Sunday, February 27, 2011

Here comes the trolley

Guest blogger Malke recently experienced a new low in higher education.

Take it away, Malke!

On the Right Track?

A Guest Post by Malke

This week, I began teaching, for the second time, a course in medical ethics to nursing students at one of the country's colleges.

Like last year, I began with a famous problem in ethics known as "The Trolley Problem" - except that I call it "The Train Problem," because I don’t know how to say trolley in Hebrew… :-)

Basically, it goes like this: There’s a train (or trolley) speeding down the tracks, and tied to the tracks are 5 innocent people.

You don’t have time to stop the train or to untie the people. But you can flip a switch that will divert the train to another track, where there’s only one person tied. What do you do?

The point is to get the students discussing the problem and the moral differences between their answers.

The discussion was going rather well… until one student raised her hand.

The following represents the ensuing dialogue between me and said student - whom, I will remind you, is IN COLLEGE:

Student: You don’t have to do anything, because the conductor will know how to stop the train in time.

Me: No, he won’t.

Student: No, no, he will. They learn how to do that.

Me: Okay, there’s no conductor in the train.

Student: How can you drive a train without a conductor?


Thanks, Malke!

Your student’s parents must be so proud…


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Freshly Baked Friday: Chocolate swirl blondies edition

My absolute favorite kitchen utensils are our three cookie sheets, which came to us from each of my beloved grandmothers a”h.

IMG_3249 The bottom two were my paternal grandmother z”l’s, and the rimmed one on top belonged to my maternal grandmother z”l.

I’m sure that nothing would’ve given either one of them more nachat than the knowledge that the Resident Ulpanistit – who happens to be the eldest great-granddaughter to both my grandmothers a”h – regularly uses their respective cookie sheets to produce yummy treats, like these bars:

IMG_3072Chocolate Swirl Blondies

Adapted from ???? (I tried doing a search to figure out where I got the original recipe, but to no avail. If you recognize the source of these bars, please leave a comment, and I’ll update the post accordingly.)


  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp water
  • 1 cup chocolate chips


Beat oil, sugars, vanilla and eggs. Add dry ingredients and the water, and mix through. Stir in chocolate chips.

Put batter into a baking-paper-lined 11½ x 17½ rimmed cookie sheet (AKA a jelly roll pan). Bake at 350 degrees for 7 minutes.

Remove from oven, and use a knife to form a marble pattern. Return to oven for an additional 21 minutes.

Remove the pan from oven. Cut into bars and let cool in pan.

IMG_3131Feel free to drop by for a taste, if you happen to be near TRLEOOB* on Shabbat Parshat Vayakhel.

 !בתאבון ושבת שלום ומבורך


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Take cover

David Bogner recently noted that first grade siddur parties (i.e. mesibot siddur, for the Hebraically-oriented amongst you) can be somewhat stressful for the kids.

But he forgot to mention that siddur parties are even MORE traumatic for the parents.

Because, you see, siddur parties obviously require siddurs, and siddurs naturally require - {glances nervously from side to side; makes the universal hand motion for “come closer”; and continues in a frightened whisper} - siddur covers

{cue: blood-curdling scream}

What’s so scary about siddur covers?

What is it about those simple fabric book-covers that makes otherwise well-adjusted adults cry?

To answer these questions, let’s follow the Ghost-of-Siddur-Parties-Past back in time:

(Scene: A typical Israeli religious elementary school – circa the early 1980’s)

The first graders are set to receive their siddurs in a few weeks, and someone has the bright idea of having the sixth grade girls embroider the siddur covers.

And as if this plan isn’t bad enough, one of the other staff members decides that, when possible, it would be “just lovely” to have the first graders’ own big sisters make their specific covers.

Which – to make a long and extremely painful story short means that poor Miriam ends up with an unfinished siddur cover, while many of her classmates hit the jackpot with gorgeous works of art.

Ah, good times, good times…

Fast forward some 15-20 years later:

(Scene: A typical Israeli religious elementary school – circa the late 1990’s)

The first graders are set to receive their siddurs in a few weeks, and someone has the bright idea of having the mothers come to school one evening to decorate the siddur covers.

And as if this plan isn’t bad enough, one of the other staff members decides that it would be “just lovely” to have the mothers use puffy paint (i.e. tzivei tulip, for the Hebraically-oriented amongst you).

Which means that the poor CTO ends up with, well, this:

IMG_3243 Admittedly, the illustration could be worse, but there are no words to describe the text…

Fortunately, with the exception of one teacher (who had the kids decorate their own covers), the rest of the Shiputzim kids’ teachers ordered premade covers.

Which means that – so far – I haven’t had the chance to ruin more than two siddur covers…


Please feel free to share your own siddur cover traumas in the comment section.


The latest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Susan B. for including my Levi post.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Confessions of a levi’s wife

In honor of Parshat Ki Tisa (which describes, inter alia*, how the leviim didn’t participate in Chet HaEgel and instead heeded Moshe’s cry, “whoever is for Hashem, join me,” – Shmot 32:26-29), this blog’s editorial board proudly presents:

Our Sh’fuchim:** The Life and Times of an Early 21st Century Wife and Mother of Leviim

1) First of all, I should confess that I didn’t discover YZG’s, er, levitical status until several weeks after we got engaged. (Note that this was even after I found out about his non-gebrokts tendencies)

It was a Shabbat morning, and to my surprise, YZG was called up to the Torah for – wait for it… – Levi.

After davening, we had the following exchange:

Me: {asks casually} You’re a levi?

YZG: {astonished} You didn’t know that?!

Me: {defensively} How should I have known? It’s not the kind of thing that usually comes up in conversation.

YZG: Yeah, but STILL…


2) Actually, there was a lot I didn’t know about being a levi.

I mean, I had no idea that leviim have to deal with all sorts of complex issues on a daily basis (Reason #5888 for Making Aliyah: Birkat Kohanim seven days a week), including:

  • Missing part of davening to go wash the kohanim’s hands.
  • Situations where there is one overworked levi  for dozens and dozens of kohanim.
  • Situations (such as our shul) where the leviim far outnumber the kohanim.
  • Sinks which aren’t designed for hand washing.
  • Kohanim who refuse to hold their hands over the sink and thus drip water on themselves and the leviim.
  • Does a levi get an aliyah if there are no kohanim present during laining?

And on a related note, the aforementioned editorial board would like to wish a very, very happy birthday to the wonderful levi who is now known across the country for his expert laining of Parshat Ki Tisa BA”H!

“כִּי שָׁמְרוּ אִמְרָתֶךָ וּבְרִיתְךָ יִנְצֹרוּ.”

“For they observed Your word, and Your covenant they preserved.” (Devarim 33:9)

“Shevet Levi is the chosen one of the tribes and is suited for the service of the House of Hashem… Because of their great stature and their skillful actions and the grace of their merit… They are men of pure heart who are known for their sterling traits and their venerable wisdom…” (Sefer HaChinuch 408)


* The time had come for the now (more or less) annual “Try and Use Inter Alia in a Sentence and Hope That You’re Doing So Correctly Celebration”. Feel free to join in… :-)

** Sh’fuchim – שפוכים – That which was spilled (plural). [See also my blog name post.]

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Around the J-Blogosphere

Several items of note:

1) Jameel shares cool footage of Tel Aviv in 1949.

2) In honor of Parshat Tetzaveh, Pragmatic Attic made a model of the Choshenout of Jello! (Hat tip: G6)

3) Rafi G. has pictures of his recent visit to Har HaBayit.

4) The latest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to the Rebbetzin's Husband for including both my pomelo post – aka “le'echol mipiryah v'lisbo'a mituvah” (“to eat of its fruits and to be satiated of its goodness” – From the Brachah Mei’en Shalosh) - and also the newest Kosher Cooking Carnival.

Have a wonderful week!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fine Arts Friday: Welcome home edition

YZG and I managed to squeeze in a mini-vacation this week.

Special thanks to the Resident Ulpanistit, who graciously and skillfully held down the fort TRLEOOB*, and to MAG, who made two delicious lasagnas for supper while we were away.

When we returned, we were greeted by these lovely signs:

IMG_3240IMG_3242As always, click on the pictures for a closer view.

Wasn’t that a nice welcome for us?


!שבת שלום ומבורך


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Kosher Cooking Carnival: Mi’shenichnas Adar Edition

Shavua tov and chodesh tov!

Chazal tell us that when Adar begins, our joy increases.

And what better way for me to celebrate the start of the month of Adar Aleph (aka “Adar - Take One”) than by hosting My Very First Blogging CarnivalTM?


The Kosher Cooking Carnival (“KCC”) is a monthly blog roundup which includes all aspects of kosher food - from Jewish law and customs to recipes and restaurant/cookbook reviews.*

So, here goes:

Tu B’Shvat

Needless to say, the holiday of Tu B’Shvat figured prominently in the J-Blogosphere last month.

Basically, Tu B’Shvat is all about the fruits of Eretz Yisrael. Balashon discusses the etymology of the word p’ri (fruit), and Ruti writes about the spiritual wonders of food preparation in Israel.

Baroness Tapuzina bakes a tamarind date cake; Phyllis gets into the holiday spirit with a tree-shaped challah; and Leah has fun with edible Tu B’Shvat crafts.

Mimi serves an eggplant filled with bulgur and dried fruit and then uses the leftover dried fruit for chocolate fruit-nut clusters.

Gloria Kobrin suggests a quick and easy Tu B’Shvat entree: chicken cutlets with caramelized onions, spiced apples and currants, and the Shiputzim kids mix up a batch of lemonade.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Apparently, Shvat was International Mock Chopped Liver Month. :-) Don’t miss either Miriyummy’s version, which calls for peas and caramelized onions, or Leora’s version, which includes zucchini.

Meanwhile, Ilana-Davita continues the mock theme and prepares mock gravlax.


Laura shares an interesting challah recipe, and Batya experiments with a low-carb side dish.

BookishIma stuffs her vegetables, and Miriyummy puts her own spin on a traditional Hungarian favorite.

In addition, while sneaking a secret ingredient into her Mexican-style chicken, Miriyummy features yours truly. {blushes modestly}

Be sure to check out G6’s mouthwatering melaveh malkah buffet.

Desserts and snacks

Leora pops up some spicy popcorn (i.e. pope-korrrn pikanti, for the Hebraically-oriented among you), and Sarah Melamed whips up some chocolate pudding.

G6 takes the best of both worlds and ends up with a yummy chocolate tart.

Jennifer reveals the secret to really good brownies and also makes her pareve eclair baking debut.

Restaurant reviews

Ruti recommends a new Yerushalayim restaurant; Batya enjoys a tuna-bagel sandwich; and Yisrael Medad is amused by a surprise ending.

Everyday meals

The Rebbetzin's Husband seeks new crock pot recipes. Can you help him out?

Batya packs lunch; Ilana-Davita finds a great source for kosher, organic ingredients; and the Hip Hostess tosses a healthy salad with roasted butternut squash.

Jennifer “doubles” her hearty winter soup, and one of Hannah’s readers cooks creamy parsnip soup.

…And that concludes the Adar I 5771 Kosher Cooking Carnival.



* Miriyummy takes the reins the kitchen utensils for next month’s KCC. Don’t forget to submit your posts using the submission form, and please contact Batya if you’d like to host an upcoming edition.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The case of the missing Aron

Warning: The following post may exceed the recommended daily allowance for parental bragging. Proceed at your own risk.

The other night, at Imahot U’Banot, TSG asked a very insightful question BA”H.

(Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the boasting…)

We were discussing the parsha (Parshat Trumah) in general and the Aron (the Ark) and the Kruvim (which were on top of the Aron) in particular, and we learned that during the Destruction of the First Beit HaMikdash, the Babylonians observed the Kruvim embracing. (See BT Yoma 54b.)

<brief Torah thought> This is surprising, because we know that normally, the Kruvim would turn away from each other whenever Am Yisrael had displeased Hashem. The Rishonim famously explain that this teaches us that even though Hashem punished us, His great love for Am Yisrael endured. </thought>

However, TSG correctly recalled that King Yoshiyahu had buried the Aron {insert: requisite Indiana Jones joke} some time before the Churban. (See BT Yoma 52b.)

She therefore wondered how the Babylonians – or anyone else, for that matter – could’ve possibly seen which way the Kruvim were facing at that time?

And so, I turn to you, my erudite readers:

Do you know the answer to TSG’s excellent question?

חודש טוב ושבת שלום ומבורך!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

When life gives you lemons…

When we last left our lemons, they were huddled together on the floor in plastic bags:


Now, I know that you’ve all been deeply concerned about the lemons’ ultimate fate.

And so, without further ado, here’s what happened next:

After separating trumot u’ma’asrot and washing the fruit, the Our Shiputzim Citrus Department cut the lemons in half:IMG_3063

And began squeezing:


They then poured the juice into plastic cups (each cup holds ½ a cup of juice) and flash froze the juice:

IMG_3060  IMG_3059

Once the juice was frozen, the cups were placed into plastic bags and returned to the freezer.

Which naturally begs the question: What will we do with the frozen lemon juice?

And the answer is…

Make lemonade, of course!



  • 1 cup lemon juice (i.e. two plastic cups-worth)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 5 cups water