Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pool of the Arches

A special shout-out to our dear friends and family on the Eastern Seaboard. We’re thinking of you and hope you all stay safe and dry! Oh, and in case you were wondering, here in Israel, we enjoyed beautiful, clear weather today. I’m just saying…</gratuitous aliyah plug>

Winking smile

We interrupt this blog’s incessant litany of national parks to bring you an idea for a family outing*: a visit to Ramle’s Pool of the Arches.

*Full disclosure: Most of the Shiputzim teenagers did not join us on our recent trip to the pool – they felt that it sounded, and I quote, “boring” – and thus, “family outing” might perhaps be too strong a phrase. But each of the younger (and older) members of the family who came along had fun.

Built in 789 CE, the Pool of the Arches is an underground water reservoir. The ceiling is supported by a series of pillars and curved arches (hence the name), and today, visitors get to explore the pool in row boats:

IMG_8163One of the rowboats

IMG_8164One of the arches

IMG_8166More arches

IMG_8170Historians believe that people would lower buckets into holes in the ceiling to draw water.

Suggestion: The Pool of the Arches can serve as a perfect companion trip to the Nesher cement factory, which is located nearby.

Have you ever been to the Pool of the Arches?

We now return you back to your regularly scheduled catalogue of national parks


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles

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

As every desperate/bemused/frustrated/resigned (pick your favorite adjective) Israel parent is well-aware, Chodesh Irgun is upon us.

So, why haven’t I mentioned this important fact, you’re no doubt wondering?

Two reasons, really.

a) It’s kind of hard to mention anything, when one is busy neglecting one’s blog.

b) I figured that by now, I’d pretty much said everything there was to say (and then some…) about Chodesh Irgun.

But then yesterday, a miracle happened.

Yes, a miracle.

Right here in TRLEOOB*.

<brief explanation>

First, a quick refresher for those who – for reasons best known to themselves – have not committed every single word I’ve ever written to memory. (But if you consider yourself to be an OurShiputzim expert, please feel free to skip ahead…)

Chodesh Irgun usually includes at least one communal seudah shlishit, and said seudah shlishit is inevitably preceded by the Call.

As I noted in my original post on the subject, the Call is when the madrich/madrichah (youth group leader/counselor) calls (hence the name) each of the chanichim (youth group members) to arrange who will bring what to the seudah shlishit.

Without fail, the Call arrives about an hour before Shabbat (when no one has time to run out and go shopping, even if the stores weren’t closed) and involves the most random items (which the typical family rarely stocks in their pantry).


If you’ll kindly consult your calendar, you’ll see that yesterday was a MONDAY – i.e. many, many, MANY days before Shabbat.

Yet, amazingly, it was, indeed, yesterday when one of the Shiputzim daughters got the Call from her madrichah!

And as if the Call’s timing wasn’t shocking enough, the Shiputzim daughter in question was merely asked to bring a bottle of drink and a can of pickles - neither of which is remotely obscure or exotic.

Astonishing, no?

In fact, I’m sure you’ll agree that this means that TRLEOOB* now qualifies for a recitation of שעשה לי נס במקום הזה (“Blessed is… the One Who performed a miracle for me at this site”)…

Winking smile


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tales of a Chatan Kol HaNe’arim’s wife

Warning: Although it’s now Rosh Chodesh MarCheshvan, which – according to every opinion – falls firmly within the “acharei hachagim” (literally, “after the holidays”) parameters, the following post pertains to Simchat Torah. (Hey, if Israeli gannanot can celebrate Simchat Torah after the fact, so can I…) Proceed at your own risk.

The main problem with shamelessly neglecting one’s blog is that there’s no clear protocol when it comes to resuming one’s blogging activities. Do you apologize? Pretend that you never left? Offer a long-winded explanation/excuse for your absence?

Which is why I’m just going to jump right back in with the following news item from TRLEOOB (=the real life equivalent of our blog):

YZG was our shul’s Chatan Kol HaNe’arim (i.e. CKH in OurShiputzim-speak) on Simchat Torah.

In many congregations, CKH is sold to the highest bidder. However, in our shul, the gabbaim award it to someone who is very involved in the shul and the community, and as those of you who know YZG in real life are aware, this was certainly a well-deserved honor.

Here are three things I learned in my role of CKH’s wife:

1) It seems that proper Simchat Torah etiquette teaches that both the CKH and the CKH’s wife deserve hearty “mazal tovs.” I confess that I never knew this before, but I quickly got into the swing of things and made sure to say mazal tov to the Chatan Torah, the Chatan Breishit, and their respective spouses…

2) It turns out that there’s no statute of limitations when it comes to corny CKH-related jokes. Sample groan-worthy fare: “If your husband is a chatan, that makes you a kallah! Shouldn’t you be wearing white?{cue: canned laugh track}

3) And finally, I discovered that in our shul, the CKH’s wife is in charge of distributing candy bags to all the kids. (Fortunately, the shul covers the cost; someone else volunteered to do the shopping; and assorted neighbors helped the Shiputzim kids stuff the bags.)

Which means that within two minutes of Kol HaNe’arim’s conclusion, the CKH’s wife (that would be me in this case, for those just tuning in at home) is suddenly beset by nearly 200 (BA”H) overtired, hyped-on-sugar (in our shul, Kol HaNe’arim takes place AFTER the communal kiddush), impatient kids.

Ah, good times. Good times…

Laughing out loud

How are Chatan Kol HaNe’arim, Chatan Torah, and Chatan Breishit chosen in your communities?