Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Yom HaAtzma’ut!

Without a doubt, if there was a competition for the top ten reasons to make aliyah, Yom HaAtzma’ut would definitely make the cut.

I mean, it doesn’t get much cooler than experiencing Yom HaAtzma’ut in Israel… as an Israeli.

This is the eleventh Yom HaAtzma’ut (BA”H) since our aliyah, and I can honestly say that it gets better every year.

We went to our local Yom HaAtzma’ut celebration tonight and stayed much later than we usually do. Depending how tired everyone is when they wake up, we may go on a tiyul in the morning. And in the afternoon, noted Our Shiputzim commenter YAT, his parents Ein Shem and RCT, and all his siblings are IY”H joining us here in TRLEOOB for the traditional mangal (i.e. BBQ).

Feel free to stop by and join us if you happen to be in the area! As we say here in Israel, אנא קחו את זה כהזמנה אישית - i.e., please consider this to be a personal invitation…

מועדים לשמחה לאלתר לגאולה שלמה

Happy Yom HaAtzma’ut to all!

Monday, April 27, 2009

A year of blogging

“Here we go...”

I wrote those words exactly one year ago*, and thus, the Our Shiputzim blog was born.

As some of you know, I’d been toying with the idea of jumping into the blogging fray, and our home renovations provided me with just the excuse I needed.

I figured I would blog for the construction’s duration and that would be that.

Yet, to my surprise – and to some of my relatives’ utter bewilderment – by the time the renovations were completed, I was hooked.

It’s not just about the writing (although that does play a big part, of course). It’s also about the new and interesting people I’ve met and the friendships I’ve made.

On a related note, now would be a good time to thank all of you for reading and commenting.

In addition, I would like to thank YZG and our children for not only tolerating but even enabling my blogging habit. (Who? Me? Addicted?! What do you mean? I can stop at any time. Really, I can)

And before this post descends into over-sentimental and therefore decidedly-untypical territory, here are some of the more amusing searches which led to this blog:

The search termMy comments
growing broccoli in israel ---
aliyah pregnant Been there, done that.
reason for aliyah ---
how to choose a pet goat in israel Is it really any different than choosing a pet goat anywhere else?
one-and-a-half day yontif israel ---
what is a good snowball game to play in the computerThis one, obviously.
virtual online goat games for kids ---
mendel the mouse …is second to none.
may hashem be with you Amen.
how to say the funeral kiddush [sic]
the four questions in heblishI’d love to see this!
my time is now להורדה ---
kneidlach jokes smile_teeth
Here’s to another year…


* The consensus arising from this post was that we should observe the secular date this year only. B”N, from now on, we’ll mark the Hebrew date (i.e. Isru Chag of Pesach).

Sunday, April 26, 2009

HH 214

The latest edition of Haveil Havalim is available here.

Special thanks to The Rebbetzin's Husband for including my post about our tree.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mazal tov: Sugar and spice and everything nice edition

מזל טוב

to commenter SPYYZ* and family

on the birth of

Meirav Hodaya ‘שתחי!

Mazal tov also to all the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who read this blog.

יהי רצון שתזכו לגדלה

בדרך התורה ולחופה ולמעשים טובים

* I guess you’re going to have to start using a different name…

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

KCC 41

The latest Kosher Cooking Carnival is available here.

Special thanks to A Mother In Israel for including my kosher for Pesach broccoli kugel post.

IMG_4811 This year, I made a double recipe.

On a related note, Mimi made a delicious-sounding variation of this kugel.

By the way, if you’ve never read Mimi’s blog, you should definitely check it out. For instance, her chocolate-covered almond lemon macaroons were a huge hit here in TRLEOOB* over Pesach.


* TRLEOOB = the real life equivalent of our blog

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


The symbolism was striking.

Today was Yom HaShoah, the day we commemorate the destruction of European Jewry. The day we remember the vibrant, flourishing Jewish communities which were violently uprooted.

And due to a quirk in the tree man’s schedule, today was also the day we chopped down the tallest tree in our yard.

You see, we recently discovered that the roots had spread wide rather than deep and that the tree was inherently unstable. In other words, if we didn’t cut down the tree, it would likely be felled by a strong gust of wind – probably right through our relatively new roof.

So, we called the tree man, and he and his crew arrived today.

Here’s the tree in all its glory. If you look closely, you can see the tree man at the very top:


Here are two movies showing the tree being cut down:


Here’s the stump:


May the next tree we plant grow deep and stable roots, and may it serve as a symbol of Am Yisrael’s deep and unbreakable bond with Eretz Yisrael.


P.S. And, yes, in case you were wondering, the vultures neighborhood kids descended as soon as the tree was down, asking if they could take wood for Lag BaOmer. (YZG cautioned them that the wood probably wouldn’t dry in time, but they didn’t seem to be overly concerned…)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Raise the flag

Now that all the Pesach stuff has been put away and we’ve all resumed our regular daily schedules, it feels as if Pesach has been over for weeks.

Of course, the truth is that it’s only been a few days, but nonetheless, we’re all more than ready for the next vacation.

Fortunately, ‘tis the season when we don’t go more than a week or two without another festival – minor or otherwise.

In other words, it’s time for that annual debate which is no doubt taking place in homes across Israel this very minute: When is the right time to decorate one’s house and car with Israeli flags?

Here in TRLEEOB (the real life equivalent of our blog), we usually get around to doing it on or about Rosh Chodesh Iyar.

And then we leave them hanging until the day after Yom Yerushalayim.

How about you?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The song that never ends

Shavua tov!

Back in this post, I referred to the fact that one hears the new Vehi Sh’Amdah song everywhere one goes.

I should note that I think it’s an extremely beautiful song, and here in TRLEOOB (the real life equivalent of our blog), we’ve become quite fond of it. Nevertheless, I’m amused by this song's widespread popularity.

Lest you think I’m exaggerating, here’s some anecdotal evidence to support my claim:

1. In the month or so leading up to Pesach, MAG attended a number of bar mitzvahs, and each time, Vehi Sh’Amdah was played.

<Brief cultural digression> The custom is that when the song is played, everyone stands in a big circle with their arms around their neighbors’ shoulders and sways in time to the music. </Digression>

2. A week before Pesach, YZG and I went to a wedding, where the band played – you guessed it – Vehi Sh’Amdah.

3. Many of our friends and relatives have indicated that they used this tune (or at least attempted to use this tune…) at the Seder. (Full disclosure: We sang Vehi Sh’Amdah three times at our Seder – once with the new tune, once with the traditional tune that YZG and I both grew up on, and once with the tune that the kids all know from gan.)

4. At the conclusion of our neighborhood’s communal Birkat HaChamah recitation on Erev Pesach, one of the songs played was… Vehi Sh’Amdah.

5. On the first day of yom tov, the Ba’al Tefilah did Kedushah of Musaf to the tune of – drum roll, please - Vehi Sh’Amdah.

6. A few days before Pesach vacation, the Resident Ulpanistit’s school hosted a guest speaker. In the middle of his talk, a school bell rang. The speaker immediately quipped, “What? You’re not like all the other ulpanot in the country who’ve switched their school bells to Vehi Sh’Amdah?!” In response, the Rosh Ulpanah felt that it was necessary to defend the school’s honor by explaining that the school bell actually belongs to a nearby elementary school…


Please feel free to leave your own examples in the comment section.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Yom HaBlog

Thank you to ESG for correctly noting that today is the Our Shiputzim Yom HaBlog (i.e. this blog’s Hebrew blogiversary).

In contrast, there’s still another eleven days BA”H until the secular blogiversary.

The Shiputzim family is split between those who feel we should celebrate today and those who feel we should wait.

Reasons to celebrate today: This blog is about our lives here in Israel. Therefore – just like we celebrate our Hebrew birthdays – we should observe this blog’s Hebrew anniversary.

Reasons to wait for next week IY”H: Since Blogger uses the secular calendar, every post – including the very first one - is datemarked with the secular date. Therefore, it makes more sense to observe the secular blogiversary.

Your thoughts?

Soaking it all up

Happy Isru Chag!

While Moroccan communities around the country are out celebrating Mimouna, here in TRLEOOB (the real life equivalent of our blog),  we’re marking the official opening of what’s fondly known as “Gebrochts Week”.

As I noted in this post, due to circumstances beyond my control, the Shiputzim family doesn’t eat gebrochts on Pesach.

Of course, back in the Old Country, we did eat gebrochts on the eighth day. However, here in Israel, there’s obviously no yom tov sheni shel galuyot, and so we don’t have that eighth day.

Instead, we have something even better: An entire week to indulge in gebrochts.

For instance, this morning, some of the kids had broken pieces of matzah (“matzah farfel” בלעז) with milk, cinnamon, and sugar.  Meanwhile, other family members had fried matzah (aka “matzah brei”) for lunch.

And so on.

Now, I suspect that some of you think it’s kind of strange that we’re having Pesach foods when we could be eating actual chametz.

And so let me assure you that in addition to all the aforementioned gebrochts dishes, we’re also partaking of chametz. (In fact, YZG made the requisite initial chametz run this morning.)

It’s just that instead of wondering what to do with our extra matzah, we get to try all these foods that we’ve been craving all week.

In other words, having leftover matzah is a feature… not a bug.


Stay tuned for details of our chol hamo’ed outings…

Monday, April 13, 2009

V’chol hamarbeh… harei zeh meshubach

And even if we are all wise, we are all clever, we are all old, we all know this year's theme song, there is a mitzvah for us to listen to it over and over again. And the more one hears it, the more praiseworthy it is.

Moreover, whoever did not hear it at least three thousand times during this Pesach season did not fulfill his obligation…


HH 212

The latest edition of Haveil Havalim is available here.

Special thanks to Shtetl Fabulous for including my one day of yom tov post.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Thoughts on one day of yom tov

Moadim L’Simchah!

Hopefully, this post won’t be one of those condescending and supercilious “I Made Aliyah and Therefore I’m So Holy” posts. However, if it does reek of smugness, feel free to leave a virtual smack upside my head in the comment section…

When I think back to the BA (before aliyah) era, I recall - at least to a certain degree - a tacit sense of:

“What’s with those Israelis and their one day of yuntif? I mean, I realize that even the most haredi of Israelis keep only one day, and obviously, I know that according to the Torah, one day is the ideal. But still, there’s something a shtikel, well, modern about the whole thing. And besides, I like yuntif! If one day is wonderful, then two days are even better!”

And so on.

But then we made aliyah and started keeping only one day.

And you know what?

It’s all good.

I don’t feel deprived. I don’t feel like we’re missing something. I don’t feel like we’re observing some new-fangled custom. I don’t wish we had an extra day or an extra Seder.

Quite the opposite in fact.

I feel like we’re keeping yom tov as it is meant to be kept. I feel that another day or another Seder could only be described as כל המוסיף גורע (loosely, overkill).

When it comes to yom tov in Israel, less is much, much, much more.

And so, as we begin to approach our 11th aliyah-versary, YZG and I continue to be extremely appreciative of the fact that living here in our beautiful country is truly an incredible privilege and honor.

!שבת שלום ומבורך

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Succot on Pesach

In this post, I noted that due to the whole pouring-the-water-to-kasher-the-counters thing, the pre-Pesach period (I can’t refer to this as the PPP, because I’ve already used this acronym for the post-Pesach period here) is faintly reminiscent of Succot.

But this year, the Succot overtones were stronger than ever.

Before I explain, I probably should issue a standard disclaimer:

Warning: The following paragraph contains a passing reference to our no-longer-that-recent renovations.

As you may or may not recall (and as you may or may not care), YZG and his talented team of assistants put up screens around our upstairs porch. The main point of this exercise was to encourage birds and other wildlife to go elsewhere. </Renovations reference>

But about a month ago, we realized that our screen porch would make a perfect pre-Pesach chametz room.

And so, we’ve been eating out there since last Wednesday.

As a result, we were able to:

  • Kasher our kitchen much earlier than usual;
  • Enjoy a week’s worth of semi-picnics in the fresh air;
  • And best of all, make numerous jokes about eating in the “succah”. 

In any event, the porch is now kosher for Pesach, and we’ll IY”H partake of lunch on Erev Pesach in the dining room.

And on that note, the entire Our Shiputzim staff wishes all our readers a chag kasher v’same’ach.

May we be privileged to eat from the zevachim and from the pesachim, speedily and in our days. Amen.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Don’t give me any lip

Like many Israeli families, we have granite countertops.

Aesthetic considerations aside, their main advantage is that they can be kashered.  (CYLOR for further details.)

Simply put, the process involves pouring copious amounts  of boiling hot water over the counters. (Again, CYLOR, but I believe that every authority agrees that one isn’t yotzai if one hasn’t made the annual corny joke about nisuach hamayim on Pesach instead of Succot…)

Which brings me to the Great Lip Debate.

Most Israeli kitchens have a lip around the edge of the counter. The idea is that the hot water is thus somewhat contained.

However, the down side is that dirt inevitably gets stuck in the crack between the lip and the counter, and one has to resort to toothpicks to remove it.

And so, we opted for a lipless sink. (Random bit of trivia: “Lipless” is a real word. Who knew?)

Although some native Israelis believe that our counters are rather odd-looking, we feel that we made the right decision.

Where do you stand on this all-important issue?


Friday, April 3, 2009

In spring, a young man’s fancy turns to… potato kugel??

Yes, I’m still here, and no, I haven’t abandoned this blog.

It’s just that – as you can imagine – I’ve been somewhat preoccupied with Pesach preparations here in TRLEOOB*. But fortunately – due to the miracles of the early Shabbat minyan – I find that I have a few minutes to spare before I need to light candles and can thus briefly turn my attention back to the blog.

Specifically, I’ve noted that my potato kugel post has received a significant number of hits over the past few days. Pesach must really be on the way…

In any event, the Our Shiputzim editorial board has asked me to share some of the searches which led to that post. (My comments are in blue.)

  • pouring hot water on potato kugel reason (IMNSHO, there’s never a reason to do this – unless you like wet, soggy potato kugel…)
  • overnight kugel
  • secret to best potato kugel (Grate it by hand; use plenty of pepper; and bake in a hot oven…)
  • freezing potato kugel
  • recipe for potato kugel in crockpot
  • how much potato kugel for 50 people (Less than for 60 but more than for 40…)
  • how much kugel serves 50? (It depends if all 50 like kugel…)
  • potato kugel in slow cooker
  • crock pot potato kugel
  • potato kugel baked 24 hours
  • best way to freeze potato kugel
  • freeze potato kugel
  • how many potatoes per person for kugel (My answer would have to be: “the right amount”. Does this help you?)
  • crock pot potato kugel
  • preparing potato kugel from frozen mix (Please don’t! I beg you…)
  • what kind of potatoes do you use for potato kugel (Personally, I prefer the kind that grows in the ground. But that’s just me…)
  • potato kugel blog (An entire blog devoted exclusively to potato kugel? Cool.)
  • potato kugels
  • overnight kugel recipe

And there you have it: Searching for potato kugel in the J-Blogosphere.

Update: Check out the original potato kugel post for real answers to most of these questions.

!שבת שלום ומבורך


* TRLEOOB = the real life equivalent of our blog