Archive for the ‘israel’ Category
On the 25th June 2006, Gilad Shalit (aged just 19) was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists in a cross border raid from the Gaza Strip. He has been held hostage by Hamas ever since with almost no contact to the outside world. He is also denied visits from the International Red Cross to ensure his good health.
Human Rights Watch in the UK said they have never heard of him. Amnesty International is not highlighting Gilad’s birthday and the International Committee of the Red Cross is doing nothing to publicise his case.
He must not be forgotten – not on his birthday – not any day.
This beautiful songs starts at around 1 minute – it has English subtitles
The sun is shining, spring has arrived and I’m sorry; I know – it’s been a long time! Now Pesach is over my houseguests have left. It seemed uber-hard work this year (I must be feeling my age) still, for all that, the effort is really rewarding and I won’t deny it, I love a full house. The family stayed with me for ten days and I even had Jon stay a couple a days the week before as he was in London on business. Now my home is back the way it was – very clean and very quiet – it can never be too clean, but it can be too quiet!
So what’s been going on? Lots, but for this post I’m focusing on my last trip to Israel which seems so long ago – and I’ll be back there in a couple of weeks taking my ol’ ma to see her great-grandchildren – I’ve booked the flights, just need to sort accommodation! We’ll probably rent an apartment with a pool in Herzliya so Bridgitte can bring the children over after school, which finishes at 1.30, and Jon can see us after work as his office is there. We’ll work something out.
Back to the trip – last year we were a small group of nine souls; this time there were nineteen of us! It was fast-paced and hectic trying to fit so much into four days. Much was familiar to us old regulars although some in this year’s group had never been to Israel before or had only done the sun sea and sand thing and some of the itinerary was new ground even for us Israel frequent flyers. I won’t repeat it all as much is déjà-vu from last year, particularly the Old City, Rachel’s Tomb, Hebron and the Caves of Machpelah the burial place of our Patriarchs. However visiting Sderot, an Israeli town literally across the road from Gaza – a stone’s, no, a rocket’s throw – was a real eye-and mind-opener. It hit home the enormity of their situation when we saw the racks of ketusha, qassam and grad rockets fired relentlessly on the town’s residents, when we saw the war room, when we saw a playground where shelters are disguised as animals so the children can come out of their homes and when we saw streets where no house escaped damage.
and this is the response of the Mayor of Sderot – not what you may have expected; the word peace comes from the lips of Israel, not hate!
From Sderot we went to Independence Hall in Tel Aviv and the Etzel Museum in Jaffe – we met incredible, brave, heroic people who were there when independence was declared; who fought for our right to exist and when you see the first video above, nothing has changed in our fight for survival.
I hadn’t managed to get to Kibbutz Kfar Etzion before, which was in fact not so far from where Jon lived in the Gush. The story of this now thriving kibbutz is one of life and death and life again and they have set up a museum to relate its history and its legacy – it was poignant and moving especially when praying at the bunker. At Kfar Etzion, one of four kibbutzim in the area, the captured Jews were gathered together by soldiers of the Arab Legion and told they were going to be photographed, instead the soldiers opened fire and murdered scores, according to eyewitness accounts from Jewish survivors. The wounded from the battle had taken refuge in a cellar bunker. After the village surrendered, the Arabs blew up the bunker with grenades killing everyone in it. Only then were any survivors taken to captivity in Jordan.
I gathered acorns from around it and brought them home to remember – if the tree can survive, so can we.
I know I often fly off to Israel for my baby fix, but for me these trips are also as important, illuminating and valuable – I try to spread the word to my friends to go, to listen, to learn, particularly when we visit the victims of terror and hear their terrible stories or work the soup kitchen or pack challot and provisions with the beautiful Liore for over 400 destitute families who have nothing – poverty in Israel is a major issue. My synagogue has been raising funds and been supporting these poor people since the start of the intifada and it is humbling also to meet the wonderful volunteers in Israel who give so much of themselves. As a community we still raise much needed funds and visit them today as we did seven years ago and they know and appreciate that Chigwell still cares and they know they are not alone. After initial pain and grief, the scars and trauma last for ever; so must our endeavours.
This year I met two lovely families, one from Russia, the other from Latvia, whose lives were destroyed through terrorist attack and whose stories of healing I may tell another time, but their progress and rehabilitation could never have happened without the hard graft and sheer dedication of one truly remarkable lady, Delysia Jayson, a true Eshet Chayil, a Woman of Valour…
“a woman of valour… she invests herself with strength… she opens her hand to the poor and reaches out to the needy… she is robed in strength and dignity and she smiles at the future… give her credit for the fruit of her labour and let her achievements praise her at the gates.” (Proverbs 31: 10-31)
Delysia sadly died shortly after our visit, on her 67th birthday. Maybe it sounds odd to say I was lucky, but I was lucky to have had the opportunity to spend precious time with her again, to have walked beside this angel on earth, to have had the honour and privilege to have known her at all. On our first day in Jerusalem she drove us to visit families in their homes and the following evening I sat with her at a dinner for more victims, their families and volunteers – always a brilliant evening of shared stories of despair and hope – for example beautiful young men cruelly injured by mines and suicide bombs whose survival hung in the balance and now they were loved and embarking on marriage, something they had never dared to hope for, something that was just a dream.
Delysia was the founder of Keren Klita – her voluntary work started in the early 70’s with a group called the “35’s Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry”. Reading her tribute brought back memories – I recall playing a small part in those days, just going on rallies and occasionally volunteering in charity shops to raise funds to help get those poor souls out of Russia and to raise public awareness of their plight. I remember wearing a pendant that bore the words “Let My People Go” and years later twinning my sons’ Bar Mitzvahs with 13 year old boys in Russia who could not get out, who could not celebrate openly as we could in the land of freedom, who could not live freely as Jews, whose families were imprisoned on false charges because they wanted to leave the Soviet Union. It was a very big thing then and Delysia courageously made perilous trips to Russia to see for herself and to do what she could.
When we saw Delysia again in February we knew something was wrong – she was a shadow of her former self, yet she was still working tirelessly for her cause. I wonder if she realised she had mere weeks to live; she knew she was sick, she told us she had cancer but when questioned she dismissed it as a nuisance, like one would flick a hand at a pesky fly. Please please read this tribute to her – it chronicles her life and her strength of character and determination and was written by someone who followed in her footsteps to help others, by someone who will miss her like everyone all over the world who got to know and respect and admire and love her. Her death leaves a void, an enormous loss to her family, her friends, her colleagues, her community and the many many thousands of people she saved. Future trips will not be the same without her.
I’m back on my travels and thankfully there’s no snow this weekend! Amazingly it’s been eight whole months since I was last in Israel, a long long time for me, although the children did come here in October. Of course I’m very very very excited. I won’t actually see my family until Thursday as I am heading straight to Jerusalem to do my thing there. I am so looking forward to meeting again the most awesome people I had the privilege and honour to meet last year; those who we, from a distance, support financially and spiritually who have gone through so much hardship and suffering – and of course meeting again with the wonderful people in Israel who give so much of themselves.
Hopefully I’ll find a little time to catch up with some friends whilst I’m there, but the actual days of the trip are jam-packed and hectic. One of the places we shall visit again is the excavated Southern Wall of the Temple. As moving as the Kotel (the Western Wall) can be the Southern excavations is a trip that anyone who is going to Israel should not miss. It never ceases to fascinate me – and I have been there a few times – to see how the people lived then – the road, the shops, the mikveh – and for me the most amazing experience is to walk the exact same steps the Priests and the people had walked to enter the Temple all those thousands of years ago.
Then I’m on to Ra’anana to meet my new grandson, Nadav Philip. The name Nadav means generous and noble and the name Philip has been passed down through Bridgitte’s father’s family for generations. I’m hoping to meet some friends there as well and even make new friends – more of that later!
Also in the meantime, there’s more news about the move, but that will also have to wait till I get back.
See you all in a couple of weeks.
lotsa luv ann x0x0x0x
Monday I dragged my feet like a reluctant and recalcitrant schoolgirl back to my writing class – a new term, a new class, a new teacher. I was trying to justify every good reason for a no show – the course had been paid for, the money long gone, but the bottom line was that I simply could not be bothered. Shopping lists, christmas cards, cheques, sporadic posts here and an odd (in every sense) comment there, just about sums up the extent of my writing since breaking up last November. You’d think with the number of vegetative days since the snows began I would have taken the opportunity to knuckle down and be creative – huh – it don’t work like that!
The fact is I felt I’d lost my mojo and couldn’t face sitting in a class of talented wannabes, my pen frozen in the air above the snowy white virgin sheet of paper and everyone else keen eager beavers. Still I did make it ; the new teacher is a darling, it was great to see friends from last term and some newbies. It was rather amusing seeing their young and enthusiastic faces enter the room – you could tell there was an element of shock when they saw the number of wrinklies and thought they were in the wrong place. However as for not writing, I was not alone – no one else had and we all felt the same!
You see I blame the weather. It’s odd how it changes one’s psyche. We’ve all heard of SAD, seasonal affective disorder – not that it particularly affects me apart from my usual moan that it goes against nature to get up from a warm cosy bed when it’s still dark out there. It’s the psychological affect of snow; the feeling of being cut off and isolated that equates with hibernation; the desire to hole up and hide away and basically do nothing. Now I live a fairly solitary life in any event, but somehow this is different.
Last Wednesday was horrendous and my plans were scuppered so I chilled indoors, cooked and wrote a post. By the time I got home from work last night, my road was ice free – the garden still pretty as a winter wonderland and the underlying perils gone.
Today is another Wednesday – another non-working day – another night of snow and we’re back to square 1!
As I’m typing, I’m watching it coming down from the warmth of my bed, the sky the same colour as the housetops and the road an ice rink again, but today I will not give in so easily. Wisdom dictates I don’t do the North Circular, so sorry mother, another day not taking you to Brent X – it wasn’t so much the getting there, but the getting home. Still this vegetating has to stop. Life has to go on.
Tonight I have a meeting about my next official trip to Israel – driving on icy roads is one thing, doing it at night and I’m a real wimp, but it’s important. Many of you will remember last year’s trip well I’m doing it again. I’m looking forward to finding out this year’s itinerary and meeting my fellow travellers. I should like to revisit Rachel’s Tomb and pray harder this time – I’ll leave it at that for now. I heard we’ll be visiting Sderot, rocket attacks permitting. I know this time round it will be a larger group, so I expect we shall have an armed escort and travel on a bullet-proof bus and I know we shall be seeing Liore again – I am very excited. If you have time, please see the video on her link – Liore shines with inner beauty, she is modest, she is brave, she is an angel.
No trip to Israel goes without seeing my family, so of course I shall be staying on. Actually most trips are only about seeing them and weddings, talking of which, Jon and Bridgitte celebrate their 6th anniversary tomorrow, the baby is due very very soon – like around Boaz’s birthday and he’s gonna be 5 next week – I can’t wait to see them all – so many wonderful blessings. Coincidentally Jamie was due on Jon’s birthday, a long long time ago, except he came early – my husband wanted me to hang in there so he would then be born on his birthday the following day – yeah right! As it was I ended up living in a household with three typical Aries men!
Now I really am gonna move myself – the chores and errands won’t go away and they don’t do themselves!
HOT OFF THE PRESS — just heard that probate has been granted on the home jamie and lucy want to buy – guess it looks like I really will be moving – heeeeeeelp!!!!!
One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: To rise above the little things ~ John Burroughs
New Year’s Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual ~ Mark Twain
Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right ~ Oprah Winfrey
Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true ~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850
Many people look forward to the new year for a new start on old habits ~ Author Unknown
A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other ~ Author Unknown
I know Christmas is not my festival, but it still ended up a very busy time indeed as my home turned into Hotel Chez Raven – again – bless my darling dearest and nearest – and I love it. Anyway although it’s not my holiday I want to thank all of you who included me at this time, for your thoughtfulness in sending me beautiful snail mail and email cards and good wishes; all gratefully and graciously appreciated – your friendship means a lot to me – thank you.
I’ve not been in the right frame of mind to write – my creative juices are just not flowing – the way I’m feeling right now I could simply regurgitate some of the old stuff – boring boring boring. Maybe it is all written in the stars and the waning moon and the flow of the tides. I remember much debate about the effects of a new millenium and boy did my life change then.
New Years Eve ten years ago, 1999, strolling along Fort Lauderdale promenade, my husband puffing on a cigar having just bought ‘us’ an apartment – little did I know what was in store. The last ten years saw many losses; my marriage, my home, my job, my father and many friends who passed far too young, but despite the sadness, I am still blessed and for that I am eternally thankful. I can’t say my cup is brimming over with happiness, but I’m not unhappy either – rather a sense of contentment and fulfilment. The joy for a mother to see her children happily married to loving, caring and respectful partners and the wonderful gift of a loving family and friends and the highlight of grandchildren cannot be underestimated or adequately measured and as long as they are all well and happy, what more can I ask for?
So what’s new for 2010? It’s probably just as well we don’t know what tomorrow brings, but for me I feel the time is right for a change of scene – they did it in Israel!
I really do fancy a new start – a blank canvas – gutting out rooms and remodelling, redecorating and refurnishing whilst I still have the energy and strength, but not this house – I do love it now and it has served me well – if I could lift it and move it I would. It is so true what they say – location location location is everything and living on an uninspiring characterless development is not where I wish to end my days. I’ve had my HIP done (no not that kind – a Home Information Pack) and in the new year I shall get the ball rolling.
As for other resolutions – humbug – nonsense – we don’t need a date to change or reflect or think of what was, what is, what might have been. We can look into our hearts and souls any day of the year; it’s never too late to change. As they say, out with the old (and the bad) – in with the new (and the good)!
Many many many many years ago on a beautiful sunny autumn day I impulsively bought myself a pair of fur lined (well – fluffy) snowboots that lived safe and dry and warm in the boot (trunk) of my car. They stayed pristine white and virginal for over seven years – they were like my own little insurance policy against that little dirty four letter word. If anyone is gonna slip and slide and fall on their face, or their tail, it’s sure to be yours truly. Snow is no friend of mine! Yuck, yuck, yuck!
I was upset yesterday – I couldn’t believe the weather. I frantically searched my shoe cupboards – I have a lot of them – for my now very mucky stained, well used and abused and trusted and very much loved boots. I don’t care what they look like, or how I look. If there’s one itsy bitsy snowflake on the path, I will not leave the house without them.
I don’t remember the last time it snowed in London in December and now tonight (Thursday) it’s really coming down. I’m still recovering from last February. Actually I’m not sure I ever shared this story with anyone in the blogosphere, but my friends and community dined out on it for months and people stopped me in the street and the supermarket and the butcher and the baker and told me they’d heard what happened.
Do you remember ten months ago when this country ground to a halt? Even I watched the weather channel that day which is quite something seeing I tell certain weather obsessed people (you know who you are) if you want to know what the weather’s like, turn off the tv and put your head out the front door. I was going to Israel again expecting to be almost snowed-in there like the previous February (2008) when I had to get out the Gush for meetings in Tel Aviv in time for my taxi driver to get me there and for him to get home before he got snowed-out!
Thankfully on the day of my departure the snow in my area was practically gone so, minus snowboots, we – that is me and Gary (a good friend and my trusty driver) left the house at 6.00 a.m. We had barely gone 5 minutes when the traffic report came on to say Luton Airport was closed. We’d heard the north of the country would be snowbound, but I guess when they talked north they meant north of London. I tried to call the airport but only got pre-recorded messages so we battled on. The motorways were chock-a-block and gridlocked because of jack-knifed lorries so Gary assured me he knew another way – huh – a route that had not been gritted. Not totally unsurprising since the big news was the country had run out of salt and grit!!!
We got stuck so many times and slid all over the place. Hours later we neared Luton only to be waved down and told not to go on a particular road since nothing had moved in almost two hours. Grateful for the information, Gary reassured me again that he knew yet another way, so we unstuck ourselves in reverse and miraculously got out of there. The next road, an alternative route to the airport, had also not been gritted and was a sheet of ice. All the cars were sliding all over the place and nothing was making progress. We looked at each other and I said I felt sick, not bad traveller’s kinda sick, but scary sick and Gary had visibly paled and confessed he felt the same. He was not his usual chippy chirpy self. We had no choice – we had to abandon the car and walk the rest of the way. Gary, bless him, said the arrangement was for him to get me to the airport and so he did.
It was freezing – the snow was almost up to our knees – okay I exaggerate a little – my knees, his calves! What a gentleman – my hero – he schlepped my case and 45 minutes and a mile-and-a-half walk later two very wet and bedraggled souls entered the airport. My first port of call, the ladies, to get out of soaking wet socks, trainers and jeans. Many airlines had actually cancelled all flights; mine hadn’t and eventually, hours late, we took off – the atmosphere and camaraderie at the airport and on the flight was fantastic, but please please please, I would not want to experience that again. I came home two weeks later and everyone knew – Gary, my super-uber-hero had told everyone. I did reward him well – he was worth it.
So, back to today – that is if I get this posted, since my lights are flickering and I’m watching Grumpy Old Women at Christmas – they are so funny and it’s funny watching Maureen Lipman and Leslie Joseph, two prominent Jewish personalities, moaning about their Christmas preparations. Sorry, got distracted.
A good friend’s daughter, Sarah, is getting married this Sunday – oh and Rachel is bridesmaid again – just thought I’d mention it. Well they have been friends since nursery school. Rachel and Sarah were Gemma’s bridesmaids. Sarah and Gemma were Rachel’s. So Rachel and Gemma are Sarah’s. Aaaaah! A lot of Sarah’s family live in Israel and are flying in today and I’m putting two of her cousins and spouses up for Shabbat – that is, if they get here. The wind is howling and it is snowing – horrid – ghastly – freezing – wet – cold – settling on the ground – my road is an ice rink – that kinda snow, not the pretty pretend stuff on this page.
I’m praying they get here safely. I’m praying everyone gets to the wedding safely – especially the bride and groom. I’m wondering how my snowboots will look with my evening gown…
… and I’ve just booked to go to Israel again this February – with my snowboots!