The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom Letter

3rd February 2012

Shabbat Shalom everyone – Shabbat Shalom from Florida!!
My goodness me – leave Israel for a couple of weeks and the neighborhood goes berserk! Assad is about to fall – a leader who has wantonly killed his own citizens while the world just tsk tsk’s is finally about to get his just desserts. Egypt’s violence is overflowing into sport and Tahrir Square is again filled with demonstrations.
Ban Ki Moon went to the Middle East to bring the Israelis and the Palestinians back to the table. After the first discussions in Jerusalem he travelled to the Gaza Strip, as he crossed the border his car was pelted with shoes (an enormous insult for Moslems) and stones. Of course the press barely reported it – they only reiterated Ban Ki Moons statement on Israeli building in “occupied” territories!!!!
Talking of repeating themselves – Panetta is the latest to claim that Israel is planning an “attack” on Iran. Now maybe I am too simplistic but why on earth would Israel do something as stupid as telling the Iranians that they intend attacking their nuclear facilities in April? Surely the whole point is the element of suprise? I know the USA has announced that it will attack in July or some such but I do not understand the principle behind it! If Iran is truly the enemy we believe it to be then we must attack now and not in 3 or 6 months and if the world is waiting for Israel to do their dirty work so that they can blame us for killing innocent Iranians then I am even more confused. Every time we even defend ourselves we are treated as if we are the neighbourhood bully so what will happen if we really do choose to defend the world?
The Guardian newspaper is biased – but truly biased against Israel. Unlike its American counterpart, the NY Times, it often allows pro-Israeli op-eds. This is an excellent one in response to a Guardian article accusing Israel of mistreating Palesinian child prisoners
At a time of increasing darkness as the world gets closer to a repetition of the Inquisition and Holocaust, and Israel resembles the sacrificial lamb of Czechoslovakia there are rare beacons of light as shown in this multi-faith visit to Auschwitz -maybe we will not forget after all.
Israel 21c often tells us about wonderful Israeli innova but this weeks edition told us of one that can make a huge difference to the lives of those undergoing chemotherapy – removing nausea from the rotten equation 
Puerto Rico was great and the Efron/Duffy wedding even greater! The guests were from diverse backgrounds yet thanks to the amazing hosts, David Efron, Kathy Duffy and Simon Duffy, we all truly gelled. We were taken on a tour to the rain forest where we were introduced to incredible flora and fauna including millimetre high orchids and a large rather foul snail that excretes through its mouth! What amazed me most of all was that these glorious guests were even noisier than busloads of Israelis!! We were wined and dined and amused until the day of the wedding then came Jenny, radiant in her exquisite gown, on her way to the chuppah to become a Jewish wife. We made amazing new friends who have joined the Shabbat Shalom family. David Efron, father of the bride and of the Maiden of Honour, Lauren, did his daughters truly proud – and us too. There were almost as many events after the wedding as there were before and we rounded off our visit with a delicious dinner at the home of Sara and Efraim Kier.
Now we are staying in Florida with our dearest friends Martin and Helene and family and last night I thoroughly enjoyed myself making a “Great Balls of Fire” fancy dress for Jeremy!! The “energiser bunny” (aka Zvi) has us visiting lots of old friends racing up the I95, starting with David Weissman (Maccabi) Flory and Paul Hariton, Raquel and Jacobo Skolnik and David Bassan (all old friends from Keren Hayesod). Visiting friends is what our visit is all about. While here Zvi is introducing the outstanding Israeli dance troupe Hora Yerushalyim to South Florida and Puerto Rico!
One fascinating aspect of Florida life is that virtually ev is an immigrant and most of the Jewish immigrants brought their strong sense of communiy with them. The Venezuelans brought their natural philanthropy, social conscience and “Yiddishkeit” (a natural sense of Jewish principles) with them, bringing to assimilated America a richness of tradition that was disappearing. They understand that Diaspora and Israel are interdependent rather than believing us to be emotional baggage in the pursuit of happiness, a magen david around the chain that binds. Please please – if you believe I am wrong then tell me – but then I am not talking about YOU – you are already aware!!
When tragedy hits, even when expected, it takes your emotional breath away. A month ago I told you about the loss of my adored cousin Jean and last night her son Bobby, my amazing, generous, funny, loving cousin, Jean’s son, passed away and I feel so far from the family and so filled with pain. Bobby together with his wife Eleanor have given our world a wonderful legacy of six gorgeous children and memories of a loving, giving Jewish family. Bobby “arms and legs”.
Shabbat this week will be spent with Helene and Martin and family, and David Efron and his partner Kathy will come too. I can’t wait to hear Jeremy, Ilan and Martin’s harmony to Zvi’s kiddush. After all, tradition is tradition wherever you are.
Next week we will be in New York and I will be hugging my little grandson Joshua and his Mummy and Daddy, not Jerusalem, no veranda but my goodness it will feel good.
With love from your friends Sheila and Zvi, on their way back to Jerusalem.