Friday, July 29, 2011

Shabbat Shalom

From sundown to sundown~ Shabbat at her best
A time to read Torah, eat challah and rest.
A time to remember, a time to 'do'
what Abba in Heaven commanded us to.
Celebration and ceremony, a time of great joy
A blessing of Peace for each girl and boy.

But when the three stars show their faces in the sky,
I light the Havdalah, and then say goodbye.
Goodbye to our friend, our precious Delight,
Sabbath, my love, goodnight, goodnight.

Sunday I scramble out of my bed and get ready and rush
to my work, which I dread.
But wait! I remember and praise HaShem for the warmth of Shabbat
that washes over my heart.

The First Day, the Second, the Third Day too.
I remember the joy of being a Jew.
The time spent with family, entering G-d's Rest.
The Torah, the challah~ Shabbat at her best.

The Fourth Day, the Fifth, the Sixth Day too~ Baruch HaShem.
I look forward to Sabbath Blessing again!
All work is easier, all pain is small
when I look to Shabbat and hear her call:

        "Come to me all of you who are tired,
          And you will find Rest for you Soul."

Shabbat is the Sun~ and I am the moon
Reflecting her glory til she returns soon.
Each week, we read Torah, eat challah and Rest
from sundown to sundown
Shabbat at her best.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What is Your 18 Year Old Doing?

There is an awesome right of passage here in the Land that most everyone experiences~ Military service. All 18 year olds are expected to enter the armed forces or do alternate service. It is a reality of living in a country surrounded by enemies and it is a responsibility that the youth carry on their very young and inexperienced shoulders. But they do not carry it alone.

There are those who served before them, walking beside them helping them with their load. There are family members, friends and neighbors, who encourage them, pray for them and cheer them on in their duty. There is a special place in our hearts for these young men and women and we all see them as 'our' children. There is a mixture of our pride for them and our fear for them.

Not everyone has an 'incredible' time in the military but one thing all have in common~ it makes changes in your life for ever. Some for good. Some not so good. The bottom line is that G-d is there through each step holding each soldier in His hand and  all will eventually turn out for the good.

(The 2 Spies have adopted their own army unit to pray for the soldiers and send them 'goodies' and needed equipment)

HaShem... protect our men at arms....
Here is a song dedicated to the IDF by DOV:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dr. Jazz

Many in Jerusalem and around Israel have thoroughly enjoyed the lively music of Dr. Jazz. He has brought a smile to our faces and healing to our hearts with his joyful, toe-tapping Dixie Land sounds. The 2 Spies are glad that he is getting some honor that is long overdue through this article in the JPost. May Dr. Jazz continue to be a blessing to us all for many years to come! And many his Aliyah story encourage those of you who can make Aliyah, to pack your bags and come make Israel your home also.
(This blog is from the JPost and can be found here: Jerusalem Post )

Elazar Brandt~  Dr. Jazz

A former army helicopter pilot from Los Angeles, Elazar Brandt prepared for his final trip to Israel in 1996. After decades of soul-searching in Texas, New York and LA, Brandt discovered that his passion lay in using music as a tool to transform the tears of those suffering from terrorist attacks.

Both solo and with his Dr. Jazz Dixie Land band, he performs throughout Israel, particularly in places struck by acts of terrorism and violence. He is commonly known for his “senseless acts of simha [happiness]” in Sderot, Hebron, the Gaza perimeter, and Jerusalem’s Rehov Ben-Yehuda.


Brandt’s first thirst for Israel came when he was 13, in 1965, just two years before the Six Day War. During his bar mitzva at synagogue, he heard whispers among the congregation about the Old City of Jerusalem that was now occupied but not forgotten.

“Two years before the Six Day War, I would hear stories in synagogue of people who had been to Israel, actually been to [the] Western Wall with their foreign passports. It fascinated me,” he recalls.

Another seed was planted a few years later when he heard about Israel’s triumph during the war. “I was in high school, and suddenly people were shouting out, we got back Jerusalem! There was a lot of excitement in synagogue, and my yearning to visit Israel intensified.”

After high school, he studied engineering in college, but quickly grew despondent with the program. In 1973, he joined the US Army, where he got married for the first time and flew helicopters during the Cold War.

“I would hear about soldiers being sent to Egypt and Israel to fight, and my connection to the country intensified. I had to find a way to get there,” he says.

Brandt became interested in religious studies and Jewish history. He went back to graduate school in Texas and majored in Bible, Hebrew language and literature.

His first opportunity to venture through the land of milk and honey came when he moved to New York in 1979 and took a job as a reservations agent with El Al.

He was given free airfare to Israel once a year.

“From the moment I touched Israeli soil, I fell in love with the land,” he says. “I was fascinated by how the country was developing out of nothing after hundreds of years. Experiencing what I had learned, being able to touch the history, the idea of being part of it was intriguing.”

After a second trip, an early mid-life crisis and a divorce, Brandt decided it was time for a change.

“At 37, my first wife and I got divorced, and it was almost time for my mid-life crisis. I didn’t have an established career; I was moving from place to place looking for something to do. My dilemma was that I did not want to leave my 10-year-old daughter.”

Six years later, he decided to share his passion for Israel with his daughter and took her on a flight to Jerusalem for her birthday. Two weeks later, he was standing in line at the Interior Ministry, filling out aliya forms.

“I didn’t want to wait any longer. I didn’t know what was going to happen, and I did not want to be too old to make a life here. I still wanted to get married again.

So I thought, you know, I’ve just got to go for it.”


Brandt had been told to bring his paperwork “just in case.” The ministry told him to come back in a month, not realizing he would be leaving again to the US. “I didn’t know you couldn’t leave the country. They just said, come back in a month, so I thought, okay, I’ll come back in a few months. I took my daughter back, packed up and arranged for a shipment.”

Three months later, he arrived in Jerusalem and went directly to the ministry for his second visit. They were reluctant to help him, as he had left the country, and they told him to come back in a few months. But Brandt learned how to be Israeli very quickly.

“Three months ago, I gave you my application, you told me to return in a month,” he told them. “I want to start working, take ulpan and receive my shipment.

I don’t have a month.”

Three days later, he was a citizen of Israel.


Born in 1952, less than 10 years after the end of the Holocaust, Brandt understood the need to help those struck by terrorism and violence.

“It was my dream to make simha in the streets. Suicide bombings were going on, bus bombings, war on the Lebanese border. I thought my banjo would help liven up the atmosphere a little bit.”

Brandt started off on Rehov Ben-Yehuda 12 years ago. He played for three hours and earned NIS 11. He now plays 10 instruments and runs the Dr. Jazz Dixie Land Band, which goes around in colorful costumes to make people smile.

“We got used to playing in places that were being attacked during the intifada,” he says. “I decided the best weapon is not to be afraid. I went onto Ben-Yehuda and played. We played for kids, schools and soldiers.

I played in yishuvim, Gush Katif, Judea and Samaria, Hebron. I like to play at normal events and celebrations, but there are also places that get attacked, that need to recover. I like to make balloons, play happy music and try helping people to feel a little bit more human.”

He recalls playing at the back of an open truck in a settlement during a Hanukka celebration. “I was going around playing, and I saw a truck opposite me handing out doughnuts in merit of the holiday.”

Asked about the challenges he has faced as an oleh, he replies, “It’s not easy. I opted not to worry too much about money. I have a small apartment, and I live comfortably.

I have a background in computer work and technical writing, but you have to work a million hours a day in that industry. I came here because I want to do things I enjoy that matter. I like to make music, make people happy. I even play at parties and events with no electricity; once, we even performed in the woods.”

Brandt has created two CDs: Doctor Jazz’s Ben Yehudah Street Parade and his own solo album Blowing My Own Horn. He also found love again, marrying his beautiful bride, Krina. When not performing, he teaches instruments privately and works freelance as a biblical Hebrew consultant with Bible translators, including with local translation teams in India and Africa.


Brandt also dreams of expanding his band. He encourages all those interested in learning an instrument, particularly those around his age who want to sharpen their skills or take up their instruments again, to contact him: “Anyone who would like a chance to play in a band can call me. I want my students to get into my band, so I am motivated to work with them and get them up to speed so they can perform.”

Has he ever considered living anywhere else in Israel? “Never,” he declares. “Jerusalem is my home. My aspiration is summed up by the words of Isaiah 66:10: ‘Make Jerusalem happy; rejoice in her, you who love her.’”

* Side-note: Dr. Jazz and his wife were also in the performance of 'The Music Man' that we enjoyed last week. And now, for your listening pleasure here is a YouTube of Dr Jazz in S'derot.  It appears that this kindergarten class meets in a bomb shelter.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Familiar Things

Hot, lazy summer days. Not enough energy to do anything but the minimal of tasks around the house. Lots of reading and drinking water. With a lack of activity, we noticed something  happening. Now, more than at the holidays, we are becoming rather nostalgic and 'missing' certain things from our home country. Don't misunderstand... we absolutely love it here (as you can tell by our previous posts). It is all very inspiring and exciting and every day there is something new to discover.

But, sometimes, it is nice to have the predictable and the familiar~ the events, customs and transitions that are our foundation (other than religious ones). It is July. The inner urge is to pull out the suitcases and pack everyone's things and head to OBX (Outer Banks, North Carolina) to spend a wonderful days in the sand and surf and nights playing putt-putt. Or to call friends to meet us late at night at Dairy Queen for soft-serve ice cream and chatter about baseball while the children play.

We are finding that the 'need' for the familiar does not mean that we are dissatisfied with our lives here in the Land. We are realizing that it is all part of the adjustment to a new life in a new country... a 'need' that helps us keep a balance between who we were and who we are becoming.

With this in mind, The 2 Spies would like to share a few photos of familiar things that we have enjoyed recently here in the Land:

Bowling! Can't get more American than this!

Such a blast from the past!  We can imagine poodle skirts, saddle shoes and Duck Tails!

The Elvis Restaurant~ filled with EVERYTHING Elvis!

Ahhh a pink Caddy!
 As if eating hamburgers at the Elvis Cafe and going bowling wasn't enough.... we thoroughly enjoyed a matinee performance of 'The Music Man'.  So much talent!
The Music Man

Lida Rose

"76 Trombones..."

                                                   Here's one for you to enjoy!!  Shabbat Shalom Ya'll

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Light to the Nations

To be a Light to the Nations. The Mandate of the Jewish people.
(Isaiah 49:6) This is no small task and to obey takes many shapes and forms. As many Jewish people as there are, there are as many ways this Light can be shown. Each persons' own particular personality and gifting shapes their interpretation and performance of this Mitzvah.

The 2 Spies received the following video from a young Jewish woman (aged 20). Her heart was touched deeply by the devastation of Japan in March's tsunami. As you may know, Israel was one of the first countries to respond and send aid and medical teams. We were all glued to the news and watched Japan's drama unfold for a few days or weeks.

But what about now? Does anyone know what is happening in Japan as they seek to recover? This is what  touched our hearts about this young lady's video.  She has not forgotten Japan and their suffering all these months later. She is still concerned and is still praying for the country~ and urges us to join her. In her measure, she is fulfilling the miztvah~ she is a Light to the Nation of Japan. Her faithfulness is an inspiration and a challenge to us all.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Prayers & Squares

We have 2 personal requests to share:

1.       There is a young boy (aged 8) that we know~ A. ~ who recently had a tumor the size of a tennis ball remove from his brain-stem. It turns out that it is cancer. Now he is going through many different interventions to help him gain the use of his limbs and speech as well as chemo therapy.

Would you please pray for him? And for his mother~ L.~ who carries the whole burden by herself? 
                                                    Mi Shebeirach 
                  (Prayer for healing by Debbie Friedman, sung by Susan Colin)

2.      Would you consider sending square of fabric that can be joined together into a quilt to give to  L as a form of comfort and support? (we already made one for A) The specifications are:

*Between 6-10 inches square.
*It can be just one piece of cotton fabric in reds or blues.
*The important part~ please use a permanent fine-point marker and sign your name and  location so L. can see who is praying for them.  The fabric can be a new piece or cut from a  piece of clothing that you are getting rid of (like the back of a shirt)
Here are some examples. 

It would be great if all family members could send a patch~ or the members of your prayer group.

We will begin to sew the quilt in one month~ August 15th.

Please, feel free to share this with others who are interested.
The 2 Spies

Send your squares to:

Prayers & Squares
PO Box 541
Jerusalem 91004

Please post in the comment section after you send your envelope or send us an email so we know your square is on the way

Add These to the List...

 More contributions from Israelis:

Two Israeli scientists, Prof. Haim Rabinowitch, former rector of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Prof. Nachum Kedar, developed the cherry tomato in 1973. Looking for a way to slow down the rapid ripening of ordinary tomatoes in a hot climate, they identified the genetic combination to slow down maturation and also a way to exploit the genes to produce cherry tomatoes. (Yummy!)
 Cherry Tomatoes

Rummikub was invented by Ephraim Hertzano, a Romanian-born immigrant who came to Mandate Palestine in the early 1930s. He hand-made the first sets with his family in the backyard of his home. The game combines elements of rummy, dominoes, mah-jong and chess. Hertzano sold the first sets door-to-door and on a consignment basis at small shops. Over the years, the family licensed it to other countries and it became Israel’s #1 export game. In 1977, it became a bestselling game in the United States.
(If you haven't played yet, we suggest you try it. There is even an on-line version! Great family fun!) Rummikub

Bamba is one of the leading snack foods produced and sold in Israel. They are made from peanut-butter flavored puffed corn. Bamba contains no cholesterol, preservatives or food coloring, and is enriched with several vitamins. Nevertheless it contains high amounts of fat. It  Some describe it as ' Cheez-Doodles without the cheese'. (Children LOVE these snacks!) by Osem

אין כמו במבה   Nothing is like Bamba 

On these very hot days we cannot forget the Israeli contribution to our summer comfort~ the car sun screen. Back in the 80's, the Israelis that were living in California noticed everyone dealing with 'hot-seat' problems. They set to work and began marketing the first windshield screens for the US comsumer. The original ones were made of heavy cardboard that folded like a fan. They were white on one side and had this message on the reverse side ~if needed:

Later someone became more creative. Here is a popular screen from that time:
Of course we have become more sophisticated and the screens are made from a variety of materials and colors. Just remember the next time you are folding up your screen~ thank an Israeli !

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Understanding UN Bias Against Israel

This Video came to our attention. We feel that it is well researched and articulately presented with an extremely timely message and invitation.

Monday, July 11, 2011

In His Father's Eyes

Today's blog post is an interview with one of The 2 Spies favorite people in the Old City, Kevork (George) Kahvedjian~ an Armenian Christian ~ he and his father, Elia. We have several of his works on our walls, have given them as gifts and one dear friend bought us the book! We hope you enjoy this fascinating story and some of the unique photos. Next time you are in Jerusalem, be sure to stop by and visit the shop! (Details below if you would like to purchase some for yourself)

The Discovery of Historic Photos of Jerusalem
In His Father's Eyes
By Rhonda Spivak, November 1, 2009

Kevork Kahvedjian
Jerusalem  -  The life of photographer Kevork Kahvedjian  totally changed one day in 1989, the when his wife Hasmig decided to clean out the attic of their house  in the Armenian quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City.

There, to his amazement, she discovered boxes upon boxes  of negatives of photographs that Kevork’s father  Eli had taken of Jerusalem in the 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s before the the city’s landscape had forever been transformed by the 1948 War of Independence.

Kevork’s father Eli,, who was born in  Turkey in 1910  and orphaned at the age of five was eventually rescued and brought to live in Palestine in 1920.  He began taking his first photographs of his adopted homeland at the age of 14.  In 1947, fearing the coming war for Israel's independence, Kahvedjian hid his entire collection and fled the country.  There the historic photographs remained hidden until some 40 years later, when Kevork and his wife found them.

From the moment the discovery was made,  Kevork  Kahvedjian recognized the rarity of  of  his father’s photographs, and realized that his  own life’s work would be to catalogue and exhibit them.

Indeed, the photographs won critical acclaim after being  exhibited in Jerusalem, New York, San Francisco and elsewhere,  and on 1998  Kevork published an exquisite collection of  them in  a book entitled, Jerusalem Through My Father’s Eyes, which sells for  about $65  (available through (Or the individual photos can be purchased through Holy Land Market)

During an interview at his studio at 14 Al-Khanqa Street in the Christian quarter of the Old City, the 63 year old Kevork proudly opens the book  and points to a photograph his father took of  the Kotel  in 1929.  “Look , in the photo you can see that  Jewish men and Jewish women are praying together , intermingled.  There was no divider separating them like there is now.”

Kevork  flips quickly to another photo showing the area of Damascus Gate,  “It shows that after 1948, there was actually a physical barrier dividing West and East Jerusalem.” 

“There is a lot of interest in my father’s photos,” says Kvork, whose two sons are also photographers.  Photography is a life-long passion that Kevork says seems to flow in the family genes.

The collection of  Eli  Kahvedjian's black and white  photographs capture the ebb and flow of daily life in Jerusalem, and  reflects the eye of an  outsider, an Armenian Christian, living in the heart of a conflict between  Jews and Arabs. The photographs have a sensitivity fostered by the hardships of Eli’s own childhood.

 “ One hundred and sixty members of my father’s family were murdered in the Armenian Genocide.  After weeks in the dessert, my father was given to Kurd that was passing by. The Kurd sold him to a blacksmith, who eventually sent him away. He sought  refuge in a Syrian convent. When the war was over, [in 1918] the American Near East Relief Foundation  began to gather Armenian orphans and distribute them in its orphanages throughout the Middle East.  My father was  sent to  an orphanage in Lebanon, and then  Nazareth before arriving at  the age of 16 to an orphanage in the old City. It so happened that one of his teachers  in  the orphanage in Nazareth was a photographer and started to teach him,”  says Kvork.

After learning the trade, Elia Kahvedjian bought a studio in 1936 on Jaffa Road ( which today is the site of the Dan Pearl Hotel).   Elia had some business contacts with the British military, and as a result two British Intelligence colonels came to his studio in late 1947 to warn him of a pending Arab riot that destroyed  the new Commercial Center  after the United Nations vote on November 29, 1947, to partition Palestine.

The two officers assisted Kahvedjian in loading his photographs and equipment on two trucks and transferring these treasures to the Armenien Convent  in the Old City.  A mere two days later, the studio together with all of Jerusalem’s Mamilla area was ransacked. Kahvedjian and his family also sought safety in the convent and fled to Syria for eight months.  He returned to Jerusalem to find it divided between Hashemite Jordan and the newly established State of Israel.

Kevork is currently completing a second volume of his father’s photos, and  has begun cataloging over 2000 negatives his father shot in neighboring Middle East countries before 1948.  His two sons are working on a “Then and Now” volume contrasting the changes in Jerusalem that have occurred in the last seven decades.

“I have a lot of work ahead of me,”  Kevork says.

The Western Wall 1929
Making Yoghurt 1936
Harvest Time 1936
At the Water Spring 1935

Saturday, July 9, 2011

This is a Test.... Again....

(Continuing from where we left off in the blog from June 19th )

‘Let’s check the list’
Packing tape
Roll of plastic
Radio, flashlight and batteries
Bucket of water, towel and bleach
Water and snacks
Games, books, something to do
Oh yeah--Don’t forget the gas masks!

The Gulf War had started and even though it was not being fought in Israel, the ‘Powers that be’ knew we should prepare. The appointment to pick up the gas masks had been sent. All went to the local school for an instructional video on what to do when the siren sounds. The soldiers at the school helped us learn how to put on the mask, and then showed us what to do if we believed we had been exposed to a gas attack. 

During school classes the teachers reviewed the procedures and emphasized to not leave home without gas masks. The children decorated their boxes and daily could be seen with the strap thrown over their shoulders as they trekked to school. 

Somehow this education didn’t seem to help us calm down but feel more fearful and out of control- especially the children. In The 2 Spies’ home, we let the children do all the preparations. They covered the windows with thick plastic using the brown packing tape to hold it in place. They gathered and organized the supplies and put them in the room. Then we decided who would be responsible for what tasks when the siren went off. Feeling more in ‘control’ gave them a more peaceful demeanor.

And finally the siren came. 2:00 AM. We got up and got to the safe room. Each child got busy with their task. Seal off the door with tape, put a wet towel at the base of the door, turn on the radio. All of this done after putting on gas masks first.

Sitting in the safe room the first night, I was reminded of the childhood ‘Duck and Cover’ drills and silently wondered how ‘safe’ we really were. It was rather surreal sitting there with my All-American children. Each of us looking like some giant bug and wondering where life was bringing us.  Everyone was rather nervous as we did not know what to expect. And then…. We heard a song we recognized coming over the radio. “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” but in Hebrew.  It broke the tension in the room as we laughed and began to sing along a little. It also set the pace for the duration. We would use humor to get through this very serious time.

We were well aware of the danger around us. But we chose to not enter into it. We made a silly video of Israel’s secret weapon (gas from eating beans) and one son made up a Saddam Hussein rap. Friends came from Haifa and stayed with us for 2 weeks. They lived under the Patriot Missile site and every time a Patriot went off they could hear it and it was very discomforting to their family. It was much quieter where we were and our children had a great time being together. Two other children joined us for a few days while their parents went on a trip to Europe. (We had a 7 bedroom apartment at the time)

All in all it was an enriching experience for us all. Many, many people left Israel at the time. It did not even occur to us to leave. This is our home. At times like this, it became even more our home. The war ended on Purim and we know that Saddam- like Haman- has been brought down since then.  In the end, the final analysis is that we all knew that Psalm 91 is completely true. We knew this not only because G-d is true and faithful but we experienced it ourselves. That is something we will never forget.

Friday, July 8, 2011


Israel is such a great place to live!  Today we are going to share some 'bits-and-pieces' of what we see on a daily (or not so daily) basis.  Enjoy this mini-tour!

Temple model in wood in Ben Gurion airport
Peace Doves? or a monument to the pigeons?
Sign post in the Jezreel Valley (Armageddon)
Where are the soldiers??
Breakfast at the Zoo!
Nothin' says Lovin' like something from the... bakery!
Food is a beautiful art form
The resurrected (rebuilt) Hurva Synagogue

Shabbat Shalom Ya'll!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Quilting in Israel

This Spy has been having marvelous time of craft, color and comradeship!
The Israeli Quilter's Guild is hosting it's yearly conference in Jerusalem. There are about 350 members in the guild and we gathered from all around the country for workshops, lectures and a sharing of skills and expertise. What a wonderful group of ladies and an exciting time together.
Here is a clip about the evolution of quilting in Israel and the recent quilt entries in honor of the 100th anniversary of the kibbutz movement:

There were many hands on workshops taught by experts in the field.This Spy took the Machine Quilting class taught by Eti David. What patience she has! Such a confident teacher! I learned so much~ and the class was even taught in Hebrew! (not sure which pleases me more... that I understood the lecture or that I am able to machine quilt!)

That's Eti, standing with her back to us.

Everyone busy sewing

Good cotton quilt fabrics are hard to come by in the Land. BUT there are three great shops and they brought their wares for us to indulge in! Too many temptations....

Such Yummy fabrics!

Too, too many choices!

  Planning my next quilt~ This one for us!

We'll be back later this week with more
lovelies from the Land!
Nirit from Pissott Fabric Shop

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Wishing You Were Here With Us!

We invite you to sit back and drink in this beautiful aerial view of the Land. Come fall in love all over again! (Thanks to our friend Scott for sharing this with us!)

Jerusalem | Filmed in Imax 3D from JerusalemGiantScreen on Vimeo.

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