Thursday, January 28, 2010

KCC 50

The latest Kosher Cooking Carnival is available here.

Special thanks to Batya for including my Shabbat lunch vegetable soup.

IMG_0430 (2)Leftovers from Shabbat Parshat Shmot: I omitted the tomato paste that week and also added a bunch of chopped celery.

On a related note, I was surprised that no one was able to identify the title of the original post: “No, I never have soup for lunch.” Any takers? (Hint: Israel Television, circa 1979-1981.)

שבת שלום ומבורך!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Reason #98043 for making aliyah

The following announcement is brought to you by the Our Shiputzim Aliyah Promotion Department.


Picture this.

You’re at a wedding in Yerushalayim.

As is the tradition, the chupah (ceremony) is held outdoors, and the assembled guests are huddled in their winter coats against the clear, cold night air. (That is, all of the guests except for the chatan’s friends, who are in shirtsleeves and are apparently impervious to the chill. Or perhaps that’s why they jump up and down in time to the music which the band plays between each of the sheva brachot. But I digress…)

The mesader kiddushin (officiating rabbi) explains that the dust he’s about to put on the chatan’s forehead comes from Har HaBayit, Gush Katif, the Northern Shomron, and also the ruins of Kever Yosef in Shechem.

Then, just before the chatan breaks the glass, as everyone sings “Im Eshkachech” (“If I forget you, O Yerushalayim, may my right hand forget its cunning. May my tongue cling to my palate, if I do not remember you, if I do not raise Yerushalayim over the top of my joy.” – Tehilim 137:5-6), you look around and see apartment buildings filled with beautiful, hopeful families and cranes signifying ongoing construction.

Does it get any cooler than that?

“מהרה ה’ אלוקינו ישמע בערי יהודה ובחוצות ירושלים, קול ששון וקול שמחה, קול חתן וקול כלה, קול מצהלות חתנים מחופתם ונערים ממשתה נגינתם…”

“Hashem, our God, let there speedily be heard in the cities of Yehudah and the streets of Yerushalayim, the voice of joy and the voice of happiness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of the bridegrooms’ rejoicing from their canopies and the youths from their musical feasts…” (From the Sheva Brachot, based on BT Ktuvot 8a)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Little House in the Middle East

As long time readers are aware, a significant portion of this blog is devoted to those aspects of Israeli life and culture which I find fascinating, amusing, quirky, or just plain odd.

But in all fairness, there was much about my American upbringing which our kids would undoubtedly find strange, alien, and – in some cases – perhaps even somewhat shocking.

Note that I’m not talking about things which fall into the category of “They Weren’t Invented Yet” – you know, things like cell phones, digital cameras, PC’s, etc.

No, I’m referring to the cultural norms and standards which YZG and I experienced when growing up in a very different time and place.

Over the years, I’ve told the kids stories from my youth and childhood, but they can’t relate to many of the ideas and concepts which we took so much for granted.

For instance:

  • Co-ed elementary school classes
  • Early admission to college
  • School on Chol HaMoed Succot
  • Getting milk cartons every morning in school
  • Being the only Orthodox Jewish family on our very long block
  • Car trips (For example, my grandparents a”h lived about an 8-hour drive away from us, and we visited them at least three times a year. In contrast, our kids consider a two-hour drive to be a major journey…)

Please feel free to leave your own examples in the comment section.

As far as our Israeli kids are concerned, these things are just as foreign as anything found in, say, the “Little House” books – with a few minor differences, of course.

Namely, our fathers never played the fiddle or trapped animals in the woods; our mothers never churned their own butter or preserved their own meat; YZG never had to milk the cows; and I never had a corn cob doll…smile_teeth

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fun and Games Friday: Othello edition

A few months ago, the entire Shiputzim family was into Othello.

But before you get all impressed by our literary and cultural sophistication, I should explain that I’m referring to the classic two-person board game - NOT the famous Shakespearean tragedy.

You see, Othello (aka Reversi) was the subject of MAG’s recent English term paper, and as a result of his research, some of us here in TRLEOOB* picked up a few new tricks –including the highly effective so-called “wall strategy”. (Details available upon request.)

Meanwhile, others used this opportunity to produce a number of intricate designs:

IMG_0433 (2) A flowery approach to the game

Even ACGAC** got caught up in the Othello craze.

Specifically, ACGAC enjoys a little-known variation of the game called “Switching Colors”.

The basic rules are as follows:

  • ACGAC’s opponent plays to the best of his/her ability.
  • Whenever ACGAC feels that the situation warrants such a move, the two players switch colors.
  • If necessary, the players can switch colors several times during the same game.
  • ACGAC always wins. (Surprise, surprise…)

This reminds me of the way occasional blogger YCT would carefully - and quite literally - stack the deck when playing every parent's worst nightmare: the mind-numbingly boring Candy Land.

He thus ensured that his daughter always won, but only after an exciting game with several nail-biting upsets. (He would then leave the deck unshuffled for the next time.)

What approach do you take when playing board games with younger children? Do you let them win? Do you give them some sort of handicap? Or do you believe in tough love - as in, “This is the real world. Deal with it! So what if you’re only two years old…”


שבת שלום ומבורך!


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

**ACGAC=a certain gan-age child of my acquaintance

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Take the week off

Back in my time, a week consisted of seven days.

But nowadays, apparently, not so much.

After all, consider the following:

I. Shvushim

For religious Israeli boys, an important highlight of the senior year is the shvush.

No, this isn’t the Israeli version of the Nike logo….

Rather, shvu”sh stands for shavua yeshiva – literally, “yeshiva week”. In other words, the boys take some time off to go check out different post-high-school yeshivot.

But don’t let the name shvush fool you.

Because although one of my favorite high school seniors has already been on a number of shvushim, he’s never been gone more than a couple of days at a time.

II. Shavua avodah

Similarly, the Resident Ulpanistit’s class is going on what is being referred to as a shavua avodah – literally, a “work week”.

The idea is that the girls help the former residents of Gush Katif by working in their fields.

But, IMNSHO, a more accurate description of this so-called shavua avodah would be yomayim avodah (two days of work).

Why do they call it a week when it’s clearly significantly less than seven days?

I have no idea.

Chalk it up to the recession. Or inflation. Or global warming (or whatever it is that they’re calling it these days). Or all of the above. Or none of the above.

But either way, I’m sure you’ll agree that this phenomenon gives a whole new meaning to the term “weekly deficit”…


Sunday, January 17, 2010

HH and Talking about the parsha

Two completely unrelated items:

1) The latest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Jack for including my post about Israeli names.

2) This morning, ACGAC* asked me if Paroh’s daughter Batya was affected by the makot (the Ten Plagues).

After all, the Jews were famously spared, but Batya wasn’t Jewish. On the other hand, she did save Moshe Rabbeinu’s life, and the Torah uses the name she chose for the baby. So, it would seem that she deserved to avoid punishment as well.

Your thoughts?


*ACGAC=a certain gan-age child of my acquaintance

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fiction Friday: Barsetshire Edition

Warning: This post may exceed the recommended daily allowance for literary discussions about obscure authors. Proceed at your own risk.

In the comment section to my comb-o-phobia post (Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Or, you could just read the post, and then you’ll understand what I’m talking about…), I referred to Angela Thirkell’s charming Barsetshire novels.

Specifically, I noted that in "Marling Hall", an old governess amuses her new charges with stories about one David Leslie, who used to - gasp! - cut the teeth off his comb (brush?) so he wouldn't have to comb his hair.

Since I wasn’t sure if it was a brush or a comb but didn’t have the book in front of me, I decided to do a quick search – to no avail. (“I’ll tell you what,” as Lucy Marling would say. Please leave a comment with the correct answer, if you have access to the book yourself.)

However, I did come across the Angela Thirkell Society’s site, which contains, inter alia (I’ve always wanted to use that phrase. Hopefully, I did so correctly… :-)), companions to many of the books and a very useful “dictionary” of all the characters.

Angela Thirkell fans should definitely check this site out.

And if you’re not yet an Angela Thirkell fan but happen to enjoy pure escapist reading – amusing storylines, delightful characters, entertaining prose, and, most importantly, happy endings – I highly recommend the Barsetshire novels.

Happy reading!

שבת שלום ומבורך!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A strange brush-off

The Our Shiputzim medical research team announces the discovery of a heretofore undocumented condition.

Known as comb-o-phobia, this odd syndrome mainly affects boys, from early childhood until their late teens.

The primary symptom involves a reluctance or, in extreme cases, an outright refusal to brush or comb one’s hair. In addition, patients frequently mutter inexplicable phrases, such as:

What’s the problem? I brushed my hair a few days ago, for Shabbat…”

“What do you mean, ‘don’t forget to pack my brush’? It’s not like I’m gonna use it while I’m away or anything…”

“I can’t comb my hair. It’s too short. I just got a haircut.”

“I can’t comb my hair. It’s too long. I need a haircut.”

Furthermore, many patients have also been diagnosed with an obliviousness to holes in their clothes.

Researchers have yet to determine the condition’s causes and are actively working on finding a cure.

In the meantime, mothers around the globe have reported that simple home remedies – including arguing, yelling, reasoning, discussing, and convincing - have little to no impact.

If you – or someone you love – suffers from comb-o-phobia, please feel free to share your, well, hair-raising stories in the comment section…


Monday, January 11, 2010

Who’s on first

From the very moment of this blog’s inception when Our Shiputzim transitioned into a full-blown slice-of-life blog, the editorial board declared that one of its primary objectives would be assisting and providing useful information for new olim.

Thus, the entire writing staff has made every effort to introduce and explain many of the quirks, foibles, and idiosyncrasies of Israeli life.

But, unfortunately, there’s at least one issue where you’re on your own.

Because, 11½ years after our aliyah, I’ve yet to figure out which is the most acceptable way to record a list of names.

You see, here in Israel, all of the following forms are used interchangeably and with equal frequency:

  • <Lastname>, <Firstname> (i.e., with a comma)
  • <Lastname> <Firstname> (i.e., without a comma)
  • <Firstname> <Lastname>

In fact, sometimes, more than one form is used on the very. same. list.

Also, many Israelis have last names like Avraham, Yaakov, and Aharon, and many Israeli first names could easily pass as last names. (This guy famously represents one of the most egregious examples of this phenomenon.)

And to add to the confusion, many Israeli men rarely use their first names at all. (“Hi, my name is Cohen.”) Everyone – often including their own wives! – calls them by their last names.

So what should you do when you’re confronted by an ambiguous name, and you’re not sure which part is the person’s first name?

Well, when in doubt and when all else fails, I suggest that you go with the tried and true.

You know, something helpful like, “Hey, you…”



Hat tip: This post was inspired by a question Ilana-Davita asked in the comment section of one of Batya's posts.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

HH 251

The latest Haveil Havalim is available here.

Special thanks to Phyllis Sommer for including two of my recent posts:

  1. FadichahFeaturing the Israeli version of teenage angst.
  2. Heblish: Dynamic EditionLearn about “save on” and “the Rav X”.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Fantastic Quote Friday: Generational confusion edition

Noted Torah scholar ACGAC (=a certain gan-age child) had the following to say about Parshat Vayeira*:

“The three malachim (angels) told Avraham that they were going to have a baby. They didn’t tell Sarah, but she heard, and so she laughed.”

Why did she laugh?

“Because they were already big, and they were already a saba (grandfather) and a savta (grandmother), and usually, they don’t have babies anymore.”

And so there you have it.

The miracle that even the Midrashim don’t tell you about is that Avraham and Sarah were apparently grandparents way before they had any children…


שבת שלום ומבורך!


* Since I established a precedent by posting a dvar Torah on Parshat Mikeitz the week of Parshat Vayechi, I figured I might as well post a quote from Shabbat Parshat Vayeira on Erev Shabbat Parshat Shmot… :-)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Fadichah (פדיחה \ פאדיחה) \fah-DEE-chah\, noun: an excruciatingly embarrassing or uncomfortably awkward moment

As everyone knows, if one is an Israeli teenager with Anglo parents, life is basically one big fadichah. And when one of those parents is a blogger, well, the fadichah-meter is pretty much off the charts.

So imagine what a fadichah this post about fadichot is going to be… :-)

In order to learn more about this mainstay of Israeli slang, I decided to turn to the experts. Here’s what three typical Israeli teenagers had to say on the subject:

I. Typical Israeli Teenager #1

What does the word "fadichah" mean?

“Being in an uncomfortable situation”

Give an example (true or made-up) of a fadichah.

“An example of a minor fadichah is being somewhere with friends and having my parents pick me up instead of letting me tremp (hitchhike) home. And by the way, this blog isn’t a fadichah, since none of my friends know about it…”

II. Typical Israeli Teenager #2

What does the word "fadichah" mean?

“A fadichah is something embarrassing that happens to you.”

Give an example (true or made-up) of a fadichah.

“When friends come over, it would be a fadichah if my parents would talk to them in English. Luckily, my parents don’t do that!”

III. Typical Israeli Teenager #3

What does the word "fadichah" mean?

“An embarrassing thing that happened.”

Give an example (true or made-up) of a fadichah.

“If you start talking to someone, and then you realize that it’s not the person you thought it was. It’s someone else.”


Please feel free to leave a comment with your favorite teenagers’ responses to these two questions. Or, post their answers on your own blog, and then send me the link. I’ll try and do a follow-up with a fadichah round-up.

That will surely be “mah zeh fadichah”…


Monday, January 4, 2010

“No, I never have soup for lunch”

Two points to the first commenter who correctly identifies the title. (YCT, you should be able to get this one…)

Several weeks ago, the company we’d been expecting for Shabbat lunch unfortunately had to cancel on Thursday night.

And since the older Shiputzim children were going away for the weekend, the cholent I’d been planning no longer seemed like such a great idea.

In other words, it was the perfect opportunity to make vegetable soup in the crockpot.

Depending on the ingredients I have on hand, this soup comes out differently every time, but in the interest of proper blogging, I decided to record the version I made that week – i.e. the first Shabbat Chanukah:

Crockpot Vegetable Soup

(Parshat Vayeishev 5770 Version)

Update: I posted a picture of the Shabbat Parshat Shmot 5770 version here.


  • 8 onions, chopped
  • Assorted chicken parts – wings, necks, backbone (turkey parts are fine, too)
  • 6 carrots, sliced very thin (or chopped)
  • 1 medium sweet potato, chopped
  • ½ cup barley (soaked overnight and then drained)
  • Herbs, finely chopped (I used dried parsley, dill and thyme that week)
  • Garlic, chopped – lots
  • Bay leaf or two
  • [Optional] 2-3 soupspoons of tomato paste
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Other suggested ingredients (none of which I had on hand that particular week): chopped parsnip, chopped celery, split peas, and an assortment of beans.


Place everything in crockpot. Add water to cover. Cook on high for a few hours and then turn crockpot down to low just before Shabbat.



Saturday, January 2, 2010

Heblish: Dynamic Edition

Shavua tov!

By definition, Heblish is a hyper-dynamic language.

After all, the longer one lives here in Israel, the more one’s English deteriorates and the more one’s Hebrew improves.(Actually, this is only true for children. Adults’ English deteriorates at a much faster rate than the speed at which their Hebrew improves. Thus, while the children of Anglo parents are frequently bilingual, their oleh parents are usually, well, non-lingual. :-) But I digress…)

Anyway, even I was surprised when I realized how quickly the Our Shiputzim dialect had evolved.

Here’s how it happened:

In a comment to the previous Heblish post, Jameel wrote:

“Don't forget: ‘I don't want to save on X.’ For לשמור...”

Note that this wasn’t the first time a commenter had alluded to this particular Heblishism. For instance, RCT referred to it in the original Heblish post, and Yaffa cited it in Heblish VI. In addition, many readers have told me off-line that their kids favor this expression.

Clearly, “save on X” is very popular. Yet, as I pompously declared in my response, for reasons best known to themselves, the Shiputzim children had somehow managed to avoid that particular pitfall charming Heblishism.

Well, blogging pride comes before a linguistic fall.

Because it soon transpired that I had spoken typed too soon.

You see, that very Shabbat was Parshat Lech Lecha, and as you will perhaps recall, ACGAC (a certain gan-age child of my acquaintance) was telling us about the parsha.

“Terach told Avraham to save on the pesalim (idols),” ACGAC intoned.

And thus, “save on” instantaneously earned its way into the Official Our Shiputzim Heblish-English dictionary:

To save on: Hebrew source לשמור על. English definition –To watch. Sample usage – “His parents went out, and so a babysitter saved on him.”

And while we’re at it, here’s another entry:

The Rav X: Hebrew source X הרב. English definition –Rabbi X. Sample usage – “The Rav Cohen is my teacher this year.”


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