appropriately labelled “Produce of Israel”.


I don’t know if this is appropriate or not but when Zvi told me about it, it really tickled my sense of the ridiculous! Prime Minister Netanyahu is undergoing a standard procedure this week and Replacement Prime Minister Gantz will be sworn in as Prime Minister. Nothing odd about that except that the procedure is a colonoscopy, all 10 minutes of it! So ludicrous that the PM is unwilling to stand by his pledge to hand over power but …… you undoubtedly see the inanity of the situation!!


There are so many divides in our lives – religion, politics, pro and anti so many things, but also between those who have lost a child and those who have not. In general the anti-government demonstrations are quiet, although those opposed to the demands for Netanyahu’s resignation have been a good deal more than vociferous and this week they just went too far. The Farkash family in Caesaria have taken part in anti-government demonstrations and an opposing demonstration became abusive as demonstrators stood outside the Farkash family home for more than an hour shouting abuse at the bereaved mother, such as “There is a God and he punished her. May she lose another child.” It was the home of fallen IDF pilot Capt. Tom Farkash. Words fail me. The Likud party distanced itself from the guilty parties but their words were insufficient and hollow and since removed from their website


Emmanuel Macron, the French leader, needs to make some very tough decisions since the decapitation of history teacher Samuel Paty because he “demeaned the name of Mohammed”. The Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin ordered a 6 month closure of the Mosque which the 18 year old Chechnian Jihadi prayed. The decisions are of Napoleonic proportions as explained by Rabbi Jeremy Rosen


We are all fed up of hearing about the Covid-19 vaccine race. Pfizer, Moderna, Sputnik V and now a new name has come on the scene, Acturus. Israel is “first in line, or at least in the front position of that line” to receive four million doses of a vaccine being developed by the small California-based messenger RNA therapeutics company known as Arcturus, according to its CEO Joseph Payne. What is never publicized is that of all the vaccines that Israel buys we also give to the PA and other neighbouring countries.


Do you know what Mehlella (Supplication), Amata Saww (Day of Gathering) or Sigd (Prostration) is? It is the most important day in the Ethiopian Jewish community’s calendar. Once considered the Ethiopian Yom Kippur it has evolved and is celebrated on the 29th day of the Hebrew month of Marcheshvan. Since 2008, it has been recognized as a state holiday for all Israelis and many Israelis of Ethiopian origin come on pilgrimage to Jerusalem dressed in traditional costume, to the Haas Promenade overlooking Jerusalem and hold joyous celebrations.


Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip are celebrating 73 years of marriage! Yes I am watching the 4th season of The Crown and find it fascinating how they worked through every problem and came out as a successful couple. I wonder what they will do to celebrate. On his birthday Prince Charles gave a donation to The Peres Center for Peace and Innovation and in November 2008 on their 61st anniversary the Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip conferred an honorary knighthood on Shimon Peres.


This week was a social highpoint – we actually saw real people! I not only met my friend Ronit on the bench opposite for a coffee and cheese croissant from our coffee shop which has just opened for take-away and we had a delightful catch-up chat. On Tuesday Zvi went to Tel Aviv and met his old friends Yitzik Lev and Yolli Zonszein. On Wednesday I met Shifra for a lovely walk along the ancient brook of Ein Lavan, the sun was shining and the air crisp, perfect. That evening Siggi and Mendy came to visit and Mendy and I discovered a mutual love of flora. Of course we discussed every petal and leaf, and he taught me lessons on how to keep my orchids alive. Of course during both events we wore our masks and kept our distance but it was such a delight to be with real people! Yesterday I decided to get in the car and go to see Rachel and family, no reason just because I missed them. It was such a delight to see the children doing their school work and just getting on with life as it has become. Rachel even stopped cooking for Shabbat for a couple of hours!! Tomorrow we will see Zvi’s boys and families. Any thoughts of sitting outside might be a bit of a problem since glorious rain and storms are already washing Israel’s shores. Keeping our distance is difficult but essential with 6 gorgeous grandchildren with us who just want to be cuddled but have to keep their distance.


Every morning my son Gideon calls on his drive into Central London and we talk about our day, the world at large and of course the children. Hearing his voice sets me up for whatever the world has to throw at me and arguing with him is such intelligent fun!


Zvi, when he isn’t deep in the Zoom meetings of the Jewish Agency or arguing with some very opinionated people on Facebook, has been walking every evening with Motti Friedman, a wonderful friend, expert on the life of Theodore Herzl, who created the Herzl Museum here in Jerusalem. Motti walks our usual 2 kilometres and then Zvi goes off for another 3 or 4 kilometres, round the beautiful old village next to us, down the main road all the way to Teddy Stadium and then back up the steep parallel road and home. He often calls in at the supermarket to buy huge and sweet pomegranates which he then expertly deseeds and at 08:35 every morning we exercise with Avri Gilad on the TV morning show! We came to the conclusion that vegetating is not the wisest solution to the pandemic!


This week’s Torah reading reveals that even a wise and gentle young man like Jacob is capable of cheating his farmer twin Esau and lying to his father when it comes to receiving a birthright. Why on earth would he do that, taking advantage of his father’s blindness, even worse why would his mother collude with him?



And so to our musical interlude


Firstly, a fascinating compilation by The Genesis Prize about Jewish influence in music. It’s so enlightening!


Even if you don’t understand Yiddish there is something in the intonation that reaches deep down into one’s kishkes (guts) and makes you either laugh or cry!! I don’t know what it is but see for yourself as Sassi Keshet and Dudu Fisher sing for Yiddishspiel.

For me it brings back my parents, especially my beautiful Mother who passed away on the 22nd of November 1963 – yes indeed as the announcement of JFK’s death came over the news the doctor came to give us the sad news.


Naomi Shemer wanted to write a song to honour the soldiers of the IDF who lost their lives in the Yom Kippur War. When she heard the Beatles song “Let It Be” she was prompted to write the beautiful Lu Yehi – May it Be


Shabbat. Such a short word, with such deep meaning; the one day of the week when instead of chasing one’s tail one is actually instructed to rest, pray, contemplate and of course to eat. One doesn’t need to be Jewish to celebrate Shabbat; it may be on a different day or a different religion but it is Shabbat, Sabbath Day, the Lord’s Day, the Day of Rest, and it is irrelevant when it falls or what it is called, it represents a renewal of the spirit. After lighting the Shabbat Candles I look out at the view from our veranda and I give thanks. No matter what tragedies befall us we have so much to be thankful for. I posed a question on Facebook “In one word how would you describe this pandemic” So many answered with a thesaurus of dismal dismay and I was overjoyed by the occasional “challenging”. It is challenging but as long as we are on our feet and functioning there is always hope.

Write and tell me all about your day, I love to hear from you.


With much love from beautiful Jerusalem