Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Israel is the Only Country....

Today we want to share the observation of an  Israeli humorist, Efraim Kishon. We agree with most of his observations and could add a few of our own... but we won't. Enjoy!

Israel  is a country surrounded on all sides by enemies, but the people's  headaches are caused by the neighbors upstairs.

Israel is the  only country in the world where the coffee is already so good that  Starbucks went bankrupt trying to break into the local  market.

Israel is one of the few places in the world where the  sun sets into the Mediterranean Sea.    

Israel is the only  country in the world whose soldiers eat three sets of salads a day,  none of which contain any lettuce (which is not really a food), and  where olives ARE a food and even a main course in a meal,  rather than something one tosses into a martini.

Israel is the  only country in the world where one is unlikely to dig a cellar  without hitting ancient archaeological artifacts.

Israel is the  only country in the world where the leading academics in the country take buses.

Israel is the only country in the  world that has a National Book Week, during which almost everyone  attends a book fair and buys books.

Israel is a country where the  same drivers who cuss you and flip you the bird will immediately pull  over and offer you all forms of help if you look like you need  it.

Israel is the only country in the world with bus drivers and  taxi drivers who read Spinoza and Maimonides.

Israel is the  only country in the world where no one cares what rules say when  an important goal can be achieved by bending them.

Israel is the  only country in the world where reservists are bossed around and  commanded by officers, male and female, younger than their own  children.

Israel is the only country in the world where "small  talk" consists of loud, angry debate over politics and  religion.

 Israel is the only country in the world where the ultra-Orthodox  Jews beat up the police and not the other way around. 
 Israel is the only country in the world where inviting someone  "out for a drink" means drinking   cola, coffee or tea. 
 Israel is the only country in the world where bank robbers kiss  the mezuzah  as  they leave with their loot!  
 Israel is one of the few countries in the world that truly likes  and admires the United States .  
 Israel is the  only country in the world that introduces  applications of high-tech gadgets and devices, such as printers in  banks  that  print out your statement on demand, years ahead of the United States and  decades ahead of Europe . 
 Israel is the only country in the world where everyone on a  flight gets to  know  one another before the plane lands. In many cases, they also get to know  the pilot and all about his health or marital problems. 
 Israel is the only country in the world   where  no one has a foreign accent   because everyone has a foreign accent.  
 Israel is the only country in the world where   people cuss using dirty words   in  Russian or Arabic because Hebrew has never developed  them. 
 Israel is the only country   in  the world where patients visiting physicians   end  up giving the doctor advice.  
 Israel is the only country in the   world  where everyone strikes up   conversations while waiting in lines.  
 Sunsets in Jerusalem are gorgeous every evening. 
 Israel is the only country  in  the world where people read English, write   Hebrew, and joke in Yiddish!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Here Comes Another Lost Tribe!

Today's post is taken from Michael Freund's blog. It is news of such monumental and prophetic significance that The 2 Spies felt compelled to share it with you. Please follow the courses of action that Michael suggests at the end of this piece if you feel so inclined. We will. (highlights and photos added by The2 spies)

Here Comes Another Lost Tribe
By Michael Freund

Thousands of kilometers to the east, in the furthest reaches of northeastern India, a long-lost community continues to nourish its age-old dream of returning to its ancient homeland, the land of Israel.

The Bnei Menashe, or "sons of Manasseh," are descendants of one of the 10 lost tribes of Israel, which were exiled by the Assyrian empire more than 27 centuries ago. The community, which numbers 7,232 people, resides primarily in the Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur, along the border with Burma and Bangladesh.

Despite generations of wandering, the Bnei Menashe never forgot who they were, where they had come from, or where they aspired to return. Three times a day, every day, they turn in silent prayer toward Jerusalem, pleading with the Creator to put an end to their long exile and bring them home to Zion.

That dream is now poised, at last, to become a reality.
This past Monday, an extraordinary meeting of the Ministerial Committee on Immigration and Absorption took place in the Prime Minister's Office. At the top of the agenda was the issue of the Bnei Menashe.
Michael Freund
AS CHAIRMAN of Shavei Israel, an organization that has been assisting the community for over a decade, I had lobbied intensively for much of the past year for the committee to address the issue.
Testifying before the assembled ministers and bureaucrats, I spoke of the 1,700 Bnei Menashe who have already made aliya, and of the success they have had in integrating into Israeli society.
Approximately 96 percent of Bnei Menashe immigrants are employed, supporting themselves and their families and contributing to the state and its economy. A mere 4% – less than half the national average – are reliant on social welfare to make ends meet.

Shalem Gin first Beni Mensahe IDF Officer  (the one with the big smile!)
Nearly all young Bnei Menashe men are drafted into the army, with a majority serving in combat units. Some 50 Bnei Menashe are currently in uniform, and recently the first Bnei Menashe officer was commissioned.

I pointed out that a growing number of Bnei Menashe youth are pursuing higher education at Israeli colleges and universities in fields ranging from computer science to social work, and that several have also received rabbinical ordination after years of study in yeshiva.

And rest assured, I told the ministers, the Bnei Menashe are our lost brethren. In March 2005, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar recognized them as Zera Yisrael, or the "seed of Israel," and said they should be brought to the Jewish state.
He also ruled that because they were cut off from their people for millennia, the Bnei Menashe are required to undergo conversion to remove any doubt about their personal status. All those who have made aliya have already gone through this process.

Put simply, I said, the Bnei Menashe are a blessing to the Jewish people and to the State of Israel, and they strengthen us no less than we do them.

Nonetheless, the government of Ehud Olmert inexplicably froze their aliya in 2007, dividing families and stifling the flow of this talented and highly motivated immigration.

So I turned to the members of the committee and made a simple yet forceful plea: It is time for Israel to let the remaining Bnei Menashe come home.

And then a miracle took place. After deliberating the matter, the ministerial committee, headed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, formally decided to draft a government resolution and bring it to the cabinet for approval no later than the end of July.
The resolution will permit all the remaining Bnei Menashe in India to make aliya, and will finally bring an end to their years of waiting and uncertainty.
The sign reads: We Love Shavei Israel!
Both the foreign minister and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver said they were behind the measure.

This means we are just one month away from an historic turning point, one that will restore 7,232 precious souls to the Jewish people.
But there are obstacles that may still stand in the way.
The Treasury is likely to object, not wanting to spend a shekel more than it deems necessary. And then there are the naysayers and post-Zionists who have lost sight of Israel's mission to serve as the homeland for all Jews.
We cannot allow them to prevail.
There is simply no good reason for this aliya to be stymied. The Bnei Menashe are part of the extended Jewish family. They are committed Zionists who observe the Torah and its commandments, and who are reaching out across the centuries to reconnect with our people. We need to extend a welcoming hand back, and bring them to Jerusalem.

I urge all people of faith and goodwill, Jew and Christian alike, to pray for this undertaking to succeed. Write the premier, contact MKs, and tell them in no uncertain terms: Bring the lost tribe of Bnei Menashe home now!

 This past Monday, as I listened to the committee approve its decision, I truly felt as if I was standing on the banks of the Red Sea, watching the waters begin to part.
Soon enough, I am sure, the Bnei Menashe will cross the sea, reuniting with the Land and people of Israel after a remarkable journey.
Just as the prophets foretold, Manasseh's children are at last coming back. And all one can say is: Thank God.

To sign up for Michael's email updates, go to this site: Michael Freund's Email list

Sunday, June 19, 2011

This is a Test.....

This week Israel Defense Forces are holding nation~wide drills in preparation for war. This has become a yearly event and a much appreciated one. In listening to the air~raid siren go off today, I realized how many memories I have of preparation for war.

In the 1950's America was in post WWII mode and had entered into the Nuclear Age. The Civil Defense branch of the government had the task of preparing the population in case of a nuclear bomb. The education was thorough and reached out to all members of society. The school education was the most intensive. There were lessons taught by teachers, school assemblies given by the local Civil Defense, informative movies shown during school hours, on television and at the movie theaters before the main feature. Here is a clip from a 50's film~ the title comes from the instructions we were given:  'Duck and Cover'

In 1963, President Kennedy initiated the Emergency Broadcast System~ an effort to coordinate all the communications systems to enable him to address the entire country should there be a national emergency. Most of us will remember the radio and television programs being interrupted for 35-40 seconds of a high-pitched tone. Afterward the announcement would follow: "This was a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. If this had been an actual emergency... " instructions would have  been given as to what action to take... and we would groan because we missed the exciting part of our TV show!

I do not remember any preparations other than the school teaching us the symbol for the Shelter ~a yellow triangle in a circle and how to 'Duck and Cover'. We did learn about the bright 'FLASH' but not a whole lot more than that.There were some who did dig bomb shelters. I remember Rod Serling's 'Twilight Zone' had an interesting episodes titled 'The Shelter' about nuclear war and it's affect on the population and relationships. (Anyone else remember 'Twilight Zone'?)

Knowing what we know now, we laugh at the methods that were taught. We can shake our head and wonder what was everyone thinking. Remember though, the point of the education was not really about safety but about maintaining a quiet more peaceful population. The more people 'understood' and the more they could 'do' the more they felt a little in control and thus a sense of 'peace'.

Growing up in a saturated military area, we knew we were the first line of defense of the country.  We were surrounded with all the branches of the military with the Air Force Base being closest. Every now and then they would test the air~raid signals. We could hear them at our house. My Mom would call my Dad (who worked on the base) to see if it was real or a test. Finally, one time Dad said to her, 'Honey~ did you hear the jets scramble? Then it is just a test'

We were also the first line of attack in the event of invasive war. As a child this didn't sink in one day until the children of air force pilots at school were talking. With all our preparedness, I didn't think what the children were discussing affected me. Not until later when my Mom asked if I was OK. "Cuba is going to drop a bomb on Florida and they're going to gas the whole country and we're all gonna DIE!!!" and I burst into tears. My Mom, who was not particularly a woman of faith, said very calmly, 'This cannot happen unless God has it planned'

Instantly I felt the peace of God all over me. It was settled. There was Someone who is bigger and who really is in control. I knew it to be true. And I trusted it. All the training the school had taught only gave a false sense of safety. And deep inside I knew it. Looking back I can see how He was preparing me for this time and this place I am now living.   In my own measure as an 8 year old, I understood that God was my 'Shelter' and I was at rest in His shadow. A lesson that continues to this day.

To be continued....

Shabbat Lesson

What a marvelous Shabbat! Driving through the Land from Jerusalem to Caesarea we were able again to see for ourselves that it is indeed a pleasant Land!
The wheat has recently been harvested and there were great rolls of it stacked up waiting to be moved to storage. This was nice to see as we had enjoyed the green wheat and barley fields at Pesach.
Wheat field in the Jezreel Valley at Pesach

But the high-lite of the day was spending Shabbat with dear friends at a beach picnic. It was a gathering of those who live here (many of whom have made Aliyah) and are managing distribution centers around the country. Their vision to help those in need and their selfless giving of their time and resources is inspiring and challenging.

In Deuteronomy 15 the L-rd tells us:
... there should be no poor among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you if only you fully obey the LORD your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today.

But G-d knew us even before we arrived in this place. Not too many verses later He also says:
There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

The provision of the Inheritance that G-d gives is so rich that there should be no one lacking in our midst. But He knows the many and varied reasons why this is not so. So He reminds us to be 'openhanded' towards those in need. Another act of trust~ to open our hands~ our purses~ our schedules~and be 'openhanded'. How much can an open hand hold? Nothing. The L-rd has held back nothing good from us and has asked us to have the same attitude towards those around us in need. 

As we traveled today, viewing the abundance of the Land's harvest and visiting with those who are truly openhanded, we are challenged in a new and fresh way to examine our 'fists' and trust the L-rd to pry open our fingers to be more like Him. May we all be blessed with the ability to trust so fully and not hold anything back.

~Side note: If you would like to help the poor in the Land but are not sure where, we would be happy to recommend a list of faithful people and organizations. Just send us a note~