Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Blogging FAQ

Yesterday marked this blog’s two-year “blogiversary”, and in honor of this auspicious occasion, allow me to present:

The Top Ten Questions I’ve Been Asked About My Blog

(My responses are in purple.)

10. Why do you blog? (For the money, of course. In fact, I expect to be retiring on the proceeds any century now…)

9. If there’s no financial gain, why bother? (Hmm. I’m sure there’s a reason. I’ll have to get back to you on this one…)

8. You finished renovating your house a long time ago. When are you going to change your blog’s name? (Not in the foreseeable future, but if I ever do, I’ll be sure to use one of these naming ideas.)

7. Have you ever considered translating anything else – besides Mah Nishtanah - into Heblish? (Interesting idea. Any specific suggestions?)

6. Have you ever met any other bloggers in real life? (Yes. For instance, see here and here.)

5. How do you make time for blogging? (I’ve found that a solution of two parts Neglecting My Responsibilities to one part Ignoring My Family seems to do the trick nicely…)

4. Can I write a guest post? (Sure. Have your people contact my people at OurShiputzim at gmail dot com. Let’s do lunch and talk about it.)

3. Don’t you ever run out of topics to blog about? (Um, why do you think I’m writing this post?!)

2. Do people actually read your blog? (It’s been known to happen now and then…)

1. They do? Seriously? Why?!


What do people ask you about YOUR blog?


Happy Pesach Sheni to all!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mazal tov: Decision edition

Twelfth grade girls across the country will agree that the Sherut Leumi (National Service) application process is notoriously frustrating*.

Best described as an emotional roller coaster, the process generally involves copious tears, an online registration system which never seems to work, and considerable heartbreak and disappointment.

In stark contrast, when 12th grade boys apply to hesder**, there’s neither aggravation nor frustration.

Or, rather, I should say that there’s no aggravation or frustration for the boys themselves.

But when it comes to their parents – not to mention their assorted grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and other relatives - it’s a whole different story.

You see, the boys’ mantra is “what’s the rush?” – a phrase which is cleverly designed to drive the most easy-going of parents crazy.

Here’s how it works:

The boys spend their senior year going on shvu”shim (i.e. checking out different yeshivot).

And then, as the weeks turn into months, the naive parents casually ask their beloved sons about their plans for the following year.

“Have you made a decision yet?” the parents innocently inquire.

And inevitably, the darling boys reply, “What’s the rush? It’s only Chanukah/Purim/Pesach/Yom HaAtzma’ut, etc. There’s still plenty of time…”

Indeed, one mother (feel free to identify yourself in the comment section, if you so desire) reported that a few years ago, as Rosh Chodesh Elul (i.e. the start of the yeshiva term) rapidly approached, she half-jokingly said to her indecisive son:

“Look. I’ll be more than happy to drive you to your yeshiva on the first day of the zman (term), but where are we going? Can you at least give me a general direction. North? South? East? West?”


Thus, I’m thrilled to announce that this evening, at precisely 8:30 PM, the CTO finally officially registered for next year in one of Israel’s most prestigious hesder yeshivas.



The Our Shiputzim editorial board extends our best wishes to the CTO and his classmates for continued success  in all their future endeavors.


*Here in TRLEOOB (=the real life equivalent of our blog), we’ve not yet experienced this particular cultural phenomenon (i.e Sherut Leumi) firsthand. But if you have – either as a bat sherut or as the parent of a bat sherut – and would like to write a guest post about it, please contact me at the email address listed towards the top of the sidebar to the right.

**I refer specifically to yeshivot hesder, because I’m most familiar with them. However, my understanding is that this post also holds true for the various yeshivot gevohot (of every stripe) and even the mechinot as well.

HH 264

The latest edition of Haveil Havalim is available here.

Special thanks to Elisson for including my “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Party” post.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Festive Friday: Postponed Party Edition

I’ve made no secret of the fact that Israeli gannenets and their unique foibles and idiosyncrasies amuse me to no end.

But just when I think I’ve seen it all, those crafty gannenets find yet another way to make me laugh.

Here’s what happened:

As parents of autumn babies are well-aware, gan birthday parties are never held during the first two or three months of the school year.

After all, each of the country’s gannenets has a different set of birthday songs and rites, and it takes time to teach all the particulars to the children.

Moreover, at the beginning of the year, the gannenets are busy focusing on Rosh Hashanah and the other Tishrei festivals, and so they don’t have time for birthday parties.

Hence, children who were born in September, October, and even November are forced to wait for their celebrations.

Yet, in theory, during the rest of the school year, the parties are scheduled on or about the actual birthdates. (Except, of course, for children born in the summer, whose parties are crammed into the final weeks of the school year. But I digress…)

Now, as it so happened, a certain gannenet went on maternity leave just before Rosh Chodesh Adar.

And her substitute announced that because of Purim and Pesach, she would have no time to deal with any birthday parties during the months of Adar and Nissan.

Therefore, she explained to the bemused parents and children, she was imposing a moratorium on birthday parties until after Pesach.

But when the kids returned to gan after vacation, the substitute gannenet apologetically extended the moratorium for an additional two weeks.

You see, she felt that she had not yet mastered all the minutiae of birthday parties in this particular gan, and so she first wanted to conduct a trial run.

In practical terms, this meant that two dolls were feted by the children, as the substitute gannenet took copious notes.

And when the mock-party was over, she formally revoked the moratorium, and then, the first real birthday party in a very long time was held – in all its ritualistic glory – this morning.

Happy delayed birthday to ACGAC* and the two other celebrants!

I should note that there was originally supposed to have been a fourth celebrant. However, one little boy refused to participate. He said that since his actual birthday was so long ago, he was now totally over it.

Apparently, a career as a gannenet isn’t in this little boy’s future…


!שבת שלום ומבורך


*ACGAC=a certain gan age child of my acquaintance

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Blue and white on Israel’s highways

Breaking with our usual custom of avoiding the Yom HaAtzma’ut traffic, the Shiputzim family hit the road today.

Flags were everywhere:

IMG_1074 IMG_1163 Even on police cars:

IMG_1055 And electronic road signs:


There were other electronic signs as well:

IMG_1072 IMG_1156 (As always, click on the pictures for a closer look.) 

!מועדים לשמחה לאלתר לגאולה שלמה

Happy Yom HaAtzma’ut!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Flag Friday

Back in the inaugural – and, most likely, final - edition of Fish Tank Friday, I wrote:

“As you may have figured out by now, I’ve never found a fake-themed Friday which I haven’t favored. For instance, would you fancy a future post entitled, “Faux Themes Friday”? I could focus on all the forced yet fascinating Friday themes which have been featured on this forum…”

Indeed, a quick glance at the list of labels in the sidebar to the right indicates that this blog has no shortage of fake Friday themes. (The aforementioned Fish Tank Friday is, of course, one of the more egregious examples.)

Moreover, I’m always on the lookout for more.

Hence, this post.

You see, last year at this time, I asked:

“When is the right time to decorate one’s house and car with Israeli flags?”

And then added:

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

But earlier this week, as Rosh Chodesh Iyar approached and I wondered if we should perhaps start decorating, YZG correctly observed that we actually always end up hanging the flags on the Friday before Yom HaAtzma’ut. (This is simply a matter of convenience, because like most Israelis, we both have Fridays off.)

And so, thanks to YZG, was born a new annual tradition: Flag Friday - the day we decorate our house and car in honor of Yom HaAtzma’ut… and then blog about it.

Tell me. Does it GET more exciting than that?


!שבת שלום ומבורך

P.S. The latest Kosher Cooking Carnival is available here. Special thanks to Shimshonit for including my charoset post.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Up for debate

Normally, when one wants to prove a point, one must rely on well-thought-out arguments.

Not so, however, if one is an Israeli teenager.

You see, in lieu of traditional debating techniques, Israeli teens simply begin most of their sentences with either or both of the following two extraordinarily powerful expressions:

1) Chaver sheli amar (חבר שלי אמר) – Loosely, “a friend of mine told me that…” (Interestingly, in  Heblish, this phrase is usually rendered as “my friend said that,” which leads bemused Anglo parents to wonder if their Israeli children have only one friend a piece…) As far as Israeli teens are concerned, their anonymous peers can  – and often do – serve as legitimate and authoritative sources.

2) Uvdah (עובדה) - Literally, “fact”. The accepted Heblish usage is “uvdah that…” - which translates into English as “it’s a fact that…” In other words, a teenager merely has to declare that something is an uvdah, and like magic, it’s somehow automatically transformed into the indisputable gospel truth.

Many a naive Anglo parent has foolishly attempted – at his/her peril – to counter these unfounded statements with reason and logic.

But uvdah that when it comes to winning an argument, olim don’t stand a chance against their persuasive offspring…


Friday, April 9, 2010

Fun and Games Friday: Points Edition

There’s nothing like Pesach to get you into the competitive spirit.

After all, no matter where you turn, you’re sure to hear someone asking:

  1. How early did you start your cleaning?
  2. How much did you procrastinate before you started your cleaning?
  3. How late did your Seder end?
  4. How quickly did you get all your Pesach stuff put away after the chag?
  5. And so on…

But nothing says competition like a well-played game of… Points.

{notes the readers’ blank stares and hastens to explain}

Points, my friends, is a world-famous virtually-unknown-outside-the-extended-Shiputzim-family, challenging not-overly-exciting game of wits of chance, which pits sibling against sibling and parent against offspring.

For the uninitiated – i.e. those of you who aren’t related to me – here’s a brief lowdown of the game:

The object is to meet as many of your acquaintances as possible during a given outing.

For each person you meet, you get a point - hence, the name – and the winner is the competitor who has the most points at the end of the outing.

Yes, it really IS that simple. :-)

But there are several rules:

  1. In order to get the point, you must actually speak to the acquaintance. Nodding or waving – without so much as a quick “hello” – doesn’t count.
  2. You must have met the acquaintance at least one time before. (Online meetings are acceptable.) In other words, striking up a conversation with a total stranger may be sociable, but it won’t get you any points.
  3. If you and another member of your party bump into someone whom you both know, the first one to speak to the acquaintance gets the point.

Needless to say, Points can be played anytime and anywhere, but to maximize your points, check out Yerushalayim – especially the Old City - during Chol Hamo’ed.

It’s like, well, a mecca (pardon the expression :-)) for Points players…


!שבת שלום ומבורך


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Banking on it

I do hate to sound ungrateful, and, really, it was very nice of Bank HaPoalim to sponsor – for the fifth (sixth?) year in a row – a whole slew of major tourist attractions during Chol Hamo’ed Pesach.

After all, free admission to dozens of sites across the country is nothing to sneeze at.

But one suspects that TPTB (=the powers that be) over at Bank HaPoalim may not have fully considered the Law of Unintended Consequences.

To wit:

I. Our investment

As you may recall, back in the summer, we became members of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

Since then, we not only recouped our initial investment but also saved significant amounts of money with each subsequent trip to a different one of Israel’s beautiful national parks.

But Bank HaPoalim’s largesse put a damper on our plans to maximize our profits.

Because, you see, many of these parks are included in the program, and thus, on Pesach, membership no longer has its privileges…


II. The crowds

Needless to say, free admission draws overwhelming crowds.

Fortunately, however, there are two solutions to this problem:

  1. Arrive as soon as the site opens.
  2. Stick to the duller and more unpopular attractions.

In previous years, we’ve successfully used the former method, but this year, due to circumstances beyond our control, we were forced to rely on the latter.

And so we visited the Bible Lands Museum.

But you don’t have to feel bad for us.

Because there was a definite silver lining. Two, in fact.

First, the adults and the younger children in our party all agreed that the museum was actually very interesting.

And second, good parents that we are, we’re always looking for new and creative ways to raise the KQ. (That’s the Kvetching Quotient – a measurement which applies, as I’m sure you know, only to the adolescent set.)

I mean, when one is the parent of teenagers, one’s main purpose in life is to make their lives miserable. Or so they claim.

And, so, you’ll no doubt be glad to hear that the Bible Lands Museum took the KQ up to a whole other level…


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Isru Chag

The Pesach dishes have all been put away; the initial chametz run has been made; long-neglected vacation homework assignments (due tomorrow, of course) are suddenly being recalled; and here in TRLEOOB*, we’ve kicked off the start of the eagerly anticipated Annual Gebrochts Week.

All in all, it’s a great time to check out the latest Haveil Havalim, which can be found here.

Special thanks to Raizy for including my Battle of the Haggadahs post.


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Time to uncover the matzahs

Jewish families around the world famously incorporate all sorts of fascinating and quirky customs and traditions into their Seders.

For example, by coincidence or by design, at many Seders – including our own – each one of the attendees uses a different Haggadah.

Some enjoy whimsical and attractive illustrations and/or reams of commentary and explanations, while others prefer their Haggadahs straight up. (“Just the text, ma’am…”)

The more scholarly-inclined bring a stack of impressive tomes with them to the table. (As it so happens, a certain Shiputzim son was born a few weeks before Pesach. And as a result, over the years, he has amassed quite the Haggadah collection in the form of birthday presents.)

My personal favorite is the classic and ever popular “Zol Mehadrin – Sano” Haggadah. (There’s something about a Haggadah issued by a cleaning supply company in conjunction with a long-defunct supermarket chain which amuses me… :-))

Yet, having so many different Haggadot at one Seder table can be problematic.

I mean, it’s great that each family member has an opportunity to express his or her own individual taste, but there’s one catch.

Inevitably, minor disputes arise over those little instructions which every Haggadah thoughtfully provides.

You know, things like:

  • “Uncover the matzot.”
  • “Cover the matzot.”
  • “Pour the next cup of wine.”
  • “Lift the Seder plate.”
  • Etc.

Apparently, according to the Official Haggadah Printers Bylaws – strictly enforced at the Annual Haggadah Printers Convention! – no two Haggadot may have the exact same set of instructions.

Thus, no Seder is complete without the requisite discussion about the proper time to pour the Third Cup: Should it be done BEFORE or AFTER the door is opened for Eliyahu HaNavi?


What’s your favorite Haggadah? How do you resolve these types of, um, Haggadah conflicts?

 !מועדים לשמחה