Thursday, December 29, 2011

Heading to the Great Indoors

Let me guess. When you blog about this place, the post will begin: ‘Admittedly, it wasn’t a national park, but we had a very nice time anyway.’ Yes?” YCT (who’s always been like a brother to me) asked rhetorically.

And, as you can see, he was right…


But I’m getting ahead of myself…

After a beautiful Shabbat Chanukah in Avnei Eitan, the original plan was to spend this past Sunday at Gamla (seeing as how it’s a national park and all…).

But the weekend’s wonderfully wet and windy winter weather (try saying that five times fast…) meant that we had to scramble to find an indoor attraction instead. (Actually, this was the third year in a row that we tried – unsuccessfully – to get to Gamla. Indeed, as far as the extended Shiputzim family is concerned, Gamla has become the Holy Grail of Chanukah trips… :-))

Ice skating in Maalot was one option, but we had all been there two years ago (in lieu of Gamla…), and the family members who were doing the driving were reluctant to brave the dense fogs.

And so, in keeping with the whole Chanukah theme, a visit to a boutique olive oil plant in Katzrin was the answer:

IMG_6500The sign reads: “Beit HaBad Shel HaGolan – Katzrin” (“The Golan Olive Press – Katzrin”)

ACSC (=a certain Shiputzim child) – who, just before Chanukah, went on a school trip to Neot Kedumim and got to see how olive oil was produced during the time of the Second Beit HaMikdash – especially enjoyed learning how the process works today:

IMG_6508 The large tanks where the olive oil is stored

After watching the requisite movie (I believe that by law, all tourist attractions must include some sort of audio/visual presentation…) and seeing the machinery, visitors get to taste the different types of olive oil and also sample the various cosmetic products produced from the olives.

IMG_6487 Tasting the different types of olive oil

IMG_6461 Supposedly, the factory’s basalt structure was modeled after an ancient synagogue.

What are some of your favorite indoor attractions in the North?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Avnei Eitan Redux

We interrupt your completely unscheduled blog hiatus to bring you the following post.


Seeing as tonight is Zot Chanukah – i.e. the last night of Chanukah – I figured I should first share some Chanukah pictures before posting more about the bar mitzvah.

And so, without further ado, here are some shots from our amazing weekend in Avnei Eitan, a beautiful moshav in the southern Golan Heights.

In case you’re wondering why the name “Avnei Eitan” sounds familiar, it’s because two years ago, we also spent Shabbat Chanukah in Avnei Eitan.

In fact, this year, we even stayed in the exact. same. tzimmer as last time*:

IMG_6272 The tzimmer’s exterior

IMG_6273 The living room

IMG_6327 Lighting the Chanukah candles, as seen from outside

Please feel free to click on the pictures for a closer look, and for more pictures from Avnei Eitan, be sure to check out my original Avnei Eitan post.


And with that, we will [hopefully] NOT be returning you to your completely unscheduled blog hiatus…



* Actually, it wasn’t really such a coincidence that we returned to the same tzimmer. As it so happens, the owner and I went to elementary school together… </further proof that Israel is a tiny country>

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Chanukah!

I’m not really back to blogging yet, but I wanted to quickly touch base in order to thank you for all the wonderful comments and emails about the bar mitzvah and to wish you a happy Chanukah!

B”H, the bar mitzvah weekend was beautiful; we all had a great time; and <maternal boasting> the bar mitzvah boy did an amazing job BA”H. </boasting>

As soon as things calm down a bit, I’ll B”N try and post a few details about the menu etc. and maybe even a recipe or two.

But in the meantime – and in order to combine this post’s two themes (i.e. the bar mitzvah and Chanukah) – here are a few pictures to show you what we used to decorate the tables on Motza”Sh (=Saturday night):IMG_6001IMG_6003

IMG_5280!חג אורים שמח

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bar mitzvah

I first posted the following song back in August, in honor of our family’s aliyah bar mitzvah.

As you may recall, it features one of the Shiputzim kids (but not the current bar mitzvah boy), who recorded the song for his/her grandparents in the States about a year or so after we made aliyah.

For obvious reasons, I decided to repost it today:

!שבת שלום ומבורך

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

In lieu of original content

Seeing as the entire Our Shiputzim writing staff is off preparing for the upcoming bar mitzvah IY”H, I figured I’d share a handful of posts which you may have missed the first time around:

!בשמחות אצל כולנו


P.S. Our Shiputzim updates are now available on Facebook. Simply head on over to the Our Shiputzim FB page and click “Like”.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Mizbei’ach

{cue: TV announcer voice}

The challenge: Help your daughter build a model of the Mizbei’ach (the Altar in the Mishkan/Beit HaMikdash) for school, when:

  1. The teacher only gave the class three days to complete the assignment.
  2. You are IY”H making a bar mitzvah in less than two weeks.
  3. Your family’s Klei Beit HaMikdash bar was previously set extremely high by ESG’s gorgeous model of the Mizbach HaKtoret.

Can it be done?

</announcer voice>

I admit that I had serious doubts. As I told ACSD (=a certain Shiputzim daughter), I didn’t even know where to begin.

But,” I added brightly, albeit rather skeptically. “Maybe Abba will have some ideas.

And B”H, Abba (aka “YZG” aka “Mr. S.”) did.

In fact, as soon as he heard about ACSD’s assignment, YZG started thinking, and within a few minutes, TRLEOOB (=the real life equivalent of our blog) had been transformed into a scene straight out of MacGyver.

First, YZG and ACSD headed upstairs to scrounge around the attic.

They reappeared shortly thereafter, armed with an odd assortment of empty shoeboxes, old doorstops, aluminum foil, paper, crayons, scissors, glue, scotch tape, rubber bands, cardboard, toothpicks, recycled plastic containers, and more, and immediately got to work…

I’m sure you’ll agree that the result is pretty amazing:

IMG_5823IMG_5825 If you click on the pictures for a closer view, you’ll be able to see some of ACSD’s handwritten labels, which identify each part of the Mizbei’ach.

Beautiful job, ACSD (and YZG)!

May we all be privileged to witness the fulfillment of the words of the daily Amidah prayer, speedily and in our days:

“…וְהָשֵׁב אֶת הָעֲבוֹדָה לִדְבִיר בֵּיתֶךָ, וְאִשֵּׁי יִשְׂרָאֵל וּתְפִלָּתָם בְּאַהֲבָה תְקַבֵּל בְּרָצוֹן, וּתְהִי לְרָצוֹן תָּמִיד עֲבוֹדַת יִשְׂרָאֵל עַמֶּךָ.”

“…And restore the service to the Inner Sanctuary of Your House. And accept the fire-offerings of Israel and their prayer, with love and favor. And may the service of Israel, Your nation, always be favorable to You.”

Monday, December 5, 2011

J-Blogosphere notes

Several items of interest from around the J-Blogosphere:

1) Rabbi Stewart Weiss shares his thoughts after his recent visit to Prague.

2) A Mother in Israel has an amusing list of Hebrew bloopers made by new (and not so new!) olim. [As I noted in a comment, back when I was studying here in Israel after high school, I told an interviewer that I was going to be working with mechashaifim (wizards/sorcerers) instead of machshaivim (computers)… :-)]

3) Leora discusses a frightening incident which took place in her community last week.

4) Rafi G. reports that the government raised the threshold for applying customs on goods ordered via the Internet.

5) Toby presents another great collection of misspelled and mistranslated signs.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Two weeks to go

Here’s what’s been going on in TRLEOOB (=the real life equivalent of our blog) lately:

1) On Sunday, Rosh Chodesh Kislev, I happened to be doing some shopping. (Did I mention that we’re IY”H making a bar mitzvah in a few weeks?)

At the first store, I was trying to figure out if a certain item was machine-washable or not, and so I asked the seemingly-secular saleswoman about the fabric content.

But before I had a chance to explain why I was asking, she immediately responded, “Don’t worry. It’s not shatnez. There’s no wool in it…

And as I was leaving, she wished me a “chodesh tov” – as did the dreadlocked cashier in the next store.

Five words: Reason #3721 for making aliyah…

2) Have you ever dreamed of writing a guest post for one of the J-Blogosphere’s biggest, most important, most influential, and most widely-read blogs?

Well, I can’t help you there, but as per reader Faith/Emuna’s excellent suggestion, I am offering you the chance to write a guest post for this blog.


If you’re interested, please email me at OurShiputzim at gmail dot com.

3) The other day, YCT (who’s always been like a brother to me) asked me over the phone why I hadn’t written a post about the “extremely cool and sophisticated” – okay, maybe those weren’t his EXACT words… :-) - Access database I designed and used for each of the Shiputzim kids’ bar/bat mitzvahs.

BTW, if you’re making a simchah and would like a copy of the database’s schema, I’d be more than happy to send it to you. It works for bar and bat mitzvahs and, with a bit of minor tweaking, could be easily adapted for weddings as well. </offer you can’t refuse>

In response, I explained to YCT that the reason I haven’t blogged about my database is that I don’t like to show off.

I can see that,” he replied, clearly much struck by what I had said. “Because, after all, referring to one of your own posts as ‘history in the making’ is the absolute height of modesty and humility…


!שבת שלום ומבורך

Monday, November 28, 2011

Out of this world

Have you ever heard people say that their memories are so bad that they’re likely to forget their own names next?

Well, apparently, that’s what happened to the producers of this Havdalah candle:

IMG_5813Someone should tell them that the missing letter in their company’s name makes a word, er, that is, a world of difference…


P.S. The latest Kosher Cooking Carnival is available here. Special thanks to Batya for including my chocolate chocolate chip bars.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Member of the tribe

{Cue: TV announcer voice}

I’m standing here with Mrs. S., author of the, uh-- {checks notes} Ah, yes, the “Our Shiputzim blog.”

Unfortunately, due to her semi-anonymous status, we’re unable to point our cameras directly at her. In fact, I can’t even tell you her real name.

But I can tell you that I’ll be providing a live, play-by-play description as she attempts to perform what can only be described as a truly HISTORICAL feat.

You see, as I stand here and watch, Mrs. S. hopes to become one of the only bloggers in the WORLD to discuss Chodesh Irgun* for the fourth year IN. A. ROW!

[Ed. note – See the bottom of this post for a brief explanation of Chodesh Irgun.]

Can she do it? After all, not only has she already written about the ooltra, the sleepless nights, the paint-splattered clothing, and the generation gap, she’s even shared many of Chodesh Irgun’s secret underpinnings. (See here, here, and here for details.) Is there really anything left to talk about?

Let’s watch closely and find out:

Five words: Standing according to the shvatim.

Maybe this only happens in our community, but more often than not, during Chodesh Irgun’s dramatic climax – i.e. the big ceremony where the new shevet receives its name* - the parents are asked to arrange themselves according to their own shvatim (age groups).

After the requisite joking (“I’m don’t belong here with the middle aged people. I belong over there with the twenty-somethings!” :-)), the Israeli parents good-naturedly line up behind the appropriate sign with their shevet’s name on it. 

Which, naturally, means that the oleh parents – especially those, like YZG and me, who didn’t grow up in Bnei Akiva – are at a complete loss and end up awkwardly on the side, feeling foolish.

And, for the record, looking the names up on the Internet in advance doesn’t help.

Because inevitably, as the hapless Anglo parent tries to nonchalantly head on over to what Google insisted was the correct shevet, the following exchange ensues:

Well-meaning Israeli: {kindly} “Are you sure you’re in Shevet X?”

Hapless Anglo: {hesitantly} “I think so…”

Well-meaning Israeli: {taking charge} “How old are you?”

Hapless Anglo: {actually answers question, much to his/her own surprise}

Well-meaning Israeli:Well, then, you should be in Shevet Y, over THERE.” {points}

Second well-meaning Israeli: {overhearing the conversation} “Shevet Y?! Mah pitom! S/he is in Shevet Z!”

Third well-meaning Israeli: {joining the fray} “Nonsense! S/he’s right. S/he’s in Shevet X!”

Hapless Anglo: {thinks to self} “Hmm. This will make an excellent blog post…”


{breathlessly} And there you have it, folks! Four consecutive years’ worth of blog posts about Chodesh Irgun! Is that amazing or what?! History in the making!! {surreptitiously wipes away a tear}

I now return you back to the main studio…


!בהצלחה לכל החניכים והמדריכים


*Chodesh Irgun in a nutshell: Chodesh means "month”, and irgun literally means "organization". But in this case, irgun refers to a youth movement. Most youth movements (or at least the religious-Zionist ones) dedicate one month a year - usually around MarCheshvan - to what is essentially a month-long color war or competition between the different shvatim (age groups). Chodesh Irgun culminates with Shabbat Irgun, and on Motzai Shabbat Irgun, the oldest shevet (i.e. the ninth graders) receives a permanent name.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

J-Blogosphere notes

Several items of note:

1) Rav Natan Slifkin lists the seven wonders of the Jewish world.

2) Maya has some great tips for getting what you want in Israel. (Mazal tov to Maya and her husband on the birth of their baby daughter!)

3) Rafi G. shares a very funny pretzel commercial.

4) Laura baked a well cake and ring cookies in honor of Parshat Chayei Sarah.

5) Batya discusses the future of the Jerusalem Light Rail.

!שבוע טוב

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Top 10: On the Road to the Bar Mitzvah

The Our Shiputzim Editorial Board proudly presents:

The Top Ten Signs That You May Be Making a Bar Mitzvah in the Next Couple of Weeks IY”H

10) The entire family is able to lain a certain parsha by heart.

9) Whenever anyone opens their mouth to say anything, you immediately caution, “slow, loud, and clear.”

8) The baking team (aka the tza’ir bakers, in the vernacular) is hard at work.

7) Supper is now a thing of the past, because the dining room table has long since disappeared under an avalanche of invitations and envelopes.

6) You’ve been contacting obscure relatives, in order to ascertain: (a) that they still exist, and if so, (b) their current mailing address.

5) There’s no more room in your freezer.

4) You’ve compiled so many lists that you’ve been working off a list of lists. In fact, you’re seriously considering migrating to a database of lists.

3) If nonstop shopping was an Olympic sport, you’d be well on your way to a gold medal. (Reason #3221 for making aliyah: You don’t have to buy your son a suit or even a tie for his bar mitzvah…)

2) You find yourself trapped deep inside the dreaded Cycle of Invitations. {cue: wild, maniacal laughter}

1) Four words: Less time for blogging…


Monday, November 14, 2011

Assorted blogbits

Several items of note:

1. A great interview with Rav Aharon Lichtenstein shlit”a, Rosh Yeshivat Har Etzion (aka “Gush”).

2. I highly recommend Rabbi Dr. Aharon Rakeffet’s fascinating autobiography (he calls it a “scholarly memoir”), From Washington Avenue to Washington Street.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that a close family member is currently one of Rav Rakeffet’s talmidim at the Gruss Kollel in Yerushalayim and that YZG is a huge fan of Rav Rakeffet’s recorded shiurim.)

A talmid of both Rav Soloveitchik and Rav Aharon Kotler, Rav Rakeffet talks about his childhood in the Bronx, his time in YU and Lakewood, his work as a pulpit rabbi and a magid shiur in YU, and his various activities here in Israel – including his considerable efforts on behalf of Soviet Jewry.

On a related note, I had the privilege of attending an event at Gruss - held in honor of Natan Sharansky, soon after he was finally released from the USSR and arrived in Israel:

NatanSharanskySharansky is up on the dais, on the left

3. The latest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Susan B. for including my most recent Heblish post.

4. You can now receive Our Shiputzim updates on Facebook. Simply head on over to the Our Shiputzim FB page and click “Like”.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fun and Games Friday: Twenty Questions Edition

Most people consider Twenty Questions to be a rather prosaic parlor game, but in our family, it has a long and colorful history.

You see, my father is notorious for coming home on Friday night and beginning the Shabbat meal by daring everyone at the table:

“You’ll never guess who was in shul tonight. Twenty questions…”

And so the game begins.

Inevitably, the subject proves to be an obscure, random person – that nobody, often not even my mother, has ever heard of or has even the remotest chance of ever guessing…

When the Shiputzim kids were born, YZG and I knew that Twenty Questions was a tradition we wanted to incorporate into our own household.

And so we have. With a vengeance.

For Twenty Questions features prominently in TRLEOOB (=the real life equivalent of our blog).

Of course, the older kids have a definite advantage. Not only do they have better analytical and deductive skills than their younger siblings, but they know more people.

Still, even the younger members of the family hold their own.

For instance, a few years ago, the kids were trying to guess who it was that YZG and I had bumped into at a wedding we had attended.

Everyone was asking a series of well-reasoned questions, in order to gradually tease out clues as to the subject’s identity.

Suddenly, ACYSC (=a certain younger Shiputzim child) - who was feeling somewhat left out and wanted to get in on the action - memorably blurted out:

“Did the person die yet?”


In short, there’s much to like about Twenty Questions.

After all, it promotes cognitive development and encourages logical thinking.

And more importantly, Twenty Questions is the perfect game to play when checking for nits in one’s offspring’s hair…


!שבת שלום ומבורך

Monday, November 7, 2011

Heblish: The Everywhere You Look Edition

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:

Nobody – no, not even the J-Blogosphere’s [self-proclaimed] Expert On All Things Heblish (yes, that WOULD be me…) – is immune from allowing Heblish to creep into one’s speech… or even into one’s blog.

Take, for instance, the previous post.

It was only several hours after I hit “publish” that I realized that ACSD’s paragraph about her favorite place contains a glaring Heblishism:

A lot of times: Hebrew source הרבה פעמים. English definition – Often; frequently. Sample usage - “I like it, because a lot of times all my cousins are there.”

As you can see, Heblish is everywhere you look.

For example, here are two more mainstays of the Heblish dialect used by the Shiputzim family:

Year on top: Hebrew source שנה מעל. English definition – A grade above; a year older. Sample usage - “She’s not in my class; she’s older than me. She’s a year on top of me.”

Help in: Hebrew source …עזרה ב. English definition – Help with. Sample usage - “I don’t understand what I’m supposed to do here. Could you please help me in the second problem?”

And finally, Toby recently shared a picture of a Heblish-infused traffic sign:

Before you: Hebrew source לפניך. English definition – Ahead. Sample usage - “New traffic arrangements before you.”


Do you have a favorite Heblishism? Please submit it either via the comment section below or by email to OurShiputzim at gmail dot com, and I’ll be glad to include it in a future Heblish post.


Previous Heblish editions are available here: Heblish I, Heblish II, Heblish III, Heblish IV, Heblish V, Heblish VI, Heblish VII, Heblish VIII, Heblish IX, Heblish X, Heblish XI, Heblish XII, Heblish XIII, Heblish XIV, Heblish XV, Heblish XVI, Heblish XVII, and Heblish XVIII.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


We briefly interrupt this blog to bring a bit of nachat to one of our readers:


ACSD (=a certain Shiputzim daughter) recently had to write a short paragraph about “My Favorite Place” for her dovrei Anglit class.

On the assumption that ACSD’s grandmother, who also happens to be a longtime Our Shiputzim reader, would enjoy it, I asked ACSD if she would let me post it, and she graciously agreed.

My Favorite Place


My favorite place is my grandparents’ house in [CENSORED]. I like it because a lot of times all my cousins are there. Another reason is I like playing with my grandmother.


We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog…


P.S. The latest JPiX is available here. Special thanks to Leora for including my Palmachim Beach post and my Beit Guvrin post.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Freshly Baked Friday: Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bars Edition

"בג' במרחשוון שואלין את הגשמים. רבן גמליאל אומר - בשבעה בו, ט"ו יום אחר החג, כדי שיגיע אחרון שבישראל לנהר פרת." (משנה – תענית א:ג)

"אמר ר' אלעזר - הלכה כרבן גמליאל." (גמרא - תענית י.)

“On 3 MarCheshvan, we [begin] requesting rain. Rabban Gamliel says: On the seventh [of the month], 15 days after the festival [i.e. Succot], in order that the last one in Israel can reach the Euphrates River.” (Mishnah – Taanit 1:3)

“R’ Elazar said: The halachah is like Rabban Gamliel.” (BT Taanit 10a)

B”H, much of Israel is enjoying rain tonight, the 7th of MarCheshvan, which is when Israelis begin reciting “V’Tain Tal U’Matar L’Vrachah” in the Amidah.

And as the Our Shiputzim Baking Staff (aka the tza’ir bakers, in the vernacular) can tell you, a rainy Friday is the perfect time to prepare a quick, easy, and yummy dessert for Shabbat:IMG_4932 IMG_4925

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bars

(Adapted from the recipe on the back of a bag of “Gold Medal” flour)


  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2¼ cups flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 package chocolate chips


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 TBSP water


Beat oil, sugars, and vanilla. Beat in eggs. Add flour, cocoa, and baking soda. Mix in chocolate chips.

Spread dough in a baking-paper-lined rimmed cookie sheet (AKA a jelly roll pan). Bake at 375 degrees for 20-22 minutes or until set. Cut into bars immediately, and let cool in pan.

Prepare glaze, and drizzle over the bars in the pan.


IMG_5238 (2) !שבת שלום ומבורך


P.S. Our Shiputzim is now on Facebook. Check out, and be sure to like the page.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Around the J-Blogosphere

Several items of note:

1) An amusing piece about the psychometric exam (the Israeli equivalent of the SATs). Watch this space for my take on this test…

2) The Chief Rabbi of South Africa discusses the Shalit deal.

3) The latest Kosher Cooking Carnival is available here. Special thanks to This American Bite for including my pasta salad recipe.

And finally:

4) As you may recall, YZG kept a journal of his 11th grade trip to Israel. (Be sure to check out the original post –- and see how the CTO isn’t the first generation of the Shiputzim family to have an interest in computers… :-))

In any event, here’s what YZG had to say about Beit Guvrin:

Friday, February 4

…Then, we went to see 3 caves. The first one is called Bell Cave. It is a cave that was formed by mining out the chalk there. Next we went to the Pigeon Cave. This cave was used to keep pigeons in. The last cave is called Grave Cave. It was once used as a tomb…

Aren’t you glad he cleared THAT up?


Friday, October 28, 2011

National Parks: Beit Guvrin Edition

Warning: The following post may exceed the recommended daily allowance for other people’s vacation pictures. Proceed at your own risk.

Think of it as the antidote to our Neot Kedumim trip.

Because unlike the Neot Kedumim trip, our second chol hamo’ed tiyul on Succot was planned well in advance, began first thing in the morning, and – most of all – involved a national park.

Located not too far from Beit Shemesh, the Beit Guvrin-Mareishah National Park contains numerous man-made, limestone caves and includes the ancient cities of Mareishah (see Yehoshua 15:44) and Beit Guvrin (from the time of the Second Beit HaMikdash and the Bar Kochva Revolt).

And now, without further ado, the aforementioned pictures:

First, the requisite shot of the price list, in order to show how much money we saved as a result of our National Parks Authority membership:IMG_5379

Next, the entrance to one of the caves:

IMG_5394 The sign says that the narrow, one-way, 20-meter-long tunnel leads to the columbarium and that flashlights are recommended.

An underground olive oil press:IMG_5413

Interior of one of the caves: IMG_5452

An opening to another cave:IMG_5461

A view of the “Bell Cave”:IMG_5510

As always, feel free to click on any of the pictures for a closer look.

!חודש טוב ושבת שלום ומבורך

Monday, October 24, 2011

Going beyond our comfort zone

The symbolism was striking.

After all, Succot is all about leaving one’s comfortable home.

And, similarly, our chol hamo’ed trip to Neot Kedumim was - in so many ways - all about leaving our natural comfort zone…


Take, for instance, the destination itself. Not only isn’t Neot Kedumim a national park, but it figures prominently on the Shiputzim teens’ list of “Places We Should Never Go Ever Again, Because We’ve Gone Every. Single. Year. Without. Fail.”

(Except that a quick calculation revealed that we hadn’t actually been there as a family in about ten years, and so the aforementioned adolescents had no choice but to temporarily suspend their moratorium on visits to Neot Kedumim...)

And then there was the way the tiyul was, er, “arranged.” (Please note that I use the term VERY loosely…)

You see, as those of you who know the extended Shiputzim family in real life are well-aware, we’re not exactly the spur-of-the-moment, impulsive types.

Instead, we’re big believers in advance planning, detailed schedules, and early arrival times (especially during chol hamo’ed).

But oddly enough, our trip to Neot Kedumim involved none of these things.

We only decided to go at the last minute; we didn’t get there until several hours after the park opened; and our largish group kept getting separated.

And yet, nevertheless, a great time was had by all.

In particular, everyone enjoyed seeing the life-sized succahs representing each of the kosher and non-kosher cases discussed in the Mishnah (Masechet Succah). For example:

IMG_5287A succah on a boat (KOSHER)

IMG_5298A succah that is less than ten t’fachim high (NOT KOSHER)

IMG_5304A succah with no roof (NOT KOSHER)

IMG_5311A succah with only two walls (NOT KOSHER)

When was the last time you visited Neot Kedumim?


P.S. The latest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to the Rebbetzin’s Husband for including my ArbaMinimMaintainers post and also my post about Netanyahu’s “V’Shavu Banim L’Gvulam” speech.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Winter 5772

Choref tov u’bari! (May you have a good and healthy winter!)

This Shabbat – Parshat Breishit – marks the beginning of cholent season here in TRLEOOB*.

Normally, we might wait until the weather gets colder, but two distinct events converged this week:

  1. We’re IY”H hosting a number of yeshiva guys (aka honorary Shiputzim family members) for lunch.
  2. I decided that after the seemingly-endless cycle of erev yom tov/yom tov/erev Shabbat/Shabbat (repeat ad infinitum), a simple and easy to prepare dish (i.e. cholent) was in order.

But for those who aren’t yet up to cholent – and in order to finish up our frozen lemon juice before the new crop comes in – I also mixed up a quick pasta salad:


Lemony Pasta Salad


  • 1 package (500 grams) pasta
  • 1 can baby corn, drained and sliced
  • 1 small red onion, chopped


  • ¼ cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed is best)
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 3-4 TBSP honey
  • Minced clove of garlic (or several shakes of garlic powder)
  • Dried herbs (I used parsley)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Cook pasta and drain. Place in bowl with corn and onion. Prepare dressing (I used an immersion blender to mix it, but shaking well should work too) and pour over salad. Toss. Chill in refrigerator for a few hours – or overnight – before serving.

!בתאבון ושבת שלום ומבורך


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

“And the sons will return to their border”

PM Netanyahu’s speech at the Tel Nof Air Base:

The following translation was released by the Prime Minister’s Office:

Citizens of Israel, today we are all united in joy and in pain.

Two-and-a-half years ago, I returned to the Prime Minister's Office.  One of the principal and most complicated missions that I found on my desk, and which I set my heart to, was to bring our abducted soldier Gilad Shalit back home, alive and well.  Today, that mission has been completed.

It entailed a very difficult decision.  I saw the need to return home someone whom the State of Israel had sent to the battlefield.  As an IDF soldier and commander, I went out on dangerous missions many times.  But I always knew that if I or one of my comrades fell captive, the Government of Israel would do its utmost to return us home, and as Prime Minister, I have now carried this out.  As a leader who daily sends out soldiers to defend Israeli citizens, I believe that mutual responsibility is no mere slogan – it is a cornerstone of our existence here.

But I also see an additional need, that of minimizing the danger to the security of Israel's citizens.  To this end, I enunciated two clear demands.  First, that senior Hamas leaders, including arch-murderers, remain in prison.  Second, that the overwhelming majority of those designated for release either be expelled or remain outside Judea and Samaria, in order to impede their ability to attack our citizens.

For years, Hamas strongly opposed these demands.  But several months ago, we received clear signs that it was prepared to back down from this opposition.  Tough negotiations were carried out, night and day, in Cairo, with the mediation of the Egyptian government.  We stood our ground, and when our main demands were met – I had to make a decision.

I know very well that the pain of the families of the victims of terrorism is too heavy to bear.  It is difficult to see the miscreants who murdered their loved ones being released before serving out their full sentences.  But I also knew that in the current diplomatic circumstances, this was the best agreement we could achieve, and there was no guarantee that the conditions which enabled it to be achieved would hold in the future.  It could be that Gilad would disappear; to my regret, such things have already happened.

I thought of Gilad and the five years that he spent rotting away in a Hamas cell.  I did not want his fate to be that of Ron Arad.  Ron fell captive exactly 25 years ago and has yet to return.  I remembered the noble Batya Arad.  I remembered her concern for her son Ron, right up until her passing.  At such moments, a leader finds himself alone and must make a decision.  I considered – and I decided.  Government ministers supported me by a large majority.

And today, now Gilad has returned home, to his family, his people and his country.  This is a very moving moment.  A short time ago, I embraced him as he came off the helicopter and escorted him to his parents, Aviva and Noam, and I said, 'I have brought your son back home.'  But this is also a hard day; even if the price had been smaller, it would still have been heavy.

I would like to make it clear: We will continue to fight terrorism.  Any released terrorist who returns to terrorism – his blood is upon his head.  The State of Israel is different from its enemies: Here, we do not celebrate the release of murderers.  Here, we do not applaud those who took life.  On the contrary, we believe in the sanctity of life.  We sanctify life.  This is the ancient tradition of the Jewish People.

Citizens of Israel, in recent days, we have all seen national unity such as we have not seen in a long time.  Unity is the source of Israel's strength, now and in the future.  Today, we all rejoice in Gilad Shalit's return home to our free country, the State of Israel.  Tomorrow evening, we will celebrate Simchat Torah.  This coming Sabbath, we will read in synagogues, as the weekly portion from the prophets, the words of the prophet Isaiah (42:7): 'To bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house.'  Today, I can say, on behalf of all Israelis, in the spirit of the eternal values of the Jewish People: 'Your children shall return to their own border [Jeremiah 31:16].'  Am Yisrael Chai! [The People of Israel live!].

!ושבו בנים לגבולם

Monday, October 17, 2011

The latest hiddur

Everyone has their own favorite method for ensuring that their arba minim last until the end of Succot. (What’s your preferred solution?)

For instance, YZG - who says that the key is to keep the hadassim and aravot dry – always removes them from the lulav after davening and places them in a tightly sealed bag (usually the bag from the hadassim) in the refrigerator.

This year, YZG integrated a new element into his traditional AMPS (=arba minim preservation system):IMG_5230 (2) IMG_5234 (2)As you can see, they’re simple plastic clips.

However, don’t you agree that if we thought up an original name – e.g. KosherKlips, SimplySuccot, GuardYourGreens, ArbaMinimMaintainers (please post your own ideas in the comment section) - added a catchy logo, and  got a couple of impressive-sounding hechsherim, we could easily market these clips?

We could even offer several models. The mehadrin edition would be available in white, and the mehadrin-min-hamehadrin edition would come in, well, black, of course. (Clearly, the pink version would have to go… :-))

These clips could be the greatest invention since eruv tavshilin kits


Your thoughts?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Succot 5772

By now, most of you are probably very familiar with the Shiputzim family’s succah – whether it’s our loud and tacky bright and colorful stationary succah or our cool, cutting-edge succah on wheels.

But since every year, we make a point of not only rearranging the decorations in the former but also adding new ones, a few glimpses into this year’s succah are certainly in order.

(The advantage of having all the kids home from before Yom Kippur is that our succah was fully decorated by Sunday afternoon… :-))

As always, please feel free to click on the pictures for a closer view:

IMG_5043 IMG_5211See something familiar in the second picture?

And, no, I’m not referring to this blog’s new icon. (Can you spot it?) I’m talking about something that’s connected to someone else’s blog.

Let’s zoom in for a better look:

IMG_5066 Recognize this?

It’s a postcard with Leora's lovely watercolor of a pomegranate. (Don’t miss the rest of the paintings in her beautiful simanim series.)

Leora sweetly sent me the postcard (yes, even bloggers sometimes communicate via snail mail…) before Rosh Hashanah, and I couldn’t wait to hang it in our succah.

Thank you, Leora!

And now for my annual pre-Succot offer: If you still need aravot, please feel free to stop by TRLEOOB* until candlelighting and pick some. BA”H, we were privileged to have a bumper crop this year…

!חג שמח

May you and your families have a wonderful and joyous Succot!


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Robbing Peter to pay Paul

Shavua tov and shanah tovah!

Wondering why the country seems to be awash in schoolchildren today – even though Succot doesn’t start until Wednesday night IY”H?

Well, you’re not alone.

And thus, recognizing the widespread confusion and trying - no doubt - to be helpful, the Education Ministry posted the following explanation on its website:

חופשת הקיץ תקוצר בחמישה ימים. ימי החופשה שנגרעו מחופשת הקיץ יתווספו במהלך שנת הלימודים התשע"ב... בין יום הכיפורים לחג הסוכות יתווספו שלושה ימי חופשה. החופשה תחל ביום  שישי, ט' בתשרי התשע"ב, 7.10.2011. חופשת החנוכה תוקדם ביום אחד, ותחל ביום רביעי, כ"ה בכסלו התשע"ב, 21.12.2011. חופשת הפסח תוקדם ביום אחד ותחל ביום רביעי, ה' בניסן התשע"ב, 28.3.2012. חופשת הקיץ תקוצר בחמישה ימים ותסתיים ביום ראשון, ח' באלול התשע"ב, 26.8.2012 (במקום ב-31.8, כפי שהיה מקובל בעבר).

Loose translation:

  1. The 5772 (2012) summer vacation will be five days shorter than usual.
  2. In order to make up the days, three days will be added to the 5772 Succot vacation (hence, this week’s hordes of seemingly-delinquent kids), one day to the 5772 Chanukah vacation, and one day to the 5772 Pesach vacation.
  3. The 5773 (2012-2013) school year will begin on August 27 (instead of the traditional September 1).

So there you have it.

Or maybe not.

Because if you think about it for a minute, you’ll realize that the Education Ministry is, in effect, organizing what can only be described as a Ponzi scheme. (Hat tip: YCT)

After all, they’re taking five days from the 5772 school year (i.e the “Peter” of this post’s title) in order to make up for the lengthened 5773 school year (i.e the “Paul” of the title)…


Is this moral? Ethical? Logical?

Does it serve any useful purpose whatsoever?

I’ll let you be the judge…

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bar Bei Rav D’Chad Yoma

Bar Bei Rav D’Chad Yoma (literally, “a son of the Rav’s house for one day” in Aramaic) refers to an annual day of Torah learning, generally held during Asseret Yemei Teshuvah. The brainchild of the Kaliver Rebbe, Bar Bei Rav programs can be found across the country.

In fact, countless yeshivot and midrashot now organize their own Torah-oriented yemei iyun (daylong seminars/colloquia) this time of year, and one could easily spend all of Asseret Yemei Teshuvah going from yom iyun to yom iyun.

But nearly forty years ago, back when the Kaliver Rebbe originated the concept, inviting people to take a day off from work to learn Torah was considered to be an innovative and radical idea.

Together with ACAOSR (=a certain anonymous Our Shiputzim reader), YZG has been going to the same Bar Bei Rav since we made aliyah and eagerly looks forward to it from year to year.

ACAOSR, who first attended this Bar Bei Rav just a few years after it started, reports that one of the speakers (Rav Yaakov Galinsky shlit”a) once asked an intriguing question:

(I’m paraphrasing here. All errors and misrepresentations are my own.)

What’s the point of this gathering? Who are we trying to fool? We spend 364 days a year focused on the mundane aspects of life in this world, and we imagine that if we spend one day before Yom Kippur learning Torah, Hashem will somehow think that we’ve been doing so all year long?!

As an answer to this question, the speaker shared a beautiful mashal (parable), which can serve as a powerful reminder for all of us.

There was once a poor family who wanted to take a family portrait. Since they didn’t want to pose for the picture in their old rags but couldn’t afford to buy new clothes for the occasion, they borrowed what they needed from their neighbors.

Afterwards, they proudly hung the picture of themselves in their borrowed finery on the wall of their humble home and displayed it for all to see.

Now, obviously, no one would look at the picture and think that the family dressed like that every day. Clearly, it wasn’t an accurate representation of reality. So why did they go to all that trouble?

The reason is that the portrait showed what they wished they looked like and the way they dreamed of presenting themselves. In other words, the picture reflected what they considered to be the ideal – even though they understood that such an ideal is unobtainable and unrealistic and that they had no hope of ever achieving it.

The speaker then presented the nimshal (the moral of the story):

Similarly, when one takes a day off to learn Torah in the period leading up to Yom Kippur, one demonstrates that spending one’s every waking moment immersed in Torah is the ideal to which one aspires.

Of course, such an ideal is unobtainable and unrealistic in this world, where we must earn a living and deal with numerous everyday matters and concerns. But, nevertheless, during Asseret Yemei Teshuvah, we must stop and decide how we wish to present ourselves, as we stand before Hashem on יום הסליחה והכפרה (the Day of Forgiveness and Atonement).

May Hashem see us all in the ideal light in which we choose to present ourselves, and may all our prayers be accepted b’rachamim u’v’ratzon.

!גמר חתימה טובה

Have an easy and meaningful fast, and may we all be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a good, sweet, happy, healthy, prosperous, and peaceful new year!