Friday, July 31, 2009

Fun and Games Friday: Presidential edition

It was like hitting the blog fodder jackpot.

It all began innocently enough. The Shiputzim daughters were playing a card game, and mildly curious, I asked what it was called.

“President,” one of the girls volunteered.

“President?” I repeated, never having heard of such a game.

“Yes,” came the confirmation.

My interest was piqued. This definitely had blogging potential.

“What’s it called in Hebrew? Prrrreh-zeedent?” I asked hopefully.

My daughters nodded.


But the best was yet to come.

The girls began to explain the rules, and although most of the details are well beyond the scope of this post, there are three elements which specifically appealed to the blogger in me:

1) When a player wants to pass, s/he says “pahss.”

2) When one puts down four cards from the same suit, it’s knows as “Kodak” (pronounced “koe-dahk”).

3) And then there’s the following, which, IMHO, is truly awesome:

  • The winner is the “president” (or, rather, the “prrrreh-zeedent”) – hence the game’s name.
  • The loser is called “zevel” (literally, garbage).
  • If there are a total of three players, the one who comes in second place is usually referred to as the “middle” (pronounced “mee-dell”). In an alternate version of the game, this player is called “nootrali” – i.e. “neutral”. (Mah?! Zeh gam milah b’Anglit?!)
  • If there are five players, the second place winner is the “vice president” (pronounced “viiiice prrrreh-zeedent”), and the one who comes in second to last is known as – are you ready? - “viiiice zevel” (i.e. “vice garbage”).

I kid you not.

So, thank you, Mr. or Ms. Game Originator, from the bottom of my blogging heart. You really, really, REALLY made my day…


!שבת שלום ומבורך

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Counteracting the meraglim

The Second Beit HaMikdash was famously destroyed due to sinat chinam (baseless hatred). Yet, Tisha B’Av’s designation as a day of mourning predates either Mikdash.

As we read in Parshat Shlach, the meraglim (spies)slandered Eretz Yisrael, and in response, the nation cried all night. The Gemara (BT Taanit 29a) teaches:

“Rabbah said in the name of R’ Yochanan, ‘That day was the day before Tisha B’Av. HaKadosh Baruch Hu said to them: “You wept a gratuitous weeping, and I will establish for you a weeping for the generations.”’”

And so, as an antidote to the meraglim, I’d like to present – with your permission – one of the myriad things I love about our beautiful Land: namely, the fact that this is a Jewish country.

Several examples:

1) The Jewish calendar

In Israel, the calendar revolves around the Jewish festivals, and “the holiday season” refers to Tishrei - not December. Also, even secular Israelis wish each other a “Shabbat Shalom” and/or a “Chag Samei’ach”.

2) Corporate culture

As some of you know, the CTO is spending his summer working at a high-tech firm.

Although I was a few years older than he is now when I was first introduced to corporate America, I experienced a bit of a culture shock. By the end of the first day, I realized that I wasn’t in Kansas Stern College anymore.

In contrast, there’s a daily mincha minyan in the CTO’s building. (On Shivah Assar B’Tamuz, he and his fellow congregants went next door to a different building, which has a Sefer Torah.) Also, each day, the employees are served breakfast (pastry, cheeses, and vegetables), and it’s all kosher. And when he went out to lunch with his co-workers last week, they ate at a mehadrin restaurant.

3) Shaving during the Three Weeks

Unless matters have changed drastically over the past eleven years, when the Three Weeks or Sefirah rolls around, most employees in the Diaspora have to shave.

But here in Israel, during this time of year, one sees men all over the place sporting what can charitably be described as “the scruffy look”, and yet no one thinks twice. It’s not considered to be unprofessional to observe Jewish mourning practices, and even the IDF permits religious soldiers to refrain from shaving when it is prohibited by Jewish law.

Feel free to leave your own examples in the comment section.

.יה”ר שיבנה בית המקדש במהרה בימינו


Have an easy and meaningful fast.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Our Shiputzim: Certified international expert?

We briefly interrupt this blog to bring you the following fast-breaking news flash:

Google declares that the Our Shiputzim blog is the world’s leading authority on Israeli teenager slang.

Okay. Maybe they didn’t say that EXACTLY.

Not in so many words, anyway.

But if one does a search for teenager Israeli slang, one discovers that this blog comes in first. (Go ahead – see for yourself.)

Which, IMHO, suggests that Google believes that no one knows more about this subject than I do.

Of course, the ironic part is that the aforementioned search leads to my post about Facebook statuses*, which – as anyone who has actually read it knows – discusses the fact that neither I nor any other Anglo parent understands Israeli teenager slang.

However, if the erudite Rav Google holds that I’m “big in” (excuse my Yeshivish) this field, who am I, a lowly and humble J-blogger, to argue?

And, so, the next time you need some information about Israeli teenager slang, please don’t hesitate to ask me.

I’ll gladly refer you to a certain well-known search engine for details…



*BTW, I wrote a follow-up to my initial Facebook post here.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Freshly Baked Goods Friday: Day camp challah edition

Apparently, two Fridays ago was “National Make Challah in Day Camp Day”, because each member of the Shiputzim family’s keitanah (day camp) contingent did just that.

Unfortunately, by the time they got home, their challahs were stuck to the plastic plates, and the tops had partially baked in the heat.

Nevertheless, the Resident Ulpanistit – aka our Baker-in-Chief – skillfully salvaged most of the dough, which the young bakers reassembled into four loaves of varying sizes and textures:


Here they are after they were baked:   IMG_5882 

The young bakers proudly and generously shared their culinary masterpieces with the rest of the family and with our Shabbat guests.

Well done, young bakers!

And in related news, today officially marks the last day of keitanah. In other words, the kids are now looking at more than a month of unstructured boredom. (Fun, fun, fun…)

Hopefully, we’ll IY”H do some family activities after Tisha B’Av. Watch this space for details. And in the meantime…

!שבת שלום ומבורך

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

KCC 44

A beautiful edition of the Kosher Cooking Carnival is available here. Special thanks to Leora for including my oatmeal apple crisp recipe.

And speaking of food, feel free to share any interesting suggestions for dairy or parve meals in the comment section.

After all, IMNSHO, the difficult part of the Nine Days’ no-meat restriction is not really the lack of meat per se. Rather, the problem is trying to figure out a week’s worth of dairy menus. (This is what the Shiputzim family ate last year during this time.)

בברכת מהרה יבנה המקדש וחודש טוב

Monday, July 20, 2009

Stuck on you

“I was SO stuck!”

Does this sound familiar?

If so, you’re either a Heblish-speaker or – more likely – the parent of one.

Originally, I was going to include this expression in my next excerpt from the Official Our Shiputzim Heblish-English Dictionary (the most recent edition is available here).

However, upon reflection, I decided that the term really deserves its own post. After all, it’s apparently extremely popular among the teenager set. And besides, I haven’t quite figured out a good English definition…

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

You see, the Hebrew source for “being stuck” is תקוע (taku’a – literally, stuck).

The phrase refers to that uncomfortable feeling of being awkwardly and self-consciously out-of-place.

Needless to say, teenagers feel this way fairly often.

But even adults can “be stuck” – like when one is invited to a party where one knows no one but the host.

Yet, how does one translate this into English? Is there a single word which best describes this all-too-common sensation? Please leave your suggestions in the comment section.

But in the meantime, I guess we’re all, well, stuck with the Heblish…


Sunday, July 19, 2009

HH 226 plus a brief nature lesson

First, the latest edition of Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Jack for including two of my posts:

And on a completely unrelated note, the following observation was recently overheard here in TRLEOOB:

“Flies are frogs’ favorite food. It’s like dessert for them. And on Shabbat, they like to have nice JUICY flies…”


Friday, July 17, 2009

Fiction Friday: Gone With the Wind edition

Warning: The following post may contain spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.

The Resident Ulpanistit (TRU) recently finished reading Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With the Wind”.

Brief interjection: Please note that she BA”H read the entire 1037-page (but who’s counting) epic in the original English! Well done, TRU! </maternal boasting>

Anyway, she enjoyed the book immensely but was somewhat perturbed by the abrupt ending.

I assured her that everything works out – although I cautioned her that a certain so-called “anonymous” Swedish-speaking commenter will probably tell her otherwise.

Please help me alleviate TRU’s understandable concerns by leaving a comment confirming that Rhett Butler does, indeed, come back…smile_teeth

!שבת שלום ומבורך


Thursday, July 16, 2009

A hard day [camp] night

A look at some of the events of the past few days here in TRLEOOB*:

Tue. 11:00 PM

A certain Shiputzim child (ACSC) finally comes home from his youth group’s mangal (barbecue).

Wed. 8:00 AM

ACSC decides to stay home from day camp. (According to the schedule, this morning’s activities are to include snappling, a “swing”, and wall climbing. ACSC feels that he’s too tired for any of that.)

Wed. 8:00 PM

Nevertheless, sleeping bag in tow, he heads back to camp this evening for an overnight.

Thu. 12:05 PM

Extraordinarily grubby, bleary-eyed, and barely coherent, ACSC stumbles into the house. He responds to my greeting with what can best be described as a grunt and mumbles something about going to put his stuff away. I get back to work while I wait for him to reappear.

Thu. 12:08 PM

I realize that it has been a few minutes since he headed off to his room and send out a search party to find him. He’s soon located – sprawled out on the living room recliner, fast asleep….

Lesson learned: Summer vacation is to getting enough rest as oil is to water. In other words, they don’t mix…



* TRLEOOB = the real life equivalent of our blog

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ignoring the cynics

One of the consequences of the so-called Disengagement was that many Israelis became very cynical.

You see, we all used to go to various and assorted rallies and protests. (Here’s a beautiful description of the giant one at Shaar Yafo. YZG was there too.)

But by the time that dark summer rolled around four years ago, we had lost our innocence

Our voices didn’t count. Our democratic right to protest was stifled. And nothing we said or did had any impact.

In the weeks and days leading up to the Expulsion, we continued our efforts, knowing in our hearts that it was useless. People said things like, “It’s not going to help, but at least we can say that we tried.”

Fast forward to a few weeks ago.

One of the health funds with a large presence in our neighborhood (I would venture to say that a majority of our neighbors belong to this particular fund) announced that due to budget cuts, they were closing our local branch.

The prevailing attitude was that nothing could be done and that any attempts to fight the decision would be futile and a complete waste of time.

Nevertheless, one determined local activist refused to concede defeat. He wrote letters, collected signatures, and arranged several meetings with TPTB (the powers that be).

And today, to everyone’s very pleasant surprise, the decree was rescinded. The local health clinic will, indeed, remain open.

May this experience help us shed our cynicism, and may we be privileged to realize that sometimes, optimism can win out.

Monday, July 13, 2009

An apple a day

If there was such a thing as a food with an identity crisis, apple kugel would be it.

Indeed, many people claim to be confounded by this dish. Apparently, they find it oddly unsettling: Is it a dessert? A side dish? Neither? Both?

Well, as it turns out, the following recipe - which is a Shiputzim family favorite and comes from my mother-in-law (my contribution was to replace the margarine with oil) - can go either way.

We enjoy it as a light accompaniment to oven-fried schnitzel and assorted salads on Shabbat lunch during the summer, but I can easily imagine someone else* serving it as a dessert.

*Note that I say “someone else”. If I would try serving it that way here in TRLEOOB, the natives would surely revolt… :-)

Oatmeal Apple Crisp


  • 1/4 cup + 1 1/2 TBSP oil (I use canola)
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 4 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon


Heat oil in saucepan. Add oatmeal and stir over heat for 1-2 minutes. Immediately add brown sugar and flour and mix through until flour dissolves. Remove from flame. Put less than half of the oatmeal mixture on the bottom of a baking-paper-lined pan. Place apple slices on top of crumbs and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon to taste. Finally, cover with the remaining crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour.

We like to eat this straight from the refrigerator, but feel free to serve it warm, if you’re so inclined.

Note: These amounts are for the equivalent of a 9x9 inch baking pan. Double the recipe if you’re using a 9x13 inch pan.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Fun and Games Friday: Extreme Boggle edition

Contrary to popular belief, the Shiputzim family likes to live on the edge. {nods earnestly} Yes. We do. {ignores snickers and snide remarks}

Don’t believe me?

Well, how else can you explain the fact that when we play Boggle, we use an ancient, battered dictionary from the late 1940’s??

I rest my case.

You see, according to house rules, players don’t get points for words that aren’t listed in this dictionary. And the words have to be included in the main section - rather than the so-called “New Words section”.

As the editors explain:

“The New Words section… contains… those new terms that have come into common usage since the end of World War II… each term therein suspended on probation until usage determines whether it should be eliminated or be admitted into the main body.”

Yet, this dictionary is so old and outdated that the following examples are considered to be “new terms” which are “suspended on probation”:

  • facsimile transmission
  • transistor
  • fusion
  • fission
  • brunch
  • geriatrics
  • suburbia
  • satellite
  • racism
  • parameter
  • brainwashing
  • nuclear
  • additive

And, so, dear readers, the next time you’re in the mood to take a few risks, please feel free to drop by for an exciting and dangerous game of Extreme Boggle…


!שבת שלום ומבורך

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Israeli teenagers - 1; Anglo parents - 0

Parents around the world have discovered that joining Facebook is an excellent way to keep tabs on their kids.

However, if – like me - you’re the Anglo parent of Israeli teenagers, you’re out of luck.

I should begin by noting that the quality of your Hebrew is irrelevant.

You might be perfectly fluent. You might have been first in your ulpan class. You might spend your days lecturing and communicating in Hebrew. Your accent might be impeccable, and people might sometimes mistake you for a native-born Israeli.

In fact, you might even BE a native-born Israeli.

But none of this matters.

You’re STILL not going to be able to understand your Israeli teenager’s Facebook statuses.

First of all, these statuses are filled with made-up words. For instance, Israeli kids write “חחחח” in lieu of LOL and tav-apostrophe instead of the preposition “את”.

Then there are all the deliberately misspelled words. (At least, one HOPES that the spelling mistakes are intentional…) Specifically, teenagers like to add an extra aleph here or there in order to stress the wrong syllables – as in שאווה (SHA-veh), which really should be שווה (sha-VEH - “worth it”).

Roshei teivot (acronyms) also figure prominently, but the catch is that they’re not necessarily based on the first letter of each word. A typical example would be the ubiquitous חבל”ז, which stands for “חבל על הזמן” (literally, “it’s a waste of time” – but frequently used to describe something in a positive light).

Finally, there are all the “blended” words, including kacholavan and classics such as יומולדת (i.e. יום הולדת – birthday).

And, so, dear readers, as you can see, Anglo parents don’t stand a chance against their Israeli kids.

It’s almost as if they speak a foreign language…


Hat tip: Jameel


P.S. Be sure to check out my follow-up to this post here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pooling our resources

As you may (or may not) recall, back in February, I wrote a post entitled, “Reason #4734 For Making Aliyah”.

Rather than recapping the post, I’ll simply say that it deals with American tuition costs, aliyah, and carpools.

Yet, as it turns out, I may have misrepresented some of the facts.

First, US tuition costs are apparently way more than I thought. (Maybe some of my American readers can explain how an average family can possibly cope with those truly mind-boggling numbers…)

But it was with respect to the carpool aspect of my original post that I was really being disingenuous.

You see, I bluntly asserted:

“Two words - NO. CARPOOLS. Need I say more?”

After all, writing – as I was – in the depths of the winter, I was able to delude myself that this statement was 100% accurate.

Now, admittedly, a number of commenters observed that where they live, carpools actually ARE a necessity.

However, we’re fortunate to have excellent schools and afternoon programs right here in our neighborhood, and the kids can easily get around by foot or by bike.

Thus, for much of the year, I’m able to pretend that carpools are the exclusive domain of parents in the Diaspora.

But then comes summer vacation.

And summer vacation means swimming lessons.

And since one thing our immediate neighborhood doesn’t have is a swimming pool, swimming lessons mean carpools.

But don’t worry.

Because as soon as this year’s lessons are over, I plan on once again maintaining a blissful state of denial.

That is, until next summer…


Sunday, July 5, 2009

News from around the J-Blogosphere

Shavua tov!

The latest edition of Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Toby for including my summer vacation top ten list.

And in other news, I was privileged to participate in Ilana-Davita’s Mesorah Project. She had the beautiful idea of asking a number of bloggers to explain what “Mesorah” means to them. (The previous editions are available here and here.)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fauna Friday: Chameleon edition

Look who what came to visit TRLEOOB the other day:

IMG_5858 Yes. This is a chameleon.

YZG and some of the Shiputzim children (i.e. not the ones who inherited MY genes) caught the chameleon and briefly put it into a box:


After watching it run around the box for a few minutes, they took it out and let it scamper all over its newfound human friends:

IMG_5862IMG_5857 IMG_5841IMG_5854 IMG_5849Those of you who know me in real life won’t be surprised that there are no pictures of ME holding – or even going near – the chameleon…

After playing with it for a few more minutes, the kids finally said goodbye to their erstwhile pet and watched it scurry off into the bushes:

IMG_5866MAG claims that there’s a chameleon somewhere in this picture. Can you find it?

!שבת שלום ומבורך


P.S. As always, you can click on any of the pictures for a closer view.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Top ten ways you know that summer vacation has arrived

(10) Your family’s food consumption has increased dramatically.

(9) At any given time of day, the area around your children’s computer is knee-deep in kids. Some of them even belong to you…

(8) Apparently, every single 10-14 year old girl in your neighborhood is making a backyard camp for first to third grade girls. According to your calculations, that means FIVE camps for every potential camper…

(7) You suggest that your son and his friends make a similar camp for first to third grade BOYS. Needless to say, your suggestion is rejected out of hand…

(6) You find that you’re accomplishing less and less work-wise.

(5) You’re thrilled to have a respite from fights about doing homework. But then you realize that you have to contend with something even worse: vacation assignments…

(4) Your A/C basically runs 24/7.

(3) Bathing suits, bathing caps, and wet towels feature prominently in your daily laundry haul.

(2) Your kids spend their days complaining that they’re bored and have nothing to do. But as soon as you need them to babysit, they suddenly discover that they have plans…

(1) You’re eagerly counting the days until September 1st...