Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fauna Friday: Gecko edition

Another lizard post?! Seriously?? Are you trying to drive away all your readers??” you’re probably thinking.

And even if you aren’t, I certainly am.

Because between the chameleon, the agama, and especially the skink (YZG’s literary masterpiece, notwithstanding), I’m pretty sure that I’ve more than exceeded my allotment of lizard posts.

Yet, nevertheless, in the interest of good blogging, I feel that I have no choice but to share a picture* of a gecko (i.e. a sh’mamit - שממית - for the Hebraically-oriented among you).

IMG_2635As always, click on the picture* for a closer view.

Why a gecko, you ask?

Well, admittedly, geckos aren’t cute (in a reptilian sort of way) and don’t live in national parks and aren’t even compellingly creepy.

But if you happen to be visiting TRLEOOB** and you hear a Shiputzim daughter screech hysterically, “Abba! There’s a lizard in the playroom!” – chances are, the lizard in question will turn out to be a gecko…


!שבת שלום ומבורך


*I apologize for the grainy shot, but that’s what comes from having a blog with an AWOL Chief of Photography… ;-)

**TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Kol oto halaylah

Are you aware that Israel spans two time zones?

{ignores the quizzical looks}

Probably not, but don’t beat yourself up over it.

{smiles condescendingly}

After all, most people aren’t.

Nevertheless, it’s quite true.

{nods earnestly in a hopeless attempt to make the following barefaced lie creative interpretation of the facts slightly more credible}

You see, there’s Israel Standard Time, which covers most of the country, and then there’s Bnei Brak Standard Time, which includes, well, Bnei Brak…

However, since I sense that you’re still somewhat skeptical, the Our Shiputzim Editorial Board sent its roving reporter out to R’ Akiva’s old stomping grounds on two separate occasions to document Bnei Brak’s unique approach to the fourth dimension:

1. Morning: On a burning hot summer day [note to self: from now on, schedule all back-to-school shopping expeditions for January], our reporter noted that as of 10 AM, many of Bnei Brak’s numerous shops (especially the sefarim stores) hadn’t yet opened for business.

2. Night: After leaving a Bnei Brak wedding hall at about 11:30 PM, our reporter observed crowded streets and entire families – including young children – going out for what would elsewhere be referred to as leisurely midnight strolls.

How can we explain these glaring discrepancies between the clocks in Bnei Brak and the clocks in the rest of Israel?

That’s easy.

Obviously, it dates back to R’ Elazar et al, who – as the Haggadah famously teaches – were sitting  in Bnei Brak and stayed awake talking all night.


I don’t think so…


Monday, December 27, 2010

Baruch Dayan Emet

The Shiputzim family extends our heartfelt condolences to guest blogger Malke and her family on the tragic loss of her beloved mother z”l.


המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים

ולא תוסיפו לדאבה עוד.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Euphonic Friday: Moshe, Moshe Edition

Erev Shabbat Parshat Shmot is the perfect time to post an old family favorite: Shimi Tavori’s classic song Moshe -winner of the 1979 Mizrachi Song Festival.

Tzni’ut alert: The following video includes three backup dancers. (Actually, by today’s standards, they’re relatively modestly dressed...)


Hat tip: Once (and hopefully future) blogger Einshem

In any event, I have to admit that this video cracks me up.

After all, the sight of girls shimmying incongruously to a song about the Burning Bush, Matan Torah, and other highlights of Moshe Rabbeinus life is very, very funny…


!שבת שלום ומבורך

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The moment of truth

Warning: The following post does not meet international food snob standards. Proceed at your own risk.

Does this sound familiar?

You’re hosting a dinner for about 50 people, and although you cooked everything else on your elegant menu by yourself, you buy some packaged schnitzel for the kids.

After all, you tell yourself, they’ll never notice the difference.

But then, as you’re mingling graciously among your guests, one of the adults says to you, “What’s your secret?! The schnitzel is absolutely delicious! You MUST tell me how you made it…”

Or how about this?

You spend hours icing and decorating a cake, and the result is spectacular. Everyone is suitably impressed, and you’re showered with well-deserved accolades.

Admittedly, you still feel kind of guilty about using a cake mix, but you remind yourself that no one cares what the cake tastes like underneath all those expertly-piped ribbons and those exquisite fondant flowers.

But, sure enough, the very next day, you get a phone call, asking for “your [sic] yummy chocolate cake recipe”…


A similar thing happened to me at a sheva brachot we made together with some friends about a year ago.

I had prepared rice with mushrooms, and to my surprise, no less than six – count 'em! six! – people subsequently asked me for the recipe.

Which meant that six – count ‘em! six! – times, I had to confess that the recipe calls for (horrors!) onion soup mix and (gasp!) canned mushrooms…


Of course, I could’ve – and, in retrospect, probably should’ve - used “real” ingredients instead.

However, the beauty of this recipe is that not only is it a surefire crowd pleaser, but it’s incredibly fast and easy to make as well.

Easy Mushroom Rice

Note: Since the mushrooms are lighter than the rice, they float to the top in the oven.


  • 2 cups uncooked rice (white or brown)
  • 1 can mushrooms
  • 5 cups water
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 2 tablespoons onion soup mix
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce


Drain the mushrooms, and use the liquid towards the five cups of water. Place all the ingredients in a baking pan and mix. Bake covered at 350 degrees for about an hour (or longer, for brown rice).


Please share your own experiences in the comment section.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Around the J-Blogosphere

Several items of interest:

1) In case you’re not yet fully convinced that translation software isn’t - how shall I put this politely? – as, um, effective as it could be:


2) Although our Rav instructed our community to recite the thanksgiving brachah last week, he nevertheless ruled – based, in part, on the Gemara (BT Taanit 18b) – that one should continue to daven for rain.

3) The latest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Mottel for including my unintended consequences post.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fashion Friday: Unintended consequences edition

Greek soldier: {reading from a scroll} His Royal Highness King Antiochus has decreed that you may not observe Shabbat; you must wear ugly shirts emblazoned with a logo; and you may not perform a brit milah.

Assembled people: {shocked} What do you mean we have to wear ugly shirts with logos?!

(From a comedic scene used to great effect by many Israeli kids in their recent Chanukah plays)

Ask any teacher or principal across the country about the newly-mandated school uniform shirts, and they’ll inevitably start gushing about what a wonderful development it is.

You’ll no doubt hear how the shirts engender school spirit and how the staff spends less time dealing with inappropriately and/or immodestly dressed students.

And in spite of the requisite grumbling (see: the aforementioned skit), most students don’t really seem to mind the uniforms that much either.

After all, the shirts generally come in a wide range of colors – giving the students some room to express their individuality.

Yet, nevertheless, school uniforms aren’t immune from the Law of Unintended Consequences.

You see, no one could’ve predicted that the modern version of uniforms waste precious time every morning.

Here’s why: (Note that these issues mainly apply to girls’ schools.)

  • 1) Sartorial considerations: Since the skirts and shirts weren’t purchased together (because the uniforms don’t include skirts), the shirts don’t necessarily match every skirt in a girl’s closet. Which frequently translates into a last-minute frantic scramble to find the single skirt which matches that oddly-hued light green top…
  • 2) Political and social considerations: If you’re an elementary school girl, choosing which colored shirt to wear on a given day involves numerous factors. For instance, do you want to wear the same color as your older sister? Yes? But is she willing to match you? And what about your BFF? You arranged with her that you’re both going to wear your beloved pink shirts tomorrow, but – horrors! - it turns out that your pink shirt is still in the laundry. And so on…

In other words, as the Hebraically-oriented among you would say, “zeh loh pashut…” (Literally, it’s not simple – i.e. it’s a real problem…)

Not too long ago, a mother of a teen told me that she wishes her daughter’s ulpanah had a uniform.

It would save her so much time in the morning,” the mother said wistfully.

I had to laugh…smile_teeth

!צום קל ומועיל ושבת שלום ומבורך

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Giving thanks

B”H, winter finally arrived this week, and although the recent precipitation was – both figuratively and relatively speaking – a mere drop in the bucket, our Rav has instructed that one recite the thanksgiving blessing for rain.

Here is the Hebrew text followed by an English translation*:

ברכת הודאה על הגשמים

מוֹדִים אֲנַחְנוּ לָךְ ה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ עַל כּל טִפָּה וטִפָּה שֶׁהוֹרַדְתָּ לָּנוּ.

ואִלּוּ פִינוּ מָלֵא שִׁירָה כַּיָּם, וּלְשׁוֹנֵנוּ רִנָּה כַּהֲמוֹן גַּלָּיו, ושִׂפְתוֹתֵינוּ שֶׁבַח כּמֶרְחֲבֵי רָקִיעַ, ועֵינֵינוּ מאִירוֹת כַּשֶּׁמֶשׁ וכַיָּרֵחַ, ויָדֵינוּ פרוּשׂוֹת כּנִשְׁרֵי שָׁמָיִם, ורַגְלֵינוּ קַלּוֹת כָּאַיָּלוֹת, אֵין אֲנַחְנוּ מַסְפִּיקִים להוֹדוֹת לךָ, ה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, וּלְבָרֵךְ אֶת שִׁמְךָ עַל אַחַת מֵאֶלֶף אַלְפֵי אֲלָפִים, ורֹב רִבֵּי רבָבוֹת פּעָמִים הַטּוֹבוֹת, נִסִּים ונִפְלָאוֹת שֶׁעָשִׂיתָ עִמָּנוּ ועִם אֲבוֹתֵינוּ.

מִלּפָנִים מִמִּצְרַיִם גּאַלְתָּנוּ ה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ, מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים פּדִיתָנוּ. בּרָעָב זַנְתָּנוּ וּבְשָׂבָע כִּלְכַּלְתָּנוּ. מֵחֶרֶב הִצַּלְתָּנוּ, מִדֶּבֶר מִלַּטְתָּנוּ, וּמֵחְלָיִם רָעִים ורַבִּים דִּלִּיתָנוּ.

עַד הֵנָּה עֲזָרוּנוּ רַחֲמֶיךָ ולֹא עֲזָבוּנוּ חֲסָדֶיךָ.

עַל כֵּן אֵבָרִים שֶׁפִּלַּגְתָּ בָּנוּ, ורוּחַ וּנְשָׁמָה שֶׁנָּפַחְתָּ בּאַפֵּנוּ, ולָשׁוֹן אֲשֶׁר שַׂמְתָּ בּפִינוּ, הֵן הֵם יוֹדוּ וִיבָרְכוּ וִישַׁבּחוּ וִיפָאֲרוּ אֶת שִׁמְךָ מַלְכֵּנוּ תָּמִיד. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֵל רֹב הַהוֹדָאוֹת.

The Thanksgiving Blessing for Rain

We gives thanks to You, Hashem, our God and the God of our fathers, for each and every drop which You sent down for us.

And were our mouths as full of song as the sea, and our tongues as full of joy as the multitude of its waves, and our lips as full of praise as the expanse of the heavens, and our eyes as radiant as the sun and the moon, and our arms as outspread as the eagles of the sky, and our legs as swift as hinds, we still could not thank You enough, Hashem, our God and the God of our fathers, or bless Your Name for even one of the thousands of thousands and the myriads of myriad favors, miracles, and wonders which You performed for us and for our fathers.

From Egypt, You redeemed us, Hashem, our God; from the house of slaves, You liberated us. In famine, You nourished us, and in plenty, You sustained us. From the sword, You saved us; from the plague, You rescued us; and from malignant and numerous diseases, You spared us.

Until this point, Your mercies have helped us, and Your kindnesses have not forsaken us.

Therefore, the organs which You fixed in us, and the spirit and the soul which You blew into our nostrils, and the tongue which You placed in our mouth – they will thank and bless and praise and exalt Your Name, our King, forever. Blessed are You, Hashem, God of bountiful thanksgivings.


* The Hebrew-to-English translator who translated the blessing  (as well as the famous IDF chaplain’s letter and the Har HaZeitim post) has asked me to announce that she’s available for translation work. For more information, please contact me at OurShiputzim at gmail dot com, and I’ll gladly forward all serious inquiries to her.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Familiar catchphrases

Top 10 Things Overheard In TRLEOOB*

10. “Homework doesn’t get done by staring into space.”

9.What’s the kesher?

8. “Chairs are for sitting on.”

7. “Is it my turn on the computer yet?”

6. “What’s for supper?”

5. “Come here. Don’t yell across the house.”

4. “I can’t fall asleep.”

3. “And this time, don’t forget to wash your neck…”

2. “This is not a restaurant.”

1. “Are you going to put that on the blog?”


What are your family’s favorite catchphrases?


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Blowin’ in the wind

…And thus, Chanukah 5771 comes to an end.

Strangely enough, we didn’t have a chance to visit a single national park during the festival.

But if you’re thinking that this means that you get a reprieve and that I won’t be boring you to tears with our vacation pictures, think again.

Because during our recent trip up North, Be-All-You-Can-Be graciously took time out from his arduous duties as Our Shiputzim’s official military advisor and led us off the beaten track – I mean that literally; a rugged army jeep would’ve been more in order :-) -  to see the wind turbines in the Golan.

So, not only do I have pictures of our trip to show you… (As always, click on the photos for a closer view.)

IMG_2952 IMG_2966 IMG_2980 IMG_2958

…But I have a couple of videos too!

According to Be-All-You-Can-Be, the stationary turbine in the second video isn’t broken. Rather, the turbines are programmed to stop turning once they’re all powered up.

Thank you, Be-All-You-Can-Be, for the fascinating tour and for sharing some of your incredible knowledge with us!

!שבת שלום ומבורך


P.S. Jennifer in MamaLand kindly included my Poland trip post in the latest Jewish Homeschooling Blog Carnival. Be sure to check it out!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A very chocolaty Chanukah

As parents of hyped-up kids around the world will agree, oil isn’t the only ingredient many Chanukah treats have in common.

In fact, between the sufganiyot, the chocolate coins, the Chanukah cookies, and who knows what else, the festival tends to be almost as sugar-laden as Purim.

Which means that there’s no better time to visit a chocolate factory than on Chanukah.

And, so, during our recent trip to Katzrinthe scenic town known as the “capital of the Golan Heights” -  we headed over to the boutique chocolate factory in Kibbutz Ein Zivan.

Visitors get to watch the chocolatiers at work, taste some of the handmade confections, and even try their own hands at chocolate-making.

Here are some of the chocolate sculptures on display:

IMG_2883 Chocolate houses

IMG_2928 Chocolate vase with flowers

IMG_2929 Chocolate web and spiders

IMG_2931 Chocolate snowman and igloo

IMG_293724 different flavors of pralines. Added bonus: random capital letters scattered throughout the sign. (Click on the picture for a closer view.)

Finally, if all this talk about chocolate has made you hungry, check out the newest Kosher Cooking Carnival here. Special thanks to Miriyummy for including my No-Name Bars.

חנוכה שמח וחודש טוב!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Shamash

In what has become something of a tradition, we spent Shabbat Chanukah up North.

Details to follow, but in the meantime, TSG asked me to post the Dvar Torah she delivered so beautifully on Friday night.

(As always, an English translation is available upon request.)

Take it away, TSG!


The Shamash

by TSG

דבר התורה הזה מוקדש לעילוי נשמת הרב יהושע פסח בן הרב חיים יעקב אברהם ז“ל.

מצד אחד, הַשַּמָּש הוא הנר הכי גדול, הכי בולט והכי חשוב. כמו כן, הוא ממונה על ההדלקה, ולכן ניתן לראות אותו בתור "מנהיג" הנרות.

אבל מצד שני, לַשַּמָּש אין משמעות בלי הנרות האחרים. הרי, הנרות "הרגילים" הם המצווה, וכפי שאנו שרים בזמן ההדלקה:

"אין לנו רשות להשתמש בהם, אלא לראותם בלבד..."

כידוע, תפקיד הַשַּמָּש הוא לאפשר לנו להתקרב לנרות חנוכה בלי להשתמש באורם. ולכן, הַשַּמָּש בא בעצם לשַמֵש – כלומר, לשרת את הנרות האחרים.

הרב ליאור אנגלמן מסביר שהַשַּמָּש מלמד אותנו על התכונות הנדרשות ממנהיג יהודי. הנהגה יהודית אמיתית פירושה - שירות.

הגמרא (מסכת הוריות דף י') מספרת שרבן גמליאל רצה למנות שני תלמידי חכמים לתפקיד מסוים, אבל מפני שהם היו מאוד ענווים, הם סירבו. אבל רבן גמליאל השיב להם:

"כמדומין אתם ששררה אני נותן לכם? עבדות אני נותן לכם!"

אנו רואים את אותו העיקרון עם יוסף. בהתחלה, הוא חולם שכל האלומות וגם השמש, הירח והכוכבים משתחווים לו. אולם, הבעיה היא שהנהגה כזאת רק מעוררת שנאה. כמו שכתוב:

"וַיֹּאמְרוּ לוֹ אֶחָיו הֲמָלֹךְ תִּמְלֹךְ עָלֵינוּ אִם-מָשׁוֹל תִּמְשֹׁל בָּנוּ וַיּוֹסִפוּ עוֹד שְׂנֹא אֹתוֹ עַל-חֲלֹמֹתָיו וְעַל-דְּבָרָיו." (בראשית ל"ז:ח)

אבל כשיוסף מתבגר, הוא לומד מהי הנהגה אמיתית, ולכן, כשיוסף מתגלה לאחיו, הוא אומר להם:

"כִּי לְמִחְיָה שְׁלָחַנִי אֱלֹקים לִפְנֵיכֶם... וַיִּשְׁלָחֵנִי אֱלֹקים לִפְנֵיכֶם לָשׂוּם לָכֶם שְׁאֵרִית בָּאָרֶץ וּלְהַחֲיוֹת לָכֶם לִפְלֵיטָה גְּדֹלָה." (בראשית מ"ה:ה- ז)

עכשיו יוסף מבין שמנהיג יהודי דומה לשַמָּש – שתפקידו לשרת ולשַמֵש את הכלל.


Thank you, TSG, and very well done!


P.S. The latest Havel Havalim is available here. Special thanks to West Bank Mama for including my Poland trip post.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Happy Chanukah!

Our rabbis taught*: The mitzvah of Chanukah is [a posting of] “Candlelight” [for] a blogger and his blog.

And the mehadrin is [a posting of] “Candlelight” for each and every [social media site].

And the mehadrin min hamehadrin

Beit Shamai says: The first day, he posts [on] eight [social media sites]. From here on, he decreases as he goes.

And Beit Hillel says: The first day, he posts [on] one [social media site]. From here on, he increases as he goes…

And so, on the off-chance that there’s still someone out there who hasn’t seen this video yet, here it is:

And now you, too, won’t be able to get this song out of your head…



!חג אורים שמח

May you have a very happy Chanukah!


*See BT Shabbat 21b.

Monday, November 29, 2010

To go or not to go…

Having an Israeli teenager at home means dealing with the question of the trip to Poland (i.e. the Masa Polin, for the Hebraically-oriented among you).

Here in TRLEOOB*, it’s an issue which has come up before, but like other parenting questions, the answer may be different for different children.

And so, once again, YZG and I find ourselves discussing this topic. We’re not the only ones, of course, and I’ve even had the privilege of comparing notes with fellow bloggers Jameel and Baila.

<brief interjection> An added fringe benefit of blogging is that it enables one to become an obnoxious, shameless namedropper… :-) </interjection>

The arguments for and against the trip haven’t really changed since it first became an accepted rite of passage for Israeli teens some 15-20 years ago.


  • Strengthens the participants’ Jewish, religious, and Zionist identities.
  • Forges an experiential bond to our history and to the ancient and once-vibrant Jewish communities, Chassidic courts, shuls, and yeshivot which were destroyed by the Nazis and their willing accomplices.


  • Raises numerous halachic, philosophical and ideological questions about leaving Eretz Yisrael, supporting our enemies, and so on.
  • Cost. (At one school, the total price for this year’s weeklong trip is a whopping 6500-7000 NIS!)

Due to these concerns, many parents wonder why the schools – especially the national-religious ones – can’t figure out a way to accomplish these same goals here in Israel.

And in fact, many schools have now started to offer local alternatives to the trip.

For instance, one school recently announced that this year, for the first time, they’ll have a three-day seminar for the kids who aren’t going to Poland. (The price will be about 700-1000 NIS.)

Although the students are skeptical and have dismissed it as a mere “consolation prize,” the school insists that they’re making every effort to ensure that it’ll be a viable option.

Your thoughts on the subject?


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kaf Tet B’November

Several items of interest from around the J-Blogosphere:

1) Tomorrow is Kaf Tet B’November (literally, the 29th of November) – the anniversary of the day the UN voted in favor of the 1947 Partition Plan. Jameel shares a film about the historic vote.

2) Due to the ongoing drought, the Chief Rabbinate has called yet another fast day for tomorrow. In the meantime, those of us fortunate to be living in this incredibly beautiful yet autumn-challenged country can enjoy Leora’s stunning fall foliage shots.

3) The latest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Homeshuling for including my negotiation post.

שבוע טוב וגשום לכולם!

May we finally be privileged to enjoy a winter filled with rains of blessing!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A negotiated settlement

We’ve all been there.

Of course, by “we”, I mean “parents of Israeli kids”, and by “there”, I mean “the Call”.

The Call arrives, with alarming regularity, on every Erev Shabbat Irgun, but it also can – and often does – happen on random Fridays throughout the year.

Basically, it works like this:

Some twenty minutes before candle lighting, the phone rings.

You have a telephone!” one of your darling Heblish-speaking children inevitably yells across the house at his/her sibling.

It’s the madrich/ah, calling to say that they’re having a communal seudah shlishit in the snif (literally, chapter or branch – but also refers to the physical structure where the youth group meets) and that your child needs to bring [an obscure item, which you rarely buy anyway but certainly don’t have available this close to Shabbat].

Which is why I was pleasantly surprised when this past Erev Shabbat Irgun, the Call came at noon.

As the madrich pointed out, our local makolet (neighborhood grocery store) is still open at that time.

He mentioned this interesting fact, you see, because he had wanted ACSC (=a certain Shiputzim child) to bring chummus, but I had replied that we didn’t have any extra on hand.

Back when I was a brand new olah, I would’ve meekly accepted the harsh decree and headed off to the makolet at what is always the busiest and craziest time of the week.

Now, however, a dozen-plus years after our aliyah, I know that nothing is set in stone.

After all, this is the Middle East, where bargaining is a time-honored tradition.

And so, here’s how it went:

Me: {opens pantry and notices a few cans of pickles} Can we bring pickles instead?

ACSC: {dutifully relays the message}

Madrich: {hesitates} I think someone is bringing that already. {thinks for a minute} But we do still need pitot. Is that an option?

ACSC: {dutifully relays the message}

Me: {opens freezer and notices a large bag of pitot} Yes! How many do you want?

ACSC: {dutifully relays the message}

Madrich: Ten.

ACSC: {dutifully relays the message}

Me: No problem.

ACSC: {dutifully relays the message}


How do YOU handle “the Call”?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Reason #6987 for making aliyah

The following announcement is brought to you by the Our Shiputzim Aliyah Promotion Department.


I was preparing cucumber salad on Friday and needed some lemon juice.

So YZG went outside, picked a couple of lemons from our tree, brought them inside, separated trumot u’ma’asrot, and squeezed the fruit.

I then used the freshly-picked, freshly-tithed, and freshly-squeezed juice for the salad which we enjoyed on Shabbat a few hours later.

Does it get any cooler than that?

“בנה ביתך כבתחילה, וכונן מקדשך על מכונו, והראנו בבנינו, ושמחנו בתיקונו, והשב כהנים לעבודתם ולויים לשירם ולזמרם, והשב ישראל לנויהם…”

“Rebuild Your House as at the start; and establish Your Mikdash on its readied site; and show us its rebuilding; and bring us joy with its renovation; and return the kohanim to their service and the leviim to their song and to their music; and return Yisrael to their dwellings…” (From Musaf for the Shalosh Regalim)


The latest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Susan for including my most recent Heblish post.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Factual Friday: Inaugural edition

The Our Shiputzim Information Department proudly presents:

18 random bits of completely useless trivia

(1) My free copy of Kosher by Design: Teens and 20-Somethings arrived on Wednesday.

(2) I won it over at G6’s blog. (Thanks, G6!)

(3) Nepotism played no part - although G6 and I are related.

(4) Well, sort of, anyway. “Distantly connected” is probably a more accurate description…

(5) Security considerations prevent me from revealing the precise nature of our relationship distant connection, but I can tell you that it involves at least two marriages and a number of second cousins. (Maybe I should change that to “very distantly connected”…)


(6) I have more Facebook friends than YZG does.

(7) I’m just saying…

(8) If this sounds familiar, it’s because way back when, I used to have more Facebook friends than YZG.

(9) But then he managed to accumulate about 30-40 more friends than me.

(10) Not that I cared, because it certainly wasn’t a competition.

(11) But for the record, he cheated.

(12) Because, seriously? Having three FB friends in common and being told by Facebook that you “may” know someone? That doesn’t mean that you actually do…

(13) But again, let me stress that I didn’t care, because it wasn’t a competition.

(14) YZG’s elementary and high school classes were apparently composed entirely of kids who grew up to become people who have nothing better to do with their time than search for former acquaintances whom they haven’t seen in over three decades.

(15) Yet, nevertheless, I was able to pull ahead of him again*.

(16) You see, I have a secret weapon.

(17) Two words: blogging friends. (Thanks, everybody!)

(18) Oh, and by the way, now that I’m ahead, it very much is a competition…


!שבת שלום ומבורך


*Actually, I’m only ahead by one. And since this is obviously too close for comfort, I turn to you, dear readers. If you haven’t yet done so, please do your part for humanity the J-Blogosphere by befriending me… :-)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Heblish: Support group edition

{cue: TV announcer voice}

Are you feeling down?

Does it bother you that your Israeli kids don’t speak proper English?

Are you wondering where all that money you spent on their Dovrei Anglit (lit. “English speakers”) classes went?

Well, there IS a solution!

You can register TODAY for the popular “Parents of Heblish-Speakers Support Group”!

That’s right!

For an unbelievably low monthly membership fee, you’ll get to meet thousands of Anglo parents – just. like. you.

Their heartwarming stories will, uh, warm your heart, and if you act now, we’ll throw in a copy of the critically-acclaimed Official Our Shiputzim Heblish-English Dictionary - AT NO EXTRA CHARGE!

This handy reference work includes a significant number of reader submissions, including:

{cue: music, as the dictionary entries roll down the screen}

From Mother in Israel:

  • Not something: Hebrew source לא משהו. English definition – Not great; nothing special. Sample usage – “It smells not something.”
  • To have a telephone: Hebrew source טלפון X-יש ל. English definition – To have a phone call. Sample usage – “Please tell her to pick up. She has a telephone.”

From Malke:

  • Reach to: Hebrew source – …להגיע ל. English definition – Reach. Sample usage – “You have reached to Itzik’s phone. Please leave a message after the beep.”
  • Invite: Hebrew source להזמין. English definition – Order; reserve. Sample usage – “Last week, we invited a pizza for supper.”

From Sarah:

  • To [action]? Hebrew source ?[ל[עשות משהו. English definition – Should/could/shall I [do something]? Sample usage – “Do you want to write that down? To give you a pencil?

From Miriyummy:

  • Fell [objective pronoun]: Hebrew source נפל לו. English definition – Dropped. Sample usage – “I tripped, and the box I was carrying fell me.”

{cue: TV announcer voice}

So what are you waiting for?

Call now. Our operators are standing by. This incredible offer* ends soon…

* Void where prohibited. Employees, relatives and readers of Our Shiputzim and its affiliates, subsidiaries, and blogroll links are not eligible.


Thanks, everybody, and please keep those Heblishisms coming (in the comment section or by email to OurShiputzim at gmail dot com)!


Previous Heblish editions are available here: Heblish I, Heblish II, Heblish III, Heblish IV, Heblish V, Heblish VI, Heblish VII, Heblish VIII, Heblish IX, Heblish X, Heblish XI, and Heblish XII.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Parshat Vayeitzei

Yes, I do realize that this week’s parsha is Parshat Vayishlach.

But TSG asked me to post the beautiful dvar Torah she prepared for her class this past Friday.

(An English translation is available upon request.)

Take it away, TSG!


Parshat Vayeitzei

by TSG

"וַתֹּאמֶר לָהּ, הַמְעַט קַחְתֵּךְ אֶת-אִישִׁי, וְלָקַחַת, גַּם אֶת-דּוּדָאֵי בְּנִי..." (בראשית ל:ט"ו)

נשאלת השאלה:

איך לאה יכלה לדבר כך לרחל? הרי, רחל עזרה לה ועשתה בשבילה חסד במסירות נפש רבה! היינו מצפים שלאה תכיר טובה לרחל על כל מה שהיא עשתה בשבילה. אבל במקום להודות לרחל, לאה כנראה כועסת עליה ומדברת איתה בצורה לא נעימה!


החסד שרחל עשתה היה ברמה גבוהה מאוד. רחל עשתה את זה בעדינות רבה ובצורה שלאה לא תרגיש. ולכן, לאה בכלל לא ידעה שרחל עשתה חסד בשבילה.

המדרש מספר שכשיצאו בני ישראל לגלות, כל האבות ביקשו רחמים מה' ולא נענו. אבל תפילותיה של רחל התקבלו מיד:

באותה שעה קפצה רחל לפני הקב"ה ואמרה: ריבונו של עולם, גלוי וידוע לפניך שיעקב עבדך אהבני אהבה יתרה, ועבד בשבילי לאבא שבע שנים, ושהשלימו אותן שבע שנים והגיע זמן נשואי לבעלי, יעץ אבי להחליפני לבעלי בשביל אחותי, והוקשה עלי הדבר עד מאד כי נודעה לי העצה. והודעתי לבעלי ומסרתי לו סימן שיכיר ביני ובין אחותי, כדי שלא יוכל להחליפני, ולאחר מכן נחמתי בעצמי וסבלתי את תאוותי, ורחמתי על אחותי שלא תצא לחרפה... מיד נתגללו רחמיו של הקב"ה ואמר: בשבילך רחל אני מחזיר את ישראל למקומן.”(מדרש איכה רבא)

חסדה של רחל היה במדרגה כה גבוהה, ולכן רק בקשתה נענתה.

יהי רצון שנזכה להמשיך ללכת בדרכה של רחל אמנו ולעשות חסדים בצורה הטובה ביותר.



TSG, may you and your siblings indeed continue to emulate Rachel Imeinu, and may you continue to be such a wonderful source of joy and nachat for us!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

J-Blogosphere Notes

Several items of interest:

1) Three recent posts which made me laugh:

2) The latest JPIX is available here. Special thanks to Robin for including my Apollonia post.

3) The newest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to the Rebbetzin's Husband for including Malke’s protektzia guest post.

!שבוע טוב וגשום

May we finally experience winter, and may the coming weeks and months be filled with rains of blessing*.


*Our community’s Rav has recommended that one now add “Shma Koleinu” – the prayer recited during a drought – even during Chazarat HaSha”tz.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Freshly Baked Goods Friday: Nameless edition

What do you do when you’ve changed a recipe so much that the original name no longer makes sense?

Well, naturally, if you’re the Shiputzim family, you hold a contest to come up with an appropriate alternate appellation. (Try saying that five times fast…)

For instance, when I took the almonds out of a recipe called Almond Chocolate Cookie Bars and replaced them with colored sprinkles, we all submitted our favorite suggestions and then took a vote.

The winner?

No-Name Bars.

Generic yet to the point, the name tends to elicit a few raised eyebrows from our guests, but, hey, it works for us…smile_teeth

IMG_2085 IMG_2084No-Name Bars

Loosely adapted from the “Hershey’s Homemade” (1991) cookbook


  • 2/3 cup oil (i.e. 200 grams margarine במקור)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 package chocolate chips
  • Colored sprinkles (or very coarsely chopped nuts)


Beat oil and sugars. Add egg and vanilla. Mix in flour. Press batter into greased or baking-paper-lined 9x13 pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool for five minutes.

Pour chocolate chips over crust. As the chocolate melts, use a spatula to spread over the entire crust. Decorate with sprinkles. Cut into bars while still warm, and then leave them to cool (and the chocolate to harden) in the pan.

!שבת שלום ומבורך

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Protektzia at its very best

The following guest post needs no introduction:

Vitamin P

A Guest Post by Malke

As so many people in Israel know, many things here run according to the rules of protektzia.

Like so many other concepts, it has no literal translation but can best be explained by, “it’s not what you know; it’s who you know.”

This is usually to the disadvantage of olim, who tend not to have many connections here and often find the whole concept somewhat distasteful.

However, to Israelis, it’s apparently so ingrained that they barely take notice anymore.

Proof of this can be found in a recent Galei Tzahal (Israel’s army radio station) program, which included an interview with a top ranking army official.

Towards the end, they took questions and comments from the audience.  At which point, some woman gets on the phone and starts complaining that everything in the army is protektzia and that her son - and others like him, who don’t know anyone - get the short shrift.

So what does the officer say?

Send me his details, and I’ll take care of things.

The funniest part is that the interviewer’s response was, “oh, great,” and the mother’s response was, “oh, thank you, I'll do that.

No one saw any irony here…



Thanks, Malke, and also mazal tov on your children’s beautiful wedding! May the young couple be privileged to build a bayit ne’eman b’Yisrael!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Around the J-Blogosphere

Several items of note from around the J-Blogosphere:

1) שועלים הלכו בו. (“Shu’alim hilchu vo.” - “Foxes prowl over it.” – Eichah 5:18)

Har HaBayit after the Churban? Well, yeah, but also, Capitol Hill last Friday.

What’s the deeper significance of this modern twist on an ancient vision? I have no idea, but please leave your best creative suggestions (profound and/or humorous) in the comment section…

2) The latest Kosher Cooking Carnival is available here. Special thanks to Risa for including my cinnamon marble cake post.

3) Clearly, someone on Bnei Akiva’s executive board is an avid Our Shiputzim fan.

I mean, wouldn’t you agree that their choice of Na’aleh (literally, “we shall go up”) as the new shevet’s name is a clear indication that they read my Rosh Hashanah post, which declared that תשע”א (the Jewish year 5771) stands for תהא שנת עליה ארצה (Tehei Shnat Aliyah Artzah” - “May this be a year of aliyah to Eretz Yisrael)?


!שבוע טוב וחודש טוב

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Chodesh Irgun 5771

I know what you’re thinking.

Why haven’t there been any Chodesh Irgun posts on the Our Shiputzim blog this year?” you’re no doubt wondering.

And you do have a point.

However, I figured that I more or less exhausted the topic last year.

And besides, it’s been the usual toxic mix of late nights, neglected schoolwork, paint-spattered clothing, and arguments civilized discussions concerning any and all of the above.

Nevertheless, in the interest of good blogging, here are two Chodesh Irgun-related blogbits:

1) Note: The following scenario is based on recent events a work of complete fiction. Any resemblance to reality is purely intentional coincidental:

Mother: No, you can’t go paint the snif in those clothes. You know that they’ll get ruined. Why don’t you wear that old jean skirt that’s hanging in your closet?

Daughter: {horrified} No WAY am I walking around in that skirt!! Someone will SEE me!

Mother: {mistakenly believing that reason and logic can play a part in this exchange} First of all, no one will see you, because it’s dark outside. And anyway, what does it matter if they see you? Everyone knows that it’s Chodesh Irgun, and they’ll realize that you’re obviously on your way to paint the snif…

Daughter: {rolls eyes}

Does this sound familiar?


2) The new shevet's name – Na’aleh (literally, “we shall go up”) – has been announced.

In an effort to gauge popular sentiment in advance of their next release, the developers of the ever-popular Generation Gap program immediately took to the streets and recorded the following initial reactions:

“Well, it’s kind of strange to have a verb as a name, but it’s still pretty good.”

“It’s okay, I guess.”

“At least it’s not HaGevurah


בהצלחה לכל החניכים והמדריכים

!ושבת שלום ומבורך


Monday, November 1, 2010

It was, like, a linguistic epiphany

As you will recall, I was officially certified as the world's foremost expert on Israeli teenagers’ slang. (Don’t believe me? Check out the original post and see for yourself.)

Thus, I naturally enjoyed this JPost column, which correctly observes that Israeli teenage boys limit their conversations to:

“Five words, and one tiny expression.”


“Walla (hey), achi (bro), achla (cool), sababa (another word for cool), tov (good) and ma koreh (what’s happening).”

But, IMHO, it’s what happened after I finished reading that was even more noteworthy. Indeed, it could only be described as a eureka moment.

Picture this:

Me: {reads interesting newspaper column}

Me: {ponders a related unsolved mystery}

{a light bulb comes on overhead, and an assimon drops}

Me: Aha! I think I’ve got it! Can it work? {does some quick calculations; carries the two; subtracts the nine; and takes the square root of 22,201} Yes! It all makes perfect sense!

That’s right, my friends.

Call me a modern day Archimedes, if you will.

After all, I’ve figured out the solution to one of the modern world’s most perplexing conundrums – namely, how do teenagers handle information which simply can’t be relayed using just walla, achi, achla, sababa, tov, or ma koreh?

And the answer is: They rely on k’ilu (like).

Let me explain. (No there is too much. Let me sum up…)

You see, every so often, teenagers discover that they have no choice but to use a non-canonical word.

Under normal circumstances, this would be a major taboo or even a huge fadichah.

But with the magical powers of k’ilu, any potential awkwardness or embarrassment is avoided.

For instance, say you’re a teenager, and you can’t make it to a certain gathering of your friends.

What do you do?

You tell them, “Ani, k’ilu, lo magia.” (“I’m, like, not coming.”)

Didn’t do your homework?

K’ilu, shachachti.” (“I, like, forgot.”)

Note how k’ilu automatically transforms any term which doesn’t appear in the official teenage lexicon into a perfectly acceptable word.

It’s, k’ilu, truly sababa, no?


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Baruch Dayan Emet

For me, blogging usually serves as an escape from real life.

But sometimes, real life has a nasty way of intruding on the microcosm known as the J-Blogosphere.

Yet, this isn’t too surprising – considering that the J-Blogosphere is actually made up of real people, many of whom I now consider to be my real friends (whether or not we’ve met in person).

And like any friends, we share in each other’s joys. But also, רחמנא לצלן, in each other’s sorrows.

Like countless people around the globe, I feel as if I “knew” RivkA z”l from her blog, even though YZG and I were only privileged to meet  her in person one time – at the bloggers’ picnic she organized during Succot 5770.

As a matter of fact, this picnic was a perfect illustration of RivkA’s incredible bravery, warmth, exuberance, and optimism.

You see, in the wake of the previous summer’s J-Bloggers Convention, a few of us had discussed arranging an informal get-together. In lieu of sessions, lectures, or workshops, we were looking for a chance to sit around and schmooze.

We all agreed that such an idea would be great and that we really “should” arrange something. But the new school year was starting, and then the chagim were rapidly approaching…

Let’s put the plan on hold for now, everyone said. Maybe we’ll think about it in November or so.

Everyone, that is, except RivkA.

Quietly and without fanfare, she weighed possible dates, scouted suitable locations, took reservations, and gave out directions.

Then at the event itself, she greeted each participant with her trademark radiant smile and made us feel like we had been friends forever.

And when it was time to leave, she asked simply, “Can I give you a hug?”

Because, of course, that’s what friends do…

May RivkA’s beautiful family be comforted among the mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim.

המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים ולא תוסיפו לדאבה עוד.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

“Sorry, it’s not to scale…”

Longtime readers know that we here at Our Shiputzim pride ourselves on our commitment to delivering hard-hitting exposés on topical issues affecting our communities.

{ignores the snickering and the snide remarks}

Whether it’s worrisome trends like transparent wrapping paper or troubling developments such as winged chupahs, we’re on the case.

But all of these pale in comparison to the absurd so-called maps provided by simchah halls around the country.

Indeed, any resemblance between real maps and these highly inaccurate and extremely misleading sketches is purely coincidental.

After all, consider the following:

  • 1) In the mapmakers’ universe, there are apparently no twists, turns, or curves. Instead, all the roads – yes, even major highways! - are ruler straight and perfectly parallel to each other.
  • 2) Random cross streets, key intersections, most traffic lights, and other important landmarks – you know, anything that would actually HELP the driver reach his/her destination… - are usually missing.
  • 3) The mapmakers don’t even PRETEND to draw to scale.*

And thus, as a result of innocently relying on one of these alleged “maps”, many guests often get hopelessly lost on their way to the affair.


Maybe this explains why Israeli smachot rarely start on time….



* On a related note, can you believe that the first “Back to the Future” movie is now celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary??!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

There's a Skink in the Sink

Prompted by a comment on my skink post, YZG took finger to keyboard and surprised me with a, um, literary masterpiece.

I’m reposting it here for those who may have missed it:

There's a Skink in the Sink

(With apologies to Dr. Seuss)

by YZG

I didn't want to move or blink,
For it was sitting there on the brink.
I don’t know what others think,
But I was all tickled pink.
There's a skink in the sink!

I didn't want to move, I didn't want to blink.
One wrong move, a little jink,
And away, away he would slink.

From my duty I could not shrink,
Though I be a mere gink.
So, hands together all in sync,
Careful to make not even a plink,
I grabbed him faster than a wink.

For a sink was no place for a skink.
He deserved his own rink.
Parts of the small enclosure I did link,
For the goal was worth all the swink.

It had to be safe from even a flying chewink,
Safe from the ground from roving mink.
When all was done, we had a drink,
Our glasses together we did clink.

Labeled carefully, clearly in ink,
We announced the rink opening, without making a stink.

For the opening, the skink, he did prink,
And everything went well, without a kink.
The rink endures without a chink,
To find it and visit, just search for the link.

Thank you, YZG.

I think…