Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Yom Yerushalayim 5771

Someone took the following video while walking to the Kotel via Sha’ar HaAshpot:

That’s Yaakov Shwekey’s “Im Eshkachech Yerushalayim” playing in the background.

And if you missed them last year, be sure to check out my in-laws’ incredible pictures of the Kotel from 1967.

.ותחזינה עינינו בשובך לציון ברחמים

Happy Yom Yerushalayim!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Heblish: The With a Little Help From My Friends Edition

B”H, these past few weeks, I’ve been busy with work and other real life endeavors, and as a result, I’ve been forced to put blogging on the back burner.

But don’t worry!

Because thanks to the kindness of strangers dear friends,  I have a brand new crop of Heblishisms to share with you today.

First, A Mother in Israel presents these two gems:

  • And etc.: Hebrew source ‘וכו. English definition – Etc. Sample usage - “On Purim, most of the girls dressed up as things like princesses, queens, brides, ballerinas, and etc.”
  • If like that: Hebrew source אם כך. English definition – If that’s the case. Sample usage - “I heard that there’s supposed to be a chamsin, and if like that, can we please leave the air conditioning on?”

Next, Toby made me smile with this entry:

  • For my good luck: Hebrew source למזלי הטוב. English definition – Fortunately; luckily for me. Sample usage - “I hadn’t studied for the test, but for my good luck, the teacher was out sick today.” (See also: I had a mazal.)

And finally – once again proving that different Heblish dialects have a way of converging - they each sent in both of the following:

  • One, one: Hebrew source אחד אחד. English definition – One at a time; one by one. Sample usage - “She put the cookies in the box, one, one.”
  • Regular to that: Hebrew source רגיל לזה. English definition – Used to it. Sample usage - “The first few days of school, some of the kids forgot to wear their new uniforms, because they weren’t yet regular to that.”


So there you have it.

Thank you, all, and please keep your wonderful Heblish submissions coming!


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, and Heblish XV.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Netanyahu’s speech

For those of you who missed Netanyahu’s amazing speech today to a Joint Session of Congress, here it is:

Best quote:

"In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers. We are not the British in India.  We are not the Belgians in the Congo.

"This is the land of our forefathers, the Land of Israel, to which Abraham brought the idea of one God, where David set out to confront Goliath, and where Isaiah saw a vision of eternal peace.  No distortion of history can deny the four thousand year old bond, between the Jewish people and the Jewish land."

Lag BaOmer vs. Chodesh Irgun

It’s an age-old question.

Which is worse: Lag BaOmer or Chodesh Irgun?

Of course, if you’d ask me today, I’d have to go with Lag BaOmer, hands down.

But I admit that I may be somewhat biased, because this year’s regular Lag BaOmer after effects were only exacerbated by a number of scheduling conflicts.

For instance:

  • A young man I know went to a bar mitzvah last night – i.e. the night after the bonfire - and didn’t get home until nearly midnight.
  • Today was the math bagrut. (Don’t worry,” a certain teenager assured me. “I’ll be home early [sic]. Our medurah is going to end at 2 am, because everyone needs to study…)

In other words, a more objective approach to this issue is in order, and thus I have taken the liberty of preparing the following chart:

Lag BaOmer Chodesh Irgun

Exhausted, kvetchy kids

Exhausted, kvetchy kids

Bemused, exasperated, but ultimately resigned parents

Bemused, exasperated, but ultimately resigned parents

Clothes reeking of smoke

Clothes splattered with paint

The hypnotic glow of the bonfire

The hypnotic glow of the ooltra

Parents waiting anxiously for their darling offspring to come home

Parents waiting anxiously for their darling offspring’s performances to come to an end

An entire month wasted spent collecting wood and searching for an ideal bonfire spot

An entire month wasted spent painting the snif and rehearsing the performances

Fodder for many an Our Shiputzim blog post

Fodder for many an Our Shiputzim blog post

Begs the question: What do the kids do all night??

Begs the question: Is the new shevet’s name better than HaGevurah??

Overheard: “It’s 3:00 AM. Do you know where your kids are?

Overheard: “We need to finish making all the tchuparim before the yashvatz!

Adored by kids; barely tolerated by parents

Adored by kids; barely tolerated by parents

Only in Israel!

Only in Israel!


So, what do YOU think: Lag BaOmer or Chodesh Irgun?

Don’t forget to show your work… ;-)


P.S. The newest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to the Rebbetzin's Husband for including my Iyar Challenge post.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Freshly Baked Friday: Carrot Bread Edition

As in many Israeli homes, here in TRLEOOB (=the real life equivalent of our blog), cholent season officially ends a few weeks before Pesach (i.e. as soon as we finish up our barley supply).

Which means that our summertime Shabbat lunches tend to be heavy on the salads but also include lighter kugels -such as oatmeal apple crisp or carrot bread:

IMG_3480 IMG_3484 Carrot Bread

Adapted from the “Spice and Spirit” cookbook (aka “The Purple Cookbook'’)


  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 TBSP mango juice (orange juice works too)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 heaping tsp baking powder (i.e. one envelope, for my Israeli readers)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4½ cups grated carrots


Mix oil and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add juice and dry ingredients. Add carrots and mix well. Pour batter into two baking-paper-lined loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until done.

Serve cold or at room temperature.

What are some of your favorite side dishes for Shabbat lunch during the summer months?

!שבת שלום ומבורך


P.S. Don’t miss Pragmatic Attic’s wonderful list of kosher food blogs. (Thank you, Laura, for including Our Shiputzim!)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Iyar Challenge


That was close!

But, B”H, I think we did it. Another (more or less) successful Iyar Challenge has been completed…

{catches breath and heaves a huge sigh of relief}

What’s that you say?

You’ve never heard of the Iyar Challenge?

Well, then, I suppose I’m going to have to write a post about it. (And look! By a fortunate coincidence, this post’s title is all about this very topic… ;-))

I should begin by explaining that the term “Iyar Challenge” suggests different things to different people. For instance:

  • For cheesecake fans, it refers to counting Sefirah with a brachah every night until Shavuot.
  • For Israeli kids, it implies collecting ridiculous amounts of wood for the Lag BaOmer bonfire.
  • For Israeli teens, it alludes to the odd custom of staying out all night - right in the middle of bagrut season.

But as parents of Israeli schoolchildren are well-aware, the real Iyar Challenge is ensuring that one’s offspring have enough white shirts to make it through the first week of Iyar.

Because after all, the beginning of Iyar is essentially one long kacholavan day - including most of the following:

  • Two days of Rosh Chodesh
  • The day before Yom HaZikaron (i.e. the day when many gannanot celebrate Yom HaAtzma’ut with their young charges)
  • Yom HaZikaron
  • Yom HaAtzma’ut, at night (assuming, that is, that the Yom HaZikaron shirt is no longer, um, as white as it could be…)
  • Yom HaAtzma’ut, during the day
  • One or two Shabbatot (depending on the year)

In other words, we’re talking about a minimum of 5-6 white shirts per child – and, usually,  a great deal more than that – within a 7-8 day span!

Furthermore, remember that the Iyar Challenge comes right on the heels of Pesach and the countless white shirts that it entails…

Note: The jury is still out on whether school uniforms are helpful or a hindrance in this regard. On one hand, the overall white shirt supply is increased. But on the other hand, most of the white shirts can now only be worn on Shabbat and Yom HaAtzma’ut itself. </note>

Thus, as you can see, the Iyar Challenge is extremely demanding.

Oh, and to those who would insist that the Chidon HaTanach is the real Iyar Challenge, all I can say is: You obviously aren’t responsible for your family’s laundry…Open-mouthed

How do you handle the Iyar Challenge?


P.S. The latest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Susan for including my tribute to my grandmother z”l.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bobi a”h

Today marks the yahrzeit of my dear grandmother z”l, a Holocaust survivor originally from Kovno, Lithuania.

As the oldest grandchild, I was privileged to enjoy a unique and close relationship with her, and from the time I was a baby and throughout high school, college, and beyond, her house was always my second home.

In fact, Bobi a”h (we spelled it “Bobi” – even though we pronounced it “Bubby”) played a major role in every stage of my life, and thus, there’s so much I could write about her.

I could tell you that she was the world’s best cook (as I’ve noted elsewhere on this blog); how she would sew gorgeous clothes for me; and how she taught me to drive.

I could describe our countless shopping expeditions; how she danced at our wedding; how she gave me cooking tips when I was a young bride; and – most of all - how she was always available to talk, to listen and to encourage.

But for now, I’ll suffice with three things that come to mind whenever I think about Bobi z”l.

1) First, I recall her love for Israel.

She came from a religious-Zionist (aka “Mizrachi”, as it was called in those days) family, and as a girl, she attended a Hebrew-language gymnasiah. (Whenever she saw her Israeli grandchildren and great-children doing their homework, she would say with a smile, “I also studied math in Hebrew!”)

After the war, she yearned to move to Eretz Yisrael. But since she was pregnant, my Zaidy a”h felt that it would be too dangerous for her to sail on a Ha’apalah ship and risk being detained by the British in Cyprus.

And in every US election, she would always make sure to vote for the candidate who was "good for Israel."

2) Second, I remember how much she treasured her beloved family.

Her kibbud em (honor for her mother) was legendary. Her marriage was a true partnership and a model of shalom bayit.

And, as far as she was concerned, nobody was more amazing, more wonderful or more perfect than any of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. No matter what we all did, she was convinced that there was no one better.

Her greatest joy was having any of us come for a visit, and she would spend weeks in advance cooking, baking, and planning elaborate menus for us.

3) The third thing about Bobi  a”h that always stays with me is her quiet, inner fortitude.

It was this strength that enabled her to survive the war’s horrors - young and on her own.

It was this strength that allowed her to leave her mother (after they had finally been reunited at the war’s end) and move with my Zaidy a”h to the US - a strange country, with a foreign culture and a foreign language.

It was this strength that transformed her – within an astonishingly short period of time - from a right-off-the-boat new immigrant to someone who would read English books for pleasure; who was the best-dressed woman wherever she went; and who knew all the latest American styles and fashions.

And yet, at the same time, it was due to this strength that when it came to important values and principles, she refused to compromise.

No matter that the “American” relatives insisted that public school was the “correct” choice. Bobi’s kids went to the local Jewish day school and to yeshivot, and Bobi and Zaidy were pillars of their Young Israel community.

And finally, it was this inner fortitude and determination that helped her do what she needed to do as a relatively young widow – such as going out to work (a difficult step for someone of her generation) and moving twice to a new state.

It was therefore an incredible honor, privilege, and comfort that a mere two weeks after Bobi a”h passed away, I gave birth to her oldest namesake yblt”a.

May all our children continue to emulate and learn from their special great-grandmother z”l.

.יהי זכרה ברוך


*This post was based on a speech I gave in honor of Bobi’s Shloshim.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Yom HaAtzma’ut 5771

Last year, Leora suggested that I post pictures of Flag Friday (the day we decorate our house and car in honor of Yom HaAtzma’ut).

And, so, here’s what TRLEOOB* looks like when it’s all bedecked in blue and white:

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

IMG_4112Blowing in the wind 

IMG_4116 The view from inside

IMG_4120The view from outside

IMG_4114Even the neighbors got into the act.


מועדים לשמחה

לאלתר לגאולה שלמה!

Happy Yom HaAtzma’ut to all!


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Yom HaZikaron 5771

Several items of note:

1) Jameel shares a fascinating video about the Machal volunteers who came from abroad to fight and help the nascent State of Israel during the War of Independence.

2) Here’s something to bookmark for next year IY”H: Pragmatic Attic has a great collection of Pesach recipes from around the J-Blogosphere. Special thanks to her for including my pseudo-gebrochts Pesach rolls as well as my non-gebrochts broccoli kugel.

3) The newest Kosher Cooking Carnival is available here. Special thanks to Leora, who also included my Pesach rolls.

4) And finally, the latest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Esser Agaroth for including my explanation of why we celebrate on Yom HaAtzma’ut.


“אל מלא רחמים שוכן במרומים, המצא מנוחה נכונה על כנפי השכינה במעלות קדושים טהורים וגיבורים… לנשמות הקדושים שנלחמו בכל מערכות ישראל… ושנפלו במלחמתם ומסרו נפשם על קדושת השם, העם והארץ… וינוחו בשלום על משכבותיהם ותעמוד לכל ישראל זכותם… ונאמר אמן.”

“O God, full of mercy, Who dwells in the Heavens, deliver proper rest on the wings of the Divine Presence, in the ascents of the holy, the pure, and the courageous… for the holy souls who fought in all of Israel’s battles… and fell in their wars and gave their lives to sanctify Hashem’s Name, the nation, and the Land… And may they rest in peace on their resting places, and may their merit stand for all of Israel… And we shall say: Amen.” (From the memorial service for the IDF fallen soldiers*)


*The above translation is courtesy of the official Our Shiputzim Hebrew-English translator. Please note that she’s available for translation work. For more information, contact me at OurShiputzim at gmail dot com, and I’ll gladly forward all serious inquiries to her.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A letter to an American friend

Warning: The following post may exceed the recommended daily allowance for overt and blatant religious-Zionism. Proceed at your own risk.

My Dear Friend,

You don’t know me, and I doubt you’ve heard of my blog. Indeed, chances are – you’ll never see this letter.

Which is why you’re probably wondering why I addressed you as my friend… and why I’m writing to you in the first place.

To answer the former question, I not only call you “friend” in the general, “kol Yisrael areivim zeh la’zeh” (literally, “all of Israel are guarantors for each other” – BT Shavuot 39a) sense, but also because you seem like a very nice person, and I’m sure we’d hit it off if we ever met in real life.

As to why I’m writing to you, well, I read something you wrote, and I must respond.

You were discussing Yom HaAtzma’ut, and you referred to it as “a controversial and horribly divisive day” [sic]. Furthermore, you declared, every year, you “dread” [sic] the holiday and can’t wait for it to be over.

I was shocked!

How could a Torah-committed, mitzvah-observant person - such as yourself - not recognize the Yad Hashem (Hand of Hashem) behind the State of Israel’s establishment??

How could you possibly allude to a commemoration of that clearly miraculous and Divinely-ordained event as “controversial”??

Is your objection that Yom HaAtzma’ut falls during Sefirah?? Don’t you realize that it was HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s Will that the State of Israel come into existence precisely during this time of year??

And then my initial shock turned to sorrow.

It saddened me to think that here you are, a self-professed Heaven-fearing individual, and yet, you lack any feeling of hakarat hatov (gratitude) for the wonderful gift we received 63 years ago!

As a result of this extraordinary, one-of-a-kind gift, any Jew who so desires can now make his/her home in our beautiful, blessed Land.

For 2000 years, our grandparents and great-grandparents could only dream of observing the mitzvot hat’luyot baAretz (the Land of Israel-dependent mitzvot) as well as the great mitzvah of yishuv Eretz Yisrael (settling/dwelling in the Land of Israel).

But because of this gift, we’re now privileged to have their dreams as our reality.

And, finally, my sadness changed to pity.

Yes, that’s right.

I feel sorry for you, because you have absolutely no idea what you’re missing.

Because as any Israeli could tell you, Yom HaAtzma'ut isn’t “divisive” [sic] at all. Quite the opposite, in fact.

For nothing - and I mean nothing - says achdut (unity) like Yom HaAtzma’ut.

You see, the vast majority of the country’s citizens [with the possible exception of a few, completely irrelevant, fringe elements] spend the day celebrating and thanking Hashem and His messengers for His incredible chessed (loving-kindness)… each in their own unique way.

In the evening, we all attend various Yom HaAtzma’ut celebrations – either as active participants or simply to catch a glimpse of the fireworks - and/or watch the national ceremony on TV.

During the day, we cheer on our favorite Chidon HaTanach (National Bible Contest) contestants. (Israel is such a small country - that no one is more than  one or two degrees of separation away from at least one of the competitors!)

And, of course, we flock to the country’s lovely parks and enjoy what essentially serves as one, giant, national BBQ.

Unlike on other festivals - when we generally encounter only our immediate families and members of our own communities - on Yom HaAtzma’ut, we come in contact with our fellow Israelis, from every walk of life.

And when we do, we greet each other with hearty cries of “chag samei’ach!”

I eagerly look forward to the day when you can join us here in Eretz Yisrael and experience Yom HaAtzma’ut for yourself!

!חודש טוב, שבת שלום ויום העצמאות שמח

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spring JPIX

The latest JPIX carnival is available here.

Special thanks to my friend Ilana-Davita for including my Heichal Shlomo post and also my Ein Chemed post.

!חודש טוב ומבורך