Thursday, October 29, 2009

Physical Fitness Friday: “We’re not in Kansas anymore” edition

Recently, the Resident Ulpanistit got a 95 on a test.

Now, I realize that no one wants to read a long, dull post about all of the Shiputzim children’s amazing accomplishments BA”H.

But I just had to share the Resident Ulpanistit’s grade with you, because, you see, her test was on… handstands.

Yes, handstands.

I’m sure you’ll all agree that nothing more needs to be said, and so I’ll conclude with the Resident Ulpanistit’s explanation:

“I got 90, because I stood on my hands with only one girl holding me up. (If two girls hold you up, you get 80, and if no one holds you up, you get 100.) And then I got another 5 points for hishtadlut (effort)…”

You can’t make this stuff up.


!שבת שלום ומבורך

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The truth is in the, er, appliances??

Good morning, class.

As you’ll recall, we’re in the middle of our unit on the American oleh, and today we’re going to learn how to figure out which year an oleh arrived in Israel.

Now, as we’ve discussed many times, there are many clues which can give us a general idea:

And so on.

The answers to these questions should help you determine whether the oleh is just off the boat or else a veteran Israeli.

But what should you do if you want to know the exact year he arrived?

No problem.

Get yourself invited to his home*, and check out his… household appliances.

Yes, you read that correctly.

You see, everyone who made aliyah in a given year has the exact. same. major appliances.

For instance, anyone who made aliyah from the US circa 1998 – as we did – probably brought most or all of the following items on their lift:

  1. A Maytag washer and dryer
  2. An Admiral (or Maytag or Magic Chef) self-cleaning gas stove (More on this oven coming soon...)
  3. A GE Profile refrigerator
  4. A Miele dishwasher

Feel free to try this [more or less] fail-safe technique* for accurately guessing an oleh’s aliyah date.

You’ll be the hit of the party as you amaze your friends and relatives with your uncanny abilities…



* Void where prohibited. The Our Shiputzim management is neither responsible nor liable for any adverse results or undesirable outcomes. :-)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

News from around the J-Blogosphere

1) The latest edition of Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Artzeinu for including my alternate blog names post.

BTW, be sure to check out the comment section for more great name suggestions. In fact, in addition to all the very funny ideas listed there, commenter and guest blogger Malke had a serious one: “Shirbutim” (שירבוטים –  literally, doodles or scribbles) – which is what I’d probably use if I ever did decide to change the blog name for real…

2) The latest Kosher Cooking Carnival is available here. Special thanks to Mimi, who not only included my sweet and sour meatballs post but also inspired me to write it in the first place!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Heblish: “I’m going to have to sit down for that” edition

Shavua tov!

The Our Shiputzim Complaints Department has officially notified me that many of our readers aren’t pleased.

Apparently, they’re annoyed that not only haven’t I blogged since last Tuesday, but it’s been over two months since my last Heblish post.

Mea culpa.

But before I get around to rectifying this inexcusable lapse, commenter and guest blogger Malke submitted the following:

“My son was quoting from some parshan (commentator) that ‘אין שמחה אלא בישיבת ארץ ישראל’ (‘there’s no joy unless one dwells in Eretz Yisrael’), and so he explained that, ‘we can’t be truly happy unless we're sitting in Eretz Yisrael.’  Because, you see, if we happen to be standing, it's just not the same…”

And now, without further ado, here’s yet another batch of entries from the Official Our Shiputzim Heblish-English Dictionary:

Go over a [negative] mitzvah: Hebrew source לעבור על לאו. English definition – Transgress a negative mitzvah. Sample usage - “If you eat bread on Pesach, you go over the issur of eating chametz.”

In X shekel: Hebrew source שקל X-ב. English definition – For X shekels; at X shekels. Sample usage – “That store is having a sale. They’re selling tops in 20 shekels.”

In its place: Hebrew source במקום. English definition –Appropriate. Sample usage – “His comment was in its place.”

Scared from: Hebrew source …לפחד מ. English definition – Scared of. Sample usage – “On my way to school, I passed a big dog, and I was scared from it.”

Dots: Hebrew source נקודות. English definition – Points. Sample usage – “I had seven dots, but she had ten dots. So, she won the game.”


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

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A blog by any other name

The problem with having “an irrelevant and misleading” [see sidebar at right] blog name is that it’s, well, irrelevant and misleading.

But adopting a new moniker at this stage of the game isn’t as easy as a hop, skip, and a mouse click either.

I mean, what about brand recognition? What about the legions of worldwide fans? What about all those water cooler discussions about the latest post? What about--


I guess I can change this blog’s name after all…

So, here are some of the shortlisted suggestions*:

  • Our Shipudim – The life and times of an early 21st century carnivore
  • Our Shikorim – The life and times of an early 21st century drunk
  • Our Shikulim – The life and times of an early 21st century weight watcher
  • Our Shizufim – The life and times of an early 21st century beach bum
  • Our Shidurim – The life and times of an early 21st century television personality
  • Our Shiputim – The life and times of an early 21st century referee
  • Our Shivukim – The life and times of an early 21st century retailer
  • Our Siddurim – The life and times of an early 21st century florist
  • Our Shidduchim – The life and times of an early 21st century matchmaker
  • Our Shibutim – The life and times of an early 21st century mad scientist


Let me know what you think about these ideas, and please feel free to add a few more of your own.


* Glossary:

  • Shipudim – שיפודים – Skewers
  • Shikorim – שיכורים - Drunkards
  • Shikulim – שיקולים – Weighing (plural)
  • Shizufim – שיזופים – Suntans
  • Shidurim – שידורים - Broadcasts
  • Shiputim – שיפוטים – Judgment calls
  • Shivukim – שיווקים – Marketing (plural)
  • Siddurim – סידורים - Arrangements
  • Shidduchim – שידוכים - Matches
  • Shibutim – שיבוטים – Cloning (plural) 

Mazal tov: Bar mitzvah edition

The entire Our Shiputzim staff extends

a very warm mazal tov to

commenter and guest blogger

Miriam and her dear family

on yesterday’s beautiful bar mitzvah celebration

at the Kotel.

The bar mitzvah boy did a wonderful job, and we look forward to the rest of the festivities on Shabbat IY”H.

Mazal tov also to all the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

HH and Learning Torah with ACSC

Two unrelated items:

1) The latest edition of Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Phyllis for including my description of our trip to Caesarea.

2) Last night I was originally supposed to attend the blogger’s get-together in Petach Tikva.

However, instead, I ended up spending the evening learning Rashi on Parshat Breishit with a certain Shiputzim child (ACSC).

After we finished learning, ACSC graciously and sweetly thanked me and then added:

“Actually, Imma, it’s for your own good that you didn’t get to go to that blogging thing. Don’t you know that you’re not supposed to go to strangers’ houses? I mean, what would you have done if they’d offered you candy…”


In any event, I really enjoyed our marathon learning session. Not only was it great to have an opportunity to learn the parsha, but ACSC always asks thought-provoking questions and has many intelligent insights to share.

So, thank you, ACSC, and shavua tov and chodesh tov to all!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

National parks: Caesarea edition

About a year or two after we made aliyah, the Shiputzim Family Legislature (read: YZG and I) enacted an iron-clad ban on driving up North during chol hamo’ed.

Suffice it to say that we had several bad experiences sitting in traffic around Tel Aviv.

Indeed, even after Kvish 6 (the Trans-Israel Highway) opened, we were still wary.

But this year, our determination to hit as many national parks as possible prompted us to bite the bullet and brave the holiday hordes.

And so, first thing one fine chol hamo’ed morning, we set out for Caesarea.

The site’s numerous attractions include the well-preserved ruins (click here to read about the funny thing that happened on the way to the forum amphitheater); a movie about the ancient city’s history; an interactive exhibit where one can “speak” (via computer) to actors portraying many of the historical figures associated with Caesarea; and, of course, the bright blue ocean.

IMG_6415IMG_6421 IMG_6476 IMG_6477 As always, click on the pictures for a closer view.

But, arguably, the highlight was the equestrian show in the remains of the Roman hippodrome.

To say that this show was the height of kitsch is putting it mildly.

First of all, there were riders dressed like Roman soldiers, complete with gaudy red costumes and what looked like brightly colored plastic brooms on their helmets. As these soldiers entered the arena, the loudspeakers blared the “Back to the Future” theme.

Also, the confusing and highly anachronistic storyline involved Herod’s daughter, a traitorous Roman legionary, and even a pirate.

And yet…

I actually found myself moved to tears.

Because right there, in the middle of the destroyed hippodrome – once the ultimate symbol of the Roman Empire’s might, hegemony, and cruelty – the modern Jewish actors proudly carried an Israeli flag:  IMG_6428 IMG_6434 IMG_6430

!עם ישראל חי

Am Yisrael Chai!

Monday, October 12, 2009

HH and History Comes Alive In Caesarea

Two unrelated blogbits:

1) The latest edition of Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Jack for including my “everything you ever wanted to know about using your car’s sunroof as a succah but were afraid to ask” post.

2) As we were entering the Roman amphitheater during our chol hamo’ed visit to Caesarea (B”N, much more on this trip in a future post), I overheard an American girl gush excitedly to one of her companions:

“This is exactly where he was!”

Naively, I assumed she was referring to R’ Akiva or perhaps to some other important historical figure.

But then the young scholar continued:

“This is exactly where Shwekey had his concert!”

Her teachers must be so proud…


Sunday, October 11, 2009

A scrumptious and satisfying Simchat Torah solution

Planning the menu for Simchat Torah night can be somewhat of a challenge – especially when Simchat Torah falls out on Shabbat (a convergence, BTW, which never occurs outside of Israel).

After all, one doesn’t really know what time shul will end, and obviously, one doesn’t want to serve one’s guests dried-out, overheated food.

Thus, when I read Mimi’s mouthwatering pre-Rosh Hashanah post on sweet and sour meatballs, I realized she had found the perfect solution.

I like to make sweet and sour meatballs with cranberry sauce, because that’s how the world’s best cook – i.e. my grandmother a”h - would prepare them.

However, since she didn’t have a specific recipe - “as much as it takes” was one of her standard measurements – I adapted the following recipe from the “Spice and Spirit” cookbook (“The Purple Cookbook,” בלעז).

Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs


  • 2 cans cranberry sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 200 grams tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tsp lemon juice
  • 3-4 cups water


  • 2 kg ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion, chopped very finely
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped very finely
  • 2 eggs
  • A dash or two of pepper


Place all the sauce ingredients in a large pot, and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

Meanwhile, combine the meatball ingredients in a large bowl.

After twenty minutes, raise the flame, and bring the sauce to a rolling boil. Form meat into balls and gently drop – one at a time – into the sauce. Cover the pot, and let the meatballs simmer over a low flame for at least an hour.

Serve hot with rice. (Brown rice works very well.)



Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Have succah, will travel

Long time readers may – or may not – recall that last year I wrote about our succah-on-wheels.

As it so happened, we had occasion to use it this year during the course of our chol hamo’ed travels.

Since we keep the schach mat and the wooden slats in the car for the duration of the chag, the mobile succah is very convenient and takes about 30 seconds to construct.

Also, even though only two people fit under the schach at a time, the family members who aren’t halachically-obligated to eat in a succah can sit on the other seats. (When there are more than two post-bar-mitzvah-aged males, they can simply take turns eating.) Thus, the whole family can still eat together.

And best of all, having a travelling succah is extraordinarily cool! :-)

Here’s a view of the succah in action:

IMG_6449 Click here for an exterior view.

The funny part was that not one of the many passersby said a thing about our unique approach to succah dining. In contrast, when YZG originally assembled it in front of our house two years ago, all our neighbors came out to see YZG’s new “pah-TEHNT (literally, patent – refers to any creative gadget or workaround).

And on a related note, YZG kindly offered to discuss some of the relevant halachic issues:

Using a car’s sunroof as a succah

by YZG

I. Size: The succah needs to be at least 7 tfachim by 7 tfachim. Depending on the shitah (halachic opinion), that comes out to between 58x58 cm and 70x70 cm. Thus, our car succah’s width is kosher according to even the most machmir shitah (stringent opinion), and the length is fine according to most shitot.

II. Walls: A succah needs at least three walls. (Note that the third wall can be a partial wall.) The car succah has four walls and makes use of a concept called “dofen akumah” – literally, a "bent wall". This means that the succah’s walls can be as far as 4 amot (up to about 6 feet) from the start of the schach. In other words, the rest of the roof is considered to be a dofen akumah – i.e. part of the walls (since they are all less than 4 amot from the schach).

III. Schach: Since the schach shouldn't rest on something that can be mekabel tumah (like metal), the schach sits on wooden slats (see picture above) rather than directly on the metal of the roof.

Thank you, YZG, for your informative post!

!חג שמח


Monday, October 5, 2009

Succot in the J-Blogosphere

Succot is one of the best times to be in Israel. (Other incredible seasons in our beautiful country include Pesach, Chanukah, Purim, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, and, well, every other day of the year…)

And, as it turns out, it’s also a pretty exciting time in the J-Blogosphere. After all:

1) The latest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Ben-Yehudah for including my Ir David post.

2) According to YCT (of the abandoned Ein Shem blog), nothing says “I’m a blogger” like going to blogging meetings.

Which means that I’m now officially a blogger.

Because this afternoon, YZG and I – together with some of the Shiputzim children – attended the First Annual J-Bloggers’ Picnic in Yerushalayim’s Gan Sacher.

B”H, we had a wonderful time.

The kids had fun flying their kite and playing goomi (literally “elastic” – refers to the Israeli version of Chinese jump rope) with some new friends; YZG caught up with an old friend; and I got to meet some very special bloggers. (There were other bloggers there as well. B”N, I’ll try and update this as their names come back to me.)

Special thanks to RivkA for arranging, initiating and organizing the lovely event.

And in conclusion, I’ll let MAG explain why he and some of his siblings opted out:

“Imma, don’t you always tell us not to talk to strangers? And besides, I didn’t need to go. I can just read about it afterwards on your blog…”


!מועדים לשמחה 


P.S. In case you missed these posts last year, check out our [stationary] succah and also our succah-on-wheels.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

National Parks: Ir David edition

Far from the madding crowd, it isn’t.

Indeed, Ir David (the “City of David”) - one of Israel’s most popular tourist spots - is likely to be especially packed on chol hamoed.

But don’t let the throngs scare you away.

Because if you’re looking for an awesome place to take the family over Succot, Ir David definitely fits the bill.

After all, it seems that not a week goes by without a new and exciting find being unearthed by the site’s archeologists.

Here are some pictures from our visit there this past summer:

IMG_6114IMG_6117 IMG_6122 IMG_6127 IMG_6135 As always, please click on the pictures for a closer view.

Coincidentally, ESG happened to be in Ir David today with his school.

Originally scheduled for right after Rosh Hashanah, his trip was pushed off to today and, as a result, renamed. The destination remained the same, but what was initially touted as a “siyur slichot” was rebranded as an “aliyah l’regel”


!חג שמח ושבת שלום

May you have a wonderful, happy and joyous Succot!