Monday, August 24, 2009

Will the real ulpanistit please stand up?

The Our Shiputzim management proudly presents today’s deep philosophical question:

Is attending an ulpanah sufficient cause to be referred to as an ulpanistit?

First, some background for the uninitiated: An ulpanah is a national-religious girls’ high school. It’s basically the girls’ equivalent of a yeshiva high school.

Thus, technically, any girl who attends an ulpanah is known as an ulpanistit.

But one senses that there must be a better way to separate the men from the boys, ahem, that is, the dyed-in-the-wool ulpanistiyot from the girls-whose-schools-just-happen-to-be-ulpanot.

Of course, in the olden days, there were several ways of determining ulpanistit-hood. To wit:

  • A decade or so ago, one could recognize the ulpanistiyot by their long skirts, which literally swept the ground as they walked. (Their mothers never had to wash the floor…) But these days, the ulpanistiyot’s skirts are just as short as those worn by their Bais Yaakov counterparts…
  • And in pre-historic times (we’re talking circa 2007-2008), the ulpanistiyot were distinguished by their cropped shirts. (A popular joke at the time - Question: How many ulpanistiyot does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Five. One to change the bulb, and four to hold her shirt down…) But now, longer tops are back in style.
  • Also, the layered look, which once was the exclusive domain of ulpanistiyot everywhere, has since crossed cultural and even geographical borders. Indeed, rare is the Orthodox girl – of any stripe, both here in Israel and around the globe – who doesn’t sport the now ubiquitous long sleeve white shell under a short sleeve top.

Thus, physical appearance can no longer be used to identify an ulpanistit.

Hence, I would argue that the sole remaining indicator is the Official Ulpanistit HugTM.

Please note that in terms of form and style, this hug is pretty much your basic, run-of-the-mill embrace.

However, what sets the Official Ulpanistit HugTM apart from all the other hugs out there on the market is its frequency.

You see, every. single. time. a true ulpanistit bumps into her friends, she hugs them – as long as more than ten minutes have elapsed since their previous meeting.

And, so, dear readers, the next time someone challenges you to an exciting game of “Spot the Ulpanistit”, mark my words and watch for the Official Ulpanistit HugTM.

It’s the key to wrapping your arms around victory…



  1. Fun stuff! Having no daughters, I must venture out into the blogosphere to one day, with G-d's help, understand my granddaughters.

  2. RutiMizrachi - Thanks for your comment. And on a related note, how DID we all ever manage before there was a blogosphere?

  3. LOL Great question! When we first made aliyah, my husband and sons would laugh at me, going through cyber-withdrawals as we were sucked into every internet-cafe we passed. Needless to say, Bezeq was one of our first calls...

  4. Ruti - As it so happens, a family of new olim moved into our neighborhood this morning, and the wife said that getting Internet access is one of their top priorities.

    But I was impressed that their new home already has air conditioning. I still feel warm when I think back to those first few weeks after we moved in until our A/C was installed...

  5. Fun post! Do you have an ulpanistit at home?

  6. Ilana-Davita - Yup. On this site, she is usually referred to as "the Resident Ulpanistit."

    And, yes, she has been known to implement the Official Ulpanistit Hug[TM]...

  7. Reminds me of the words from the "Flipping Out" song by Blue Fringe.

    Tell me if I’m wrong, but it happens a lot
    Ben Yehuda, on Erev Shabbat
    I’m on my way to Meah Shearim
    When suddenly I hear a high-pitched scream
    I turn around to see what that could be
    And then I notice two seminary girls
    And they hug and shriek
    Cause they haven’t seen each other
    For one whole week

    (rest of the lyrics here).

  8. Jameel - LOL! However, I have it on good authority that unlike American seminary girls, ulpanistiyot usually hug WITHOUT shrieking...

    BTW, mazal tov to you and your family!

  9. Just reading this now, two years after you posted it, but boy, does it take me back! My oldest daughter graduate her ulpana 9 years ago, the youngest 2 years ago, and you were right on the money with every single one of your descriptions!

    BTW, I went to an ulpana in the States, graduated 31 years ago (oy!). We're having our first reunion in Israel this Friday, I can't wait to see how much we've all changed, and how much we have all stayed the same!

  10. Miriyummy - What percentage of your class lives in Israel now? While I'm not the only one from my high school class to have made aliyah, there certainly aren't enough of us here to have a reunion.

    Have a great time!


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