Thursday, February 12, 2009

Second to none

By a show of hands, how many of you grew up reading “Olameinu” magazine?

/*counts hands and reaches number which roughly corresponds to the number of Our Shiputzim readers who were raised in Orthodox Jewish homes in the US*/

[Brief sociological observation: Israeli schoolchildren don’t raise their hands. They raise their pointer fingers. But I digress.]

And, again by a show of hands, how many of you always skipped the Hebrew-language page which inevitably appeared toward the back of the magazine?

/*counts hands again and comes up with the same number as before*/

Yeah, that’s what I thought. I mean, no one I knew ever read that page, and YZG reports the same thing about his friends and siblings.

In any event, a number of years ago, YZG’s parents cleaned out their basement and gave us – among other things – all their old Olameinus. We’re talking about a massive collection, spanning several decades.

When the magazines arrived, YZG and I  were transported on a sentimental journey down Memory Lane. (“Ooh, look, Mendel the Mouse!” “Hey, I remember this! It’s about Mashiach, and all the shuls and schools fly to Israel. I loved this story!” “My favorite part was the comic strip on the back. Here’s one about R’ Aryeh Levine.”)

Our kids, in contrast, weren’t initially impressed. The older ones thought the magazines were juvenile, and the younger ones couldn’t relate to most of the content. Also, since most of the issues were produced without a computer, the layout and graphics just couldn’t compare to today’s sleeker children’s publications.

But the interesting part was that the kids even skipped over the Hebrew page. It’s not that they didn’t understand the words. Quite the opposite, in fact. The problem was that it was written in overly simple Hebrew with English definitions in the footnotes.

Nevertheless, we placed the stack of magazines on a shelf on the off chance that someone would want to read them.

And sure enough, over the years, the Shiputzim kids slowly made their way through the pile, and to their surprise, they enjoyed the magazines… almost as much as YZG and I did when we were children.

So, dear readers, if you happen to find yourselves here in TRLEOOB (i.e. the real life equivalent of our blog), you’re more than welcome to avail yourself of the Our Shiputzim Olameinu collection.

Just don’t forget to skip over the Hebrew page…



P.S. Two points to the first commenter who can explain what the title has to do with this post.

P.S.S. True confessions time: As a child, the phrase “second to none” baffled me. I couldn’t figure out if being second to none was a good thing or a bad one…


  1. I read Olameinu now. It's quite fun, if you are an adult. You can poke fun at the whole magazine, enjoy the stereotypes of male/female roles, and believe in a more simple view of the universe. Now isn't that calming? And, yes, I do read the Hebrew page!

    As a kid, I probably only read the cartoons. And I remember Israeli teachers teaching us to put our elbows on our desks and raising a finger. So instead of madly waving a hand in the air, we madly shook our arms back and forth on the desks.

  2. Leora - I'm surprised to learn that Olameinu is still being published! I wonder how the newer ones compare to the ones we grew up on?

    we madly shook our arms back and forth on the desks.

  3. {My hand is raised! Please, please, call on me! My hand is raised!}
    Ahem... something, something, I forget.. And Mendel the Mouse was second to none!
    Do I get the points?

  4. Two points for SuperRaizy! /*records the points on the official scoreboard*/

    And, yeah, I don't remember what comes before that line either...

    Shabbat Shalom!

  5. my hand is raised, but I don't even remember there being a Hebrew page!
    Mendel the Mouse was the best part. We also read all the Olameinu books.

  6. And what Mendel says is as good as done...For Mendel the Mouse is second to none.

  7. I didn't grow up orthodox...wait, I'm still not (lol) but my frum aunt bought me two different "Best of Olameinu" books when I was younger. I loved the stories (one was Chanukah, one was Purim) and I never ever knew until this post today that it was from a magazine.


  8. Rafi - "I don't even remember there being a Hebrew page!"
    LOL! Do you think the Olameinu editorial board actually thought that any of their readers paid any attention to the Hebrew page?

    Anonymous - Thanks! I'm very impressed that you remembered the words!

    Phyllis - My siblings and I had copies of the books too. I think it's to the writers' credit that a non-Orthodox child enjoyed the stories as much as we did!

  9. Our non-Jewish ninth grade science teacher could not figure out what sent our whole class into giggles when introducing the father of genetics - Gregor Mendel, the monk.

  10. ProudMommy0f4 - LOL! I remember our 9th grade biology class having the exact same reaction...

  11. Waving hand furiously in the air -- Call on me, call on me!!!
    Oh, Oh, Oh!!!

    I *never* read the Hebrew page! I always skipped right to the following:

    1. The usually very cool story.
    2. Mendel the Mouse

    To this day, I still remember a story about an IDF bunker on the Golan Heights, and how the soldiers lit Chanuka candles in 1973 during the still dangerous aftermath of the Yom Kippur war.

    Did you read Dov Dov books as well?

  12. Jameel - Sounds like a very cool story!

    I only vaguely recall the Dov-Dov stories, but I do remember enjoying "The Diamonds" by the same author.


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