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Leon's No Newsletter 71Israel Land of contrasts

Jews, Christians, Moslems in the Via Dolorosa

Original Title: Perceptions and misconceptions

Shalom everyone,

Israel is a country of contrasts where both religious and non religious can live happily side by side without the one forcing its ideas on the other.

For example last Sunday we stayed at a religious kibbutz in the Galilee, simple and comfortable, solid down to earth food and modesty everywhere; modestly attired young ladies at the reception, modest beige and cream décor, quietly spoken men and women mostly dressed in black waiting patiently to register.

The next night, Haifa was a complete contrast, a choice of French, Italian and American cuisine awaited us near the hotel, young ladies in beauty accentuating attire, highlighted by an ultra modern pink flashed, and deep blue mural on peach and light green colored walls, behind them.

The cinema next door showed the "rendezvous" by Claude Lelouche. It was about a reputedly wanton woman calmed and made happy by a reputed pedophile.

This movie is an important contribution to shattering the usual human error of judging people by appearances and our erroneous inclination of making appearances fit wrong preconceptions which we pick up on the news or from "so called" friends, whose sole objective in being our friends is to malign someone we might like but who they want us to dislike either for some mysterious reason known only to themselves or as a means of ingratiating themselves by telling some scandal about someone we've never met. Then when we really meet that person we scorn him on the basis of what we've heard our so called friend tell about him.

After parking the Viano in Brandeis Street, a small, beautiful residential area of the top of Mt. Carmel, and seeing the parking meter swallow my 5 shekels without issuing the required paid parking notice to put in the window, I returned to my room where I munched a hamburger while watching the news which was all about Haim Yevin, the famous Israeli broadcaster who was retiring.

He has been forming our opinions about everything that's happened in Israel and about our leaders from the time of Golda Meir in the 1960's to the time of Prime Minister Olmert (2008 and still going strong).

From now on our opinions will be formed by two youthful newscasters. They will only succeed in influencing us about future events and leaders if we don't change our opinions which their predecessors like Yevin gave us about leaders of the past.

I traveled 2 hrs to the Open University in Ranaana last Friday to hear how Rabbi Judah Nasi, of Tsipori, the compiler of the Mishna in the 3rd century helped the Jewish People adapt to the new circumstances of being a nation without a temple, without a capital and a homeland ruled by Rome.

According to Prof Aaron Openheimer* Rabbi Judah Nasi wanted to put the temple behind him, he even tried to cancel the fast of Tisha B'Av and other fasts relating to the destruction of the temple. The is probably the origin of the prohibitions against performing national ceremonies that used to take place in the temple, like sacrificing animals, blowing the shofar and playing musical instruments in synagogues.

After the lecture, being informed by Ariel that, Ophir, my grandson, would be sleeping until 4 o'clock, I took off, in the rain for the "petiliya" (paraffin burning primus stove), where the intoxicating, oriental, odor of spice and "pitsuchim" (mixture of nuts and grains used for snacking while watching our mind befuddling TV's) stalls, wafted over a deliciously confusing mixture of both simple and elegant, umbrella carrying and soaking wet, curious, Friday morning strollers.

They couldn't fool me even though I had a table on the sidewalk (covered), in easy eye distance; the women had been working hard to make themselves pretty so that they would attract me from the pleasure I was having with my 39 shekel goulash in Levinsky Str. I was having none of that and returned speedily to the Holy City.

Avishai, my son the cook also recommends the Persian restaurant in Zevulun Str. nearby. This coming week I hope to be able to report on the soup restaurant in Shehunat Hatikva (suburb of Tel Aviv) made famous in a Friday night TV report about unusual restaurants in Tel Aviv.

Wishing you a great no news day

Yours truly.


· The great spiritual leaders of Judaism – Rabbi Judah the Prince by Aharon Oppenheimer published by Shazar Center for History

. גדולי הרוח והיצירה בעם היהודי: רבי יהודה הנשיא מאת: אהרן אופנהיימר עורך הסדרה: אביעזר רביצק

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