The Jewish community appears to be accosted from all sides.
On Friday, the Church Times called for sanctions against Israel through its letters page
disallowing a letter from Anglican Friends of Israel, which put the Gaza situation in context:
Meanwhile, on Sunday, an auxiliary nurse who attends a local church and comes to me for Hebrew lessons, spoke of her despair at the behaviour of violent pickets she had endured on her way to work at St. Mary's Hospital (where I was born). These pickets were targetting the BBC for declining to broadcast the charities' Gaza Appeal.
Brenda told me that most of the pickets appeared to be very pro Palestinian and some were chanting anti-Jewish slogans as well.
Meanwhile, on the same day, BBC Radio 4's Sunday Programme led with the story of Bishop Richard Williamson, an Englishman and recalcitrant Holocaust-denier, who's been invited back into the fold by His Holiness, the present Pope, despite being a fervent Lefebvrian - and thus going against the spirit of Vatican II. The two people interviewed on Radio 4 were very upset at this news:
But one prominent Catholic with whom I discussed the matter appeared to dismiss it as of little importance and instead expressed her very great concern at the situation in Gaza and the vast amount of arms she said had been delivered to Israel by this country. For one moment I wondered whether it was better to be Israeli or British, and then remembered I was both.
But there is always an upside. The family of Mayer, a survivor of Buchenwald, who had just died in his home round the corner to mine, had been comforted by that Radio 4 programme, which they had managed to hear at 7.10 am in the morning.
The family said it was essential that Holocaust Education carried on, as the small band of Holocaust survivors was now slowly dying and soon there would be none left to tell the tale.
Then I received a letter from the Muslim-Christian Forum, deploring the huge amount of anti-semitic daubings and slogans which have suddenly sprung up in our area, and asking what they could do to help.
In addition to this, the extension on my temporary Israeli passport arrived, thanks to the sterling efforts of the Headmaster of the King David School and his wife, despite operating under siege conditions themselves, due to the situation here in Manchester.
When I told them the document had arrived, they were no less than ecstatic about the news! So I shall be able to attend my daughter's wedding in Israel after all!
Today, I walked past our shul and was absolutely thrilled to see the tiny blue and gold chuppa in its grounds, with simple seating around it, awaiting the arrival of guests to that particular wedding:
As I walked, I pondered on a couple of shiurim I'd attend over the weekend concerned with this week's parsha: Pharaoh and the Plagues of Egypt. One midrash relates to the letter heh. Why does it have three sides; a large opening below; and a tiny opening on the top left? So that people who leave the 'way' are able to come back, albeit if only through the side door:
And why did God harden Pharaoh's heart? Because if you close your own heart and mind for long enough, the habit sets in and free will goes out the window.
And then, last night, our shul put on our very own Burns Night.
Despite anti-Israel pickets oustide BBC Scotland and the Church of Scotland's ongoing aversion to Israel, Scotland and its people would have been proud of the efforts made by our shul to honour their national poet in his 250th anniversary year.
Posters of Scotland adorned the walls, as we entered, dressed in tartan (mostly). The piper piped us into dinner, where the haggis was splendiferously addressed by one of our most prominent Scottish members. In between Cock=a=Leekie Soup, Haggis wi Bashit Neeps An' Champit Tatties, Chicken and Alloway Sauce, we drank a fair bit of whiskey and listened to a plethora of hilarious Scottish Jews, who entralled us with tales of Rabbi Burns and his Yiddish poems.
We also attempted the quiz, which asked such questions as:
What is the name of Scotland in Gaelic?
Where is the home of golf?
Who wrote Peter Pan?
How long is a Scottish mile?
Who said: 'The greatest thing about Glasgow is that if there's a nuclear attack, it will look exactly the same afterwards?'
Name the 2 Scottish Dr. Who's
and many other such gems.
But the best question of all was:
Who wrote: 'Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive'?
Now, who could he have been referring to: Hamas, or Holocaust-deniers?
And then, after we were asked to toast Sir Gerald Kaufmann - thoroughly - we all sang Auld Lang Syne - in Yiddish: