Friday, 23 June 2017

170623 Hadas Malka zl, Sheila and Zvi 21


23rd June 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope this missive finds you well and if you do not feel good today then tomorrow will be better.

I decided to stay away from politics wherever possible this week, just to tell you about our week and what we did. I must, however tell you about a very sad incident that happened next to the Damascus Gate last Friday. Young soldiers of the Border Guards stand beside the entrance to the Damascus Gate where most Moslems from outside the Old City walk to go to pray on the Temple Mount. This is the month of Holy Ramadan and worshippers come from all over the country and from Gaza and the PA.

The Damascus Gate is arguably the most beautiful of the gates of the Old City . Once upon a time Jerusalemites used to go opposite the gate for the wonderful pitta, before casually wandering in the Jewish Musrara area just nearby. That was before Yasser Arafat began his incitement of course.

Last Friday as they stood watch to ensure the safety of the worshippers. One of the guards, Staff Sergeant Hadas Malka, aged 23 took a selfie and sent it to her friends before three young men began stabbing her all over her body. Despite the best efforts of the ambulance paramedic- incidentally a Moslem Israeli who fought to save her despite risking his own life - and hospital staff they ultimately succeeding in their desire to kill and be killed in the name of Allah and ISIS.  May her sweet soul rest in peace and her family be consoled among the mourners of Zion.

Sadly the BBC headline did not mention Hadas z"l, it stated that the IDF shot 3 Palestinians. The headline was so outrageous that Jared Kushner joined Mr Netanyahu in ensuring the headline be retracted – but in the meantime millions of adherents to the disinformation of the BBC already thought Israel had cruelly shot innocent Palestinians again.

One more thing – after all the shouting and yelling about the situation of the European citizens who are in the UK for a long period and made their lives there – Corbyn followers convinced that they would all be thrown out, Theresa May said yesterday that it simply isn't true, anyone who has been in the country for over five years will not even have to go through any procedures to stay in the UK.

In the meantime ISIS blew up a famous mosque in Mosul (Nineveh); a 6.8 earthquake hit Guatamala; tens of people died in a bomb attack on a bank in Afghanistan; In Venezuela police shot at close range at protestors in a peaceful rally; Prince Harry says nobody really wants to be the King or Queen of Great Britain and the Commonwealth but they would serve dutifully; Pyongyang announced that President Trump is a bully for complaining about the treatment of an American student who was imprisoned and ill-treated for taking a poster off a wall – and he ultimately died – while simultaneously testing a ballistic missile which they say is aimed at the USA; Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets and billionaire has been chosen as the US Ambassador to the UK – not the first time it has happened, remember Joseph Kennedy? OK so who thinks that a heatwave is of importance? In the general way of the world it is the least of our worries!!!

Uzi Wexler z"l passed away this week. Those who live outside Israel, and many who live in Israel, believe it was Teddy Kollek who made Jerusalem blossom. In fact it was the brilliant foresight of Uzi Wexler who brought the Hi-Tech industry to Jerusalem and so very much more. A man who believed in Tikkun Olam and acted on it. Sadly missed

OK I promised to tell you about our week, so will begin with after Shabbat on Saturday evening when we travelled to Tel Aviv, to the home of Gideon and Dafna Fisher to an event thanking the supporters of Beit Lessin Theatre in Tel Aviv. We aren't among the glitterati who support but we were invited nonetheless. There I was thrilled to meet Sasson Gabay who you have seen in hundreds of movies without knowing who he is. My very favourite movie of his is "Band's Visit" a wonderful story of hope

On Monday I went to a conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs called "Echo Chamber – a conference on hate speech on the internet" and if I may use the very British expression, I was gobsmacked! The most effective presentation was by the Simon Wiesenthal Center who, unbeknownst to me have a very strong presence in fighting hate speech on the net and work closely with the authorities, most recently with Scotland Yard. I had no concept of the vast number of websites that young people reach each other or the complexity of finding them and their incitement of young gullible minds. If you see or hear or sense hate speech on the net please report it to because they know how to deal with it through their incredible head of research Rob Eaton.

Incidentally, if someone has ever written something libelous about you on the net, a new law gives you the right to have it removed. The Right to be Forgotten

While I was at the conference Zvi went to see Gilad Levian, the Director of the Italian Synagogue and Museum in the Centre of Jerusalem to see a wonderful new exhibition about the Jews of Venice, When the Jews were finally allowed to live in Venice they were given a specific area to live in and theretofore the term Ghetto was coined for the Jewish areas. Ghetto however was the name of the major foundry in the said area.

Tuesday saw us walking toward the Knesset, across the forecourt, scene of many ceremonies attended in our past, festooned with Israeli flags, to an event hosted by Member of Knesset Yaacov Perry, former Chief of the Israeli Secret Service. MK Perry is head of the Israeli music lobby in the Knesset and chose to honour choirs from all over Israel. Of course the first person to appear before us was Shuli Natan who is known for just one song, but what a song!!!!

The event finished early so we decided that on the way to collecting the car we would go and see…………….. Wonderwoman!!! What can I tell you. It isn't the greatest movie I ever saw, although entertaining, but I am so proud of Gal Gadot that it is irrelevant. She decided, quite rightly, that she had nothing to be ashamed of and proclaims her Jewish, Israeli, IDF personality with pride, answering inane questions like "Did you learn your fighting skills in the IDF"? with amused truth "No, it is a defence force not an attacking force". Thrilled that many Islamic countries chose to ban the movie but it isn't because she is Israeli – it's because she is gorgeous, strong and doesn't need a man to fight her battles!!!!

Despite my telling you not to complain about the weather but, boy oh boy is it hot!!! In fact next week, as a welcome for the Jewish Agency Board meetings, it is going to be 40 degrees in Jerusalem. F-O-R-T-Y degrees that is 104 degrees Fahrenheit!!!

Today is our wedding anniversary! 21 years ago Zvi and I stood together under the chuppah (wedding canopy) beneath the skies of Jerusalem, opposite the Old City walls, after Zvi had signed the Ketuba (marriage contract) in Alan and Bonnie Cohens home. The chuppah poles were decorate by my children and the poles were held by Leor, Amiad, Gideon and Valeri Silver. Rachel and Jill were my maids of honour and my lovely cousins Jean and Stuart were my proxy parents while Zvi's parents Kalman and Alla stood beside him. We held the party in Yismach Melech Street outside Alan and Bonnies home (it helps to know the residents representative) and we had wonderful music and catering. We closed the street off with police barriers (ooooops is there a statute of limitations on "borrowing" them from the road?) Friends from all over the world were here for the Jewish Agency meetings and it was a truly joyous occasion. To stand on a balmy evening, the walls behind us singing "If I forget thee oh Jerusalem" and as Rabbi David Rosen proclaimed us married and Zvi broke the glass, 400 shofars sounded from the rehearsal ceremony for the lighting of the City Walls right next to us!!!!!! Our lives are full, our children have grown and have children of their own, sadly many of those who stood beside us have gone, but our lives are full and our purpose for Tikkun Olam untarnished.

Tonight we will celebrate with friends who were not at the wedding but have come to mean a very great deal in our lives. They each work hard to make change for the good. I won't name them but know that we are having a totally "Yiddische" meal – Borscht, gefilte fisch, veggie cholent, herring, potato kugel, tsimmes, red cabbage, Jerusalem kugel….. most of which I made (without gluten for one guest) but there are some things that are simply best from Mea Shearim!!! Zvi raced from the house first thing this morning and went to collect the gefilte fisch we ordered, and came home with it piping hot!! The menu will be in Yiddisch, Ruti don't tell the others! Zvi and I simply love to celebrate, we love to have people in our home because a house without friends isn't a home, it is a house. I will also have another place setting ready – just in case. That is what my Mummy taught me, always keep one place setting ready so that if an unexpected guest arrives you can fit them in without a fuss.

Tonight our lovely Kim arrives from Cardston, near Calgary, Alberta Canada. Dr Kimball Taylor is purportedly coming for the Jewish Agency meetings – but really it is for a hug and to see his beloved Jerusalem.

That's it! A crazy week again, but a fascinating one. And so to music – the most difficult choice of the week! So much to choose from.

The first song is dedicated to my Zvi – even if he forgot to bring me flowers!!! Erev Shel Shoshanim

Duo Re'im, Yisrael and Benny, were guests at our wedding and gave us a phenomenal performance as our gift!

So to the aroma of all the Heimische delicacies I need to get back to my preparations. I wish you a Shabbat filled with good deeds and kind people, of tolerance and joy

With love from our beautiful Jerusalem. Tonight we will stand on the veranda, looking at the twinkling lights of a vibrant city, a city we dreamed of for 2,000 years and today lays before us as living proof that hope wins.
Hatikva in the Holocaust and sung by the progeny of survivors

Sheila and her Zvi and their veranda

Friday, 16 June 2017

170616 David Grossman Booker, London Fire, Steve Scalise

16th June 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends.

David Grossman is Israeli. He has often been described as the conscience of Israel through his writing and his words. David Grossman is on the left of the political map but he loves Israel and sadly gave the ultimate sacrifice of his son's life to the war against those who would see Israel disappear from the face of the earth. He is also a fine writer and this week won the most prestigious prize an author can win other than the Nobel Prize – his latest book "A Horse Walked into a Bar" won the Man Booker Prize for literature. It is a short novel about a stand-up comedian, his grief, laughter and betrayal.

This has been a tragic week for London. The tragedy was the result of negligence not terrorism, but a tragedy beyond words nonetheless. A high rise building, full of families, was refurbished by the local council, albeit an apparently cosmetic job, but despite constant complaints from the residents, the fire safety conditions were not improved. An exploding refrigerator on a lower floor caused the building to be engulfed within minutes and the escape routes of those inside were unclear and for many unavailable. I write about it not just because my heart aches for the families of those who lost their lives but also because it is a global disease – negligence to a devastating level. "Get the job done so that it looks good but who cares about the real nitty gritty of peoples lives" Our public officials are, in general and everywhere, not up to scratch.

After the horrific terror attacks in London Mayor Sadiq Kahn has turned to Israel for advice on how to deal with terrorism. A liberal Moslem and a caring Mayor he recognises who, sadly, knows the most about dealing with fanatical Islamic terrorism.

Yet again politics and guns became an awful issue as a crazed Democrat spent time planning how and when to shoot at Republicans playing baseball in a field next to the Democrat field. James Hodgkinson was not just political, not just a Democrat, he ranted and raved against President Trump and Republicans in general while at a garage just a few days prior to his heinous act. While admittedly there will always be unstable extremists, my question is how did he legally buy a 7.62mm high powered rifle and a hand gun just days prior to the attack? Didn't anyone either report the sale to the police or question his purchase? In Israel one has to pass both psychological and general health tests before the police will consider granting a private gun licence let alone actually owning one. Soldiers are carefully trained and if they leave their gun unattended, even for a minute, they are punished. A gun is not a toy, nor is it everyone's private defence system; I was born in a country where even policemen need a special licence to carry weapons and live in a country that has seen enough violence from the outside to abhor internal violence. That is why Jerusalem is 12 times safer than Seattle (of similar size). I pray that Congressman, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who is in critical condition, will return to full health.

The Palestinian Authority President does not suffer opposition. Mr Abbas has closed down several news sites for espousing policies in opposition to those of the government. While far from surprised by his decision, I am amazed that the hyper-alert worlds press and media remain silent. We know they over-react on any subject concerning Israel but their silence on lack of freedom of movement and speech in the PA – and many other Islamic countries – is bordering on sycophancy.,7340,L-4976532,00.html

Canon Andrew White, Lola and Norman Cohen, Lola's Shortbread, scones and Andrew's clotted cream were not the only reason Zvi and I went to Lola and Norman's for Shabbat tea. The warmth and love that emanates from their home while listening to an Anglican Canon discuss the week's Torah reading with a wonderfully clever Jewish scholar who wrote a book called "The Torah on one Foot".

Talking of authors, books and freedom of speech – when is a book not a book but rather a political pawn? Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, wrote a book while in prison. The book, a memoir, went through the scrutiny of the military censors and the result was given to his lawyers to take for printing. Despite the care he took in having every word checked the "powers that be" decided he had passed on secrets thus his prison sentence would not be shortened by one third. We know that his book contains information that would be damaging to those currently in power yet also know that it passed the military censor- I ask you to come to your own conclusions.

On Sunday morning I collected Rachel from her home and we went off for two days of mother/daughter fun. We drove northward to Hadera, stopping on the way at various sites, and arrived at our hotel. Hadera was not number one on our list of "must see" Israeli cities but the promise of a brand new hotel and access to so many beautiful tourist sites made our decision easy. We were amazed! The level of building is phenomenal – beautiful high rise private apartment blocks on the beach and inland are sprouting up at an enormous rate; Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa are just too expensive for most Israelis and the north is a great alternative with wonderful public transport and roads to the big cities.

The beach in Hadera is amazing, the sunset phenomenal and we walked down across the sands to a quaint and delicious restaurant on a cliff. Next morning we went down to breakfast – an Israeli breakfast – and even by Israeli hotel standards this was exceptional. Every conceivable variety of fruit and vegetable cut into every type of salad or just natural; eggs scrambled, boiled, shakshuka or freshly made omelettes; herrings of every flavour; smoked salmon; 6 different freshly squeezed juices; cheesecake, croissants, pies and tarts; breads of every type, colour, seed and grain; in fact everything one could dream of set out in long lines of deliciousness. The famous full English breakfast dims into oblivion in comparison!!!!!

After breakfast we took our few belongings and headed off for Kibbutz Nahsholim and the famous glass factory or Mizgaga. Baron Rothschild – known in Israel as "Hanadiv" or the philanthropist, decided to build a bottle factory on the white shores of Dov beach, or Tantura, to make bottles for his wineries in Zichron Yaacov and Rishon le Zion. The beautiful factory was built and a young scientist chosen to head the project, while bringing experts from France and elsewhere. Sadly the sand proved useless and the glass of poor quality so the factory was closed, the Baron continued importing bottles and the young scientist went off to Tel Aviv to find his fortune – his name was Meir Dizengoff, future Mayor of Tel Aviv. The Mizgaga has become a fine museum with artifacts not only of the glassmaking factory but also of Napoleons navy when they stopped on their journey to Jaffa after a crushing defeat in Akko. Well worth a visit.

While Rachel and I were away Zvi went to the inauguration of a KKL forest in the name Lia and Ruben Merenfeld z"l by their children Susana, Yehudit, Miriam and Isaac and their families. Zvi planted a tree together with Flory Benalal to honour an amazing family and their strong ties to Israel.

On Tuesday we met up again with the Shabbat Tea crowd! Fish and chips at the King David has become a tradition and this time it was augmented by a delightful lady called Sandra who is Canon Andrew's friend and helpmeet. It was a joy to watch Sandra take in the history of the King David – so much more than a hotel.

From the dinner at the King David we continued to the Zappa theatre club and a marvellous performance of "The Big Tisch" with Kobi Arielli and Jacky Levy telling Jerusalem stories and veteran singer Moshe Lahav. It is such a "Jerusalem" affair with wonderful stories of the way Jerusalem was when they, and Zvi, were growing up.

On Wednesday Zvi spoke to a group from Melbourne headed by his old friend Nathan Schaeffer. As always they were enthralled by his knowledge and humour and a second lecture is in the offing!!!

On Thursday we had a special treat – my amazing grandson Yosef decided he wanted to come and spend the day and sleep over. It was so much fun, we went to Avraham and Ruti Levy's home where Avraham took us onto his roof and we saw the full panorama of Jerusalem before us – from the walls of the Old City to the spires of St Johns. Yosef had a ball when Saba Zvi took him Go-karting!! An additional delight was when Tamara Gutverg, Zvi's relative from Mexico, came for a quick lunch with us. Tamara is on a very special Taglit/Birthright Excel course for young potential entrepreneurs. Sounds incredible

This morning Yosef and I went to the Israel Museum. We saw the amazing Judaica pavilion then went to the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition and the model of the Temple period Jerusalem. It was so exciting to watch his curiosity and delight and realise that Yosef is now big enough to take to the Museum.

So that's it! I took Yosef home and the incredible aroma of Rachel's challot greeted us; of course I left with a delicious booty of freshly baked challah……….. mmmmmm she is such a marvellous baker!

Before we sing, I loved this video – I am that Jew.

Yaacov Shwekey has a habit of bringing me to tears with his beautiful voice  and this is no dofferent. Mi Sheberach Chayalei Yisrael, Bless the Israeli soldiers -

Have you ever thought how many Israeli songs have the word Shalom – Peace – in them? How many of our prayers? Shir le Shalom – song to peace – was ironically the last song sung by Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin  in his gravelly voice before he was assassinated by an extremist Jew. So ironic because few had done more than General Rabin for the security of our beautiful Israel.

I wish you Shabbat Shalom. Let's pray for the day the world will wake up and those who prevent peace will be silenced…………..

With love from our beautiful city, from our veranda, a profusion of colour and joy,from Jerusalem

Friday, 9 June 2017

170609 UK Elections, Qatar, Haley, Jerusalem 50, Lindens

9th June 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope you managed to keep up with the constant news this week! Perhaps I should do a run down and then we can talk about other things.

Let's begin with the British elections of yesterday. If one looks at the map of the British Isles one could well be fooled into thinking that the Conservatives enjoyed an overwhelming victory!  Britain does not have a proportional representation form of government – it has constituency voting and constituency representation so sheer numbers are irrelevant. One must also hope that the Ulster Unionists, the Liberal Democrats etc will join Mrs May rather than Labour. The big losers are the Scottish Nationalists!!!!

Next question, how can a country that has suffered horrific terror attacks in the last few weeks give such a boost to a man who openly talks of his friends in Hamas and Hezb-Allah? It's very simple. My generation grew up with free university education, free health care, easy social welfare and it was wonderful but in the long run it broke the bank of Britain and slowly means-testing and austerity replaced it. At that time it was very popular to hate Margaret Thatcher who, it turned out, revitalized the British economy. Jeremy Corbyn has hidden behind empty promises of returning to free university education for all and all the former social benefits. He has hidden his foreign policy agenda, hidden his anti-Semitism, forgotten to mention his alliances but the idea of lots of goodies convinced a younger generation who forgot the price paid. The only promise which I can honestly agree with is his determination to help those with chronic illness. Add to all this the undoubted fact that Theresa May lay back on her laurels and didn't campaign. Corbyn went out to the people and convinced them. In Hebrew victims are Corbanot – sadly Brits have fallen Corbanot to Corbyn.
Can Mrs May survive it? I don't know but the alternative is Boris Johnson – brilliant but unpredictable. We could conceivably have two leaders, one each side of the Atlantic, both of whom speak their minds and have weird hairdos!!!!

London Bridge  and environs is a thriving area filled with pubs, clubs and restaurants. It is the epitome of London nightlife. Perhaps that is the reason three fanatics in a white van ran rampage killing 8 people and injuring at least 50 others. Yet again attacking the Western style of life. Through my deep sadness at the loss of life I found this headline the most distressing The perpetrator used his social benefits to fund the attack. No words.

Teheran was rocked by a terror attack which they did not fund. Members of their Parliament died and there was talk of a coup d'etat.

Qatar has been shunned by the other Sunni Arab countries who have chosen the path of less resistance – not peace but less resistance. Understand, Qatar is enormously powerful having bought up any available real estate, football teams, hotel chains, airlines, indeed anything that is for sale. They founded and own Al Jazeera. This headline staggered me – they own more of London than the Queen and if you are quietly saying "Stupid Brits didn't see it coming" try this for size  Washington Civic Centre? Qatar and Iran share an oil field which is apparently sufficient for them to break the Sunni based coalition. They don't need anyone!!!!

In the words of someone on the inside, Donald Trump wrote "Jerusalem, Capital of the State of Israel" in all 6 of his Middle East speeches and all 6 times the State Department took it out. However the understanding in the Middle East is that one cannot mess with this President. He can be louder, crasser and more determined than any of them and that is something they understand. The Presidential visit has its successes, unlike his predecessor Trump recognises that democracy cannot be imposed, it has to be attained. Nothing anyone can do will reverse the damage of the Carter Administration, but it is changing.

One excellent choice made by President Trump is the American Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. She has spoken out loud and clear on the misuse of power of the Human Rights Council – its constant lambasting of Israel while ignoring horrendous violations elsewhere. Well Nikki Haley arrive in Jerusalem this week for meetings with the PM, the President and many other bodies. As with everything else, her visit was without fuss, but elegant and businesslike. She made it clear that she will not countenance bullies – and that the USA may just remove its funding of the UNHRC. Sorry to gloat but always said that is the only way!

A dear friend made a promise about 6 years ago, Josephine Linden told me she would come back to visit Jerusalem and that her husband Tom would come with her. Since she made that promise while on a glorious cruise with the Gandel Family, I didn't hold her to it, but she reiterated her vow every time we met! Well, Josephine and Tom arrived and we had a ball. Zvi did a phenomenal job as their guide, not missing a single important site, and I joined in for the Mount of Olives and Mahane Yehuda. They loved it and of course Zvi's explanations and historical knowledge brought everything into clear perspective. I am thrilled to say that they loved every moment and I got to show them my favourite place. The market lived up to its reputation – buzzing with activity before Shabbat, the throng enjoying the noise and bustle, discovering the sweet cornucopia of fruits and vegetables, each one giving a good kvetch to the produce to ensure its freshness. It is the season of cherries, apricots, peaches and nectarines and the air is redolent with their perfume. We then went to check out the famous Mahaneyuda Restaurant and were deeply disappointed. Music screaming out, diners crushed together – we went off to the delicious Sima Restaurant where the food was typically Jerusalem and absolutely scrumptious and the staff delightful!!!

Zvi decided we should go to see Mea Shearim and the Haredi preparations for Shabbat, a "Zvitours" speciality. All went really well, we found parking with ease and set off on our wanderings. Our first shock was the signs which proclaimed "Judaism rejects Zionism" "Zionist Occupation in any part of the Holy Land is Heresy and Crime" and Palestinian flags. Understand there are few newspapers in Mea Shearim – they read their news on posters. Then it happened – we realised there was a huge angry crowd gathering and didn't understand why. The rabble grew more and more aggressive and then we saw him, a lone young soldier walking through Mea Shearim. The abuse and eggs thrown (one landed right near Josephine) horrified me. We tried to help soldier and Zvi ran to stand and walk with him while I called the police. We were in a minority but refused to leave him. It turned out to be a police sting – and 11 were arrested. Do they call themselves Jews? Well they certainly do not represent any part of Judaism I know. The ludicrous part is that they are exempted from national service anyway! I am very pleased to say that when I told my Haredi grandson Yosef about what happened he asked me if I managed to punch on of them – when I said that would not serve the purpose he just said he was proud of Saba Zvi and I and that the rioters were a disgrace. You see not every Haredi is like that. The reason they are rioting is because they have to go to the enlistment centre to receive their exemption papers!!! Incidentally – we got a parking ticket!!!

On Monday night we met Robert and Anita Simons and went for dinner in the IMA restaurant. I love Robert and Anita, such honest good people. Anyway while sitting in the restaurant which serves traditional Middle Eastern food, friends walked in, Naomi and Daniel Furman. It was very exciting when Daniel told us he received an honour from the Hebrew University and then to our amazement he turned to Robert and told him he was responsible for his continued volunteer work with the University because years ago he realised that Robert came faithfully to every important meeting of the HU, all the way from Sydney, Australia. "If he could come from Australia, I could come from Tel Aviv!" Not the only people Robert has influenced since, all those years ago, he met a young man called Zvi setting up Keren Hayesod Young leadership worldwide!!!

And so to Jerusalem, the beautiful birthday girl, the entrancing, deeply spiritual woman, who becomes more beautiful every year. Ilana, Eddie and Denise Podolsky are in Israel, all the way from San Diego, for a ceremony at the Museum of the Diaspora, honouring Denise (aged 11) and her Shorashim (Roots) work on her family. She was chosen out of thousands of entries! They came to Jerusalem and of course we met in Mahane Yehuda (where else) then headed off to Mamilla for a quick bite to eat and then climbed the steep steps past the Italian Restaurant and wandered down a little, filled with excited anticipation – we were going to see the much talked about "Sound and Light Spectacular". Thousands and thousands of people crowded around the Jaffa Gate and then it happened; the show began!! I have never ever seen anything like it! On the walls of the Old City, history played out before our eyes, singers sang, Biblical passages, Jacobs ladder, Abraham and Isaac, "The Temple Mount is in our hands" came to life in a manner that took my breath away. The production is superb, the experience without equal. An apt celebration of the reunification of this unique city.

I took a break to go and see the grandchildren – that's why I am a bit late today. No apologies, my priorities are absolutely spot on!! After I gave Talia her 11th birthday gift of a hair straightener (yeah I know but that's what she wanted!) lots of hugs and kisses, stories of their week, talk of their school trips this coming week and of course hugging my daughter too, I took my booty (4 absolutely scrumptious challah rolls fresh from Rachels oven) I made my way back over Samuels Tomb, wondered afresh at the panorama and came back to the air conditioning at home – good grief it is hot!!!

I want to put this video in because it is brilliant. Presented by 4il

Zvi has been official babysitter this week, both in Tel Aviv (Altneuland translated by Nahum Sokolov into Hebrew) with little Ella and Yonatan and last night in Nes Ziona (The banner or pennant of Zion) with Amit, Gili and Ori. This morning he got the girls up bright and early and they went off to be with their cousin Denise for her big moment.

The first song is of deep meaning for Jerusalem – a child's dream come true

We cannot bring back those who died in the fight for Jerusalem or in the 6 Day War, indeed any war, but the song says rather than shedding bitter tears we should sing of peace

Meir Banai of a famous theatrical family that grew up near Mahane Yehuda, wrote about the Old City and the Mercy Gate, through which the Messiah will come (or come back).

Tomorrow we will meet Canon Andrew White at Lola and Norman Cohens for tea. A wonderful  group of people – the best anywhere, all of whom have a special love for this amazing city.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I wish you peace and the return of that joy felt by Jew and Christian, at the thought of returning to our Holy places.

With love from Jerusalem

Friday, 2 June 2017

170602 Jerusalem Embassy, Bghdad Icecream parlour, Mahane Yehuda

2nd June 2017

Shabbat Shalom! I hope you are well and not too disturbed by all the various news reports.

If you are surprised by the about turn on moving the Embassy to Jerusalem then you have a very short memory! At least this time it is deferred by 6 months rather than vetoed. If you remember Zvi and I were in the House when the vote was taken- the 104th Congress Bill 1322 "The Jerusalem Embassy Act" enacted on November 8th 1995. It passed the Senate by 93-5, passed Congress 374-37 and was enacted by the 10 day rule which is when the President fails to sign or veto within a 10 day period. In other words the democratically elected bodies overwhelmingly passed it but all Presidents "vetoed" it. Why? It was said that in general they were piqued that the House ignored the Foreign Policy of the United States. Ergo, the State Department didn't approve. Sounds like an extreme case of "Yes Minister" to me.

Canon Andrew White loves ice-cream. In fact he loves anything sweet but especially ice-cream. He used to take children from his congregation at St Georges Church in central Baghdad for ice-cream at the very best ice-cream parlour in the entire area……… but two days ago ISIS blew up the parlour he used to take the children, killing up to 40 people and maiming many more. The area is, or was, predominantly Christian. Such tragedy. In fact the Christian community in the Middle East is slowly disappearing, subject to very real ethnic cleansing. Bethlehem, for example. Bethlehem, the Holy Christian City, site of the Nativity, was a Christian city, now has just 5% Christians and life for them is tough. Our friend Boutrus called us the other day – Boutrus is a house painter, a devout Christian, who cannot manage to earn a crust in Bethlehem and crosses into Israel every day where he is welcomed. His knowledge of Hebrew and Israeli history are unparalleled. Boutrus called because his son is getting married and he cannot afford to give him a wedding. Oh that we were rich and could help him. His is the plight of those left in Bethlehem…….Horrific.

On Shevuot religious people stay up all night praying and debating the real meaning of the festival and of life. I know it is a "mitzvah" a right to do that all-nighter, but I can tell them the true meaning of Shevuot in two words. Tikkun Olam. The receiving of the Torah, of course, including the rules of kashrut (kosher food) are the basis but the meaning, the true meaning, is definitely to leave the world a better place than you found it. I believe that in we are pretty good at obeying that principle. In general we give to charity, always beyond the prescribed tithe; build universities and hospitals; are deeply involved in medical research; surprisingly expert in agriculture; innovators in water preservation, purification and desalination; we are great songwriters, poets and artists; and of course philosophers – oh yes we are great philosophers – which I believe comes from the sharpened mind of the Torah student. We in Israel also give that knowledge freely to the world – to make it a better place. MASHAV is a governmental body within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs whose sole task is to help, not financially but with projects tailored to each country's needs and of course the myriad of NGO's which reach out in time of need. So perhaps we have learned about Tikkun Olam, the lesson of Shevuot, through osmosis, absorption through our forefathers – I don't know but it is worth noting that we reach out even to those countries that do not recognise our existence.

I try hard to understand how so many countries have swung left – Canada and France in particular – when the pundits say that logic should take the vote right in response to the horrific terror attacks around the world and the general threat of ISIS. The latest shock is the UK. Theresa May was doing well on the popularity scale and Jeremy Corbyn was a source of both fear and disparagement, his policies (other than the social aspect) off the map left. He openly castigated Israel although it is not in his manifesto, he stated that both Hezb-Allah and Hamas are his friends, indeed he has taken the Labour party to lengths that are very distressing and just about as far as Harold Wilson as one can get, yet, despite all that, he is climbing the polls! How? Why? How can a friend of ISIS climb the polls despite the horrific Manchester bombing? I am confused and disturbed…………. But equally disturbed and worried that Israelis are moving further right. I haven't decided if it is simply demographics of what. In fact – perhaps it is demographics everywhere.

Zvi's cousins Billy and Ruth Szapiro just left for London. I think that Zvi has really given them a fantastic tour of every new thing in Jerusalem. Ha ha, it is seems like an oxymoron to say "new things in Jerusalem" because most of the amazing sights and sites are ancient but still fun to go to the new ones. Last Shabbat, as I told you, I didn't cook. We ate the most delicious Mexican food prepared by Ruth's sister in law Rosie. Rosie and her husband Jaime and two boys came in laden with the most amazing delicacies, all my favourite foods. Rosie is a professional chef and prepares for homes, events, weddings and bar mitzvas – she's really good! Gosh, I ate too much but it was worth it to see Zvi's joy at eating "Mexican".

This week they went to the Childrens Museum on Holon and raved about it. They were met by a very beautiful young woman who took them by the hand and explained how she became progressively blind then took them into an area of total darkness so that they could experience being blind themselves.

Yesterday Zvi took them to the Islamic Museum where there are many exhibits including my favourite, the horological exhibit  From there a quick trip to Mahane Yehuda and home to rest before the big event. Last night was the opening of the Israel Festival with a huge "Groove Party" concert in the Sultan's Pool. Happily Rosie and Jaime came too and once there Zvi met up with our Australian friends Deidre and Keith Beville. Apparently it was spectacular under the walls of the Old City, very enjoyable but rather nippy!!

Talking of Australian friends, the last place I expected to experience Sharia Law is Australia. However according to this article it is happening.

Three important journeys occurred last night. My sister Doreen flew to see our sister Eddie in Canada and to meet our new found cousin Frank and his family; Billy and Ruth flew to London and Josephine and Tom Linden landed in Israel!!! This is so exciting because I have been nagging her for years to see the phenomenal changes since her last visit and because I happen to love her! Once I have finished writing to you and Zvi wakes up we will go to get them from their hotel and show them the wonders of Mahane Yehuda. I truly am not sure which I am most excited about – seeing Josephine or going to Mahane Yehuda!!!

The sheer culinary delights would be "dayenu"
The colours and aromas "dayenu"
The characters, bustle and costermongers "dayenu"
The incredible piles fruits and vegetables "dayenu"
The freshly baked pitot and challot "dayenu"
The amazing array of nuts and seeds "dayenu"
The mountains of spices and herbs of every variety "dayenu"
The fascinating arts and crafts "dayenu"
And finally the tastings, coffee shops and restaurants complete the job.

Friday in Mahane Yehuda – enough to convince a man to buy a home in Jerusalem eh Andrew?

Almost Shabbat.
Lecha Dodi is a prayer said or sung to welcome the bride of Shabbat. It has been set to every type of music – this is the most recent
In Judaism, even though some aver that it is a Patriarchal religion, the woman is revered above all else. In fact there is even a specific blessing said by the husband before continuing with the rituals and traditions of Shabbat. I am sure that ardent feminists would find fault with the words but they forget that they were written in different times. "Woman of Worth" Eshet Chayil, sung by the Barry sisters

Finally – just for the heart warming, spirit lifting of this video as a little girl performs for America's Go Talent and steals the heart of Simon

Shabbat Shalom dear friends, I have to get ready to go to Mahane Yehuda – promise to tell you all about it next week.
With love from Jerusalem

Friday, 26 May 2017

170526 Jerusalem Day, Czech Republic recognises Jerusalem

26th May, 2017

Shabbat Shalom! How are you? I hope this week has been a little calmer than ours, but then this is Israel where we live life at a rate of knots and Jerusalem where every day is interesting!

On Tuesday we watched the 5 helicopters circle and circle above us, occasionally shooting off flares into the blue sky and finally coming to land to take the President to the airport. You probably thought that the traffic jams were over when President Trump climbed aboard his helicopter for the short flight to the airport - so did we! Of course it didn't happen. The only time Zvi was not sat in a "parking lot" situation over the last few days was when he came back from the airport with precious cargo, cousins Billy and Ruth Shapiro from Mexico, at 03:00!!! The very next day was Jerusalem Day and we all went to a delightful Brit Milah (Circumcision) party for our downstairs neighbours, Kobi and Michal's first grandson. Understand here in Israel a brit milah is generally like a wedding – huge and in an event hall; this was a small affair, just 250 guests.

We then tried to get to the reception held by the Mayor of Jerusalem to celebrate Jerusalem Day. I say tried because every road had a police cordon and we couldn't get near to the Tower of David where the reception was being held. The reason? We found ourselves next to the beginning of a Parade on King George Street next to the Great Synagogue, the Jerusalem Day Parade was preparing to march toward the Old City. Dancing and singing, Israeli flags flying high, young and old and tiny children so full of joy it was a delight. Ruth, Billy and I jumped out of the car to mingle and take photos and absorb the pride. It really was spectacular. This video shows mostly youngsters but there were people of all ages, from around the globe and of all religions.

Incidentally the phenomenal "Son et lumiere" show on the walls of the Old City went on for 3 nights and people came from all over Israel and indeed the world for the event.

Perhaps it did not make the news in your corner of the world, but on Jerusalem Day something unexpected and equally remarkable happened……….. perhaps one of the most remarkable events since the reunification. The parliament of the Czech Republic voted to recognise Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel. It is so incredible that I will repeat THE PARLIAMENT OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC RECOGNISED JERUSALEM AS THE CAPITAL CITY OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL.,7340,L-4967031,00.html

The Lancet, conceivably the most prestigious of medical journals in the world, accepted an article accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza by an outside contributor. The reaction was instant and very strong and an apology of sorts appeared. The editorial staff apparently regretted the article and have now printed an entire edition lauding the Israeli contribution to medicine, medical research and peaceful coexistence within the medical community and patients in Israeli hospitals  

In honour of Billy and Ruth's visit we have a gathering of Zvi's family for Shabbat with Mexican food as the central theme! Ruth's brother Jaime and his lovely wife Rosita will provide the comestibles, they often cater for private homes, Leor and Shiri will provide their home and I will provide the desserts. I am sure the children will be thrilled to see their Mexican cousins.

This morning Billy and Ruth have gone out for breakfast with the lovely Rosa Medrez, their friend for many, many years and mine for a short but sweet time. Zvi wants to show them everything and last night he took them to see Mahane Yehuda by night. It is a transformation verging on a metamorphosis…. From noisy, packed street market to fun, young and teeming night life with dozens and dozens of coffee bars, pubs, music and street activities. As the sun goes down so do the shutters on the produce stalls. The wonderfully painted shutters hide the fruit and vegetables, the chairs come out of their hiding places, the bar tables and deejays, the wonderful sound of young people having fun reverberates in the alleyways. A sight worth seeing to warm your heart!!!

Judaism doesn't really let us diet adequately. Zvi always claims that Jewish festivals are "They tried to kill us, we won, let's eat" but Shevuot (Pentecost) is different. It is a harvest festival, a joyous ending of the 49 days of mourning (Lent) after Pesach (Passover) and more than anything a celebration of receiving the Torah. It is a festival of purity, of white, of milk produce – so many things together. As always, my wonderfully erudite friend, Rabbi Jeremy Rosen, explains it far better than I.  and for the eating part (we don't eat any meat or chicken over the festival and cheese anything goes) I actually have a wonderful low fat cheesecake recipe – which can even be sugar free. I'll put it and my adaptation at the end of the missive.

Last Friday night we went to our friends Meira and Michael Partem, and there we met a British couple, Rabbi Andrew and Rebbitsen Sharon Goldstein, who, as it turned out, knew many people that I do (for the uniformed it is called Jewish geography. The minute you meet you find common friends!!). Indeed the evening was basically spent covering two topics; one was the question of diversity/conflict within the Jewish religion and the acceptance or tolerance of that diversity; the other was how we all love Norman and Lola Cohen! Wonderful Lola and Norman have been involved in inter-religious discourse for many years and co-founded the British Israel Group

I believe that Rabbi Andrew Goldstein is right, there should be representation for Reform and Conservative Jews in Israel, but we disagree on how. Zvi is on the Board of the Jewish Agency and sees first hand that their discourse is coming at the issue from the wrong angle. They need to join society rather than fight it. I am certain we can find a common aim and common ground. Indeed it is essential we fight together rather than each other. Of course this isn't a Jewish problem, it is in all religions, but we do our fighting just a little too publicly!!!!

I just got back from collecting the children from school. It doesn't matter where you are in the world, the thrill of seeing YOUR grandchild running toward you in anticipation is incomparable. The stories, told in such a rush of words that they are barely discernable, act as testament to the relationship you have built up with love, unconditional love. All three of my Israeli children are in religious schools and all three are doing well academically, their schools do not change who they are, they are, and always will be the most affectionate and loving children imaginable. Yosef was fascinated that you know him through my words and wanted to know whether I write about my journey back into Jerusalem. I told him that I always describe Samuels Tomb and the view over the whole of Jerusalem almost to Tel Aviv and he was pleased. He also wanted you to know that we buy flowers for Shabbat once we have picked up the girls and he asked me to say hello and Shabbat Shalom to you!!

So back to Jerusalem Day and rather than find other songs I thought you would like to see the further videos of the illuminations together with two deeply important songs – Halleluja and Jerusalem of Gold

A truly joyous Jubilee.

So my friends – I hope I will manage to write to wish you a beautiful Shevuot but if not, Shabbat Shalom from our beloved Jerusalem. The reason it is a bone of contention, almost always has been, is because Jerusalem is the spiritual heart of the world. While it has been the very heart of Judaism, the streets that King David walked as he created the most beautiful songs – the psalms – in the language that we speak and pray until today, we have never been jealous, we have always shared it with joy. I wish you a holy Pentecost, a spiritual Shevuot and a blessed Ramadan.
May your G-d bless you and keep you safe from harm. Savlanut and Sovlanut – if you remember – are the secret to a peaceful life – Patience and Tolerance.

With all our love from Jerusalem and the veranda

The delicious no bake lemon cheesecake.
My adaptation is that I use 5% cream cheese or 5% ricotta and sugar free biscuits as the base – if you replace the sugar with sweet and low, you are ready to invite all your diabetic friends!!!!!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

170524 Jerusalem Day, Manchester, President Trump

23rd May, 2017

What a tragedy. What a ghastly tragedy. Children spending a dream night at a concert starring their favourite pop star when an insanely radical Islamist, sent by ISIS, blew himself up taking 22 young lives, the youngest of whom was just 8 years old. He was not poor, he was not disenfranchised, he was not an outcast – Salman Abedi was British, a student at the University of Salford near the city centre. He radicalised of his own accord and inculcated with ferocious savagery which destroyed the lives of all who saw the horror, let alone suffered it. Our hearts go out to the families of those killed and we pray for the recovery of those injured and traumatised. I believe President Trump was right when he described the terrorists as "losers", intentionally using a derogatory term because any other name assumes we are terrified of them and that is exactly what they seek.

The highly successful visit of President Trump to the Middle East has been a call to Islamic nations to fight and resist terror.

In Saudi Arabia he spoke of the fact that terror affected Jews, Christians and Moslems and he referred to Israel by name, all subjects formerly taboo in that country. When he spoke to the assembled Islamic leaders he reiterated the need to ensure that terror is not rewarded. His words clearly directed at Mahmoud Abbas and many leaders in the opulent conference room who fund the stipend given as a reward for killing Jews.

His arrival in Israel was filled with pomp and circumstance befitting the leader of the free world – apart from Oren Hazan's selfie which the media deemed a move typical of Israeli chutzpah and lack of manners. In fact, while silently cringing I didn't think it deserved the outcry it received!

The warmth of the visit was exceptional; the Presidents speeches restrained and yet warm. His constant referrals to Israel's Jewish heritage, our hard fought right to be in our ancient homeland were heartwarming. His clear emotion at the Western Wall and Ivanka's metamorphosis from Ivanka to Yael as she neared those ancient stones and reached out gingerly to touch them was an exceptional moment.

One of the most moving visits was by First Lady Melania Trump and Sara Netanyahu to Hadassah Hospital to show them the wonderful co-existence between Jews and Arabs both patients and medical staff. It was especially exciting for me since my "new best friend" Ellen Hershkin, President of Hadassah Women's ZOA, proudly and elegantly escorted both first ladies and introduced them to the wonderful staff, Moslems, Christians, Druze and Jews at all levels of medical excellence. Bravo for bringing Mrs Trump to show the truth of our ability to live and work together if given half a chance.

Yad Vashem is a name that may not trip off his tongue with ease but his empathy with those who perished and his admiration for the survivors was apparent.  President Trump "gets it".

All of my concerns as to what he was going to demand from us in his last speech dissipated as he continued in the vein of understanding and love of Israel - and his determination not to tell us what to do, or what not to do – just that we need to talk.

Of course there were bloopers. Mr Netanyahu saying "the President's first wife" instead of First Lady and Mr Trump having difficulty with the name Manchester, but in the final analysis I believe it was a very important visit. His popularity in the USA may be low but here he could win any election.

Last night began the real celebration. Jerusalem Day!!!! 50 years ago, on the 28th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, in the year 5727, Jerusalem was reunited after 19 years of Jordanian rule. "Har Habayit beyadeinu" The Temple Mount is in our hands – surely a moment we can never forget in a war that amazed the world in its brevity and drama.

Jerusalem. What a magical sound, more of a prayer than a city. Jerusalem, her name spoken with respect and with joy; with awe and with love – Rabbi Jonathan Sacks expresses our feelings about her so clearly – "Jews were a circumference whose centre was Jerusalem"

The celebrations for the people of the city brought a spectacular light show on the walls of the Old City

The 28th Day of the Hebrew Month of Iyar was the day the American President swore allegiance and friendship to Israel too, but of far greater importance, the 28th of Iyar is the date my incredible and beautiful grand-daughter Talia was born, in Shaare Zedek Hospital, Jerusalem, 11 years ago. An exceptional child, born in an exceptional city, to my exceptional daughter and I was there to see her enter this world.

Last night, well actually in the wee small hours of this morning, Zvi arrived from Ben Gurion Airport with precious cargo – his cousins Billy and Ruth Shapiro flew in from Mexico – mut more about that on Friday. Of course I will write on Friday – I don't believe I am capable of entering into Shabbat without talking to you!

From our home to yours, with love from Jerusalem, a troubled but glorious city which lays before me in that View From My Veranda!


I end this brief missive with something very Israeli – very Jerusalem. Ephraim Kishon was a brilliant reporter of our place and time and he wrote this wonderful list of why this is the only country he could ever live in.

My Country by Ephraim Kishon
This is Israel!
This is the only country where the unemployed strike;
This is the only country where sixty year olds still hate their tironut commander;
This is the only country where the corporals’ mother has the commander’s telephone number;
This is the only country that has a communications satellite, but nobody lets you finish a sentence;
This is the only country hit by missiles from Iraq, katyushas from Lebanon, suicide bombers from Gaza and rockets from Syria yet a three-room apartment still costs more than in Paris;
This is the only country where an Israeli meal is made from an Arab salad, Romanian kebabs, Iraqi pita and Bavarian mousse. We must like eating ant-Semites!
This is the only country where the guy with the open and stained shirt is the honourable Minister and the guy beside him wearing the suit and tie is his driver;
This is the only country where the phrase “I don’t interfere” means that I want to interfere;
This is the only country where Moslems sell sacred souvenirs to Christians in exchange for bills that have the Rambam’s face on them;
This is the only country where, at the age of eighteen you leave home but at twenty-four you still live with your parents;
This is the only country where people who come to your home for the first time ask you if it’s OK to go and take something from the fridge;
This is the only country where you can tell what the security situation is from the songs that are being played on the radio;
This is the only country where the rich are on the socialist left, the poor on the capitalist right and the middle-class pays for everything;
This is the only country where there is no problem to get the software that launches a space shuttle, but you have to wait a week for your washing machine to be fixed;
And only here there’s a time unit called “sometime between 11 and 6”.
This is the only country where between the happiest day and the saddest day there are exactly sixty seconds;
This is the only country where most people can’t explain why they live here but they have loads of reasons why they can’t live elsewhere;
This is the only country where if you hate politicians, hate clerks, hate the situation, hate the taxes, hate the quality of service, and hate the weather, it must mean that you like the country…
This Is The Only Country I Could Live In!!!  It’s My Country!!!