The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem – D-Day, 6 Day War, Australia, Hamas Fatah government, Rolling Stones, Moshiko, Shevuot

6th June 2014
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope this missive finds you well.
This is indeed a week of anniversaries of historic events.
70 years ago the  D-Day landings and the ensuing battles began The day’s commemorations began at midnight with a vigil at Pegasus Bridge near Ouistreham, marking the first assault of the D-Day invasion when British soldiers began the first Allied action of the campaign.
47 years ago The Six Day War was in its second day and those of us outside Israel were on tenterhooks, waiting for any news items to tell us about the advances of the tiny IDF against the multi-nation onslaught. Israelis were terrified for their very existence yet outside Israel we saw only the enormous victories.  The history  and the unmatched emotions “I felt truly shaken and stood there murmuring a prayer for peace. Motta Gur’s paratroopers were struggling to reach the Wall and touch it. We stood among a tangle of rugged, battle-weary men who were unable to believe their eyes or restrain their emotions. Their eyes were moist with tears, their speech incoherent. The overwhelming desire was to cling to the Wall, to hold on to that great moment as long as possible.” –Chief of Staff Yitzchak Rabin
In its own small way yesterdays announcement by the Australian Government was historic, saying that it was a mistake to consider Jerusalem as “occupied” recognising that under international law it is untrue. It is too easy to follow the rhetoric of the Palestinians and turn it into “fact” – but in the peace agreement with Jordan relinquished control of the West Bank  and left it to the contestants to reach a solution, that cannot be contested. Whether we want control of all of it or not is another matter since that changes Israel demographically but legally we have every right particularly since there was never an historic claim over the territories.
Yet another disappointment as the leaders of the West run to accept a unity government between Fatah and Hamas. Maybe they forget that under their own criteria Hamas is a terror organisation and the likelihood of them becoming more moderate is at best dubious. Our decision to build in Jerusalem neighborhoods is not a tit for tat situation but rather recognition that whatever we do will be deemed wrong so we must do what is best for us. The buildings are in Gilo, Har Homa, Ramot etc,  much needed housing for ordinary folk.
American Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro was interviewed on Israeli radio on the subject of his administrations acceptance of the new PA unity government. Ambassador Shapiro speaks excellent Hebrew and his message was clear and hopeful – but despite his goodwill it was not clear to most Israelis that the USA is on our side. Shapiro, in an Israel Radio interview, stressed that Jerusalem transferred NIS 500,000 in collected tax revenue to the PA on the very day that the Fatah-Hamas government was sworn in on Monday. Furthermore, he said, Israel said it would continue security and civilian cooperation with the PA. Those are practical decisions, because Israel understands – as we do – that if the Palestinian government collapses, it will have to assume responsibility for the Palestinians in the West Bank, and lose security cooperation that recently helped preserve stability,” the ambassador said.
President Peres and Mahmoud Abbas are going to the Vatican on sunday to pray for peace together with the Pope. It sounds like a joke (If a Jew, Moslem and Catholic pray together what is the outcome?) but I will be praying with them here in Jerusalem, praying for peace. It cannot hurt after all.
The Israeli Presidential race is heating up. Since the position is titular the procedure is totally different to the USA. It is the Knesset that ultimately chooses the candidates by secret vote and thus the President. Right now the candidates are utterly diverse, from Rubi Rivlin, Dalia Itzik, Fouad Ben Eliezer, Dan Shechtman; in other words from 9th generation Jerusalemite through Iraqi immigrants to a Nobel prizewinner. Who will it be? I for one have absolutely no idea!!!!
Had Mick Jagger put his name in the running this week he would probably have already taken over from Shimon Peres! The Rolling Stones did not just come and perform, they toured, they spoke, they accepted the warmth (and selfies) of Israelis with great good humour and elegance. Their concert was a sellout and they moved the timing back by an hour to accommodate those who could not come at the earlier time because they celebrated Shevuot. Mick Jagger stood on stage and gave his greetings in the most awful but well-meaning Hebrew. Young and old, many of them born well after the enormous success of such songs as Satisfaction, has a rollicking good time. Was I there? Nope, but that’s life!
Isn’t it strange how life takes us to all emotional corners? After the beautiful memorial service Zvi did for his parents, his little grandson, alias Moshiko, was given his true name when he had his brit milah – his entry into the covenant of Judaism. The proud parents chose the most beautiful name – Jonathan (Yonatan). Yonatan behaved beautifully as the very small group gathered in their home with the Mohel, a religious surgeon performed the ritual. Saba Zvi was the Sandak (Godfather) holding little Yonatan securely on his knee. Since the Sandak has the power to use the priestly blessing for  those present it was beautiful to see Zvi bless his sons and daughters in law and of course I got a special blessing too in the name of Sarah Rivka Rachel and Leah.  Mother Noga, Father Amiad, sister Ella and Baby Yonatan are all fine.
This week we went to the Old Yishuv Court Museum in the Old City to meet with the Director Ora. Walking in through the Jaffa Gate, turn left just before the Armenian Church and walk through the arched passageway to the Museum. In fact museum is a misnomer – it is a home, a continuum of Jewish life in the Old City with artifacts from the everyday life  of those who never left this beautiful city excepting the 19 yearsof Jordanian rule. Although needing a generous input of funds the museum and its contents give a view of this city that cannot be found elsewhere.
Shevuot was so interesting. Even Tel Aviv participated in the new/old and beautiful tradition of study, of Torah study, of the need to rediscover our roots and raison d’etre and perform the ritual learning as our ancestors did. Even Tel Aviv was quiet as a mouse.
Shevuot dinner was at our friends Memi and Liora’s home where we saw old friends and had lovely chats with Ilan. We invited friends to our place for Shevuot lunch friends, from Zvi’s past and my present and our lovely friends Danny and Judit Liwerant all the way from Mexico City. Despite the unbelievable heat (37 degrees) we really had a delightful time.  They did not have a free ride however, after enjoying a huge milk based lunch they answered a quiz, questions about milk, cheese and of course Shevuot.  Some questions were silly like “What colour is Yak’s milk?” but the Shevuot questions were much more serious.  For instance – “Why do we study all night on Shevuot”?  The given reason was because when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments the Children of Israel were sleeping, not just sleeping but had built the Golden Calf, and Moses had to wake them and destroy the idol. So came the tradition of staying awake all night to study lest we forget the giving of the Torah and build ourselves a modern Golden Calf.
Congratulations to t​hree  Australians.​
Louis Platus for winning the 2014 Hal Goldstein Lifetime Achievement Award in his native Sydney, Australia  the first time that anyone from Maccabi has won this prestigious award.

Professor Paul Zimmet about whom this article was written​
​and last but far from least
Darren Gandel for receiving his doctorate – Darren Gandel Ph D.​
And so to Shabbat. The weather is glorious today, the heat subsided and the sun is kissing our veranda gently. Last night Zvi and I sat swinging on our hammock  enjoying the incredible view of the lights and activity below us in the cool and balmy evening.  Tonight we will eat Shabbat dinner with little Yonatan although his menu will be rather different to ours!
The aromas of the ethnic cornucopia of Shabbat food, gefilte fisch, fish in spicy sauces (Moroccan chraime), chicken cooked a hundred different ways, including wonderful upside down chiken in a pot with rice, chicken paprikash and of course Cholent/Hamin with each family’s secret recipes bubbling away in the pots, the steam joining together and rising to make the mouth watering, subtle, pervasive  atmosphere of Shabbat.
I will leave you now to prepare myself to take Zvi and Yoel to the Parliament so that we can all rest easy knowing the world is being put to rights and I will go to see my grandchildren, bathe them and prepare them for Shabbat and the undoubted delicious foods their Mummy, my Rachel, has prepared for them. Rachel, just 10 years in Israel, makes the most incredible variety of delicious salads I have ever seen!!! With a bit of luck she will give me a taster of them all.
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Be well, be kind and remember, we are all human beings, even those who have never known the beauty of loving mankind.
With love from Jerusalem
​I just got back from the children and as I drove past the incredible sun-kissed panorama of Jerusalem I thought how lucky we are. This song “Jerusalem, surrounded by hills” sung by children expresses it all and Yaakov Shwekey sings “If I forget thee oh Jerusalem”​