The view from my veranda

Strawberries, Storms and Supper

18th February, 2022

17th Adar, 5782

Shabbat Shalom!

To all of you in the UK, especially in Wales where there is a red storm warning, stay home, take care, Eunice is coming.

I’m not trying to make light of the storm, far from it, I have too many family members and friends in Eunice’s path to be flippant, but when we heard the name of the storm my three siblings immediately thought about Nanny Nuisance as she was known. Nanny Eunice was about as popular as this storm, in her stiff uniform, and I thank heaven that I was still a baby when she left!

Of all the exceptional achievements of Israeli scientists, hi-tech and agriculture, this is undoubtedly the most important. We just grew the largest strawberry in the world! Really! I have no idea what it tastes like but take a look

I promise to get back to happy news and I have no intention of writing about the entire Russia- Ukraine fiasco since I cannot make head nor tail as to who is for, who is against and who will benefit from a quick solution.

Israel is an exceptionally argumentative enclave of free speech, but, as I have always maintained, free speech within a democracy has to be curtailed when it comes to incitement or downright racism. On occasion it comes from the irreligious toward the religiously observant, from the political left to the political right and from right to left, Israeli Arabs against Israeli Jews, mostly for populist reasons, but on those occasions, it exceeds all bounds of social mores, of civil rights, it must be stopped and the perpetrators indicted for incitement. Let me explain my train of thought.

Do you normally say “The West Bank” or “The Occupied Territories” or do you say Yehuda, Shomron, (Judea and Samaria) as in the Bible, “East Jerusalem” which is actually not in the east at all and is not specific. Jerusalem is not contiguous, as few cities in the world are, and we are a mishmash of peoples too. What you call them is essential to the very existence of these areas. I believe that Jews, like Moslems and Christians, have every right to live wherever they choose. I believe that if they own a home they should be allowed to live in it and am prepared to fight for that right, I cannot accept any area as Juden Rein. However, and this is a big however, when a member of Knesset not only incites against Arabs, against the police, and sets up his Knesset office in an already highly volatile neighbourhood of Jerusalem, is seen with side-arms in that neighbourhood, he should be removed from the Knesset. When you see him on CNN and BBC etc. remember that Itamar Ben Gvir and his followers are nothing short of thugs who do not under any circumstances represent Israel.

By the way when Ben Gvir went to hospital, guess who his doctors were? Yes two wonderful Israeli Arab doctors in Shaare Zedek ER!!!

Joan Ryan is an amazing lady who I met at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. She was the Chair of Britain’s Labour Friends of Israel and a shining star in the Labour Party. Joan resigned as a result of Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-Israel, anti-Semitic stance and has now written an op-ed in Newsweek about the scourge of anti-Semitism. My thanks to  Caryn Adelman for drawing my attention to the article. “Antisemitism doesn’t just come in the form of racist street thugs, Islamist terrorists and the keyboard warriors who spend hours posting bizarre but toxic conspiracy theories about QAnon, the Rothschilds and “lizard people.” Nor is it confined to hate-filled rallies like the annual Al Quds Day marches, which draw large crowds from Tehran and Damascus to London and Berlin. Instead, in many ways, the more pernicious manifestations of antisemitic anti-Zionism come from supposedly more respectable sources.”

Malcolm Hoenlein is a mentor and friend who took me to witness life in Jenin, to hear Chiefs of Staff, Prime Ministers and even into the most secret of intelligence centres; He has been a major part of decision making with American Presidents attitude toward Israel and Malcolm Hoenlein and after 50 years of service deserves to take a rest! Of course rest is not part of Malcolm’s lexicon but then everything is relative. Malcolm, hope to see you next week!

This week was filled with friends and walks. It began with a ramble over the hills of Nes Ziona (after a delicious  Shabbat lunch with Leor, Shiri and about 30 family members) in search of the elusive Black Iris. The Black Iris has a very short season but my goodness is it spectacular! You have to understand, Israelis flock to see the black iris, the “calaniot” (bright red anemones) the rekafot (wild cyclamen), the incredible waterfalls after the rains and the spectacular flooding down at the Dead Sea, we love nature and the Society for the Protection of Nature makes sure that it all stays as it should be, untouched! The sand hills of Nes Ziona were filled with people bending down to get a good photo of the special flowers – we never pick wild flowers, it is illegal! Black Iris are in fact a very deep purple rather than black it grows in clumps and…. Wait I will show you

On Monday I had the phone call every mother prays for “Mum I just fancy a morning with you” and Rachel and I set out for a mother-daughter morning without any plans but lots to do! OK I admit, we went to IKEA for serviettes, salad dressing and their incredible apple drink!

I met my friend Merav and we walked along the old railway tracks, on the walking path which stretches from the First Station all the way to the Ein Yael stream near the Biblical Zoo. It stretches for 7 or 8 kilometres but I admit that we only did 3 because we were hungry for the amazing Israeli breakfast that awaited us in one of the excellent restaurants in the First Station.

Most of the week Zvi was busy singing, in Hebrew with one choir, Yiddish with Motti and Ehud, and classical music with Cantus, the choir of the Jerusalem Academy of Music. I was busy with the Dedication of the Dr. Daniel Cammerman Collection of Research reports of Impact-se ( ) as we ensured the Covid safety of all who will attend. I’m extra excited that several of Daniel’s Carmel College school friends, who were contacted by the wonderful Rachel Feuerstein, are coming as well as Daniel’s father Philip and his wife Barbara who flew in yesterday to attend. Hopefully, Zvi and I will take them to see the Dr. Dan’s Room studio in Shalva on Monday after a delicious breakfast in the Shalva Coffee Shop.

Yesterday I was cooking most of the day but at precisely 11:00 I set aside my utensils and joined a Zoom. Prof. Michael Baum – aka Mike – is an expert in many areas and good at them all! He is a Professor of Medicine and yesterday he took us on a journey through the travels/dispersion of both the Ashkenazi and Sefardi/Eastern Jews on to his experiences as the medic on the archaeological digs of Lachish and Massada and then brining us back through Jewish genetics of the BRAC gene (he is a world expert on the subject) and the genetics of the Cohanim (Priests from Temple times until today) The Priestly line is unbroken and male Cohens carry specific genetic proof of their lineage from the time of Aaron. I was most upset to discover that as the daughter of a Cohen I don’t carry this genetic proof – only the men do so. I was captivated by his knowledge and by the fact that he always spoke of his lovely wife Judy when talking about travels. I am so excited since I hope to see them both next month! I think I am allowed to send you a link if you wish and of course you can read his incredible books available on Amazon and

Tonight we have 8 guests for Shabbat Dinner. Usually we have one or other of the children coming for Shabbat Dinner but this week they were all busy so we took the opportunity to invite friends. I love spontaneity, and having a house full – something we had to give up on over the last two years. The table is already set and the makings of most of the dishes all ready to go. For starters we will have cauliflower and leek soup followed by mushroom and spinach blintzes, fish ball chraimeh, a dozen salads and of course the staple of all Israeli households, baked salmon! For dessert we have chocolate cake and for my friend Laura a good old-fashioned bread pudding! Of course we will start with Zvi’s beautiful Kiddush and motze (blessing on the wine and over breaking the bread) and then will settle down and talk about Israel “shel pa’am” the Israel in which most of the guests grew up. Once upon a time this was a country of equality, a country where we believed in our politicians and respect for those different from us was prime; a country when few had money, even fewer had a lot of money and the Golden Calf was the last thing on anyone’s mind. Today, in the Torah reading we look at the result of building a Golden Calf rather than having the patience to hear the words that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai and the message from the Almighty.

Enough rambling! It’s time for songs even though there is so much more to write about.

Ever since I was a child I loved Paul Robeson. Long before I understood that he fled McCarthyism of the USA and came to the UK is loved his voice, his face and his intelligence. Here he sings Let My People Go

Ladino is the language of Yotze Sfarad of the Jews of the Spanish Inquisition; our friend Eli Yaron wrote this beautiful Ladino song “Israel Mio” My Israel, a love story for Israel, sung by Hakol Yachassi. If you listen carefully you will hear Zvi’s Bass-Baritone

As you know, thanks to Covid, we didn’t fly to Miami for the wedding of the lovely Ariella Lindenfeld to the love of her life, so I want to dedicate this performance to the lovely Helen and Martin – friends forever. Lt Col Shai Abramson

Shabbat Shalom from sunny Jerusalem, glowing in the distance. May your weekend be peaceful and politicians understand that war does not bring power or peace.

With love