The view from my veranda

Shemot, Syria, Elections, Hopes and Dreams

28th December 2018

Shabbat Shemot Shalom,

Christmas is past and we reached 3 French hens, 2 Turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree and of course Happy 2019 (yes this time I got the date right!)

Why Shabbat Shemot?  Why did I choose to begin with this particular Torah Portion? Because that is our Torah Portion this week and as always it is relevant to today.  Despite Pharoah’s order to kill all Jewish first-born in Egypt, Yocheved and Amram have a son and for fear of him being killed they put him in a basket in the Nile under the watchful eye of  sister Miriam. Pharoahs daughter Bithya found him, raised him, called him Moses and the story of the Children of Israel was born alongside him in a little basket in the Nile. The moral? That when the world is against us create new life and bring hope to the world, I don’t mean start having babies, simply don’t raise your hands in despair, find new answers and keep hope high.

In truth 2018 was a pretty ghastly year.

Anti-Semitic Congresswomen voted in; London Mayor Sadiq Khan showed his true face in Pakistan and Jeremy Corbyn is a rising concern; Terrorism continues around the world; Sweden chose to put an embargo on any news concerning the huge problem of immigrant rape; France has returned to 1968 with the yellow jackets rioting for a fair economy – which turned into an anti-Semitic rant; Universities, particularly in the USA and Canada, conduct anti-Semitic conferences and demonstrations; Christians in most Islamic countries are oppressed and killed; the Kurdish people are again and again denied their right to exist despite their support for the Allies; Yemen is a killing field as is Syria and so on and so forth.

If I may address the Kurdish situation. In November 1916 Mr Sykes and Monsieur Pico drew up an agreement known as the Asia Minor Agreement, validated by Russia, basically apportioning the Middle and Near East into trading areas, creating new countries according to their economic interests rather than national and ethnic history creating many of today’s problems. Kurdistan was divided among Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey which got the largest portion. Since that time the Kurdish people have been ruled with a harsh hand by all 4 countries. This week they were dealt yet another blow when the decision was made for the American troops to leave northern Syria. Leaving Afghanistan was a wise decision, it is an old and unwinnable war, but in Syria it was the Kurdish area that is deserted. The Kurds have fought against the regimes of Iraq and Syria alongside the Allies, yet they are against left out of the equation and without their homeland. It’s a tough one.

Israel, on the other hand, used the opportunity of the US retreat by “removing” Iranian arsenals from a large area, taking out Hezb-Allah leaders simultaneously.

Turkey was, until a short time ago racing into the 21st century, but was refused entry to the EEC because of their unstable leader Recep Tayipp Erdogan and economy. Angry at this rejection Erdogan then tried out a series of unwise alliances, brought in Sharia law, entered the cruel Syrian war, argued with all his allies, attacked Greece calling for the return of the Greek Islands describing them as “occupied”; closed churches and made life for Christians difficult; deriding the United States in foul language and calling for Israel’s destruction, and now has been given the reward of control of Syria……… I have no words

The fact that the UN declared Jerusalem as a Palestinian City is insane at the very least.

On many levels this was a wonderful year for Israel.

We won the Eurovision Song Contest

The US Embassy came to Jerusalem and others are following

Incredible initiatives on medical, technological and social levels abound

More and more Moslem and Haredi men and women are joining the IDF

Nikky Haley proved that one can be a fine diplomat and still be fair and firm in one’s convictions. We continue to innovate and initiate as shown in this review of the 35 ways Israel inspired the world in 2018

My quote of the year, just yesterday, has to be when Emily Thornberry address a Jewish audience and said the immortal words “Jeremy Corbyn didn’t address the Labour Antisemitism crisis because he was too upset” Aaahhhh diddums!!!

Israel’s year ended with a bang when the PM announced elections on the April the 9th 2019. Netanyahu is confident that he will be reelected, but this is a fickle electorate with many floating voters who are desperate for change. Former Chiefs of Staff, are weighing into the fray, the highly charismatic Benny Gatz just announced his new political party (like we don’t have enough) as did the less charismatic Boogie Yaalon. This isn’t a country of two or three parties, this is Israel where everyone wants to be a leader!

The Arab parties are considering joining forces which may give them 15 seats but at least the odious Haneen Zoabi made the decision not to The Labour Party has too many fighting factions and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid has good policies but unfortunately Lapid has been spending too much time out of Israel. Shas, the Mizrachi religious party with so much power (including a puppet Mayor of Jerusalem) is going down in the polls as are the other religious parties and Meretz is almost disappearing. It will be a very interesting Campaign. As our wonderful President Reuven “Ruvi” Rivlin demanded from the various parties – “make it a clean campaign about your plans and intentions, your manifesto, not a dirty campaign of character assassination.

Our social and volunteer life is slowly filling up again! After Shabbat we had a special visit from the Silver family! Ira, Valeri, Tomer and Shelley. I loved hearing Tomer’s tales of his life and decisions in the IDF – a special family indeed. On Monday we had an impromptu supper with Danby and Marvin Ring Meital and Gabby Barkay who needs no introduction. It was a “thank you for being well enough to do this” supper, especially for Dynamo Danby!! We had “Orange Soup”, that’s not a soup made from oranges but rather from predominantly orange root veggies and red lentils and leeks, add a touch of ginger and it is delicious! I made fresh salmon and Danby made a wonderful mushroom couscous. With compote for dessert it was fun!

On Sunday Zvi had a Board Meeting here for his choir, Hakol Yachassi. I love their initiative, plans and harmony…… if you want a great choir that can sing at any function, they sing anything you choose (Ladino, Yiddish, Russian, Hebrew old and new).  I had a wonderful uplifting Board meeting with the Yuri Shtern Holistic Center.  On Wednesday Zvi met with his Mexican relation Alan Podolsky in the First Station, Alan is here for a year of volunteering and learning, and yesterday, ah yesterday we met with Ruth and Jozec, our lovely friends who are leaving New York City to come on Aliya to Jerusalem. It was such a joy to see them and hear their tales of choosing which books to bring, which collections to sort out, how to sell their NYC apartment and oversee the renovations in their new Jerusalem apartment. It is such an exciting time and I am thrilled that they will be so close!

Yesterday was a very special day, not just because of Ruth and Jozec, but because I saw the therapists of the Yuri Shtern Foundation in action. In a revolutionary course for medical staff at Shaare Zedek Paediatric Unit we heard from Orit, who miraculously oversees all 150 volunteers then heard from volunteers Dani, Yehudit and Judith and how they approach both patients and parents in order to give them the most appropriate therapies. Dani told of a youngster who needed a double lung transplant and was very angry with himself, his situation, his parents and his school, hindering his chances of survival. Dani described how, using Cranio-Sacral balancing, he literally enveloped the parents and the boy creating a calm they had never known. After a few sessions the boy began to make friends in school and to recognise that his wheelchair and oxygen were a blessing until he could receive his transplant.  Lena Shtern, who created a miraculous organisation, Yuri z”l would have been very proud of you. I must mention Varda Hershkovitz our brilliant Director, a dynamo full of compassion.

Gosh I haven’t even reached the bit where I tell you what my dreams are for 2019!!! I suppose all my dreams and prayers can be summed up in three words – Compassion – Chemla, Tolerance- Sovlanut  and Patience – Savlanut. Perhaps I should add bravery – the willingness to stand up and be counted among those who fight for justice. Never forget my mantra – The Power of One – we can all change this world for the better, bit by iota.

I wish you a kinder world, a world where parents listen to children rather than video clips on their cellphones and friends talk to one another of their joys and ills and we listen. I wish us more people like a special Kiwi by the name of Alfred Ngaro. Listen to him, hear what he says and be proud of him

Sing, sing a song and make the world a happier place, after all it’s hard to sing with a frown

Adam Lambert and Shir Le Shalom


Biglal ha Ruach – Because of the Spirit – the spirit that drives us ever onward. A beautiful rendition by the IDF choir.


The people of Otef Aza – the Gaza Envelope – those who took the brunt of Hamas rockets and tunnels, still have a song in their heart “Let me play the tune of love”

Since we know not what tomorrow will bring let alone next year I wish you Shabbat Shalom dear friends, love each other, don’t judge, just love.

With all our love from our incredible veranda and that spectacular view


If the media does not inform us we must inform the media

Facebook      Sheila Silver Raviv
Involvement The Yuri Shtern Holistic Center