Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Shattered dreams

Life is all about finding joy in the little things.

Which is why Jewish mothers everywhere derive such pleasure from that glorious moment each year when they get to crush their beloved children’s hopes and aspirations.

It happens on the last day of school before Pesach, when the kids come home filled with thrilling vacation plans.

All excited, they walk in the house - a spring in their steps and visions of 2½ weeks of unstructured bliss dancing in their heads.

And then, coldly and deliberately, you swoop in and ruin everything.

Because before anyone has a chance to yell, “I call the Kindle!” (more about THAT, perhaps, in a future post), you insist that they first get in touch with their inner Cinderella and tackle the giant mountain of clutter in their rooms.

And sure enough, right away after the requisite protests (“that’s not a MESS, that’s my STUFF!”), the not-quite sotto voce mutterings (“what’s the big rush? Pesach’s not until next week!”), and a few longing glances cast in the general direction of the computer, you manage to assemble a highly motivated labor force a mutinous team of workers, who will eventually get so desperate that they’ll decide that they’d actually prefer to study for their upcoming math matkonet and summarily quit.

But that’s okay.

Because you’re already busy thinking about NEXT year, when you’ll once again be able to shatter your darling offspring’s dreams…Open-mouthed

What pre-Pesach assignments do you give your own slave laborers helpful young assistants*?


*P.S. Kol hakavod and thank you to the wonderful Shiputzim kids, who’ve been working extremely hard and are doing a truly amazing job!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Twisting ourselves into a pretzel

According to the highly-recommended Our Shiputzim General Theory of Pesach Cleaning, this week calls for:

“Talking and blogging about cleaning in lieu of doing anything constructive.”

And thus, here are a few items of interest or note:

1) Wondering why your darling offspring’s vacation starts this coming Wednesday already? Well, you have the Education Ministry and its Ponzi scheme - aka “robbing Peter to pay Paul” – to thank for that…

2) If you’ve ever had the privilege of seeing the office nook that YZG and I share, this JPost piece will definitely ring a bell…

3) The latest Kosher Cooking Carnival is available here. Special thanks to Batya for including my lemon-glazed apple cake.

4) Rafi G. shares his beautiful insight into the Korban Chatat (the sin-offering in the Beit HaMikdash).

And finally:

5) It seems that every year without fail, we’re always left with too much of one particular chametz product before Pesach.

For instance, there was the year that we were awash in pasta. (As far as I can recall, pasta was on sale right after Chanukah that year, and apparently, we went a bit overboard…)

And then there was the memorable Year of the Shkedei Marak (i.e. the ubiquitous soup nuts seen on Israeli Shabbat tables everywhere), when the younger Shiputzim kids spent the week before Pesach in the playground, generously doling out the little yellow squares to all their friends and acquaintances.

Which brings us to this year, when an initial survey of our pantry revealed that we have an inordinate amount of… drum roll, please… pretzels.

Why pretzels, you ask?

The answer is: I have no idea.

I mean, it’s not like pretzels feature prominently in the Shiputzim family’s regular diet or anything, and I can’t imagine what prompted us to buy so many bags of the salty snack in the first place.

But buy pretzels we obviously did, and therefore, pretzels are certain to play a major role in our menus over the coming week.

So if you’re in the mood for some, um, pretzel chicken, pretzel pizza, pretzel salad, or just plain pretzels, feel free to drop by TRLEOOB*


What strange assortment of chametz items do YOU still have left?


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Not my type

No three little Hebrew words instill panic and dread in the heart of even the most veteran oleh quite like the seemingly-innocuous phrase: “.תשלח\י לי מייל” (“Send me an email.”)

It begins with typing (i.e. hakladah - for the Hebraically-oriented amongst you).

In many workplaces – especially high-tech firms – English is often the email lingua franca. But if you’re a freelancer like me, you may not have that luxury.

Instead, you’re forced to rely on a combination of the “hunt and peck” method and the delusional belief that your fingers will instinctively figure out the Hebrew equivalent of “ASDFJKL;”.

Yet, to put it mildly, this doesn’t make for the most efficient of typing experiences…

But even once you somehow manage to get the correct letters on screen, your problems are far from over.

After all, now you’re stuck with a document that you’re pretty sure is rife with spelling and grammatical errors.

Because conjugating verbs or sorting out the whole male/female (shulchan echad or shulchan echat?) and singular/plural (shulchanim or shulchanot?) thing? Not exactly your strong point.

Of course, normally, you’d simply ask a native Israeli – read: any of your children who already took the bagrut in lashon - for help. But seeing as how it’s the middle of the day and all, none of the older kids are home.

And thus, you find yourself pondering that age-old question: What sounds less unprofessional – a letter written by an oleh or a letter proofread by a not-yet literate five year old?

Desperate, you go with the latter option and hope for the best the not TOO terrible.

Which, you’re painfully aware, is probably not the wisest course of action….


How are your Hebrew typing skills?


Disclaimer: Any resemblance between the above post and an actual regular feature of life here in TRLEOOB (=the real life equivalent of our blog) may or may not be purely coincidental.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Yishuv Eretz Yisrael

Warning: The following post may exceed the recommended daily allowance for blatant religious Zionism. Proceed at your own risk.

Last week (21 Adar) marked the yahrzeit of Rav Shlomo Yosef Zevin z”l, founding editor of the Encyclopedia Talmudit, 1959 Israel Prize winner, and renowned author.

When it came to the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael (settling/dwelling in the Land of Israel), he did not mince words.

For instance, during the War of Independence, Rav Zevin wrote about military enlistment for yeshiva students:

“Master of the Universe! Is one permitted to rely on a miracle in a time of definite mortal danger and say that ‘our rabbis do not need protection?’ And Hevron of 5689 (1929) proves this! Did not holy and pure young people, who glow like the radiance of the firmament, the cream of the yeshiva and its sages, fall before the sons of evil?!...

“And why did Torah scholars abandon – together with our other brethren in Bnei Yisrael - the neighborhoods which came under sniper fire, rather than using this segulah (loosely, charm) of ‘our rabbis do not need protection’?... Is this da’at haTorah (the Torah approach)?…

“The entire nation in Eretz Yisrael and the Diaspora… well understand that there is no revival, chas v’shalom, of settling the Land and the survivors in exile without an independent state in our Land, which will absorb with open arms our blood-drenched brothers, who wander and roam over the burning ground of the exile.”

Also, just before the State of Israel was established, Rav Zevin wrote:

“Throughout the time of the Diaspora, one could not reach the pinnacle of the mitzvah of settling the Land – in its full splendor…

“And a matter which need not be said is that all of those who assisted and assist and will assist in the establishment of the State and its realization and founding are, of course, participating in the observance of that mitzvah, which is weighed against all the mitzvot in the Torah.”

May we all be privileged to observe this important mitzvah, speedily and in our days.


*Special thanks to the Official Our Shiputzim Hebrew-English translator for providing the above translations. Please note that she’s available for translation work. For more information, contact me at OurShiputzim at gmail dot com, and I’ll gladly forward all serious inquiries to her.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Euphonic Friday: HaMilchamah HaAchronah Edition

Oddly enough, the list of the most popular search terms leading to this blog includes assorted variations of “HaMilchamah HaAchronah” (literally, “The Last War”) – i.e. Yehoram Gaon’s haunting Yom Kippur War song.

These searches generally lead to a post I wrote over three years ago, during Operation Cast Lead.

Then – as now - our beleaguered brothers and sisters in the South were (and once again are!) forced to spend their days and nights cowering in bomb shelters and security rooms, and so I thought it would be appropriate to post this poignant song here today:

The Hebrew lyrics are available here, and an English translation can be found here.

And on a related note, Ruti, Treppenwitz, and Jameel powerfully, succinctly, and beautifully express what many of us here in Israel have been thinking and feeling.

May we soon be privileged to enjoy besurot tovot, yeshu’ot v’nechamot (good tidings, salvation, and consolation).

!שבת שלום ומבורך

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A winter wonderland

Back in September, I shared a couple of entries from the journal YZG had to keep when he and his high school classmates came to Israel for six weeks on a midwinter tour nearly 30 years ago BA”H.

Several readers asked me to post a few more excerpts from the journal, and so – without further ado, but with YZG’s permission :-) – here goes:

Thursday, February 3

Today we went south. First, we went to… Kever Rachel. Next, we went to Elonei Mamrei and Hevron. There, in Hevron, we saw Me’arat HaMachpeilah, the place where the Patriarchs and Matriarchs are buried. It is run and controlled by the Arabs. There are three mosques and two synagogues. Then we went to one of the houses owned by Jews. We saw a museum there which told about the history of Hevron. There is also a yeshiva there.

After Hevron, we went to a pottery factory where everything is made by hand. Then we went to a glass factory where everything is handmade and blown by hand. [Ed. note – Do you detect a theme? :-)]

Then we went to Kibbutz Kfar Etzion… There we saw a museum of the history of the Etzion Bloc.

Today was the first day it rained…

Friday, February 4

…Then, we went to see 3 caves. The first one is called Bell Cave. It is a cave that was formed by mining out the chalk there. Next we went to the Pigeon Cave. This cave was used to keep pigeons in. The last cave is called Grave Cave. It was once used as a tomb… [Ed. note – If this sounds familiar, it’s because this entry first appeared here.]

Saturday, February 5

We [spent Shabbat] in Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh.

Sunday, February 6

This morning, we went to Jericho. On the way, we stopped in a new [community] called Ma’aleh Adumim. Then we continued on and got to Yericho, which is an oasis in the Judean Desert. In Yericho, we visited a 6th century synagogue, which has a mosaic tile floor. We then went to Ai and climbed the mountain there…

Wednesday, February 9

…At night… I visited [relatives] and talked with them from 8:00-10:00… [Ed. note – Because you might think that he spoke to them from 7:30-9:30 or perhaps even 8:30-10:30, but you would be wrong… :-)]

Thursday, February 10

We went to Givah, and then we went to Givon and then to Ma’aleh Beit Choron. After that we went to Latrun, a place Jordan used to separate Tel Aviv from Yerushalayim in 1948. Then we went to Modiin, where they had a model of a city of centuries ago…

Friday, February 11

…In the afternoon, we went to Bnei Brak

Saturday, February 12

[Last night], we went to the synagogue of the Gur Chassidim. That night we saw the tisch of the Vishnev… In the morning, we davened at Ponevitch…

Monday, February 14

…In the afternoon, we went swimming and visited the elderly. At night, we went to Machon Lev to use the PDP11/34 computer… [Ed. note – Those of you who know YZG in person know that this and his visit to Kiryat Noar were the two highlights of his trip… :-)]

Tuesday, February 15

Today we went to the Old City of Yerushalayim… We visited four different synagogues… After that we went to the Holyland Hotel and saw a 1:50 scale model of Jerusalem as it looked in the days of the Second Beit HaMikdash

Thursday, February 17

Today we went to Shchem… We saw Kever Yosef, Har Grizim, and Har Eval…. It rained today…

Friday, February 18

We went to Yeshivat Har Etzion [for Shabbat]…

Saturday, February 19

It snowed…

Wednesday, February 23

Today we went to Tel Aviv to see the Diaspora Museum. It is a museum that shows Jewish cultural life in different areas of the world in various times in history. After that, we went to the Old City of Yafo and walked around. I went down to the water – the Med. [Ed. note - Don’t you love how he and the Mediterranean are so close that he gave it a nickname? :-)] – for most of the time…

Friday, February 25

This morning we went to the Institute for Halachah and Technology. They showed us some of their inventions, and then we went to families in Bayit V’Gan for Shabbat…

Saturday, February 26

It snowed…

Sunday, February 27 (Purim)

…At night, we went to the Old City, to Rabbi Kahana’s synagogue, for megilah reading. Afterwards, we went to various yeshivas… Porat Yosef, Yeshivat HaKotel, and a yeshiva in Me’ah She’arim…

Monday, February 28 (Shushan Purim)

…I went downtown, to see the Purim celebrations there…

Wednesday, March 2

Today we went to Yad Vashem…

Thursday, March 3

Today, we got up at 3:30 and left at 4:00 for Masada. We climbed it at sunrise - it took me 40 minutes, and I was the first up – and davened Shacharit there. Then we toured it until 11:00. Then everyone - except [two other boys] and I - took the cable car down. We got down in 12 minutes and got down before everyone else. Then we went to Ein Gedi, ate lunch there, walked in the reserve, and saw a waterfall…


To be continued…


P.S. The latest JPiX is available here. Special thanks to Ilana-Davita for including two of my posts: Avnei Eitan and the olive oil factory in Katzrin.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Heblishization of the Megilah: The Sequel

As any professional translator could tell you, if you don’t want your translation to “sound” like a translation, you need a translator whose native tongue is the target language.

Yet, strangely enough, last year, I chose to ignore this cardinal rule and translated the third perek of Megilat Esther into Heblish all by myself.

And it showed.

Because my translation included words like “ministers” – an expression which no self-respecting native Heblish speaker would ever use and certainly doesn’t appear in any authoritative Heblish dictionary.

Thus, when OOMFNHS (=one of my favorite native Heblish speakers) graciously volunteered to help me with this year’s Heblish translation of the fifth perek, I immediately took him up on his kind offer.

One final note: For authentic results when reading the following translation, the traditional Heblish inflection should be used for most of the perek – except for the italicized words, which should be recited in a thick Israeli accent…


And now, without further ado, the Our Shiputzim Editorial Board and OOMFNHS proudly present:

The Official Heblish Translation


Megilat Esther - Chapter 5 

(1) And it was on the third day, and Esther dressed the kingdom, and she stood in the inner courtyard of the house of the king, opposite the house of the king. And the king is sitting on the chair of his kingdom in the house of the kingdom, opposite the opening of the house.

(2) And it was when the king saw Esther, the queen, is standing in the courtyard, she carried favor in his eyes. And the king lehosheeted to Esther the gold sharvit that is in his hand, and Esther came close and touched in the head of the sharvit.

(3) And the king said to her, “What is to you, Esther, the queen; and what is your request? Until half of the kingdom, and it will be given to you.”

(4) And Esther said, “If it is good on the king; the king and Haman will come today to the party that I did for him.”

(5) And the king said, “Rush Haman to do the thing of Esther.” And the king and Haman came to the party that Esther did.

(6) And the king said to Esther in the party of the wine, “What is your question, and it will be given to you; and what is your request? Until half of the kingdom, and it will be done.”

(7) And Esther answered and said: “My question and my request.

(8) “If I found favor in the eyes of the king, and if it is good on the king to give my question and to do my request; the king and Haman will come to the party that I will do for them. And tomorrow, I will do like the thing of the king.”

(9) And Haman went out on that day, happy and with a good heart. And when Haman saw Mordechai in the gate of the king, and he did not get up and did not move from him, and Haman was filled on Mordechai chaimah.

(10) And Haman lehitapek’d, and he came to his house. And he sent and brought the people who like him and Zeresh his wife.

(11) And Haman told them the honor of his being rich and most of his sons; and all that the king made him big, and that he carried him on the sarim and the servants of the king.

(12) And Haman said, “Esther, the queen, did not even bring with the king to the party that she did, except for me. And also for tomorrow, I am called to her with the king.

(13) “And all of this is not equal to me; in any time that I am seeing Mordechai, the Jew, is sitting in the gate of the king.”

(14) And Zeresh his wife said to him and all the people who like him, “They will do a tree, fifty amot tall. And in the morning, say to the king, and they will hang up Mordechai on it. And go with the king to the party happy.” And the thing was good in front of Haman, and he did the tree.


¡ɯıɹnԀ ʎddɐH

םירופ חמש!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pre-Purim Roundup

Several posts from around the J-Blogosphere to get you into the Purim spirit:

1) Jameel shares Eli Clark’s tribute to Dr. Seuss.

2) Rafi G. wonders if this picture is a joke or the latest chumrah?

3) Nothing says “Purim” like Toby’s most recent collection of funny signs…

4) Laura baked two different types of hamentashen.

5) Ezzie has fascinating archival footage of Purim in Tel Aviv during the 1920s and 1930s.

And finally -

Coming soon: The Our Shiputzim blog’s Purim post. Watch this space for details…

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bridging the gaps

Shavua tov!

Whether it’s the Hachtarah or any of the other crazy traditions that constitute the month of Adar in the Israeli school system, there’s just so much for bloggers like yours truly to mock…


And thus, I suppose, it’s only fair that I also give that same school system credit when it does something very, very right.

About a year ago, the Resident Ulpanistit and her classmates participated in a three-day Encounter Seminar - i.e. Seminariyon Gesher (literally, “Bridge Seminar”) for the Hebraically-oriented amongst you – run by Gesher (literally, “Bridge”), an organization dedicated to bringing different segments of Israeli society closer together.

During these seminars, two groups of high school students – one from a secular school and one from a religious school – spend a weekend together (including Shabbat), talking about all the issues which divide and unite them.

Over the years, fewer and fewer schools participate in these seminars, and it’s not hard to understand why.

The secular schools are concerned about what they perceive as religious coercion or even brainwashing, and the religious schools are afraid of condoning and/or exposing their students to behaviors and attitudes which go against everything they believe in.

And yet, nevertheless, the Resident Ulpanistit’s school not only continues to participate in these annual seminars, but considers them to be one of the ulpanah’s flagship programs.

(Note: The seminars aren’t coed. The boys from the secular school have their own seminar with boys from a yeshiva high school.)

Of course, it’s not that this ulpanah’s administration isn’t aware of the potential risks, but they’re confident that they know their students and what they can handle.

And furthermore, when it comes to the seminars, the ulpanah has two guiding principles:

1) They prepare the girls well in advance. (In recent years, the school began having prep. sessions back in September.)

2) Throughout these prep. sessions, the teachers and the administration stress that building bridges between different segments of the population is merely a nice side benefit of the seminars.

Instead, the ulpanah uses the seminars as a wonderful tool to help the girls strengthen their own emunah (faith) by examining many of our core beliefs.

In other words, as far as the ulpanah is concerned, the goal is NOT kiruv (outreach), but rather, a means to enable the girls to explain to THEMSELVES why we believe what we do.

And it works.

Every one of the Resident Ulpanistit’s classmates had an amazing time over that memorable weekend and – by their own admission - walked away with a greater and stronger commitment to Judaism, the Torah, and religious observance.

(Not coincidentally, the secular girls told the ulpanistiyot that they too were very glad they had come on the weekend and also felt that they had gained a lot.)

So, as a parent, I’d like to extend a huge ישר כוח to the ulpanah for participating in this incredible program and also to thank them for reminding us that, notwithstanding Adar and all that it entails, there IS a reason that we pay tuition…