Monday, June 29, 2009

A suggestion for the English-challenged

Warning: This post may exceed the recommended daily allowance of snarkiness. Proceed at your own risk.


Generally, my Heblish posts, which are primarily geared towards my children's education, can also serve to protect me and my fellow Anglos against potential linguistic lapses.

But this post is designed as a public service announcement for a certain subset of native-born Israelis who may not be QUITE as cool as they like to think they are.

I’m referring, of course, to those Israelis who enjoy peppering their Hebrew with occasional dashes of English.

Unfortunately (for them and for their interlocutors), however, some of these would-be English-speakers occasionally – and completely unwittingly – dot their speech with Heblish instead of the intended English.

For instance, during the course of a recent phone call – which was conducted entirely in Hebrew - an Israeli colleague said to me, “Tov, b’seder, I trust on you.”

Also, not too long ago, I observed the word, “wellcom,” [sic] in the middle of an otherwise all-Hebrew email.

So, if you’re a native Israeli (who happens to read English-language blogs), please consider the following:

An injudicious use of English – specifically, an English which is rife with errors and misspellings and veers towards Heblish – probably won’t achieve the desired results.

Quite the opposite in fact.

My advice?

Stick to Hebrew. You won’t be sorry.

Trust on me…


Sunday, June 28, 2009

A carnival trio

First, the latest Haveil Havalim is available here. (Special thanks to Simply Jews for including my Official Israeli Double Simcha KissTM post.)

Also, the latest Kosher Cooking Carnival is available here. (Special thanks to The Real Shliach for including my Pineapple Chicken recipe.)

And finally, אחרונה אחרונה חביבה, the latest JPIX is available here. (Special thanks to Leora for including my picture of the “bridge to nowhere”.)

Have a great week!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fine Arts Friday: End of school year edition

As the school year draws to a close, the kids have been bringing home some of their handiwork, which they asked that I display on the blog.

For instance, TSG did this drawing in pencil, crayon and watercolor:


(As always, click on the picture for a closer view.)

And ESG made this useful birkonim holder:

IMG_5816 IMG_5818 

!שבת שלום ומבורך

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A kiss is just a kiss

Malke’s post about Israeli smachot (she’s still waiting for comments, BTW) reminded me that I never wrote about the significant aliyah milestone I recently achieved.

Of course, our klitah (absorption) is far from complete. For instance, as I discussed a few months ago, even though we’ve been here almost eleven years, YZG and I still can’t figure out when to show up at a simcha.

But I’m pleased to announce that I think I’ve finally mastered one important aspect of Israeli culture: the Official Israeli Double Simcha Kiss TM.

Yes, that’s right. I’ve actually learned how to kiss the hostess once on each cheek while wishing her a mazal tov… without feeling overly awkward and self-conscious. (Note the emphasis on the word “overly”…)

The key is that it doesn’t involve a quick “kiss, kiss” rhythm. Rather, it’s best described as more of an unhurried, three-step process:

  1. A kiss on one cheek
  2. A noticeable pause while one slowly and deliberately moves to the other side
  3. A kiss on the second cheek

As you can imagine, the middle step is the trickiest. While you certainly DON’T want to overdo the pause, you don’t want to rush it either. Basically, this is one of those techniques which should probably first be practiced at home.

I should also warn you that it’s not all smooth sailing even after you get the hang of the Official Israeli Double Simcha Kiss TM.

Because all my gloating about my supposed cultural proficiency aside, I have yet to learn how to respond with a polished “baruch tehiyeh”/“bruchah tehi” (literally, “may you be blessed”) when I’m the hostess and someone else wishes me a mazal tov…


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Oxymoronic sur la pointe

Last week, the female members of the Shiputzim family were privileged to watch the resident ballerina perform in her ballet recital.

Since then, the resident ballerina’s sister has been determined to leave her own mark on the dance world.

This afternoon, she apparently made a breakthrough.

“Look at me!” she cried, as she balanced herself on her sandals’ soles, which were bent backwards. “I can exactly almost stand on my toes…”


Monday, June 22, 2009

[Nobody’s] been workin’ on the railroad

Recently, the Knesset State Control Committee met to discuss the Yerushalayim-Tel Aviv high-speed railway, a project which is way behind schedule and way over budget.

Although the Tel Aviv-Modiin portion of the line is currently in use, most of the Modiin-Yerushalayim section is nowhere near completion.

Meanwhile, a few years ago, railway workers finished building a long bridge just outside of Modiin.

The bridge was designed to lead into a tunnel under a nearby mountain, but it remains to be seen when – or, perhaps, even if – construction will commence on the tunnel.

Here’s what the bridge looks like from above. (As always, click for a closer view.)

IMG_5745 - Copy IMG_5748And there you have it.

The Israeli version of the bridge to nowhere…



Special thanks to YZG for taking these pictures during a recent road trip.

Update: Leora has another view of the same bridge here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

HH 222

The latest edition of Haveil Havalim is available here.

Special thanks to The Real Shliach for including Malke's informative guest post about Israeli smachot.


BTW, please be sure to leave a comment on Malke’s post. She might not agree to write another post if she doesn’t “feel the love” this time…


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Guest Post: Rak Smachot

B”H, this time of year – coming, as it does, between Sefirat HaOmer and the Three Weeks and coinciding with the last month of school – tends to be full of smachot (festive occasions), ken yirbu (may they only increase).

Our Shiputzim commenter (and real life friend) Malke graciously agreed to share some thoughts on the subject:


Israeli Smachot

A Guest Post by Malke

Now that I find myself in that in-between stage: after bar/bat mitzvahs and before weddings (b'ezrat Hashem), my simcha-making lull allows me to reflect on the whole topic of making a simcha in Israel. Quite different from the Old Country.

Let's address each in turn:

Brit: I still have not figured out why the American standard of making a brit first thing in the morning, according to the principle of "zrizim makdimim l'mitzvah"- or in other words, “do the mitzvah at the earliest opportunity you can” - does not hold true, for the most part, in Israel. Here the reigning principle seems to be "b'rov am hadrat melech"- or in other words, “the more the merrier” - and the brit takes place later in the day. It's true that it does spare one from having to get up at the crack of dawn, but it also means missing half a day's work to attend a 2 PM brit.

Bar/bat mitzvah: On the whole, much more toned down than in America. I recall a friend in America telling me she was having trouble coming up with a "theme" for her son's bar mitzvah. Here, luckily, the theme does tend much more towards "kabbalat ol mitzvot." I realize I am generalizing, and I'm sure things vary by community. But when the same friend told me a girl in her daughter's class was taking the entire class of 23 to Disney World for her bat mitzvah, I must admit I wondered if something wasn't getting lost here…

Here in Israel, the major question seems to be whether to have the almost mandatory matzeget (PowerPoint presentation) or not. I am personally not a big fan, figuring no one really wants to see cute baby pictures of my children other than me, their father and their grandparents. But YMMV.

Graduations: Not technically a simcha, perhaps, but still worth mentioning because… HA HA HA HA. Nothing like what I remember. When my oldest niece graduated high school, my father wanted to fly in from America, envisioning caps and gowns, pomp and circumstance, cantatas, valedictorians. My sister quickly dissuaded him from wasting his well-earned money. Maybe there are schools here who do something more akin to what we had in the US, but my children certainly don't attend them.

Wedding: I am still searching for that happy medium between the over-the-top formality of some American weddings and the complete chaos of some Israeli ones. The more informal atmosphere of Israeli weddings definitely adds to the joyous atmosphere. However, I have been to too many chuppot where you can barely hear the proceedings, because the guests are all milling around and talking… That seems to me to lessen what is, after all, a very holy and solemn occasion.

This is, of course, just the tip of the iceberg, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter. In addition, I have only referred to affairs in the circles in which I travel, which naturally does not cover all segments of society.

Which brings me to one final issue: work affairs. I find that at my workplace EVERYONE gets invited to EVERYTHING. Now apart from those people for whom their work friends constitute their entire social circle, I am assuming that, like me, most of the inviters don't really want to fill up their simcha with work colleagues, and almost certainly most of said colleagues don't want to come. And yet this dance continues…


Thank you, Malke, for a great post!

!שנדע רק שמחות

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Who you callin’ chicken?

A few weeks ago, A Mother in Israel posted a “Shabbat Meme”.

I’ve decided to take up the challenge, but instead of answering all the questions in one post, I’m going to focus only on the second one for now:

Favorite Shabbat Meal

A surefire Friday night crowd pleaser here in TRLEOOB (tell me - do I have to keep explaining what this means?) is what the Shiputzim family refers to as “Classic Chicken”.

Simply put, this is fresh (I time it so that it’s ready just before I light candles) roasted chicken which has been seasoned with copious amounts of garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika.

Although this dish may sound somewhat prosaic, it’s our family’s overwhelming favorite. Even a certain Shiputzim child who’s notorious for being a picky eater has occasionally asked for second helpings.

With an appetizer of chicken soup and accompanied by fresh hand-grated potato kugel and a tossed salad, “Classic Chicken” is the meal most frequently requested by the denizens of TRLEOOB.

Thus, I was pleasantly surprised when one of the aforementioned denizens specifically asked for Pineapple Chicken last week.

Pineapple Chicken


  • Can of pineapple (including the juice)
  • Soy sauce
  • Brown sugar
  • Garlic powder


Clean chicken and place in a roasting pan. Pour the pineapple pieces and juice over the chicken. Season with soy sauce, brown sugar, and finally the garlic powder. (I tend to be very generous with all these ingredients.) Bake uncovered, while basting often. (In my oven, 1.75 hours at 375 degrees works, but YMMV.)


Monday, June 15, 2009

Interpreting a Midrash

The following exchange was overheard here in TRLEOOB* a few days before Shavuot, in reference to the famous Midrash which teaches that all the mountains “argued" about where the Torah should be given:

Shiputzim Child #1: But mountains don’t talk!

Shiputzim Child #2: {nods sagely} Yes, but Hashem can understand mountains…



* TRLEOOB = the real life equivalent of our blog

Revavah, k’tzemach hasadeh

“Myriad, like the plants of the field…” (Yechezkel 16:7)

The Biblical term רבבה - revavah (literally, myriad) - is usually taken to mean “ten thousand”.

I mention this, because while I was off focusing on real life (yes, Virginia, there IS life away from the J-Blogosphere), this blog’s visitor count apparently passed the ten thousand mark.

Of course, this is small potatoes for some of the older, more established blogs out there.

But to paraphrase a certain Heblish-speaking veteran Our Shiputzim reader: On me, this looks good…


HH 221

The latest edition of Haveil Havalim is available here.

Special thanks to Phyllis Sommer for including my most recent batch of Heblish definitions.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Going native

In the comment section to my most recent Heblish post, Malke referred to:

“The Final Four (or ‘Fay-nell Forr’ for our Israeli children).”

In my response, I wondered:

“Why do our children, who can speak English with flawless American accents when they so desire, say things like ‘Fay-nell Forr’ when they're speaking Hebrew?! For instance, a certain up-and-coming young computer genius of my acquaintance always says things like "Weendows" and "Oh-feess" when speaking Hebrew - even though he's perfectly capable of saying "Windows" and "Office" the rest of the time...”

I mention this exchange, because I think it’s the key to the mysterious “Ein Zahp” (the title of the game discussed in this post).

As Leora correctly observed:

“If I say ‘Ein Zahp’ as though I'm an Israeli talking English, it kinda sounds like hands up.”

And, in fact, the two Shiputzim family members who are most knowledgeable about these types of games (that would be MAG and the CTO, for those keeping score at home) agree that “Ein Zahp” is really the Israeli way of saying, “Hands Up!

If you don’t believe them, try saying “Ein Zahp” out loud yourself (as Leora did).

Then you, too, can sound like an Israeli child of Anglo descent who occasionally pretends that s/he doesn’t also speak fluent and impeccably-accented American English…


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Heblish: Realization of a fear edition

Before I bring you yet another batch of entries from the Official Our Shiputzim Heblish-English Dictionary, I’m afraid that I must inject a serious note into the proceedings.

As you will no doubt recall, back in my introduction to an earlier excerpt from this popular reference work, I observed that these definitions serve two important functions:

“Not only do they help teach our children how to speak properly, but they serve as reminders for those of us who’ve become inured to things like the infamous ‘City in Growing Process’ sign.”

Unfortunately, however, it may be too late.

You see, a certain Our Shiputzim reader called me up the other day and suggested that I include the phrase “going up to kitah aleph” in my next Heblish post.

“But that’s not funny,” I demurred.

And that’s when I realized that the damage had been done. I had become so accustomed to the Heblish expression that I had forgotten that it isn’t English…

Here, then, is the official dictionary entry:

Going up to kitah aleph: Hebrew source – ‘עולה לכיתה א. English definition – Going into first grade. Sample usage - “He’s finished with gan; next year, he’s going to go up to kitah aleph.”

And here are another four definitions for your linguistic pleasure:

In a good matzav: Hebrew source – במצב טוב. English definition – In good condition. Sample usage - “My skirt from last summer is still in a good matzav.”

Too less: Hebrew source – פחות מדי . English definition – Too few; not enough. Sample usage - “I had too less money to buy that item.”

A vee: Hebrew source – וי. English definition – A check mark. Sample usage - “I got the answer right, and the teacher gave me a vee.”

To work Hashem; to work avodah zarah: Hebrew source – לעבוד את ה’; לעבוד עבודה זרה. English definition – Serve/worship Hashem; worship idols. Sample usage - “Instead of working Hashem, Bnei Yisrael worked avodah zarah.”



Previous Heblish editions are available here: Heblish I, Heblish II, Heblish III, Heblish IV, and Heblish V.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

HH 220

The latest edition of Haveil Havalim is available here.

Special thanks to Esser Agaroth for including my “yisrabluff” post.


P.S. The Our Shiputzim management has asked me to include what has now become an annual shout-out to our reader in Sweden and to wish him a safe trip back home to Israel.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Fun and Games Friday: You be the judge edition

In the spirit of last year’s widely-popular Theory of the Gilads, I now present a new challenge for your pre-Shabbat enjoyment:

At Ariel (a youth movement) on Shabbat, a certain Shiputzim child frequently plays a game called “Ein Zahp”.

We here in TRLEOOB (I’m going to assume that you know what this means by now) have been wondering about the name’s etymology and have narrowed it down to three possibilities:

1) The name comes from the Hebrew אין זאפ – i.e. “no zahp”. (Admittedly, zahp isn’t a word, but that’s just a minor detail…)

2) The name is a Hebrew corruption of the words, “ends up”.

3) The name is a Hebrew corruption of the phrase, “hands up”.

Which answer is correct?

Please show your work…


!שבת שלום ומבורך

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

It’s in the bag(rut)

Back in this post, I provided a list of some bagruyot (Israeli high school matriculation exams) basics.

As promised, here’s a glossary of those terms:

  • Matkonet – מתכונת – Literally, standard or measure. This refers to the pretest given by the teacher in advance of the actual bagrut.

  • Ezrachut – אזרחות – Civics. One of the basic, required subjects. (And also one of the least popular…)

  • Hagashah – הגשה – Literally, submission. The term refers to the grade given by the teacher. In theory, the hagashah is based on the aforementioned matkonet, but most teachers take other factors into consideration. Note that the final bagrut grade is the average of the hagashah and the score the student receives on the bagrut. (Therefore, this is sometimes referred to as the tziyun magen – ציון מגן – literally, “protective mark”. However, there are times when the hagashah can actually hurt the student.)

  • Megamah – מגמה – Course of study or “major”. Depending on the school, students must choose a megamah by the end of 9th or 10th grade.

  • Feezikah – פיזיקה - Physics. This is generally considered to be one of the hardest megamot.

  • On-seenאנסין – Literally, “unseen”. On both the English and Gemara bagruyot, the students are required to analyze text which they’ve never seen before. (Heblish speakers may be surprised to learn that this is NOT an English term…)

  • Mikud – מיקוד – Literally, concentration. A few weeks (months?) before each bagrut, the Education Ministry announces which specific topics will appear on the exam.

  • Lashon – לשון – Language arts or grammar. Another one of the required subjects.

  • Yechidot – Literally, units. Most Heblish speakers call them “points”, but those of us who attended college in the States tend to think of them as “credits”. Students take a different number of yechidot in different subjects. For example, in general, one takes five yechidot in one’s megamah.

  • Machshevetמחשבת – Jewish thought. For students attending yeshiva high schools and ulpanot (girls’ religious high schools), this is a required subject.

  • Machsheivim – מחשבים – Computers. Like feezikah above, this is considered to be a ri’ali (ריאלי – literally, realistic – i.e. practical, technological or science-based) megamah.

  • ‘G’ – The English bagrut is divided into several individual tests. “G” refers to one of the harder tests.

  • Eretz – ארץ – The official name of this (non-ri’ali) megamah is Limudei Eretz Yisrael – לימודי ארץ ישראל – Land of Israel Studies.

  • Mo’ed bet – ‘מועד ב – A makeup exam date. This is offered for English and math.

  • Efess-chamesh05 – The math bagrut is also divided into different tests. “05” is one of them.


    Now excuse me while I sit back and wait for some of my younger readers to pounce on all the mistakes, errors, and omissions…



    !בהצלחה לכל הנבחנים

  • Tuesday, June 2, 2009

    A peek into the mamad

    All kidding about this week’s unprecedented home front drill aside, emergency preparedness is a serious matter. Hoping to raise consciousness, Mimi over at Israeli Kitchen is compiling a collection of relevant posts and encouraged me to write the following:

    The way I see it, the drill is meant to inject a dose of hard, cold reality into our everyday state of denial.

    For instance, under normal circumstances, one can blithely pretend that one’s guest room, children’s bedroom, study, playroom, family room, computer room, den, or office is no more and no less than its name implies.

    A simple room.

    But this drill should serve as a reminder that the room in question is really a mamad.

    Mamad – ממ”ד – is an acronym for merchav mugan dirati – loosely, “residential protected space”.

    According to Israeli building codes, every home built after the First Gulf War is required to have a so-called security or safe room with extra thick, reinforced steel and concrete walls; a specially-designed window with a steel cover; a steel-plated door; and several other features.

    The idea is that the mamad is conveniently located inside one’s home, and one is permitted to consider it as normal living space.

    Indeed, realtors and builders market the room as a regular bedroom. Thus, for example, what’s known as a 4-room apartment has three bedrooms, where one of them is the mamad.

    Of course, initially, one is quite aware of the mamad’s unique status. After all, there are several technical decisions to be made, including:

    1. Should one put in an A/C duct? In fact, one isn’t permitted to do so, but for many families (ours included), A/C is a must. So, we put a duct just outside the mamad. Other people do install a duct inside the room, but they add a removable steel cover.
    2. Should one replace the steel-plated door with a lighter and more attractive door? A regular door makes the room more functional. (We left the heavy door.)
    3. And so on.

    But once these choices have been made, most of us simply ignore or forget about the room’s alternate, more unpleasant purpose.

    Hence, the drill forces us to confront this type of complacency.

    Yet where does one draw the line between paranoia (ala those who planned for a Y2K-doomsday) and a reasonable level of preparedness?

    Similarly, how does one find a balance between using the mamad as a room and turning it into a full-fledged bomb shelter?

    Should the mamad be stuffed with gallons of water, stacks of canned goods, radios, flashlights, batteries, and other emergency supplies?

    Or can one leave space for all the trappings of ordinary life?

    Obviously, there are no easy answers to these questions, but ideally, we’ll all use this occasion to start thinking about some of these issues.

    May we never experience anything more serious than a countrywide drill, and may we enjoy besurot tovot, yeshu’ot, and nechamot (good tidings, salvation, and consolation).