Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blogging the war

Although I’ve alluded to the war, I haven’t actually blogged about it outright.


The main reason is that I have nothing to add. Other bloggers are saying it better than I ever could.

But also, B”H, life goes on. I think this is very difficult to explain to someone who isn’t here.

On one hand, we are at war. This is a tiny, interconnected country, and no matter where one goes or lives, the war isn’t very far away – neither geographically nor emotionally. I’d rather not go into details which would jeopardize my semi-anonymous status, but I will say that TRLEOOB (like much of Israel) is relatively close to at least some of the places which have been mentioned in the news over the past few days.

Meanwhile, we know some people - including one of ESG’s teachers – who have received Tzavei Shmoneh (emergency call-ups), and many of our neighbors are once again opening their homes to strangers (as they first did during the Expulsion from Gush Katif and then again during the Second Lebanon War).

Yet, on the other hand, we continue with much of our mundane daily routines. For example, ASG started driving lessons this week; AMG is writing an English book report on “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler”; MAG had an orthodontist appointment today; and so on.

How do I write about this dichotomy? I don’t want to sound callous and indifferent. But at the same time, I don’t want to suggest that we are chas v’shalom enduring anything resembling that which the beleaguered residents of an ever-growing swath of the country are suffering.

Your thoughts?

יה”ר שיצליח ה’ את תפילתנו ויחזק את ידי מגיני ארץ קדשינו

One last Chanukah post

Chanukah vacation is over, and everyone headed back to school today. But as we were putting all the chanukiyot and draidels away until next year IY”H, ESG reminded me that I had neglected to post a picture of the unique chanukiyah he made at his school’s Chanukah party.

ESG attended this party by himself – even though the parents were invited as well - because YZG and I had to go to a funeral. ESG understood but asked if I could at least post his decorative chanukiyah on the blog.

So, here goes:


For more of ESG’s handiwork, be sure to check out his mizbach haketoret model as well as his Parshat Vayeishev diorama.

Monday, December 29, 2008

TSG, public speaker par excellence

Recently, some of TSG’s older siblings observed that she rarely appears in the blog.

Fortunately, recent events provided me with a perfect opportunity to remedy the situation.

A few days before our wonderful visit to Achziv, the official Dvar Torah Committee requested that two members of the Shiputzim family speak over Shabbat.

So, I informed the older Shiputzim children that two of them would have to volunteer.

The first volunteer was the Resident Ulpanistit, who delivered a beautiful dvar Torah. She asked that I not embarrass her with maternal accolades, and therefore, I’ll simply say that she did a great job.

But we still needed a second volunteer. However, before another member of the older set could offer their services, TSG asked if she could speak.

And speak she did.

BA”H, although there were nearly 40 people there over Shabbat, TSG wasn’t flustered. Instead, she spoke loudly and with much poise and self-confidence. Afterwards, she asked me to post her speech to the blog.

Here, then, is her dvar Torah (an English translation is available upon request):

אני מקדישה את דבר התורה שלי לעילוי נשמת הרב יהושע פסח בן הרב חיים יעקב אברהם ז”ל

בפרשת מקץ, מסופר שיעקב אבינו אמר לבניו ללכת למצרים לקנות אוכל מפני שהיה רעב בארץ ישראל. אחר כך, בפרק מ"ב, פסוק ג', כתוב, "וַיֵּרְדוּ אֲחֵי-יוֹסֵף, עֲשָׂרָה, לִשְׁבֹּר בָּר, מִמִּצְרָיִם." יש לי שתי שאלות על הפסוק הזה

א. למה כתוב " וַיֵּרְדוּ" במקום וילכו

ב. למה כתוב " אֲחֵי-יוֹסֵף" במקום בני יעקב? הרי, יוסף לא היה שם בכלל

לפי רש"י, התשובה לשאלה השנייה היא שהאחים התחרטו על מכירת יוסף. הם רצו עכשיו להתנהג אליו עם אחווה – כמו אחים – והיו מוכנים לפדות אותו אפילו בהרבה כסף

והתשובה לשאלה הראשונה היא שארץ ישראל היא ארץ הקודש. ולכן, מי שבא לארץ ישראל נקרא "עולה". ומי שיוצא מארץ ישראל נקרא "יורד". ברוך ה' זכינו לגור כאן בארץ ישראל – ארץ הקודש. שבת שלום

May TSG – and all of us – continue to appreciate that it is indeed a privilege to live here in Israel, in both times of peace and times of war.

שנשמע בשורות טובות

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Zot Chanukah

In honor of Zot Chanukah, here are pictures of our chanukiyot from the sixth night – which we lit in Achziv on Erev Shabbat.

Some family members lit inside the shul:


And everyone else lit just outside the shul:


Here’s the inside of the shul:


(As you can guess from the size of the Aron Kodesh, there was only one Sefer Torah. But, BA”H, the CTO’s laining was excellent – as always – even though one Sefer Torah on Shabbat-Rosh Chodesh-Chanukah meant that there was a considerable amount of rolling involved…)

May we soon be privileged to once again enjoy Zot Chanukah’s original triumphs – both the military victory as well as the miracle in the Beit HaMikdash.


Shavua tov, chodesh tov, and happy Chanukah!

We were privileged to have spent a very special and extremely enjoyable Shabbat-Rosh Chodesh-Chanukah together with our extended family at a field school in Achziv, which is on the northern Mediterranean coast – just south of Rosh HaNikra.

Here is a picture of the field school grounds:

IMG_4174Note to my Israeli readers: We highly recommend this field school as a place to stay. It may not be a 5-star hotel, but it was pretty, clean and fixed up very nicely. Plus, the staff went out of their way to accommodate us in every way. (Feel free to contact me at OurShiputzim at gmail dot com for more information.)

The Achziv beach:


Rosh HaNikra as seen from Achziv:


The ocean:


The exterior of our well-appointed room:


The view from inside our room:


The coast:


YZG and I would like to take this opportunity to thank our parents for a truly wonderful weekend.

Meanwhile, our thoughts and prayers are with the IDF and the brave residents of the South.

בשורות טובות

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

KCC #37

The latest edition of the Kosher Cooking Carnival is available here.

Special thanks to Leora for including my potato kugel post.


חג אורים שמח

From all of us here at Our Shiputzim!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Heblish III

That’s right, Heblish fans. It’s time for another exciting edition of everyone’s favorite made-up language. Here, then, are some actual words and phrases used in TRLEOOB*:

To give a pe’ulah: Hebrew source – להעביר פעולה. English definition – To lead/run an activity. Sample usage - “Today, our madrich is going to give a pe’ulah about Chanukah.”

Cell-a-phone: Hebrew source – פלאפון. English definition – Cell phone. Sample usage – “She wasn’t home. So, I called her on her cell-a-phone.”

Catch: Hebrew source – תופסת. English definition - Tag. Sample usage - “Today in recess, we played catch, and I was the catcher. I had to run and catch everyone else.”

More than… in: Hebrew source – …יותר… מ… ב. English definition - More than. Sample usage - “He is older than her in two years.”

As what: Hebrew source – אז מה. English definition – So what. Sample usage - “As what if you called the computer first; it’s still my turn!”

Happy Chanukah!


*TRLEOOB = the real life equivalent of our blog

Monday, December 22, 2008

Thoughts on a funeral

Last night, after we lit the first Chanukah candle, YZG and I went to a funeral. As you can imagine, the juxtaposition of the two events was jarring – to say the least.

But that’s not what I want to blog about right now.

I want to talk about the funeral itself. By YZG’s estimate (I can never judge these things), there were well over a thousand people there.

A crowd like that might lead you to think that this was the funeral of a major Rav or a noted celebrity.

However, it wasn’t.

It was the funeral of a wife. A mother. A grandmother. A sister. A daughter. A teacher. A seemingly “ordinary” person…. who turned out to be extraordinary.

A significant percentage of those in attendance probably didn’t know her personally. Some of them were her children’s friends; others were her husband’s work colleagues. But the truth is that during her all-too-brief time on earth, she left her impact on all of them. After all, she was the one who made her husband and her children be who they are.

Her death is an unbearable and unfathomable tragedy. In his hesped, her husband asked, “How can we possibly go on without her?!”

And yet, in spite of the sadness and in spite of the grief, every single person who was there last night walked away inspired and moved to somehow emulate her.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

“V’habor reik – ein bo mayim…”

About a year and a half ago, ESG made a diorama about Parshat Vayeishev, which will be his bar mitzvah parsha* in a few years IY”H.


Be sure to click on the picture for a closer view of the nechashim v’akrabim (the snakes and scorpions in the pit).

Check out this post for another example of ESG’s artwork.


* I’m told that Parshat Vayeishev is a cool parsha to lein, because of the shalshelet in Shishi… Of course, MAG’s parsha (Vayishlach) has its own advantage: the 613 Torah Avenue “Vayishlach Song”. Yes, on Friday night at the bar mitzvah, we forced all our relatives to sing were pleased by the way everyone willingly joined in. (Sorry, guys, and thanks for being such great sports!)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

One week later

Shavua tov.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a week since the bar mitzvah. Of course, we’re still eating our way through the leftovers, and MAG is busy enjoying every minute of thank-you-note writing </sarcasm>. But overall, life is more or less back to normal.

For those of you who were unable to join us in person, here is a look at the Friday night meal (i.e. the seudat leil Shabbat, for the Hebraically-oriented among you).

As some of you know, we followed the model we had used for the CTO’s bar mitzvah (which was based on reader MB’s bar mitzvah model) – namely, I did the Friday night meal (with lots of help from various family members) as well as seudah shlishit, and we had Shabbat lunch and the melave malka catered.

Friday night menu

  • Appetizer: Potato burekas with mushroom sauce
  • Main course: Brisket; schnitzel; potato kugel; mushroom rice; green beans with almonds; lettuce salad; copper carrot salad
  • Dessert: Assorted cakes and cookies; taiglach; jelly beans; tea

Recipes available upon request.

Here’s how the room looked set up for Friday night. (These pictures were taken before the flowers were added.)




Have a good week from all of us here at Our Shiputzim!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Channeling her inner pyromaniac

As a rule, Israeli ganenets have never met a fire hazard they didn’t like.

Whether it’s the ubiquitous ooltra with the electric cord lying right where the kids can trip on it or the sparklers which the kids are supposed to hold at their birthday parties (!!), these ganenets do everything in their power to show their disdain for basic fire safety.

But at this evening’s Chanukah party, the ganenet took things to a whole new level.

The performance began innocently enough. Each child was given an oversized wooden block covered in gold paper, and they then built a giant chanukiyah out of the blocks.

Now, before any of you interrupt and say that “Building a Chanukiyah Out of Wooden Blocks” is a standard element of gan parties (along with the Giant Draidel Piñata), let me explain that this chanukiyah was different.

Instead of placing the blocks on the floor in a single layer, the kids built up. In other words, the chanukiyah was over a meter high. And since the blocks were not uniformly sized, the top layer was far from level.

When the kids were finished, the ganenet put nine (i.e. 8 plus 1 for the shamash) glass bottles each filled with water, olive oil, and floating wicks – on top of the very rickety, wooden structure*.

She then lit the “candles”, and the kids stood around and waved colored paper streamers not too far from the dancing flames.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who was nervous, because one of the kids shouted out, “Zeh me’od mesukan!” (“That’s very dangerous!”)

Yet the ganenet merely smiled.

She knew that the laws of physics don’t apply when it comes to gan parties…


* Sorry, no pictures. Our camera’s battery died soon after I arrived at the party.

That unique English-speaking look

Yesterday, in two separate and unrelated incidents which occurred less than an hour apart, two different people guessed that I was a native English speaker before I had a chance to say a single word.

In fact, the first woman told me that she could tell just by looking at me that English is my mother tongue.

It must’ve been that scarlet A – for “Anglo” – on my chest…

Monday, December 15, 2008

Not quite back to blogging

Hello, Our Shiputzim fans!

I have lots to write about, but for now, I’ll have to suffice with two brief blogbits:

1) B”H, the bar mitzvah was wonderful, and we all had a great time. MAG did an incredible job (BA”H) with his laining and also with the siyum he made on Masechet Taanit. (Not that I’m biased or anything…) Also, thank you to everyone who helped in so many different ways.

2) If you’ve been wondering (i.e. you’ve been in metach) about apple green, please check out the napkins in the following picture from the melave malka:


Kol hakavod to Ilana Davita who correctly guessed that the color would resemble a Granny Smith apple. Well done!

I’ll leave you to decide whether or not this color is the green equivalent of Nechama Leibowitz’s “Iyunim B’Sefer Breishit”.

Hopefully, more bar mitzvah posts to come…

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Chatting with ENG: Education edition

You’ll all be glad to hear that in spite of the pre-bar mitzvah tumult here in TRLEOOB, ENG is not neglecting her studies. The following conversation took place this morning as ENG was getting was ready for gan:

ENG: Imma?

Me: Yes?

ENG: Now we’re learning about Chanukah in gan, but before that we learned about water.

Me: Hmm.

ENG: It gets used up.

Me: What?

ENG: The water. It gets used up.

Me: I see.

ENG: And before we learned about water, we learned about something else.

Me: Oh?

ENG: But I don’t know what it’s called…

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

…And we are “GO” for new clothes

I realize that some of you were concerned that our resident ulpanistit* hadn’t yet found any new clothes for the fast-approaching bar mitzvah. (If you don’t have your own resident ulpanistit or an equivalent thereof, you probably don’t understand what’s so difficult about finding clothes. However, you’ll have to trust me on this one.)

So, I decided to take a quick break from cooking, cleaning, shopping, arranging, organizing etc. to bring you the good news. B"H, all the female members of the Shiputzim family now have new outfits, and the sartorial crisis has been averted.

Thank you to our resident ulpanistit’s Savta for saving the day!



* An ulpanistit is one who attends an ulpanah (a girls’ religious high school) – i.e. a teenage girl בלעז.

Monday, December 8, 2008

In lieu of original content

While the entire staff is off getting ready for the bar mitzvah IY”H, here are two classic posts for your blog-reading pleasure:

1) A journey to the center of the duct – Yes, this is a renovations post. But it includes some very cool pictures of the inside of our A/C duct. (And no, they aren’t as boring as they sound…)

2) And that’s my other brother Darrell – Try your hand at proving ENG’s Theory of the Gilads…

See you soon.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

HH 194

The next edition of Havel Havelim can be found both here and here.

Thank you to Batya for including my maternity ward post.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

They did the ooltra…

Shavua tov!

Yes, I’m still here. It’s just that the bar mitzvah is this coming Shabbat IY”H, and so things are understandably busy here in TRLEOOB.

And on a related note, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my real-life friend and commenter MB and her family for hosting us for the now-traditional Meal on the Shabbat Before the Simcha (or, in Our Shiputzim-speak, the MOTSBTS). May our families continue to share many, many future smachot!

As some of you know, the Shiputzim children are members of Ariel* – rather than Bnei Akiva. (Ariel uses the same names as Bnei Akiva does – hence, last week’s HaGevurah post.)

Anyway, this Shabbat was Shabbat Irgun for the girls. (This coming Shabbat – yes, the Shabbat of the bar mitzvah! – will IY”H be the boys’ Shabbat Irgun.)

The reason I mention this is to reassure our loyal readers that yes, there was an ooltra. And the truth is that – all kidding aside – the dances were, as always, quite beautiful.

In fact, the girls introduced a new twist to the ooltra dance. Usually, such a dance is done to fast, up-beat music. However, this time, they did something completely different.

This shevet’s (age group) theme was “Captives and MIAs”. After showing a short slide show about the Israeli MIAs, the girls did a slow ooltra to Boaz Sharabi’s haunting “K’she’tavo”, a song about Ron Arad. The entire audience agreed that dancing in the dark was a moving and fitting tribute to the MIAs.

And in conclusion, mazal tov to our resident HaGevurah member on the new name. (Admit it – the name is starting to grow on you, isn’t it? smile_regular)

* That is – some of the Shiputzim children are Ariel members. Others are adherents of what is euphemistically known as “Iyov” (aleph,yud,vav,vet – an acronym for אשרי יושבי ביתך – literally, “Praiseworthy are those who dwell in Your House”) – i.e. they prefer to stay home.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Return to 34th and Lex

Those of you who recognize the address in the title will be surprised to learn that this post is actually subtitled: “Life on an Israeli Maternity Ward”.

Let me explain. No, there is too much, let me sum up…

First, two caveats:

Caveat #1: My American experiences obviously pre-date our aliyah, and even my Israeli experiences aren’t very recent. (After all, BA”H, our “baby” isn’t exactly a baby anymore…) However, I can’t imagine that there have been any significant changes in the interim.

Caveat #2: This post is not about giving birth; it’s only about the postpartum period. However, I should note that the medical care I received in both countries was excellent and equally advanced.

Basically, two main issues distinguish Israeli maternity wards from their American counterparts:

1) Ambulation: In the States, the objective seems to be to let the new mother get some much needed rest. In contrast, here in Israel, the message is: You’re not sick; get out of bed. Obviously, if chas v’shalom anything is wrong, the mothers stay in bed. But, assuming that everything is fine, the mothers are encouraged to get up and walk around. For instance, as long as the mother is up to it, she goes to get her baby from the nursery (rather than waiting for the nurse to bring the baby to her). Also, in some (most?) Israeli hospitals, the new mothers go to a small private dining room to eat their meals. Only mothers who are non-ambulatory (e.g. after a C-section or within the first six hours after giving birth, etc.) receive their meals in bed.

2) Socialization: Unlike in America, Israeli maternity wards serve as postpartum support groups. Except for at night and – perhaps – during the traditional 2-4 PM rest hour, the curtains separating the beds remain open. By the time I left the hospital after each birth, I knew all kinds of personal things about my roommates. In contrast, in America, I barely knew my roommates’ names!

The net result was that when each of my “sabras” were born, I felt like I was back in Stern College (hence the title!) – with two notable differences:

  • Instead of staying up late studying and comparing dating stories, my roommates and I stayed up late nursing and comparing birthing stories.
  • Instead of saying things like, “Oh? Are you going to eat? Then please save me a seat in the caf.,” we said things like, “Oh? Are you going to eat? Then please save me a seat in the chadar ochel (dining room).”


Monday, December 1, 2008

Generation gap

The Our Shiputzim R&D department is pleased to announce the beta release of a complex algorithm which can determine a reader’s age group.

Please feel free to try it. You’re likely to find it surprisingly accurate. All you need to do is answer a single question:

When you heard that “HaGevurah” – הגבורה - (fortitude, heroism) is the new shevet's name, your immediate reaction most closely resembled:

[a] “HaGevurah sounds like a very nice name. What’s not to like about it? After all, gevurah is the midah (trait) of Yitzchak Avinu. I’m sure that the kids in the new shevet are very pleased with their new name.”

[b] “I’m so glad that we didn’t get that name…”

[c] “Oof! Why were we stuck with this name?! Why couldn’t they have given us a normal name?!”

[d] “I’m glad that they got rid of that name this year…”

If you picked [a], you are over the age of 30.

If you picked [b], you are between the ages of 16-29.

If you picked [c], you are in 9th grade.

If you picked [d], you are in 8th grade or below.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

HH 193

The latest edition of Haveil Havalim can be found here.

Thank you to Benji for including my “magical” post.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Baruch Dayan HaEmet

Shavua tov.

This blog is meant to be an escape from real life, but sadly, sometimes real life has a nasty way of intruding.

When we shut down our computers on Erev Shabbat, we were still hopeful that somehow, against all odds, there would be good news waiting for us on Motza”Sh.

Unfortunately, we were wrong.

Our thoughts go out to the families of the victims of the horrific massacre in Mumbai.

May they all be comforted among the mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim, and may the coming week be one of besurot tovot, yeshu’ot, and nechamot (good tidings, salvation, and consolation).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mazal tov: Tabu edition

No, don’t worry.

We didn’t break any taboos – cultural, religious or otherwise.

And for that matter, we didn’t play any party games.

Nor did we place a jinx upon a word or name a la “Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows”.

In fact, we didn’t even solve any combinatorial optimization problems. (Or maybe we did. It’s hard to tell when neither of us knows what they are…)

However, we did get our property listed in the Israel Land Registry… AKA Tabu*.

It only took over ten years, reams of paperwork and countless stehmps. But yesterday morning, we learned that it’s finally official:

YZG and I are now B”H privileged to be registered land owners here in Eretz Yisrael.

Pretty cool, huh?


* Apparently the name Tabu – which is pronounced “TAH-boo” (i.e. the emphasis is on the first syllable) - dates back to the Ottoman Empire.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Potato kugel

In my recent post about short winter Fridays, I talked about making potato kugels in advance:

Suggestion: When making potato kugels in advance, bake them only halfway and then freeze. The kugels don’t even need to be defrosted when it’s time to finish baking them; they can go straight from the freezer to the oven on Friday afternoon. (We’re going to be using this model for the bar mitzvah IY”H.) Hat tip: My mother (Thanks, Imma!)”

הואיל והזכירו סיפר בשבחו – Since I mentioned potato kugel, I think that it’s only fair that I post our family’s favorite recipe. After all, there’s nothing like fresh potato kugel on a Friday night…

Potato Kugel


1. This kugel tastes best when the potatoes are grated by hand using a so-called “safety grater” (i.e. a reebaizen in Yiddish). But the shredder with the smallest holes on the food processor works well too.

2. “Overnight” variation – Instead of a regular pan, use a Pyrex bowl. Bake the kugel in the oven until set. Meanwhile, fill the crockpot about a third of the way up with water. Remove the kugel from the oven, and place in the crockpot, which will now serve as a double boiler. Leave overnight in crockpot on low. Unmold the kugel onto a round platter for Shabbat lunch.

3. What follows are the basic proportions. I generally use the equivalent of 6 large potatoes for one kugel and then adjust the other ingredients accordingly.


  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 2 eggs (i.e. 1 egg per every 2 potatoes + 1 extra egg “for the pot”)
  • 4 soupspoons canola or olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper


Grate potatoes and onions. Add other ingredients and mix. Pour mixture into oiled pan, and bake in a “hot oven” (around 390 degrees) until top is dark golden-brown.


Monday, November 24, 2008

A glimpse at short Fridays here in TRLEOOB*

Mother in Israel recently blogged about her techniques for getting everything done on short winter Fridays.

Here are some of the things that work for me:

Baking: I try to get all of my baking done by Wednesday. Most cakes and cookies freeze very well, and so there’s no reason not to make them in advance. Also, I almost always make a double recipe when baking, which means we don’t have to bake every week.

Kugels: I also find that some kugels freeze well, and I try to make these in advance and freeze. [Suggestion: When making potato kugels in advance, bake them only halfway and then freeze. The kugels don’t even need to be defrosted when it’s time to finish baking them; they can go straight from the freezer to the oven on Friday afternoon. (We’re going to be using this model for the bar mitzvah IY”H.) Hat tip: My mother (Thanks, Imma!)]

Chicken: I clean and spice/marinate the chicken on Thursday afternoon/evening. It then sits in the refrigerator overnight, and I put it in the oven 1.5-2 hours before Shabbat (depending on the specific recipe).

Soup: As a minimum, I put all the ingredients (except for the water) in the pot on Thursday. Occasionally, I add the water and cook the soup on Thursday as well. Otherwise, the pot sits in the refrigerator overnight, and I add the water and cook the soup on Friday. (I always make soup in a big pot and freeze the extra in plastic containers.)

Cholent: I check the barley and beans on Thursday, and then let them soak [covered] overnight. Also, I peel and chop the onions and store them overnight in the refrigerator. I do everything else on Friday morning (including peeling the potatoes).

Fish: I don’t make this too often, but when I do, I prepare the onions, carrots, and spices on Thursday and store it all in the refrigerator overnight.

Salads and other side dishes: Ideally, the vegetables get washed on Thursday, and then I take care of chopping etc. on Friday.

As you can see, in general, I do much of the prep. work on Thursday, but then I leave the actual cooking for Friday. The advantage to this system is that there’s less pressure on Friday, but much of the food is still cooked fresh right before Shabbat.


* As our long time readers are well aware, TRLEOOB=”The Real Life Equivalent of Our Blog”.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A magical interlude

Shavua tov, Our Shiputzim fans!

Some of the comments in the previous post reminded me of something that happened way back when I was on Shana Bet.

One of my teachers was an American who had made aliyah many years before. Although there were a handful of English-speakers in the course, most of the students were Israelis, and the class was given in Hebrew.

Anyway, one day, the teacher said that something was like “magickah”.

My friends and I rolled our eyes at each other. Apparently, magic was yet another English word that just needed an atzia or an ah at the end to transform it into Hebrew. We each had our own personal favorites, but we all agreed that this latest example was definitely a prime contender for the title of Most Ridiculous Hebrew Word.

However, we soon realized that we weren’t the only ones discussing the teacher’s choice of words. A murmur swept through the class. Finally, a brave student piped up, “What’s magickah?”

The teacher looked around at the Israeli students’ blank expressions and grinned.

“I take it that’s not a word?” he laughed.

He then confessed that whenever he would forget how to say something in Hebrew, he would simply Hebraicize the English term… even in the middle of his lectures!

“It usually works,” he insisted. “I do this all the time, and until today, no one has ever complained or corrected me. It always turns out to be a real word.”

Magickah, it seems, was the exception that proved his rule…


P.S. For the record, the actual Hebrew word for magic is קסם – kessem.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Substitutiary locomotion

I recently came across a form (in English) which had blanks for “Name”, “Address”, “Phone Number”, and, among other things, “Switcher Size”.

No doubt, you are as confused by this as I was. After all, according to Wikipedia, a switcheris a small [emphasis mine] railroad locomotive intended… for assembling trains ready for a road locomotive to take over, disassembling a train that has been brought in, and generally moving railroad cars around…

As you can see, this definition seems to suggest that switchers only come in “onesize” (Mah?! Zeh gam milah b’Anglit?!). I mean, wouldn’t “Locomotive Size” have been a better choice of words?

Clearly, something didn’t add up.

However, a single phone call, and the mystery was solved.

Switcher turned out to be a mistranslation of s’vetcher*, which – in turn - is how Israelis refer to a sweatshirt


* Yes, I know that it really should be סווטשרט, but my kids assure me that no one pronounces the final “tet”.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gutter talk

Warning: The following post deals with our renovations.

If – for some unknown reason - this doesn’t interest you, please feel free to skip the remainder of this post – as long as you don’t get scared off completely. Now that our שיפוצים (renovations) are more or less finished, I rarely – if ever – post about this topic, but recent developments have forced me to make an exception.

However, for those of you who are debating whether it’s worth reading to the end instead of clicking away immediately, I have two words: Roof. Views. (Yeah, I thought that might get your attention…)

And on that note:

When the roof was being installed, we wondered if we would want a gutter (i.e. מרזב - marzev - for the Hebraically-oriented among you). But after consulting with both the roofer and the kablan, we decided that it made sense to wait until it rained to see if a gutter or drainpipe was really necessary.

Fast forward to the recent rain, when we discovered that we DID, indeed, want a gutter. The problem was that no one could enter or exit the front door without passing through a sheet of water.

So, we contacted the roofer, who came yesterday and did his thing.

And now, without further ado, here’s the promised roof view:


And how about one more, for good measure:


Okay, I admit that perhaps these weren’t quite as exciting as old-fashioned roof views – after all, I didn’t even bother to cue the roof view theme music – but let me remind you that you can always get your authentic roof view fix by clicking on the “Roof” label to the right.

That’s it for now.

We now return you back to your regularly scheduled construction-less blog…

Sunday, November 16, 2008

HH 191

The latest edition of Haveil Havalim can be found here.

Thank you to West Bank Mama for including my stehmp post.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Deep cover

Shavua tov, Our Shiputzim fans!

As anyone who has ever made Pesach knows, one can be as organized as one wants and make numerous lists and plans. But come erev yom tov, and all those lists and plans are useless in the face of the odd chametz utensil or two which have somehow been left out and now need to be put away for the duration of the chag – and rather quickly at that. And so, in desperation, one stashes these forgotten utensils in the most random of places.

Of course, the drawback to this quick fix becomes apparent as soon as Pesach is over, and one inevitably discovers that those very same utensils are now missing.

Way back in April, I blogged about this very issue.

As I wrote in that post:

“As is customary in the post-Pesach period (that's the PPP, for short), several kitchen implements seem to be missing. This year, we can't find our milk opener or the cover to our Tupperware flour container. (We have the canister itself; it's just the lid that's off in PPP-limbo.)”

Well, I’m happy to report that on Friday – amid all the erev Shabbat bustle and some seven months after its initial disappearance – the cover suddenly made its very welcome way back to us.

Needless to say, it was sitting in the very place where it should’ve been all along – namely, the large kitchen drawer where we keep our parve baking pans, mixing bowls and plastic containers. It also goes without saying that this drawer has been opened, searched and rummaged through countless times since Pesach.

But no one noticed the lid.

Until this past Friday afternoon, that is, when someone casually opened the drawer and observed the lid calmly sitting atop a nested pile of bowls.

{Cue: “The Twilight Zone” theme music}

And in other news, we still haven’t located the milk opener…

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ooltra cool

A fairly common feature of Israeli children's hofa’ot (performances) is the way overused fresh and original ultraviolet light.

Typically, the young performers don black clothes and put white socks on their hands and shoeless feet. Upon occasion, the kids will then add white belts or scarves to complete the look.

The overhead lights are turned off, and – with the “purple light” shining on the stage – the captive audience proud and loving parents watch as disembodied white blobs dance in unison before them.

Over the years, I’ve been privileged to see countless renditions of this routine - especially in honor of Chodesh Irgun and also at Chanukah parties in gan.

But it was only today that I learned that an ultraviolet light is known as an ooltra in Hebrew.

And what about the dance itself? According to one of my favorite Heblish-speakers, it’s referred to as “doing an ooltra.” (Sample sentence: “For our rikud (dance), we’re going to do an ooltra.”)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Stehmp on it

My favorite part about being a freelancer (that is, besides the whole working at home thing… and the whole no commuting thing… and the whole no daycare worries thing… and the whole pick my own hours thing… and… well, you get the idea) is that I have my very own personal stehmp.

What's a stehmp?

Funny you should ask.

Back in the Old Country, we used to refer to such an item as a rubber stamp – i.e. חותמת גומי (literally, rubber stamp) for the Hebraically oriented among you.

But this term doesn’t have the exact same connotation as “stehmp”.

Because stehmp, you see, is what the pakid (clerk) does -with great relish and extreme gusto - to all of your documents in every Israeli governmental office, in general, and to your passport at Ben Gurion Airport, in particular.

Actually, to be perfectly correct, what the pakid does is more like, “stehmp, stehmp.” Apparently – and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong about this! - stehmpim generally come in pairs.

So, imagine how excited I was to learn that I would be getting a real, live, honest-to-goodness stehmp!

And even today – several years and many, many, many stehmpim later – the exhilaration continues. Every time I need to issue an invoice, I’m thrilled that I have yet another opportunity to take out my precious stehmp and get to work. (Unfortunately, I’m only required to stehmp rather than the more authentic stehmp, stehmp, but one takes what one can get.)

In conclusion, a suggestion for our younger readers - are you paying attention, YAT?! – who are still considering their future careers: The first and most important question you need to ask about your chosen profession is, “Do I get to use a stehmp?”


Monday, November 10, 2008

Terach: Father of the J-Blogosphere??

MAG and I were learning the Rashis on Parshat Lech Lecha for his בוחן פ”ש (his weekly quiz on parshat hashavua), when we came across an intriguing Rashi.

In Breishit 15:15, Rashi states that Avraham’s father Terach did teshuvah (i.e. he repented from his idolatrous ways), and Breishit Rabbah 39:7 teaches that he didn’t do teshuvah until after Avraham had left for Canaan. [At the end of Parshat Noach (Breishit 11:32), Rashi says that Avraham left sixty years before Terach’s death.]

So, MAG wondered if Avraham knows that Terach had done teshuvah, and if so, how does he find out? I suggested, “Email,” but MAG countered that Avraham reads about it on Terach’s blog.

We decided that the relevant post may have gone something like this:

“Big news today - I did teshuvah. Hard to believe, no? Tell me about it! I mean, I have to admit that I even surprised myself. But the truth is that – once I get used to the idea – I think I’m really going to like it.”

This, of course, could lead to that most clichéd of discussions: How our lives have changed since the advent of things like email, blogs and even cell phones. But instead, I’d like to address a related issue – the way these technologies have affected literature and films as well.

For instance, often the entire storyline depends on Character A not being able to locate or contact Character B.

These days, in order to employ this particular plot device, writers have to account for the character’s lack of a cell phone - The hero conveniently forgot to turn it on; it got lost/broken/forgotten at home; there was no reception. (See, for example, Tom Hanks in “Cast Away”.)

Of course, earlier writers didn’t have to worry about this issue and therefore had it much easier.

But just imagine how your favorite book or movie would have been different if the story had taken place after cell phones had become ubiquitous.

Example: Baroness Emma Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel. If cell phones had existed during the French Revolution, there would have been no need for Marguerite to travel to France. Instead, she could’ve just called Percy on his cell and brought him up to date… and thereby ruined the entire story.

Please leave a comment with other examples of books or movies where a cell phone would have changed everything…

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Color me confused

Helloooo, Our Shiputzim fans!

A number of readers have asked me why I haven’t blogged about the IY”H upcoming bar mitzvah.

Of course, there was this post about the hanachat tefillin, but that doesn’t discuss any of the bar mitzvah preparations – which, as you can imagine, have been occupying a great deal of our time here in TRLEOOB (the real life equivalent of our blog).

And so, on that note, here’s a short bar mitzvah-related vignette for your reading pleasure:

I was picking out napkins, and according to the list, one of the available colors is “ירוק תפוח” - “apple green”.

Curious, I asked the vendor if he knew what that meant.

He didn’t have any samples, and so, instead, he looked around the room for something that would match that description. Apparently, “apple green” is not as common as one might have thought, because he couldn’t seem to find anything that would fit the bill.

However, ever resourceful, he pointed to a blue-covered book - Nechama Leibowitz’s “Iyunim B’Sefer Breishit”, to be precise – and said, “Well, it’s just like that color over there… only in green!”

That certainly clears that up, doesn’t it?


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Aliyah memories: “But in America…”

NOTE: Although I try to keep this blog politics-free, I couldn’t let Election Day in the States go by completely unacknowledged, and so hence a post with the word “America” in the title.

Even before s/he arrives in Israel, every new oleh is strictly cautioned against committing that most dreaded of cultural faux pas - using the phrase, “But in America, they do X.

Israelis hate this phrase, the oleh is told; they find it to be very offensive. It makes you sound stuck-up and superior, the oleh is clearly enjoined. If you attempt to use it, the oleh is warned, Israelis will respond by saying, “Then go back to America!”

Like any good oleh, I got the message. From day one, I was determined to refrain from [vocally] comparing the Israeli way of doing things with the American way. I had memorized the party line: “The two cultures are different; one is not better than the other.”

And, indeed, most of the time, I obeyed this sacrosanct unwritten law.

But, את חטאי אני מזכיר היום – true confession time: There was one time when I deliberately and intentionally used this phrase.

::Hangs head in shame::

In a moment of weakness and against my better judgment, I had let the nurse at Tipat Chalav (the well-baby clinic) convince me to take one of the kids to a dietitian. The nurse felt that TBIQ (the baby in question) wasn’t gaining enough weight and that the dietitian would give me some useful suggestions.

As soon as I met the dietitian, however, I was sorry that I had listened to the nurse. First of all, the dietitian was herself very, very thin – too thin, it seemed to me, to be talking about fattening babies up. Second (and most significantly), she was completely clueless about nursing and wanted me to cut back. And finally, she kept suggesting the most inane ideas.

For example, she insisted that I put unprocessed tehina paste into TBIQ’s vegetables to add calories. (Result: TBIQ stopped eating vegetables.) Also, she wanted me to melt butter into TBIQ’s baby cereal. (Result: None, because I ignored this suggestion.)

But the final straw came when she told me to feed TBIQ a certain type of high-calorie artificially-flavored and -sweetened pudding instead of yogurt. She told me that the pudding came in two flavors: banana and strawberry.

By that point, I couldn’t take any more of her ridiculous suggestions, and so I lightly replied, “Oh? Really? Because don’t doctors in America recommend that babies under 12 months not be given strawberries, because of potential allergies?”

She obviously had no idea what I was talking about, because she just mumbled an incoherent response. The appointment ended soon after that, and she didn’t even try to convince me to return for a follow-up appointment.

And I went home and felt incredibly guilty that I had knowingly and willfully transgressed the Oleh Code of Conduct…


Hat tip: Leora, who explained the difference between dietitians and nutritionists.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The post in which MAG holds his own

Since September, MAG has had to endure being referred to as “ASG’s younger brother.”

I should note that MAG didn’t mind when a number of teachers matter-of-factly told him - during the first week of school - that they had taught ASG. It didn’t even bother him that several of them had some rather complimentary things to say about ASG.

But he does thinks it’s (understandably) annoying when ASG’s friends pass him in the hallways and yell out patronizing things like, “Hey, Little ASG!” Or, “How are you doing, ASG’s Little Brother?”

Recently, however, MAG managed to give as good as he got.

One of ASG’s classmates approached MAG and asked, “So, do you know as much about computers as ASG does?”

Without missing a beat, MAG coolly retorted, “What do you mean? I taught him everything he knows!”

Apparently, even ASG’s classmate was very impressed with MAG’s quick response, because he immediately sought out ASG to give him the report about MAG’s witty reply…

Way to go, MAG!

HH 189

The next edition of Haveil Havalim is available here.

Thank you to Esser Agaroth for including my post on hefker fruit and also my post about YZG’s triumph over a bureaucrat.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Only in Israel: Hefker announcement

Helloooo, Our Shiputzim fans!

We recently posted the following announcement to our local email list:

לידיעת הציבור
בחצר שמאחורי ביתינו יש
עץ קלמנטינה
עץ פומלה
ועץ לימון

כל הפירות הפקר

Translation: “FYI - In our backyard, we have a clementine tree, a pomelo tree, and a lemon tree. All of the fruit is hefker (i.e. shmitah produce and therefore considered to be ownerless).

In other words, any of our readers who happen to be here in TRLEOOB (the real life equivalent of our blog) may pick some fruit – as long as it’s handled according to the relevant shmitah laws. (CYLOR for further details.)

Pretty cool, huh?


NOTE: Not everyone agrees that it’s necessary to actively repudiate ownership of (להפקיר) the fruit. (See, for example, the article entitled “What Can We Learn From Shmitah?” on Page 2 of this newsletter.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Aliyah memories: Walter Mitty edition

Helloooo, Our Shiputzim fans.

Back in this post, I listed some tips for dealing with Israeli bureaucracy. The first one was:

“Always bring all your documents with you – the more obscure and seemingly irrelevant the better.”

Actually, YZG (aka “Mr. S.”) was the one who suggested that we always follow this rule, and about half a year after our aliyah, he was more than vindicated.

On a trip to a certain office, YZG – as usual – lugged our big, fat file folder stuffed with various and sundry papers and documents. To YZG’s great joy, the clerk there demanded a number of rather odd papers, and so Walter Mitty-like, YZG got to pretend that he was Clint Eastwood.

Now, I wasn’t there, but based on YZG’s description, I assume that the scene played out as follows*:


{YZG arrives in a certain governmental office, and after a brief wait, his turn arrives. He sits down in the chair in front of the Clerk’s desk.}

Clerk: {Doesn’t even look up} You’re going to need to come back.

YZG: {Startled} Huh? Why?

C: Because I need some papers which I’m sure you don’t have.

YZG: {Secretly very pleased but tries to act and sound grim and determined} Go ahead. Make. My. Day.

C: {Misses the reference and so doesn’t yet realize that YZG is not your typical bespectacled new oleh} Well, I need a list of your exits and entries to and from Israel.

YZG: {Yawns ostentatiously as he hands over the paper} Please. Don’t insult me.

C: {Raises an eyebrow, as a flicker of interest flashes across her face} Okay, then I need a certificate from the army that says that-

YZG: {Gives her the paper before she completes her sentence and somehow manages to avoid looking smug or self-satisfied} You mean this?

{The Clerk finally understands that she’s facing a worthy adversary, as the camera zooms in on the look of steely resolve in YZG’s eyes. That twangy, western music from that Clint Eastwood movie – what’s it called? – plays in the background. The climactic showdown is about to begin.}

C: {Measures her words carefully, because everything is riding on this} Please give me your parents’ US passport from thirty years ago…

{The Clerk thinks that she smells victory. After all, there’s absolutely no way that YZG could possibly have such a random document…. Or could he???}

YZG: {With quiet dignity} Here it is. {He hands her the passport.}

{Stunned, the Clerk quickly finishes processing YZG’s papers, and speechless, she watches as he heads off into the sunset, with the slightest hint of a well-deserved swagger in his step.}

{Cue: Final credits.}


* Okay, fine. I admit that I may have taken some artistic liberties with the dialogue; and there probably wasn’t any mood–setting music (or any music at all, for that matter); and there’s a slight chance that the clerk was completely oblivious to all the drama. But I think you get the general idea. And in my defense, the clerk really did request those exact three documents – yes, including the 30 year old passport! – and YZG had them all!)


Monday, October 27, 2008

KCC #35

The next edition of the Kosher Cooking Carnival can be found here.

Thank you to Batya for including my potato soup recipe.

And on a related note, I’d like to take this opportunity to pass along the award I received from Leora to:

  • Batya, who founded KCC and keeps it going and always has an interesting take on life’s happenings.
  • Einshem, because it’s good to keep these things in the family.


(Special thanks to our CTO for showing me how to copy this logo.)

You know you’re getting older when…

…You’re invited to weddings as a friend of the parents rather than as a friend of the young couple.

Over the past year or two, YZG and I seem to have made that transition, which means that I now often find myself choosing to dance in what my friends and I jokingly refer to as “the old ladies’ circle” at weddings. After all, we’re guests of the bride or groom’s mother, and she’s most likely to be found in that, er, “more mature” circle.

However, there are times when I prefer to remain in the faster, regular circle.

And that’s when I feel really old.

You see, at many some weddings, there are groups of young girls who apparently believe that dancing together with “senior citizens” (read: anyone over age 25) is demeaning and degrading.

As soon as they discover that members of the older generation actually know the steps to the dance (gasp!), the young girls will either: (a) switch to an even more complex dance, or (b) break away and form a new circle.

But happily, not everyone is like that. For instance, during the second (and generally more intricate) dancing set at a recent wedding, I realized that I vaguely recognized a certain dance. As I stood at the side and tried to recall the precise steps, a young 20-something came over and started announcing the steps. (“Step, step, kick, back,” etc.)

Unfortunately, we were separated by the dance’s movements before I had a chance to thank her, and I didn’t see her afterwards.

So, Anonymous Dark Haired Girl – on the off chance that you read this blog – thank you!


And on a related note, thank you also to Leora, who generously presented me with a very sweet award. (I’ll have to wait for our CTO – who also happens to be the Chief of Photography – to help me add the logo.) Leora’s blog, which is one of my favorites, is the place to go for her beautiful artwork and photographs – as well as thoughtful and sensitive posts on a wide range of topics. Check it out!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

HH #188

The next edition of Haveil Havalim can be found here.

Special thanks to Benji for including my mobile succah post.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A lighter take on cholent

Shavua tov!

Now that the chagim have ended, we’re officially in cholent season. However, on Shabbatot when we have no company – and also during the summer, when it’s too hot for a “real” cholent – I occasionally make something we like to call alternatively: “White Meat and Dark Meat in the Crockpot*”; “Cholent with Gravy”; “Cholent Lite”; or even “Summer Cholent”. (We welcome suggestions for better names.)

The truth is, however, that it’s more of a stew than a cholent. It has neither beans nor barley, and I usually omit the regular potatoes as well. As a result, it’s nowhere near as heavy and comes with lots of gravy. (The kids like to dip challah into the gravy.)

Here, then, is the recipe:


  • 1-2 onions, chopped or cut into pieces
  • 1 package basar adom (literally, “red meat” – refers to boneless dark turkey meat)
  • 1 package boneless white chicken meat
  • Water
  • Ketchup
  • Brown sugar
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • Salt
  • Onion soup mix
  • Carrots – peeled and cut into chunks
  • Sweet potatoes – peeled and cut into chunks
  • (Optional) Regular potatoes – peeled and cut into chunks
  • Paprika


Put the onions on the bottom of the crockpot, and then place the turkey and chicken on top. Cover generously with water, and let cook on high for an hour or two. Add ketchup, brown sugar, bay leaves, salt and onion soup mix. Add carrots, sweet potatoes, and regular potatoes. Sprinkle paprika on top. Continue cooking on high. Turn crockpot to low just before Shabbat.


*Hat tip: Leora, whose crockpot squash post inspired me to write this post.

Have a good week from the entire Our Shiputzim staff.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Picture, picture on the wall

Choref tov, Our Shiputzim fans!

Well, that’s it. After weeks of erev yom tov/yom tov/chol hamoed/erev Shabbat/Shabbat (repeat ad infinitum), today brought us back to real life.

[I suppose that in Our Shiputzim-speak that would be BTRLHITRLEOOB (back to real life here in the real life equivalent of our blog). And to our readers who asked if these acronyms are meant to be pronounced, I can only say: “Not exactly” – which may or may not be Heblish, as in לא בדיוק. That is, “not exactly” certainly sounds fine to me, but I have a strong suspicion that it isn’t really English. Please feel free to weigh in on this issue - or any other, of course - in the comment section.]

But I digress.

As YZG and I headed back to our respective jobs and in addition to slowly beginning to tackle the mountain of laundry, we all turned our sights on the numerous and assorted projects which had been scheduled for that nebulous period known colloquially as אחרי החגים (“after the holidays”).

Among other things, YZG drilled some holes in the wall for screw anchors (that’s דיבלים for the Hebraically-oriented among you) so that AMG could hang up some pictures in her room.

Here are two pictures that she painted herself:



And that’s about it for now.

Have a good night from the entire Our Shiputzim staff.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

“I’ll have that succah to go…”

Helloooo, Our Shiputzim fans!

Several years ago, it occurred to YZG [aka “Mr. S.”] that our car’s sunroof would make a perfect mobile succah, and then last year, he decided that the time had come*.

Admittedly, there is less of a need for such a thing here in Israel, where most tourist sites have succot. It’s very rare to find oneself succah-less.

But – by his own admission – YZG wasn’t motivated by necessity. He was driven [no pun intended] by the “cool” factor.

And so, he set to work. He took lots of measurements [picture the scene in Harry Potter I where Harry is being measured for his new wand] and could occasionally be heard muttering obscure phrases like “dofen akumah” and “tfachim”. Finally, after consulting with various parties (that’s gormim – literally “factors” – for the Hebraically-oriented among you) and purchasing a new schach mat, YZG announced that our succah was ready for use.

Here, then, is our succah-on-wheels:



Of course, only two people can sit in the succah at a time, but it’s the thought that counts…

(Interior views of our real stationary succah can be found in this post.)

And on that note, we wish you a חג שמח from the entire Our Shiputzim staff.


* Note: Those of our readers who’ve been experiencing withdrawal symptoms due to the lack of renovation-related posts will be relieved to hear that this post - like the popular Mishkan post – definitely pertains to construction.

HH #187

The newest edition of Haveil Havalim can be found here.

Thank you, Baila, for including my post on dealing with Israeli bureaucracy.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A tiyul balancing act

Helloooo, Our Shiputzim fans!

I’m sure that many of you will agree that it’s somewhat challenging to find trips and activities which are appropriate for both the older and younger members of the family.

Of course, there are many activities which are geared for everyone. (The Tekhelet Marine Tour is a fascinating, excellent and highly recommended example.)

However, not every tiyul works for everyone. While some attractions limit admission to children above a certain age, the older kids complain that others are boring and beneath their dignity.

As such, in recent years, we’ve tried to find a balance between the different types of outings.

For example, in the summer, we went to the Safari in Ramat Gan. Before we left, I made sure to warn the older kids that we were going for ENG’s sake. Everyone else was certainly invited to come along, but the condition was that no one could kvetch or say that it was “babyish”. (Somewhat surprisingly, the whole family chose to come along, and the kvetching was relatively contained.smile_regular)

But then, in turn, two of this year’s Chol Hamoed activities were really geared more for the older kids.

First, we went to see the Holyland model, which is now located in the Israel Museum. It’s been many years since YZG and I had seen it, and except for ESG - who was there on a school trip two years ago – none of the kids had ever seen it.

The Israel Museum itself is under construction, and most of the museum is closed. But between the model and the Shrine of the Book, there was still plenty to see.

Admittedly, most of it was lost on ENG. But she did like the wireless “audioguides”, and at least she could come on the trip.

However, the next day’s outing was to the Coca Cola Factory in Bnei Brak, where they have a high-tech interactive visitors’ center and where younger children are not allowed to go. So, I stayed home with ENG, and YZG took everyone else.

They all had a great time and couldn’t stop talking about the virtual rides, the harp made out of lasers, and all the other “cool” features.

I should note that this was the tourist attraction that I referred to in this post, where I wrote:

“Recently, I called a certain tourist attraction to make reservations. Among other questions, the woman on the phone asked if we are charedi or chiloni. Slightly taken aback – my American roots were showing, I guess – I said simply, ‘neither.’

“‘Okay, so then you’re dati leumi,’ she replied and moved on to the next question.”

As you will no doubt be interested to learn, “dati leumi” means that you go on the chiloni tour. Yes, that’s right – they have separate charedi and chiloni tours. YZG said that he was trying to figure out how the charedi tour would’ve been different, and he came up with three things:

  1. 1. The tour guide for the charedi tour is male.
  2. 2. On the charedi tour, they don’t show TV commercials from around the world.
  3. 3. On the charedi tour, they spend some time discussing kashrut issues.

And that’s about it for now.

שבת שלום ומועדים לשמחה

from the entire Our Shiputzim staff.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

B’succot teishvu shivat yamim

Moadim L’Simchah!

B”H we enjoyed a beautiful first day of yom tov. Special thanks to our dear hosts. [We’re looking forward to seeing you again I”YH on Sunday and then also here in TRLEOOB (the real life equivalent of our blog) for Simchat Torah.]

Here are some interior views of our succah:




As you can see, when it comes to succah decorations, we believe that more is, well, more. Quiet good taste certainly has its place and all, but not, IMHO, in the succah.

Kol hakavod to the kids – especially ASG and AMG – for all their hard work building and decorating the succah. Well done!

Speaking of ASG, in the comments to this post, I wondered if he would perhaps post a picture of his own tefillin bag. Here, then, is the picture he gave me:

IMG_3991 edited

Note how he expertly blurred his name on the top of the bag.

(As a side note, I must say that these pictures look really good on my new monitor.)

All of our readers are encouraged to come visit our succah in person. (One of these days, I should really blog about that quaint Israeli expression, “אנא קחו את זה כהזמנה אישית” – “please think of this as a personal invitation”.)

מועדים לשמחה

from the entire Our Shiputzim staff.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Soup it up

Hellooooo, Our Shiputzim fans!

Back in our pre-aliyah period, we would make rich and hearty dishes for those cold evening meals when we would sit huddled and shivering in the succah.

Here in Israel, however, cold weather is usually not a concern on Succot. Quite the opposite, in fact. (Although since Succot is so late this year, the weather has been much cooler than usual. When YZG – aka “Mr. S.” – and I went for a walk last night, I regretted that I hadn’t taken a sweater. And now, they’re predicting rain for the first few days of the chag)

In any event, for those of you in colder climes, this potato soup – which is a staple of our post-fast meals - might be just the thing for your Succot menus.

Lately, I’ve been making a double recipe. For instance, for the post Yom Kippur meal, not only was the entire Shiputzim family home B”H (although ASG – aka the “Chief of Photography” – broke his fast in yeshiva and only then came home for the rest of the meal), but we also hosted five extra yeshiva guys (all of whom are honorary members of the Shiputzim family).

And so, without further ado, here’s my potato soup recipe:


  • 3-4 large carrots
  • 3-4 medium potatoes
  • 4-5 medium onions
  • Olive or canola oil
  • 2 heaping TBSP flour
  • Water
  • Thyme (two or three dashes)
  • Dried dill (a teaspoon or two)
  • Dried parsley (a fair amount)
  • Garlic powder (a good deal)
  • Salt
  • Pepper


Peel carrots and dice (or slice thin in food processor*). Set aside. Peel potatoes and dice. Cover potatoes with water and set aside. Chop onions and place in heavy pot. Sauté in a bit of oil until golden brown. Add carrots and continue to sauté for an additional 10-15 minutes. Drain potatoes and add to pot. Heat through for 1 minute. Add flour and mix through. Immediately, fill pot with water, and then add the remaining ingredients.

Bring to a boil, while stirring occasionally. Then let simmer, partially uncovered, for about 45-60 minutes. Finally, cover the pot and keep simmering for another hour or so. Add more salt and pepper as needed, and stir every so often.

Suggestion: Add milk before serving.

Enjoy and בתאבון.

* Hat tip to our Rosh Hashanah hosts, who prepared the carrots for their vegetable soup this way.

חג שמח