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From Faneuil Hall to Jerusalem
Last uploaded : Wednesday 31st Mar 2004 at 22:00
Contributed by : Sheila Raviv


Today my daughter in-law Karen sent me an article by Alan Dershowitz in which he talks about his awful confrontation when leaving Faneuil Hall. Many Americans become angry with me when I tell them about the "Hate Fests" and anti-Semitic/Israel demonstrations and meetings which are becoming more and more prevalent on America's campuses. The cry is "The English are anti-Semitic but it can never happen in the USA". I wish they were right.

We have beaten far greater challenges than this one and we will beat this one too, but we have to recognise its existence first. One culprit of the situation is the very basis of American society, and indeed British society: the right to free speech. Culprit yes, but to deny that right is equally abhorrent. Somehow we have to find the balance between free speech and incitement to hatred....we will find one because we have no choice.

Alan Dershowitz is not silenced by bullies; I know for a fact he is lecturing in Sydney, Australia today and if a brilliant little red-headed Jewish lawyer who makes a terrific target isn't bowed or cowed by this....neither should we be!

We have to stand up, declare and be proud of what we are. The power of one is greatest when all the "ones" join into a strong and vocal group. In Italy the Moslem leaders resisted threats, stood up and spoke out against the destruction of the Islamic moral code by the Moslem Fundamentalists who preach death and destruction. Indeed today, in the Jerusalem Municipality, my husband Zvi met with the Director of Sport for the Rome Municipal Area and three Roman runners. The runners, a Jew, a Christian and a Moslem intend running for peace around Jerusalem tomorrow. They want athletes from Israel and the Arab countries to meet in Rome and compete through sport, not arms. What a glorious idea!

As Passover approaches the kitchen cupboards are gleaming and await the contents of the large plastic bags of Passover food -- Matzo meal, potato flour, matzos (unleavened bread), specially labeled foods of all types -- filling my office until the morning of Passover. The special Passover dishes always surprise me. They give everything a sense of change and newness. I love the traditions which accompany this festival; even the food carries beautiful memories as each delicacy reminds me of a family member.

My Grandfather, my Zeidy, used to make two things for the Seder table. The charoseth or combining which introduces the Paschal story is lovingly true to his recipe. "Grate three firm crisp apples, add just enough ground almonds to bind, one leaf of crispy lettuce finely shredded and then mix it all together with a little red wine and cinnamon." Perfect. I still remember how my Mummy used to send him outside to the garden when he grated the horseradish which reminds us of the bitter times. When we helped him grate the fiery root it was a challenge not to cry bitter tears for bitter herbs! Chopped fried fish balls; fluffy Passover pancakes; Matzo brai which defies explanation to the uninitiated all take me back to my childhood, this is the stuff of tradition. Tosh! to cholesterol and diets!!!!

The Seder table is the setting for a story of bravery, belief and fortitude over slavery and intolerance. The foods are merely symbols of victory over intolerable conditions leaving slavery behind and the long journey to the Land of Milk and Honey, to Israel. My Dad's yearly repeated question was, "How many times does Moses appear in the Haggada? (Passover story)" I'm not telling you the answer! My father and children roaring with laughter at Auntie Helen's recounting of the 4 questions in Yiddish. I love the very fact that we start the night with 4 questions which ask "Why is this night different from all other nights?". Then the story. The relating of the story is even more relevant than it was 10 years ago; it is a recurring relevance because we tend to forget that it applies today, to us and to our daily lives.

We are prone to forget that we are a brave people who have overcome so many tribulations that we are more than capable of turning the tide of what is happening in the world today. Just as Alan Dershowitz said:

'I will not be silenced nor intimidated. The shouters know that. Their
goal is to silence and intimidate others, who do not get police protection and do not have access to the media. Let the debate about Israel and the Palestinians continue unabated. Let all views be heard. The shouters in front of Faneuil Hall wanted no views but their own to be seen and heard. They succeeded that day in front of Faneuil Hall, as they have on some university campuses, but the marketplace of ideas is far too vibrant to be shut down by a bunch of self-righteous thugs shouting ugly and bigoted epithets...' (end of Dershowitz quote.)

Don't be silenced, read the story of Passover and be proud of what you are. Just remember what we say when the story is read and the food consumed:

L'Shana Ha Ba'ah B'Yerushalyim

Next Year in Jerusalem

I will be waiting for you with open arms.
Sheila Raviv is our Jerusalem correspondent.


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