The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem. Kerry, Olmert, Bonaparte, Barkay, Baum, KC 12

3rd April, 2014
Shabbat Shalom! How are you? I hope you are well.
I must begin with the news that gripped Israel this week.
The entire country watched with bated breath as the final stages of the trial of 13 defendants wound its lengthy way to a Judges decision. One reason, maybe the main reason, for the public interest and concern is that one of those accused is former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
I believe that anyone, anyone who commits a crime must pay the price – I also believe that the manner in which this investigation was carried out and the continual police leaks were undignified and abused the laws of sub judice. Unquestionably this was trial by media, long before the courtroom and the experienced and wise Judge David Rozen, heard the evidence from all 13 accused and came to his decisions.
We were bombarded emotionally by the media since Israel’s 60th anniversary celebrations, difficult on every level as we discover corruption in high places. Whatever love I feel toward two of those accused, I feel that democracy and our legal system have proven worthy and true, does not preclude my sadness and disappointment for people I love and who, in my opinion, did an incredible job of leading Israel and making this country friends among world leaders.
If anything good comes out of this trial may it be that those who let power go to their heads and have not yet been caught, and believe themselves either above the law or too clever to be caught, are now shaking in their shoes.
I know that the rule of the political old boys club and contacts to fill ones bank account is not exclusive to Israel, far from it, but it is Israel that I care about. I want a clean home.
As morning broke over Jerusalem yesterday, the news came that the Palestinians have walked out of the “peace” talks, which is hardly surprising. Indeed it was PM Olmert who said that each time there were talks, they would reach a generous agreement, the Palestinians would tell the negotiators to prepare the papers for signing and next morning find the Palestinian delegation had left in the night!!!! Bibi was ready for almost all but refused to free certain prisoners and the Palestinians insisted upon the release, Jerusalem as their capital and so much more, indeed one report said that Abbas would be a Shahid rather than sign. Nothing changes eh?
As I was researching something entirely different I came across this fascinating article.
Israelites, unique nation, whom, in thousands of years, lust of conquest and tyranny have been able to be deprived of their ancestral lands, but not of name and national existence !
In 1799, the French armies under Napoleon were camped outside of Acre. Napoleon issued a letter offering Palestine as a homeland to the Jews under French protection…. it marked the beginning of nineteenth century projects for Jewish autonomy in Palestine under a colonial protectorate. After the defeat of Napoleon, it was largely the British who carried forward these projects, which have in hindsight been given the somewhat misleading name of “British Zionism.” 
A few important news items in short
Prime Minister David Cameron issued a paper outlawing the Moslem Brotherhood in the UK after an investigation into the terror connections of that organisation in Britain.
In the Gaza Strip, that very small area which claims extreme poverty despite enormous amounts of aid there are no less than 1,700 millionaires. Surprising?
“For the first time in 2000 years, we have archaeological finds from the Temple Mount.”  Our friend Gabby talking about the sifting of finds from the Temple Mount –
Talking of Prof. Gabby Barkay, last night we had the pleasure of going to a Ladino choir evening with our lovely friends Judy and Prof. Michael Baum. Michael retired from an eminent career in medicine and is now a proficient artist and has written a book “The Third Tablet of the Holy Covenant” and is currently researching a second book. The Ladino concert included a solo from that other famous retiree, Zvi Raviv!!! Oh yes I forgot, Gabby! Well this morning Gabby met with Michael and imparted some of his encyclopaedic knowledge of First Temple times to Michael for his research.  Michael was thrilled to discover that Gabby not only knew about the historical/Biblical aspects but had met and worked with many of the characters of the book. The story of Tel Maresha I love it when friends meet over a mutual project and Zvi’s brilliant idea to get two clever men together really worked. Another introduction to Gabby – a brilliant speaker in almost any language you choose!!! 
Those of you who have been with me since the beginning of the 2nd Intifada will know the beautiful Kinneret Chaya Boosany. Today Kinneret Chaya, 12 years from that terrorist attack on March 30th 2002, is a beautiful, religious woman, happily married with 4 children. Not bad for someone they said could never lead a normal life. If you want to receive her story just let me know. This is what I wrote last year
My little lemon tree, a beautiful gift from my girlfriends last year, not only survived the snow but is beginning to put forth little green shoots,  the promise of an abundant crop this year. In fact the veranda looks astonishing – a burst of colour as the warm spring sun washes over them. Scented orange freesias and perennial purple petunias brighten up the scene as we wait for the orange blossom, the bright red pomegranate flowers and the enormous day lillies. The herbs are growing fast, enjoying the warmth, ready for the tisane which will follow the Seder meal. Best of all the pergola will be rebuilt before Pesach – the last remnant of the heavy snowfall and its aftermath to be repaired.
The cleaning is at full pelt, homes are being renovated and painted in honour of Passover and there is a sense of expectation in the air as cupboards are emptied of their previous, regular utensils and the Passover dishes are moved in. The supermarkets are already preparing for the changeover of foodstuffs, huge paper sheets masking the regular food and the Passover food on proud display. Moslem shopkeepers are proud to follow the tradition honouring our ancestors although some Jews insist upon taking food from “the back” nonetheless. For some reason we never have enough Matza as Pesach (Passover) reaches its end, but are always left with too many. It isn’t mathematically possible yet happens every year!!!!
This year we have a relatively small seder, just 23 of us. In addition to Zvi’s boys and ever increasing families, we have our “Olim Vatikim” (Old/new immigrants) Valeri and Ira and their gorgeous children Tomer and Sheli; all the way from Miami David Efron, Kathy and David’s daughter Libi (another Olah), Yaakov and Nadia Shtrizak. Yaakov is a phenomenal opera singer from the Rimsky Korsikoff Opera in Leningrad who we met last year when they came as new Olim and Zvi helped Yaakov to get auditions for both the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv Operas. In addition we will welcome anyone wanting a seder night. My Mother always kept an extra set of eating utensils on the side in case someone came unexpectedly and I am proud to continue that beautiful tradition. One day my children will be here for that special night too. They will recognise the elements of their childhood and mine as we honour our parents and grandparents by continuing their traditions – except the gefilte fish. I am used to western white, fluffy gefilte fish and cannot get used to carp – grey and glutinous. Sorry Zvi my love.
We sing almost all the story of Seder night each person reading a paragraph, finally stopping for food. After giving our thanks for the night, the food we start singing again. The central song, the prayer, the yearning for centuries, nay millenia, is Le Shana ha Ba’ah b’Yerushalyim – NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM – which is our prayer from the day of our dispersion by the Romans and previous dispersions. Jerusalem, Yerushalyim, Ir Shalem, Ariel, Shiloh, Ir Shalom. Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach z”l with a beautiful rendition.
Rabbi Carlebach was born in Vienna and left with his family in 1939. He tells the story of his childhood. In Vienna it was impossible to walk in the street as a Jew because you just disappeared. He and his brother wanted to see people as they came to pray at his fathers synagogue. Gut Shabbes, Gut Shabbes.
Finally, since we have spoken of dispersion, this plaintive and beautiful song in Ladino – Adio Querido – talks of betrayed love for Spain and the bitterness of our love for Spain after the inquisition and exile of her Jews. Judy dear, this is for you! There is an English translation.
L’Shana ha Baáh Be Yerusalyim is not a dream for us, we are here. We tell the story of our enslavement and Exodus from slavery to freedom, through wanderings to our Promised Land. We are not going anywhere. Threats and demands don’t worry us because we have been through much worse in our inherited memory and every Empire that tried to expunge the Jewish people is long gone and we are still here!!!!
Shabbat Shalom everyone, enjoy your Shabbat, rejoice and bless every moment. Remember, we don’t have another country, Israel is the only Jewish country in the world. Ninette Tayeb sings Ein Li Eretz Aheret by Ehud Manor. The lyrics – “I have no other country even if my land is aflame, Just a word in Hebrew pierces my veins and my soul, with painful body, with hungry heart, this is my home”
With much love from Jerusalem, heart of our hearts. I wish you
Shabbat Shalom.