Monday, January 31, 2011

Around the J-Blogosphere

Several items of note:

1) I’m enjoying my 15 minutes of fame over at Miriyummy’s blog!

You see, Miriyummy and I have an extremely close a so-tenuous-you-can-barely-see-it-but-it’s-nevertheless-there real life connection.

In fact, this connection is yet another instance of Almost Acquainted Syndrome – a phenomenon which is unique to the Blogosphere. It refers to a case where two bloggers could’ve and/or should’ve known each other in real life but somehow never actually met before connecting online.

The list of other bloggers whom I “almost knew” in real life includes:

  • A Mother in Israel – who is apparently friends with half our neighborhood.
  • Baila and Leora – who are each connected to me in ways which can’t be disclosed due to security considerations.
  • Jameel – who not only went to college with YZG but whose family and mine go back several generations.
  • G6 – who’s practically related to me. (We’ve even discovered that we attended the same wedding over thirty years ago…)

2) The latest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Chaviva for including my citrus fruit post. (Watch this space for two – count ‘em! two! – follow-ups to that post…)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How NOT to embarrass your kids

There’s nothing like being a parent to make one humble.

For instance, until recently, YZG and I always believed that fadichot were our forte.

Indeed, we felt that we were safely on our way to winning the highly-coveted “Most Embarrassing Parents EVER” award.

I mean, consider the evidence:

  • We’re both Anglos.
  • I have a blog.
  • And it has a ridiculous name.
  • And I insist on writing about a nonexistent language.

Does it GET any more embarrassing than that??

Well, apparently, it does.

Because, as YZG and I were recently shocked to discover, our capacity for generating fadichot is far from endless.

You see, a few weeks ago, ACST (=A Certain Shiputzim Teenager) hosted an American friend for Shabbat.

And after Shabbat, when the guest had left, I turned to ACST and, as is my wont, asked hopefully, “So, did we embarrass you?

I smugly assumed that the answer would be very much in the affirmative.

I was wrong.

No. Not really,” ACST shrugged. “There wasn’t anything to be embarrassed about, because [the guest] is American. It can only be embarrassing in front of Israelis…”

Needless to say, YZG and I were devastated…


How limited is YOUR ability to embarrass your children?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Borei pri ha’etz

This post was originally supposed to be called “Farming Friday: Tu B’Shvat Edition”.

But since today is neither Friday nor Tu B’Shvat (discuss amongst yourselves…), the above title will have to do.

Note that all the fruit appearing in this post comes from TRLEOOB*.

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

IMG_3040 Our lemon tree

IMG_3041 Gathering the crops

IMG_3042 A lone clementine (i.e. a clementinah, for the Hebraically-oriented among you)

IMG_3052 Two lemons and a pomelo

IMG_3048 Waiting to separate trumot u’ma’asrot

{cue: TV announcer voice}

What will happen to the lemons?

Are they doomed to spend their days huddled together in torn plastic bags?

Is a life of rolling around the living room floor to be their dismal fate?

Or…  are they ultimately destined - {insert: dramatic pause} - for greatness?

Tune in next time at some unspecified future date, when we’ll discover the answers to these and other exciting questions…



*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Presidential shock

As many of you are aware, YZG was born in Yerushalayim.

Note to the “Committee of Concerned Citizens for Blog Security”: This blog’s Chief of Security (i.e. YZG himself) assures me that the above statement does not – repeat, NOT – constitute a security leak. In fact, as eagle-eyed readers will no doubt recall, he even authorized a previous release of this information – in the 1967 Kotel photo post.

But I digress…


So. Where was I?

Ah, yes.

YZG was born in Yerushalayim.

Needless to say, this is something I’ve known about for, well, a very long time.

But what never occurred to me – until last night, that is – is that YZG can never become President of the United States.

As you can imagine, the realization came as a bit of a shock for me.

Yet, nevertheless, I made it quite clear to YZG that I neither resent it nor hold it against him and that I’m well on my way to forgiving him.

Which is, IMNSHO, quite big of me.

Because, you see, if YZG can’t be President, I can’t be First Lady!

Of course, in and of itself, that wouldn’t be so bad.

For although the whole inaugural ball gown thing would’ve been nice, the drawback is that one’s expected to donate said gown to the Smithsonian at the end of the evening…

But the problem with not getting to be the First Lady is that now, if we ever want to move into the White House, I’ll have to be the one to run for President.

Which might sound like fun to you, but to me – not so much.

Because not only would I have to deal with boring things like campaigning and the economy, but – most importantly – I’m pretty sure that as President, I’d have to give up Our Shiputzim.

After all, BWP (=blogging while President) is more or less guaranteed to destroy the few remaining shreds of my “semi-anonymous” status…


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Heblish raises one’s IQ

Once again, linguistic experts have “discovered” something which Anglo parents have known for years.

You see, according to this JPost article:

“University of Haifa researchers… found that those who speak two languages more easily learn a third, and can raise their IQ while doing so.”

If you’re a longtime Our Shiputzim reader, you’ve no doubt guessed where I’m going with this. (Of course, it certainly didn’t hurt that I basically gave it away in the title…)

Because if there’s one thing I hope you’ve taken away from this blog, it’s that kids who speak both Hebrew and English are automatically going to start speaking Heblish as well.

And if the aforementioned researchers want to believe that Heblish-speakers have high IQs, well, who am I, the doting mother of brilliant Heblish-speakers BA”H an impartial observer to disagree with their expert assessment?



P.S. The latest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Susan B. for including my mother-son learning post.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Yet another aliyah promotion post

Shavua tov!

Reason #4231 for making aliyah…

…bat mitzvah parties at Kever Rachel!

In fact, as it so happens, the entire Shiputzim family was privileged to attend just such a celebration this past Friday morning.

After reciting special tefillot (prayers) at the Kever, the guests headed over to the newly-refurbished adjoining social hall, where we enjoyed a delicious breakfast as well as an interesting talk about the site’s history.

IMG_3093  IMG_3103


מזל טוב

to the beautiful bat mitzvah girl

and also to

her parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The magic words

It was basically a case of life imitating art - assuming, of course, that you’re someone who considers classic computer games to be art…

If you – like yours truly and erstwhile blogger Einshem (I’m hoping that eventually he’ll get tired of my not-so-subtle hints and start blogging again… :-)) – grew up playing the original, text-based version of Adventure, you’ll no doubt recall that if you didn’t know the game’s magic words (e.g. xyzzy and plover), you couldn’t get very far.

I share this bit of gaming lore with you, because not too long ago, something similar happened to me in real life.

It’s not that I mean to brag or anything (because we all know that bloggers like myself are, by definition, extremely humble and modest…), but I like to think that for an olah, my Hebrew is relatively good.

However, when confronted by a native Israeli who has a habit of mumbling and swallowing entire syllables and words in lieu of enunciating, I admit that I’m often at a loss.

I simply can’t understand what they’re trying to say.

Thus, my natural response used to be either, “slichah?” (“excuse me?”) or simply, “mah?” (“what?”).

The problem with this approach was that my interlocutor would usually take it as a cue to start speaking to me in broken English (at worst) or Heblish (at best).

Which is, needless to say, rather annoying.

Fortunately, however, YZG - ever chivalrous – recently gave me the magic phrase which takes you from the debris room back into the building gets one out of this type of predicament.

He explained that his solution is to say, “slichah lo shamati,” (“excuse me, I couldn’t hear…”) and added that it immediately causes the other person to begin speaking louder and clearer.

And, in fact, the next time I found myself in this situation, I used YZG’s phrase, and sure enough, it worked like, well, magic.

Now, if only YZG could tell me how to get out of the maze of twisty passages, all alike…



P.S. The latest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Esser Agaroth for including my interview with Professor Ainlee Mussag (i.e. my most recent Heblish post)…

Saturday, January 8, 2011

And you shall teach them to your children

Shavua tov!

In many locations – both in Israel and around the world – Motza”Sh (i.e. motzai Shabbat, or Saturday night) means Avot U’Banim (AKA Avos U’Banim in much of the Diaspora).

Literally translated as “Fathers and Sons”, the name refers to a weekly father-son Torah learning session – usually accompanied by assorted prizes for the participants.

Yet, seeing as this is the 21st century and all, Avot U’Banim naturally begs the question: What about the daughters?

Perhaps this is less of an issue in the chareidi world. (Note to would-be flamers: Please don’t misconstrue this as chareidi-bashing.)

However, in the national-religious world – where women continue to make incredible strides in fields such as science, technology, medicine, education, politics, business, law, academia, and Torah study – parents are also eager to learn Torah with their daughters.

And, so, a number of different creative ways have been found to open these “Avot U’Banim” sessions to girls as well.

For instance, in some communities, the program is now known as “Avot V’Yeladim” (literally, “Fathers and Children”), and fathers bring their offspring of both genders.

Meanwhile, other communities (such as our neighborhood) organize two separate weekly programs: “Avot U’Banim” as well as “Imahot U’Vanot” (“Mothers and Daughters”).

Which brings me to a beautiful event I was privileged to attend at MAG’s yeshiva high school a few months ago.

Billed as an evening of mother-son Torah learning, the event took place on Rachel Imeinu’s yahrzeit.

Fathers were pointedly not invited to the event, during which the mothers and sons learned the sources b’chavrutot (in study pairs) and then heard shiurim by the Rosh Yeshiva and some of the Ramim. (The evening also included a parenting lecture for the mothers as well as a mother-son trivia game prepared by the boys.)

I admit that before I went, I was kind of skeptical about the whole thing, but it proved to be a truly wonderful and memorable occasion.

And lest you think that it was meant as some sort of gimmick, I should explain that the yeshiva in question (one of Israel’s top yeshiva high schools) prides itself on having no particular “angle” – other than producing outstanding bnai Torah and yirei Shamayim who go on to excel in the secular and Torah worlds. (And I’m not just saying that because the CTO is an alumnus… :-))

In other words, this is definitely NOT a yeshiva which tries to push the envelope or be on the cutting edge of socio-cultural developments.

Rather, the event was simply a reflection of the administration’s recognition of a changing reality – namely, that in this day and age, women are just as accomplished as men, and therefore, the students are just as likely to learn Torah with their mothers as they are with their fathers.

What have your children’s schools done to acknowledge women’s achievements in Torah learning?


P.S. The latest Kosher Cooking Carnival is available here. Special thanks to Batya for including my simple mushroom rice recipe.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Heblish: Talking head edition

Aaaand we’re back.

My next guest is Professor Ainlee Mussag - head of the linguistics department at OurShiputzim University, author of the critically-acclaimed Official Our Shiputzim Heblish-English Dictionary, and president of the Academy of the Heblish Language.

{camera pans to an ostentatiously bored-looking academic type}

Welcome to the show, Professor.

Ainlee Mussag: {nods imperceptibly} “Thank you. It’s good to be here.

I’d like to start by asking you about the Academy. I have to admit that I’d never heard of it before. What can you tell us about it?

AM: {makes a lame and ponderous attempt at humor} “Well, first of all, we joke that its Heblish name should be the ‘Academy to the Heblish Tongue.’

{titters politely} Haha! Good one!

AM: {oblivious to the fact that no one but the host is laughing} “Yes, my colleagues and I do enjoy a good joke now and then!

But seriously, I can tell you that the Academy was founded a number of years ago when it became evident that Heblish was developing at an alarming rate. Something had to be done.

{stifles a yawn} I see. And how about the book?

AM: {puts fingertips together and begins to drone} “That was a natural offshoot of the work we do at the Academy. We felt that it was incumbent upon us to document what can best be described as a significant manifestation of social change or even as a paradigm shift-

{interrupts after noticing that the audience has fallen asleep} I’m sorry, Professor, but that’s all the time we have for now.

But before we say goodbye, I was wondering if you could perhaps share some recently-coined expressions?

AM:Certainly. Here are some of my favorites:

  • To lenatzel [objective pronoun]: Hebrew source לנצל את.  English definition – To take advantage of. Sample usage – “It’s not fair that I always have to set the table! You’re just lenatzeling me!”
  • If already: Hebrew source אם כבר. English definition – If anything; at most. Sample usage - “I didn’t bother him! If already, the opposite!”
  • Can I have…? Hebrew source ?…אפשר לקבל את. English definition – May I speak to…? Sample usage – “Hello, can I have Itzik?”
  • Or this or that: Hebrew source או זה או זה. English definition – Either this or that. Sample usage - “Each girl could pick if she wanted or to be in the choir or to be in the play.”
  • In what hour? Hebrew source ?באיזה שעה. English definition – At what time? Sample usage - “In what hour are we leaving?”



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, and Heblish XIII.


P.S. The latest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Jack for including my Bnei Brak post.