The view from my veranda

Yeruham, Elections, Conf of Presidents, Shalva and more

21st February 2019


Shabbat Shalom! Hope you are well. We are going to spend Shabbat in Yerucham with the choir. Now there’s a sentence I never thought I would write! I didn’t know where Yerucham was until two weeks ago, didn’t even know if it was North or South. I now know it is the site of an ancient Nabatean Village, many Biblical sites, a wonderful Park, has 10,000 residents and is twinned with Miami!  We will tour all day tomorrow, arriving at our hotel in time to shower and change for Shabbat. It will be a wonderful , relaxing time with lots of walking but little thinking which is exactly what I need after the last week!!


Despite my promise last week I have to mention the latest news of the mercurial Israeli political scene. We had a bit of verbal argy bargy between the Prime Minister and Benny Gantz after the PM was less than kind toward Gantz in some very uncomplimentary adverts Gantz decided to fight back, not a clever move with Netanyahu who used his words to ………….. well never mind that has become irrelevant. Benny Gantz has succeeded in brokering a joint campaign with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, and another Former Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi has joined Gantz and Yaalon in the Hosen Party forming a solid centrist party. In other words, they have become serious competition to Netanyahu’s Likud, especially since Likud chose to include some extreme right wings parties including the Kahane Party. Who said it was going to be easy, but at least it is interesting!!!


A fascinating aspect is that three former Chiefs of Staff of the IDF, Gantz, Yaalon and Ashkenazi, formed a liberal, middle of the road party ready to search for peace.


Zvi and I are deeply honoured that Dr Malcolm Hoenlein invites us to join the most interesting of days with the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organisations of America in Jerusalem. We heard the gamut of political leaders and also Isaac Boughie Herzog the new leader of the Jewish Agency who spoke extremely well about his work and aims for the coming year. The Prime Minister showed that he is a consummate speaker and an impressive leader in his cleverly edited presentation. I may not have voted for him, nor will I, but one cannot deny his achievements. See for yourselves. We heard of amazing new developments in science, medicine and aerospace, and also about the newest Dreamliners of El Al, but all of the above were made even more exciting because I sat with (among many others) some incredible women – Ellen Hershkin and Marlene Post of Hadassah and Ariella Cotler, wife of the human rights lawyer and Canadian politician Prof. Irwin Cotler. Ariella is a fine proponent for human rights and Israel herself. Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of these meetings is exemplified by the final dinner where Zvi and I sat next to two delightful young Israeli men who, when asked what they do in life, responded “We make bones”. A little taken aback we asked them to explain and were told that they literally make bones that can replace damaged or polio stricken bones returning legs or arms or whatever to healthy size and use.  I probably didn’t explain it well but if you want to find out more


Two major events may well indicate a slight breeze, rather than wind of change. 8 Labour Members of Parliament resigned in the face of Jeremy Corbyn’s acceptance and encouragement of anti-semitism within the Party, 8 including Joan Ryan, the Labour Friends of Israel Chair. The second event was in France, when at least 10,000 demonstrators gathered in Place de Republic under the hashtag #Casuffit or Enough!


I wish I could say the same about the Imams of the USA. They will not change. Yesterday I listened to the excellent journalist  Zvi Yechezkeli discussing it, he is making a series on the subject as he did in “Allah Islam in Europe. Under the umbrella of the First Amendment they are not just inciting to hatred, they are undermining the security of the country that gave them safe haven. If you are courageous you will watch this compilation by MEMRI


If you didn’t see Yechezkelis report in which he went undercover as a Moslem throughout Europe, you really should.


Israel Katz is the newly appointed stand-in Foreign Minister of Israel. After an insensitive and angry reaction of the Poles to the PM’s speech on Poland, Minister Katz chose to be somewhat less delicate and spoke of the deep rooted antisemitism of the Poles, that “many Poles took part” in the Holocaust. Poland immediately withdrew from an international conference in Jerusalem! What upset me is that the US Ambassador to Poland demanded an apology from Katz!,7340,L-5466927,00.html


A huge and exciting event will take place in the early hours of tomorrow morning in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Israel, tiny Israel, just the size of Wales or New Jersey, is launching a rocket with a landing craft to land on the moon! Incredible eh? SpaceIL is a non-profit here is how they do it!  Check out the organisation too.


Our Shabbat Dinner with our Choir friends was an absolute delight. Of course I cooked, I can’t help myself, but everyone contributed something and it was so much fun. On Shabbat afternoon we walked down to our friends Yossi and Ronit Dagan for a “cuppa” and wound up staying until 9!! Ronit makes a fantastic tisane with cinnamon, ginger, cloves and all sorts of good stuff and I couldn’t stop drinking it!!


Sunday was a relaxing day, because we knew it would be a late night. We were celebrating the 79th birthday of Baruch Ivcher. I knew he was a good guy but had no idea of the extent! The Party, organised by PR expert Rani Rahav, a close friend of Baruchs, was held in the Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds, in a large building laden with flowers the like of which I have never seen before. The seating was in the form of lots of individual “lounges” and the music amazing. After the ice-breaker and greeting stage we all went into an auditorium to see a movie about the man, about Baruch Ivcher, the big surprise organised by Rani. That was when I discovered the man who risked his life every day to fight corruption and poverty in his adopted country, Peru. Baruch suffered threats on his life daily, had his TV station blown up, lost his entire fortune, yet wasn’t deterred from his path, ultimately he brought down the Fujimori government.  I sat entranced as his bravery and determination was revealed and was delighted to discover that he won back his fortune and today is a magnanimous philanthropist. Why were we invited? Because during Zvi’s University days at the Hebrew U, everyone knew everyone and theya re the leaders of today.


The morning after the party we were at the Inbal Hotel at 08:00 for the Conference of Presidents!


Tuesday morning and I met up with the ladies of the “Women’s Group”, with my childhood friend Sue Gaba Yakir, for a tour of the Shalva Center. I am so grateful to Reisie Miller for organising it.l  A truly magnificent project Shalva gives children with special needs a place to learn, relax and play and parents get well deserved respite from their daily cares. I cannot begin to tell you how happy and beautiful the building is, bright and colourful with paintings of trees, birds, butterflies and flowers on every wall. We were so excited to meet both the girls of the Shalva Band in the elevator! My words cannot cover the beauty of Shalva so I will ask Kalman and Malki Samuels to explain.


Yesterday was a Mummy and daughter day. Rachel and I just spent the day together doing nothing in particular and buying treats for Yosef, Talia and Ayala. We stopped doing nothing to eats delicious Humus, chopped salad and pita washed down with tea with mint (Nana) before heading off home with our booty!


As I said at the very beginning of this missive, tomorrow at  07:00 tomorrow morning we will board the bus (in Wales known as a charabanc) with the choir and head off for a day of touring and singing before arriving at our hotel for Shabbat dinner. In the meantime our special friend Kim Taylor will arrive from Alberta in Canada to attend the Jewish Agency Board of Governors meetings next week. Since we won’t be home Zvi’s sons will collect Kim from Ben Gurion Airport, take him to their home for Shabbat dinner where he will find our car and house keys waiting for him to come back to Jerusalem. We will see him on Saturday evening for our hugs.


Rachel and I were so excited to see the almond trees, puff balls of pink and white blossom, interspersed with bright pink wild cyclamen, poppies and anemones. Every hedgerow, field and hill is covered in bright greenery and dotted with all of the above. Rain beautiful rain, giver of life and beauty.


What music would you like to hear this week? Do you prefer modern Israeli, Yiddisch or the old and familiar Israeli songs?


Boaz Sharabi has one of the finest voices in Israel. Here he sings Ehud Manor’s Haleva’i, the words speak of peace and hope –


In honour of those who made the treacherous trek from Ethiopia praying to reach Jerusalem and those who are about to make their journey home to freedom Ha Masa – The Journey


Before sitting down to Shabbat Dinner we always sing this beautiful song. Shalom Aleichem – May peace be with you Angels of Peace


There is one prayer, said standing, that is repeated at least three times daily and the last verse of that prayer has always held special meaning for me especially in these times of lies and calumny against Jews. It also demands that we do not speak evil of others.

My G‑d, guard my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking deceitfully. Let my soul be silent to those who curse me; let my soul be as dust to all. Open my heart to Your Torah, and let my soul eagerly pursue Your commandments. As for all those who plot evil against me, hasten to annul their counsel and frustrate their design. Let them be as chaff before the wind; let the angel of the L-rd thrust them away. That Your beloved ones may be delivered, help with Your right hand and answer me. Do it for the sake of Your Name; do it for the sake of Your right hand; do it for the sake of Your Torah; do it for the sake of Your holiness. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable before You, L-rd, my Strength and my Redeemer..”


Good Shabbes, Shabbat Shalom, may your world be kind to you, your family supportive and your leaders honest.


A special birthday wish to our amazing Samuel George who is 14 tomorrow. Beautiful boy, pure mind, you taught us the true meaning of love.


With much love from our home to yours, from our veranda overlooking Jerusalem