Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Heblishization of the Seder

{cue: TV announcer voice}

Are you looking for a way to enhance your family’s Seder experience?

Do you want to make the Haggadah more meaningful and accessible for your kids?

Well, then, why not let them recite Mah Nishtanah… in Heblish?

Yes, that’s right!

Back by popular demand, it’s the one and only:

Official Our Shiputzim Heblish Translation of Mah Nishtanah(TM)

What did this night become different from all the nights?

That in all the nights, we are eating chametz and matzah. This night, all of it is matzah.

That in all the nights, we are eating other vegetables. This night, maror.

That in all the nights, there is not we are dipping, even one time. This night, two times.

That in all the nights, we are eating between sitting and between leaning. This night, all of us are leaning.


!חג כשר ושמח

The editorial board wishes all our readers a very happy and kosher Pesach.

May we be privileged to eat in rebuilt Yerushalayim from the zevachim and from the pesachim, speedily and in our days. Amen.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Fatigued Friday: Socks edition

Allow me to quote something I wrote last year at this time:

Last night, we changed the clocks here in Israel.

“As a result, this morning, most of the Shiputzim family – and, I daresay, most of the country – stumbled out the door, bleary-eyed, mumbling incoherently, and way behind schedule.”

Needless to say, when a general and pervasive sense of exhaustion is the order of the day, exchanges such as the following are fairly typical:

Mother: Those dirty socks don’t belong on the floor of your room.

Son: {offended on his socks’ behalf} They’re not dirty! I only wore them for half a day…


!שבת שלום ומבורך

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The chumus of Pesach

{tap tap tap}

Is this thing on?

{clears throat nervously}

Hi. My name is Mrs. S., and I’m a… charoset snob.

{becomes somewhat defensive}

But it’s not my fault.

You can blame my parents. Or even my grandparents a”h before them. Because our inordinate pride in our charoset apparently goes way back.

Actually, I should explain that it’s not that our charoset recipe is necessarily superior to all the other ones out there. (Although it IS pretty good. See recipe below.)

No, the thing that makes us look down our family’s collective nose is the sheer quantity of our charoset.

You see, we literally make it by the large bowlful.

That way, after using the charoset to satisfy the family’s Maror and Korech needs, there’s still more than enough left to spread on matzah during Shulchan Orech.

In fact, we make so much that we nosh on matzah with charoset all week long. It’s great for chol hamo’ed lunches, for seudah shlishit, etc.

In other words, charoset is the Pesach equivalent of… chumus!

Here, then, is our family’s recipe. (Special thanks to my mother, who figured out how to replace the traditional “as much as it takes” with precise amounts…. :-) )

Ashkenazi Charoset


  1. This is actually half the recipe. (Feel free to double it.)
  2. I use a food processor, but obviously, one could do it all by hand.


  • 100 grams ground almonds
  • 100 grams ground walnuts
  • 100 grams dates plus another 3-4 dates for added sweetness - pitted and chopped
  • 2 (or more) large apples – peeled, cored and finely shredded
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • Less than ¼ tsp ginger
  • Sweet red wine


Combine the first six ingredients. Add wine slowly, until desired taste, color, and texture are achieved.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Oldies but goodies

As my fellow bloggers will agree, Pesach preparations have a way of cutting into one’s designated blogging time.

And so in lieu of a regular post, allow me to present some old favorites for your reading pleasure:

Bli neder, new content is on the way, and in the meantime, happy cleaning!


HH 261

The latest Haveil Havalim is available here.

Special thanks to Jack for including Malke’s guest post on her son’s recent enlistment.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fauna Friday: Toad edition

“Look what we found

in the park

in the dark.

We will take him home.

We will call him Clark.

“He will live at our house.

He will grow and grow.

Will our mother like this?

We don’t know…”

(From One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss)

On a recent night, YZG was walking home through the park near our house, when he discovered a toad – i.e. a karpadah, for the Hebraically-oriented among you:

IMG_0639As always, click on the picture for a closer view.

Those of you who know YZG in real life and/or are longtime readers of this blog won’t be surprised to learn that he put the toad in a box and brought it back to TRLEOOB* to show the Shiputzim kids.

And although the toad only hung around for a few minutes before hopping away, that was more than enough time for our erstwhile pet to be named, well, Clark, of course.

Wondering if THIS mother liked it?

Um, I think you DO know…


!שבת שלום ומבורך


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cooking for Pesach in the J-Blogosphere

Obviously, I’m not even remotely ready to start thinking about cooking. (After all, this week is still all about talking and blogging about cleaning in lieu of doing anything constructive)

Nevertheless, here are some kosher for Pesach recipes from this blog:

  1. Vegetarian kishke (Gebrochts) – Use matzah meal instead of the flour.
  2. Potato soup – Use potato starch instead of the flour.
  3. Sweet and sour meatballs – Serve with mashed potatoes instead of rice.
  4. Turkey stew – Use potato starch instead of the flour. (Special thanks to Phyllis for including this recipe in the latest Kosher Cooking Carnival, which is available here.)

And for more Pesach recipes, check out:

Happy cooking



Monday, March 15, 2010

He’s in the army now

Guest blogger Malke (who previously discussed her son’s experiences in Sderot during Operation Cast Lead) graciously offered to write the first post in my series on the post-high-school stage*:


My Son, the Soldier

A Guest Post by Malke

Warning: This post is in excess of the daily recommended allowance of sentimentality. For lighter fare, might I recommend one of Mrs. S’s famous Heblish posts.

My oldest son started his army service today, in a combat engineering unit. Every little boy’s dream - to blow things up.

You raise them for 18, 19, 20 years, and then suddenly, they “belong” to someone else. I guess it’s good practice for when they get married, except hopefully their wives are nicer to them than their officers.

You know how every new mother thinks she’s the first one in the world to give birth? That's how I feel… like I am the first mother to ever send her son off to the army. Proud, scared, emotional, probably boring everyone silly with all my talking about it. Without the background of a husband, father or brother who already did this, it’s all so new and unknown, which somewhat adds to the stress.

Luckily, though, I have the support of my Israeli friends and colleagues. Yeah, like the guy from my work who said to me, “Don’t worry, Malke. They don’t die in combat engineering; they just lose an arm or a leg here and there.”

Before they left, the yeshivat hesder where he learns made the boys a party. On the invitation was written: שהחינו וקיימנו והגיענו לזמן הזה [“He Who has given us life and sustained us and brought us to this hour” – from the Shehechiyanu blessing]. It seemed such an odd phrase for this occasion. And yet, in a way, it is true. My son has the incredible privilege of being able to serve his country and his people.

And yet, I’m such a big shot with all my Zionist ideals. Last night it hit me all of a sudden that this is real - and can be dangerous.

This morning was rather anti-climactic. You bring them to the gate, and then you have to leave. It feels like dropping them off to go to camp or something. Now, I guess, it’s all about waiting - to hear from them, to see them - none of which I have too much control over.

May Hashem keep him and all the other new and old recruits safe.


Amen, and thanks, Malke, for your beautiful post! May you and all our readers have a wonderful new month.

!חודש טוב

“In Nissan they were redeemed, and in Nissan, they are destined to be redeemed.” (BT Rosh Hashanah 11b)


*If you’d like to write a guest post about the post-high-school stage, please contact me via the email address listed towards the top of the sidebar at the right.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bring back that new oleh feelin’

Way back when the oldest Shiputzim child was in 8th grade, YZG and I were frequently asked how the Great High School Search was going.

Our standard response was that we sort of felt like we were new olim all over again.

I recall that one Israeli acquaintance was particularly taken aback by our answer.

“Still? After all these years?” he wondered in surprise.

And so I explained that we were unfamiliar with many of the schools and that we knew nothing about the high school application process. And then, of course, there were the bagruyot

Yet, somehow, we managed to muddle through, and indeed, by the time the next Shiputzim child reached 8th grade, we considered ourselves to be old pros.

But now that the post-high-school stage looms ever closer BA”H, YZG and I find ourselves firmly back in straight-off-the-proverbial-boat territory.

It’s not just that there are countless options, choices, tracks, and programs.

It’s the fact that lurking just beneath the surface of all those options, choices, tracks, and programs is… the army and all that it entails.

Seasonal time constraints permitting, I hope to IY”H bring you a number of different perspectives on this issue in the coming days. (And  if you’d like to write a guest post about being the parent of a chayal, hesdernik, bat sherut, etc., please contact me via the email address in the sidebar to the right.)

And in the meantime, the Our Shiputzim editorial board extends a heartfelt giyus kal v’na’im (literally, “an easy and pleasant enlistment”) to those who are currently being inducted into the IDF.

May Hashem watch over and protect all of Israel’s chayalim, and may they all come and go safely and l’shalom.

!שבוע טוב

May the coming week be one of besurot tovot, yeshu’ot, and nechamot (good tidings, salvation, and consolation).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Under control

Looking for an excellent way to lose friends and not influence people two and a half weeks before Pesach?

Then consider using one of the following statements as your Facebook status :

“Bedrooms? Check. Playroom? Check. LR/DR? Check. Shopping and menu planning? Check. Could Pesach preparations BE any easier?”

“I don’t know why everyone complains about Pesach. My live-in housekeeper assures me that it’s a piece of cake (non-gebrochts, of course)…”

“Aaaaand, we’re done! We’re pouring the water in the kitchen as I type this, and then we’re good to go!”

“Help! Since we’re going to a hotel for all of Pesach, the week before the chag is going to be pretty dull. Any suggestions for pre-Pesach activities and trips?”

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

But, in any event, I don’t let these types of statements bother me.

After all, according to the now tried-and-true Our Shiputzim General Theory of Pesach Cleaning, the very fact that I’m currently sitting and blogging proves that here in TRLEOOB*, we’re totally under control…



*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Monday, March 8, 2010

Pre-Pesach giveaways

Warning: Although the following post isn’t specifically about cleaning, shopping or cooking, it does pertain to the pre-Pesach period. Proceed at your own risk.


What do the following things have in common?

  1. An allegedly non-breakable aquarium
  2. A functional but not overly powerful vacuum cleaner
  3. An old computer
  4. A used stroller
  5. Several computer monitors of assorted sizes
  6. A compact-size top-loading washing machine
  7. A computer printer in working condition

If you guessed that they were all offered – for free – on our local email list in the weeks leading up to Pesach this year or last, you’d be correct!

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining.

After all, last year, we scored some great children’s books as well as a DVD drive.

But I must admit that it cracks me up that as soon as Purim ends, people immediately start offering everything, up to – and, possibly, including - the kitchen sink.

I mean, I can understand the urge to ditch give away one’s leftover chametz. (“Slightly unappetizing, half-eaten package of stale cookies. FREE! First come, first serve.”)

But what causes the most compulsive of hoarders to jettison his or her innate pack-rat tendencies and develop a sudden need to declutter?

The answer, apparently, is that Pesach preparations are all about trading one’s garbage for someone else’s…


What interesting items are currently being offered on your local email lists?

HH 259

The latest Haveil Havalim is available here.

Special thanks to Phyllis for including my accents post.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Fiction Friday: Betsy-Tacy edition

There’s certainly no shortage of excellent children’s literature out there.

But IMNSHO, nothing’s better than the classic – and highly enjoyable - Betsy-Tacy series.

Actually, these books kind of run in our family. Not only were they my mother’s favorites when she was a girl, but all the Shiputzim daughters love them as well.

In fact, when ACSD (a certain Shiputzim daughter) was in elementary school and had to do a project about a children’s author, she naturally chose Maud Hart Lovelace, the author of the Betsy-Tacy series.

Part of the assignment was to write a biography. ACSD chose to do it in the form of an [imaginary] “interview” and graciously agreed to share a few excerpts*:

An “Interview” with Maud Hart Lovelace


ACSD: Hello. How are you?

Maud: Oh. I’m fine.

ACSD: May I please ask you a few questions about your life?

Maud: Yeah. Sure.

ACSD: When where you born?

Maud: I was born on April 25, 1892, in Mankato, Minnesota.

ACSD: How did you get the idea of writing the “Betsy-Tacy” books?

Maud: I would tell Merian [Ed. note – her daughter] bedtime stories about my childhood, and that gave me the idea to write the “Betsy-Tacy” books.

ACSD: That means that these books are based on your own life. Doesn’t it?

Maud: Well, yeah.

ACSD: What year did the first book come out?

Maud: The first book, Betsy-Tacy, came out in 1940.

ACSD: And the last one?

Maud: The last one, Betsy's Wedding, came out in 1955.

ACSD: I have one last question. I don’t want to be rude or anything, but when did you die?

Maud: Oh, it’s fine. I died on March 11, 1980.

ACSD: Thank you for agreeing to talk to me. I enjoyed hearing about your life.

Maud: You’re welcome. Goodbye.

ACSD: Goodbye!


Thanks, ACSD! Every time I read this interview*, it makes me smile!

!שבת שלום ומבורך


*Readers are invited to come to TRLEOOB (=the real life equivalent of our blog) to see the project – including the rest of the interview – in its entirety.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Accentuate the positive

According to a recent Arutz7 article:

“Researchers at Haifa University have discovered that non-native speakers of Hebrew understand the language best when it is spoken in their own accent.”

It’s good that the “researchers” have made this brilliant, ground-breaking “discovery”, because every oleh in the country has known about it for years…

For instance, we once had a certain technician here in TRLEOOB*, and as he worked, he had the radio on in the background.

The scene caught YZG’s attention, because the radio wasn’t turned to a music channel.

Instead, the man was listening to a shiur, and YZG immediately recognized the speaker – a noted rabbi and lecturer - by his distinctive Brooklyn-accented Hebrew.

“That’s Rav X, right?” YZG asked rhetorically. “I’ve heard him speak a couple of times. It’s very easy to understand him, no?”

The technician – a native Israeli of Yemenite extraction – shook his head and retorted with a good-natured smile, “Well, maybe for YOU, he’s easy to understand…”


Yet, although I concur with the Haifa University researchers’ basic premise, I must take issue with their conclusion:

“[M]any believe that those learning a language should be taught by a native speaker, in order to learn the correct accent. However, the scientists say, further research may prove that method to be less effective than the teaching of language by an instructor with an accent similar to that of his or her pupils.”

I disagree with this hypothesis, because I think that it’s very important to try and “learn the correct accent,” in the words of the article.

Obviously, those of us who made aliyah as adults will never really lose our American (or other foreign) accents. But one’s klitah (absorption into Israeli society) is likely to be that much smoother, if one doesn’t sound like one is straight off the boat the NBN flight.

Your thoughts?


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ode to leftovers

So, we’re basically going to be having leftovers all week, right?” a certain Shiputzim son asked rhetorically.

His resigned tone of voice suggested that this was far from an ideal state of affairs.

However as far as I’m concerned, leftovers are our friends.

You see, in a normal week, I reserve the right to serve Shabbat leftovers at least on Sunday and usually on Monday as well.

After all, I figure, as long as I’m cooking for Shabbat, I might as well get a few weekday suppers out of it for the same effort.

But by Tuesday, the mumblings and grumblings tend to swell into a dull roar, and so any remaining leftovers are used for supplementation purposes only.

But on a week like this one – when we not only had company for Shabbat lunch but also hosted a large Purim seudah here in TRLEOOB* – I hold that the sheer quantity of leftovers exempts me from any further cooking. (That is, until I need to start thinking about this coming Shabbat IY”H.)

And now excuse me while I go prepare to quell any potential rebellions on the part of the young natives…


What’s your family’s approach to leftovers?


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog