Monday, November 30, 2009

Guest Post: Stop and go

Hey, kids!

Listen up.

If you stay in school and practice your Heblish, you, too, can end up working for the Israel Railway Authority.

Guest blogger Malke has the scoop:

Heblish - Israel Railway Authority Style

A Guest Post by Malke

Usually, I take the 7:43 AM train to Tel Aviv, which is an express, or as the intercom proclaims in both Hebrew and English:

"Harakevet hina rakevet mehira l'Tel Aviv - This train is an express train to Tel Aviv."

Yesterday, though, I took the local, or as Rakevet Yisrael (Israel Railways) informed me:

"Harakevet hina rakevet parvarit l'Kfar Saba - This train is a stopping train to Kfar Saba."

Now mind you, this wasn't some young Israeli guy picking up the mike and talking. This was the official, pre-recorded announcement of the Rail Authority…

Thanks, Malke, and I’m glad to hear that yesterday’s commute was less stressful than usual. I mean, it must have been nice not to have to jump out of a moving train, for a change…


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Carnivals and Family Lore

1) The latest edition of Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Shmuel Sokol for including my shocking (shocking!) revelation about Chodesh Irgun.

Bli neder, that will be my last Chodesh Irgun post… until next year, anyway. :-)

2) The latest Kosher Cooking Carnival is available here. Special thanks to Pesky Settler for including my lukshen kugel post.

And in what is rapidly developing into a bit of a tradition, my mother graciously added some background to one of my cooking posts.

Specifically, some of you were surprised to learn that my grandmother a”h felt that potato kugel wasn’t elegant enough for Shabbat meals.

Hence, my mother explained that as Holocaust survivors, my maternal grandparents a”h were very grateful for the tremendous blessings they felt they had received from HaKadosh Baruch Hu. Not only were they granted the opportunity to rebuild their lives in the US after the war, but B”H, they no longer had to skimp on food – especially on Shabbat and the chagim.

And since potatoes are cheaper than noodles, potato kugel was considered to be more of a “poor man’s dish” and thus not fitting for Shabbat.

Thank you, Imma!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fashion Friday: The shirt off his back edition

Does the following scenario sound familiar?

Mother: {sees that her son is about to leave} Hey, wait a minute! You can’t go to school in that shirt! Why don’t you wear one of those new shirts I got you?

Son: I’m saving them for when I outgrow this shirt.

Mother: You outgrew it a long time ago! And besides, it’s full of holes…

Son: {adopts a deceptively innocent tone} Holes? Where do you see holes?

Mother: {points} Um, there. And there. And also there, there, and there. Shall I continue?

Son: Ohhh! You mean THOSE holes! {shrugs} Don’t worry. No one will notice them.

Mother: {sarcastically} I noticed them.

Son: {brightly} Yeah, but you’re an imma, so you don’t count…

P.S. The mother in question would like her son’s teachers to know that it’s. not. her. fault…smile_teeth

!שבת שלום ומבורך

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Stand in judgment

Warning: The following post may lead to the shattering of a long-held and cherished childhood belief. Proceed at your own risk.

Essentially, Chodesh Irgun* – accurately described by Baila as a “month long color war” – is a competition between the various shvatim (age groups).

And like any competition, Chodesh Irgun requires judges.

Traditionally, the judges are usually alumni of the snif (chapter) who, for one reason or another, do not serve as madrichim (counselors).

Which brings me to today’s shocking revelation.

But first, I think you should prepare yourself. Are you sitting down? Do you have a glass of water handy – just in case?

I hate to have to disillusion you like this, but the truth must be told.

{gulps and prepares to blurt out the stunning news}

The system is… rigged!!

{checks to make sure that none of the readers have fainted}

The judges, you see, are really just symbolic figureheads, who have absolutely no say. Instead, the madrichim are the ones who decide in advance – at one of their many yashvatzim – who will win.

I realize that this is all deeply disturbing.

But aren’t you relieved to know that our intrepid reporters – and their reliable inside source - are on the case?

And in related news, it turns out that I’m an investigative blogger after all...



*Yes, I AM aware that I’ve been milking Chodesh Irgun for far more than it’s worth. Why do you ask? ;-)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Generation Gap 1.5

As you will no doubt recall, last year, the Our Shiputzim R&D Department released a critically-acclaimed program which could accurately guess a reader’s age group.

Go ahead and try it out for yourself.

Now, according to the development team’s long-term strategic goals, the plan was to issue a brand new release in honor of this year’s Chodesh Irgun.

No one anticipated any problems, and in fact, the developers were certain that the new release would merely involve some minor tweaking to last year’s version.

After all, their inside source to the hadrachah world had told them the new shevet’s name on the Sunday before Shabbat Irgun. (Pretty cool, no? :-))

Note: The new name is Lehavah – להב”ה – literally, flame, but also an acronym for “L’Ma’an Shmo B’Ahavah” (Bnei Akiva’s theme this year) and “L’Shanah Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim HaBenuyah” (“Next year in rebuilt Yerushalayim.”) </Note>

Unfortunately, however, due to circumstances beyond their control, the developers had to settle for a mere upgrade – i.e. Generation Gap 1.5 (rather than Generation Gap 2.0).

What happened?

Well, after they were burnt last year, the older generation (i.e. 30+) was decidedly noncommittal:

“Lehavah? Hmmm. I’d better ask my kids what *they* think…”

But the only thing their kids would say was:

“At least it’s not HaGevurah…”

P.S. According to a popular joke currently making the rounds, Lehavah stands for Lo HaGevurah, Baruch Hashem


Sunday, November 22, 2009

HH 244 and No More Investigative Blogging?

The latest edition of Haveil Havalim is available here.

Special thanks to A Mother in Israel for including my exposé on the American seminary which has blacklisted TRLEOOB*.

And on a related note, a number of eyebrows – virtual and otherwise – were seemingly raised at my short-lived attempt at more serious blogging.

Apparently, some readers felt that I should be sticking to lighthearted topics, like Heblish, hadrachah, and the bagruyot.

Your thoughts, please?


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Yashvatz and tchupar (gesundheit!)

As promised, here are two more secrets from the glamorous world of hadrachah:

1) Yashvatz (ישב”ץ) stands for yeshivat tzevet (ישיבת צוות) – literally, “staff meeting”. (Yes, this yet another one of those odd, unintuitive acronyms)

Naturally, being a madrich/madrichah means attending many yashvatzim – especially during Chodesh Irgun, when there’s a yashvatz practically every. single. night.

But lest you feel sorry for the, ahem, “poor, overworked” madrichim, let me assure you that these are not your father’s staff meetings.

Don’t believe me?

Well, take a look at a recent yashvatz. There were neither conference tables, dull PowerPoint presentations, nor uninspiring speakers.

No, this so-called “staff meeting” involved a treasure hunt at a mall followed by pizza.

I rest my case….

(Hat tip: Baila)

2) Tchupar (צ’ופר) is usually translated as a bonus or an added benefit.

But as far as I’m concerned, tchuparim are the reason why I would’ve made a terrible madrichah.

Because in all my many years as a youth group leader and a camp counselor, I never had to prepare cute, little handmade prizes – aka tchuparim - for all my campers.

However, according to the Oral Law of Hadrachah, tchuparim are to be distributed at a number of pre-designated occasions – including after the Shabbat Irgun hofa’ot (performances).

Here’s a picture of what a certain madrichah gave out to all her chanichot (charges) at her peulat petichah (opening event):

IMG_0078Loose translation of the inscription: “The next two years depend on (talui – literally, ‘hang on’) us. We hope they’ll be the best ever. With lots of love, ####”

Other instances where tchuparim are de rigueur are at the machaneh, on various trips and hikes, and, of course, at the yashvatz


Monday, November 16, 2009

A shining example of Ahavat Yisrael (NOT!)

The following post rant isn’t exactly my usual blogging fare. But I think it’s a must-read for Diaspora parents of daughters who are thinking about coming to seminary in Israel next year I”YH:

As those of you who know us in real life can attest, YZG and I try to raise our kids to be yirei Shamayim, bnei Torah, and ohavei Yisrael.

But apparently, that’s not enough.

After all, a certain seminary for American girls here in Israel has ruled that its students may not visit us on Shabbat.

Why? Because, according to this seminary, TRLEOOB* isn’t located in a “charedi community” [sic].

And in a stunning display of what can only be described as extreme sinat chinam (baseless hatred), the seminary’s administration prohibits their students from spending Shabbat in any place which has been anachronistically labeled by the school as a “Mizrachi community” [sic]. (Hint: The Mizrachi party was submerged into the National Religious Party way back in 1956.)

Note that this draconian decree applies to many fine, upstanding neighborhoods, villages, towns, and cities throughout the country.

Oddly enough, the seminary’s students are allowed to come here during the week, because – the school explained - that’s an appropriate time to visit one’s “not frum” [sic] relatives…

What’s the administration afraid of? What evil things do they think we do here in our den of iniquity neighborhood?

I have no idea.

But either way, if your daughter is planning on spending a year in an American seminary in Israel, please make sure to check out the school’s Shabbat policy before she arrives.

Because speaking from personal experience, I’m certain that your Israeli friends and relatives will be dismayed to learn that their homes and chosen communities have been deemed unacceptable and not up to proper standards…smile_sad


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Sunday, November 15, 2009

HH 243

The latest edition of Haveil Havalim is available here.

Special thanks to Phyllis for including my post on madashim and other mysteries.

And on a related note, watch this space for some more secrets from the world of hadrachah…

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Secrets from the world of hadrachah

Kids staying out late every night? Check.

Homework being ignored? Check.

Paint-spattered clothing? Check.

{nods} Yup. Tis the season.

As bemused, exasperated, but ultimately resigned parents across the country are well aware, Chodesh Irgun has arrived. (Which means that the ooltra is surely on its way...)

With most (but not all*) of the Shiputzim children being dedicated and active youth group members, we’ve seen this movie many times before.

But this year, there’s a significant difference.

You see, a few weeks ago, ACIT (a certain Israeli teenager) became the first member of the Shiputzim family to “go into hadrachah” (to use the Heblish term) – i.e. to become a madrich/madrichah (a youth group counselor).

Which means that I’ve been privileged to get a glimpse at some of hadrachah’s more esoteric aspects.

For instance, I now know that while chevrayah bet (i.e. the older division) is referred to by the acronym חב”ב (pronounced chaBAB), one never, ever says חב”א (i.e. chaBA) when discussing chevrayah aleph (the younger kids).

Also, I recently discovered that the Hebrew word for co-counselor is madash/madashit – מד”ש/מד”שית. (Madash is masculine, and madashit is feminine.)

Apparently, madash/madashit is an acronym for madrich/madrichah she’iti -  מדריך\מדריכה שאיתי – literally, “counselor who is with me”.

Here’s how one would use madash/madashit in a sentence:

.המד”שית שלי נוסעת לשבת – Hamadashit sheli nosa’at l’Shabbat. - My madashit is going away for Shabbat.

And if we expand the acronym in the above example, we get the following:

.המדריכה שאיתי שלי נוסעת לשבת – Hamadrichah she’iti sheli nosa’at l’Shabbat. – My counselor who is with me is going away for Shabbat.

As to be expected, ACIT didn’t see why this amuses me. (“What? Madash is now a regular word…”)

But I suspect that some of you might appreciate the humor.

And as an extra side benefit, now that you’ve learned about madashim, perhaps you’ll be able to decode a bit more of your Israeli teenagers’ Facebook statuses



*As I noted in this post: The other Shiputzim children are adherents of what is euphemistically known as “Iyov” (איוב – an acronym for אשרי יושבי ביתך – Ashrei yoshvei veitecha - “Praiseworthy are those who dwell in Your House”) – i.e. they prefer to stay home…

Monday, November 9, 2009

The poor step-sister of Shabbat kugels

You’ve got to feel sorry for lukshen kugel.

I mean, in the Shabbat kugel pantheon, it always gets short shrift.

Because no matter how you slice it (pun intended), lukshen kugel just doesn’t have the same mouthwatering cachet as fresh, hot, hand-grated potato kugel.

Nostalgic interjection: Interestingly, my grandmother a”h held the opposite view. Studded with bits of chopped meat, her lukshen kugel came replete with a crisp crust and was considered to be the ultimate Shabbat side dish. In contrast, she felt that potato kugel wasn’t elegant enough for Shabbat and should be relegated to weekday meals. </nostalgia>

Yet here in TRLEOOB*, it’s potato kugel that gets star billing.

But don’t get me wrong. I like lukshen kugel as much as the next blogger.

After all, notwithstanding its lowly status, lukshen kugel is still delicious. And in fact, since its preparation involves neither peeling nor grating, lukshen kugel is my go-to side dish when I’m pressed for time and energy.

Yet, before lukshen kugel could become a mainstay of the Shiputzim kitchen, I first had to resolve two issues:

1) Sweetness - In keeping with my Lithuanian forebears, I was raised exclusively on so-called salt-and-pepper lukshen kugels. However, YZG and the kids enjoy a touch of sweetness, and so I learned to make what a guest once oxymoronically but accurately referred to as a “sweet salt and pepper kugel”.

2) Margarine - Over the past few years, I slowly phased margarine out of our diets. But since my favorite lukshen kugel recipe called for 100 grams of margarine (i.e. just under half a cup), I simply stopped making lukshen kugel.

Until, that is, I saw Leora’s lukshen kugel post and was inspired to adapt my recipe. Here’s the result:

Sweet Salt and Pepper Lukshen Kugel


  • 500 grams noodles
  • 2-3 soupspoons vegetable oil
  • 6 eggs (5 eggs would probably be fine)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (use much less for a more traditional taste)
  • About 1 tsp salt
  • Pepper to taste (we like it peppery)


Cook noodles. Drain and rinse quickly with cold water. Return noodles to pot, and toss with the oil. Add the remaining ingredients. Mix well. Place in an oiled 9x13 baking pan, and drizzle a little extra oil on top. Bake at 375 degrees for an hour and a quarter or until the top is golden brown.



*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fun and Games Friday: True confession edition

No one reads this blog, right?


Because otherwise, I’d be uncomfortable admitting that… I’ve developed quite the KenKen habit.

Known as “Sudoku on steroids”, KenKen – unlike the original – is all about arithmetic. Essentially, it’s one big math problem.

It’s fun, challenging, and – as I noted above – highly addictive.

And now that I’ve shared this little secret, it’s your turn: What’s your favorite online vice (other than blogging, of course)?

Come on, don’t be shy.

After all, there’s no one here but you and me…


!שבת שלום ומבורך

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

At least he said “please”…

This past Shabbat (Parshat Lech Lecha), a certain gan-age child of my acquaintance (ACGAC) was telling us about the parsha.

Brief digression: As usual, most – if not all – of what ACGAC said was based on the Midrash, rather than the pshat. I sometimes wonder if preschool teachers should be placing more emphasis on the actual text. What do you think? </Digression>

Anyway, everyone at the table enjoyed the presentation. To the gannenet’s credit, ACGAC had been taught well and had much to say.

And although the handful of charming errors and adorable Heblishisms elicited a couple of hastily suppressed giggles, for the most part, everyone was dutifully trying to hide their amusement from the young speaker.

But then ACGAC reached the part in the story where Avraham is thrown into the kivshan ha’esh (the “fiery furnace”).

At that point, most of those in attendance burst out laughing, while the more restrained members of ACGAC’s audience attempted - with varying degrees of success - to wipe the broad smiles off their faces.

You see, according to ACGAC, Nimrod politely asked Avraham’s father, Terach:

“Will you please give me your baby so I can kill him?”

The calm, matter-of-fact tone in which ACGAC said this line brought the house down…


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Gannenet Appreciation Day

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


The thing about Israeli gannenets is that it’s very easy to make fun of them, and as long time readers know, I’ve taken ample advantage of this convenient fact.

Indeed, I’ve frequently mocked discussed with obvious love and affection gannenets’ many foibles and idiosyncrasies – including their pyromaniac tendencies, the ritualistic pageantry of gan birthday parties, and, of course, the bizarre gan meeting.

And so, it’s only fair that I also give them credit where it’s due – namely, their innate resourcefulness.

You see, their creative, never-say-die attitude is what enables them to erect straw men identify pressing problems and then skillfully knock them down devise clever and original solutions.

Here are two examples:

I. The neglected holiday

Problem: Coming, as it does, at the tail end of the festival-laden month of Tishrei, Simchat Torah always gets short shrift in most curricula.

Solution: Gannenets don’t even try to cover Simchat Torah before the holiday. Instead, they use the “hakafot shniyot” model and throw a big party on Friday, Erev Parshat Breishit. Decked out in their most elegant kacholavan, the kids dance, sing, and imbibe inordinate amounts of candy.

Ahh, good times, good times…

II. The missing season

Problem: In a recent post, Mother in Israel discussed autumn in Israel – or the lack thereof. As she correctly observes, there’s no real transition between summer and winter. Furthermore, aside from a few noted exceptions, the traditional signs of fall – i.e. the brilliant foliage, that crisp autumn air, etc. - simply don’t exist here in Israel.

Solution: Israeli gannenets teach that autumn in Israel is nonetheless significant, because it heralds the arrival of the… nachlieli (white wagtail).

The gannenets ensure that their young charges are very familiar with the distinctive, long-tailed, black-and-white bird. In fact, even as adults, Israelis of every stripe can still easily pick the nachlieli out of a bird lineup.

Moreover, the gannenets stress, seeing a nachlieli is a joyous and momentous occasion.

Thus, last week, a certain gan-age child of my acquaintance came home bursting with exciting news. The breathless report soon followed: They had gone on a siyur stav (literally, “an autumn tour” – i.e. a nature walk), and – guess what?! – they SAW TWO NACHLIELIS!!! (Space considerations prevent me from including the full complement of exclamation points, but I think you get the general idea…)

And so, dear readers, the next time an obscure blogger sets his or her sights on the much maligned and often misunderstood gannenet, please refer them to this post in order to provide them with further ammunition to remind them to appreciate all that the gannenet has to offer…


P.S. On a serious note, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the incredibly dedicated and talented gannenets who have done – and continue to do - such a wonderful job educating the Shiputzim children over the years.

Monday, November 2, 2009

HH 241

The latest edition of Haveil Havalim is available here.

Special thanks to Simply Jews for including two of my posts: