The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Sheila – Another year another prayer


3rd January 2014.

Shabbat Shalom to you all. The first Shabbat Shalom of a new year, of 2014.

 I thought of writing a synopsis of the past year but decided that not only have others done so ad nauseum but looking forward is of far greater importance than looking back – unless we can really learn from the failures and successes of the past year and build on them or correct them.

If, however someone were to ask me which politician stands out above all others for his determination to stand up and be counted in this world I would choose Stephen Harper Prime Minister of Canada and his Foreign Minister John Baird. Both have taken much flak for their outspoken support of Israel and recognition of the threat presented by Islamic extremist terror.

I would choose Khaled Abu Toameh as the bravest and most honest journalist in his determination to expose the truth of the Middle East.

Our dear friend Canon Andrew White is my choice as the most effective pursuer of peace, of understanding and of tolerance between nations and faiths. His untiring efforts and eternal hope are an inspiration to all of us. Illness and danger do not stop his efforts, his heart big enough to include all who are willing to listen or read his words. He is not a politician which is his greatest advantage. He is not constrained by rules and regulations – only the pure and complete love of G-d.

I would choose Israel as the most humane country, offering succour and aid even to those who desire our annihilation. Syrian and Israeli doctors have saved lives and the 200th Syrian patient was tended and nursed back to health at the Ziv Hospital in Sfat. We were the first to arrive in the Philippines and the last to remain in Haiti, still helping that devastated island back to normal life. Our government organizations provide essential training and further education for African civil servants and agricultural advice in hunger infested countries  and of course IsraAid, that incredible organization of volunteers who rush to any part of the world that needs medical and disaster aid.

My favourite expression of the year is VEXATIOUS LITIGANTdescribing with absolute accuracy the United Nations Human Rights Council toward Israel. Vexatious Litigant is someone who repeatedly and frequently sues or accuses a person or body, bringing them to court and losing their case yet still continuing their persecutory prosecution. The UN Human Rights Council does so with great regularity using OUR money!!!

Guiora Esrubilsky was the World President of Maccabi World Union. Guiora was introduced to Maccabi at the age of 12, a young Argentinian who had no connection with Judaism or Jewish life he suddenly discovered who he was and for the next 50 years devoted his life to Maccabi and World Jewry. Guiora and his beloved Marta came on Aliyah and built a life in Maccabim, until meeting a young man called Zvi Raviv he decided to take a position with Bank Leumi which took him to South Latin America and then to Miami. Guiora and Marta never lost their love of Israel and in his eulogy, former Prime Minster Ehud Olmert spoke of Guiora’s determination to speak a grammatically perfect and beautifully singsong Hebrew, instantly recognizable on the phone. Guiora was a friend to those he loved, a true friend and as one after another the speakers (Eyal Tiberger, Leo-Dan Bensky, Ehud Olmert and many others) spoke of him their eyes filled and their throats tightened. Guiora, you will be missed. Shalom Haverenu.

John Kerry is back. One must admire his determination even if his demands seem somewhat one sided. The biggest question is whether Israel can possibly agree to returning to a situation whereby she is almost cut in half, only 9 miles wide at one point; can accept the concept that the USA is willing for large tracts of land to be Judenrein and while a demand to stop terrorism is on the table there is no demand to recognize and accept the Jewish State without which Abbas could not even begin to survive!!!!

Former Prime Minster Ariel Sharon fought bravely to stay alive for seven years, even through his near coma. Sadly it appears that his fight is all but over as his body closes down. He, like Menachem Begin, recognized that only a right wing leader could truly make peace. The West made him into an enemy of peace, as if his pre-arranged visit on the Temple Mount was a plausible reason for the horrific second Intifada – which was later revealed to have been prepared months prior to his visit. Ariel Sharon was a great enough leader to change his path to bring peace to his country. Ariel Sharon who brought the only man he trusted to work beside him and ultimately take his place. Ariel Sharon trusted Ehud Olmert to continue the path he started and would have been horrified by the methods the press and his opponents used to bring down his protégé. Ariel Sharon a man of history.

New Years Eve is a restaurant evening but not a big party evening in Israel. We have so many amazing Jewish holidays that the Gregorian calendar is usually a business affair. I hate to sound like an old lady but I fell asleep before midnight! Actually, ever since I came here and therefore don’t hear Big Ben strike midnight I really don’t seem to care!!!!

Yesterday was a phenomenal day!! Not only was my daughter feeling infinitely better but Canon Andrew White came for lunch! I love him so much and his expressed love for us is so genuine and emotional I see him and want to cry!!! Andrew and I worked together on the Ezekiels Tomb project in Iraq a few years ago and we were helped and taught by the incomparable Prof. Gabby Barkay but the two men had never met. Canon Andrew, who for those who don’t read my letters thoroughly, is the Vicar of Baghdad. Andrew, as you saw earlier in this missive, is a truly incredible person who does not believe in limits – certainly not limitations on love. Andrew is a realist yet a true Christian and believer in the Christian principles of love, hope and charity TO ALL. His latest book “Father Forgive – reflections on peacemaking”  includes two chapters on the mistreatment of Jews at the hands of Christians. Andrews newest project is a conference in Cyprus including leaders Christian, Jews, Sunni and Shi’a, in the hope of bringing some form of sanity to the insane internecine fighting that is slowly but surely killing us all.

Lunch was fun! Everyone loved my “Orange Soup” (carrots, pumpkin, lentils, leeks with a hint of ginger and orange) and Andrew was especially thrilled with the roast potatoes since he missed out on them at home in the UK when they had electricity cuts at Christmas!!!! As always he stepped outside to breathe in the spectacular view of Jerusalem from our veranda.

I am about to set off for Givat Ze’ev to see my grandchildren and hug them all before Shabbat. Andrew was there today having breakfast with the Karliner Rebbe who he met when he, Andrew, studied at the Karliner Yeshiva many years ago. I will see my favourite view of Jerusalem from Samuels Tomb – the many towers of Jerusalem, from the tower of the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus, to Augusta Victoria and St Johns Church; from the Scottish Church and the Sheraton Plaza in town to the Holyland Tower and the Calatrava Bridge. Gosh I love this city it is unique in its spirituality and its unending beauty.

So that is it! Another year has flown by and I only just got used to writing 2013.

My amazing daughter in law Stephanie is 40 years old today. What a fine woman! I cannot think of anyone better as my son’s partner in life. Steph my love – I wish you health and joy for the next 80 years – Ad 120!

I am sure I missed out a great many important issues but those were the issues I felt most strongly about.

For your musical enlightenment today we have Mi’Ha”ish” a beautiful song about who we should aim to be.

My desire, dream prayer for 2014 is that peace will finally come to us all. This song is a prayer, Peace will come to us all Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu.

Shabbat Shalom dear people. Shabbat Shalom, peace will come, we just have to pray harder and do more.

Love from Jerusalem