Monday, August 31, 2009

And the nominees are…

Okay. I did it.

I finally went ahead and registered for the convention.

However, unless something changes, I’m only going to be attending online. (Unfortunately, this means that I won’t be able to meet any of my blogging friends – which is the main reason I wanted to go in person. But at this point, it doesn’t look like it’s a realistic option for me.)

Anyway, now that I’m registered, I get to nominate a blogger or two for the NBN flight.

Here, then, are my picks:

1) Baila - Why? Because I figured, hey, why not give proteksiah to a fellow American olah. (No offense intended to those who are neither American nor olim…)

2) Leora and Raizy – For two reasons:

  1. Altruistic For-the-Good-of-the-Entire-Blogosphere Reason: Because Leora is sure to take lovely pictures, and Raizy is sure to have an amusing take on everything.
  2. Selfish Reason: Because I would love to meet both of them in person.

So there you have it.

Good luck to all the contenders, and see you (online anyway) at the convention…

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Around the J-Blogosphere

Several items:

1) The latest Kosher Cooking Carnival is available here. Special thanks to Chana Rubin for including my Cinnamon Swirl Cookies post.

2) The newest edition of Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to West Bank Mama for including the Our Shiputzim Guide to Ulpanistiyot. (FYI: an ulpanistit is a teenaged girl who attends an ulpanah – a national-religious girls’ high school.)

3) Blogging may be a bit light this week, as I’m B”H kind of swamped at work. In the meantime, I posted some pictures of our summer vacation on Facebook. Check them out. (Feel free to befriend me if you haven’t yet done so!)

4) I still haven’t made a final decision on the J-Blogging Convention. (But if I don’t get back to work – see #3 above – it might become a moot point…) Watch this space for further updates.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

To go or not to go…

As many of you are aware, the Second Annual J-Bloggers Convention is rapidly approaching.

Last year, although I was fairly new to the whole blogging scene, I was intrigued by the idea. However, we had to be somewhere else that same day, and so I didn’t have to make a decision either way.

Which brings me to this year.

I can think of several good reasons to go… but also plenty of reasons not to go.

Yet, rather than turn this into an angst-filled, navel-gazing post – which, as long-term readers know, is definitely not my style – I’ll open this up to you.

What do you think I should do?

In other words (if you’ll excuse my NASA-speak), go/no-go?

As always, please show your work…


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…


Sunday, August 23, 2009

HH #231

The latest edition of Haveil Havalim is available here.

Special thanks to Ben-Yehudah for including my most recent excerpt from the Official Our Shiputzim Heblish-English Dictionary.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mazal tov: Matmid edition

Warning: The following post may exceed the recommended daily allowance for parental bragging. Proceed at your own risk.


The Our Shiputzim management would like to extend an exceedingly warm and heartfelt

מזל טוב

to our very own dear ESG

on his recent siyum on the entire Chamishah Chumshei Torah (the Five Books of the Torah)!

As some of you know, in addition to his long day in school, ESG goes to an intensive and completely voluntary 5-days-a-week afternoon Talmud Torah.

Going to this optional Talmud Torah was (and is) ESG’s own choice and initiative, and BA”H, he has earned a name for himself as quite the matmid (loosely, diligent and dedicated Torah scholar). (Did I not warn you that there would be boasting? :-))

The boys learn Chumash and Mishnah without skipping anything. In the Mishnah class, they finished the entire Seder Zera’im last year* and are currently approaching the end of Seder Mo’ed. Meanwhile, they just finished all Five Books of the Torah in their Chumash class.

Brief sociological digression: When YZG and I were growing up in the States, afterschool Talmud Torahs used to refer to something that public school kids attended – usually in a Conservative temple. But here in Israel, even kids like ESG, who attend excellent dual curriculum Torani schools during the day, may choose to go to an afterschool Talmud Torah in order to get in a few more hours of extra Torah learning.  </digression>

Anyway, this year’s siyum began with a tour of Gush Etzion and ended with a festive meal in Yeshivat Har Etzion in Alon Shvut, together with Rav Lichtenstein.

Each boy got to shake Rav Lichtenstein’s hand before receiving a copy of a sefer called “Iturei Halachah: Ahavat Chessed” and also a personalized certificate:

SiyumMazal tov also to ESG’s very proud parents, grandparents, and siblings.

!חודש טוב ושבת שלום ומבורך


*You can read about last year’s siyum in Rav Neventzal’s house in the Old City here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Heblish: Sefer HaChinuch Edition

If you’ve spent a recent Shabbat here in TRLEOOB*, you’re aware that about half a year ago, we adopted the custom of learning one mitzvah from the Sefer HaChinuch at each of the first two Shabbat meals.

(BTW, if we haven’t yet had the pleasure of your company, please be sure to contact the Our Shiputzim reservations department to arrange a convenient Shabbat. Our operators are standing by...)

Anyway, each time, a different Shiputzim child takes a turn at reading and then translating the text into English.

The reason I mention this practice is that last Shabbat, we reached Mitzvah #52 – שלא לאכול בשר שור הנסקל – the prohibition against eating the meat of a ox that was “niskal”.

Niskal, I should note, means that the animal received s’kilah.

What is s’kilah, you ask?

Well, here’s how a certain Shiputzim child chose to translate this term:

Rocking: Hebrew source סקילה. English definition – Stoning. Sample usage - “You can’t eat the meat of an ox that was rocked.”

And while we’re at it, here are some more excerpts from the Official Our Shiputzim Heblish-English Dictionary: 

I don’t care to…: Hebrew source – …לא אכפת לי ל. English definition – I don’t mind [doing…]. Sample usage - “I don’t care to clear the table today, but only if he clears it tomorrow.”

To move a house: Hebrew source – לעבור דירה. English definition – To move. Sample usage - “She’s moving a house, and so she won’t be in my class anymore.”

As long time readers are aware, most of these Heblish definitions are based on things the Shiputzim children like to say.

But apparently, I’m not above letting some unintentional Heblish creep into my own speech. In fact, I’ve even used it while blogging:

Snappling:  Hebrew source – סנפלינג. English definition –Rappelling. Sample usage – Check out this post for my inadvertent (and admittedly amusing) lapse. (Thanks to commenter Michael Kopinsky for the much-appreciated correction.)

Oh, well. {shrugs} You know what they say: To err is human, but it takes a blogger to mess up in front of readers around the world…**smile_teeth

Previous Heblish editions are available here: Heblish I, Heblish II, Heblish III, Heblish IV, Heblish V, and Heblish VI.


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

**Yes, I DID just make this up. Why do you ask? ;-)

Monday, August 17, 2009

HH and Blogging 300

The latest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Mottel for including my translation software post.

And in somewhat related news, it turns out that last week’s inaugural edition of Fish Tank Friday was my 300th post.

Which naturally begs the question - as my Heblish-speaking kids would say - “what’s the kesher?” Is there some deep and profound significance to this random bit of trivia? Does it serve to teach us an important lesson?

Moreover, what are we to make of the fact that the combined gematriah of אוקיינוס (ocean), ים (sea), and דג (fish) is 300?

Perhaps it’s a sign or omen – a la the Rosh Hashanah simanim – for my posts to multiply like fish?

Maybe it’s an indication that this blog is coming along swimmingly?

I have no idea.

But feel free to think of your own connections.

And remember, the more farfetched and convoluted the better…


Friday, August 14, 2009

Fish Tank Friday

Welcome to the inaugural edition of “Fish Tank Friday”*.

Now, before you start picturing elaborate aquariums with expensive filtration systems and exotic sea life, I should hasten to dissuade you of that notion.

In fact, it’s not exactly an actual tank, per se.

Indeed, I daresay that most people would refer to it as “a cheap plastic container with jagged holes in the lid and a common goldfish inside.”

But I’ll let you be the judge:

IMG_6074 IMG_6095IMG_6093His name is Fish.

This somewhat prosaic yet highly descriptive name was chosen by his owner – a Shiputzim daughter, who acquired her watery pet about a year and a half ago. Ever since then, remembering to feed Fish daily and change his water every week or so has become the bane of the Shiputzim family’s existence Fish has become a dear and treasured member of the family.

Meanwhile, in keeping with today’s theme, here’s one of the many things the Shiputzim children have been doing since their day camps ended:

IMG_5917 “Aquatic Diorama” by ENG

IMG_6034 “Under the Sea” by TSG


* Of course, today’s post could have easily been divided into two parts: a “Fauna Friday” post and also a “Fine Arts Friday” post. But as you may have figured out by now, I’ve never found a fake-themed Friday which I haven’t favored. For instance, would you fancy a future post entitled, “Faux Themes Friday”? I could focus on all the forced yet fascinating Friday themes which have been featured on this forum…


!שבת שלום ומבורך

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Translation time

Here in TRLEOOB*, we’ve been playing around with translation software.

For instance, as you may recall, in my day camp challah post, I wrote:

“Well done, young bakers!”

Most – if not all – human English-to-Hebrew translators would translate this as:

!כל הכבוד, אופים צעירים”

However, according to Microsoft, the correct translation is:

“!אופים שבוצעה היטב, צעיר” (Literally, “Bakers that was [sic] done well, young!”)

Meanwhile, Babylon came somewhat closer with:

“!טוב עשה, אופים צעירים” (Literally, “Good did [sic], young bakers!”)

And then there’s Google, which, in its infinite wisdom, chose to adopt a multilingual approach:

“!bakers ,כל הכבוד צעיר”

Now, admittedly, the literal meaning of this odd phrase is, in fact, “Well done, young bakers.”

Nevertheless, I must confess that I have a few, ahem, minor quibbles. Namely:

  • The word “bakers” isn’t exactly Hebrew.
  • In Hebrew, the adjective should follow the noun, but here the order is reversed.
  • Although “bakers” is obviously plural, “צעיר” is singular.

But to paraphrase one of my earlier posts, if the erudite Rav Google rules that this is the proper translation, who am I, a lowly and humble J-blogger, to argue?

Which translation did YOU like best?

On a related note, I was asked by the Hebrew-to-English translator who did this letter about the IDF chaplains to inform my readers that she’s available for translation work. For more information, please contact me at the email address in the sidebar to the above right, and I’ll gladly forward all inquiries to her.


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Monday, August 10, 2009

‘Tis the season (Mwahahaha…)

To the dismay of children everywhere (but to their parents’ secret delight), the call of the school bell grows ever louder.

Thus, last week, the Resident Ulpanistit graciously took stock of our textbook and school supplies inventory and compiled a list of the things which we were still missing.

The next step was to buy a number of second-hand books, and then we placed an order for the rest this morning. (Here in Israel, most schools don’t provide the books.)

And here are our purchases from a recent sale at a local stationery store:

IMG_5923 As always, click on the picture for a closer look. 

For comparison’s sake, here’s a link to the First Annual Our Shiputzim School Supplies Post: A notebook on the floor is worth two in the knapsack (or something like that).

Have you done your school supplies shopping yet?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

HH and Only in Israel: Drinks edition

We experienced a heartwarmingly beautiful only-in-Israel story over Shabbat. But first:

The last edition of Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Baila for including my post on the one-year Israel programs - then and now and also my post on packing for the machaneh.

And now this:

On Friday night, just after we had finished our meal, we received word that our neighborhood’s water supply had apparently been contaminated.

B”H, we had enough bottled water on hand to make it through Shabbat, and we served only juice and soda during Shabbat lunch and at seudah shlishit.

Here’s the only-in-Israel part:

On Shabbat morning in shul, they announced that the owner of one of the local grocery stores (i.e. makolet for the Hebraically-oriented among you) – who also happens to live in the affected area – had thoughtfully placed cases of drink in front of his store.

Everyone was invited to help themselves to as much as they needed. The necessary financial arrangements would wait until after Shabbat.

!מי כעמך ישראל

“Who is like Your nation Israel…”

(Divrei HaYamim I 17:21)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Freshly Baked Goods Friday: Cinnamon Swirls Edition

Attention all Our Shiputzim fans!

If you happen to be near TRLEOOB* over Shabbat, please feel free to stop by.

After all, look what we’re having for dessert:



Aren’t they cute?

And they taste good, too!

Special thanks to the Resident Ulpanistit (aka the Baker-in-Chief), her sous chef ESG, and her entire team of talented assistants.

The recipe comes from the Israel-Food list, with a few minor changes.

Cinnamon Swirl Cookies


  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 heaping tsp baking powder (i.e. one envelope, for our Israeli readers)
  • Mixture of cinnamon and sugar


Beat eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Add flour and baking powder. Roll dough into long, skinny “snakes”. Dip each “snake” into cinnamon and sugar mixture, and then form into spirals. Place cookies on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 11 minutes.

Yield: About 65-70 cookies

Note: These cookies can be frozen.

!שבת שלום ומבורך


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A sartorial scenario

Here’s an interesting dilemma:

Read and discuss.

Disclaimer: The following scenario is based on recent events here in TRLEOOB** a work of complete fiction. Any resemblance to a member of the Shiputzim family is purely intentional coincidental.

Picture this:

You’re a typical Israeli teenager about to head out on your machaneh (מחנה - literally, “camp” – refers to 2-7 days of sleeping outside in the mud*).

On one hand, you want to look good. Given your age, this means that you can only wear clothes which are “normal”. (Ed. note - If you have to ask what “normal” means, you’re clearly too old to understand.)

On the other hand, your Anglo mother insists that you only take clothes which are “suitable” for sleeping outside in relatively primitive conditions. According to your mother’s definition, “suitable” means she won’t mind if they get ruined.

If your clothes were to be represented by a Venn diagram (after all, your parents DID study new math – much to your grandparents’ consternation), the intersection of Set A (your “normal” clothes) and Set B (your “suitable” clothes) would be fairly small.

As it so happens, this year, you’ll IY”H be away for seven days – including a three-day gichah (גיחה – literally, excursion or sortie) without access to a shower. (Ed. note – Eww!)

In other words, you need to supplement the aforementioned intersection of Set A and Set B with clothes from either Set A or Set B.

What do you do?

Please leave your answers in the comment section.

Don’t forget to show your work...



*Here’s what I wrote last year when a certain Shiputzim child returned from her machaneh. (BTW, that post also includes a great idea for a one-day tiyul.)

**TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Monday, August 3, 2009

Nitkatnu hadorot

An unscientific survey of my peers has revealed that many believe that life in the one-year Israeli yeshivot/seminaries is much easier now than it was back in our day.

First of all, no one could ever get in touch with us, because we had neither cell phones nor email accounts

But our communication issues were only part of the problem.

The main difference between now and then is that – as a whole – our generation seemed to have far fewer places to go for Shabbat.

I mean, sure, we all had a handful of obscure third-cousins-five-times-removed or a few so-called “old friends” of our parents, whom we had never even heard of before.

Ever-so-slightly exaggerated version of actual quote:

“You don’t know the X’s?! But Abba went to high school with Mr. X! And we got together with them once, oh, it must have been about 15 years ago. Remember? You were about two years old, and you played with their daughter? We’ve known them FOREVER! You really MUST call them. I’m sure they’ll LOVE to have to you for Shabbat!”

To this day, I still shudder when I recall a certain phone call to some elderly relatives (a”h) living in Haifa. The assimonim were dropping; the girls around me were motioning that I should get off the phone already; and I was literally shouting into the phone. I had to repeat everything about ten times, because the elderly relatives couldn’t hear me.

Ah, good times, good times…

But today - thanks to NBN, and also due to the fact that much of our generation spent those years in Israel and, as a result, was determined to make aliyah ourselves - rare is the American student who doesn’t have an assortment of aunts, uncles, grandparents, or very close family friends (whom the student actually knows…) living here in Israel.

Oh, and did I mention that when WE were here for the year, we had to trudge ten miles in the snow every single day?

As my kids would say, staaaam….


Sunday, August 2, 2009

HH 228 and pizza for supper

Two newsworthy items from around the J-Blogosphere:

1) The latest edition of Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Heshy for including my presidential post.

2) Here in TRLEOOB*, we recently ordered pizza for supper, and hijinks ensued. Toby has the story.


*TRLEOOB = the real life equivalent of our blog