Friday, December 31, 2010

~Day 40~

40~ the number of years wandering in the desert. The unbelieving generation died and the next generation inherited the promise. A new start. A new life.

40~ the number of weeks of gestation of a human baby's birth. A new start. A new life.

40~ the number of days that Moshe fasted and was on the Mountain, receiving the Torah, the covenant, the renewal of the promises made with Avraham. A new start. A new life. 

40 days with The 2 Spies are not nearly as significant as those listed, but the hope is all the same for the readers. Aliyah.  A new start. A new life.  

The 2 Spies are many. We have come back to the Land. We made a decision for the future generations. We changed the destiny of our children and grandchildren. We are watching as the next generations grab hold of the promise in such beautiful and natural ways. Their fluency in language and culture. Their ability to rejoice in their G-d. They are a part of the fiber of this Land building it and helping shape the future. Their roots are going deep, never to be transplanted again. 

There is a place in the Land for every Jewish person. It already has your name on it. It will remain vacant until you make the decision. We are waiting. Let us know when you are arriving. We will meet you at the airport and rejoice at your homecoming.  A new start. A new life.

This is what the LORD Almighty says: "I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west.  I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God." Zechariah 8:7,8

Thursday, December 30, 2010

~Day 39~ By the Rivers of Bablyon

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.  There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"  How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget [its skill].  May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy. Psalm 137:1-6
diaspora~ scattering of a people from their national homeland.  
Diaspora~ for Jewish people, anyplace outside Israel. 
For various reasons at various times, we were scattered, pushed out, expelled from the Land. In dispersion to Babylon the thoughts of the exiles is voiced well in the verses above. Heartbroken, no reason to sing joyful praises to HaShem, we hung up our harps and mourned. Our hearts pined away over the Glory of Jerusalem and all that we had lost. 

And yet, when the 70 year exile was over, many did not return to Jerusalem. They had forgotten the former Glory. They had enjoyed the exile and would not go up to the Land. They had gained wealth and position and were not willing to leave and be reunited with the true reason for their existence~ to worship G-d and be a Light to the Nations. 
In the Book of Ezra, there is a list, by name, of those who did return to Jerusalem. A detailed telling of the faithful ones who had the joy and privilege to go up to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple.
Our question today is, which list would you be on? The ones who stayed back, or the ones who returned?  Oh that your hearts would grasp the depth of the Creator's great love for you to call you His People and give you His best. Israel. 

We will end today with this poem written by a Jewish physican, poet and philosopher ~ Yehudah ha-Levi. He lived in Spain and felt deeply the bonds of diaspora living and the strong passions for Jerusalem. He died just after arriving in Jerusalem in 1141.
A Longing to Return to the Land of Israel
A poem by Yehudah ha-Levi
My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west.
How can I find savor in food? How shall it be sweet to me?
How shall I render my vows and my bonds, while yet
Zion lieth beneath the fetter of Edom, and I in Arab chains?
A light thing would it seem to me
to leave all the good things of Spain -
Seeing how precious in mine eyes
to behold the dust of the desolate sanctuary.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

~Day 38~ Demographics~

Israel National News

According to several news reports, there has been an increase in Aliyah of 16% the past two years after several years of decline. There are many factors for the increase including finally opening the doors to the Ethiopian community and increasing education about Israel to western countries. Even though The 2 Spies are obviously very happy about the increase, let's look at this numbers game in a different light.

A 2001 census placed the number of Jews in the world at 13.3 million.  4.9 million of those live in Israel. That means that 8.3 million live in the diaspora.  If we continue at the rate of 20,000 Jews making Aliyah a year ~not counting the number of Israelis that are leaving Israel or the projected birthrate~ at this rate, the Aliyah will be complete in only.... 415 years!

In the history of the Aliyah, the times when there has been a monumental increase in Aliyah has usually been for two reasons. Those who had long wanted to make Aliyah but couldn't ~ like in the former U.S.S.R, Ethiopians, Bnei Menashe~ once the way was open for them, came in mass. In 1989, the doors to the Russian Jews were open and 500,000 came the first year.

The other reason for a spike in Aliyah is persecution. Any time the antisemitism increases in a country, the Aliyah will also increase. History has shown over and over again, that as long as the Jewish people are allowed to live side-by-side without trouble, we usually do not move to Israel. As soon as the nations become dangerous, we move. (see November 12 blog 'A Safe Place')

Both of these reasons for coming to Israel are understandable, but also a very sad statement to those who have been given the freedom of choice, time and again we choose to NOT come home. We identify more with the Diaspora than with Torah and our G-d. This 40 days of reporting the lovely things about Israel and Aliyah is almost coming to a close. The harsh reality, is that most of you who are reading this, who are Jewish, will still not make a quality decision to prepare to come to Israel. The more harsh reality, is that G-d has not only promised this as our home, He demands it to be so. Because of this, the time will come when your home country will no longer welcome you. The place of your identity and security will reject you. If you wait that long, hopefully it will not be too late.

The 2 Spies deepest desires are that you will hear and be compelled to obey. Come while you are free to make your own choices. Come while you are able to bring your wealth with you. Come in peace and not in flight. HaShem will have His way one way or the other. How much more enjoyable to participate with Him rather than in spite of Him.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

~Day 37~ Hebrew~

"Every 14 days a language dies. By 2100, more than half of the more than 7,000 languages spoken on Earth—many of them not yet recorded—may disappear, taking with them a wealth of knowledge about history, culture, the natural environment, and the human brain.

Language defines a culture, through the people who speak it and what it allows speakers to say. Words that describe a particular cultural practice or idea may not translate precisely into another language. Many endangered languages have rich oral cultures with stories, songs, and histories passed on to younger generations, but no written forms. With the extinction of a language, an entire culture is lost."  National Geographic

Hebrew, The language of the Torah. Only in the last 100 years the language of the Jewish people in Israel.The 'resurrection' of the Hebrew language as a daily language was brought about almost solely by one man~Eliezer Ben-Yehuda. Known as the Father of Modern Hebrew, Eliezer said, “I read somewhere that we Jews speak seventy different languages, yet not one of us speaks our own language,” quoted from page 48 in his biography, “Tongue of the Prophets”, by Robert St. John.

Eliezer Ben-Yehuda spent his life resurrecting the Hebrew language for the Jewish people. He knew that the nation of Israel could never become a ‘country on its own’ if it did not have a common language. Once he grasped the vision of a national tongue, Hebrew became the only language spoken in his home. The task was daunting, but he gave his life to it and within 40 years, succeeded.

Hebrew defines the culture, the religious life, and the rich inheritance we have as Jews with a history that dates to Creation. With the promise of returning us from the four-corners of the world, Hebrew unites the immigrants with the rest of the country and begins, after a manner,  cleansing and washing the heart and mind of the diaspora. By embracing Hebrew, we embrace our true identity as People of the Book. The ones with whom G-d has made His covenant.

Learning Hebrew easier said than done for most people. But that story is for another day....

Eliezer Ben-Yehuda

Sunday, December 26, 2010

~Day 35~ 6 Million Reasons~

There have always been those who have hated the Jewish people. Throughout the centuries there have been pogroms, persecutions and murders. The driving force is to rid the world of any influence of the People of the Book. The onslaught has been consistent and insidious. From century to century. But not one campaign has succeeded. Those who carry and breed the venom of Jew-hatred do not understand one simple yet massive truth. There is a covenant with the Jewish people made by the G-d of heaven and earth. He has promised that they will always stand before Him and their people will be uncountable. Any who have come against the Jewish people do not realize that they come against the Creator of the Universe. They may try, but they will never succeed.

When we make Aliyah, accepting our part in the covenant relationship between G-d and Avraham, we step into a world full of blessing. We move from the stifling diaspora, which is not where we are meant to live, into the near Garden of Eden of Israel~ which is our perfect environment. It is here that we reach our fullest potential. It is here our gifts and talents are magnified. From this place, our wings ~ which were clipped in the galut~ are now free to grow and we are able to soar to greater heights.

In the shadow of the Holocaust this nation was birthed. Every person who makes the commitment to enter the land, gives a living memorial to those who suffered and died. Each step we take here is shouting to the world 'You did NOT succeed!' Every child that is born, each harvest that is gleaned, all the innovation that comes from those living here~ all is the counter-balance to the Enemies of Israel. Our greatest weapon against antisemitism is to grab hold of the Promise and make it our own. We who thrive in the Land are the reflection of the G-d of Heaven and His kept promises.

Friday, December 24, 2010

~ Day 34~ Shabbat Shalom

Shabbat. An island in time. A suspended place set apart for just you and your Beloved.

Turn everything off. Strip off the need to run helter-skelter. Put to death the tyranny of the urgent.

Come away and remember. Slip away and renew. Enter into that place of Rest.

Shabbat Shalom

Click here~ Anachnu Ma'aminim

We are Believers, children of Believers
and we don't have anyone on whom to rely
Except Our Father
Who is in heaven
Yisrael, Yisrael trust on HaShem
He is your help and your shield

~Day 33~ Comfort ~

Living in Israel is like living in no other country. With which of the nations did G-d, the Creator of the universe make an eternal covenant? In which country has He placed a city where He says He will dwell? Where are the people He has set apart as His own unique treasure? 

Daily The 2 Spies are exceedingly grateful at the chesed, grace, that G-d has shown by allowing us to live here in the Land. None of us completely understands why we have been given this honor and responsibility. But we are humbled by it and thoughtfully live out our days here.

There are times, like this week, when events are enough to break one's heart. Sometimes we feel caught up in the rolling tide of life and circumstance that we wonder that we don't drown. Perspective is hard to retain. True reality almost impossible to keep in focus.

Sitting in a concert last night of Handel's Messiah, the truth of Torah came to restore reality and focus. From the beginning chorus ~Nachamu ami ~  Comfort my people ~ we were reminded of the Covenant keeping G-d who is not moved by circumstance. He is fully aware and in charge. There are no surprises for Him. And as such, resting on the Everlasting Arms there are no surprises for us. There is comfort for the broken hearted. There is rest for the weary and there is Hope for the future. The Future is already written and He is already there.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

~Day 32~ Bits and Pieces

I enjoy making quilts. I'm not very good at it but I enjoy it none the less. There is a sense of settled-ness and satisfaction watching it all come together. A little of this joined together with a little of that and together it makes one big lovely quilt. Taken individually, some patches are downright ugly. But laid next to other more vibrant cloths, they take on a whole new look.

Life is like a patch-work. The next few days, we are going to share a little of the patches that make up Israel. Disconnected pieces, but put together they are our life here. Consider the joy at noticing and experiencing this for your self. Consider making the decision to come to Israel and become a Master Quilt Maker for life.

Arik Shoosberger 1908-2004
~~ Life is precious. Life is extremely precious in Israel. When someone passes there is an essence of making certain that they are not forgotten. That the reality of their existence is not forgotten. Memorials take many forms in the Land. Hospital wings dedicated to loving parents, beautiful gardens to fallen soldiers. When out walking the other day, we say this memorial on a bench on a side-street. Why that particular location, we don't know. But Arik Shoosberger, who lived from 1908-2004 has a reminder to all who pass that he was alive~ and valued by someone.~~

~~There is a unique pleasure in learning Hebrew. In having the song of the language around you. At seeing it printed everywhere and being able to read it. Being a beginner, I don't always understand what I read... but I can read it none-the-less. English is taking more and more of a place in the public eye. The sign to the right obviously got my attention. The interesting thing with this sign... the English is NOT the translation for what is written in Hebrew. ("private parking, car inside") The 2 Spies are wondering if only those that know English are likely to ignore the sign and park here?? ~~

~~Strolling past the memorial bench, laughing at the parking sign, I came around the corner to a lovely little cafe'. Israel is FULL of lovely little cafes each trying to be unique to draw you in. This cafe (don't remember the name) truly got my attention.  On a table outside the front window was a table with milk crates full of old 33rpm records. Those are round plastic discs that are placed on a machine, called a record player. An arm with a needle is lowered onto the record and the music is then heard through the speakers. (That definition may not be needed but just in case...)
I asked the waiter if we were allowed to listen to them. Here you see him putting on my choice to play. I enjoyed a tasty lunch while listening to a bit of 'The Swingle Singers'.~~
Click here to enjoy the music Swingle Singers ~ Bach

~~ Returning home and delivering the children to their parents this little cutie was grazing on the grass on the street where they live. I used to think this such an odd sight. Along with the camels who would be tethered in the empty lot next to the school Or the herd of sheep that cross in the middle of the highway stopping all traffic (the one time I've never heard the drivers honk) This little guy is from just over the hill. There are families of Bedouin who have their tents just outside the village. When they are not using the burros, they are allowed to wander. So, up the hill they come and eat from the gardens in front of the houses. They know where all the good spots are and return often.~~

~~ Last 'Bit & Piece' for today. An all too common site and one that we hope will disappear one day. Nuff said~~

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

~Day 31~ Your Input ~

The main purpose of The 2 Spies blog is to encourage those who are eligible to make Aliyah to do so. At least to begin to consider the idea.

Today, we would like for you to post your questions, fears, ideas thoughts about Israel and Aliyah in the blog comment area. It is a moderated site so your comment will not appear immediately. You do not have to leave your name, although it is nice to know who you are. But if you could please list your country, that would be appreciated. In a few days we will address the comments we receive.

We would also ask, if you have found these writings to be encouraging or helpful in anyway that you let us know in the comment box.

Lastly, and most importantly.... please share this blog with those who you know who need encouragement to take the leap and move to Israel.

The 2 Spies are grateful to those of you who have been following this blog and we are strengthen knowing that you are there!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

~Day 30~ Perspective~

Our fig tree and 'yard'
There is a fig tree in our 'yard'. We say 'yard' because the area is only as big as a small bedroom. There used to be an apple tree but for some reason the landlord ripped it out. So, there is a massive fig tree which at one time was surrounded by dirt. Not a very useful area as in the winter the dirt turned to mud and in the summer there were bugs. So, we decided to pave the area and make it more useful.
Having a fruit tree in ones yard is a mixed blessing. There is the romantic notion of trotting into the garden, bowl in hand, to pick the morning fare. (we are not especially fond of figs) The reality is, there is dropped fruit everywhere including on the clean laundry. Dropped fruit means ants and bees and bugs and a funny smell if not cleaned up right away.This one has a low branch that seems to always swipe me in the head as I walk by. (see photo)

We did not fully understand the 'gift' that has been given us. In looking in the Torah, we know that the fig is one of the 7 species of Israel (see Day 19) There is also a wonderful promise that upon returning to the Land we will 'live in houses we did not build and eat from trees we did not plant'. That each of us will invite our neighbor to sit with us under our fig tree~ a picture of dwelling in peace. (Zechariah 3:10) Right in front of us, we have had the blessing of returning to the Land in the 'person' of this fig tree. But we also learned another lesson from our Arab gardener, Ya'acov and our Moroccan Jewish landlord, Pini.

Ya'acov and friend

Ya'acov installed our tile in the yard. The branch that hangs too low kept clipping him and he saw what a nuisance it can be. He kept wanting to cut it off. Actually, even before he worked for me, he saw it and has been bugging us for months to cut it off. One day he came and said that the landlord wanted it cut. We asked him several times if he was sure. We couldn't imagine Pini doing that as it is about half of the tree. Our language isn't that bad but I thought I better be certain. Sure enough, when we asked Pini about it, 'NO!' he said. ' It is a mitzvah to grow this tree. It is one of the Shivat HaMinim the 7 species!' And he went on to tell us of the others of the 7 species he is growing in his garden.

As he walked away, we were struck by the different perspectives:
Ours~ the fig tree is a bit of a nuisance.
Ya'acov~ the fig tree represented a little income if he could cut it.
Pini~ his fig tree is a mitzvah.. an act of obedience to Torah and a Holy work; a blessing and a fulfillment of promises made by G-d.

As we look at the fig tree now, we see with completely different eyes. It's time to go get some nice benches to sit under our fig tree. Want to come sit with us?

Every man will sit under...his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the L-RD Almighty has spoken. Micah 4:4

Monday, December 20, 2010

~Day 29~ Hidden Honey~

As I sit here at the computer, making my 5th attempt to write today's blog, I realize that sometimes there just are no words. There is no precise way to express the deluge of thought and emotion. I will try, with the understanding that all will be a feeble effort at best.

There is a 'Honey' in the Land of Milk and Honey that is not always seen or known to those who walk the streets. There is a sweetness that flavors the atmosphere that is tasted and ingested but those who savor it may not even know they have been a partaker of this hidden nourishment. As in cooking, where the sweetner added is not the dominate taste but that which takes the bitterness out of the finished result, so is this 'Honey' in the Land. Not known, seen or even fully appreciated, but ever present none-the-less and doing its job to take some of the bitterness away.

Now, hopefully, you are asking yourselves what is this 'Hidden Honey'.

The 'Hidden Honey' is the Righteous Gentile. There are those precious Gentiles who have a love for Israel that defies logic. They pray for Israel, not just because it is commanded in the Bible, but because they are committed to the Land and its people. They spend most of their waking hours working on behalf of the welfare of Israel. They invest their time, finances, strength, lives for the betterment of the Jewish people in the Land. They encourage others to love Israel. They speak to their governments to support Israel. They make countless trips to visit and if it were possible, they would give up everything to live here. Their zeal over Zion could put many of we Jewish people to shame. They are spoken of in Isaiah 49:

This is what the Sovereign LORD says: "See, I will beckon to the Gentiles, I will lift up my banner to the peoples; they will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders.

To labor, without reward, on behalf of Israel. This is their call. This is their work. This is their joy. 
Kristine Luken was just such a Righteous Gentile. Her heart was alive with passion for the Land and for the Jewish people. Her prayers and labors have been a Honey that have sweetened this country in ways that we enjoy but are not aware of.  This past Shabbat, while hiking the hills outside Jerusalem with an Israeli friend, Kristine's life was taken from her. She was brutally attacked and murdered. Her crime? The terrorists thought she was Jewish. Her friend barely survived. Dear Kristine, who identified with Israel in life, ended up identifying with Israel in death. She will be greatly missed by all her family and friends. But we believe that the sweetness of the Honey of her life will continue to flow in this Land of Milk and Honey.
Kristine Luken~ a Righteous Gentile

Sunday, December 19, 2010

~Day 28~A Reason to Make Aliyah~

There are many reasons to make Aliyah. Some are spiritual, some are financial, some are for safety, some for ideological reasons. The list is endless. Today's blog ( a little bit tongue-in-cheek) gives another reason to pack your bags and move to Israel.

(The following is taken from the Jerusalem Post)
The whole adventure began in January 2009, when Joe Offenbacher went searching for a business to start in Israel.

“My family and I made aliyah in 2004 from Teaneck, New Jersey,” the 51-year-old says. “For 19 years, I had a business in Manhattan running a messenger, trucking and delivery service. Ultimately it was very successful, but for the first two years, I worked hard and lived the business. After that, I had good people working for me, and I became one of those fathers who could go to my kids’ 2 p.m. school programs.

“I figured bringing Freezees to Israel would be like that – only a lot more fun. I was right about the fun part, but it’s been a tremendous amount of work.”   Freezee Israel Blog

What’s the fascination with Freezees? “It was my son Rafi’s idea,” Offenbacher recalls. “One day I overheard Rafi wishing that he could have a Slurpee here in Israel. The idea struck me as interesting – why not bring Slurpee machines to Israel? (Slurpee and Freezee are trade-names for the same drink)

With 10 Freezee machines now churning out sparking beverages in Modi’in, Ramat Beit Shemesh,Jerusalem, Efrat, Hashmonaim and Ra’anana – and fielding daily pleas for the installation of a Freezee machine from store owners as far away as Beersheba and Eilat – Offenbacher’s business plan appears solidly on schedule.

“The goal is to put Freezee machines all over Israel.

“One morning in the office we were reading some of the comments, and one guy wrote, 
‘Finally! Israel has Freezees! Now I can make aliyah!’ 

“I never really thought of myself as an adjunct to Nefesh B'Nefesh," Offenbacher quips, “but, hey, if chillin’ with a Freezee will encourage aliyah, we’re delighted to help!”

Friday, December 17, 2010

~Day 27~ Shabbat Shalom~

There were so very many people who encouraged us in our Aliyah. Over 20 years ago, there were two that gave the most useful, positive and practical input on a consistent basis. We especially want to thank them as we enter into this Shabbat. 
Thank you David and Martha..... we could not have done this without you! Be blessed.

Shabbat Shalom all!

~Day 26~ Explanation~

We received a few notes about yesterday's post. People were concerned that there may be those who are considering Aliyah but the video might cause them to fear. This is probably true. We were not thinking along those lines and it is certainly not our intent to cause anyone to be afraid. War in one form or another is a constant in the lives of the Israelis. Because of this, we saw this video as an encouragement in the midst of our battles. There are those who would like to destroy us, but G-d is ever present and ever on guard to prevent the worst. 

As we shared before, we know that there are 'giants' in the Land. We do not ignore them but ask for G-d to give us His eyesight to view them as they are. It is a life of dichotomy we live here. There neighbors who would do us harm. And yet, those from the same groups build our cities, drive our taxis and trucks. The man who does our hair, Somi, is from Ramallah. Our gardener, from behind the wall. Mohammed runs a little shop where we go at times and have great conversations about 'the old days'. The men work in our grocery stores, the women work at the museums and the zoo and emergency room. We shop together, go to the hospital and cultural events together. At those times we wonder, where is the 'enemy'. Often we see people, like us, who want to have a job, take care of their family and make a good life. It is a delicate balance. It can be a rather odd way to live at times. But it is the way things are here. 

We believe that which holds the balance is the Hand of G-d. We have been given the opportunity to be a Light to the Nations. It is our task to be such as much as it is possible. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

~Day 25~ The Land of Miracles~

Soldiers. Budding young men in uniform. Everywhere. On the bus, in the mall, hanging out at the coffee shops. One of the initial sights that an Oleh needs to get used to is our ever present soldiers and their guns slung over their shoulders. Their army duty is a necessity and part of the fiber of living in Israel. Would that life were such for them, as in other countries, they could be in college, or working at a hamburger joint and whiling away the hours playing computer games and going out on dates. But, until a time in the future, this is their lot in life. And for the most part, they embrace the opportunity. And their parents and neighbors and family pray for them in earnest. For their physical, spiritual and emotional safety. 

In the war with Gaza, many of those prayers were answered.Today's blog is a video that gives credit to those answered prayers.This video is a testimony to the G-d who is with us. And if G-d be for us, who can be against us?

(Dedicated to the first of the fallen in that war, our neighbor~ Dvir Emanuelof )
Dvir Emanuelof

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

~Day 24~ Inspiration ~

Every country has men and women who are an inspiration. Their lives of sacrifice for principle and vision at the cost of their own comfort, bring about a new life for others and urge them forward. There are times when The 2 Spies need inspiration.  The Torah is our first source of inspiration. From the Words of G-d Himself we find daily strength, purpose and meaning. 

In the history of Israel, G-d has given us others who gave all to pioneer this nation. Their lives speak to us to remind us and to help clarify our own sense of being and show us our tiny part in the building of Israel. It is an awesome and sometimes overwhelming responsibility to be called to live in Israel and give all. In looking back at the lives of these chalutzim (pioneers) we realize they were frail flesh just we are but somewhere, somehow they fulfilled a destiny set out for them. They walked a path they did not know and prepared the ground for the future growth they would not see. 

We now, with gratitude, walk that path because of their dedication. We walk in an essence of faith that we will fulfill our destiny in part, a new type of pioneer, and make a way for the next generations. Like those before us, we will never know the complete work that we have accomplished. But, with trust in G-d, we know that our lives will not be in vain.  Today's blog is dedicated to those who came before us~ known and unknown~ with deepest gratitude for all they sacrificed to make our Home what it is today.

David Ben-Gurion & Golda Meir
Here are a few select quotes from three of our Pioneers:

Golda Meir  Israel Founder and Prime Minister

“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”

“One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present.”

“Those who don't know how to weep with their whole heart don't know how to laugh either.”

“Ability hits the mark where presumption overshoots and diffidence falls short.”

“A leader who doesn't hesitate before he sends his nation into battle is not fit to be a leader.”

“Whether women are better than men I cannot say - but I can say they are certainly no worse.”

“We do not rejoice in victories. We rejoice when a new kind of cotton is grown and when strawberries bloom in Israel.”

David Ben-Gurion  Polish born  Israeli Statesman and Prime Minister (1948-53, 1955-63). Chief architect of the state of Israel and revered as Father of the Nation

“If an expert says it can't be done, get another expert”

 “Courage is... the knowledge of how to fear what ought to be feared and how not to fear what ought not to be feared.”

“Israel has created a new image of the Jew in the world - the image of a working and an intellectual people, of a people that can fight with heroism.”

“In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles”

Abba Eban
Abba Eban Foreign Minister of Israel 1915

“History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives.”

“Men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all the other alternatives.”

“One of the chief tasks of any dialogue with the Gentile world is to prove that the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism is not a distinction at all”

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

~Day 23~ Eating from the Land~ 3

When a couple of The 2 Spies returned to live in Israel, they felt it was very important to their success to 'eat from the Land'.  In order to be able to fully root here and be satisfied, they knew that they needed to not look back to what they had left behind but to look around them at all that living in Israel had to offer them.  There were certain necessary material goods that they felt they could only get in their birth country. But with the quest to 'eat from the Land', they began their search to see that all their provision come from within Israel.

Since they took on the quest, they have discovered the abundance of supply that far exceeds their demand.  Items that were once unheard of in the Land are now available.
Clothing: larger sizes, good quality, modest apparel, stylish (drawing from Israel, Europe and the States there is quite a variety)
Medications: every medication that is needed, they found here (Teva is among the top 15 pharmaceutical companies and among the largest generic pharmaceutical companies in the world.80% of their sales are in North America and Europe)
Toiletries: It may seem frivolous, but you try changing your toothpaste after 45 years!
Foods: See Yesterday's blog
Crafts: Except for woodworking, all crafting materials are available for your artistic skills. Wood is still rather expensive, but is available.
Pissott Fabric Shop
Culture: Art museums, opera, symphony, ballet; all types of music, dance and plays are presented year round.
Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra
Jerusalem Bus #30
Transportation:Car imports have increased greatly since the early days. Because of an increase in the economy many families have not just one car but two. The bus system is still the favorite mode and is quite affordable and reliable.

We do not want to sound overly materialistic. But we do realize that one of the 'Giants' is the thought of leaving all our comforts behind.  All that we enjoy and that is familiar to us. It is not a truth any more. Granted, there are adjustments. There always will be a bit of making do and doing without. But that will be true no matter where one lives. The Land is quite plentiful and is more than able to meet the needs of it's Olim. It is the opinion of The 2 Spies, if we can't get it here, then we probably don't really 'need' it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

~ Day 22~ Eating from the Land ~ 2

We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost--also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!
Numbers 11:5,6

Ah the voice of the Discontent. Daily having food provided for them, not having to toil in any way to find enough to eat. Eating the 'bread of heaven' ~ manna. But it was not enough. It was not as tasty as the cucumbers and onions of Egypt. No variety. Not what they were used to. Oy! 

Those of us who have made Aliyah can, in some ways, relate to the discontent that can happen over the food issues. Food is how we celebrate. Food is how we wallow in depression. Food is necessary for life. Food has emotional attachment and becomes a personal issue. 

Many of The 2 Spies (for we are more than 2) moved to Israel years ago when the stores here had no western products. The move brought about a type of 'fast'. There were no convenience foods. Everything had to be made from scratch. Labels were in Hebrew only and most with no pictures! Choices were very limited. Restaurants consisted of those that served felafels, shwarma and middle-eastern foods ~ if one could even afford to eat out. 'The' hamburger place, McDavid's, was far removed from what was available back in the Old Country.  The food issues became a test. A point of choosing to be satisfied or grumble and long for "Egypt".  To many, the foods were a lovely adventure in new and tasty cuisine. To others, a ripping off of a very primal need and comfort. 

BUT the days of the 'food pioneer' are over. Coming to the Land now is a completely differnt gastric experience.  All the wonderful Israeli dishes are available but now the list of places to dine includes McDonalds (for those who care), kosher Chinese, Ethiopian, Thai, Italian, and Sushi to name a few. The foods available are an endless list as imports increase daily from the diaspora. American, British, Russian, Ethiopian, Chinese, Indian, Korean food products can be found in grocery stores. There really is very little in the food realm that is missing. In one way, the wealth of the Nations has come to Israel. In another way, a Giant has been slain!

The 'Spoils' of Egypt

Sunday, December 12, 2010

~ Day 21~ Ski Israel~

The rains have finally come. Driving rains with lightening and high winds. Electricity is out in several areas on the coast and flooding is expected. BUT there is rain. Predictions are that by the time this rain has ended it will have canceled the drought of 2010. It does not make up for the past few years but at least for this year.

One of the lovely side-effects of this rain in December is snow! Mount Hermon has snow. For those of you considering making Aliyah who enjoy snow skiing, there is The Hermon. An easily accessible ski resort with wonderful facilities. Here is their website Hermon
Soldiers on Hermon

The view from the valley

Lots of snow fun!

With the weather turning colder, The 2 Spies are trying their best to keep warm and enjoy the cozy atmosphere. Hoping you are having a lovely winter day where you are!
Shavuah Tov!

Friday, December 10, 2010

~ Day 20 ~ Shabbat Shalom ~

Once again Shabbat is upon us. This past week, Hanukkah week, has been filled with a mixture of Light and darkness, of giving and taking away. As we enter into the Shabbat, let us lay aside every thought that would cause us to be worried or troubled. Let us focus on the Eternal and His magnificent love for his people. In the Light of His presence, all will take on a proper perspective. We will exit the Shabbat refreshed and renewed with new vision and new strength.

Shabbat Shalom all.

Who Has the Answer?

retold by Doug Lipman

Some Hasidim of the Maggid of Mezheritz came to him. "Rebbe, we are puzzled. It says in the Talmud that we must thank God as much for the bad days, as for the good. How can that be? What would our gratitude mean, if we gave it equally for the good and the bad?"

The Maggid replied, "Go to Anapol. Reb Zusya will have an answer for you."

The Hasidim undertook the journey. Arriving in Anapol, they inquired for Reb Zusya. At last, they came to the poorest street of the city. There, crowded between two small houses, they found a tiny shack, sagging with age.

When they entered, they saw Reb Zusya sitting at a bare table, reading a volume by the light of the only small window. "Welcome, strangers!" he said. "Please pardon me for not getting up; I have hurt my leg. Would you like food? I have some bread. And there is water!"

"No. We have come only to ask you a question. The Maggid of Mezheritz told us you might help us understand: Why do our sages tell us to thank God as much for the bad days as for the good?"

Reb Zusya laughed. "Me? I have no idea why the Maggid sent you to me." He shook his head in puzzlement. "You see, I have never had a bad day. Every day God has given to me has been filled with miracles."

May we have the ability to think likewise.

~ Day 19 ~Eating from the Land ~1

  אֶרֶץ חִטָּה וּשְׂעֹרָה, וְגֶפֶן וּתְאֵנָה וְרִמּוֹן; אֶרֶץ-זֵית שֶׁמֶן, וּדְבָשׁ

For the L-rd your G-d is bringing you into a good land.. It is a land of wheat and barley, grapevines, fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey (dates)... Deuteronomy 8:8

Seven wonderful fruits of the Land. 
Grain~ wheat and barley. 
Fruit~grapes, figs and pomegranates. 
Seasonings~ oil and honey. 
What a marvelous bounty awaited us as we ventured in from the desert! 

These Seven Species~Shiv'at HaMinim~ were the only produce that had value in being offered as the first fruit in the Temple on Shavot (The Feast of Weeks). They were not only superb for nutrition and healing but also for beauty. They were used on coins and religious worship items.
The Seven Species have always symbolized the close relationship between the Bible  and the Land of Israel. 
Today The 2 Spies want to share a favorite salad of ours that incorporates all 7 of these fruits of the Land. Another plus at living here. Enjoy! 
(the original recipe was published in the Jerusalem Post many years ago)
 Seven Species Salad
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (more if needed)
1 large onion, chopped
3/4 cup pearl barley
1-3/4 - 2 cups vegetable broth
salt & pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried za'atar (or dried thyme)
3/4 cup medium bulgur wheat
1/3 cup dried figs, cut into thin slices
1/4 to 1/3 cup raisins
2 teaspoons pomegranate paste (or seeds if in season)
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2-3 small cucumbers, diced
1/3 cup pitted black olives, halved
1/2-3/4 cup crumbled feta or diced goat cheese
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy saucepan. Add onion and saute over medium heat, stirring often for five minutes or until softened but not brown.
Remove half of onion and set aside.  Add barley to pan and saute, stirring, 1 minute. Add 1-3/4 cups broth, salt, pepper and za'atar and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat for 40 minutes or until barley is tender, adding more broth if liquid evaporates before barley is cooked. 
Spoon reserved onion into another saucepan and heat it. Add bulgur wheat and saute, stirring for 2 minutes. Add 1-1/2 cups water, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Add figs and raisins, cover and cook for 5 more minutes or until water is absorbed and bulger and fruit are tender.  Fluff barley with a fork. Lightly fold in bulgur wheat mixture.  Cool to room temperature.  For dressing, whisk pomegranate paste with vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Add remaining oil.  Fold into barley mixture. Add green onions, parsley, cucumbers and half the olives.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Serve topped with remaining olives, cheese and almonds.  Makes 6-8 servings.
Note: We have never used pomegranate and it tastes just fine without it.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

~ Day 18~ Work in the Land ~

We've come a long way!
When talking with those who are eligible to make Aliyah, one of the first questions that comes up is "What will I do to earn a living?"  It is a reasonable question. We all need to pay the rent, eat and put clothes on our backs. For a lot of folks, it is a 'stepping-stone' question~ one that needs to be answered as they are walking on the path toward Israel. Sadly, for most, it is a 'giant' that is keeping them from even looking in the direction of making Aliyah. Today, let's attempt to slay the giant. 

The stories of Olim (immigrants) that we are going to share did not necessarily evolve easily. Not all of these popped into jobs their first weeks in the Land. For some it took a season to sort out details, rearrange priorities, walk through 'lesser' vocations until they arrived at the place they are now. For some, they landed in jobs within a matter of weeks. Each situation is tailor made to whatever G-d has designed for the individual Aliyah.

Here is a brief list of those we know who have succeeded. As a word of encouragement~ not all of these people have mastered Hebrew. Some have barely any language skills :

* A lady who began as a volunteer for the Jerusalem Zoo, has gone on to earn her Vet Tech degree and has been hired by the zoo.
* A man who began with a heart for the victims of terror and wounded soldiers and now has an organization to help them.
* One man, who is a partner in a winery, has started classes to become a tour guide. His personality is so perfectly suited to this type of work. Completely different from his previous career. Many Olim have gone the tour guide route with much success.
*An ESL teacher who has a cluster of different schools, Arab and Jewish where she is teaching English.
*Two young men who have started their own moving business. Successful enough to have recently purchased a larger vehicle.
*Communications graduates who landed great jobs that launched a top- tour spot in the North.
*A young man that works with the Sudanese refugees.
* Two married couples, the wives teach kindergarten, the husbands are accountants for American based companies.
*Several are working for computer call centers. Here is an interesting site: Fiverr
*A journalist who is now an anchor for a TV News program

Flexibility is a key word in job finding in Israel. To be willing to try something new or different. To maybe not do the same job in the same way.The central focus is the same. There is work in the Land. There are ways to provide for your family. It is important to remember that you fit into the Land, not that the Land fits into you.

(Here is a site that helps in locating work in the Land: Employment

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

~ Day 17~ Toda Raba ~

So often, in times of crisis around the world, Israel has been a first-responder. The recent devastation in Haiti is a wonderful example. Israel sent a complete field hospital within hours of the need and showed themselves the most prepared and most efficient on location. In researching for this post, The 2 Spies found Israel's admirable track record of helping other nations. Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Peru, Darfur, Chad, Nigeria, Mauritania, Colombia, Papua-New Guinea, China, Camroon and many more countries.  In 2007, Israel sent firefighters to Greece and Cyprus to help battle fires.

This past week-end many countries, including Greece and Cyprus, came to the aid of Israel in putting out the raging inferno. The international cooperation was amazing and heartwarming to watch. No politics. Just firemen to firemen, working side by side at what they do best. The whole country is thankful to the foreign men and women who came to our aid, we could not have done this without them. (click here) Israel Thanks the Foreign Volunteers

Now the daily grind to rebuild what was lost, where it can be rebuilt. Individuals and organizations from around the country are giving of their time and resources to meet the immediate and long term needs.One of the places of great need is the Yemen Orde Youth Village. Home to 500 youth aged 9-19, over 40% of the village was destroyed. Here is a link to photos of the village: Yemen Orde Youth Village

There are many who love Israel who want to help in this time of crisis. We in the Land are so appreciative of the outpouring of prayer and financial gifts to help us. Your outreach is truly comforting and gives us strength for another day. We know that G-d has blessed us and will bless those who are helping.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

~ Day 16~ A Nation in a Day ~

Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. Isaiah 66:8

In today's news, several South American countries are declaring their recognition of a Palestinian State. Circumventing all the processes thus far to produce a country for the Palestinians, all proper protocol; these leaders are declaring that there is a Palestinian State. In a day.  News Article

Interesting how the prophecy, which has already been fulfilled by the Jewish people, is now being hijacked by those who do not wish for Israel to exist~ especially as a Jewish State. 
May 14, 1948 the Declaration of Independence was read and Israel was declared a soverign and free state. A Nation made in a day. 

Below is a copy of that momentous declaration and fulfillment of Isaiah's ancient prophecy.

Declaration of Israel's Independence 1948

Issued at Tel Aviv on May 14, 1948 (5th of Iyar, 5708)

The land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and national identity was formed. Here they achieved independence and created a culture of national and universal significance. Here they wrote and gave the Bible to the world.

Exiled from Palestine, the Jewish people remained faithful to it in all the countries of their dispersion, never ceasing to pray and hope for their return and the restoration of their national freedom.

Impelled by this historic association, Jews strove throughout the centuries to go back to the land of their fathers and regain their statehood. In recent decades they returned in masses. They reclaimed the wilderness, revived their language, built cities and villages and established a vigorous and ever-growing community with its own economic and cultural life.

They sought peace, but were always prepared to defend themselves. They brought the blessing of progress to all inhabitants of the country.

In the year 1897 the First Zionist Congress, inspired by Theodor Herzl's vision of the Jewish State, proclaimed the right of the Jewish people to national revival in their own country.

This right was acknowledged by the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917, and re-affirmed by the Mandate of the League of Nations, which gave explicit international recognition to the historic connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and their right to reconstitute their National Home.

The Nazi holocaust, which engulfed millions of Jews in Europe, proved anew the urgency of the re-establishment of the Jewish state, which would solve the problem of Jewish homelessness by opening the gates to all Jews and lifting the Jewish people to equality  in the family of nations.

The survivors of the European catastrophe, as well as Jews from other lands, proclaiming their right to a life of dignity, freedom and labor, and undeterred by hazards, hardships and obstacles, have tried unceasingly to enter Palestine.

In the Second World War the Jewish people in Palestine made a full contribution in the struggle of the freedom-loving nations against the Nazi evil. The sacrifices of their soldiers and the efforts of their workers gained them title to rank with the peoples who founded the United Nations.

On November 29, 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a Resolution for the establishment of an independent Jewish State in Palestine, and called upon the inhabitants of the country to take such steps as may be necessary on their part to put the plan into effect.

This recognition by the United Nations of the right of the Jewish people to establish their independent State may not be revoked. It is, moreover, the self-evident right of the Jewish people to be a nation, as all other nations, in its own sovereign State.

ACCORDINGLY, WE, the members of the National Council, representing the Jewish people in Palestine and the Zionist movement of the world, met together in solemn assembly today, the day of the termination of the British mandate for Palestine, by virtue of the natural and historic right of the Jewish and of the Resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations,
HEREBY PROCLAIM the establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine, to be called ISRAEL.

WE HEREBY DECLARE that as from the termination of the Mandate at midnight, this night of the 14th and 15th May, 1948, and until the setting up of the duly elected bodies of the State in accordance with a Constitution, to be drawn up by a Constituent Assembly not later than the first day of October, 1948, the present National Council shall act as the provisional administration, shall constitute the Provisional Government of the State of Israel.

THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open to the immigration of Jews from all countries of their dispersion; will promote the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; will be based on the precepts of liberty, justice and peace taught by the Hebrew Prophets; will uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of race, creed or sex; will guarantee full freedom of conscience, worship, education and culture; will safeguard the sanctity and inviolability of the shrines and Holy Places of all religions; and will dedicate itself to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be ready to cooperate with the organs and representatives of the United Nations in the implementation of the Resolution of the Assembly of November 29, 1947, and will take steps to bring about the Economic Union over the whole of Palestine.
We appeal to the United Nations to assist the Jewish people in the building of its State and to admit Israel into the family of nations.

In the midst of wanton aggression, we still call upon the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to return to the ways of peace and play their part in the development of the State, with full and equal citizenship and due representation in its bodies and institutions - provisional or permanent.

We offer peace and neighborliness to all the neighboring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Hebrew nation for the common good of all.

Our call goes out the the Jewish people all over the world to rally to our side in the task of immigration and development and to stand by us in the great struggle for the fulfillment of the dream of generations - the redemption of Israel.

With trust in the Rock of Israel, we set our hand to this Declaration, at this Session of the Provisional State Council, in the city of Tel Aviv, on this Sabbath eve, the fifth of Iyar, 5708, the fourteenth day of May, 1948.

Monday, December 6, 2010

~ Day 15~ Remember ~

The recent class of Police service Cadets. 
 The fires in Haifa are out. The cooperation of many in Israel and internationally brought this about. Today it is raining. Many have been praying for Israel.  G-d heard us. May we in the Land understand that is it only by His hand have these two Hanukkah miracles happened. May we remember.

The posting today is in memory of those who lost their lives this past week in the terrible fires in Haifa. There are many outside Israel who are taking collections to help with the needs presented by these fires. Please consider making a donation in honor of one of these brave young people.

Shimon Dayan, 28, married, of Karmiel, is survived by his wife.

Derman Kiril, 28, married, of Afula is survived by his wife.

Tanya Lansky, 23,

Avi Noach, 34, married, of Jerusalem, is survived by his wife and two children.

Tafash A'adel, 33, married, of Beit Jan, is survived by a wife and two children.

Wassim Abu-Reish, 28, married, of Yarkha, is survived by a wife and three children.

Vasim Abu Rish, 32, of Kfar Yarka, served in the Rimonim Prison.

Warden Rafi Alkalai, 54, married, of Lapid, is survived by his wife and five children.

Inbal Amoyal, 26, is survived by her parents and four siblings.

Anonymous, at the request of the family.

Yifrach Ayala, 23, single, of Kiryat Bialik,

Yaron Bermi, 31, married, of Mevuim is survived by his wife and one child.

Ro'i Biton, 28, of Kiryat Gat, married, survived by his wife who is eight months pregnant and a young son.

Warden Faviola Bohadana, 48, mother of two, of Ness Ziona.

Police Dep.-Comdr. Lior Boker, 57, Northern District Operations Branch commander, promoted posthumously to Assistant-Commander.

Maor Ganon, 27, of Gan Yavne, married with one child, was a member of the Nachson unit.

Dimitry Gerstein, 27, single of Tel Aviv, served in the Nachshon unit.

Hagai Jorno, 28, of Kiryat Gat, married, survived by his wife and young daughter, was laid to rest in his city's military cemetery on Friday.

Calai Chen Kefir, 35, married of Gan Yavne, is survived by his wife and three children.

Efrat Chen, 35, single, of Ra'anana, served in the Neve Tirza Prison for women.

Topaz Even Chen Klein, 28, of Rehovot, married, served in the Office of the Spokesperson.

Dimitry Kozlov, 45, married, a resident of Be'er Sheva, is survived by his wife and one child, served in the Ketziot Prison.

Aviram Levy, 32, married, of Tiberias, is survived by his wife and one child.

Maurice Levy, 32, single, of Tiberias, served in the “Nir” school.

Calai Chen Kefir, 35, married of Gan Yavne, is survived by his wife and three children.

Iliya Langman, 31, married, of Nahariya, served in the Kishon Prison and is survived by his wife.

Uriel Malcha, 32, married, of Karnei Shomron, is survived by his wife and five children.

Police Ch.-Supt. Yitzchak Melina, 46.

Kfir Ohana, 30, married of Ofakim, served at the Oholei Kedar prison. He is survived by his wife Olga, who is nine months pregnant and a 2-year-old daughter.

Hanan Ohayon, 31, married, of Nazareth Illit, is survived by his wife and two children.

Ronen Peretz, 34, of Ashkelon, married, survived by his wife Shirit and two young children ages 6 and 3.

Hagai Pinkar, 31, married, of Yerucham, is survived by his wife and a child.

Oshrat Pinto, 26, single, of Tzfat, is survived by her parents and siblings.

Vadislav Rachamimov, 30, single, of Be'er Sheva, served in the Nafcha Prison.

Elad Riven, 16, volunteer in the Fire Service, the only child of his parents, a student in the Haifa high school.

Ayas Sarchan, 30, married, of Kfar Marar, is survived by his wife and one child.

Beiber Shadi, 35, of Kfar Jat, was laid to rest in that community's cemetery on Friday.

Yakir Suissa, 26, single, of Dimona, served in the Ramon prison.

Adal Tafesh, 33, married, of Beit Jan, is survied by his wife and two children.

Siyum Tzagi, 31, married, of Netivot, is survived by his wife and three children.

Eran Weisel, 31, married, of Kiryat Bialik, is survived by his wife and a child.

Rami Yisraeli, 33, married, of Be'er Sheva is survived by his wife and two children.