From Israel: “Holding Fast, Eyes Forward!!”

Let me begin with a note to all of those who have written to me about my last posting.  I thank you for your gracious words; please understand that it is difficult for me to respond to everyone.


Late last week, we were told that negotiations for a unity government were continuing intensively, so that everything might be resolved by Sunday. And I believe Netanyahu and Gantz did proceed with some vigor, although it required shouting across a distance because the prime minister—having been near Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, who developed coronavirus—is in quarantine.

Credit: AFP/Jack Guez, Oded Balilty

Then on Sunday we were told there would be no finalization until after Pesach. This announcement was accompanied by reports that Gantz might ask Rivlin for an extension in his mandate – it expires next Monday, during Pesach.  

The extension is not automatic and Rivlin has not made a final decision on this.


In any event, the two sides continued to make every effort to finalize everything before Pesach.  It appeared that they were going to make it, but as I write there is a glitch:

What apparently has been decided is the issue of application of sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and communities in Judea and Samaria: This will be on hold for some two months and then can be brought for a vote. If that happens, it appears that it would pass, because there are those who are not part of Likud or the right wing more broadl, but who would still be for it: Hauser and Hendler, Levy-Abekasis, and even the six members of Yisrael Beitenu.  In due course, let us pray that this moves forward as it should.

What has turned out to be more problematic in negotiations is the issue of the makeup of the committee that appoints justices to the High Court.  This is a very serious issue, because if the process for selection favors the left, we will end up with justices who undo part of what has been accomplished with right wing effort, and will block other actions we might fervently hope for.  (At the appropriate time, I will visit this in some further detail.)

Netanyahu had agreed to certain parameters regarding the committee, and then, because of protest and pressure from the right wing, asked to renegotiate the matter.  This did not sit well with Gantz, who declared negotiations stalemated.  

Apparently there had been agreements worked out on major portfolios, but these will not be announced unless there is a final agreement.  (There have been leaks, which have caused me considerable unease, but they are leaks, not final announcements.)


The situation may shift in a matter of hours, or a day.  But I prefer to put this posting out now.

Next week, as I will not be with family and friends, but home avoiding exposure to coronavirus, I will have ample time to do further writing.

I prefer to turn now to Pesach, which begins Wednesday night. Elections come and elections go, but the Jewish People and the story of its founding, marked in the Pesach story, endures eternally.  Perhaps it’s my isolation, and the time it affords me for contemplation. I only know that the hierarchy of what is most important to us has never been clearer.

I share here a link to a short video teaching on the purpose of the seder by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who has been putting out some fantastic stuff.


Rabbi Sacks says that the Jewish people have the most tenacious identity in history, made all the more remarkable by the fact that we were exiled from our land for millennia.

In order to hold on to that identity, he says, we must tell our story through the generations.  We must know who we are, and what our values are.  Thus can we achieve continuity.

The Pesach seder does this.

Credit: Chabad Bloomsbury


We will have a full lockdown over Pesach here in Israel, to ensure that people don’t go to large seders and increase possibilities for contagion.  But then, after Pesach, says Bibi, if the numbers are looking good, there will be an easing of restrictions a little at a time.

It is a strange thing, indeed, to make seder alone, as I am preparing to do.   But I know I am in the company of thousands of others in the same situation.  By cooperating in this, we are helping to eradicate a great threat to the nation.  And in spirit, certainly, none of us is alone!

I pray now for the health of our nation, and for the ability of America to fight back the horrendous onslaught of coronavirus.  I pray that a vaccine and various treatments will be developed quickly.  And for the recovery of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, along with many, many others.

Those hard working, dedicated medical staff and first responders who are dealing with corona deserve our great gratitude.  Blessings upon them!


To each of you, whether celebrating alone or with family or friends, I wish a Pesach Kasher v’Sameach!

It is my minhag (my custom) to put a link in my posting to Vehi She’Amada, from the Hagaddah.  The words are sung:

And it is this that has stood for our forefathers and us. For not just one enemy has stood against us to wipe us out. But in every generation there have been those who have stood against us to wipe us out, and the Holy One Blessed Be He saves us from their hands.

What is “this”? Almighty’s promise to take us out of the land of Egypt, some say.  Or, alternately, our covenant with Hashem.

A few years ago, Yonaton Razel did an arrangement of Yehi She’amada that is very popular.  (I love it.)  

Credit: Ohad Romano

Very often it is sung by Yaakov Shwekey, for whom this has become a trademark song.  

Credit: Courtesy

Here I present a video of him singing, accompanied by gorgeous pictures of Israel.


My gift to each of you (with a nod to Greybeard).


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.