Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year

As 2013 is coming to a close ( in another 2 hours here in Israel) and 2014 is opening it's doors to us, The 2 Spies are looking backwards and forwards at the same time. We are so very grateful for all the support we have received from friends and family as we walked the Land this past year. We are looking forward to see what new avenues of adventure this next year will bring.

We know that we will have many blessing but we also know that we are headed into some tough times ahead. With many enemies surrounding us and forces from beyond in Europe and the United States playing tug-o-war with our borders, we can only look up to the Maker of the Covenant and the Keeper of Israel. We know that He is the One who sustains us and it is His Everlasting Arms that are under us supporting us.

We are grateful for the 'earthly' Shomers (guards) that He as assigned to watch over us~ the IDF. They are such a diverse group but their military service and dedication to Israel draws them together. We appreciate the strength it takes for our Sons and Daughters to carry this responsibility. For these we promise, with God's help, to continue to pray for them and assist them in any way possible.

May this next year be one of Peace for us all

The Unexpected Soldier

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Thru Jerusalem

An interesting YouTube video has come across the path of
The 2 Spies. It is by is an Israeli musician, composer, producer and animator Ophir Kutiel~  professionally known as Kutiman. His unique approach to the mixing of visual art and creative sound works a magical, mystical quality to his 'Thru Jerusalem' video. We do hope that you enjoy this as much as we do.

Kutiman~ Thru Jerusalem

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hidden Honey

Today's blog is a repost from three years ago. Today is the yartzeit of a dear Sister~ Kristine Luken. We want to honor her memory and not forget her life of love for God and the Jewish people.

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.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

I Believe in Miracles!

This great Hanukkah song by Julie Geller is such an inspiration to remember the miracles great and small in our lives~ especially during this season of Miracles.

What is The 2 Spies miracle?

That we know the Creator of the Universe~ that He chose us to have 5 marvelous children and 12 wonderful grandchildren. Our miracle of living in the Land and watching all the daily miracles that surround us every day. So very grateful for all our Miracles!

Send us a comment with your miracle!

Happy 4th night of Hanukkah!

I Believe in Miracles

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

נס גדול היה פה

Hanukkah.... Our victory over the Greeks and restoration of our Temple and practice. So many thoughts of a life of resisting assimilation. Being acutely aware of how easy it is to compromise and begin to not only look like the nations but to actually desire to be them. To throw off the loving restraints of Torah.

One of The 2 Spies constant heart-breaks is how our people choose to not embrace their full inheritance and come home to Israel. Never really understanding what it is that holds one 'out there'. Of course, we have to admit... until one has 'tasted' Israel- even with all it's difficulties- one will never know the maximum of what they are missing. It is all too easy, like the Israelites wandering in the desert, to limit G-d and doubt the goodness of His gift.

As we come into this season of reflection and celebration, may we throw off the restraint of the Galut.... the shroud... and make the decision followed by the steps to pack it up and get home. Come join us in saying. נס גדול היה פה

 A Great Miracle Happened HERE!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Israel: The Bright Side of Life

 The 2 Spies recently read an article in the Jerusalem Post by David M. Weinberg click here
It is an amazing look at Israel with the perspective and heart of The 2 Spies~ positive, insightful and uplifting.
We want to share David's perspective with you.

Be sure to make your plans to visit Israel. Set your heart to make Aliyah!

Given the acute Iranian threat to Israel, the perpetual Palestinian conundrum, the unstable regional situation, and Israel’s very many internal disputes and social ills – it’s easy to be an unrelenting pessimist.

But recently I have forced myself, Beatles-style, to “look at the bright side of life;” to pointedly pay attention to the good things Israel has going for it. I’ve come up with an astonishingly optimistic strategic assessment regarding the long-term fortunes of the State of Israel.

I was forced into this positive posture by a request from the Mizrachi Organization of Canada to give a series of lectures in Toronto in support of aliyah; in defense of the Zionist ideal which sees the world Jewish community moving to and helping build the modern State of Israel.

Preparing the lectures was a useful exercise in reinforcing a sense of pride in Israel’s achievements and wonder at its successes. It was a useful exercise in countering my natural tendencies towards seeing doom and feeling gloom. It was an opportunity to count my personal and our national blessings.

It was an opportunity to coldly evaluate Israel’s strengths versus our enemies’ threats.

In my final tally, Israel comes out way ahead: Way head of its Western counterparts, way ahead of its adversaries, well ahead of its detractors, and well positioned to overcome all its challenges, big and small.

The bottom line is that Israel is a tremendous success story, in so many ways; that life in Israel is full of meaning and delight – adorned by sacrifice, commitment, achievement and joy – all the components that make life satisfying and exciting, and certainly so for a Jew.

Moreover, I am convinced that in overall perspective Israel is stronger than any of its enemies. I furthermore find that Israelis are neither crushed nor dispirited by their challenges.

Even though Israelis worry about the future, they remain quite resilient and energized to build an even better future.

Despite all the naysayers, despite the boycotters, detractors, radicals, and anti-Semites – Israelis are achieving, creating, producing, and advancing.

The source of this resilience? I think Israelis feel the power of history on their side. They believe that time is on Israel’s side. Most Israelis feel Divine Providence at their back. They sense that Israel is winning! As for Israel’s security and diplomatic challenges, I believe that a dispassionate valuation of the foreseeable future leads to sanguine conclusions.

Major military threats to Israel have greatly diminished, as Arab societies and armies crumble across the Middle East. Soft power attacks on Israel – things like international campaigns to divest from Israel and to sanction Israel – have mostly fallen flat. The Europeans, the Chinese, and everybody else are lining up to buy Israeli technologies, not to boycott them. Palestinian attempts to prosecute or confront Israel are a nuisance and ongoing, but they are mostly empty threats, as the Palestinians are in disarray and deeply divided. The dramatic weakening of America and the US-Israel relationship under President Obama is of grave concern too, but this is temporary and reversible. And for Israel’s major challenge – the peril of an Iranian nuclear bomb – that too will yet be dealt with, I believe, quite firmly.

All the above are serious problems, but manageable problems. They will not detract from Israel’s drive to succeed ever-more in all aspects of life.

In drawing-up and delivering this very rosy appraisal to audiences in Canada, I talked about things like Israel’s outstanding science and top-notch technology; its brain scientists and rocket missile scientists; its Nobel Prize winners; its first-class doctors and world class health care; its leadership in satellites and missile defense; its robust economy and strong currency; its innovative water desalinization programs and newly-discovered, massive natural gas resources; its outstanding universities and leading yeshivas; its super-vibrant social assistance sector; its humanitarian missions abroad; and most of all, the activism and high motivation of its magnificent youth.

All this and more leads me to declare a very positive net assessment. Israel’s future is bright, and it is a great thrill to be part of this grand adventure.

This week, Hillel Halkin’s iconic 1977 book, Letters to an American Jewish Friend: A Zionist’s Polemic was republished. This masterful volume, long out of print, is an ardent and closely reasoned rejoinder to an imaginary friend’s defense of Jewish life in the Diaspora and his rejection of aliyah.

Halkin’s impassioned argument for the Zionist solution, for aliya, remains spot-on, and new edition should be required reading in all Diaspora Jewish high schools.

One brilliant paragraph from Halkin’s introduction to the new edition of the book sums it up:

“[Israel is] a great adventure. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. There’s been nothing like it in human history. A small and ancient people loses its land and forgets how to speak its language; wanders defenselessly for hundreds, thousands, of years throughout the world with its God and its sacred books; meets with contumely, persecution, violence, dispossession, banishment, mass murder; refuses to give up; refuses to surrender its faith; continues to believe that it will one day be restored to the land it lost; manages in the end, by dint of its own efforts, against all odds, to gather itself from the four corners of the earth and return to that land; learns again to speak the language of its old books; learns again to bear arms and defend itself; wrests its new-old home from the people who had replaced it; entrenches itself; builds; fructifies; fortifies; repulses the enemies surrounding it; grows and prospers in the face of all threats.”


Monday, October 14, 2013

My People

Lazer Lloyd, an Israeli guitarist and singer/songwriter, wrote a song entitled "Ha'am Sheli" (meaning "My People" or "My Nation" in Hebrew) in response to the frictions and tensions between different groups of Jews - especially in Israel.
 Lazer explains, "Before the Jewish people make peace with the world we first have to learn to love each other with all of our differences while not forgetting the unbelievable place of the Jewish people in the history of the world".

Here is the translation... Enjoy:
My nation, so big so small.
My nation, so new so old.
My nation, such suffering such patience.
My nation, that's my nation.

My nation, a people full of love.
My nation, a nation of heart and soul.
My people, really a special destiny.
My nation, that's my nation.

My nation, I love each and every one.
My nation, don't be afraid you're not alone.
My nation, a nation of people of miracles and hope.
My nation, that's my nation.
There isn't any other like them.

My people, so happy and smart.
My people, merciful and persistent.
My people of pure and simple faith.
My people, this is my people.

My people, heroes each and every one.
My people, the center of the world.
My people, together all the time.
My people, this is my people.
There isn't any other like them.

My people, there is a future if there is a past.
My people, sometimes there is song sometimes pain.
My people, maybe the time has come.
My people, this is my people.
There isn't any other like my people.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Making of the Shofar

The shofar is such an amazing instrument. Fascinating in it's sound and construction. Where do they come from? How are they made? Who makes them? Here is a video about a family in Israel who manufacture shofarim (shofars)

And then just for fun~ a Shofar Falsh Mob (of sorts)

Monday, September 9, 2013

What Happens When We Hear the Shofar?

We have listened to the sound of the shofar 100 times this past few days during Rosh HaShanah. The sound of this natural 'trumpet' is to awaken our hearts to the stirring of G-d, to assess our lives, motives and how we are spending the time He has given us. Over these next few days we continue to take an assessment, to ask for forgiveness where necessary and make the decision to follow Torah more closely and with a more pure heart.
The 2 Spies recently read an article that explains what happens scientifically in our bodies when we listen to the shofar. We thought our friends would find it interesting also. It comes from AISH.com
We will still have time to respond to the sound of the shofar as there will be one more opportunity on Yom Kippur.
Shana Tova

The Science of Shofar

The Science of Shofar

How our body’s reaction to hearing the shofar’s blast primes us for real change.

by Yvette Alt Miller

Each day of Rosh Hashanah, our synagogue services are punctuated by a hundred calls from the shofar, a ram’s horn that reverberates with a distinctive, alarm-like cry.
The shofar's rousing blast speaks to us more intensely than words ever can. It’s a personal call to each of us to wake up and use the opportunity of Rosh Hashanah to change.
Modern science has documented the physical responses human beings undergo when we’re subjected to loud, resonant sounds such as the shofar.
Sometimes called the “fight or flight” response, the physical changes we undergo when confronted with a sudden, urgent alarms helps us deal with immediate threats. During Rosh Hashanah, these changes can help us see the world differently, giving us a different perspective and helping us see areas where we need to grow.

1. Our senses are sharpened.

When we’re startled, the hypothalamus in our brain immediately starts producing hormones, altering our physiological state. One of the first is Neuropeptide-S, a small protein that makes us more alert. It decreases our need for sleep, and sharpens our alertness and feelings of energy.
Our brains also send a signal to our adrenal glands to start releasing adrenaline and norepinephrine, two hormones that increase our heart and breathing rates and sharpen our sense of concentration.
Within moments, we’re transformed into a new state of alertness, able to see dangers and details we overlooked before.
On Rosh Hashanah, these moments are invaluable. The energy we gain as we hear the shofar’s loud blasts gives us – for a moment – a new, sharper state of consciousness, and a different way of looking at the world.

2. Emotion grows stronger.

Another effect of sudden stress is simplification in our thought processes. When we’re startled, our brains release catecholamines, neurotransmitters which stimulate a part of our brain called the amygdale, a center that relies on emotional – rather than purely rational – thought.
This shift helps us to not overload on details or become bogged down as we make decisions: it’s the part of our fight-or-flight response that helps us decide to “run!” in times of danger.
It can also give us the clarity to see our behavior clearly, without the rationalization that’s part of more nuanced, everyday thought.
Thinking with our amygdale in the moments after the shofar’s blasts helps us to see ourselves more honestly, to perceive our behavior as good or bad, without the rationalizations. It can give us the courage to admit our shortcomings and the clarity to know what to do in the future.

3. Long-term memory is switched on.

At the same time our amygdale is stimulated, so is our brain’s nearby hippocampus, the region that stores long-term memories. It helps make sure we don’t waste these moments, that we learn from the stress we’ve just experienced.
This means that anything we’re about to experience in our newly heightened state will make a lasting imprint on us, remaining lodged in our memories longer than ordinary experiences.
This helps to ensure that our Rosh Hashanah resolutions have a more lasting impact. All our thoughts – our emotions, our resolutions and decisions to change – will all become a deep part of us, lodged in our long-term memory.
When we hear the loud shofar blasts, our brains become more sensitive; knowing this can help make sure that we use these precious moments to instill positive messages and resolutions to grow deep in our memories, to draw from all year long.

4. Our brain becomes more active.

While all these changes are taking place, during times of stress our brains become more active overall. Nerve cells in our brains receive more messages than normal, and we experience increased brain activity. We’re able to process much more information than during less-intense moments.

The period when we can hear the shofar's call  is very brief. Yet if we let it, it can stimulate us to think more deeply and make more lasting decisions than we’re accustomed to.
Judaism teaches that it’s possible to make even major decisions and change our lives in an instant. The extra capacity we have for thought and mental activity during this period makes change more possible.
As we listen to the urgent, loud sounds of the shofar, our bodies are perfectly calibrated to react to this loud, insistent call by giving us greater energy and focus. Let’s use it to analyze our past deeds and resolve to grow in the coming year.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

L'Shana Tova !

 Allen West~ LTC (Ret), former United States Congressman (R) and current contributor for Fox News and PJ Media & Dir of Programming at Next Generation TV

 The following was posted to Allen's FaceBook Page. 

"For thousands of years, the shofar has called the Jewish people together for many reasons, including ushering in the new year. On this Rosh Hashanah, I pray the shofar will not be needed to sound an alarm of war for the people of Israel. Let it instead be used for all across our own nation (United States), as the philosopher Moses Maimonides suggested in the 12th century,
 "Sleeping ones! Awaken from your sleep! Slumbering ones! Awaken from your slumber! Examine your deeds, and turn once again to God."

 L'Shana Tovah to all, and especially the people of Israel. 
Rest assured there are many of us who will never abandon you."

(May the L-rd bless Allen West with the blessing from Genesis 12:3 ~ 

The 2 Spies)

"Who Will Live and Who Will Die"

Original Article
(This is a repeat from last year. The 2 Spies find it rather moving and timely. This Yom Kippur will be the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War)

The military has released a gripping video of an IDF Cantor’s recital of the “U-Netaneh Tokef” prayer with the background of soldiers in battle. The prayer’s central theme is “Who will live and who will die” and “Repentance, Prayer and Charity removed the evil of the decree”

The video of Lt. Col. Shai Abramson reciting the prayer was selected by IDF Facebook users as the last song on the Cantor’s new album and was produced with the video for the High Holidays.

The video of the prayer, along with a recital in the Great Synagogue on Allenby Street in Tel Aviv, revolves around the Yom Kippur War and a battalion commander and his armored brigade whose soldiers fought in the fierce and deadly “Valley of Tears” battle on the Golan Heights.

At one point, 40 Israeli tanks faced approximately 500 Syrian tanks.
The "U'Netaneh Tokef” prayer is attributed to Rabbi Amnon of Mainz, as related to Rabbi Klonimus ben Meshullam, according to the Orthodox Union.

The prayer, recited also on Rosh Hashannah and before the open Ark of the Torah, states, “The great shofar will be sounded and a still, thin sound will be heard. Angels will hasten, a trembling and terror will seize them - and they will say, 'Behold, it is the Day of Judgment, to muster the heavenly host for judgment!'- for they cannot be vindicated in Your eyes in judgment.

“All mankind will pass before You like members of the flock.  Like a shepherd pasturing his flock, making sheep pass under his staff, so shall You cause to pass, count, calculate, and consider the soul of all the living; and You shall apportion the fixed needs of all Your creatures and inscribe their verdict.

“On Rosh Hashannah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live and who will die; who will die at his predestined time and who before his time; who by water and who by fire, who by sword, who by beast, who by famine, who by thirst, who by storm, who by plague, who by strangulation, and who by stoning. Who will rest and who will wander, who will live in harmony and who will be harried, who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer, who will be impoverished and who will be enriched, who will be degraded and who will be exalted.
“But Repentance, Prayer and Charity remove the evil of the decree!”

Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Place for Everyone

 In looking for news about an 'imminent' attack from the US on Syria, The 2 Spies found this story that really brings us a smile. The Israel Defense Forces have always made room for 'our own'. Gotta love it!  Enjoy!

(The story is from the IDF official blog~ a great resource for those who want information IDF Blog )
A new recruit to the IDF shares his personal message of overcoming challenges to serve the country.
“Every citizen in the State of Israel, no matter whether born with a disability or not, needs to to serve his country. Trust me, volunteers do as much as the soldiers recruited by law, and sometimes even more.

My name is Ben Levy, I was born with cerebral palsy and I’ll be 20 in a month. From a young age it was clear to me that I wanted to be a soldier. My dad is a policeman, and my brother is a paratrooper

At home, they always taught me to serve the country and to give of myself as much as I can. Two years ago, I got an exemption from the army, but my affair with the IDF had only just begun.

Last week, I enlisted in the IDF for a full two years of service.

So what’s my message? Give as much as you can, and don’t ever give up on yourself. If everyone says he can’t do it, there will be no one left to defend this country.

 I’m not different to anyone else here.”

Friday, August 30, 2013

Apple Dipping

Always on the cutting edge of new technical innovation, Technion has done it again. Enjoy their creative twist on dipping an apple~ a wonderful traditional celebration of Rosh HaShanah


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Prayers for Bibi

Prayers are needed for the recovery of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following his emergency surgery last night. According to Jewish tradition, the Hebrew name of the patient’s mother is invoked to call for greater mercy from the Almighty and we therefore have in mind today the immediate and complete healing of “Binyamin the son of Tzila Netanyahu” so that he can quickly return to his important work in leading the State of Israel.

 Netanyahu underwent successful hernia surgery on Sunday and could be discharged by the end of the day, yet his doctors have noted he will need a few days to fully recover.

During the overnight procedure, which took around an hour and required general anesthetic,Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon temporarily assumed the 63-year-old premier’s powers, Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

Yuval Weiss, director of the Jerusalem hospital where the surgery took place, said the operation was ordered at short notice as a precaution against Netanyahu’s condition deteriorating. Netanyahu's office said late on Saturday he had been diagnosed after complaining of abdominal pain.

“The prime minister feels well after the operation,” Weiss told Israel Radio. “He is now fully conscious.”

Weiss predicted Netanyahu would be released by Sunday evening, but said he would require several days of home rest. “He will be able to hold meetings and discussions at home. He has to be a little limited in terms of physical activity,” he said.

The Prime Minister, “Binyamin the son of Tzila” was given the Biblical name Benjamin, the youngest son of Jacob and Rachel mentioned in Genesis 35. In his childhood, he was given the nickname “Bibi” which has stuck ever since. Tzila is a popular Israeli woman’s name which means in Hebrew, “in the shadow of God.” We pray that Prime Minister Netanyahu remains the shadow of God as he recuperates from his operation.

(Post taken from Breaking Israel News )

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

MK Dov Lipman Inspires New Olim!

Dov Lipman made Aliyah just 9 years ago. Yesterday, he stood before the latest group of new Olim and gave an inspiring, encouraging and faith -building greeting ~ as a Minister of the Kenneset! Listen and be inspired also~

click here for original link

Monday, July 22, 2013

106 Children Making Aliyah !

Original link to video

North American aliyah organization Nefesh B'Nefesh is set to break a record Monday with an historic “children's aliyah flight” that is to carry 106 children, in 41 families, to start new lives in Israel. All in all, the flight will carry 231 new olim (Jews returning to Israel) from North America.

Former abducted IDF soldier will Gilad Schalit will also be on board El Al flight LY3004, as a show of solidarity and appreciation.

The flight is the first-ever “children's flight” organized by Nefesh B'Nefesh along with the Jewish National Fund (JNF), or Keren Kayemeth LeYisrael.

Nefesh B'Nefesh expects 989 children to make aliyah on its flights in 2013. This is a 20 percent rise compared to 2012, in which 822 children made aliyah.

"The children's flight fills us with great optimism,” said Erez Halfon, Deputy Chairman of the organization. “These children are the future of the state of Israel and they cause us great excitement in making aliyah.”

Hundreds of VIPs and guests will receive the olim at Ben Gurion Airport's Terminal One. They will include Aliyah and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver and Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir, as well as MK Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid), who made aliyah on a Nefesh B'Nefesh flight in 2004.

The term aliyah means “ascent” in Hebrew and has been used in Judaism for millennia, to refer to a pilgrimage by Jews to Jerusalem, or immigration to the Land of Israel from a foreign land.
Israel National News article 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Maccabiah Games ~ in Jeruslaem

For the first time since 2001, the opening ceremony is returning to Jerusalem. Mayor Nir Barkat has wanted to bring the Maccabiah Games back to the capital since taking office five years ago, and this year’s ceremony will demonstrate just how well Jerusalem can host world-class events.

Around 32,000 people are expected to pack the stands, with thousands of Jewish athletes from 77 countries to march around the stadium as part of the Parade of Nations.

President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will be among the numerous local and foreign dignitaries present at the ceremony.

Maccabiah 2013 will be the largest in history, with over 9,000 athletes to take part in the competitions across the country over the next two weeks.  JPost article

Watch the Maccabiah Games live on JLTV !

Click here: Jewish Life Television

Interesting bit of trivia:
The games include their share of romance as well, as the Maccabiah is considered one of the biggest matchmaking events for the world's Jews. For example, Adam Joseph, who arrived in Israel eight years ago as part of the Australian football delegation, met team player Bec on the plane. Four years later, when they returned to Israel for the next Maccabiah, he proposed to her on Tel Aviv's beach. This time, they will be returning to the competitions with their 18-month-old son. YNet News

Adam & Bec

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Gush Katif~ 8 Years Later

 Tisha B'Av~ the day we mourn the loss of the Temple (twice) and our original expulsions from Israel as well as numerous other tragedies to the Jewish people. It is  day of grieving.

8 years ago~ on the day after Tisha B'Av~ we became our own worst enemy. The Romans, the Babylonians~ we expect evil from them. But our own community? Never could we have imagined. The Ariel Sharon government expelled 13,000 people from their own homes, land and businesses. For what? Peace? To apease world governments? Only G-d really knows. It was a time of complete insanity. Total destruction. And we know now that it did not bring peace~ it only brought our enemies closer to their targets~ us.

Today ~ the Yartzeit of the Gush Katif communities~ we remember and mourn their loss. 8 years later 50% of the people expelled still have not been able to find homes, farm land or rebuild their lives. Never mind the anguish of heart and soul that may never be repaired or healed.

We can only look to G-d for justice. Healing. Reparation.


Friday, July 5, 2013

A Family’s Medical Challenge Becomes Aliyah Necessity

Most people immigrate to Israel for spiritual, religious or familial reasons, and medical care doesn't usually factor into the equation. 

But in the case of Iris Kowen’s family, that was not the case.
Living in the Holy Land was always the ideal, she says, but it was the issue of medial necessity, and special needs potential that prompted the family to consider it seriously.
Kowen’s son, Shai, was born a seemingly normal, happy baby. But at four months old, he had his first seizure and was diagnosed with epilepsy, she relates.
“By age 16, following years of evaluations and misdiagnoses, Shai was labeled profoundly disabled with mental retardation. His condition included a series of side effects that severely limited his motor skills and left him entirely reliant on a wheelchair and the assistance of others,” she says
But though her son’s obstacles were great, Kowen says he possessed a spirit and curiosity that belied his disability.

“For me, the biggest challenge in having a severely disabled child was the fear that he would never be able to maximize his potential.  While I understood that Shai had limitations, I was equally aware that these shouldn't prohibit him from developing to his fullest,” she says.

The family  became “nomads of sorts,” moving from Florida, to Toronto, and back, crossing much of North America in search of the best care, community, and family support they could find.
In America, the style was one of group homes that focused on basic care, and the family struggled to find alternative options.
“I always felt that there had to be something out there that could bring out the potential I saw in my child. This gut feeling ultimately became our major motivation for making aliyah,” Kowen says.

It was a television commercial that caught her eye and introduced Kowen to ALEH, Israel's largest network of facilities for children with severe physical and cognitive disabilities.  “We were touched by their mission and offered to help the organization in Florida, never thinking that we would one day be the recipients of its care. After all, there was a language barrier and we had careers to consider.”
But a chance visit to Israel allowed Kowen to visit the organization’s facility in the Negev, where she was shocked by the high level of care, and all the different forms of therapy she saw in action there.

“I was particularly touched by the involvement of so many volunteers, groups of cheery men, women and children running the gamut from high school students to high tech workers. We realized that we were not getting younger, and we needed think more seriously about the future, specifically Shai's long-term care,” she says.
With a newfound determination to secure the kind of care for Shai that he clearly required, the family prepared for the move, difficult as it would be.

“It was especially difficult for our two teenage daughters who had to create their own social and educational frameworks out of thin air when we started from scratch in the Negev.  But we acclimated and made it work,” Kowen says. Shai today receives care at ALEH Negev - Nahalat Eran, a village providing residential care for children with severe disabilities, through young adulthood.

“I know that moving to Israel was the best choice for my family," says Kowen, who today serves as International Relations director for the facility. "Here in the Negev our possibilities are blooming.”

Original post click here

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Israel has more than 23,000 soldiers who have given their lives for the Land. Tonight begins Israel's Yom HaZikaron  ~ Memorial Day. At 8 PM a siren will be sounded all around the country calling our attention to the great loss we have all suffered. There will be ceremonies over the next day and trips to the cemeteries. Join with us as we cry out to G-d to Comfort His people, Israel.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

HOPE ~ Talking About Tikva !

This week Israel will be celebrating 65 years since the founding of the State. For a human, 65 years usually signals the beginning of retirement years. For Israel, well what can we say.... we've only just begun! How far we have progressed in these few years... and we Israelis are feeling nothing but... HOPE ! Hope for our future~ a glorious future~ a successful path set in front of us. We are enjoying and know that we will continue to enjoy a passionate life here in the Land of our Promise. Join with us as we celebrate !
(Maybe THIS is YOUR year to make Aliyah !!)


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Felix Zandman

Tonight begins Yom HaShoah~  Holocaust Remembrance Day. In all our imaginations, there is no way to totally fathom the depth and breadth of evil that ruled during that season. Nor can we begin to embrace the amount of suffering and loss that was started then and continues to this day. Many of us have personal experience either having lived through it ourselves or a family member. More of do not. Like a Pesach when we identify with those who were slaves and delivered~ it is incumbent upon us to so likewise identify in some measure. Each of us will find our own way of relating to, remembering and honoring those who died.

For today, before we begin our time of memorial, we would like to honor the G-d of Israel. Hitler did not succeed in his plan. The Hand of HaShem stopped him. For this we are very grateful. There are so many miraculous stories of those who were snatched from the fires. So many Gentiles who were willing to be used as instruments of rescue and safety~ at the risk of their own lives and their family's lives. The paths of those who lived are varied~ some colored with success and some with more sorrow.

"Felix Zandman is known on Wall Street as the brilliant scientist-entrepreneur whose billion-dollar Fortune 500 company, Vishay Intertechnology, reshaped the electronic component industry. But few are aware of Zandman's incredible personal story: as a teenager he spent a year-and-a-half in Nazi occupied Poland, and that harrowing experience gave him the drive, discipline, and generosity of spirit that made his later success possible. Taught by his grandmother Tema that the only measure of wealth is what you give away, Zandman lost his entire world in 1943 when the ghetto in his native city of Grodno was destroyed. Jammed with four others into a tiny pit beneath the cottage of a poor Polish peasant, he was left with nothing but his inner resources of imagination, intellect, and will to fend off insanity and find a reason to go on living. Lying next to him in the hole, his uncle taught him higher mathematics, lessons he later turned to good use in winning a doctorate in physics from the Sorbonne. In 1966 he came to the United States, where one of his breakthrough discoveries became the basis for a company he named for his grandmother's shtetl. Vishay revolutionized an industry and today employs sixteen thousand people worldwide, among them the grandson of the woman who saved him." (taken from the review of Felix's book Click here

We want to share the story today of Felix Zandman. Many times his life was spared. Many times the Hand of HaShem took him from the fires. What is amazing to see is all that he has been used for in his life since then. It makes us wonder~ did the cure for cancer march into the gas chambers, the plans to grow enough food for the entire world go up in smoke, the answer to a peaceful world lay in ashes in Auschwitz? As you listen to Zandman's story, you can rejoice with us in the providence of G-d that has brought this man through to a very fruitful life~ one that in a small way has touched us all~ without us even knowing it.

Click here to view this video:

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Foundation

The Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive collects and preserves the world’s largest collection of moving images that record the story of the Jewish people. The vaults contain material shot in Israel before and after the establishment of the State in 1948, motion picture records of many Jewish communities in the Diaspora and two special collections relating to the Holocaust.

Started in the late 1960s by Professor Moshe Davis and other historians of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. the Archives have passed through many hands and finally into Spielberg's foundation.. The Archive has over 13,000 films and videos and provides an invaluable resource.

Since it is Springtime in Israel, The 2 Spies  would like to share the Archive's film on Spring in Israel in 1939. Enjoy!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Coming Back from the Land of the Enemy

Thus said the Lord: Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for there is reward for your efforts said the Lord and they shall come back from the land of the enemy.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Is 2013 Your Year?

Will 2013 be YOUR year to make Aliyah??  The 2 Spies certainly hope so.
 Come join us!
 Come live the dream!

 To get information or to begin your process,  http://www.nbn.org.il/


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Tal's Story part 3

The 2 Spies had a house full of children and celebrated Tal's life. We colored the camel that she was not able to finish. We do hope she is watching from heaven and enjoying our small but happy efforts. Today we share some of the finished masterpieces with you, our faithful readers. We do hope that you too will have a 'Camel Party' and give honor to Tal's life and comfort to her Father. Click here for Tal's Camel