The view from my veranda

Succot Sameach from Jerusalem


12th October 2011

1935, 1935 days – Will he come home for Simchat Torah? Will Aviva and Noam Schalit have reason to dance? Will Hamas perform yet another turn-around breaking the hearts and spirits of this family that fought so hard to bring their son home?

Israel is on tenterhooks. We all want Gilad Schalit at home, every mother cried to see the smile finally cross Aviva Schalit’s face, we are all proud that we finally did it, late but we got there…………. but my goodness, we are filled with trepidation. One fear is, who will they give us back? Will the man who returns from more than 5 years of solitary confinement bear any resemblance to the boy who left? Will Gilad’s psychological torment allow him to receive the love and comfort his family is so desperate to offer him?

Then come the fears, the deep concerns of over 1,000 killers whose sole purpose in life is to kill Jews and remove Israel from the map.

Finally comes the anger. The bile rises in my throat when I think of all those “humanitarian” organisations whose humanity lost its way when it came to demanding a single visit in all those long days and endless nights. They ensured that the killers who walk to freedom had conjugal visits, time to meet together, religious rights including prayer facilities and halal meat, education right up to doctorates, good food and entertainment, but one child, one young soldier whose only sin was being Israeli, not Amnesty, not the Red Cross, not the unChristian Christian Aid, no-one forced Hamas to allow a visit. Not one visit in all that time, not one word to say his parents love him. Nothing. Gilad was alone because we are alone…….. and we are alone because no-one is out there demanding that we receive equal treatment.

Please G-d, help the Schalit family to become whole again.

The hammers have been tapping on every veranda, tapping into the night. Some people have wooden frames and fabric Succahs, some have fancy wooden panelled ones, some are built in the street and some on the roof……………. the streets of the religious neighbourhoods are filled with stalls selling Etrog (Citrus fruit special to Tabernacles Festival) Lulav (the tall palm fronds woven at the base and of course decorations for the Succah. The strange sight of cars driving carefully down the road with what seems to be a whole palm tree on the roof, to be placed on the top of the Tabernacle to form the Schach or cover elicits thoughts of childrens toys with the expectation that they will metamorphose into a magic Succah! Dried fruits abound at the supermarkets, Dried fruits and nuts to eat in the Succah and one fruit that I cannot develop a taste for, fresh dates. Fresh dates bear no resemblance to the sweet sugary brown dates we are all familiar with, they are still on the stems and are a strange yellowy/beige colour and so dry to the mouth!!!

Thousands and thousands of Christians are here in Jerusalem for the Tabernacles Festivities and parade where Christians from around the world come to honour their beliefs and the City of Jerusalem. The parade is delightfully colourful, with national dress and flags of the myriad of countries represented, almost inevitable accompanied by Israeli flags. The International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem organises most of the events surrounding this shared festival and Zvi and I will go to the International Conference Centre to the huge Tabernacles celebration. Thank you Jurgen Buhler for inviting us so elegantly. Welcome everybody, welcome. Your presence is just another message to Israelis that we are not alone. Thank you for your prayers for Jerusalem, for Israel and for Gilad Schalit.

The favourite occupation of many Jerusalemites is “Succah Hopping” going from friend to friend, family to family just to say hello, to sit in the Succah (Tabernacle) and bless the food which is inevitably presented to you!!!! Sweet stuff, fruity foods, stuffed foods, aromatic herby foods and ………. well to be honest just food!!!!

I wish you a wonderful Succot and a Holy Tabernacles.

With much love from Jerusalem which in less than an hour becomes a tent city of temporary homes to remember our years of wandering in the desert. Well folks, the desert is now blooming and we came home!

With love from Jerusalem – heart of our world

Chag Sameach one and all