Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Gannenet Appreciation Day

Warning: This post may exceed the recommended daily allowance of snarkiness. Proceed at your own risk.


The thing about Israeli gannenets is that it’s very easy to make fun of them, and as long time readers know, I’ve taken ample advantage of this convenient fact.

Indeed, I’ve frequently mocked discussed with obvious love and affection gannenets’ many foibles and idiosyncrasies – including their pyromaniac tendencies, the ritualistic pageantry of gan birthday parties, and, of course, the bizarre gan meeting.

And so, it’s only fair that I also give them credit where it’s due – namely, their innate resourcefulness.

You see, their creative, never-say-die attitude is what enables them to erect straw men identify pressing problems and then skillfully knock them down devise clever and original solutions.

Here are two examples:

I. The neglected holiday

Problem: Coming, as it does, at the tail end of the festival-laden month of Tishrei, Simchat Torah always gets short shrift in most curricula.

Solution: Gannenets don’t even try to cover Simchat Torah before the holiday. Instead, they use the “hakafot shniyot” model and throw a big party on Friday, Erev Parshat Breishit. Decked out in their most elegant kacholavan, the kids dance, sing, and imbibe inordinate amounts of candy.

Ahh, good times, good times…

II. The missing season

Problem: In a recent post, Mother in Israel discussed autumn in Israel – or the lack thereof. As she correctly observes, there’s no real transition between summer and winter. Furthermore, aside from a few noted exceptions, the traditional signs of fall – i.e. the brilliant foliage, that crisp autumn air, etc. - simply don’t exist here in Israel.

Solution: Israeli gannenets teach that autumn in Israel is nonetheless significant, because it heralds the arrival of the… nachlieli (white wagtail).

The gannenets ensure that their young charges are very familiar with the distinctive, long-tailed, black-and-white bird. In fact, even as adults, Israelis of every stripe can still easily pick the nachlieli out of a bird lineup.

Moreover, the gannenets stress, seeing a nachlieli is a joyous and momentous occasion.

Thus, last week, a certain gan-age child of my acquaintance came home bursting with exciting news. The breathless report soon followed: They had gone on a siyur stav (literally, “an autumn tour” – i.e. a nature walk), and – guess what?! – they SAW TWO NACHLIELIS!!! (Space considerations prevent me from including the full complement of exclamation points, but I think you get the general idea…)

And so, dear readers, the next time an obscure blogger sets his or her sights on the much maligned and often misunderstood gannenet, please refer them to this post in order to provide them with further ammunition to remind them to appreciate all that the gannenet has to offer…


P.S. On a serious note, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the incredibly dedicated and talented gannenets who have done – and continue to do - such a wonderful job educating the Shiputzim children over the years.


  1. Thanks for educating me on the white wagtail. Now wouldn't it be nice if someone could educate preschool teachers around the world about junk food.

  2. You know how to make people smile. I had never heard of this bird before - at least in English and Hebrew.

  3. Leora - I recall a certain gannenet telling the parents at the gan meeting that they should only send "healthy snacks". But then the very. next. day. she herself gave out taffies to each child!

    Ilana-Davita - Thanks for your kind words.

  4. I'm glad you agree about my weather analsis. I was expecting an argument from somebody LOL. My little girl just brought home a story from school about a walk to see the nachlieli, and that stav is here.
    I won't comment on the gananot, I'm just so glad to be past that stage. Had a lovely school meeting about my daughter though. Will have to go on my (nonexistent) private blog.

  5. I'm going to a dreaded gan meeting tomorrow night. Wish me luck and much patience. (Why does it have to start at 7:45, when, no matter what, I won't be home until 10?) I took some pictures on my cell phone today of the many chilazonot in our park. I never once noticed them until Ilana started gan, but thanks to the diligence of her gannanot, I know how to identify those and nachlieli.

  6. There are also those tall white plants that also herald the start of "fall" here-what are they called?
    And about gannanot and junk food-when one of mine was in gan and I would send fairly healthy (eg peanut butter)sandwiches, I actually had the gannent chide me for not sending me her a sandwich with chocolate spread, since that's what the other kids have!

  7. the white flower is the chatzav. And nachlielis are cool!

  8. Right, chatzav.

  9. I actually like all those stav things they learn in gan- i've actually learned quite a bit.

    Wait till they get to Yom Hashoa and your child comes home talking about how Hitler killed himself in his bunker after conquering Poland and Austria (that's an exact quote my now 6 year old came home with when she was 4. It was such a shock to hear the words "Hitler" and "hitabed" coming out of her mouth.

  10. MiI - Do I detect a touch of irony in your use of the word "lovely"?

    Yaffa - Oh, yeah, I forgot about the snails. Have "fun" at the meeting, and be sure to report back here about what arts and crafts project you had to do...

    Malke - I guess גיבוש trumps health...

    LeahGG - Apparently חצב is a squill in English.

    Abbi - I'm speechless! What was your response?

  11. I was also speechless! I just didn't really say anything actually and since she didn't seem too upset about it (since I don't even think she really knew what "Hitabed really meant), I just let it go.

    I was going to call the gannenet but since she's been a gannenet for 30 years and was very strong willed and strict, I didn't really see myself changing her approach any time soon.

    So, basically, I did nothing. Great parenting approach!

  12. Abbi - So, basically, I did nothing. It sounds like this was one of those situations where doing nothing was the best approach by far...

  13. Naa, wait till your children get Yom Hazicaron after Yom HAshoa and then tell you that we remember the soldiers killed in the holocaust, a real mishmash!

  14. Anonymous - Or else they report that on Yom HaAtzma'ut and Yom Yerushalayim, the chayalim fought against the Romans...


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