Wednesday, 18 April 2018

180418 Israel 70

18th April 2018

Yom Ha Zikaron
Remembrance Day for the fallen in battle and terrorism.

Today politics are irrelevant. Today we mourn those who died defending us.
From nightfall yesterday until nightfall tonight the names of those killed through hatred will be shown upon our television screens, one at a time, their names and their photographs. Families will tell their stories because they mustn't be forgotten.

Israel's war is different on so many levels. Our enemy is not thousands of miles away, he is on our doorstep and he is within. Of course Tolerance – sovlanut can win through, but it is a long and difficult process.

I cannot but mention that there are two sectors of Israeli society which do not honour this day; who do not stand to attention during the wail of the siren – but even that is beginning to change.

Last night Zvi, Jill and I went to an extraordinarily Israeli event. The plant nursery in the Botanical Gardens clears space for some 300 people who sing songs written about our loss, beautiful songs, sad songs, special songs – some of which came with a personal story, all of which have a story.

In Israel we sing sad songs, we release our anger and grief through poetry and song, we tell our stories.

It all begins with a ceremony at the Western Wall, to which the families of those who died are invited – from the War of Independence, through the War of Attrition, 6 Day War, Yom Kippur, Lebanon 1 and 2 and the many battles in between. It is truly incredible that there are not more.

The day of mourning ends at nightfall when the entire atmosphere changes on a pin. As the last soldiers march out of the amphitheatre of Mount Herzl, the flag bearing soldiers march in and the celebrations begin. Dancing, singing, marching, music fireworks and sheer joy……….. we paid the price, we paid dearly, but here we are not just standing but thriving and giving to the world. We have a truly magnificent society, we tend to moan a lot but that's a privilege that only democracy can achieve.

Tonight will be extra special for me because I am going to the ceremony with my incredible grand-daughter Talia. I am so proud of her. She is a feisty strong young woman, at 11 she is thoughtful beyond her years and very proud to be an Israeli. She has also been driving Saba Zvi crazy for a whole year to get her into the celebratory ceremony!!! After all this year Israel is 70!

The torchlights at the ceremony are from many walks of life, each has given much to Israeli society in his or her own way.

 The unexpected miracle of modern day Israel

What is it that drives us? Why are we so determined to survive and enjoy every second of life? What makes us the people who love to go out to cinemas, theatres, each others homes, parks and have a deep curiosity for other cultures and our own diverse land? I don't know but the joie de vivre, the love of fun……………..
Tell em another country where the President has an idea, a city invites 12,000 strangers to an auditorium to sing and they all not only turn up but sing in glorious harmony the most important song in the country!!!

Shiri Maimon sings the famous song, the last song of Yitzchak Rabin before he was cruelly assassinated – the name is Song to Peace. The exceptional aspect of this song is that thousands of soldiers are singing to peace.

We all know Oseh Shalom but I came across this wonderful rendition of our prayer for peace from all over the world, choirs in One Voice

I must get ready because Talia will be here soon. My eldest grand-daughter almost 12 and I am so proud to be going with her.

Tomorrow is a day of fun, barbeques……so many barbeques! The whole country celebrates.

Then we come to Shabbat and the Hariton Family who are coming for Shabbat Dinner. I am so excited!! Flory and Paul are old friends of Zvi's, from the days of Venezuela Keren Hayesod through to Florida, and I am proud to have been taken into the family!! They are here with their children and spouses which is double exciting! The lovely Michael Meir is coming too and of course Jill, who is one of the family – and Amiad and Noga and the children………. That's it for now!! We will be just 16 for dinner which as you know is a mere drop in the ocean for me……….. or drop in the chicken soup!!

Mazal Tov to our incredible country. Thank you for giving me a home that fulfills and challenges me, doesn't allow me to become complacent, insists I care for my fellow man and allows me to sing her praises because she is worthy.

Thank you especially for the two, no three, most exceptional new soldiers I know. Yahya Mahamid left his family in Umm El Fahem, was threatened with death but chose to love his country, serve Standwithus and then enlist in the IDF, his photographs show an entirely happy young man. The same with Mohammed Soabi (yes the cousin of MK Haneen) who together with his Mother and of course Standwithus, also enlisted recently – and of course our special and wonderful young man Tomer Silver, who although not connected by blood is our family and we love him. May they come home safely after serving their country with honour.

Tell me – Isn't she the most beautiful 70 year old you ever saw?

Finally, what else, HATIKVA

Chag Atzmaut Sameach – Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, 12 April 2018

180412 Holocaust Memorial Day, Syria, Iran and more

12th April 2018

27th Nissan 5778
Holocaust Remembrance Day

Dear Friends, Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel. At 10:00 precisely all traffic stopped, pedestrians stood to attention and passengers stepped down from their buses, everything stops exactly where it is. The siren wailed in memory of those who perished in the Holocaust. This is a song of hope, sung by 300 Survivors and their families. The name of the song "Chai" - Live"
It has English subtitles

Today is a day of both mourning and celebration. Celebration? I hear you ask. That we survived as a people, at a cost that is unimaginable, but we survived, we built a nation and those who were barely alive after the horrors of the Holocaust, the Shoah, came to the nascent State and helped to build a country, a Jewish Country, where they built families. Surely the most incredible response to the killing machine of the Third Reich is to build a family and see your grandson among the Israeli pilots who flew over Auschwitz in Israel Air Force aeroplanes.

Zvi and his choir are already in Kibbutz Lochamei ha Ghettaot – the Kibbutz of the Ghetto Fighters – where they will sing at the closing ceremony.

Sassi Keshet is the Director of the Yiddischspiel Theater in Israel and he sang a beautiful song "Violin of Sorrow" or Violin of Hope- both in English and in Yiddisch.

Two news filled weeks have passed since I last wrote since last Friday was Pesach.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has made and unmade a few decisions, the most glaring was on the work seekers whereby he came to an agreement with the UN and then reneged. I always say that one doesn't know what really goes on when you are in the hot-seat but it confused everyone.

During that time Hamas has ordered a "Demonstration of Return" on their border, as always ready to send their young people to the front while staying back in their bunkers.

Israel admitted wiping out the Syrian nuclear facility during the Premiership of Ehud Olmert; Assad the Syrian leader has been using chemical weapons on his own citizens, killing another 200+ to add to the 500,000 already killed in a war that started 7 years ago and due to weak Western leadership has continued unabated and allowed Russia and Iran a strong strategic foothold. We also wiped out both Iranian and Russian bases…………. Shhhhhh

Syria is to head a UN committee on nuclear and chemical weapons disarmament……. I am not kidding, it is too ridiculous to be a lie

Incidentally, one fact has been missed by all the media people in Syria. Syria was always an Alowite minority (the religion of Assad) and a Sunni majority – thanks to Iran it has now made a distinct switch to Alowite minority and Shia majority!

This one is not a belated April Fools, really. Hamas gathered and burned thousands of tyres on the border with Israel, causing an ecological disaster and at great cost… then………. Wait for it……….. complained that Israel was not sending them tyres for their vehicles!!!!!

One of our projects – Zvi and I – is mentoring a group of wonderful young politicians, headed by Ofer Berkovitch, who are now vying for the Mayoral race in Jerusalem. It is time for Nir Barkat to go and also time for a centrist coalition to take over. Enough is enough.

I often talk about Impact-se and the wonderful work done by that organisation to bring tolerance in education. Well, it is working. Enlightened Palestinians are showing a deep interest in changing the paradigm, of giving their children a chance in life for more than jihad.

Even more incredible, David Geffen, Founder of Loving Classroom, has transferred his belief that love really can conquer all into enormous success on the ground. What may seem "airy fairy" is in fact both down to earth and incredibly effective. No matter where, his method teaches children that they do not have to be cruel to survive – they can actually gain from caring, loving – see what David has to say……..

So Passover passed over!! During the seven days we had 50 visitors who ate at our home, which I must admit I loved even though it was often at Zvi's initiative!!! The dishes are all back in the store room, the kitchen has returned to its former glory and I rested for two days!!! From the family through Zvi's parliament and various lovely friends, after all, what is a festival without a houseful?

During Pesach we had a surprise phone call – Canon Andrew White was in town! His unexpected call told me that he was visiting the wonderful Lola and Norman Cohen the next day, which came as a surprise to them!! We went to see him armed with a chocolate cake to help Lola out with her visitor! Andrew found it very funny that because of Pesach he "couldn't find a room at the inn" and went to stay in Bethlehem – don't worry he slept in a comfortable bed not a stable.

On the 30th of March we were grateful for Kinneret Chayas 17th re-birthday – it is an incredible 17 years since she was horribly injured in a terror attack in Tel Aviv. Her revenge? She is not only alive, she is now a happily married lady with four amazing children – who said miracles don't happen!!

We managed to see my friend Sari Singer, who shares a love for KC with me – and a love for each other; we also saw Ceci Bayon and her parents all the way from Mexico. One really fun night with Fred and Joyce Claar at the First Station for supper, then we had dessert with Meira and Michael Partem and then danced to the band playing for everyones entertainment – to find that right behind us were Elaine, Marc and Amy Oppenheimer!!!  Gosh I love Jerusalem!

Two days ago I took my friend Ruth to Givat Zeev to finally meet my daughter Rachel. I am happy to say it was a great success!!!

Today I had one of my favourite visitors. Andrew Stone (aka Lord Stone of Blackheath) came for coffee "I don't want to eat, just a coffee and a croissant with jam or honey" Well the problem is that none of the coffee shops or bakeries was open last night so I had nowhere to go to get a croissant…….. so I got up early and made Brioche!!! I was so proud of myself! They really turned out wonderfully and we sat out on the veranda, Andrew, Zvi and I, talking about a myriad of amazing projects that he is far to humble to allow me to relate. Andrew is a truly effective, clever and fair person and what he is doing to ensure the security of his beloved Israel while ensuring the safety and prosperity of our neighbouring countries is phenomenal. Enough said!!

And so we go back to the normal run of things – for a few days anyway!

Tomorrow night Leor and the children will come for supper, including little Yuval who at 2 months old is not going to partake of the pea soup, chicken and dessert – not directly anyway.

Remember, even though the signs are written all too clearly on the wall remember Daniel's interpretation of the Biblical writing on the wall "Mene Tekel Upharsin" which predicted the fall of Balshazar and his kingdom. We are strong if we will only stand together – forget our differences and strengthen what draws us together, we share so much.

After all, as David Geffen would say "All you need is Love"  but that isn't the song I want you to hear – We Are a Miracle – Shwekey

Finally, dear lovely people, the only song, the only words, the only anthem that can end this particular missive – Hatikva, The Hope.

Shabbat Shalom to each and every one of you.

With all our love from Jerusalem, the dream that came true.


Thursday, 29 March 2018

180329 Passover, Easter and love


Shabbat Shalom! Pesach Sameach! A good Easter and a Holy Good Friday.

I love it when we all celebrate together – it is our inherited past and what we share rather than our differences. Gosh wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone embraced what they share instead of their differences?

This week I have been thinking a great deal about human nature and how we have changed since I was a child. Today there is a tendency to put people into boxes – to categorise. If one really thinks about it nobody fully fits into any category, be it religious, national, colour or creed, we are all different, all totally individual. So why is there so much hatred toward those who are different to us if we are not really different, perhaps externally, dress, prayer, hair colour, home, but as Shylock said "If you prick me do I not bleed"? We all weep, bleed, hope, love, it is only when "the other" is unacceptable that we become inhuman, cold and cruel.

Mireille Kroll z"l, knew what hatred can do. An 85 year old Holocaust survivor she hoped to continue into her old age with honour. A friendly kind woman she knew one of her attackers, a neighbour, who together with another beast, entered her apartment shouting Allahu akbar, stabbed her 11 times then burned her body. Why? Because she was Jewish. There was a big demonstration in her honour, attended by the Prime Minister of France – but fine words and demonstrations cannot halt the tide of hatred, only new laws can, if at all.

In the most recent US cabinet shake up John Bolton has entered the scene as National Security Advisor to President Trump. The choice of Bolton suggests that a strong, security minded, unafraid to stand up to those who would love nothing more than to take over the leadership position from the United States. As Ambassador to the United Nations he presented a strong and united front to those same enemies and despite the suggestions of the left wing press he is not war-hungry!

The British Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn have finally been taken to task for their frequently expressed anti-Israel stance which was barely concealed and of late blossomed into poisonous anti-Semitism. An orderly but determined demonstration was held outside the Houses of Parliament, led by a Jewish group but far from exclusively Jewish, stating their disgust with a party that Harold Wilson would have disowned.

That's it! No more bad news………. My dishes are changed, much of the food for tomorrow's Seder is already cooked; Zvi has gone for his haircut and final falafel  before Pesach - yes Martin, he is in Abu Ghosh – then we can work out the logistics of fitting a Seder Table with 22-24 people around it in our limited space apartment!! Of course, the minute that we all finish our Passover cleaning Libya visits Israel in the form of a sandstorm. We are lucky, very little came to Jerusalem but Rachel's veranda in Givat Ze'ev looks like a beach!!!

My favourite video of the season comes from my favourite President – Ruvi Rivlin. He managed to combine his Passover greetings with Israel's 70th and I love it. The song which should have been chosen as Israel's national song (not anthem) is of course Al Kol Eleh, above all this, which talks about the honey and the sting of life in our wonderful land. Watch it through – don't be put off by the Hebrew speech he starts with. I promise you will love him as we all do.

The story of Pesach (Passover) is exciting and complex and I can't help wondering if we would have spent all that time wandering in the desert had a London Cabbie been nearby, after all learning the Knowledge takes 2 years at least before you get your taxi-drivers licence. See what this lovely London Cabbie says about Pesach

Each home has its own favourite Passover foods and each ethnicity has special dishes. I have no intention of boring you with the full list but I found this very funny video on Janglo – the website for English speaking Israelis. Enjoy

That's it! I am sorry but I am exhausted! I wish you all a truly wonderful Passover, as my parents used to say a "Freiliche Pesach". May we always look for what binds us and as the lovely Rabbi David Geffen would say – All you need is love to change the world. Lu Yehi

Remember, when you sing "Next Year in Jerusalem" mean it. My only sadness is that none of my family, not children nor siblings, will sit at our Seder Table. They have no idea what an incredible pleasure it is to hear Zvi's mellifluous reading of the Haggada. If everything goes right, however, our lovely Tomer Silver will be released from the army together with at least one lone soldier and join our table. I still remember when he was barely 3 years old how he stood on a chair and recited the 4 questions.

So, all together now NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM!!

With love, Shabbat Shalom from our beautiful Jerusalem.


Friday, 23 March 2018

180323 Pesach politics and stuff

23rd March 2018

Shabbat Shalom! Hope you are well and had a good week. I am feeling very self-righteous because this morning I managed to clean my fridge, oven and hob…… with a little help from a friend!!! I now feel that Pesach (Passover) is nigh and I will be ready. Of course there is still lots to do but the really difficult and important stuff is done!!! If you aren't Jewish then I must explain – spring cleaning has nothing on Passover cleaning!!! Every corner and cupboard is cleaned, the contents emptied and stored and the shelves lined – then the new kosher for Passover things go in. Not just food but dishes, utensils and pots – everything! I know it is hard work and every year as Zvi "schlepps" the dishes up 3 flights of stairs from the store-room he grumbles that today the dishes are well glazed so why do we need it! Of course he would be very sad without his Parent's porcelain dinner set with the gold rims; my parents Seder plate with the little bowls for each of the dishes which represent our journey from slavery to freedom – the story we read each Seder night.

As always, food is a big thing! As I told you before, Zvi's explanation of each Jewish holiday is "They tried to kill us – we won – now let's eat". Strange how history repeats itself – you would have thought the world would have learned by now!

The central object on the Seder Table is the Seder Plate. Parsley to represent new growth; grated horseradish to represent the bitter times; charoseth, in my house a wonderful mix of apples, ground almonds, cinnamon, wine and lettuce, represents the cement which the Jews used in Egypt or alternatively the cement which binds us as a people; a burnt hard boiled egg; a lamb shank or chicken neck to represent the burnt offering and salt water to represent the tears of a slave. The meal goes thus:- We bless the wine, then matzo, then parsley dipped in salt water, then we pray and ask questions, then we read the story in Aramaic, then serve the bitter herbs and the charoses on matza and then the meal begins. Hard boiled eggs in salt water, chicken soup with matzo balls, main course, dessert,  we then let the Prophet Elijah in the house and let him have a sip of wine set out specially for him, say grace after meals, read more of the story then we sing!!! Not any songs of course. One favourite is "Who Knows One"  another is "Only One Kid" which reminds me of the old lady and the fly!!This is a sedate version, I chose English so that everyone could understand but in our house we do it differently!! Of course we sing the song but we make appropriate noises for the cat, dog, stick, bull, fire engine etc, and roundly booooooh the Angel of Death while cheering loudly for HaKadosh Baruch Hoo – the Almighty. It wakes the children, shocks visitors and is generally great fun!

The biggest story here in Israel is the release of papers that confirm that Israel destroyed the Syrian Nuclear Reactor. The act was undoubtedly a good and brave one and the heroes of the tale are clear, as is the villain. President George W Bush, acting on the advice of the State Dept and his Military Advisors, was against the bombing, fearing that it would bring about a dirty war in the area, but Prime Minister Ehud Olmert listened to his own military and secret service advisors and decided to go ahead. Then Defence Minister Ehud Barak was against and was kept out of the circle of control. After the event President Bush, describing Prime Minister Olmert said "That man has balls". In the aftermath of the revelation everyone, all of those involved, are still positive, knowing they saved us from a tyrant having nuclear power, except Barak. Sour grapes do not suit anyone. Credit where credit is due.

In a separate, extensive and brilliant interview on his own life, Ehud Olmert came out well and it was clear his love and admiration for Aliza, his wife. His greatest regret is that Aliza and their children suffered.

If you think you get the news, the whole news, on your media network news, think again. This is a story they will never tell because it denies their cant of 30 years. The torture of Palestinians by Palestinians Unfortunately they are far more interested in a girl who bashed a soldier going to prison than the true suffering of the Palestinians. Incredibly after the USA and UK, among others, chose to put conditions on UNWRA aid to the Palestinians, the Europeans did a charity drive to give them money outside the regular funding.

Washington Councilman Trayon White was recorded saying that Jews (The Rothschild's in particular) control the weather and that's why it snowed again! How insanely racist can one get? Mark Steyn has the perfect response.

President Trump has appointed Ambassador John Bolton as his National Security Advisor and one of Bolton's first moves was to talk to Khaled Abu Toameh a brilliant journalist and analyst of the Middle East in general and the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts in particular. I have been saying for years that Khaled is the one to talk to get a full picture. Khaled is a proud Israeli, a Moslem, who wishes only the best for the Palestinians and is a humble, erudite gentleman – what could be better?

Professor Nava Ben Zvi and I always make promises to meet but never seem to manage it. This week Nava received a truly well-deserved honour – she is the recipient of the Israel Prize for education. Nava is a forward thinker, encouraging and helping to found the Open University and the Hadassah College to make education within reach of everyone. Navaleh – kol ha kavod.

Sir Eric Pickles is the UK Government Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues and a huge supporter of Israel. Sir Eric spoke here in Jerusalem about the Jewish contribution to Britain.

Time to get back to the cupboards, but not before telling you a bit about our week.

Monday was Zvi's birthday! He went to Tel Aviv to be with his twin "brother" Itzik Lev while I met with friends from Cardiff, one of whom I have known since we were 4! There is something very special about meeting with friends who already know from whence you came. On Wednesday afternoon we met with Ruth and Jozek (I know I spelled it wrong) to see a wonderful rendition of Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel at the Khan Theatre. The production was put on by the students of the Academy for Music and was outstanding. The Khan was once an Inn for the camel travelers on the Silk Route and the conversion to a theatre is gorgeous. Afterwards we went with lovely friends of Ruth and Jozek for supper at the First Station where there were many children's activities taking place.

While I have been cleaning the apartment Zvi has been in Nes Ziona with the children to give their parents a couple of days off but he comes back after Shabbat and he and Leor will do the schlepping of all 13 boxes of Pesach pots, pans, cutlery, utensils and dishes………. So I need to be sure the cupboards are ready to receive them!!! The entire country smells of cleaning materials and the noise of vacuum cleaners and scrubbing brushes is prevalent…… I love Pesach but have only one complaint. Why is it that the moment I get everything sparkling I then dirty it all by cooking up a storm for 20 people?

So what song do think I chose first? What is appropriate on every level? Pat Boone wrote it and many singers have sung it, it makes on think of Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint and is the theme song of a movie I wish someone would remake. Exodus sung by Cantor Arye Leib Hurwitz

Next? Go Down Moses! The unique and brilliant Satchmo
I hope that we will speak before Pesach – I may write to you on Wednesday, just to check up on how you are doing.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem – city of glorious sights and sites, especially the View from Our Veranda

With love

Friday, 16 March 2018

180306 Israeli hospitals, South Africa, Friday night


16th March, 2018

Shabbat Shalom to everyone. I also want to wish my Thai readers a happy Thai New Year!

The old Yiddische saying goes "Man makes plans and G-d laughs" Of course it sounds so much better in that wonderfully expressive language and as usual – is right on the nose!

First of all, everything is fine but I had cause to spend rather a lot of time in both the Ambulatory and the hospital ER, with a friend let's say. Israeli hospitals, possibly more so than any other country, are a people-watchers dream. The full rainbow, the gamut of Israeli society is in the patients and the staff. Parents are interesting, either they are attentive and calm, attentive and hysterical or at the other end of the scale, ensure their children's iPhones are charged so that they can get on with texting their own messages. That isn't the greatest fascination however, nor is it what makes Israeli hospitals different to all other hospitals.

Firstly, the doctors and medical staff, each and every one of them is superb, some chirpier than others but all are kind. So what's different about that? Well the Senior Physician in ER was an Arab, the Junior was an Ashkenazi Jew, the nurse was Druze and the patients were just about every conceivable mix including one prisoner in chains, accompanied by two policemen, who grinned at us all!! Everybody waited the interminable wait for attention in hospital whereas with equal patience we were seen almost immediately in the ambulatory ER. Of course it was a horrendously busy night and there weren't enough beds but I didn't see one member of staff snap at a patient.

The most amazing are the volunteers. "You look tired, here I brought some sandwiches, would you like one?" said one lady who had gone out to the local bakery, bought a load of bread rolls and filled them at home just o give them away to those who needed food in the ER. They hold the hands of those who have no family and go from bed to bed to cheer people up. Then of course there are the Magen David Adom volunteers, the paramedics, the youngsters who give of their time to ride on the ambulances and help – amazing people, amazing country.

I have to tell you about Dr Karame. Dr Karame is soft spoken, an incredible physician, elegant and almost stately in his treatment of patients with unending patience. Dr Karame is Arab and is the senior physician in Terem (Ambulatory ER) in  Talpiot in Jerusalem and I promised him I would write about him!!!!

Perhaps all of the above, the volunteering and the medical care, are part of the reason Israel is still the 11th happiest places on earth. Since the poll was conducted by the UN I think their typing finger slipped and we are really the happiest on earth. The Scandinavians did well, which is weird considering their lack of sunshine, but logical considering their social welfare system. Anyway, here are the statistics.

It seems incongruous that South Africa and particularly black South Africans, believe that Israel is an apartheid state. South Africa where Jews led the campaign against Apartheid, believing the can and rhetoric about Israel? Well, our lovely friend Danny Adeno Abebe is currently in South Africa as an emissary for Habonim Dror and Danny has taken on the cause of teaching South Africans the truth.

In the United States however, support for Israel among Americans has reach an all time high.

In politics, Tillerson is out Pompeo is in; Theresa May throws Russian "diplomats" who were known to be spies, out of the UK after the poisoning of an ex-spy; Netanyahu somehow manages to hold his coalition together preventing June elections; Saudi Arabia says if Iran has nuclear power then they will get it too; Superman came to visit Jerusalem, Dean Cain was seen in photo ops with almost every politician……………………….. and Justin Trudeau is ridiculed in India for his family's "fancy dress"

Some 70+ countries got together to raise money for UNWRA…………. Yes you read that perfectly correctly. UNWRA is the main cause for strife and corruption in Gaza, has squandered all the vast funds give n to them up to now on encouraging terrorism, their schools rife with incitement to hatred which made the USA and UK and some other countries revoke their funding thereof and other stupid countries to perpetuate!!!!

Last Friday night was incredible.. Around our Shabbes table were
3 Swedes (the people not the veg), 2 Argentinians, 1 Suisse
, 1 Belgian, 2 Poles
2 Sabras and 1 Welshwoman
I made very traditional food from all the countries of dispersion - Israeli salads, Stuffed vine leaves,  Hamusta Kubeh soup, Hungarian Chicken paprika, local grilled spring chicken in date honey, red rice, saffron rice, grilled cauliflower and we had very British poached apples and pears and citrus salad for dessert.
The best part was getting to know each other. Each person said where they are from and a synopsis of their history. 
One of our guests, someone Zvi had known for 40 years, suddenly opened up and told us the story of his life. In Belgium of WW2, his Mother was taken by the Nazis to Auschwitz when he was 2 1/2, and gave him to a neighbour to hide him. The naighbour never told a soul he was Jewish. Indeed when the Germans came on suspicion of his ethnicity they asked him to pull down his trousers – he remembered that his parents told him he must never do that for anyone so he refused. He went through many tribulations until he was 7 and his Mother miraculously came looking for him. He was in an "orphanage" where his Jewish identity was hidden. She stood looking at each child, frail and unsure what he looked like after all those years. As he walked down the stairs he suddenly saw his Mother and they were never separated again. He kept his story secret for 50 years until he discovered others who were at the orphanage and they all met - when the emotional flood waters opened.
He went on to be a famous Israeli urologist and we all sat in rapt attention.
That's what I love about welcoming strangers into our home. The three Swedes were talking about it for days.

OK no time whatsoever before Shabbat so I don't have time to tell you of the mimosa tree, the bright pink cherry trees or the plethora of blooms and blossoms on our veranda!!!

Here is music instead!!

Israel's entry into the Eurovision song contest this year is somewhat different, but in a strange way I think I like it although most of you will hate it……….. which means it could be a winner!!!

And now from the ridiculous to the simply sublime. Andre Rieu et all and the wonderful theme song of Exodus, "This Land is Mine" I dare you not to shed a tear

Shabbat Shalom everyone with much love from Jerusalem, the city we longed, nay yearned for 2,000 years of dispersion.


Friday, 9 March 2018

180309 Uri Lubrani, Nikki Haley, Embassies

9th March, 2018

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I have no idea if you are getting this missive or not because Gmail has been playing games with me and many of you are not receiving my news. I have finally found someone really good to build my website, thank you Renee, so hopefully it will all be sorted out soon.

If there is one thing that Israel learned from the Intifada, apart from how to defend ourselves, it is learning how to deal with trauma, for the injured, for the by-standers and for the families. A team of Israeli psychologists went to Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida to hold sessions with the teachers and educators of that school in trauma management for their students.  Such sessions take place wherever and whenever needed. Once someone I know laughed at the idea that Israel could possibly provide aid to Canada – well we offer aid to many countries who are bigger and richer than us as well as to those smaller and poorer. Israel is a tiny country with a big heart and many volunteers who are ready to go anywhere in the world to provide succour, be it practical or emotional.

Guatemala is not the biggest country in Latin America, indeed most Westerners have no idea where it is at all, which is a shame because Guatemala is a brave and principled country that is the second to pass a decision to move its Embassy to Jerusalem – apparently Greece is next.

The United States has chosen a propitious day to move its staff and physical Embassy to Jerusalem, May 14th the date that Israel declared her independence. The Embassy will run on skeleton staff at first, in the current Consulate in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem, while a more logical site will be found. It is said that the former Diplomat Hotel is under consideration.

The first time I went to the Diplomat Hotel was in 1971 when it was still a 5 star hotel, even if they didn't know how to soft boil an egg for baby Daniel! The hotel later became an absorption centre when the former Soviet Union opened its doors and let our people go. The Diplomat was also the site of the emotional ceremony the day after Operation Solomon when we met and welcomed the beautiful, dignified Ethiopian immigrants on the morning after their escape. I can never forget the deep respect and love they showed toward the person behind their Aliyah, Uri Lubrani, who passed away this week. The speed of their flight was so great that they were told to bring only the clothes on their backs and up to one and a half kilos of hand luggage, that's all. They stood in their white Shabbat robes clutching the red roses we were all given as Uri Lubrani walked in each and every one of them, in silent homage, held out their rose toward him. I still choke up when I think of the dignity of their gratitude. Uri Lubrani, you were a hero. May your soul rest in peace.

So Prince William is coming to the Middle East. He will visit Jordan, Israel and the PA, the first official visit of a British Royal. They have come privately, both Prince Charles and Prince Philip but the Foreign Office, about as friendly toward Israel as the US State Department, has always vetoed an official visit because of political alliances both past and present. What fascinates me is not the fact that Prince William is coming but who persuaded the FO to organise it? Have they actually woken up to the reality of who their genuine allies are? This article puts forward a fascinating perspective.  Equally fascinating is the open letter to Prince William written by Michael Dickson, the wonderful Director of Standwithus Israel.

A wise man once said that
Freedom of speech does not absolve a man of responsibility for what he says.
I believe that we, in the free world, took the freedom and forgot the responsibility. As children we were taught that once a word has left your mouth you cannot take it back and it can cut a person into shreds just as efficiently as a scalpel but leave greater scars. So it is with incitement, the ripples of the words thrown so easily onto still waters can kill and maim. Hatred, once thought to be a two way street has become rampant, conceivably the worst pandemic disease of our century.

Among the rhetoric of hate from Palestinians, Farrakhan, Sharpton, Hamas, and many more,  one voice stands out above all others, Ambassador Nikki Haley. If one reads her biography one begins to understand why her loyalties stand so firmly with Israel. Nikki Haley comes from a Sikh family. Her real name is Nimrata Randahawa and her parents were born in the Punjab, India. Called Nikki since childhood she upholds the principles of her parent's faith and is unafraid of those who would deny her a voice. When told to "shut up" by Saeb Erekat Nikki Haley stood tall and said that not he, not anyone, would stop her standing up for what is right.  Here she speaks at AIPAC  or if the full speech is more than you wish to listen to, try this one "I always knew what the capital of Israel was. I tis not created by the position of the Embassy, America did not make Jerusalem the capital city, President Trump simply did what American Presidents had the courage to do what others did not"

For International Women's Day I wrote
I am the daughter of one of the strongest and sweetest woman of all time, my Mother, Betty Glicker Silver who passed away 55 years ago, long before her time, yet managed to teach, by example, how to be a good and loved woman through WIZO, through chesed, through her elegance and humility and through the unconditional love she showed her children. She taught me that each human being is worthy, irrespective of his/her provenance - including me.
I am the daughter in law of Alla (Lia) Raviv Hendler, Mother of Zvi Raviv, who during her 97 years taught an entire generation of children how to be good people and showed me that kindness and love can teach a child to be a mensch whereas force can never do so. She survived great sadness with a smile and a hand held out to all in need.
I am a lucky woman. I hope they made me who I am today. I am no less proud of the next generation and the one after that with great confidence that the chain of strong women will change their world.

History has taught Jews very little. What? How can you say such a thing? Oh easily and the wonderful Brenda Katten says it so much better than I. Jews of Europe and Israelis who choose to live there – you are sitting on a time bomb.

Just in case you think nobody is helping the Syrian civilians………..

Prime Minster Netanyahu had what appears to be excellent meetings in Washington, particularly with President Trump. The accusations and investigations deepen but affairs of State must go on.

To take us away on a flight of fancy, Zvi organised a fantastic two days of choirs from all over Israel and from Sweden. It culminated in a fantastic show last night and a seminar this morning. He did a phenomenal job as always and the theatre was full to capacity. The biggest surprise was when the Swedish choir, almost exclusively non-Jewish, sang in Hebrew!!!!
When is a perfect segway into this weeks music!!!!

If there is one prayer on the lips of everyone in Israel, it is that our children and grandchildren will not need to serve in a Defence Force – that we will not have enemies. A dream, a prayer, a plea

International Women's Day has nothing on Jewish tradition. Every week, on Friday night, the head of a Jewish household is expected to praise his wife for all she does, that her worth is great than pearls or precious gems. Imagine having the entire IDF choir around your table when they sing Eshet Chayil

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I wish you a week of joy.
With love from the View from our Verandah