Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fauna Friday: Gecko edition

Another lizard post?! Seriously?? Are you trying to drive away all your readers??” you’re probably thinking.

And even if you aren’t, I certainly am.

Because between the chameleon, the agama, and especially the skink (YZG’s literary masterpiece, notwithstanding), I’m pretty sure that I’ve more than exceeded my allotment of lizard posts.

Yet, nevertheless, in the interest of good blogging, I feel that I have no choice but to share a picture* of a gecko (i.e. a sh’mamit - שממית - for the Hebraically-oriented among you).

IMG_2635As always, click on the picture* for a closer view.

Why a gecko, you ask?

Well, admittedly, geckos aren’t cute (in a reptilian sort of way) and don’t live in national parks and aren’t even compellingly creepy.

But if you happen to be visiting TRLEOOB** and you hear a Shiputzim daughter screech hysterically, “Abba! There’s a lizard in the playroom!” – chances are, the lizard in question will turn out to be a gecko…


!שבת שלום ומבורך


*I apologize for the grainy shot, but that’s what comes from having a blog with an AWOL Chief of Photography… ;-)

**TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Kol oto halaylah

Are you aware that Israel spans two time zones?

{ignores the quizzical looks}

Probably not, but don’t beat yourself up over it.

{smiles condescendingly}

After all, most people aren’t.

Nevertheless, it’s quite true.

{nods earnestly in a hopeless attempt to make the following barefaced lie creative interpretation of the facts slightly more credible}

You see, there’s Israel Standard Time, which covers most of the country, and then there’s Bnei Brak Standard Time, which includes, well, Bnei Brak…

However, since I sense that you’re still somewhat skeptical, the Our Shiputzim Editorial Board sent its roving reporter out to R’ Akiva’s old stomping grounds on two separate occasions to document Bnei Brak’s unique approach to the fourth dimension:

1. Morning: On a burning hot summer day [note to self: from now on, schedule all back-to-school shopping expeditions for January], our reporter noted that as of 10 AM, many of Bnei Brak’s numerous shops (especially the sefarim stores) hadn’t yet opened for business.

2. Night: After leaving a Bnei Brak wedding hall at about 11:30 PM, our reporter observed crowded streets and entire families – including young children – going out for what would elsewhere be referred to as leisurely midnight strolls.

How can we explain these glaring discrepancies between the clocks in Bnei Brak and the clocks in the rest of Israel?

That’s easy.

Obviously, it dates back to R’ Elazar et al, who – as the Haggadah famously teaches – were sitting  in Bnei Brak and stayed awake talking all night.


I don’t think so…


Monday, December 27, 2010

Baruch Dayan Emet

The Shiputzim family extends our heartfelt condolences to guest blogger Malke and her family on the tragic loss of her beloved mother z”l.


המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים

ולא תוסיפו לדאבה עוד.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Euphonic Friday: Moshe, Moshe Edition

Erev Shabbat Parshat Shmot is the perfect time to post an old family favorite: Shimi Tavori’s classic song Moshe -winner of the 1979 Mizrachi Song Festival.

Tzni’ut alert: The following video includes three backup dancers. (Actually, by today’s standards, they’re relatively modestly dressed...)


Hat tip: Once (and hopefully future) blogger Einshem

In any event, I have to admit that this video cracks me up.

After all, the sight of girls shimmying incongruously to a song about the Burning Bush, Matan Torah, and other highlights of Moshe Rabbeinus life is very, very funny…


!שבת שלום ומבורך

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The moment of truth

Warning: The following post does not meet international food snob standards. Proceed at your own risk.

Does this sound familiar?

You’re hosting a dinner for about 50 people, and although you cooked everything else on your elegant menu by yourself, you buy some packaged schnitzel for the kids.

After all, you tell yourself, they’ll never notice the difference.

But then, as you’re mingling graciously among your guests, one of the adults says to you, “What’s your secret?! The schnitzel is absolutely delicious! You MUST tell me how you made it…”

Or how about this?

You spend hours icing and decorating a cake, and the result is spectacular. Everyone is suitably impressed, and you’re showered with well-deserved accolades.

Admittedly, you still feel kind of guilty about using a cake mix, but you remind yourself that no one cares what the cake tastes like underneath all those expertly-piped ribbons and those exquisite fondant flowers.

But, sure enough, the very next day, you get a phone call, asking for “your [sic] yummy chocolate cake recipe”…


A similar thing happened to me at a sheva brachot we made together with some friends about a year ago.

I had prepared rice with mushrooms, and to my surprise, no less than six – count 'em! six! – people subsequently asked me for the recipe.

Which meant that six – count ‘em! six! – times, I had to confess that the recipe calls for (horrors!) onion soup mix and (gasp!) canned mushrooms…


Of course, I could’ve – and, in retrospect, probably should’ve - used “real” ingredients instead.

However, the beauty of this recipe is that not only is it a surefire crowd pleaser, but it’s incredibly fast and easy to make as well.

Easy Mushroom Rice

Note: Since the mushrooms are lighter than the rice, they float to the top in the oven.


  • 2 cups uncooked rice (white or brown)
  • 1 can mushrooms
  • 5 cups water
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 2 tablespoons onion soup mix
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce


Drain the mushrooms, and use the liquid towards the five cups of water. Place all the ingredients in a baking pan and mix. Bake covered at 350 degrees for about an hour (or longer, for brown rice).


Please share your own experiences in the comment section.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Around the J-Blogosphere

Several items of interest:

1) In case you’re not yet fully convinced that translation software isn’t - how shall I put this politely? – as, um, effective as it could be:


2) Although our Rav instructed our community to recite the thanksgiving brachah last week, he nevertheless ruled – based, in part, on the Gemara (BT Taanit 18b) – that one should continue to daven for rain.

3) The latest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Mottel for including my unintended consequences post.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fashion Friday: Unintended consequences edition

Greek soldier: {reading from a scroll} His Royal Highness King Antiochus has decreed that you may not observe Shabbat; you must wear ugly shirts emblazoned with a logo; and you may not perform a brit milah.

Assembled people: {shocked} What do you mean we have to wear ugly shirts with logos?!

(From a comedic scene used to great effect by many Israeli kids in their recent Chanukah plays)

Ask any teacher or principal across the country about the newly-mandated school uniform shirts, and they’ll inevitably start gushing about what a wonderful development it is.

You’ll no doubt hear how the shirts engender school spirit and how the staff spends less time dealing with inappropriately and/or immodestly dressed students.

And in spite of the requisite grumbling (see: the aforementioned skit), most students don’t really seem to mind the uniforms that much either.

After all, the shirts generally come in a wide range of colors – giving the students some room to express their individuality.

Yet, nevertheless, school uniforms aren’t immune from the Law of Unintended Consequences.

You see, no one could’ve predicted that the modern version of uniforms waste precious time every morning.

Here’s why: (Note that these issues mainly apply to girls’ schools.)

  • 1) Sartorial considerations: Since the skirts and shirts weren’t purchased together (because the uniforms don’t include skirts), the shirts don’t necessarily match every skirt in a girl’s closet. Which frequently translates into a last-minute frantic scramble to find the single skirt which matches that oddly-hued light green top…
  • 2) Political and social considerations: If you’re an elementary school girl, choosing which colored shirt to wear on a given day involves numerous factors. For instance, do you want to wear the same color as your older sister? Yes? But is she willing to match you? And what about your BFF? You arranged with her that you’re both going to wear your beloved pink shirts tomorrow, but – horrors! - it turns out that your pink shirt is still in the laundry. And so on…

In other words, as the Hebraically-oriented among you would say, “zeh loh pashut…” (Literally, it’s not simple – i.e. it’s a real problem…)

Not too long ago, a mother of a teen told me that she wishes her daughter’s ulpanah had a uniform.

It would save her so much time in the morning,” the mother said wistfully.

I had to laugh…smile_teeth

!צום קל ומועיל ושבת שלום ומבורך

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Giving thanks

B”H, winter finally arrived this week, and although the recent precipitation was – both figuratively and relatively speaking – a mere drop in the bucket, our Rav has instructed that one recite the thanksgiving blessing for rain.

Here is the Hebrew text followed by an English translation*:

ברכת הודאה על הגשמים

מוֹדִים אֲנַחְנוּ לָךְ ה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ עַל כּל טִפָּה וטִפָּה שֶׁהוֹרַדְתָּ לָּנוּ.

ואִלּוּ פִינוּ מָלֵא שִׁירָה כַּיָּם, וּלְשׁוֹנֵנוּ רִנָּה כַּהֲמוֹן גַּלָּיו, ושִׂפְתוֹתֵינוּ שֶׁבַח כּמֶרְחֲבֵי רָקִיעַ, ועֵינֵינוּ מאִירוֹת כַּשֶּׁמֶשׁ וכַיָּרֵחַ, ויָדֵינוּ פרוּשׂוֹת כּנִשְׁרֵי שָׁמָיִם, ורַגְלֵינוּ קַלּוֹת כָּאַיָּלוֹת, אֵין אֲנַחְנוּ מַסְפִּיקִים להוֹדוֹת לךָ, ה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, וּלְבָרֵךְ אֶת שִׁמְךָ עַל אַחַת מֵאֶלֶף אַלְפֵי אֲלָפִים, ורֹב רִבֵּי רבָבוֹת פּעָמִים הַטּוֹבוֹת, נִסִּים ונִפְלָאוֹת שֶׁעָשִׂיתָ עִמָּנוּ ועִם אֲבוֹתֵינוּ.

מִלּפָנִים מִמִּצְרַיִם גּאַלְתָּנוּ ה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ, מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים פּדִיתָנוּ. בּרָעָב זַנְתָּנוּ וּבְשָׂבָע כִּלְכַּלְתָּנוּ. מֵחֶרֶב הִצַּלְתָּנוּ, מִדֶּבֶר מִלַּטְתָּנוּ, וּמֵחְלָיִם רָעִים ורַבִּים דִּלִּיתָנוּ.

עַד הֵנָּה עֲזָרוּנוּ רַחֲמֶיךָ ולֹא עֲזָבוּנוּ חֲסָדֶיךָ.

עַל כֵּן אֵבָרִים שֶׁפִּלַּגְתָּ בָּנוּ, ורוּחַ וּנְשָׁמָה שֶׁנָּפַחְתָּ בּאַפֵּנוּ, ולָשׁוֹן אֲשֶׁר שַׂמְתָּ בּפִינוּ, הֵן הֵם יוֹדוּ וִיבָרְכוּ וִישַׁבּחוּ וִיפָאֲרוּ אֶת שִׁמְךָ מַלְכֵּנוּ תָּמִיד. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֵל רֹב הַהוֹדָאוֹת.

The Thanksgiving Blessing for Rain

We gives thanks to You, Hashem, our God and the God of our fathers, for each and every drop which You sent down for us.

And were our mouths as full of song as the sea, and our tongues as full of joy as the multitude of its waves, and our lips as full of praise as the expanse of the heavens, and our eyes as radiant as the sun and the moon, and our arms as outspread as the eagles of the sky, and our legs as swift as hinds, we still could not thank You enough, Hashem, our God and the God of our fathers, or bless Your Name for even one of the thousands of thousands and the myriads of myriad favors, miracles, and wonders which You performed for us and for our fathers.

From Egypt, You redeemed us, Hashem, our God; from the house of slaves, You liberated us. In famine, You nourished us, and in plenty, You sustained us. From the sword, You saved us; from the plague, You rescued us; and from malignant and numerous diseases, You spared us.

Until this point, Your mercies have helped us, and Your kindnesses have not forsaken us.

Therefore, the organs which You fixed in us, and the spirit and the soul which You blew into our nostrils, and the tongue which You placed in our mouth – they will thank and bless and praise and exalt Your Name, our King, forever. Blessed are You, Hashem, God of bountiful thanksgivings.


* The Hebrew-to-English translator who translated the blessing  (as well as the famous IDF chaplain’s letter and the Har HaZeitim post) has asked me to announce that she’s available for translation work. For more information, please contact me at OurShiputzim at gmail dot com, and I’ll gladly forward all serious inquiries to her.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Familiar catchphrases

Top 10 Things Overheard In TRLEOOB*

10. “Homework doesn’t get done by staring into space.”

9.What’s the kesher?

8. “Chairs are for sitting on.”

7. “Is it my turn on the computer yet?”

6. “What’s for supper?”

5. “Come here. Don’t yell across the house.”

4. “I can’t fall asleep.”

3. “And this time, don’t forget to wash your neck…”

2. “This is not a restaurant.”

1. “Are you going to put that on the blog?”


What are your family’s favorite catchphrases?


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Blowin’ in the wind

…And thus, Chanukah 5771 comes to an end.

Strangely enough, we didn’t have a chance to visit a single national park during the festival.

But if you’re thinking that this means that you get a reprieve and that I won’t be boring you to tears with our vacation pictures, think again.

Because during our recent trip up North, Be-All-You-Can-Be graciously took time out from his arduous duties as Our Shiputzim’s official military advisor and led us off the beaten track – I mean that literally; a rugged army jeep would’ve been more in order :-) -  to see the wind turbines in the Golan.

So, not only do I have pictures of our trip to show you… (As always, click on the photos for a closer view.)

IMG_2952 IMG_2966 IMG_2980 IMG_2958

…But I have a couple of videos too!

According to Be-All-You-Can-Be, the stationary turbine in the second video isn’t broken. Rather, the turbines are programmed to stop turning once they’re all powered up.

Thank you, Be-All-You-Can-Be, for the fascinating tour and for sharing some of your incredible knowledge with us!

!שבת שלום ומבורך


P.S. Jennifer in MamaLand kindly included my Poland trip post in the latest Jewish Homeschooling Blog Carnival. Be sure to check it out!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A very chocolaty Chanukah

As parents of hyped-up kids around the world will agree, oil isn’t the only ingredient many Chanukah treats have in common.

In fact, between the sufganiyot, the chocolate coins, the Chanukah cookies, and who knows what else, the festival tends to be almost as sugar-laden as Purim.

Which means that there’s no better time to visit a chocolate factory than on Chanukah.

And, so, during our recent trip to Katzrinthe scenic town known as the “capital of the Golan Heights” -  we headed over to the boutique chocolate factory in Kibbutz Ein Zivan.

Visitors get to watch the chocolatiers at work, taste some of the handmade confections, and even try their own hands at chocolate-making.

Here are some of the chocolate sculptures on display:

IMG_2883 Chocolate houses

IMG_2928 Chocolate vase with flowers

IMG_2929 Chocolate web and spiders

IMG_2931 Chocolate snowman and igloo

IMG_293724 different flavors of pralines. Added bonus: random capital letters scattered throughout the sign. (Click on the picture for a closer view.)

Finally, if all this talk about chocolate has made you hungry, check out the newest Kosher Cooking Carnival here. Special thanks to Miriyummy for including my No-Name Bars.

חנוכה שמח וחודש טוב!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Shamash

In what has become something of a tradition, we spent Shabbat Chanukah up North.

Details to follow, but in the meantime, TSG asked me to post the Dvar Torah she delivered so beautifully on Friday night.

(As always, an English translation is available upon request.)

Take it away, TSG!


The Shamash

by TSG

דבר התורה הזה מוקדש לעילוי נשמת הרב יהושע פסח בן הרב חיים יעקב אברהם ז“ל.

מצד אחד, הַשַּמָּש הוא הנר הכי גדול, הכי בולט והכי חשוב. כמו כן, הוא ממונה על ההדלקה, ולכן ניתן לראות אותו בתור "מנהיג" הנרות.

אבל מצד שני, לַשַּמָּש אין משמעות בלי הנרות האחרים. הרי, הנרות "הרגילים" הם המצווה, וכפי שאנו שרים בזמן ההדלקה:

"אין לנו רשות להשתמש בהם, אלא לראותם בלבד..."

כידוע, תפקיד הַשַּמָּש הוא לאפשר לנו להתקרב לנרות חנוכה בלי להשתמש באורם. ולכן, הַשַּמָּש בא בעצם לשַמֵש – כלומר, לשרת את הנרות האחרים.

הרב ליאור אנגלמן מסביר שהַשַּמָּש מלמד אותנו על התכונות הנדרשות ממנהיג יהודי. הנהגה יהודית אמיתית פירושה - שירות.

הגמרא (מסכת הוריות דף י') מספרת שרבן גמליאל רצה למנות שני תלמידי חכמים לתפקיד מסוים, אבל מפני שהם היו מאוד ענווים, הם סירבו. אבל רבן גמליאל השיב להם:

"כמדומין אתם ששררה אני נותן לכם? עבדות אני נותן לכם!"

אנו רואים את אותו העיקרון עם יוסף. בהתחלה, הוא חולם שכל האלומות וגם השמש, הירח והכוכבים משתחווים לו. אולם, הבעיה היא שהנהגה כזאת רק מעוררת שנאה. כמו שכתוב:

"וַיֹּאמְרוּ לוֹ אֶחָיו הֲמָלֹךְ תִּמְלֹךְ עָלֵינוּ אִם-מָשׁוֹל תִּמְשֹׁל בָּנוּ וַיּוֹסִפוּ עוֹד שְׂנֹא אֹתוֹ עַל-חֲלֹמֹתָיו וְעַל-דְּבָרָיו." (בראשית ל"ז:ח)

אבל כשיוסף מתבגר, הוא לומד מהי הנהגה אמיתית, ולכן, כשיוסף מתגלה לאחיו, הוא אומר להם:

"כִּי לְמִחְיָה שְׁלָחַנִי אֱלֹקים לִפְנֵיכֶם... וַיִּשְׁלָחֵנִי אֱלֹקים לִפְנֵיכֶם לָשׂוּם לָכֶם שְׁאֵרִית בָּאָרֶץ וּלְהַחֲיוֹת לָכֶם לִפְלֵיטָה גְּדֹלָה." (בראשית מ"ה:ה- ז)

עכשיו יוסף מבין שמנהיג יהודי דומה לשַמָּש – שתפקידו לשרת ולשַמֵש את הכלל.


Thank you, TSG, and very well done!


P.S. The latest Havel Havalim is available here. Special thanks to West Bank Mama for including my Poland trip post.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Happy Chanukah!

Our rabbis taught*: The mitzvah of Chanukah is [a posting of] “Candlelight” [for] a blogger and his blog.

And the mehadrin is [a posting of] “Candlelight” for each and every [social media site].

And the mehadrin min hamehadrin

Beit Shamai says: The first day, he posts [on] eight [social media sites]. From here on, he decreases as he goes.

And Beit Hillel says: The first day, he posts [on] one [social media site]. From here on, he increases as he goes…

And so, on the off-chance that there’s still someone out there who hasn’t seen this video yet, here it is:

And now you, too, won’t be able to get this song out of your head…



!חג אורים שמח

May you have a very happy Chanukah!


*See BT Shabbat 21b.