The view from my veranda

Pots, Pans and Pesach

26th April, 2024

October the 203rd

Shabbat Shalom, Moadim le Simcha (what one says in the middle days of a festival wishing joy) I hope that your Passover Seder was meaningful and introduced a little joy into our complex lives. I promise to tell you all about our Seder later, but want to begin with the news and a little story of birds.

The Indian or Common Mynah bird has a beautiful song, a song so loud that it drowns out the songs of others. It has the ability to mimic the songs of almost every bird they hear and their numbers are growing rapidly. However, the Indian Mynah is not indigenous, began with a very few and despite its beautiful song its bright yellow beak, yellow being a sign of danger in nature and tells the story of its aggressive nature. The fact is that during the mating season it will attack anything in its path from small creatures to humans. This morning, as I sat outside on our veranda, waiting in vain for the tiny, exquisite sun birds to visit the flowers as they do every day, I realised, they would not come to gather the nectar out of fear of the Mynahs sitting on our wall. My lateral thinking brain immediately understood the parallel, that the Mynahs are an absolute analogy for our situation. The song of our enemies is louder than ours and others fear to sing.

Avigail Idan was just 3 years old when she was taken hostage by Hamas alone, after seeing her parents slaughtered by Hamas. Yesterday, she sat upon the knee of a caring President of the United States, the one who promised to bring her home. To see the little girl playing and laughing in the Oval Office was almost surreal, but not unexpected from a rare politician, one who actually does what he promises. I have some friends who are blinded by politics, but whoever you vote for it is irrelevant, President Biden has stood by Israel, despite his feelings toward our Prime Minister. His unwavering support since October 7th has given courage to other nations to support Israel verbally, militarily and morally.

Hersh Goldberg-Polin is alive, or was alive as of two days ago. The video clip filmed by Hamas shows a very different Hersh, but he is alive. His mother, the phenomenal Rachel Goldberg-Polin, a true Jewish lioness, fighting with everything she has for her son’s return, sat with her husband and spoke about her fight after seeing the Hamas video. Rachel was declared one of the world’s most influential people. Here she talks about what it means to know tha tone’s loved ones are hostages to Hamas

Columbia University, right there in New York is a hotbed of hatred and anti-Semitism. Even a few months ago even our worst nightmare would not have imagined an Imam calling students, students just like your sons, daughters and grandchildren, calling them to prayer on the front lawn of a premier university and shouting “Kill the Jews” “Free, free Palestine” and other twisted cries. It is utterly mind-boggling, terrifying the speed at which it happened. Young, naïve, pliable minds have been taken in by the lies, the Goerring-like lies which surround them. Not only Columbia, similar scenes can be found all over the USA. Entrepreneur Robert Kraft has withdrawn his funding of Columbia University.  Why has it reached this point? Because University Presidents and Deans thought that freedom of speech was more important than stopping the demonstrations at source. Remember the Mynah birds.

If you think it is only happening in North America, think again. Australia was the chosen country of so many Holocaust survivors who wanted nothing more than to be as far away from the cruelty of Europe that they went half a world away to find peace, and they found it. Melbourne has a thriving community that has given unwavering support to Israel as proud Australians and has given so much to Australia in every field, but this week the unthinkable happened. Young anti-Israel activists went around a school asking the students for a show of hands as to whether they agree with their view (anti-Israel) and taking photographs to identify those who responded. I can think of nothing more terrifying for a community that really doesn’t deserve it. So sad when it happened so close to Anzac Day.

It is irrelevant as to whether one is Jewish, Christian, Hindi, Buddhist, Atheist or Agnostic, the tide is becoming a Tsunami.

The United Nations investigation into UNWRA found that there was no proof that UNWRA workers were involved in the Hamas attack on Southern Israel and the rapes that occurred Well, did you expect a different decision?  Impact-se ( ) had given the EU, UN, USA, UK, indeed every relevant country and organisation, proof that UNWRA workers not only taught hatred but they themselves were involved. We will fight this tooth and nail and our obvious allies are with us all the way. Again, I ask you to open the link to Impact’s work, not only the introduction of tolerance to the schoolbooks of many countries in the MENA region, but fighting our cause with blind and deaf countries in Europe.

To understand the anomaly in the funding decisions of the United Nations one must look at simple numbers. Rwanda, a war and famine struck country in Africa with a population of nearly 14 million souls received just $631 million in the period 2018-2023 where as Gaza, not the whole Palestinian Authority, just Gaza with a population of fractionally over 2 million souls received $2.3 BILLION JUST THIS MONTH! Are black faces, black African lives less important or is it the fact that there are 56 Moslem countries making decisions in the United Nations?

Not everything is bad news however! Yosef Taktuk from Kfar Yarka, a Druze village in the north of Israel, won first place in the European Kickboxing Championship, proudly representing Israel. Well done Yosef!

The Atid Cramim Binyamina High School won First place in the world in robotics, out of 6,000 competitors, in a competition initiated by the Technion University in Haifa.

I went to the fabulous Israel Museum this week. It really is exceptional, the permanent exhibits of both archaeology and Judaica are worth a full day of viewing, but this time I went with my friend Ronit who insisted I see a few small temporary exhibits. She led me to a couple of small side rooms which held a very special exhibit all about an exceptional man but the name of Erich Brauer. Erich Brauer was born in Germany and came to the nascent state of Israel in the 1930’s with one firm intent, to record the various Jewish ethnic groups in Jerusalem. Erich Brauer was an anthropologist who specialised in ethnology. I didn’t know that there was such a thing as ethnologist, if I had only known that would have been my choice of career. Anyway, as usual I digress. Brauer’s works are phenomenal. He was an outstanding artist, photographer and scientist, his records impeccable. He recorded the Bukharian community but found them to snobbish to respond and he particularly loved the Yemenite community for their archetypical Middle Eastern Jewish traditions and dress.

And so to Seder Night! I will not bore you with the preparations, the switching of dishes and utensils, the level of cleaning etc even before starting to cook; oh dear, I just did! Anyway, the table was set, the seder plate ready holding its symbols reminding us of our time as slaves in Egypt, but I felt something was missing, just didn’t know what. Zvi came home with the answer, yellow paper napkins. I sat and made 16 yellow paper symbols of the yellow ribbons of the hostage families, one for each person and felt that the table was not only beautiful, it was complete. Our guests began to arrive and we sat down to sing the songs of centuries, the children asking four questions, beginning with “Why is this night different to all other nights” and so the story begins, some in Aramaic and some in Hebrew, two languages that have survived the test of thousands of years and are still in use today. Four languages around the table, Hebrew (obviously), Russian, English and Spanish but then came the meal and all conversation in all four languages turned to other things, when not enjoying the Chopped liver, salads, Chicken soup, beef, chicken and fish, roast veggies, etc etc etc…….of course all home-made. We then said grace after meals, opened the door for the herald of better things Elijah, and then the part that the children waited patiently for, the songs! The one they love most is Chad Gadya – Only one kid, which in our home is accompanied by many appropriate animal sounds, ending with boooooooo for the Angel of Death and a huge communal cheer for the Almighty!

Not satisfied with 16 guests of Seder night, the very next day, lunchtime, we invited other loved ones. Zvi’s cousins Rachel and Yossi Ribak and Samuel Bettsak who was with us the night before too. Samuel is a Panamanian who has lived in Atlanta for many, many years and is a regular visitor and volunteer here in Israel and a long time friend. His wife Debbie went to Colombia to spend her lovely Mother Marianne’s 95th birthday with her and Samuel chose to spend his Seder with us! Our friend Sam Albaranes made up the numbers. Tonight at our Friday night table we have friends. Irit and Yitzik Lev, Irit and Uri Dotan and Nattie and Yolli Zonszein. It will be lovely, especially since Zvi rushed out this morning to buy me a new soup saucepan since I suddenly realised that I don’t have a milky saucepan for Passover – I told you it’s complicated!  

Music speaks to me in a way that simple words cannot and this week I chose songs that speak tomes

Rami Kleinstein is a very special singer, a good man, and he wrote a song that really tells the story of how Jews survive even the worst of situations. Called “Little Gifts” Matanot Ktanot in Hebrew he reminds us of how much we have to be grateful for. Beautiful

Eden Golan will sing at the Eurovision Song Contest this week. The lyrics were changed as being too political in reference to October 7th and now meet the rules of Eurovision and this brave, amazing singer will stand proud with changed lyrics and her amazing voice

Al Kol Eleh, Above all this, is my favourite Israeli song, I am always deeply moved by Naomi Shemer’s words, the Honey and the Sting, written long ago, about life in Israel. The young soldiers and IDF orchestra together with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in a very special rendition

That’s it lovely people. I hope you remember to see the beauty around you, to take a break from the TV news media which seems to only talk of doom and gloom. Remember to feel joy with your family and thank heaven for your friends. Walk in the countryside, look out from your window and enjoy the view and best of all, plant a tree, a bush or just spring flowers because remember what Martin Luther (the original one) said when asked what he would do if told the world would end tomorrow “I would plant an apple tree today” in other words, don’t necessarily believe the words of doom, and do something positive to ensure our future.

I send you love, a lot of love, and strength. Think of those hostages tonight, when you light the candles, be they Shabbat Candles or just to light your life a little. Remember our view over Jerusalem and that wonderful golden glow at sunset.

Shabbat Shalom