Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wonderful News!!

Today we recieved some marvelous news! For those of you who are regularr readers, you already know about our campaign to help the Re'ut Home for Boys in Jerusalem. For those who are new, here is the link to an older post Boys Home
We have been rasising funds to help build a new kitchen for the Home. Here is an update

Great News!

 Thanks to people like you, we have raised $8.035.00. Our personal goal is $20,000 to go towards a new kitchen for the Re'ut Home for Boys. As you know the whole boy's home needs renovations or it will have to close. Because these boys are in a high risk group, this would be devestating for them We have been working together with other caring people to help them remain at Re'ut Home for Boy's. Today we received wonderful news ! Here is a copy of an email from Debbies Faier (Deputy Director of Development)

Dear Hadassah & Nissim
Hope this finds you all well.
Just wanted to drop you a line to say how much we appreciate your support for Re'ut, the kitchen is almost completed, they await the final touches and the furnishings but we are now mocing on to stage two, the bedrooms and living quarters.

We so appreciate all your efforst on our behalf, your rootfunding campaign was very successful and we are truly grateful for all you do on our behalf.

I hope you will join us for a tour of Re'ut after Pesach to see the renovations and to see some of the boys.

Pesach Sameach to you and yours

We cannot express how delighted we are with everyone for your participation but we do know that you each have your own sense of quiet joy at knowing what is being accomplished. We will continue to gather funds until we reach the $20,000 as there are still other needs~ as you've just read. Please feel free to share the nees of the boys with your friends and families. Together we ARE making a difference!!

To join our campaign click Donate

Breaking Free

Pesach. Celebration of our deliverance from slavery. The mighty Right Hand of G-d personally doing the miraculous to not only break our bondage but to show His great love and compassion.

Breaking  free.

Free to love Him in return. Free to serve Him. Free to... be free. 

As you are preparing for Pesach consider the areas where you may not be quite so free. As you clean your house of leaven, consider your personal 'leaven' and know that G-d has the answer for your freedom.
Take that personal 'leaven' to Him as you burn your physiacl leaven in the fire.

Breaking free.

Free to worship HIm. Free to be a Light to the nations. Free to.... be free

The night of the Seder, consider all your 'Egypts' and remember G-d's mighty Right Hand personally doing the miraculous to break your bondage.

Breaking free....

Friday, March 23, 2012

Shabbat Shalom!!

Almost Nisan ! A new month. The month of our celebration, Pesach.  Preparing to light my Shabbat candles and wanted to share this beautiful beyond words video of Jerusalem.  Gotta run!  Shabbat Shalom Ya'll.

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

HaRav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg ZT"L

When a tzadik ~ a righteous person~ is taken from the earth, all creation mourns. The Light of their nefesh ~ soul~ has been extinguished. If, however they were a true tzadik, they have been a Light to the nations as Torah has commanded hnd have increased the brightness on the earth.

This past week HaRav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg ZT"L passed from the earth. The greatness of this man and his influence was so well known that even a secular paper (The Telegraph~ London) wrote an article about him. We are going to share that article with you. There are also two videos that we hope you will watch so that you who did not know him may still learn from those he left behind. WE realize that today's post is long.... but we want to honor this precious Rabbi.

Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, who has died in Jerusalem aged 101, was one of the most important ultra-Orthodox leaders of the post-war era – and one of the few remaining Torah scholars to have received an education in the greatest religious seminaries of pre-Holocaust eastern Europe.
He was born on October 1 1910 in Ostrov, Poland, but moved in 1919 to New York’s Lower East Side, where he was educated at the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School. Subsequently, he attended the Beis Medrash Le Rabbonim Yeshiva in New Haven, Connecticut, and the Rabbi Elchanan Theological Seminary in New York.
Scheinberg’s outstanding scholarship soon attracted the attention of Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Herman – the key figure in American Orthodoxy of the early 20th century – who rapidly commended the 16-year-old prodigy to his family as a potential spouse for his 12-year-old daughter Bessie.    
The couple married five years later, with Scheinberg simultaneously receiving his first Semichah (rabbinical ordination) under the marital canopy. Their union lasted 81 years, until her death in 2009.
Scheinberg was dispatched by his father-in-law to learn at the Mir Yeshiva in eastern Poland, the most prestigious of such seminaries, located in an impoverished small town without running water or pavements. He also studied at the Kaminetz Yeshiva, where he took another Semichah.
Scheinberg soon sought out Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan, otherwise known as the “Chofetz Chaim” (1838-1933), the leading figure in the Yeshiva world at the time. When the Chofetz Chaim was informed that the young scholar had come from America for a blessing, he replied: “Moses came all the way from Heaven to teach the Yidden [Jews] Torah. What’s the big deal about coming from America to Europe?” The Chofetz Chaim nonetheless duly bestowed the benediction.
Scheinberg returned to America in 1935 to teach in the Yeshivah Chofetz Chaim in New York, latterly founding his own Yeshivah, Torah Or (“Torah Light”). In 1965, long before it became fashionable, he was the first of the American Torah heavyweights to relocate his seminary to Israel, moving to Kiryat Mattersdorf in Jerusalem: when the Six Day War broke out, many Yeshivah students left for home, but all of Scheinberg’s stayed on.
Scheinberg was unique amongst the Gedolei Israel (great Torah sages of Israel) in that English was his native tongue. He thus became the first port of call for many Anglo-Saxon immigrants, who found it easier to raise their concerns over points of complex Jewish religious law with him than with any of the other Torah scholars of comparable seniority (who were either Yiddish or Hebrew speakers).
Although Scheinberg was a man of great spirituality – he wore 150 Tallesim, or prayer shawls, for much of his life, making him appear much bulkier than he actually was – he nevertheless remained very accessible to Jews at any level of learning or holiness. His American heritage also made him particularly sensitive to the needs of Orthodox women: one of his most important works was Heart to Heart Talks: Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg talks to women (2000). Few other Orthodox scholars of similar standing would have been willing to address female concerns so publicly.
Scheinberg visited Britain annually until last year, and was greeted enthusiastically by hundreds of pupils on his trips to Hasmonean High School and Jews’ Free School in London, many of whom became more observant under his inspiration. His blessings proved, however, to be uniquely efficacious for thousands of his co-religionists: 70,000 attended his funeral on the Mount of Olives.
He is survived by four daughters and a son, Rabbi Simcha Scheinberg, himself one of the most distinguished rabbinical educators of his own generation, who succeeds him at the helm of Yeshiva of Torah Or.
Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, born October 1 1910, died March 20 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pesach Is Coming !

Once Purim was over with all it's joy and laughter and fun under a beautiful full moon... the realization hit me... the NEXT full moon would be PESACH. A mixture of sheer joy and panic! Only one month to whip this house into shape!! Oy!

So, I already began a week ago with the 'purging' of things that really have NOTHING to do with Pesach cleaning. You know... all the extra books, papers and 'stuff' that just keeps attracting more useless 'stuff' and now it's time to make a decision... keep it or dump it. So, out the door it goes.

Today I finished going through all my sewing fabric. How much does one person need? I know... when you are 'crafty' there are never enough supplies. BUT I had to take a fearless assessment of what I will honestly use in the next few months and find a home for everything else. So 5 bags of fabric are ready to find a new home! 

Getting ready for Pesach does not have to include this type of cleaning but there is something so wonderful in knowing that I have opened every closet and drawer, touched all my 'stuff' and put back only what is really used or needed. There is an inner sense of peace that settles into my inmost part that comes from having things in order.

The REAL cleaning will begin soon enough. To scrub all the kitchen and dining area, to read food labels to see what needs to be eaten quickly or tossed out. To plan to buy some new kitchenware just for Pesach and figure out which pots can be kashered and which cannot. To get the calendar out and write down when each step needs to be done and ask when they will be kashering and at what location. It is so wonderful to have this service and not have to do it all myself!! A great benefit of living here in the Land.

The 2 Spies do not make their own seder but our children do, each in their own home. (We alternate years between the two families) The day before Pesach, we take all the small children and give the parents the ability to do all the last minute details for the Sederim. Since everyone is so busy that day with all the tasks and we are all starving~ we take everyone out for dinner. This plan seems to work best for everyone and has become our yearly tradition.

If you haven't started to prepare.... don't worry.... you still have plenty of time. Here is a little inspiration for you.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Am I My Brothers' Keeper?

Every now and then The 2 Spies feel that we MUST share a bit of reality from the darker side of living in the Land. We know that this is NOT why we started this blog. Our desire is to shine light on the wonderful gift we have been given ~ Israel ~ and thus on the Giver of our gift.

However, there are stark realities here that cannot be passed over without comment or commitment. In sharing these with you we do NOT intend for this to be in any way a negative about the Land or about G-d himself. Quite the contrary. It is merely facing what is and has always been here~ the Giants in the Land.

 From the beginning, the Giants have lived here and have been those who would cause us to do one of two things. One, like the 10 spies of the Tenach, we can lose trust, speak against the Creator and NOT enter the fulness of His promise. OR, like the 2 Spies of the Tenach, we can see the Giants as what they are for us~ bread! We will devour them. They will make us strong. We will NOT look at them but heavenward from where our Strength comes.

Having said that, today we want to share another blog's posting. We do hope that it will motivate you to pray and to action. Please visit Ruti's blog and leave an encouraging comment:

What can I do? Am I my brother's keeper?

Yom chamishi, 21 Adar 5772.

There's this couple I know.  I don't like to talk about them.

He beats the kids.  She knows about it.  But she wants to keep up appearances, because it really, really matters to her what the neighbors think of her and the kids.

I feel that it's my civic responsibility to get the word out, so that maybe somebody will stop him.

She's been my friend for years.  But quite frankly, she is beginning to disgust me a little.  I mean, it's her kids, for crying out loud!

She tells me that he's trying, that he doesn't mean to hurt them, that he really wants everything to be normal for everyone.  He says he never hits them without provocation.  I guess that is what makes it hard for me to believe anything he says.  Because on the one hand, he says he wants to be a normal family -- at least, that's what he tries to convince the neighbors he wants -- but then he says that it's all the kids' fault.

I overheard a conversation he had with some of his cronies.  He really thinks the children need to be taught a lesson.  He really doesn't have any remorse.

But she is the one who breaks my heart.  I don't honestly expect anything from him.  He's a jerk.  (He was abused as a kid for years; and he takes it out on his kids, and makes excuses.)  But she says she loves her children; and yet she has watched this thing happening to them, year after year, for almost a decade.  And she keeps putting on nice dresses, and going out in public, pretending that life is good... while her kids are at home, hiding under the bed.


Now I must apologize, dear reader.  I am assuming you are as angry as me, and think this woman should get some sense, and that she should divorce this guy, and protect her kids.  Right?

The husband is Gaza.  The wife is the Israeli government.  And the beaten children really are mostly children.  They are the citizens of southern Israel, who have been bombed routinely for the last eight-plus years, with more than 200 bombs being fired at them in less than a week, purely for the "crime" of being Jews, in the so-called wrong place.
Citizens of Ashdod running to shelters when siren sounds ~ Photo credit: Jim Hollander

Many of these children will reach bar and bat mitzvah without a memory of a time that didn't include terror, running to bomb shelters with only 15 seconds to spare, school closed randomly because bombs are falling nearby, the stress on their families, the shame of wetting their beds long after the acceptable age...

I feel like that child beater's enabling wife's friend.  I love my country.  I have a long-standing respect for Israel.  She's been my friend for years...

But I must not be deaf to the booms and the bombs and the sirens just a few kilometers to the south of me.  I have to look at myself in the mirror every day; and I can't allow those children to continue being beaten with my complicit silence.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Only in Israel !

How can one explain the wonderful sense of community and commitment that binds us together here in the Land. We may not agree on many issues ~ even painfully disagree. But there is a tie that holds us close in the worst of times. And in the best of times. A tie that causes us to 'be there' for each other when it is genuinely important.

ZAKA, founded in 1995, is Israel's dominant non-governmental lifesaving, rescue and recovery organization, with over 1500 volunteers on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to respond to any terror attack, disaster or accident immediately, professionally and with the necessary equipment. ZAKA is perhaps best known for its sacred work in collecting human remains to ensure a proper Jewish burial, is also active in the fields of emergency response, search and rescue (including specialist canine, divers and rappelling units) and accident prevention. ZAKA is the Hebrew acronym for 'Disaster Victim Identification'.  There's is a grueling job done with the attitude of a Mitzvah and with no expectation of award or honors. Here is a video that explains why these men volunteer:

This past week though, there was an unexpected turn of events for one ZAKA member....

GENERALLY SPEAKING, ZAKA volunteers are called upon in times of tragedy and trauma, but this week ZAKA volunteer Berele Yaacovitz of Bnei Brak, who has been part of ZAKA’s search, rescue and life-saving efforts for more than a decade, was called for a different kind of emergency. A bride, whose wedding hall was located next to Kiryat Vishnitz, was getting married on the day of the funeral of Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager, the Vishnitzer Rebbe. With the thousands of people who thronged the streets blocking her way, it was almost impossible for her to get to the wedding hall on time.

Thinking outside the box, the bride called the ZAKA hotline and explained her predicament. Within minutes, ZAKA had dispatched an ambulance to her door to drive her through the crowd. “This is the first time that I’ve been involved in a joyous event,” said Yacovitz, who was thrilled to have performed the mitzva. “It’s a truly emotional moment for me to see my vehicle, which has seen so much sorrow and tragedy, take a bride to her wedding.

Original Story here
 To Donate to ZAKA Click here.

Friday, March 16, 2012

'Breathtaking' Jerusalem Marathon

In a few hours, Jerusalem will be teeming with over 12,000 athletes of varying ability to compete in the second Jerusalem Marathon. There are other races as well for those of lesser stamina~ like the one we entered. I call it the 'Bubbe Track' which is actually called the 'Public Race'. 4.2 K that can be run or 'walked at a brisk pace' Sounds like something this Spy can handle.

There is much preparation happening all week. Huge tents erected in Gan Sachar (Sachar Park), festive flags advertising the race and it's sponsors and a big health fair at the Binyaney Ha'uma  convention center. Going there last night to pick up our shirts and numbers gave me a better insight as to the magnitude of this event. So many different languages and faces from around the world!  Not being a runner, I didn't realize how big a deal this is!

According to the information on the website: The city of Jerusalem is blessed with the type of weather and humidity level which facilitate pleasant conditions for challenging and gratifying sports such as this marathon.

Davka, the wonderful spring weather we have been enjoying blew out yesterday and brought back cold, blowing rain~ difficult conditions for a race. This Spy is having second thoughts as to her participation~ being the conditional sportswoman that she is!
But what makes it a bigger deal to me is the spirit of the Mayor about promoting Jerusalem. Being a runner himself, Mayor Birkat has thrown his full support (and push) behind this race. The course is billed as 'Running Through History' and it truly is. On the official website there is a list of all the historical places on the route and information on their historical significance. Click here 

Due to the course's uphill and downhill trek throughout the historical city combined with the beauty of Holy Jerusalem, the race has been titled 'Breathtaking', Undoubtedly, more 'breathtaking' for some than for others. We'll let you know!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Israel's Iron Dome

Israel has sustained continuous missle attack for almost a week. The count varies but approximately 180 missles have been fired from Gaza into the Land. No outcry from the West. Good luck even finding it on your news channel.

Israel has what is called The Iron Dome~ a defense system that is deployed to intercept missle fire. The brave young men and women who man these 'Domes' are to be more than recommended for their maturity, bravery and faithfulness. Here is an article about them, their job and their thoughts. Click here for original link

The Feeling of Saving Lives
Shir Aharon Bram
As the atmosphere down in southern Israel intensifies, the soldiers of the Iron Dome continue the battle of protecting the cities that are under constant attack. The ongoing pressure and rush adrenalin can be felt from miles away, but the soldiers keep their focus at all times, determined to do anything in order to complete their job in the best way possible. This past weekend they have managed to intercept over 50 rockets.

"It's an amazing feeling, it feels like I'm saving lives", says Sergeant Adir Levi enthusiastically, who is responsible for two successful interceptions from the Ashdod battery. "Once I saw my success with the interception I was thrilled. While were under attack, we were under so much pressure at the control room. We have to show character and have the right attitude in order to operate. No one can do the job for us". Levi and other soldiers from the battery are all hoping that the intensification will soon end, but they are ready to keep on fighting back as long as needed.

"This is the most challenging escalation we have experienced yet"

Beyond the actual launchings, the Iron Dome deals with the need of strengthening the system on a daily basis, to keep it intact and to eliminate future losses. "I been through many sleepless nights since more of the work gets done when the sun goes down, we get called in many times", says Corporal Roman Pindrik, a radar technical engineer who also operated at the Ashdod battery.

Corporal Pindrik can relate personally to the whole situation: his twin brother, Corporal Dima Pindrik, also operates as a technical engineer, but at the Ashkelon Iron Dome battery. Their family lives in Ashkelon, and in the past they lived in Sderot. "My brother and I are always involved with the maintenance of the radar", adds Corporal Pindrik. "We are both very proud to be a part of the formation and have the great honor of protecting our country".

The technical engineers have a very important place in the battery, causing them to work around the clock. "I operated as a system officer at the launching control room this past Saturday. Once Friday came around we knew that it wasn't going to be a normal Friday", says First Sergeant Danny Coppershmit , Head of the technical engineers of the battery. "This is the most challenging escalation we have experienced yet with very long shifts and a lot of intense work. I had to put aside the pressure and focus on the most important thing - my job of protecting the Israeli citizens".

Friday, March 2, 2012

In Memory the Fogel Family

The victims of the attack. (Clockwise, from top left:)
Ruth Fogel (35), Udi Fogel (36), Hadas (3 months), Yoav (11), Elad (4
 It has been one year since the vicious murders of Udi & Ruth Fogel and three of their precious chlidren. This family is so much a part of the heart and soul of Israel and the desire to be part of the redemption. They had settled in the Gush Katif city of Netzarim. After being ripped from their home there by the Israeli government, they eventually came to help establish Itamar where Udi was a teacher at a post-high school yeshiva.
Today, in Itamar, a Beit Midrash (house of study) was dedicated in memory of Udi Fogel. MK Uri Ariel put into words the thoughts of many:

“We respond to destruction with construction, we respond to murder with life,” he added “That’s the real message to the murderers and their supporters: you will not drive us out of here with your violence. Each murder only strengthens us further.”

For the Fogel family, dedicating their lives to Torah and to the Land cost them everything. A challenge to us all.