Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

Welcome all you Jewish people!

On Monday evening, I entered the packed hangar in Tel Aviv’s port not sure if indeed, I was in Israel.  I spotted a guy wearing a cap saying”Trump will make America great again”I did not hear one person or couple and there were many, speaking Hebrew.

I had come to hear American comedienne and actress Roseanne Barr and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “in conversation”. Shmuel “Shmuley” Boteach is an American Orthodox Jewish rabbi, author, TV host and public speaker. Boteach is the author of 30 books, including Kosher Sex: A Recipe for Passion and Intimacy, published in 1999, and Kosher Jesus, published in 2012.

I  came to the nascent State of Israel during 1949, due to deep and profound beliefs that this where I wanted to spend my life contributing to society, but I am fascinated by controversy.

True I was a child of WW2 in England, but the holocaust was not what motivated me. It was the leftist (Marxist?) Hashomer Hatzair Movement, which instilled in me a sense of purpose and where indeed I met many young people from Germany and Austria, who had escaped to the UK, during the forties.

I know that I am Jewish, I do not need to be convinced and yet Boteach opened his address to the audience as follows  “Welcome to all you Jewish people.” How did he know that ONLY JEWISH people would be in the audience?

Indeed most of the evening was about being Jewish and the price we pay for that in gentile society. On a brighter note, he emphasised: “TRUMP loves Jews and Israel”. He went on to say “Isn’t his daughter, who converted to Judaism so that she could marry a Jew, beautiful?” Furthermore, he continued to make his point “the President of the USA has Jewish grandchildren”.

Jessica Steinberg well-known journalist at the Times of  Israel carried out her role by asking direct but not provocative questions and kept her cool during answers which were anything but.

He spoke about the reasons why members of his and Roseanne’s family were in Israel for family celebrations. Also again glowingly about President Trump who’s action in moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem was the inspiration for their coming. This too received an ovation from the audience.

Roseanne had been introduced as the creator of America’s most popular radio and TV series’ ever and Shmuely as one of the world’s leading advocates for Israel!

Roseanne was also erudite on the subject of Torah teachings. Jessica mentioned the Jewish attitude to caring and sharing when they both announced that they were going to the Syrian border to share the pain of the persecuted Syrians. They added how proud they were, that for humanitarian and medical reasons  Israel is aiding victims of Assad’s terror. There was no mention of their Druse brothers, Israel citizens who live a hands breath across the border.

Shmuely said “We Jews are a light unto the nations”

He went on to say that he did not know that Roseanne was Jewish and when they met some years ago, he was amazed to find such a loyal, proud, impassioned Jew. Especially one who was a household name in the USA.

This reminded me of the late Chaim Herzog, such a different kind of Anglo-Jew.with whom I worked closely at one time.

I was trying to convince him, the son of the former Chief Rabbi of Ireland and then Israel, of my anxiety about the rift between Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews. I went over the top with my belief that all Jews were brothers and sisters.

Chaim laughed at me and told me the following story about Louella Parsons the famous American gossip columnist who went to interview  His Highness the Pope. She had been in his chamber for more time than is usual.  Eventually,  a concerned aide knocked on the door and entered. He could not believe his eyes when he saw Louella hanging on to the Pope’s cross and  His Highness saying  “BUT LOUELLA, I AM A CATHOLIC.”

Every time the word Jews and Jewish was mentioned I could recall that scene.

Jessica mentioned “caring and sharing” but not one word was mentioned about any other people living here, all evening. Only of how Jews are always concerned about the pain of others and the well being of mankind.

At one point when Roseanne paused for breath and to wipe away the tears when she described the aftermath of a nasty twitter about Valerie Jarret an Afro- American diplomat who had been prominent in Obama’s administration. She then referred to a former female colleague for whom she had gone to bat and who after the “twitter” incident had turned on her, as being manic. At that point, a distinguished silver-haired man jumped up from the front of the hall and shouted: “YOU ARE MANIC”.  Strangely he had a South African accent. He continued with some more indecipherable comments, with vociferous reaction from the hostile crowd. Eventually, he was ejected from the hall.

This was the only negative reaction to anything said.  Almost every other statement about JEWS or Jewish State was received with tremendous applause. In closing Boteach repeated we must thank Trump for recognizing Jerusalem as the CAPITAL of our home. His home or mine? He went on, arrogant people those who condemn and work against us, are ignorant. They are the most dangerous.

At question time, many of the audience whom after announcing from where they originated and how long they had been in Israel, said that they had been inspired by Trump’s actions. Most had only been in the country for a few years.  I who was sitting near to the stage, raised my hand. The organiser of the event who was handing the mike to members of the audience must have seen the “halo shining on the head of the thief ” as they say. He ignored me totally. My question would have been, “Why did neither of you make Aliyah?

About the Author
Zelda Harris first came to Israel 1949, aged 18. After living through the hardships of the nascent state, she returned to England in 1966. She was a founding member of the Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry. In 1978, she returned with her family to Israel and has been active in various spheres of Israeli Society since. Together with the late Chaim Herzog, she founded CCC for Electoral Reform, was the Director of BIPAC in Israel, and a co-founder of Metuna, the Organisation for Road Safety, which received the Speaker of Knesset Quality of Life Award for saving lives on the roads and prevention of serious injury. She is now a peace activist, blogger for Times of Israel and is writing her life story.