Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Around the J-Blogosphere

Several items of interest:

1. Rafi G. has a sweet cellphone commercial.

2. Miriyummy shares some lovely memories of her summers in the Catskills.

3. A fellow mother of Israeli teens, Baila writes about summer vacation.

4. In honor of Parshat Korach, Laura prepares an edible model of Aharon’s mateh.

5. What would you do? Hannah discusses chicken which was left out overnight.

6. And finally, are you looking for that special entree to, um, tempt your guests’ appetites? Toby has the answer… Not!


Friday, June 24, 2011

Ironing out our differences

Please send me your ironing. I’m on vacation and have lots of experience. Great prices!” a young woman posted on our local email list.

Now, a person could be forgiven for assuming that this ad was an answer to my prayers.

After all, I’ve been so busy BA”H with work and other real life endeavors that I’ve shamelessly neglected my poor blog.

But, of course, you, my dear readers, know better. </desperate attempt at flattery in hope that the readers will forget that it’s been a whole week since the last real post>

You know that there’s no way I’m going to hire someone to do the Shiputzim family’s ironing, because you remember the following story:

Several years ago, I spent two months on maternal bed rest.

One day, our neighbor – I’ll call her “C.” because that’s not her name -called me up with a very generous offer.

It just occurred to me that if you’re on bed rest, you can’t iron, and I’d be more than happy to do it for you,” she said.

Although I was extremely touched by her thoughtfulness and consideration, I wasn’t sure how to respond.

Well, um, thank you. I mean, I really, really appreciate your kind offer. It’s so nice of you! It’s just that, um, I don’t iron that much…” I finished lamely.

I could hear her eyebrows being raised.

You don’t iron?!” she said in disbelief.

I could tell that this wasn’t going to end well.

Once in a while, I do. But I find that most things don’t need ironing…” I tried to defend myself.

But what about your husband’s shirts? Surely you iron those, no?” she was practically pleading with me now.

Well, uh, you see, his shirts go in the dryer, and if you take them out right away and hang them up, they usually don’t need ironing……” I sensed that she wasn’t going to buy it.

She didn’t.

You don’t iron your husband’s shirts?!” This was just too much for her.

The conversation ended shortly thereafter, and we’ve never discussed this topic since.

But I’m convinced that - to this day - C. still feels sorry for YZG, because his wife obviously neglects him almost as much as she neglects her blog…


!שבת שלום ומבורך

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Movin’ on up

In honor of her 20th aliyah-versary BA”H, West Bank Mama recently posted a roundup of aliyah stories.

Mazal tov to West Bank Mama and her family, and thank you for including the Shiputzim family's story!


“…מלמד שישיבת ארץ ישראל

שקולה כנגד כל מצות שבתורה.”

“…This teaches that dwelling in Eretz Yisrael is equivalent to all the mitzvot in the Torah.”

(Tosefta – Avodah Zarah 5:2)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Aloh na’aleh!

“We shall surely go up and take possession of it, for we can surely overcome it.”

(Bamidbar 13:30)

In honor of Parshat Shlach – and in honor of the fact that this year is 5771, which, as you may recall, stands for Tehei Shnat Aliyah Artzah - here are two slightly-edited excerpts from when Ilana-Davita interviewed me last summer (as part of her series on Israeli bloggers), as well as several updates.

When and why did you decide to make aliyah?

During our first date, YZG and I discovered that we each dreamed of eventually making aliyah. We had both spent a considerable amount of time in Israel and felt very comfortable here. But most of all, we were – and, of course, very much still are! – motivated and inspired by Religious Zionism.

When the CTO was born, we decided that the time had come to make concrete plans.

My family had spent a two-year sabbatical in Israel when I was in elementary school, and so I had firsthand experience of moving to Israel as an older child. We didn’t want our kids to have to go through that, and so we resolved that we would make aliyah before the CTO started school.

Baruch Hashem, everything fell into place, and we were able to come the summer before he entered first grade.

Update – June 2011: After this interview first appeared, a number of readers asked if I was suggesting that making aliyah with school-age kids is too difficult/unfair/traumatic and should be avoided at all costs?

Here’s my response:

  • Absolutely not! Making aliyah with kids requires advance planning and hard work, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be a very positive experience. (Hmm. Maybe I should write a post about making aliyah with school age children? What do you think?)
  • And the proof is that although the first year of that two-year sabbatical was admittedly very challenging for me, in no way did it diminish my love for Israel or my desire to live here. Quite the opposite, in fact. After all, YZG and I moved here as soon as we could…

Why did you choose your specific community?

About a year and a half before our aliyah, we decided to purchase a home in Israel. We felt that owning something would force us to actualize our aliyah plans. To that end, we came on a pilot trip and looked around.

Ironically, we had a very different type of community in mind for most of that trip. However, we were having a difficult time finding a specific house or apartment which would fit our needs. And so, our Israeli relatives recommended that we check out our current neighborhood, and the rest is history… :-)

Update – June 2011: In fact, this is one of those Hashgachah (Divine Providence) stories, which are such an integral part of life in Israel.

You see, the truth was that we actually ignored our Israeli relatives’ recommendation for the first three-quarters of that pilot trip.

But then one day, YZG was driving and “accidentally” made a “wrong” turn.

After realizing his “mistake,” he noticed a sign for our current community and – purely out of curiosity - decided that since he was driving by anyway, he might as well go see this place that our relatives kept talking about…

And thus, to make a long story short, we were well on our way to having the incredible privilege, BA”H, of owning a home in Eretz Yisrael.

How cool is THAT?

“The Land is very, very good.”

(Bamidbar 14:7)

!שבת שלום ומבורך

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

DIY Vanilla

Every oleh has that one purely frivolous and completely unnecessary product that they still import from the Old Country.

You know what I’m talking about, right?

{looks around hopefully for some nodding heads but then remembers that bloggers can’t actually SEE their readers…}

It’s nothing that you actually NEED. And you realize that you could either manage perfectly well without it or else switch to the Israeli equivalent.

But so far, it hasn’t come to that.

Because thanks to the kind efforts of your friends and family in the Diaspora, you still have a ready source for the product, and so you haven’t yet had to make alternate arrangements.

(In our case, that product is American colored sprinkles - for recipes such as these nameless bars. How about you?)

But if your relatives have been sending you vanilla extract*, now’s the time to tell them to stop.

*Note: Vanilla extract is widely available here in Israel. But the thing is that it’s rather expensive… </note>

I mean, if you do a search for “homemade vanilla,” you’ll discover that over a million and a quarter websites claim that there’s nothing to it.

And surprisingly, they all happen to be right…


Homemade Vanilla Extract


  • 1 liter vodka
  • 4 vanilla beans, cut up


Drop the vanilla beans into the bottle of vodka. Close bottle, and store in a cool, dark spot for a month (or two or three or however long it takes you to finally go out and buy an appropriate small glass bottle). Strain vanilla and pour into a smaller bottle. (Leave the rest in the larger bottle together with the vanilla beans.) Enjoy!

IMG_1327A bottle of vodka with vanilla beans inside

IMG_3588 Several months later

IMG_3602 Straining the vanilla with a coffee filter and a funnel

IMG_3639 The finished product

Do you make your own vanilla extract?

Friday, June 10, 2011

That’s Entertainment!

{checks calendar}

Hey, look at that! It’s the middle of June!

Which means, I suppose, that it’s time to start thinking about those summer plans

In fact, now that this year’s summer vacation will NOT be shortened after all, parents across the country are desperately scrambling  to figure out how they’re going to occupy their delightful offspring for the duration.

Well, the city of Modiin Illit – a chareidi town just outside of Modiin – may have the answer.

You see, according to an article (hat tip: Reader M.) in the “Chadashodati” – a free weekly newspaper serving the Greater Modiin area – someone in Modiin Illit’s Brachfeld neighborhood came up with an original and free source of entertainment:


The article notes that a significant percentage of Modiin Illit’s 50,000 residents are children and that approximately 45 babies are born there each week.

About two weeks ago, some of those children were no doubt delighted to discover the following notice posted on the side of their building:

CementAd Translation:

“Wonderful news for the dear children of the building!

Due to the heavy demand and as a result of considerable effort, by the Grace of Heaven and with much Divine Providence, we have managed to arrange a once-in-a-lifetime, amazing spectacle:

A Cement Truck

Which will come to the building tomorrow for several hours only, in order to pour concrete on the roof!!!

Admission is free for the children of the building only (adults can participate as well), subsidized by the Dayan family…

The show will take place tomorrow between 13:30 and 16:00. Tickets are not necessary!

Hurry up, and don’t be late!”


What free summertime activities are offered in your neighborhood?


!שבת שלום ומבורך

Monday, June 6, 2011

Shavuot 5771

The cheesecake is in the oven*, and so now’s the perfect time to sit back and enjoy these two classic Israeli Shavuot songs:

“Saleinu Al Kteifeinu”

The lyrics are available here.

“Shibolet BaSadeh”

The lyrics are available here, and an English translation is available here.

!חג שבועות שמח


* Not to show off or anything – well, not TOO much, anyway… - but BA”H, the entire Shiputzim family made it all the way through Sefirat HaOmer with a brachah. How about you? Did you earn your cheesecake? :-)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Around the J-Blogosphere

Several items of interest:

1) G6 presents pictures and a video of Shavuot preparations in her shul.

2) Leora shares her stunning shots of Yerushalayim's Old City, from her visit three years ago.

3) A Mother in Israel talks about hosting a Bayit Cham. All I can say is that I’m glad this idea hasn’t made it to our community – or not yet, anyway…

4) The latest Kosher Cooking Carnival is available here. Special thanks to Jewish Boston for including my carrot bread.

5) And, finally, speaking of recipes, be sure to check out the all-new Our Shiputzim Recipe Page, where you’ll find {cue: TV announcer voice} - for the very first time - every. single. recipe. that’s EVER been posted on this blog in one, convenient location. You certainly won’t want to miss this exciting opportunity, and so head on over to the Our Shiputzim Recipe Page TODAY….Open-mouthed

!שבוע טוב וחודש טוב