The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom letter from jerusalem


3rd June 2011

Dear lovely people, today I not only nearly missed the Shabbat boat – cooking too much as usual – but I was trying to get my brain around the number of things I want to tell you without boring you to death!!!

This week Israel celebrated Jerusalem Day with wonderful parades, shows, specials at the museums, children’s activities, rejoicing and prayer. The reports in the media were only of the unnecessary rumpus, on both sides of the political fence, of those who don’t want to celebrate but rather want to make points and be right – rather than to be happy for one day of the year. I feel that one does not always have to create dissention. I love to see the flags out, hear the children singing Jerusalem songs in the nursery school down the road, appreciate the parties and barbeques in the evening and know that in 1967 Israeli soldiers re-united Jerusalem after a 19 year period of Jordanian rule in which we were not allowed to pray at our shrines and ancient Biblical sites, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was left to crumble, the Via Dolorosa uncleaned and the Mount of Olive tombstones smashed and used as road paving. When Shuly Natan sang Nomi Shemer’s song “Jerusalem of Gold” just before the 6 Day War, it came from a place of longing and yearning for the very heart of our ancient beliefs; when she added the final verse after the 6 Day War – which says that we can now go to our Holiest of sites – which then included Jericho – our hearts sang with pride. Somehow time and the tide, nay Tsunami of lies has washed away the truth and made us appear to be the occupiers of our own land. after this original recording we returned to the Old City, we pray at the Western Wall, we were allowed on the Temple Mount for a short period, we drove to the Dead Sea via Jericho but still they call our Biblical Jerusalem Arab East Jerusalem – only 19 years and they talk of time immemorial.

British Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould declared his commitment to Israel and the principles of Zionism on Thursday, at an evening dedicated to his new pet project: raising awareness and support for Kibbutz Eshbal, a young community in the Lower Galilee dedicated to helping children at risk from all segments of the population.

“I hope that this is not controversial, and if anyone believes that it is then they need to take a good look at their values and ask why they would object to me supporting a project like this,” said Gould, who is the first Jewish ambassador to represent Britain here.

Talking of Ambassadors, arguably the best Ambassador in a long time has been Ron Prosor, Israel’s Ambassador to the Court of St. James and prospective Ambassador to the United Nations. Ambassador Prosor did us proud under impossible circumstance. Thank you Sir and good luck in the unfriendly waters of the United Nations.

To quote Monty Python – And now for something completely different!!!!
Let’s take a look at the real Israel, the genuine wish for Tikkun Olam and the desire to help.
Sir Bob Geldof was here in Israel to receive an honour from the Ben Gurion University. He stated that Israel’s care for the poorest areas of the world should bring great accolades. He should know, he didn’t trust the “aid” organizations and their wasted monies, he began with Band Aid and each year went to Africa to ensure the money went to the intended communities.
Issraaid not only reached out to Haiti with the first field hospitals but while others left Haiti and Japan they remain to ensure social and psychological help continues long after the headlines.
Save a Child’s Heart reaches out to children the world over to provide the best care imaginable to cure heart diease. At least half of their patients are brought in from the Palestinian Authority.
Golda Meir went to Africa in the 50’s and came home with the idea for Mashav the International Centre for Women “How can a country move ahead if it ignores 50% of its population” Initially only for women this incredible training centre is thriving and changing the third world by empowering women and teaching men to understand their importance.
The Hebrew University in Jerusalem has an exceptional programme to improve the way of life for African countries. Senior Pears Foundation alumni cite valuable Hebrew University experience in helping them to cope with health issues in Africa.
ZAKA formed as a first response team within the Haredi community during Israel’s horrific time of terror attacks ZAKA has proven itself more than capable of acting as first response in international disasters.
These are just a few of the true faces of Israel, not the media cant, the Palestinian lies – by the way, when was the last time you heard of a Palestinian team going to the aid of Japan, Turkey, Haiti or anywhere else? Tiny Israel, tiny, beleaguered Israel still looks out to find those to help.

Today as I went on my morning walk I saw many children walking to school with decorated plates of fruits. Almost Shevuot, Pentecost, the Feast of Weeks, the end of the counting of the Omer (the 49 days after Passover) a time of begging forgiveness and of prayer – of reading the book of Ruth. The Torah was given by G‑d to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai more than 3300 years ago. Every year on the holiday of Shavuot we renew our acceptance of G‑d’s gift, and G‑d “re-gives” the Torah. We wear white for purity and eat cheese, cheesecakes, blintzes…indeed anything with cheese, milk or yoghurt!

Back to the cooking, tonight we have a wonderful and varied list of guests. Nancy, Harry and Jon Bloomfield are here from Montreal Canada, Lea and Yehuda Ressler, Prof. Shimon and Miri Shitreet and my wonderful friends Jenny and Brian Bell who haven’t been to our place for Shabbat dinner for probably 30 years – and since their home in Ra’anana was my support and bolt-hole when I most needed it I think it is high time we returned the compliment!!!! I cannot wait to see their faces when Zvi begins the Kiddush in his incredible bass-baritone voice using the simple glass Kiddush cup his father sang over for so many years rather than the multiple silver ones – the view of Jerusalem at night behind him. Traditions hold us together and make us who we are, without traditions we have no past and little future.

I wish you Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Take out some small item from your past, from your parents or grandparents home and enjoy it. As Michael Doppelt said this week as he sat on our veranda “I can never forget my grandparents – I carry them with me at all times” We are what we are because of what they taught us.
Shabbat Shalom, Chag Shevuot Sameach and much love from Jerusalem, East, West, South or North, divided for 19 years of her 3,000 year history and free, beautiful, flourishing and ours.