Monday, November 29, 2010

To go or not to go…

Having an Israeli teenager at home means dealing with the question of the trip to Poland (i.e. the Masa Polin, for the Hebraically-oriented among you).

Here in TRLEOOB*, it’s an issue which has come up before, but like other parenting questions, the answer may be different for different children.

And so, once again, YZG and I find ourselves discussing this topic. We’re not the only ones, of course, and I’ve even had the privilege of comparing notes with fellow bloggers Jameel and Baila.

<brief interjection> An added fringe benefit of blogging is that it enables one to become an obnoxious, shameless namedropper… :-) </interjection>

The arguments for and against the trip haven’t really changed since it first became an accepted rite of passage for Israeli teens some 15-20 years ago.


  • Strengthens the participants’ Jewish, religious, and Zionist identities.
  • Forges an experiential bond to our history and to the ancient and once-vibrant Jewish communities, Chassidic courts, shuls, and yeshivot which were destroyed by the Nazis and their willing accomplices.


  • Raises numerous halachic, philosophical and ideological questions about leaving Eretz Yisrael, supporting our enemies, and so on.
  • Cost. (At one school, the total price for this year’s weeklong trip is a whopping 6500-7000 NIS!)

Due to these concerns, many parents wonder why the schools – especially the national-religious ones – can’t figure out a way to accomplish these same goals here in Israel.

And in fact, many schools have now started to offer local alternatives to the trip.

For instance, one school recently announced that this year, for the first time, they’ll have a three-day seminar for the kids who aren’t going to Poland. (The price will be about 700-1000 NIS.)

Although the students are skeptical and have dismissed it as a mere “consolation prize,” the school insists that they’re making every effort to ensure that it’ll be a viable option.

Your thoughts on the subject?


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kaf Tet B’November

Several items of interest from around the J-Blogosphere:

1) Tomorrow is Kaf Tet B’November (literally, the 29th of November) – the anniversary of the day the UN voted in favor of the 1947 Partition Plan. Jameel shares a film about the historic vote.

2) Due to the ongoing drought, the Chief Rabbinate has called yet another fast day for tomorrow. In the meantime, those of us fortunate to be living in this incredibly beautiful yet autumn-challenged country can enjoy Leora’s stunning fall foliage shots.

3) The latest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Homeshuling for including my negotiation post.

שבוע טוב וגשום לכולם!

May we finally be privileged to enjoy a winter filled with rains of blessing!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A negotiated settlement

We’ve all been there.

Of course, by “we”, I mean “parents of Israeli kids”, and by “there”, I mean “the Call”.

The Call arrives, with alarming regularity, on every Erev Shabbat Irgun, but it also can – and often does – happen on random Fridays throughout the year.

Basically, it works like this:

Some twenty minutes before candle lighting, the phone rings.

You have a telephone!” one of your darling Heblish-speaking children inevitably yells across the house at his/her sibling.

It’s the madrich/ah, calling to say that they’re having a communal seudah shlishit in the snif (literally, chapter or branch – but also refers to the physical structure where the youth group meets) and that your child needs to bring [an obscure item, which you rarely buy anyway but certainly don’t have available this close to Shabbat].

Which is why I was pleasantly surprised when this past Erev Shabbat Irgun, the Call came at noon.

As the madrich pointed out, our local makolet (neighborhood grocery store) is still open at that time.

He mentioned this interesting fact, you see, because he had wanted ACSC (=a certain Shiputzim child) to bring chummus, but I had replied that we didn’t have any extra on hand.

Back when I was a brand new olah, I would’ve meekly accepted the harsh decree and headed off to the makolet at what is always the busiest and craziest time of the week.

Now, however, a dozen-plus years after our aliyah, I know that nothing is set in stone.

After all, this is the Middle East, where bargaining is a time-honored tradition.

And so, here’s how it went:

Me: {opens pantry and notices a few cans of pickles} Can we bring pickles instead?

ACSC: {dutifully relays the message}

Madrich: {hesitates} I think someone is bringing that already. {thinks for a minute} But we do still need pitot. Is that an option?

ACSC: {dutifully relays the message}

Me: {opens freezer and notices a large bag of pitot} Yes! How many do you want?

ACSC: {dutifully relays the message}

Madrich: Ten.

ACSC: {dutifully relays the message}

Me: No problem.

ACSC: {dutifully relays the message}


How do YOU handle “the Call”?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Reason #6987 for making aliyah

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


I was preparing cucumber salad on Friday and needed some lemon juice.

So YZG went outside, picked a couple of lemons from our tree, brought them inside, separated trumot u’ma’asrot, and squeezed the fruit.

I then used the freshly-picked, freshly-tithed, and freshly-squeezed juice for the salad which we enjoyed on Shabbat a few hours later.

Does it get any cooler than that?

“בנה ביתך כבתחילה, וכונן מקדשך על מכונו, והראנו בבנינו, ושמחנו בתיקונו, והשב כהנים לעבודתם ולויים לשירם ולזמרם, והשב ישראל לנויהם…”

“Rebuild Your House as at the start; and establish Your Mikdash on its readied site; and show us its rebuilding; and bring us joy with its renovation; and return the kohanim to their service and the leviim to their song and to their music; and return Yisrael to their dwellings…” (From Musaf for the Shalosh Regalim)


The latest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Susan for including my most recent Heblish post.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Factual Friday: Inaugural edition

The Our Shiputzim Information Department proudly presents:

18 random bits of completely useless trivia

(1) My free copy of Kosher by Design: Teens and 20-Somethings arrived on Wednesday.

(2) I won it over at G6’s blog. (Thanks, G6!)

(3) Nepotism played no part - although G6 and I are related.

(4) Well, sort of, anyway. “Distantly connected” is probably a more accurate description…

(5) Security considerations prevent me from revealing the precise nature of our relationship distant connection, but I can tell you that it involves at least two marriages and a number of second cousins. (Maybe I should change that to “very distantly connected”…)


(6) I have more Facebook friends than YZG does.

(7) I’m just saying…

(8) If this sounds familiar, it’s because way back when, I used to have more Facebook friends than YZG.

(9) But then he managed to accumulate about 30-40 more friends than me.

(10) Not that I cared, because it certainly wasn’t a competition.

(11) But for the record, he cheated.

(12) Because, seriously? Having three FB friends in common and being told by Facebook that you “may” know someone? That doesn’t mean that you actually do…

(13) But again, let me stress that I didn’t care, because it wasn’t a competition.

(14) YZG’s elementary and high school classes were apparently composed entirely of kids who grew up to become people who have nothing better to do with their time than search for former acquaintances whom they haven’t seen in over three decades.

(15) Yet, nevertheless, I was able to pull ahead of him again*.

(16) You see, I have a secret weapon.

(17) Two words: blogging friends. (Thanks, everybody!)

(18) Oh, and by the way, now that I’m ahead, it very much is a competition…


!שבת שלום ומבורך


*Actually, I’m only ahead by one. And since this is obviously too close for comfort, I turn to you, dear readers. If you haven’t yet done so, please do your part for humanity the J-Blogosphere by befriending me… :-)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Heblish: Support group edition

{cue: TV announcer voice}

Are you feeling down?

Does it bother you that your Israeli kids don’t speak proper English?

Are you wondering where all that money you spent on their Dovrei Anglit (lit. “English speakers”) classes went?

Well, there IS a solution!

You can register TODAY for the popular “Parents of Heblish-Speakers Support Group”!

That’s right!

For an unbelievably low monthly membership fee, you’ll get to meet thousands of Anglo parents – just. like. you.

Their heartwarming stories will, uh, warm your heart, and if you act now, we’ll throw in a copy of the critically-acclaimed Official Our Shiputzim Heblish-English Dictionary - AT NO EXTRA CHARGE!

This handy reference work includes a significant number of reader submissions, including:

{cue: music, as the dictionary entries roll down the screen}

From Mother in Israel:

  • Not something: Hebrew source לא משהו. English definition – Not great; nothing special. Sample usage – “It smells not something.”
  • To have a telephone: Hebrew source טלפון X-יש ל. English definition – To have a phone call. Sample usage – “Please tell her to pick up. She has a telephone.”

From Malke:

  • Reach to: Hebrew source – …להגיע ל. English definition – Reach. Sample usage – “You have reached to Itzik’s phone. Please leave a message after the beep.”
  • Invite: Hebrew source להזמין. English definition – Order; reserve. Sample usage – “Last week, we invited a pizza for supper.”

From Sarah:

  • To [action]? Hebrew source ?[ל[עשות משהו. English definition – Should/could/shall I [do something]? Sample usage – “Do you want to write that down? To give you a pencil?

From Miriyummy:

  • Fell [objective pronoun]: Hebrew source נפל לו. English definition – Dropped. Sample usage – “I tripped, and the box I was carrying fell me.”

{cue: TV announcer voice}

So what are you waiting for?

Call now. Our operators are standing by. This incredible offer* ends soon…

* Void where prohibited. Employees, relatives and readers of Our Shiputzim and its affiliates, subsidiaries, and blogroll links are not eligible.


Thanks, everybody, and please keep those Heblishisms coming (in the comment section or by email to OurShiputzim at gmail dot com)!


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

Monday, November 15, 2010

Parshat Vayeitzei

Yes, I do realize that this week’s parsha is Parshat Vayishlach.

But TSG asked me to post the beautiful dvar Torah she prepared for her class this past Friday.

(An English translation is available upon request.)

Take it away, TSG!


Parshat Vayeitzei

by TSG

"וַתֹּאמֶר לָהּ, הַמְעַט קַחְתֵּךְ אֶת-אִישִׁי, וְלָקַחַת, גַּם אֶת-דּוּדָאֵי בְּנִי..." (בראשית ל:ט"ו)

נשאלת השאלה:

איך לאה יכלה לדבר כך לרחל? הרי, רחל עזרה לה ועשתה בשבילה חסד במסירות נפש רבה! היינו מצפים שלאה תכיר טובה לרחל על כל מה שהיא עשתה בשבילה. אבל במקום להודות לרחל, לאה כנראה כועסת עליה ומדברת איתה בצורה לא נעימה!


החסד שרחל עשתה היה ברמה גבוהה מאוד. רחל עשתה את זה בעדינות רבה ובצורה שלאה לא תרגיש. ולכן, לאה בכלל לא ידעה שרחל עשתה חסד בשבילה.

המדרש מספר שכשיצאו בני ישראל לגלות, כל האבות ביקשו רחמים מה' ולא נענו. אבל תפילותיה של רחל התקבלו מיד:

באותה שעה קפצה רחל לפני הקב"ה ואמרה: ריבונו של עולם, גלוי וידוע לפניך שיעקב עבדך אהבני אהבה יתרה, ועבד בשבילי לאבא שבע שנים, ושהשלימו אותן שבע שנים והגיע זמן נשואי לבעלי, יעץ אבי להחליפני לבעלי בשביל אחותי, והוקשה עלי הדבר עד מאד כי נודעה לי העצה. והודעתי לבעלי ומסרתי לו סימן שיכיר ביני ובין אחותי, כדי שלא יוכל להחליפני, ולאחר מכן נחמתי בעצמי וסבלתי את תאוותי, ורחמתי על אחותי שלא תצא לחרפה... מיד נתגללו רחמיו של הקב"ה ואמר: בשבילך רחל אני מחזיר את ישראל למקומן.”(מדרש איכה רבא)

חסדה של רחל היה במדרגה כה גבוהה, ולכן רק בקשתה נענתה.

יהי רצון שנזכה להמשיך ללכת בדרכה של רחל אמנו ולעשות חסדים בצורה הטובה ביותר.



TSG, may you and your siblings indeed continue to emulate Rachel Imeinu, and may you continue to be such a wonderful source of joy and nachat for us!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

J-Blogosphere Notes

Several items of interest:

1) Three recent posts which made me laugh:

2) The latest JPIX is available here. Special thanks to Robin for including my Apollonia post.

3) The newest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to the Rebbetzin's Husband for including Malke’s protektzia guest post.

!שבוע טוב וגשום

May we finally experience winter, and may the coming weeks and months be filled with rains of blessing*.


*Our community’s Rav has recommended that one now add “Shma Koleinu” – the prayer recited during a drought – even during Chazarat HaSha”tz.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Freshly Baked Goods Friday: Nameless edition

What do you do when you’ve changed a recipe so much that the original name no longer makes sense?

Well, naturally, if you’re the Shiputzim family, you hold a contest to come up with an appropriate alternate appellation. (Try saying that five times fast…)

For instance, when I took the almonds out of a recipe called Almond Chocolate Cookie Bars and replaced them with colored sprinkles, we all submitted our favorite suggestions and then took a vote.

The winner?

No-Name Bars.

Generic yet to the point, the name tends to elicit a few raised eyebrows from our guests, but, hey, it works for us…smile_teeth

IMG_2085 IMG_2084No-Name Bars

Loosely adapted from the “Hershey’s Homemade” (1991) cookbook


  • 2/3 cup oil (i.e. 200 grams margarine במקור)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 package chocolate chips
  • Colored sprinkles (or very coarsely chopped nuts)


Beat oil and sugars. Add egg and vanilla. Mix in flour. Press batter into greased or baking-paper-lined 9x13 pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool for five minutes.

Pour chocolate chips over crust. As the chocolate melts, use a spatula to spread over the entire crust. Decorate with sprinkles. Cut into bars while still warm, and then leave them to cool (and the chocolate to harden) in the pan.

!שבת שלום ומבורך

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Protektzia at its very best

The following guest post needs no introduction:

Vitamin P

A Guest Post by Malke

As so many people in Israel know, many things here run according to the rules of protektzia.

Like so many other concepts, it has no literal translation but can best be explained by, “it’s not what you know; it’s who you know.”

This is usually to the disadvantage of olim, who tend not to have many connections here and often find the whole concept somewhat distasteful.

However, to Israelis, it’s apparently so ingrained that they barely take notice anymore.

Proof of this can be found in a recent Galei Tzahal (Israel’s army radio station) program, which included an interview with a top ranking army official.

Towards the end, they took questions and comments from the audience.  At which point, some woman gets on the phone and starts complaining that everything in the army is protektzia and that her son - and others like him, who don’t know anyone - get the short shrift.

So what does the officer say?

Send me his details, and I’ll take care of things.

The funniest part is that the interviewer’s response was, “oh, great,” and the mother’s response was, “oh, thank you, I'll do that.

No one saw any irony here…



Thanks, Malke, and also mazal tov on your children’s beautiful wedding! May the young couple be privileged to build a bayit ne’eman b’Yisrael!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Around the J-Blogosphere

Several items of note from around the J-Blogosphere:

1) שועלים הלכו בו. (“Shu’alim hilchu vo.” - “Foxes prowl over it.” – Eichah 5:18)

Har HaBayit after the Churban? Well, yeah, but also, Capitol Hill last Friday.

What’s the deeper significance of this modern twist on an ancient vision? I have no idea, but please leave your best creative suggestions (profound and/or humorous) in the comment section…

2) The latest Kosher Cooking Carnival is available here. Special thanks to Risa for including my cinnamon marble cake post.

3) Clearly, someone on Bnei Akiva’s executive board is an avid Our Shiputzim fan.

I mean, wouldn’t you agree that their choice of Na’aleh (literally, “we shall go up”) as the new shevet’s name is a clear indication that they read my Rosh Hashanah post, which declared that תשע”א (the Jewish year 5771) stands for תהא שנת עליה ארצה (Tehei Shnat Aliyah Artzah” - “May this be a year of aliyah to Eretz Yisrael)?


!שבוע טוב וחודש טוב

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Chodesh Irgun 5771

I know what you’re thinking.

Why haven’t there been any Chodesh Irgun posts on the Our Shiputzim blog this year?” you’re no doubt wondering.

And you do have a point.

However, I figured that I more or less exhausted the topic last year.

And besides, it’s been the usual toxic mix of late nights, neglected schoolwork, paint-spattered clothing, and arguments civilized discussions concerning any and all of the above.

Nevertheless, in the interest of good blogging, here are two Chodesh Irgun-related blogbits:

1) Note: The following scenario is based on recent events a work of complete fiction. Any resemblance to reality is purely intentional coincidental:

Mother: No, you can’t go paint the snif in those clothes. You know that they’ll get ruined. Why don’t you wear that old jean skirt that’s hanging in your closet?

Daughter: {horrified} No WAY am I walking around in that skirt!! Someone will SEE me!

Mother: {mistakenly believing that reason and logic can play a part in this exchange} First of all, no one will see you, because it’s dark outside. And anyway, what does it matter if they see you? Everyone knows that it’s Chodesh Irgun, and they’ll realize that you’re obviously on your way to paint the snif…

Daughter: {rolls eyes}

Does this sound familiar?


2) The new shevet's name – Na’aleh (literally, “we shall go up”) – has been announced.

In an effort to gauge popular sentiment in advance of their next release, the developers of the ever-popular Generation Gap program immediately took to the streets and recorded the following initial reactions:

“Well, it’s kind of strange to have a verb as a name, but it’s still pretty good.”

“It’s okay, I guess.”

“At least it’s not HaGevurah


בהצלחה לכל החניכים והמדריכים

!ושבת שלום ומבורך


Monday, November 1, 2010

It was, like, a linguistic epiphany

As you will recall, I was officially certified as the world's foremost expert on Israeli teenagers’ slang. (Don’t believe me? Check out the original post and see for yourself.)

Thus, I naturally enjoyed this JPost column, which correctly observes that Israeli teenage boys limit their conversations to:

“Five words, and one tiny expression.”


“Walla (hey), achi (bro), achla (cool), sababa (another word for cool), tov (good) and ma koreh (what’s happening).”

But, IMHO, it’s what happened after I finished reading that was even more noteworthy. Indeed, it could only be described as a eureka moment.

Picture this:

Me: {reads interesting newspaper column}

Me: {ponders a related unsolved mystery}

{a light bulb comes on overhead, and an assimon drops}

Me: Aha! I think I’ve got it! Can it work? {does some quick calculations; carries the two; subtracts the nine; and takes the square root of 22,201} Yes! It all makes perfect sense!

That’s right, my friends.

Call me a modern day Archimedes, if you will.

After all, I’ve figured out the solution to one of the modern world’s most perplexing conundrums – namely, how do teenagers handle information which simply can’t be relayed using just walla, achi, achla, sababa, tov, or ma koreh?

And the answer is: They rely on k’ilu (like).

Let me explain. (No there is too much. Let me sum up…)

You see, every so often, teenagers discover that they have no choice but to use a non-canonical word.

Under normal circumstances, this would be a major taboo or even a huge fadichah.

But with the magical powers of k’ilu, any potential awkwardness or embarrassment is avoided.

For instance, say you’re a teenager, and you can’t make it to a certain gathering of your friends.

What do you do?

You tell them, “Ani, k’ilu, lo magia.” (“I’m, like, not coming.”)

Didn’t do your homework?

K’ilu, shachachti.” (“I, like, forgot.”)

Note how k’ilu automatically transforms any term which doesn’t appear in the official teenage lexicon into a perfectly acceptable word.

It’s, k’ilu, truly sababa, no?