Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rosh Hashanah 5772

תכלה שנה וקללותיה תחל שנה וברכותיה.

Let the [old] year and its curses come to an end; let the [new] year and its blessings begin.

Chamol” (from Musaf on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) sung by London Pirchei

לשנה טובה תכתבו ותחתמו

לאלתר לחיים טובים ולשלום!

May you have a wonderful, happy, healthy, prosperous, and sweet new year!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Kept in stitches

The following phone conversation may or may not have recently occurred in real life:

Mother: {calls her son, who’s away in yeshiva, after receiving no response to either of the two text messages she sent him}

Son: {rather groggily} Hi. I can’t talk. I’m getting stitches. I’ll call you back later.

Mother: ???!!!!!!!!!

Son: Whatever, it’s not a big deal. I fell and cut myself. It’s nothing. I’ll call you back. {hangs up}

Mother: ???!!!!!!!!!

On the off-chance that the above exchange actually took place, the mother-in-question thanks the son-in-question for graciously allowing it to be posted here on Our Shiputzim.

Furthermore, she continues to maintain that yes, it’s EXTREMELY blog-worthy…


Your thoughts?


P.S. The latest Kosher Cooking Carnival is available here. Special thanks to Cooking Outside the Box for including my mini black and white cookies.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Netanyahu’s address to the UN

Here’s Netanyahu’s incredible address to the UN from yesterday:

Some amazing excerpts:

“…We didn't freeze the settlements in Gaza, we uprooted them. We did exactly what the theory says: Get out, go back to the 1967 borders, dismantle the settlements.

“And I don't think people remember how far we went to achieve this. We uprooted thousands of people from their homes. We pulled children out of -- out of their schools and their kindergartens. We bulldozed synagogues. We even -- we even moved loved ones from their graves. And then, having done all that, we gave the keys of Gaza to President Abbas…

“But ladies and gentlemen, we didn't get peace…”

“…I often hear them accuse Israel of Judaizing Jerusalem. That's like accusing America of Americanizing Washington, or the British of Anglicizing London. You know why we're called ‘Jews’? Because we come from Judea.

“In my office in Jerusalem, there's a -- there's an ancient seal. It's a signet ring of a Jewish official from the time of the Bible. The seal was found right next to the Western Wall, and it dates back 2,700 years, to the time of King Hezekiah. Now, there's a name of the Jewish official inscribed on the ring in Hebrew. His name was Netanyahu. That's my last name. My first name, Benjamin, dates back a thousand years earlier to Benjamin -- Binyamin -- the son of Jacob, who was also known as Israel. Jacob and his 12 sons roamed these same hills of Judea and Samaria 4,000 years ago, and there's been a continuous Jewish presence in the land ever since.

“And for those Jews who were exiled from our land, they never stopped dreaming of coming back: Jews in Spain, on the eve of their expulsion; Jews in the Ukraine, fleeing the pogroms; Jews fighting the Warsaw Ghetto, as the Nazis were circling around it. They never stopped praying, they never stopped yearning. They whispered: Next year in Jerusalem. Next year in the promised land…”

“…Let us realize the vision of Isaiah: ‘העם ההולכים בחושך ראו אור גדול’ - ‘The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.’ Let that light be the light of peace.”

!שבוע טוב ובשורות טובות

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Book of Good Life

The Maccabeats’ Rosh Hashanah song:

!שבת שלום וכתיבה וחתימה טובה

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lag BaOmer in the fall

No, don’t worry, your calendar is correct. It really IS Elul – and not Iyar.

I mention this, because if you’re the parent of Israeli teens, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you blinked and somehow missed half a year.

After all, sometime in the past few weeks, your child probably stayed out all night on a school-sanctioned activity and then had a day off the following day, and it’s understandable if you mistakenly assumed that Lag BaOmer had come early this year.

And, so, I’m here to tell you – because your shaliach probably didn’t – that in many places, Elul boasts not one, but TWO official excuses for going without sleep:

1) Siyur Slichot

A siyur slichot (literally, a Slichot – i.e. penitential prayers - tour) is a nighttime trip during Elul to a religiously-significant location (such as Yerushalayim’s Old City or Tzfat), and typically involves a scenic walk (a Shiputzim son hiked this week from the top of Har HaZeitim to the Kotel, via Yad Avshalom and Sha’ar HaAshpot), an inspirational talk or two, and finally, reciting Slichot.

2) The Hashba’ah

The hashba’ah (literally, swearing in ceremony) is a sort of traditional initiation rite organized by the high school seniors (i.e. the shministim*, for the Hebraically-oriented amongst you) for the young freshmen (patronizingly-referred to as chamshushim*).

<Brief aside> I was under the impression that the hashba’ah is pretty much universal, but Hannah says that none of her kids’ schools have one. How about your children’s high schools? </aside>

But lest you’re picturing a cruel hazing ritual, I should explain that at least in the yeshiva high schools and ulpanot, the ra”mim/mechanchot are in attendance the entire time and ensure that the event remains strictly within the bounds of what the school feels is appropriate.

In fact, as the nervous ninth graders quickly discover, the much-hyped hashba’ah - which they were originally so scared about - proves to be little more than a surprise nighttime tiyul, and everyone gets a t-shirt at the end... :-)

As noted above, the day after the hashba’ah and the siyur slichot, the kids have a day off – even though the school year just started and all the Tishrei holidays are right around the corner.

And thus, both events fall firmly under the category of: “Things I Still Don’t Understand, Despite Having Made Aliyah 13 Years Ago”…



* The terms shminist (literally, one belonging to the shminit – i.e. the eighth) and chamshush (a semi-derogatory way of saying “one belonging to the chamishit” – i.e. the fifth) are both vestigial throwbacks to the gymnasia system. The first form was the equivalent of today’s fifth grade, and the last – or eighth – form corresponded to today’s twelfth grade.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Innocents Abroad

When YZG was in 11th grade, his school traveled to Israel on a six week tour.

The kids were accompanied by one of their rebbeim, and the secular teachers sent homework along. For instance, the English teacher instructed the students to keep journals of their experiences.

As it so happens, YZG recently found his old journal and graciously offered it to me to use for blogging purposes.

And so, without further ado, what follows are a few  excerpts (lightly edited for spelling and clarity) from the first week of the trip:

Thursday, January 27

This morning we got up at 5:30 to go to the Kotel for morning prayers. Before we went, we went to a mikvah (ritual bath)… By the Wall, it was approximately 40° F. Later that day, we took a tour of Yerushalayim and looked at it from various viewpoints, in various directions…

Friday, January 28

…We went to Mevo Beitar and planted trees in a moshav. We then traveled into the Judean Hills and went to the Stalactite Cave. This is a naturally-formed cave about 90x80 ft. It was discovered by people who were quarrying rock for building…

Saturday, January 29

…[After Shabbat], we went to see a concert at the Diaspora Yeshiva.

Sunday, January 30

…We went to the Israel Museum. We saw the Dead Sea Scrolls and saw religious articles from many different countries as well as exhibits on the past history of Israel, starting from the beginning of time…

And finally, there’s the following entry, which is one of my favorites – for two reasons. First, because it includes the sort of detail that a certain Shiputzim son would’ve included if he had been on this trip. And also, because the last sentence cracks me up every time I read it:

Monday, January 31

Today we went to Kiryat No’ar… They have a computer center, and I saw a PDP-11. There are 15 computer terminals there - although as of now, I don’t know what kind.

We then visited the elderly and helped him clear his porch…


So, what do you think? Are you interested in reading more from YZG’s old journal? If so, I’ll be glad to share additional excerpts in a future post.


P.S. The latest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Susan B. for including my 9/11 post.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A study in contrasts

Warning: The following post may exceed the recommended daily allowance for stereotypes and generalizations. Proceed at your own risk.

As anyone who knows us in real life is aware, YZG and I are proud out-of-towners.

<background for my non-American readers> New Yorkers tend to refer to anyone living anywhere else in the US as “out-of-towners,” a label which those of us from outside the New York metropolitan area have co-opted as a badge of honor. </background>

The thing is that most people mistakenly believe that YZG’s out-of-town credentials surpass my own. (Yes, of course it’s a competition. Because whether it’s Facebook friends or bumping into people we know, just about everything here in TRLEOOB* is a competition…)

After all, YZG grew up in a much smaller Jewish community than I did, and, in fact, most New Yorkers (don’t say I didn’t warn you about those stereotypes…) would be hard-pressed to locate it on a map.

However, the truth is that when it comes to, er, out-of-townness, YZG is the equivalent of the nouveau riche - while I am an upstanding member of the landed gentry…

I mean, consider the evidence:

1) My parents, my siblings, and I are all native out-of-towners. In contrast, my in-laws are from New York, and YZG was born in Yerushalayim. Which is really special and all (even if it does mean that I can never be First Lady), but even the most dedicated New Yorker wouldn’t dare call Yerushalayim “out of town”…

2) For YZG, visiting his grandparents a”h entailed a trip to –you guessed it - New York. For me, visiting my grandparents a”h entailed a trip to a different out-of-town community…

3) YZG spent his summers in bungalow colonies and sleepaway camp. However, I’ve never even visited a bungalow colony; my camp experience was limited to working as a day camp counselor; and we spent our summers going on month-long, cross-country road trips.

And most of all:

4) YZG grew up enjoying classic New York delicacies, like chocolate bells and black and white cookies. But me? Not so much. In fact, the first time I ever heard about these desserts was when I went off to college in - okay, fine, you got me - New York…



Mini Black and White Cookies

Loosely adapted from “Spice and Spirit” (aka “the purple cookbook”) and prepared this past summer by the talented Shiputzim kids. (All together now:Kol hakavod, tza’ir bakers!”)


  • 2/3 cup oil (the kids used canola)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour

White Frosting

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ tsp vanilla
  • 2 TBSP hot water
  • 1 TBSP oil (the kids used canola)
  • A drop or two of lemon juice

Chocolate Frosting

  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 4 TBSP cocoa
  • 4 TBSP oil (the kids used canola)
  • 4 TBSP hot water (or more)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar


Beat oil and sugar. Add vanilla and eggs. Add flour.

Form into balls (the kids chose to make relatively small ones), and place on a baking-paper-lined cookie sheet. Leave room for spreading. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes (or less, if you’re making mini cookies), and let cool.

Meanwhile, combine the white frosting ingredients in one bowl and the chocolate frosting ingredients in a second bowl.

When cookies have cooled, flip them over. Frost the flat side – one half with the white frosting and one half with the chocolate frosting.



*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Gone a-visiting

Looking for me?

I’m over here today, schmoozing with Miriyummy.

Feel free to pull up a chair keyboard and join the conversation


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ten years later

Baila suggested that everyone write about where they were ten years ago today. Here’s my contribution:

As far as I can recall, September 11, 2001 (23 Elul 5761) was more or less a regular Tuesday here in TRLEOOB*.

Work. School. Gan.

Each member of the Shiputzim family had spent the day going about their ordinary, daily routines.

And then, late that afternoon, YZG walked in the door with a very strange expression on his face…

On the way home from work, he had been listening to the news, but he couldn’t understand what they were talking about.

Of course, we had been here in Israel long enough that he could translate all the words - “terrorists,” “airplanes,” “the World Trade Center” – but nothing they were saying seemed to make any sense.

I had asked him to pick up a few groceries, and so he first made a quick stop in our local makolet (neighborhood grocery store). They had the radio on there, too, and the storekeeper and the handful of customers were deep in conversation.

YZG was shocked to discover that he had heard correctly.

As soon as he came home, we immediately called our American relatives. We noted the irony that a year after the Oslo War had begun, now we were the ones calling them.

B”H, they were fine and didn’t really know too much more than we did. They were hearing the same rumors and speculations.

I vaguely recall discussing how one of the Towers had just collapsed. Was it the first? The second? I don’t remember.

About a month before, we had celebrated our third aliyah-versary.

After three years, one is no longer considered to be a “new oleh,” and indeed, much had happened in the years since we first arrived. Our family had grown ba”h; my beloved grandmother z”l had passed away.

But it was on that terrible day that I realized just how far we had come. Because our emotions and reactions to the atrocity were purely Israeli.

Like all our neighbors, we were horrified, disgusted, sickened, and deeply saddened.

However, in the days, weeks, and months that followed, we were also cautiously optimistic that maybe, just maybe, the US – and the world – finally understood what we are up against here and that there would be no more talk of “cycles of violence” or “proportional responses” [sic].

And then, we were dismayed to realize that in spite of everything, nothing had really changed…

May we be privileged to enjoy only besurot tovot, yeshu’ot v’nechamot (good tidings, salvation, and consolation) from here on in.

.שבוע טוב


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pre-season talks

{quickly flips through the blog and discovers, with some surprise, that the topic of English classes for dovrei Anglit (literally, English speakers) hasn’t yet been discussed}

Nearly a week into the new school year?

If you’re an Anglo parent of elementary school students, you know what that means.

Yup, that’s right.

It’s time for the annual dovrei Anglit negotiations to begin.

Because as we’re all aware, just because the school offered DAC (=dovrei Anglit classes) for our kids last year, that’s clearly no guarantee that it’ll do so this year.

Moreover, just because all the relevant parties had computed the cost, the number of English speakers per class, and the number of hours per week last year, that’s also no guarantee that the same calculations will continue to apply this year.

And hence, the negotiations.

Of course, in a handful of predominantly Anglo communities, the DAC are par for the course.

Indeed, in some neighborhoods (yes, I’m looking at you, RBS…) where the vast majority of the kids speak English, not only do the schools – partially or even fully - subsidize the DAC, but they start on (gasp!) the very. same. day. as the regular English classes. (Shocking, isn’t it…)

But in most locations, the DAC require a significant financial outlay on the parents’ part and, as noted above, mean that the parents have to spend the first week of each school year haggling with the school and reinventing the DAC wheel. (That’s strange! These same kids spoke English in 5th grade, and now, look at that, they still speak English in 6th grade! What are the odds?!)

So, why do we bother, you ask?

Well, the reasons vary from family to family, but basically, most Anglo parents feel that the classes serve as a [relatively] simple way to give our kids an advantage later on in life.

Not to mention the fact that it’s kind of ridiculous for them to sit there, watching their classmates break their teeth as they dutifully repeat, “My name is ____. What is your name? This is a banana. The banana is yellow.

Admittedly, some English-speaking kids think this is very amusing, but others find it to be extremely annoying.

But either way, it’s a huge waste of time. (One year, together with a friend, one of the Shiputzim kids spent the first week of school – before the negotiations ended and the DAC finally began – painstakingly drawing a detailed map of the school…)

Furthermore, the teachers don’t want the English speakers in their regular English classes. For under such circumstances, even the most well-behaved child will disturb the rest of the class. (See: the aforementioned mapmaking session…)

Not that the DAC teachers have it easy either.

Because, inevitably, the students range from straight-off-the-NBN-flight new olim to veteran Heblish-speakers with thick Israeli accents…


Feel free to use the comment section to vent share your DAC experiences.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tradition, tradition

Even bloggers who shamelessly neglect their blogs can’t mess with tradition.

And, so, I present (better late than never!) the now-traditional picture of this year’s fruits of our annual school supplies shopping spree:

IMG_4417For comparison’s sake, check out last year’s picture.

Best wishes to all the younger readers – and their parents - for a wonderful, successful, happy, healthy, and productive school year!


P.S. The newest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Esser Agaroth for including my post on Herzl’s speech at the First Zionist Congress.