Showing posts with label Generation gap. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Generation gap. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Chaval al hazman

The following exchange may – or may not – have occurred yesterday somewhere in Israel:

Israeli Son: {comes home after finishing the bagrut in Tanach}

Anglo Mother: So, how was it?

Israeli Son: {annoyed} It was easy!

Anglo Mother: {confused} And why is that a problem?

Israeli Son: Because I wasted all that time studying for nothing!

Anglo Mother: {naively} Maybe the reason it was easy was BECAUSE you studied?

Israeli Son: {wonders for the upteenth time where his mother gets these crazy ideas}

Open-mouthed smile

Disclaimer: Any resemblance to actual events is purely accidental intentional.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Little Bo Peep has lost her… cows?

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

It’s like watching a train wreck.

What with Yom HaAtzma’ut and even Pesach Sheni behind us, it’s just a matter of days before Lag BaOmer arrives in all its flaming, sooty, and incomprehensible glory.

For those just tuning in, Lag BaOmer, aka “the Night of the Tightly Sealed Windows,” consistently ranks (at least for adults) alongside Chodesh Irgun at the very top of the annual “what time of year do you dread the most” poll.

But while there’s absolutely nothing one can do to prevent Lag BaOmer from happening, one CAN turn to the time-honored traditions of avoidance and denial in a desperate attempt at mitigating some of its inherent unpleasantness.

To this end – and with your indulgence, of course - I’d like to take a few minutes to remind myself that being the Anglo parent of Israeli offspring isn’t always about heaps of smoke-infused laundry and enough stockpiled wood to light up, well, a small country…


After all, upon occasion, those very same Israeli offspring have a habit of accomplishing some pretty amazing things.

(Yes, this is where the aforementioned parental bragging begins…)

For instance, as you may recall, a few months ago I featured a poster that a certain Shiputzim daughter had skillfully drawn for her Mishnah class.

Recently, she had to make another project for the same class, and this time, she chose to make a diorama about Bava Metzia 2:9, which asks, “what is an aveidah (a lost item)?”


As you can see in the following pictures, the right side represents a case which isn’t considered to be an aveidah (one who found a donkey or a cow grazing along the road”), and the left side depicts an example of something that IS an aveidah (“a cow runs among the vineyards”):


IMG_4653As always, please click on the pictures for a much better view.

</parental boasting>

What is your preferred method for dealing with Lag BaOmer’s nuisances?

!שבת שלום ומבורך

Monday, October 28, 2013

In support of Chodesh Irgun?

Like just about every other parent in the entire country, I’ve never exactly been a big fan of Chodesh Irgun*.

* Chodesh Irgun in a nutshell: Chodesh means "month”, and irgun literally means "organization". 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. ninth grade) receives a permanent name. Feel free to check out my older Chodesh Irgun posts for more information. </nutshell>

In fact, over the years, I think I’ve pretty much mocked everything there is to mock about Chodesh Irgun… and then some.

So it’s probably only fair (i.e. l’maan haseder hatov, for the Hebraically-oriented amongst you) to give Chodesh Irgun’s supporters a chance to defend its honor.

Thus, I turned to the experts and asked each of them the following question:

What is the point of Chodesh Irgun? In other words, what purpose  - if any - does it serve? 

Here are their responses:

(I’ll let you decide if their answers help clear things up. Bonus points: See how many Heblishisms you can pick up…)

Chanich/ah #1:

“To have fun!”

Chanich/ah #2:

“To practice for the dance, which is the most important part of Chodesh Irgun. Also, instead of all the time having stam pe’ulot [Ed. - loosely: regular activities], you have Chodesh Irgun to make things a little more interesting.”

A member of what will soon be the new shevet:

“To organize and arrange the snif [Ed. – the local youth group chapter], and to open and start the new year.”

A former madrich/ah:

“To legabesh [Ed. – very, very, VERY loosely: to unite and to promote team spirit], and to give the kids a chance to do something that they don’t get to do everyday. It’s also supposed to be educational. The kids learn about the theme and leyaseim [Ed. – to implement] it.”

A dedicated member of “Iyov” (an acronym for “אשרי יושבי ביתך” – i.e. someone who doesn’t belong to any youth group):

“I never thought there WAS a point to Chodesh Irgun…”

Open-mouthed smile

What do your favorite chanichim and madrichim have to say on the subject?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How to compute the KQ

A couple of days into the new school year, and parents across the country are STILL walking around with deliriously happy grins on their faces as they greet each other with joyful cries of “mazal tov!”

Their beloved offspring, in contrast, don’t appear to be QUITE as thrilled that the powers that be over at the Education Ministry saw fit to shorten summer vacation (i.e. chofesh hagadol, for the Hebraically-oriented amongst you).

But, dear readers, there is an upside.

Because one person’s misery is another person’s blog fodder, and in this case, the younger generation’s less-than-celebratory mood inspired me to shake the dust off the old blog and discuss… the kvetching quotient (i.e. the KQ, in Our-Shiputzim-Speak).

Parents the world over are very familiar with the KQ – although many prefer to call it:

“A quantitative measure of the incessant complaining that features prominently in every family outing and that seems to increase exponentially as the kids reach adolescence.”

Yet, I wondered, does it really? (Increase exponentially, that is.)

And so, in order to get to the bottom of this pressing issue, I turned to the Our Shiputzim Mathematical, Statistical, and Actuarial Department - you probably didn’t even know that we HAD such a department, did you? – who came up with the following helpful formula:

KQ(E) = c / (3y + t)


  • KQ = the kvetching quotient
  • E = a given event or trip
  • c = the average number of complaints, snide remarks, sarcastic comments, overly-dramatic sighs, and (if you’re talking about Israeli kids) loud “oooofs” per hour
  • y = the number of younger kids
  • t = the number of teenagers

In other words, according to our experts, adolescent grumbling does, indeed, have a much greater impact on the KQ than the milder, less-grating type of whining which precedes it.

Do you agree with our experts’ findings? Why or why not? Don’t forget to show your work…

Open-mouthed smile


P.S. The latest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Batya for including our visit to the Nesher Cement Factory.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Life’s deepest mysteries

Ah, summer vacation.

A time for introspection, reflection, and contemplation.

A time to ponder some of life’s deepest mysteries – most of which pertain to being the Anglo parent of Israeli offspring.

For instance, consider these unfathomable enigmas:

1) Even Niyar U’Misparayim” (literally, “Rock, Paper, and Scissors”) is the Hebrew equivalent of, well, “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” (Sorry, but no word on how to say, “lizard, Spock”… :-))

But here’s the strange part.

You see, traditionally, the game begins with a sing-song recitation of the following:

.אבן נייר ומספרים
.המנצח בין השנים
.אחת, שתים, שלוש

Translation: Rock, paper, and scissors./ The winner of the two./ One, two, three. (No, it doesn’t sound any better in the original…)

Which is - needless to say - long, cumbersome, and unwieldy.

And thus, ever resourceful, Israeli kids came up with a shortened version:

.אבן ג’וק

Yes, the literal translation of “even juk" IS “rock cockroach,” and no, I have absolutely no idea what’s the kesher. (Loose translation for the Heblish-impaired: What do cockroaches have to do with anything?)

In fact, I even tried turning to the experts - i.e. a couple of the Shiputzim kids – for help.

However, they simply shrugged and said that they “don’t know but it’s just a kitzur (abbreviation).”

Which, IMNSHO, was less of an explanation and more of a restatement of the question, but in a situation like this, one takes what one can get…

2) As if the whole jukim-as-shorthand thing is not perplexing enough, it turns out that the world the country the adolescent segment of the population is divided into two groups:

  • Those who run on over to Misrad HaPnim (the Interior Ministry) on the very day that they turn 16, in order to receive their teudot zehut (identity cards).
  • Those who don’t get around to taking care of this uniquely-Israeli rite of passage until their tzav rishon (army induction paper) arrives and/or until their parents nag them enough and finally force them out the door…

Laughing out loud

Do YOU know the answer to either of these baffling riddles of Israeli life?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sacred garments

A while back, I discussed how the Law of Unintended Consequences impacts school uniform shirts.

Basically, I noted that in girls’ schools, uniform shirts can waste significant time every morning. (Feel free to go ahead and check out the original post for details. I’ll wait…)

But it turns out that the uniform shirts have a surprising effect on boys as well.

Namely, their supply of non-uniform shirts tends to gradually devolve into a pile of torn, outgrown rags.

I mention this interesting fact to provide background and context for the following exchange, which recently occurred somewhere in Israel:

Mother: Why are you wearing that shirt? It doesn’t fit you anymore, and it’s full of holes!

Son: All my shirts are like that.

Mother: What about your uniform shirts? Why don’t you wear one of them?

Son: {shocked that his mother would even SUGGEST such a horrible thing} I’m not wearing a uniform shirt!! It’s vacation!!

Mother: {naively} Why not? After all, the only difference between uniform shirts and non-uniform shirts is that the former have a logo. What does it matter if your shirt has a logo on it?

Son: {thinks fast} It would be a chillul hakodesh! [Ed.- literally, “a desecration of holiness”]

Mother: {amused} A chillul hakodesh?

Son: {with a straight face but a mischievous twinkle in his eye} Yes!

Mother: {knows that she’ll regret asking but steps right into it anyway} You mean that since you wear the uniform shirts to learn Torah in yeshiva, it would be a chillul hakodesh to wear them during vacation to hang out with your friends?

Son: {grins} No. I mean that it would l’challel the kedushah [Ed. – Heblish for “desecrate the sanctity”] of the summer to wear shirts from school now…

Mother: {laughs} You DO realize that I’m going to put this conversation on my blog, right?

Laughing out loud

Monday, January 23, 2012

Heblish: The Accent

It’s one of the biggest controversies to rock the close-knit Heblish academic community.

Namely: Is there such a thing as a Heblish accent?

Indeed, every Heblish journal of record has published countless articles on this topic, and at every Heblish scholarly conference, numerous lecturers have weighed in on the subject.

(What? Try and name ONE Heblish journal that has NOT delved into the topic… :-))

Why is this even an issue?

Well, to paraphrase Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally, it’s just that all Anglo parents are sure their Israeli offspring have flawless American accents, and most American grandparents, at one time or another, have complained that their Israeli grandchildren frequently lapse into unintelligible Heblish.

So you do the math…


Please note that I’m not talking about kids who speak English with thick Israeli accents. You know, the type who can’t help but roll their R’s and say “dis” or “zis” instead of “this”.

Rather, I’m referring to a certain subtle inflection which indicates that although a person speaks English fluently, s/he has Anglo parents and was raised in Israel.

My personal feeling is that not only does this telltale inflection exist, but – despite their Anglo parents’ protestations to the contrary – no Heblish speaker is immune.

Except for the Shiputzim kids, of course. Because did I mention that they all boast flawless American accents?


What’s your take on this extremely pressing and important issue?


P.S. The latest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Risa for including my Top 10 Signs That Your Klitah Is Complete post.

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.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lag BaOmer vs. Chodesh Irgun

It’s an age-old question.

Which is worse: Lag BaOmer or Chodesh Irgun?

Of course, if you’d ask me today, I’d have to go with Lag BaOmer, hands down.

But I admit that I may be somewhat biased, because this year’s regular Lag BaOmer after effects were only exacerbated by a number of scheduling conflicts.

For instance:

  • A young man I know went to a bar mitzvah last night – i.e. the night after the bonfire - and didn’t get home until nearly midnight.
  • Today was the math bagrut. (Don’t worry,” a certain teenager assured me. “I’ll be home early [sic]. Our medurah is going to end at 2 am, because everyone needs to study…)

In other words, a more objective approach to this issue is in order, and thus I have taken the liberty of preparing the following chart:

Lag BaOmer Chodesh Irgun

Exhausted, kvetchy kids

Exhausted, kvetchy kids

Bemused, exasperated, but ultimately resigned parents

Bemused, exasperated, but ultimately resigned parents

Clothes reeking of smoke

Clothes splattered with paint

The hypnotic glow of the bonfire

The hypnotic glow of the ooltra

Parents waiting anxiously for their darling offspring to come home

Parents waiting anxiously for their darling offspring’s performances to come to an end

An entire month wasted spent collecting wood and searching for an ideal bonfire spot

An entire month wasted spent painting the snif and rehearsing the performances

Fodder for many an Our Shiputzim blog post

Fodder for many an Our Shiputzim blog post

Begs the question: What do the kids do all night??

Begs the question: Is the new shevet’s name better than HaGevurah??

Overheard: “It’s 3:00 AM. Do you know where your kids are?

Overheard: “We need to finish making all the tchuparim before the yashvatz!

Adored by kids; barely tolerated by parents

Adored by kids; barely tolerated by parents

Only in Israel!

Only in Israel!


So, what do YOU think: Lag BaOmer or Chodesh Irgun?

Don’t forget to show your work… ;-)


P.S. The newest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to the Rebbetzin's Husband for including my Iyar Challenge post.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How NOT to embarrass your kids

There’s nothing like being a parent to make one humble.

For instance, until recently, YZG and I always believed that fadichot were our forte.

Indeed, we felt that we were safely on our way to winning the highly-coveted “Most Embarrassing Parents EVER” award.

I mean, consider the evidence:

  • We’re both Anglos.
  • I have a blog.
  • And it has a ridiculous name.
  • And I insist on writing about a nonexistent language.

Does it GET any more embarrassing than that??

Well, apparently, it does.

Because, as YZG and I were recently shocked to discover, our capacity for generating fadichot is far from endless.

You see, a few weeks ago, ACST (=A Certain Shiputzim Teenager) hosted an American friend for Shabbat.

And after Shabbat, when the guest had left, I turned to ACST and, as is my wont, asked hopefully, “So, did we embarrass you?

I smugly assumed that the answer would be very much in the affirmative.

I was wrong.

No. Not really,” ACST shrugged. “There wasn’t anything to be embarrassed about, because [the guest] is American. It can only be embarrassing in front of Israelis…”

Needless to say, YZG and I were devastated…


How limited is YOUR ability to embarrass your children?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Chodesh Irgun 5771

I know what you’re thinking.

Why haven’t there been any Chodesh Irgun posts on the Our Shiputzim blog this year?” you’re no doubt wondering.

And you do have a point.

However, I figured that I more or less exhausted the topic last year.

And besides, it’s been the usual toxic mix of late nights, neglected schoolwork, paint-spattered clothing, and arguments civilized discussions concerning any and all of the above.

Nevertheless, in the interest of good blogging, here are two Chodesh Irgun-related blogbits:

1) Note: The following scenario is based on recent events a work of complete fiction. Any resemblance to reality is purely intentional coincidental:

Mother: No, you can’t go paint the snif in those clothes. You know that they’ll get ruined. Why don’t you wear that old jean skirt that’s hanging in your closet?

Daughter: {horrified} No WAY am I walking around in that skirt!! Someone will SEE me!

Mother: {mistakenly believing that reason and logic can play a part in this exchange} First of all, no one will see you, because it’s dark outside. And anyway, what does it matter if they see you? Everyone knows that it’s Chodesh Irgun, and they’ll realize that you’re obviously on your way to paint the snif…

Daughter: {rolls eyes}

Does this sound familiar?


2) The new shevet's name – Na’aleh (literally, “we shall go up”) – has been announced.

In an effort to gauge popular sentiment in advance of their next release, the developers of the ever-popular Generation Gap program immediately took to the streets and recorded the following initial reactions:

“Well, it’s kind of strange to have a verb as a name, but it’s still pretty good.”

“It’s okay, I guess.”

“At least it’s not HaGevurah


בהצלחה לכל החניכים והמדריכים

!ושבת שלום ומבורך


Monday, November 1, 2010

It was, like, a linguistic epiphany

As you will recall, I was officially certified as the world's foremost expert on Israeli teenagers’ slang. (Don’t believe me? Check out the original post and see for yourself.)

Thus, I naturally enjoyed this JPost column, which correctly observes that Israeli teenage boys limit their conversations to:

“Five words, and one tiny expression.”


“Walla (hey), achi (bro), achla (cool), sababa (another word for cool), tov (good) and ma koreh (what’s happening).”

But, IMHO, it’s what happened after I finished reading that was even more noteworthy. Indeed, it could only be described as a eureka moment.

Picture this:

Me: {reads interesting newspaper column}

Me: {ponders a related unsolved mystery}

{a light bulb comes on overhead, and an assimon drops}

Me: Aha! I think I’ve got it! Can it work? {does some quick calculations; carries the two; subtracts the nine; and takes the square root of 22,201} Yes! It all makes perfect sense!

That’s right, my friends.

Call me a modern day Archimedes, if you will.

After all, I’ve figured out the solution to one of the modern world’s most perplexing conundrums – namely, how do teenagers handle information which simply can’t be relayed using just walla, achi, achla, sababa, tov, or ma koreh?

And the answer is: They rely on k’ilu (like).

Let me explain. (No there is too much. Let me sum up…)

You see, every so often, teenagers discover that they have no choice but to use a non-canonical word.

Under normal circumstances, this would be a major taboo or even a huge fadichah.

But with the magical powers of k’ilu, any potential awkwardness or embarrassment is avoided.

For instance, say you’re a teenager, and you can’t make it to a certain gathering of your friends.

What do you do?

You tell them, “Ani, k’ilu, lo magia.” (“I’m, like, not coming.”)

Didn’t do your homework?

K’ilu, shachachti.” (“I, like, forgot.”)

Note how k’ilu automatically transforms any term which doesn’t appear in the official teenage lexicon into a perfectly acceptable word.

It’s, k’ilu, truly sababa, no?


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Season’s greetings

In honor of MAGwho’s the only one of the Shiputzim kids to start school this week – here’s the annual school supplies photo:IMG_1683

Note that in what can only be described as a highly unorthodox break with tradition, this picture (click on it for a closer view) was shot outside – rather than on the living room rug.

And on a related note, kol hakavod and thank you to the Resident Ulpanistit for singlehandedly taking inventory, compiling lists, covering books, and labeling everything!

The Our Shiputzim Editorial Board extends its best wishes to all our younger readers* for a productive, happy, healthy, and fruitful school year.


* And to the parents of said younger readers, we say: Let the celebrations begin…


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

National Parks: Tel Chatzor Edition

IMG_1845As any Israeli tour guide could tell you, Tel Chatzor is one of the country’s largest and richest archeological sites.

Boasting remains from the Canaanite (see Yehoshua 11:1-12) and Israelite (see, for example, Melachim I 9:15) periods, Tel Chatzor was officially declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, and since then, visitors from around the globe have flocked to this national park in the Chula Valley.

IMG_1855Asian tourists brave the hot sun as they admire the famous “Solomonic Gate”.

IMG_1840 The view from the entrance to Tel Chatzor National Park

Yet, to the surprise of, well, no one, Tel Chatzor’s many claims to fame are unlikely to appeal to most teenagers.

In fact, during the Shiputzim family’s recent visit, the adolescent contingent opted to stay in the car while the adults and the younger kids took a perfunctory look around the excavations. (I assume a dynamic tour guide would be able to bring the dusty stones to life, but we were there on our own.)

Which naturally begs the question: Why did we bother stopping at Tel Chatzor at all (excuse my Heblish)? And, more to the point, why am I blogging about this national park?!

The answer to these questions should be obvious to those who recall that about a year ago, we became members of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. (We recently renewed our membership for a second year.)

You see, after having spent the morning rafting/kayaking down the Yarden, we were looking for a place to stop for lunch when we hit upon Tel Chatzor.

It fulfilled all our requirements: It was shady and clean and had nice picnic tables.

Most people, however, wouldn’t think of using Tel Chatzor as a glorified picnic spot.

Because, if nothing else, once they’d paid the entrance fee, they’d probably want to spend a bit more time at the site:IMG_1839But since admission was free for us, we had no qualms about eating lunch, quickly checking out the historic ruins, and then immediately heading out.

And thus, as far as I – as a blogger - am concerned, this park’s main significance is that it gave us the chance to flash our membership card FTBW (for the blogging win)…


Thursday, July 22, 2010

More Facebook fun

As you may recall, last summer I observed that nothing says “incomprehensible” like Israeli teenagers’ enigmatic Facebook statuses.

Of course, if you’re like most people, you probably quickly skimmed that post and then went back to whatever it is that you do when you’re not reading blogs.

However, the dedicated researchers at the Our Shiputzim Linguistic and Translation Department – who are obviously NOT like most people – were, in contrast, apparently inspired to spend the past year attempting to decipher the aforementioned models of inscrutability and unfathomability.

Well, I’m pleased to announce that the researchers, who recently released their findings, were able to identify three more categories of misspellings endemic to Israeli teenagers’ Facebook statuses:

1) Mir redden Yiddish?

This first category includes two different types of expressions:

  • Hebrew words which are pronounced with a pseudo-Yiddish accent. For example, טוייף - “toyf” – i.e. tov (literally, good). [Note that טוייף is used as a valediction and generally precedes the hybrid phrase, יאלה ביי (yalla, bye)…]
  • Misspellings (both deliberate and accidental) of actual Yiddish words. For instance, שאבעס instead of שבת (Shabbos) and תכלס instead of תכלית (tachlis).

2) We speeek Eengleesh?

Next, there are Israeli-accented English words written in Hebrew letters, such as:

  • סורי (i.e. “sorry” - pronounced, “soh-rree”)
  • סי יו לייטר (i.e. “see you later” – pronounced, “see yooo lay-tehrr”)

3) “T, double-E, double-R, double-R…”

And finally, in what can only be described as a homage to the goose in Charlotte's Web, Israeli teenagers love to repeat random letters. Classic examples include:

  • מהמממם (i.e. מהמם - amazing)
  • נכווווון מאווווד (i.e. נכוון מאוד - very true)
  • מממממש מצחיקקקק (i.e. ממש מצחיק - really funny)
  • פששששוט מדדדדדהים (i.e. פשוט מדהים - simply awesome)


And so there you have it: additional insight into your child’s Facebook status.

But don’t start expressing your everlasting gratitude just yet.

Because that clicking noise you hear is the sound of thousands of Israeli teenagers scrambling to come up with new ways to obfuscate when using popular social media sites…


!שבת שלום ומבורך

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Visiting day FAQ

When I think about summertime fun, I picture things like air-conditioning, ice cold drinks, and well-appointed swimming pools.

But most Israeli kids equate summertime fun with camping out under the most primitive of conditions – including sleeping on the ground; minimal or even no access to showers; and long, dusty hikes in the blistering heat.

In other words, the annual mud-wallowing event the annual machaneh (literally, “camp”).

Yet as much as their beloved offspring eagerly await the [dubious] pleasure of being exposed to the elements, Anglo parents are frequently unenthused about this classic Israeli rite of passage.

Their hesitation is based on the fact that the machaneh inevitably raises two burning (no pun intended) questions:

  • How does one get the dirt and grass stains out of the kids’ clothes?
  • What should one do about visiting day?

And so, as a public service, the Our Shiputzim Editorial Board has asked me to discuss the latter issue. (Like most parents, I’ve pretty much given up on the former…)

Visiting Day Protocol

I. To go or not to go:

On one hand, no parent wants his or her child to be that poor, pathetic camper who’s bored, miserable and lonely – while the other campers are busy having fun with their parents.

But on the other hand, since the machaneh is usually only two to seven days long (i.e. a far cry from the four to eight weeks of the typical American sleepover camp experience), visiting day (or visiting hour or two, as is generally the case) seems rather unnecessary and superfluous (to put it mildly).

Thus, for two-day machanot, YZG and I have told the kids that we won’t be coming. (If they can’t manage for one night without a visit from us, they’re obviously not yet ready to be going at all.)

However, when the machaneh is three or more days long, we take the “when in Rome” approach: We ask the kids to find out what most other parents are doing and then act accordingly.

Surprisingly, this policy has meant that we’ve attended relatively few visiting days over the years.

II. What to bring:

Three words - Snacks and treats.

At one memorable visiting day, at least 80% of the parents showed up with boxes of cold pizza, but cookies, Bisli, and Bamba are popular options as well.

III. Several important DOs and DON’Ts:

  • DON’T be shocked to discover that the physical conditions are even worse than you imagined.
  • DO everything you can to avoid fadichot. (This one is basically hopeless…)
  • DON’T be astonished to learn that your child hasn’t washed his/her face or brushed his/her teeth in four days.
  • DO expect to bring a bag of dirty, smelly laundry home with you…


Feel free to share your own visiting day stories and wisdom in the comment section.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Misplaced optimism

I believe it was Einstein who famously defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.

And yet, nevertheless, millions of seemingly rational and intelligent parents worldwide – including YZG and myself – persist in answering the phone every. single. time. it rings.

We do so, even though we know that at least 97% of the incoming calls here in TRLEOOB* are for one of the various and sundry teenagers who dwell in our midst.

In other words, chances are that any given phone call won’t be for us.

But YZG and I don’t let the unfavorable odds deter us, and instead, we continually allow hope to triumph over experience.

As noted above, Einstein would probably have blamed this naive and misguided optimism on our mental instability.

And he might have had a point.

After all, back in his time, communicating with invisible friends – which is today referred to as “blogging” – was definitely not an indication of a sound mind.

But I would posit that there’s more to it than that.

Indeed, if you’re a parent, you’ll understand that the main reason WE answer the phone is because our kids don’t bother doing it themselves.

You see, even when the phone is ringing off the hook, the aforementioned adolescent denizens of our home are apparently – and inexplicably - oblivious to the noise.

It’s enough to drive the most patient of parents crazy.

Which would suggest, I suppose, that Einstein wasn’t that far off the mark…


!חג שמח

May you have a wonderful and joyous Shavuot!


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mazal tov: Decision edition

Twelfth grade girls across the country will agree that the Sherut Leumi (National Service) application process is notoriously frustrating*.

Best described as an emotional roller coaster, the process generally involves copious tears, an online registration system which never seems to work, and considerable heartbreak and disappointment.

In stark contrast, when 12th grade boys apply to hesder**, there’s neither aggravation nor frustration.

Or, rather, I should say that there’s no aggravation or frustration for the boys themselves.

But when it comes to their parents – not to mention their assorted grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and other relatives - it’s a whole different story.

You see, the boys’ mantra is “what’s the rush?” – a phrase which is cleverly designed to drive the most easy-going of parents crazy.

Here’s how it works:

The boys spend their senior year going on shvu”shim (i.e. checking out different yeshivot).

And then, as the weeks turn into months, the naive parents casually ask their beloved sons about their plans for the following year.

“Have you made a decision yet?” the parents innocently inquire.

And inevitably, the darling boys reply, “What’s the rush? It’s only Chanukah/Purim/Pesach/Yom HaAtzma’ut, etc. There’s still plenty of time…”

Indeed, one mother (feel free to identify yourself in the comment section, if you so desire) reported that a few years ago, as Rosh Chodesh Elul (i.e. the start of the yeshiva term) rapidly approached, she half-jokingly said to her indecisive son:

“Look. I’ll be more than happy to drive you to your yeshiva on the first day of the zman (term), but where are we going? Can you at least give me a general direction. North? South? East? West?”


Thus, I’m thrilled to announce that this evening, at precisely 8:30 PM, the CTO finally officially registered for next year in one of Israel’s most prestigious hesder yeshivas.



The Our Shiputzim editorial board extends our best wishes to the CTO and his classmates for continued success  in all their future endeavors.


*Here in TRLEOOB (=the real life equivalent of our blog), we’ve not yet experienced this particular cultural phenomenon (i.e Sherut Leumi) firsthand. But if you have – either as a bat sherut or as the parent of a bat sherut – and would like to write a guest post about it, please contact me at the email address listed towards the top of the sidebar to the right.

**I refer specifically to yeshivot hesder, because I’m most familiar with them. However, my understanding is that this post also holds true for the various yeshivot gevohot (of every stripe) and even the mechinot as well.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Up for debate

Normally, when one wants to prove a point, one must rely on well-thought-out arguments.

Not so, however, if one is an Israeli teenager.

You see, in lieu of traditional debating techniques, Israeli teens simply begin most of their sentences with either or both of the following two extraordinarily powerful expressions:

1) Chaver sheli amar (חבר שלי אמר) – Loosely, “a friend of mine told me that…” (Interestingly, in  Heblish, this phrase is usually rendered as “my friend said that,” which leads bemused Anglo parents to wonder if their Israeli children have only one friend a piece…) As far as Israeli teens are concerned, their anonymous peers can  – and often do – serve as legitimate and authoritative sources.

2) Uvdah (עובדה) - Literally, “fact”. The accepted Heblish usage is “uvdah that…” - which translates into English as “it’s a fact that…” In other words, a teenager merely has to declare that something is an uvdah, and like magic, it’s somehow automatically transformed into the indisputable gospel truth.

Many a naive Anglo parent has foolishly attempted – at his/her peril – to counter these unfounded statements with reason and logic.

But uvdah that when it comes to winning an argument, olim don’t stand a chance against their persuasive offspring…


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Banking on it

I do hate to sound ungrateful, and, really, it was very nice of Bank HaPoalim to sponsor – for the fifth (sixth?) year in a row – a whole slew of major tourist attractions during Chol Hamo’ed Pesach.

After all, free admission to dozens of sites across the country is nothing to sneeze at.

But one suspects that TPTB (=the powers that be) over at Bank HaPoalim may not have fully considered the Law of Unintended Consequences.

To wit:

I. Our investment

As you may recall, back in the summer, we became members of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

Since then, we not only recouped our initial investment but also saved significant amounts of money with each subsequent trip to a different one of Israel’s beautiful national parks.

But Bank HaPoalim’s largesse put a damper on our plans to maximize our profits.

Because, you see, many of these parks are included in the program, and thus, on Pesach, membership no longer has its privileges…


II. The crowds

Needless to say, free admission draws overwhelming crowds.

Fortunately, however, there are two solutions to this problem:

  1. Arrive as soon as the site opens.
  2. Stick to the duller and more unpopular attractions.

In previous years, we’ve successfully used the former method, but this year, due to circumstances beyond our control, we were forced to rely on the latter.

And so we visited the Bible Lands Museum.

But you don’t have to feel bad for us.

Because there was a definite silver lining. Two, in fact.

First, the adults and the younger children in our party all agreed that the museum was actually very interesting.

And second, good parents that we are, we’re always looking for new and creative ways to raise the KQ. (That’s the Kvetching Quotient – a measurement which applies, as I’m sure you know, only to the adolescent set.)

I mean, when one is the parent of teenagers, one’s main purpose in life is to make their lives miserable. Or so they claim.

And, so, you’ll no doubt be glad to hear that the Bible Lands Museum took the KQ up to a whole other level…