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

Mazal tov: Hanachat Tefillin edition

Helloooo, Our Shiputzim fans!

The food-related post mentioned in last night's post is almost ready to go, but meanwhile, we interrupt this blog to wish a very special מזל טוב to our very dear MAG on his הנחת תפילין this morning.

Here’s a picture of MAG’s beautiful tefillin bag, which his Savta needle-pointed for him (As always, you can click on the picture for a closer view):

IMG_3265 editied

Credits for the photography and for blurring MAG’s name on the bottom: The Chief of Photography

And now back to your regularly scheduled blog…

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Aliyah memories: “So, how did you ever manage during the tzena?!”

Shavua tov, Our Shiputzim fans!

The great thing about having made aliyah several years before Nefesh B’Nefesh came into existence is that many newer olim tend to view us with awe.

The typical exchange goes something like this:

New oleh: {suitably impressed} Wow! You came without NBN?!

Member of the Shiputzim family: {with just the right touch of modesty} Well, yes, now that you mention it, I suppose we did…

I love having this conversation, because I get to pretend that we came in the 1950’s and spent time in the ma’abarot. Or even that we came on the First Aliyah and had to drain the swamps.

However, the truth is that – with one notable exception, which I hope to blog about in an upcoming post – we were pleasantly surprised to discover that the much maligned Israeli bureaucracy really isn’t that bad.

Here, then, are the Our Shiputzim tips for handling Israeli bureaucracy:

1. Always bring all your documents with you – the more obscure and seemingly irrelevant the better. (B”N, I hope to post more about this rule as well.)

2. Don’t plan on visiting more than one office a day.

3. Make sure to have a big, fat book with you. Hopefully, you won’t have time to finish it.

4. Never, never, never yell or pull rank. Instead, defer to the clerk (that’s pakid for the Hebraically-oriented amongst you) and show him/her that you’re in trouble and that s/he’s the only one who can help you. The same gruff pakid, who barely looked up as you sat down and certainly had no time for polite chitchat, will do everything in his/her power to help you if s/he sees that you’re really in a bind.

Feel free to add any of your own rules in the comment section.

And that’s about it for now.

Tune in next time when I hope to have another food-related post. (I know that you’ll want to see if it can beat the tzimmes post – the all-time Our Shiputzim record holder for greatest number of comments.)

Have a good night and a good week from the entire Our Shiputzim staff.

P.S. I posted a follow-up to this post here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

“Prunes and prisms”

Helloooo, Our Shiputzim fans!

I must confess that this post’s title is somewhat misleading, because – to be perfectly honest - you won’t find any prisms here. In fact, strictly speaking, you won’t find any prunes either – unless you count the forthcoming reference to pruning. And, for that matter, I’m not really going to be blogging about pruning per se. Instead, I’m going to write about the lack thereof.*

You see, due to shmitah-related considerations, it’s been almost two years since we pruned (aha! there’s the pruning reference) our aravot tree. (Yes, I know that shmitah was only one year. But we always prune our tree immediately after Succot in order to give it a year to grow back.)

Anyway, as a result, the tree is now extremely overgrown. In other words, B”H we have a bumper crop and would be more than happy to provide any of our readers with aravot.

If you are interested, please contact us at: OurShiputzim at gmail dot com.

*(So why, then, did I use this title, you ask? Good question. Well, the thing was that although we’ve had Shakespearean references as well as allusions to assorted movies, songs, and TV shows, we’ve never had – as far as I can recall – a Dickensian title. The time, I felt, had come to remedy that, and hence the title…)

And on that note, the entire Our Shiputzim staff wishes all of our dear readers a:

גמר חתימה טובה

ושנה טובה ומתוקה

May you have an easy and meaningful fast and a good, sweet, happy, healthy, prosperous, and peaceful new year!

Monday, October 6, 2008

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a… taxi???

Helloooo, Our Shiputzim fans!

The girls and I took a taxi home from the ברית yesterday.

Later that afternoon, ENG said to me, “A taxi is really a car. Right, Imma?”

I agreed that a taxi is, indeed, a car.

She then confided that when I had told her that we were going to be taking a taxi home, she didn’t really know what that meant.

“I thought it was maybe like an airplane. Like a kind of helicopter or something like that…”

Previous examples of ENG-isms can be found here and here.


And in renovation news, the carpenter put up the tiles on the baseboard of the new cabinet in the upstairs bathroom yesterday. He still has to return to add the grout (i.e. rubba for the Hebraically-oriented among you) and the two inside shelves. As you may have guessed, he told us that he’ll be back tomorrow

Meanwhile, all the new hardware has been installed. I’ve submitted a request for suitable pictures to the Photography Department and will try and post them as soon as they become available.


And on that note, good evening from the entire Our Shiputzim staff.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

At low Tide

Helloooo, Our Shiputzim fans!

We begin with a warm מזל טוב to little Zev’s parents, grandparents, sister, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

יהי רצון שתזכו לגדלו לתורה לחופה ולמעשים טובים

YZG and I were truly honored to be the kvatter and kvatterin at the ברית this morning. (Due to assorted logistical issues, most of the male members of the Shiputzim family were unable to attend, and even YZG had to leave before the meal.)

And now, we turn from the sublime to the mundane with a request for you, our dear readers:

Like many of our long-time readers, we use liquid Tide laundry detergent. However, as those same readers are well aware, the importer seems to have [hopefully, temporarily] stopped bringing liquid Tide into the country. So far, we haven’t really felt the crunch, but now we’re down to our very last half bottle.

Theoretically, we could use Tide powder (which I believe is still available), but our appliance repairman says that liquid detergent is better for our washing machine.

So, here’s my question for our Israeli readers:

Which brand of liquid detergent do you use and recommend?

Thanks in advance for your assistance in this regard.

<Groan-worthy pun>

We really need something to tide us over…

</Groan-worthy pun>

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Heblish Revisited

Helloooo, Our Shiputzim fans!

As you may recall, I recently posted a number of entries from the Our Shiputzim Heblish-English dictionary. (Check out the comment section there for some more great examples.)

Since then, I’ve managed to collect a few more family favorites.

However, before posting these gems, I should note that – above and beyond their entertainment value – these definitions serve two important functions. Not only do they help teach our children how to speak properly, but they serve as reminders for those of us who’ve become inured to things like the infamous “City in Growing Process” sign.

In any event, without further ado, here are a few more examples from TRLEOOB (the real life equivalent of our blog):

Switch him: Hebrew source – להחליף אותו. English definition – To substitute for him. Sample usage - “My teacher wasn’t there today, and so another teacher switched him.” (Hat tip: A Living Nadneyda, whose comment on this post reminded me of this example.)

What’s the kesher: Hebrew source – מה הקשר. English definition – What does that have to do with anything? Sample usage - “Why do I have to go to sleep now? So what if it’s after midnight? What’s the kesher?(Hat tip: MB, for reminding me of this phrase and how much I “adore” it…)

Litapel b’it: Hebrew source – לטפל במשהו. English definition – To take care of it. Sample usage - “I told my teacher about the problem, and she said that she would litapel b’it.”

At all: Hebrew source – בכלל. English definition – Literally, at all or generally, but also used for emphasis. Sample usage - “Where is it at all?”; “It’s at all not your turn!”

And on that note, the fast is over B”H, and it’s time for me to go eat.

Tzom kal to our readers who are still fasting, and have a good evening from the entire Our Shiputzim staff.