Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Member of the tribe

{Cue: TV announcer voice}

I’m standing here with Mrs. S., author of the, uh-- {checks notes} Ah, yes, the “Our Shiputzim blog.”

Unfortunately, due to her semi-anonymous status, we’re unable to point our cameras directly at her. In fact, I can’t even tell you her real name.

But I can tell you that I’ll be providing a live, play-by-play description as she attempts to perform what can only be described as a truly HISTORICAL feat.

You see, as I stand here and watch, Mrs. S. hopes to become one of the only bloggers in the WORLD to discuss Chodesh Irgun* for the fourth year IN. A. ROW!

[Ed. note – See the bottom of this post for a brief explanation of Chodesh Irgun.]

Can she do it? After all, not only has she already written about the ooltra, the sleepless nights, the paint-splattered clothing, and the generation gap, she’s even shared many of Chodesh Irgun’s secret underpinnings. (See here, here, and here for details.) Is there really anything left to talk about?

Let’s watch closely and find out:

Five words: Standing according to the shvatim.

Maybe this only happens in our community, but more often than not, during Chodesh Irgun’s dramatic climax – i.e. the big ceremony where the new shevet receives its name* - the parents are asked to arrange themselves according to their own shvatim (age groups).

After the requisite joking (“I’m don’t belong here with the middle aged people. I belong over there with the twenty-somethings!” :-)), the Israeli parents good-naturedly line up behind the appropriate sign with their shevet’s name on it. 

Which, naturally, means that the oleh parents – especially those, like YZG and me, who didn’t grow up in Bnei Akiva – are at a complete loss and end up awkwardly on the side, feeling foolish.

And, for the record, looking the names up on the Internet in advance doesn’t help.

Because inevitably, as the hapless Anglo parent tries to nonchalantly head on over to what Google insisted was the correct shevet, the following exchange ensues:

Well-meaning Israeli: {kindly} “Are you sure you’re in Shevet X?”

Hapless Anglo: {hesitantly} “I think so…”

Well-meaning Israeli: {taking charge} “How old are you?”

Hapless Anglo: {actually answers question, much to his/her own surprise}

Well-meaning Israeli:Well, then, you should be in Shevet Y, over THERE.” {points}

Second well-meaning Israeli: {overhearing the conversation} “Shevet Y?! Mah pitom! S/he is in Shevet Z!”

Third well-meaning Israeli: {joining the fray} “Nonsense! S/he’s right. S/he’s in Shevet X!”

Hapless Anglo: {thinks to self} “Hmm. This will make an excellent blog post…”


{breathlessly} And there you have it, folks! Four consecutive years’ worth of blog posts about Chodesh Irgun! Is that amazing or what?! History in the making!! {surreptitiously wipes away a tear}

I now return you back to the main studio…


!בהצלחה לכל החניכים והמדריכים


*Chodesh Irgun in a nutshell: Chodesh means "month”, and irgun literally means "organization". But in this case, irgun refers to a youth movement. Most youth movements (or at least the religious-Zionist ones) dedicate one month a year - usually around MarCheshvan - to what is essentially a month-long color war or competition between the different shvatim (age groups). Chodesh Irgun culminates with Shabbat Irgun, and on Motzai Shabbat Irgun, the oldest shevet (i.e. the ninth graders) receives a permanent name.


  1. You are my blogging hero. I went to a BA camp and I still can never remember what shevet I'm in.

  2. Happy Chodesh Irgun.

    I have vague childhood memories of big flames of letters and an announcement of a shevet (Amichai was mine).

    Was talking with a friend about how his sister (who has lived in Jerusalem for many years) spends a lot of energy and invites many guests for Thanksgiving. I guess that happens only in certain Anglo crowds...

  3. My kids suffered/enjoyed it in pre-blog history. It's costing me money, since my private student keeps cancelling lessons.

  4. Wow, what a crazy minhag! They don't have that one over here... and I'm not about to suggest it, either :)

    I'm in the worst possible shevet for an olah - Dror!!

  5. IST just dug up some old clothes that were acceptable surprisingly to all to go paint/get paint all over......


  6. MiI - Aw, gee, shucks... :-)

    Leora - Ah, yes, the ktovet aish. It just wouldn't be Chodesh Irgun without it... :-)

    Batya - It never ceases to amaze me how much time is wasted on Chodesh Irgun!

    Toby - They don't have that one over here.
    Be thankful, be VERY thankful... :-)

    RCT - I'm impressed! Is IST in the daglanut this year?

  7. In this week's Olam Katan sedrah sheet, they told you about a smart phone application which you can use to calculate which shevet you are in.

    (Made for use for Americans)

  8. Keren - That's really funny! I'll have to ask the kids if they saw it.


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