Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fine Arts Friday: Shmuel I Edition

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

In lieu of an unconvincing apology or even a lame excuse for my prolonged blogging absence - and with your permission, of course - I think I’ll just jump right back in. Here goes:

A certain Shiputzim daughter had to make a diorama for her Navi class this week and decided to focus on the following psukim from Sefer Shmuel I:

“וַיַעֲשׂוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים כֵּן וַיִקְחוּ שְׁתֵּי פָרוֹת עָלוֹת וַיַאַסְרוּם בָּעֲגָלָה וְאֶת בְּנֵיהֶם כָּלוּ בַבָּיִת. וַיָשִׂמוּ אֶת אֲרוֹן ה’ אֶל הָעֲגָלָה וְאֵת הָאַרְגַז וְאֵת עַכְבְּרֵי הַזָהָב…”

“And the men did so, and they took two lactating cows and hitched them to the wagon; and they confined their calves in the house. And they placed the Ark of Hashem on the wagon, and the box and the golden mice…”
(Shmuel I 6:10-11)

As always, please feel free to click on the pictures for a much better view:IMG_5836IMG_5840IMG_5841IMG_5844IMG_5845

My favorite parts are the golden mice in the box and also the Kruvim on top of the Aron.

And yes, cows DO seem to appear in many projects here in TRLEOOB (=the real life equivalent of our blog). Why do you ask?

Winking smile

!שבת שלום ומבורך

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Taking a stand

Every few years, without fail, there comes a point during Chodesh Irgun when the typical Anglo parent decides that he or she is fed up and isn’t going to take it anymore.

Helpless in the face of paint-splattered clothes, late nights, and kvetchy kids, said Anglo parent finally declares that it’s time to take a stand.

After all, online griping or even commiserating with other beleaguered parents in real life only goes so far.

Unfortunately, however, seeing as we don’t live between the covers of a melodramatic Gothic novel, locking the kids in their rooms and forbidding them from participating in Chodesh Irgun isn’t really an option. And given the current political climate, neither is demanding that the Education Ministry, the Knesset, or even the Supreme Court outlaw the entire endeavor.

But one is determined not to give up without some sort of fight, and so one makes a tiny, insignificant gesture that fools no one but oneself.

For instance, as one’s beloved offspring head out to the snif (the inevitably rickety caravan or lean-to that serves as the youth group’s headquarters) to “paint walls,” “rehearse,” or whatever it is that they’re calling it these days, one demands, “Call me when you get there! And don’t forget to take your umbrella!

If all goes according to plan, the offspring in question obligingly groan and hopefully even roll their eyes before shrugging and doing as they’ve been told.

Ha! Take THAT, Chodesh Irgun!” one secretly exults.

Of course, since it’s been raining rather steadily all week, and since making a phone call isn’t a big deal, deep down one is well aware that the kids would have taken the phones and umbrellas with them anyway.

But then again, during Chodesh Irgun, even the most meaningless parental “victory” is as good as it’s going to get…

Open-mouthed smile

!שבוע טוב ומזל טוב לשבט החדש

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Much ado about nothing

To read the international press over the past few days, or to listen to the ranting and raving of certain members of Israel’s political and chattering classes is to be told that liberal Western values - democracy, equality, civil rights, nondiscrimination, and so on – have come under attack.

Over and over, the self-styled protectors of all that is good and noble intone that any version of the proposed law to define Israel as the Jewish national homeland is a despicable piece of legislation being shoved down Israel’s collective throats by racist and fascist right-wingers.

But as Haviv Rettig Gur demonstrates in his excellent analysis, the reality is very, very different. And in fact, what is actually going on is far more disturbing:

“Ministers shouting untruths about a constitution-altering bill at the cabinet table and then proudly leaking news of their bickering; an attorney general lecturing ministers against approving private member bills on constitutional matters, without mentioning that that was precisely how previous constitutional revolutions, ones with which he more readily agreed, had been passed; centrist legislation that is transmuted through sheer political posturing and media ignorance into a far-right proposal...”

If you haven’t yet done so, be sure to read the whole thing.

May we soon be privileged to witness besurot tovot, yeshu’ot v’nechamot (good tidings, salvation, and consolation) for Am Yisrael!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Euphonic Friday: Yearning For Hashem’s Salvation Edition

In light of recent events, the conclusion of Yaakov Avinu’s blessing to his son Dan in Parshat Vayechi perfectly encapsulates Am Yisrael’s collective mood – especially here in Eretz Yisrael:

לִישׁוּעָתְךָ קִוִיתִי ה’.

“For Your salvation I yearn, Hashem!”
(Breishit 49:18)

Shlomo Katz recently released a hauntingly beautiful rendition of this pasuk:

From Shlomo Katz’s new “Likrat Shabbat” album

שבת שלום וחודש טוב!

Shabbat shalom, and may the coming week and month be filled with besurot tovot, yeshu’ot v’nechamot (good tidings, salvation, and consolation) for Am Yisrael!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Baruch Dayan HaEmet

It’s the dark flip side of living in a small, remarkably interconnected country.

It’s the sobering, solemn fact that nearly every terror attack is bound to affect someone separated from you by a mere degree or two of separation.

And as the number of victims of a specific terror attack increases, the likelihood that you have a personal connection with the victims and/or their families increases as well.

Because each and every victim encompasses an entire world, and the holy victims HY”D of the shocking massacre in Har Nof were no exceptions.

The four Torah scholars, who died al kiddush Hashem, and the heroic Druze police officer, who gave his life for Am Yisrael, were husbands, fathers, grandfathers, sons, brothers, uncles, and cousins.

They each left behind beautiful families and close-knit communities, neighbors and friends, coworkers and fellow congregants.

In this particular case, we know the brother and parents of one victim very well, and sadly, we also have direct and indirect ties to several of the other victims.

ה’ יקום דמם ויהי זכרם ברוך.

May Hashem avenge their blood; may their memories be blessed; and may their dear families be consoled among the mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Vegetarian Vegetable Quiche

In the wake of the three-day Rosh Hashanah weekend and bored – as we all were - by our usual yom tov fare, the Studentit graciously offered to make something “different” as a side dish for lunch on the first day of Succot.

Here’s what she came up with:


Vegetarian Vegetable Quiche with No-Roll Oil-Based Crust
The filling recipe comes from YZG’s aunt, and the crust recipe is adapted from here.
Yield: Two quiches.

Filling Ingredients

  • 800 grams mixed frozen vegetables – Cooked and drained
  • ½ cup water – Reserved from the vegetables
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 TBSP canola oil
  • 1½ TBSP flour
  • Salt, pepper, and spices to taste (the original recipe calls for 2 heaping TBSP onion soup mix)

Crust Ingredients
Yields two crusts.

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 4 TBSP water


Prepare the two crusts: Mix half of the dry ingredients together in each of two lightly-oiled pie pans. Make wells in both centers, and add half the oil and half the water to each pan. Mix the ingredients together and form a ball in each pan. Flatten and press against the pans to form crusts. If you want to be fancy, you can flute the edges with your fingers or with a fork.

Combine the cooked vegetables, the reserved cooking water, the eggs, the mayo, the oil, the flour, and the spices in a large bowl.

Pour half the mixture into each crust. Bake the two quiches at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes (or until the crust is golden brown).



Sunday, October 19, 2014

National Parks: Castel Edition

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

And so, the succah is put away; the younger kids have gone back to school; and we’ve reached that elusive time of year known here in Israel as אחרי החגים (literally, “after the holidays”).

B”H we had a wonderful Succot. We spent time with family and friends and enjoyed various activities and outings – including, as promised, a repeat visit to the Circus Festival and, of course, the requisite trip to one of our beautiful country’s many national parks.

This time our destination was the Castel (aka Har Ma’oz (“Stronghold Mountain”) for the Hebraically-oriented amongst you).

Originally a Roman-era fortress known as Castellum, it was subsequently renovated by the Byzantines, who called it Castellum Belvoir and appreciated its proximity to similar fortresses in the area (such as Ein Chemed and others).

Soaring above and dominating Route 1 (the main highway leading up to Yerushalayim), the Castel was the site of a key battle during the War of Independence. Many brave men and women gave their lives during the heavy fighting.

At one point, the situation became so desperate that the Palmach company commander and his deputy famously ordered the privates to retreat – shielded by their commanders, who remained behind and continued fighting.

When the war finally ended, the newly-formed IDF dug a number of bunkers and communication trenches around the Castel, which overlooked what was then the Jordanian border.

And now, without further ado, the threatened promised pictures: (As always, please feel free to click on the pictures for a much better view.)

First, the traditional view of the price list… to show how much money we WOULD have saved, if we hadn’t allowed our National Parks membership to lapse:


Looking up at the fortress:


Inside one of the tunnels:


The view from the top:


And finally, a video showing a walk through one of the communication trenches:

חורף טוב, בריא וגשום!

Have a wonderful, healthy, and rainy winter!


P.S. The latest HH blog carnival is available here. Special thanks to Batya for including my Reasons 3721 and 3722 for making aliyah.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The circus is coming

Moadim l’simchah!

If you’re looking for a fun chol hamoed activity, you might want to consider going to the annual Circus Festival in Modiin.

I mean, not only is there free admission to many (but not all) of the performances, but since we enjoyed the festival last year and are thinking about going back again this year, there’s a very good chance that you may get to see the Shiputzim family – live and in person. (If you do, please be sure to come over and say hello!)

All of which is a fancy way of saying that instead of apologizing for not getting around to posting the following pictures from Succot 5774, I’m going to pretend that I deliberately CHOSE to wait an entire year to share them with you.

You, in turn, are welcome to pretend that you believe me…


As always, please feel free to click on the pictures for a much better view.

IMG_2953A circus performer walks on the tightrope…

IMG_2957…And also rides his bike

IMG_2963Just hangin’ around

IMG_2979Three performers dangle high above the crowds.

IMG_2981The audience

See here for details about this year’s festival.

!מועדים לשמחה

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Reasons #3721 and #3722 for making aliyah

Warning: The following post may exceed the recommended daily allowance for overt “I-made-aliyah-and-therefore-I’m-so-great” smugness. Proceed at your own risk.

In a hopeless attempt at making it up to you for the long weeks months years that I’ve been shamelessly neglecting this blog, I present not one but TWO (count ‘em! two!) reasons for making aliyah.

The first is fairly prosaic; the second approaches the sublime.

1) Reason #3721 for making aliyah

9:26 PM – Israel time – Motzai Yom Kippur 5775.

At that exact moment, our dear friends and family back in the States were nearing the end of the Yom Kippur Musaf service with visions of, well, just about anything edible, really, dancing in their heads, as Hamlet-like, they were mentally running through their options. (“To go home or NOT to go home during the break – THAT is the question…”)

Meanwhile, half a world away, here in TRLEOOB (=the real life equivalent of our blog), we had not only returned from shul after Maariv, made havdalah, enjoyed a delicious break-fast meal (potato soup and lasagna, thank you for asking), and put up our beautiful succah by that time, but we had even managed to post photographic evidence of said completed succah on the extended Shiputzim family’s WhatsApp group – thereby confirming our victory in the highly-competitive “Who Can Get Their Succah Up First” competition.

2) Reason #3722 for making aliyah

One word: Shmitah.

B”H, this is the third shmitah year since we made aliyah, which means that once again, we have the truly incredible privilege of partaking of peyrot shviit (shmitah produce).

For example, last night’s supper included this:

IMG_5349A package of otzar beit din lettuce from Otzar HaAretz

20141006_141516A close-up of the Otzar HaAretz label

IMG_5361Our custom-decorated shmitah receptacle

“וְהָיְתָה שַׁבַּת הָאָרֶץ לָכֶם לְאָכְלָה לְךָ וּלְעַבְדְּךָ וְלַאֲמָתֶךָ וְלִשְׂכִירְךָ וּלְתוֹשָׁבְךָ הַגָּרִים עִמָּךְ. וְלִבְהֶמְתְּךָ וְלַחַיָּה אֲשֶׁר בְּאַרְצֶךָ תִּהְיֶה כָל תְּבוּאָתָהּ לֶאֱכֹל.”

“And the Shabbat of the land shall be yours to eat, for you and for your servant and for your maidservant, and for your hired worker and for your resident who live with you. And for your animal and for the beast that is in your land: all its produce shall be to eat.”
(Vayikra 25:6-7)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Euphonic Friday: Erev Yom Kippur 5775 Edition

Yitzchak Meir’s incredibly beautiful rendition of R’ Shlomo Carlebach’s “HaNeshamah Lach” (from the Slichot prayer):

[Full disclosure (i.e. gilu’i na’ot for the Hebraically-oriented amongst you) - Last year, on Rosh Hashanah 5774, we had the privilege of davening in the shul where Yitzchak Meir was the ba’al tefilah.]

!גמר חתימה טובה

May we all be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a wonderful, sweet, happy, healthy, prosperous, and peaceful new year!

Monday, September 29, 2014

For the sake of Tzion

A short while ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the United Nation’s General Assembly and concluded his excellent speech with a pasuk from Sefer Yeshaya:

“לְמַעַן צִיּוֹן לֹא אֶחֱשֶׁה וּלְמַעַן יְרוּשָׁלִַם לֹא אֶשְׁקוֹט עַד יֵצֵא כַנֹּגַהּ צִדְקָהּ וִישׁוּעָתָהּ כְּלַפִּיד יִבְעָר.”

“For the sake of Tzion, I will not be silent, and for the sake of Yerushalayim I will not be still; until her righteousness emanates like brilliance, and her salvation blazes like a torch.”
(Yeshaya 62:1)

For those of you who missed it, here’s Part I of the speech:

Part II:

Part III:

May 5775 be a year of besurot tovot, yeshu’ot v’nechamot (good tidings, salvation, and consolation) for Am Yisrael.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rosh Hashanah 5775

I realize that posting has been fairly sparse in recent weeks.

But I’m sure you’ll forgive me when you consider all the, ahem, important and meaningful things we’ve been doing here in TRLEOOB (=the real life equivalent of our blog).

For instance, this past Shabbat, we were extremely busy coming up with a list of acronyms for תשע”ה – 5775 – the upcoming new year:

.תהא שנת עליה הביתה
May this be a year of aliyah to our homeland.

.תחל שמיטה על הארץ
Let shmitah begin in the Land of Israel.

.תהא שנת ערבות הדדית
May this be a year of mutual responsibility.

.תשכון שכינתך על המקדש
May Your Divine Presence dwell in the Mikdash.

.תהא שנת עידן המשיח
May this year mark the onset of the Messianic Era.

.תשים שלום על הבריות
Bestow peace upon mankind.

.תביא ששון על הארץ
Bring joy to the land.

.תהא שנת עבודת ה
May this be a year of serving Hashem.

.תבוא שלום עוד השנה
May peace arrive this very year.

.תהא שנת עליית הרגל
May this be a year of going up to Yerushalayim on the festivals.

.תהא שנת עירך הבנויה
May this be the year of Your rebuilt city.

Please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comment section.

Yitzchak Meir and Udi Davidi sing “Ochila LaKel.” (Full disclosure: Last year, on Rosh Hashanah 5774, we had the privilege of davening in the shul where Yitzchak Meir was the ba’al tefilah.)

לשנה טובה תכתבו ותחתמו לאלתר לחיים טובים ולשלום!

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

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Euphonic Friday: Coming Home Edition

Rather than commenting on the current ceasefire and its political, military, social, historical, or other ramifications, I instead refer you to my Ceasefire Pie post (which referred to the ceasefire at the end of Amud Anan).

Meanwhile, as I wrote in my most recent counteracting the meraglim post, now is the time for all of our dear brothers and sisters in the Diaspora to join us here in Israel and thus help us hasten the Geulah (the Redemption).

And on a related note, the Maccabeats released a new song this week:

!שבת שלום ומבורך

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Birkat HaGomel at the Kotel

After spending over a month in heavy combat down South and before heading home for a well-deserved break, the IDF’s 51st Golani infantry battalion (which includes many hesder yeshiva students/soldiers and officers) went straight to the Kotel to recite the Birkat HaGomel thanksgiving blessing:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלֹקינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם הַגּוֹמֵל לְחַיָּבִים טוֹבוֹת שֶׁגְּמָלַנִי כָּל טוֹב.

Blessed are You, Hashem our God, King of the Universe, Who bestows kindness upon the unworthy, for He has bestowed every goodness upon me.

אָמֵן. מִי שֶׁגְּמַלְּךָ‏ כָּל טוֹב הוּא יִגְמָלְךָ כָּל טוֹב סֶּלָה.

Amen. May He who has bestowed every goodness upon you continue to bestow every goodness upon you forever.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Hu Yevarech Et Chayalei Tzahal

Well, here we go again.

The war seems to be back on, and as a result, many IDF soldiers and officers - many of whom had been granted short conditional leaves only yesterday - are now being ordered back to their respective bases.

Which means that all across the country - including here in TRLEOOB*!  – many families are now coming to terms with the fact that their beloved sons won’t be home for Shabbat after all.

But as I wrote in my achdut post, we still have much to celebrate on this Erev Shabbat Nachamu. For in spite of all the disappointments, the heartbreaks, the traumas, and the tragedies of the past two months, Am Yisrael remains united, and people around the world continue to demonstrate their love and support for the IDF.

For instance, a few days ago, OS (=Our Soldier) received a wonderful surprise from my friend Laura (of Pragmatic Attic fame).

She wrote that her young daughter made this beautiful drawing especially for OS, as an expression of her gratitude and appreciation for him and his friends:


The talented young artist, who graciously gave permission to have her drawing posted here, explained that it’s a picture of two chayalim (soldiers) hugging. “They are hugging,” she added, “because they are happy, and because [I don’t] want them to be sad.

Thank you, Laura, and please thank your sweet daughter!

The IDF’s Chief Cantor and the Pirchei Yisrael Boys Choir of Givat Shmuel sing the “Mi SheBerach Prayer for the Welfare of the IDF Soldiers” to the tune of “El Eretz Tzvi.” (The IDF Cantor and Choir sang this same song at the Shloshim for the three boys Hy”d last week.)

שבת שלום ומבורך ובשורות טובות!

Shabbat shalom, and may the coming week be filled with besurot tovot, yeshu’ot v’nechamot (good tidings, salvation, and consolation) for Am Yisrael!


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Monday, August 4, 2014

Counteracting the Meraglim VI

Over the years, in the days leading up to Tisha B’Av, it’s become somewhat of an Our Shiputzim tradition* to discuss a different “antidote to the meraglim (the Spies)” – i.e. yet another wonderful aspect of life in our beautiful Land.

This year, this post practically wrote itself.

Because as our Sages famously taught, the Second Beit HaMikdash was destroyed due to sinat chinam (generally translated as “gratuitous hatred”), and thus, the ultimate antidote to the meraglim is the unprecedented sense of unity that has gripped every sector of Israeli society over the past 7.5 weeks.

We are united in our belief that Tzuk Eitan is a just, necessary, and unavoidable war, and in our knowledge that the IDF is the most moral, ethical, and humane army in the entire world.

We are united in our prayers and support for the brave soldiers and officers of the IDF, who not only risk and sacrifice their own lives to save ours, but who are also – both literally and figuratively - our sons, our daughters, our husbands, our brothers, our sisters, our neighbors, and our dear friends.

We are united in our concern for our beleaguered brothers and sisters in the South, who have spent the last 14 years (!!) living under enemy fire.

We are united in our bewilderment and anger toward those – including many of our self-professed "best friends EVER” – who consistently condemn us for imaginary atrocities while turning a blind eye toward our savage enemies, who cruelly target our civilians while deliberately endangering their own (i.e. a double war crime).

We are united in our outpouring of love for our wounded; in our grief and sorrow over the loss of so many of our best and brightest; and in our condolences to the bereaved families.

And most of all - as I wrote in my previous post - we are united in our awe and gratitude to HaKadosh Baruch Hu and His countless dedicated emissaries for all the goodness that He has bestowed and continues to bestow upon us.

That long list of emissaries includes the three special families: the Yifrachs, the Sha’ars, and the Fraenkels. Their nobility and strength inspired us, and their holy sons HY”D saved us – both physically and spiritually.

In fact, they can be compared to modern-day Esthers and Mordechais. They took a nation that was “מפוזר ומפורד” (“scattered and dispersed” - Esther 3:8) and brought everyone together on the path to salvation. (Esther commands Mordechai, “לך כנוס את כל היהודים” – “Go, assemble all the Jews.” - Esther 4:16)

For instance, a chareidi acquaintance told us that in his [exclusively chareidi] community, people couldn’t stop talking about the three families and their extraordinary emunah (faith). “My neighbors used to think that they had a lock on emunah,” he observed. “But now they all say that they’ve never seen anything even approaching emunah like this!

Interestingly, the prime minister’s wife used the same word in reference to the wounded IDF soldiers and their families. The TV cameras caught Mrs. Netanyahu in the middle of a long day of visiting different hospitals, and she said that she was amazed at the soldiers’ emunah and their desire to return to their units to finish their missions.

Consider also the following:

  • MK and Minister Silvan Shalom reported that when a siren interrupted a trade fair held at Tel Aviv’s port to boost southern Israel’s small businesses, thousands of Israelis spontaneously began singing, “Am Yisrael Chai!” (“The nation of Israel lives!”)
  • On one of the first few days of the ground incursion, a reporter interviewed a mother visiting her wounded son. “I am not religious at all,” she insisted. “But now it’s the period of Bein HaMetzarim [i.e. the Three Weeks], and that means that it’s time for Am Yisrael to come together and to focus on that which unites us.
  • Channel 2 recently ran a segment on women whose husbands are serving in the reserves. When asked how she copes (she hasn’t seen her husband in weeks), a very secular-looking mother of several young children replied that her belief in God gets her through the day. “I speak to Him all the time,” she explained. “I speak to Him like a daughter speaks to her Father.

An Israeli neighbor stopped by the other day. After comparing notes about our respective soldier sons, we started talking about the incredible achdut (unity) that we have been experiencing.

It means that the Geulah (the Redemption) is finally on the way,” she declared. “It’s so close we can almost taste it!

And so, I turn to you, our beloved family and friends in the Diaspora.

Please join us here in Israel, and come experience this achdut for yourself. Am Yisrael needs you here in Eretz Yisrael, and you need to become part of העם היושב בציון (the Nation that dwells in Tzion).

May we indeed be soon privileged to experience the Geulah, and may our eyes behold Hashem’s return to Tzion with mercy, speedily and in our days. Amen.

יה”ר שיבנה בית המקדש במהרה בימינו, אמן.

Have an easy and meaningful fast.


* Previous “antidote to the meraglim” posts include:

  1. The annual Yemei Iyun B’Tanach in Gush Etzion

  2. Shabbat in an Israeli maternity ward

  3. A front row seat on our nation’s history

  4. A country that revolves around the Jewish calendar

  5. Rubbing shoulders with the country's movers and shakers

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tzuk Eitan

Shavua tov v’shaket.

As Day 12 of Mivtza Tzuk Eitan (literally, “Operation Stalwart Cliff” – i.e. “Operation Protective Edge,” which is, in essence, an extension of Mivtza Shuvu Achim – Operation Brother’s Keeper – and also a desperately-needed response to the staggering 14 years (!!) that our dear brothers and sisters in the South have been under incessant attack) draws to a close, Israel mourns the loss of Dror Chanin HY”D, a civilian volunteer who was delivering food and care packages to IDF soldiers when he was killed in a Palestinian mortar attack along the Gaza border; Sergeant Eitan Barak Z”L, who was killed in combat during the first night of the ground invasion; and Sergeant Adar Barsano HY”D and Major Amotz Greenberg HY”D, who were killed by Hamas terrorists who had infiltrated Israel on Shabbat morning.

UPDATE (Sunday, July 20) – We also mourn the loss of Staff Sergeant Benaya Ruval HY”D, who was killed by a terrorist emerging from a tunnel in Gaza; and Second Lieutenant Bar Rahav HY”D, who was killed by an anti-tank missile in Gaza.

May all their memories be blessed, and may their families be comforted among the other mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim.

Meanwhile, thank you to the wonderful Our Shiputzim readers from around the world who’ve been asking how we’re doing here in TRLEOOB (=the real life equivalent of our blog).

Mostly, like the rest of the country, our thoughts and prayers are with the IDF – the brave fathers, husbands, brothers, sisters, daughters, and sons (including, of course, OS - a veteran of last year’s Amud Anan), who are working around the clock to protect Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael. May Hashem watch over and protect them, and may they all return home safe and sound.

The thing is that since that terrible day when Eyal Yifrach HY”D, Gil-Ad Sha’ar HY”D, and Naftali Fraenkel HY”D were brutally abducted and murdered in cold blood by our enemies, events have been moving at a dizzying speed.

Indeed, it seems as if every hour brings new developments, and there’s been no time to digest or understand any of them - let alone to write a coherent blog post about them.

With your permission, however, I would like to focus on two things:

1) First, the incredible revealed miracles and wonders that Am Yisrael has been privileged to witness.

For in spite of the devastating tragedy and trauma of recent weeks, words cannot begin to express our awe, amazement, and gratitude to HaKadosh Baruch Hu and His countless dedicated emissaries – including the IDF, the brilliant engineers who conceived and developed the Iron Dome, and many others – for all the goodness that He has bestowed and continues to bestow upon us.

2) Second, I don’t know if anyone has been listening, but many rabbis and community leaders have been [correctly, IMHO] exhorting Diaspora Jewry that NOW is actually the best time to make aliyah. As they explain, at this critical juncture, there is no better way to support Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael according to Torat Yisrael.

To the rabbis’ wise words, I would add that making aliyah TODAY also serves another important purpose.

Moving to our beautiful Land gives one a front row seat on Jewish history and allows one to play a major role in shaping Am Yisrael’s future.


May the coming week be filled with besurot tovot, yeshu’ot v’nechamot (good tidings, salvation, and consolation) for Am Yisrael.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Guest Post: The Horror of It All

Israel is in a state of shock today.

Shiputzim family friend Tzippi Sha-ked expressed what we’ve all been thinking and feeling, and she graciously allowed me to repost her essay (which originally appeared here) on this blog:


The Horror of It All…

by Tzippi Sha-ked

We are absolutely horrified that some young Jews could do something so heinous. The nation condemns their sick behavior.

This, however, remains an aberration, not a norm. Vigilante justice is extremely rare in Israel. The last time something like this happened was in 1994, when the mass murderer Baruch Goldstein took the law into his own hands.

Like all societies, we have our extremists, but we never let them control the majority. Unfortunately, the Muslim extremists control the silent majority which we hope want peace.

A brutal murder (of Muhammed) such as this, is so rare that when something like this happens we go into shock. As a nation, we gathered after the murders of the three boys - Eyal, Naftali, and Gil-Ad HY”D - and prayed and comforted one another. We did not take to the streets rioting.

Then the shock of all shocks. The unthinkable happened; and it was from our side. I can only say that the nation of Israel is not handing out candies in celebration; we are not raising three fingers in a sick victory signal. We have not incited our children in our textbooks to hate Muslims and to take the law into their own hands. Rather, we are horrified and are acting quickly to arrest and prosecute these mad young people and quell the violence.

In contradistinction to the actions of the Palestinian Authority, Israel will not name a street, a square, or a village after the perpetrators. The mothers will not be celebrating in their children’s honor. The families will not be awarded terrorist stipends, and the perpetrators will be tried accordingly under the democratic process.

There will be intense months of soul searching as we try to process this act. This has been the most horrific month here in Israel, and I fear that we are heading into a very trying period.

Today a couple of Muslims from Hevron visited the Fraenkel family. If we could guarantee our safety, many Jews would go and comfort this Muslim family in turn.

May peace reign over Yerushalayim in our time.


Amen, and thank you, Tzippi.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Oy, Meh Hayah Lanu!

Almost exactly 76 years ago, on June 29, 1938, Shlomo Ben-Yosef HY"D of Rosh Pina was hung by the British.

He was the first of the Olei HaGardom (also known as the Harugei HaMalchut) – the twelve Jewish men whom the British sentenced to death in the pre-State era.

In response, two days later, on Rosh Chodesh Tamuz 5698, Rav Yaakov Moshe Charlap zt"l, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav, wrote a letter of chizuk to his son, daughter-in-law, and grandson.

This afternoon, Rav Gidon Binyamin shlit”a, the Rav of Nof Ayalon, read an excerpt from that letter at the funeral of Naftali Fraenkel HY"D.

(An English translation follows below.)

א' דראש חודש תמוז תרח"צ

בני יקירי, ורעיתך היקרה, והילד היקר - ד' עמכם.

אמנם המחשבות סוערות מאוד מעליית לגרדום אחד מבני ישראל על לא דבר. לא הועילו כל ההפצרות, לא הועילו כל ההתחננות. גם כל חלונות השמים נסגרו. כל התפילות, השוועות, הזעקות, והתחינות לא בקעו את העננים.

אשרי לאיש הזה שעל ידו נתעוררו כל כך הרבה הרהורי תשובה. אשרי לו שעל ידו נתאחדו לנקודה אחת כל ישראל. אך אוי מה היה לנו, מדוע שתם תפילתנו, אבל ביטחוננו בו יתברך שמו כי ינקום נקמת דם עמו לעינינו, ובמהרה נראה בבנין ציון וירושלים, ובבנין בית מקדשנו וכו'.

אביכם המעתיר בעדכם ומברך אתכם,
יעקב משה

Rosh Chodesh Tamuz 5698

My dear son, your dear wife, and the dear child,

May Hashem be with you.

Indeed our thoughts are in great turmoil after one of Bnei Yisrael was sent to the gallows for no reason. All the entreaties were to no avail. All the supplications were to no avail. Even all the windows of Heaven were closed. All the prayers, the outcries, the shouts, and the pleadings did not pierce the clouds.

Fortunate is this man, who because of him, so many were roused to contemplate repentance. Fortunate is he, who because of him, all of Israel was united as one. But woe, what has befallen us! Why were our prayers unrequited? But our trust is in Him, blessed is His Name, that He will avenge His nation’s blood before our eyes, and we will speedily witness the rebuilding of Tzion and Yerushalayim and the rebuilding of our Beit HaMikdash, etc.

Your father who bestows abundance upon you and blesses you,
Yaakov Moshe

May we continue to relish the beautiful achdut (unity) of the past two and a half weeks; may the three bereaved families be consoled among the mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim; and may the memories of Eyal HY”D, Gil-Ad HY”D, and Naftali HY”D be blessed.

Baruch Dayan HaEmet

ברוך דיין האמת.

Blessed is the True Judge.

ה’ יקום דמם ויהי זכרם ברוך.

May Hashem avenge their blood, and may their memories be blessed.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Naftali’s mother addresses the UN

Racheli Fraenkel, Naftali’s mother, addressed the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva this morning.

The family gave permission for this video to be shared:

Please continue to daven and recite Tehilim for our boys - Yaakov Naftali ben Rachel Devorah (Fraenkel), Gil-Ad Michael ben Bat-Galim (Sha’ar), and Eyal ben Iris Teshurah (Yifrach) - and also for the IDF forces who are working around the clock to rescue them.

May we soon be privileged to enjoy besurot tovot, yeshu’ot v’nechamot (good tidings, salvation, and consolation).

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Kayeim Et HaYeled HaZeh

Shavua tov.

Dedicated to the three kidnapped teens, the following hauntingly beautiful song is based on the words recited at a brit milah:

“קיים את הילד הזה לאביו ולאמו… ישמח האב ביוצא חלציו, ותגל אמו בפרי בטנה… יִשְׂמַח אָבִיךָ וְאִמֶּךָ וְתָגֵל יוֹלַדְתֶּךָ… וָאֶעֱבֹר עָלַיִךְ וָאֶרְאֵךְ מִתְבּוֹסֶסֶת בְּדָמָיִךְ וָאֹמַר לָךְ בְּדָמַיִךְ חֲיִי וָאֹמַר לָךְ בְּדָמַיִךְ חֲיִי.”

“Preserve this child for his father and for his mother. May the father rejoice in the issue of his body, and may his mother revel in the fruit of her womb. ‘Your father and mother will rejoice; and she who bore you will revel.’ (Mishlei 23:25) ‘And I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood; and I said to you with your blood live, and I said to you with your blood live.’ (Yechezkel 16:6)”

Please continue to daven and recite Tehilim for our boys - Yaakov Naftali ben Rachel Devorah (Fraenkel), Gil-Ad Michael ben Bat-Galim (Sha’ar), and Eyal ben Iris Teshurah (Yifrach) - and also for the IDF forces who are working around the clock to rescue them.

May we be privileged to enjoy besurot tovot, yeshu’ot v’nechamot (good tidings, salvation, and consolation) during the coming week.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Guest Post: A Never-Ending Week

Shiputzim family friend Sarah lives in Nof Ayalon – the small, tightknit community in central Israel that is also home to Naftali Fraenkel, 16, one of the three kidnapped teenagers.

Yesterday, Sarah posted a beautiful description on Facebook of what she and her neighbors have been feeling, and she graciously allowed me to share her post here:


A Never-Ending Week

by Sarah

It’s been a never-ending week.

A never-ending week that started last Friday morning when we woke up to news that one of our boys had been kidnapped along with two other boys when traveling home from school.

Disbelief turned to shock as we grappled to comprehend. What sort of evil person kidnaps kids? And yet again this week, we have been surprised at how much cruelty there is in the world.

It’s been a never-ending week where we’ve been in constant never-ending pain, tears rolling down our cheeks, when we’ve walked around like zombies, when we haven’t been able to smile or laugh. The world goes on as if nothing has happened. Yet for us time stands still.

It’s been a never-ending week where suddenly people know where I live. No longer a small yishuv near Modiin.

It’s been a never-ending week where at every moment we have beseeched God. It’s been a week where I’ve discovered Tehillim and how comforting that the words express our feelings, our pain, and our hope.

It’s been a week where the three mothers have shown us unbelievable emunah, comforted us instead of us comforting them.

And it’s been a never-ending week where Am Yisrael stands strong, together. One family. A week with an incredible feeling of unity and support. A week that community after community around the world have come together in prayer.

A week that we pray, b’ezrat Hashem, will end with our boys coming home to their families, to Am Yisrael.

May Hashem bless our soldiers and keep them safe.


Thank you, Sarah, and amen!

Please continue to daven and recite Tehilim for the three boys - Yaakov Naftali ben Rachel Devorah (Fraenkel), Gil-Ad Michael ben Bat-Galim (Sha’ar), and Eyal ben Iris Teshurah (Yifrach) - and also for the IDF forces who are working around the clock to rescue them.

Monday, June 16, 2014

HaMakom Yeracheim Aleihem

Please continue to daven and recite Tehilim for the three kidnapped teenagers - Yaakov Naftali ben Rachel Devorah (Frenkel), Gil-Ad Michael ben Bat-Galim (Sha’ar), and Eyal ben Iris Teshurah (Yifrach) – and also for the IDF forces who are working around the clock to rescue them.

May Hashem watch over and protect them all and bring them home to their dear families, speedily and unharmed.

Eyal Yifrach singing a song he wrote for a wedding.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A new president

“רְאוּבֵן בְּכֹרִי אַתָּה כֹּחִי וְרֵאשִׁית אוֹנִי יֶתֶר שְׂאֵת וְיֶתֶר עָז.”

“Reuven, you are my firstborn, my strength and the first of my vigor; superior in rank and superior in might.”
(Breishit 49:3)

Mazal tov to the State of Israel’s newly-elected 10th President,
Reuven (“Ruby”) Rivlin!

May Hashem grant him the strength, the wisdom, and the courage to serve as a fitting representative of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael according to Torat Yisrael.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Freshly Baked Goods Friday: Pseudo-Kiwi Edition

For her English class, a Shiputzim daughter has to write a paper and do an oral report about a country. She chose New Zealand, and as I type these lines, she’s putting the finishing touches on the project.

Part of the assignment is to prepare a food, and after a bit of research, she decided to bake something called Afghan biscuits, which – according to the all-knowledgeable Chef Google – is a classic Kiwi cookie made with butter, sugar, cocoa, and cornflakes, and topped with chocolate frosting and a whole walnut.

The recipe seemed simple enough, but as is our wont here in TRLEOOB (=the real life equivalent of our blog), the Shiputzim daughter in question had to make a few substitutions.

First of all, seeing as how our mixer is pareve and all, she didn’t want to make the cookies milchig, and so there went the butter.

Next, she didn’t feel that it was worth the effort of making frosting – when we had a tub of chocolate spread on hand that was begging to be used.

And finally, we didn’t have any walnuts – whole or otherwise – and so she used some ground hazelnuts instead.

The result may or may not resemble authentic Afghan biscuits, but since none of us had ever heard of them before, I’m not sure that it really matters…





Pareve Afghan Biscuits


  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup plus 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1¾ cups flour
  • 2 TBSP cocoa
  • 2/3 cup cornflakes
  • Chocolate frosting (given that this was just for school, we cheated and simply used chocolate spread)
  • Ground nuts (to be more authentic, use whole walnuts instead)


Cream the oil and the sugar. Add the flour and the cocoa. Gently fold in the cornflakes.

Using a teaspoon, drop the cookies on a baking-paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, and let cool. Frost the cookies, and sprinkle some ground nuts on top (or place one walnut on each cookie).


Have you ever eaten, baked, or even heard of Afghan biscuits?

!בתאבון ושבוע טוב

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A divided city

By now most of you have probably seen my in-laws’ incredible pictures of the Kotel from the summer of 1967 – i.e. just a few weeks after the Six Day War. (If you missed the photos, be sure to check them out here.)

Well, I recently discovered that my paternal grandparents z”l spent Pesach 1967 – i.e. just BEFORE the Six Day War – in Israel and took their own amazing pictures of Yerushalayim.

As always, I highly recommend that you click on each of these historic photos for a much better view.

First, two pictures of my bubby z”l standing in front of the Mandelbaum Gate (the former checkpoint dividing Yerushalayim), which was torn down immediately following the war:


BZ_IMG_0038The sign reads, “Halt. Frontier Ahead.”

Next, a view looking up Rechov Agron toward the intersection where King George Street becomes Keren HaYesod Street:

BZ_IMG_0054Note that modern landmarks such as the Plaza Hotel and the Great Synagogue did not yet exist in 1967.

As you can see in the next picture, Heichal Shlomo, which was only nine years old at the time, still had no neighbors:


The old Yerushalayim train station:


Looking over the King David Hotel toward the walls of what was then the Jordanian-occupied Old City:

BZ_IMG_0056Little did anyone know that within a matter of weeks, Yerushalayim would be miraculously reunited, and the Old City would once again be accessible to all. No longer would the Jewish People have to gaze at the heart of the city from afar.

A view of Migdal David (the Tower of David) and Shaar Yafo (Jaffa Gate):


And finally, two views from Har Tzion (Mount Zion) – which remained in Israeli hands after the Jordanians seized control of the Old City in 1948 - looking back toward the Windmill and Yemin Moshe:


BZ_IMG_0078Apparently, my grandparents z”l took part in some sort of festive procession (a hachnasat sefer Torah?) leading up to Har Tzion.

לשנה הבאה בירושלים הבנויה!

Happy Yom Yerushalayim!

Chaval al hazman

The following exchange may – or may not – have occurred yesterday somewhere in Israel:

Israeli Son: {comes home after finishing the bagrut in Tanach}

Anglo Mother: So, how was it?

Israeli Son: {annoyed} It was easy!

Anglo Mother: {confused} And why is that a problem?

Israeli Son: Because I wasted all that time studying for nothing!

Anglo Mother: {naively} Maybe the reason it was easy was BECAUSE you studied?

Israeli Son: {wonders for the upteenth time where his mother gets these crazy ideas}

Open-mouthed smile

Disclaimer: Any resemblance to actual events is purely accidental intentional.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Fiction Friday: Challenging Edition

Recently, ACSD (=a certain Shiputzim daughter) had to write something about “challenges” for her school’s English newspaper.

Here’s her submission:


A Challenging Assignment


One day, my teacher told us to write a story about challenges for the school newspaper. It was a big challenge for me to think what to write.

I sat at my desk and thought what to write. I wrote and erased, wrote and erased. I crumpled up the paper and threw it out. I asked my mother, my father, my brothers, and my sisters for ideas, but they could not help me.

The deadline for the assignment was getting closer and closer, and I still had nothing. I wanted to write a story, but I did not even know where to start.

I moved to the computer room, but I had nothing to type. When I was lying in bed, I thought. On my way to school, I thought. During school, I thought. After school, I thought. But I still could not come up with an idea.

The night before the assignment was due, I stayed up late thinking. Finally, my mother said that I should go to sleep. I had no choice, and so I went to bed.

I realized that the next day, I would have no story about a challenge…

Winking smile


Great job, ACSD!

!שבת שלום ומבורך

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Little Bo Peep has lost her… cows?

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

It’s like watching a train wreck.

What with Yom HaAtzma’ut and even Pesach Sheni behind us, it’s just a matter of days before Lag BaOmer arrives in all its flaming, sooty, and incomprehensible glory.

For those just tuning in, Lag BaOmer, aka “the Night of the Tightly Sealed Windows,” consistently ranks (at least for adults) alongside Chodesh Irgun at the very top of the annual “what time of year do you dread the most” poll.

But while there’s absolutely nothing one can do to prevent Lag BaOmer from happening, one CAN turn to the time-honored traditions of avoidance and denial in a desperate attempt at mitigating some of its inherent unpleasantness.

To this end – and with your indulgence, of course - I’d like to take a few minutes to remind myself that being the Anglo parent of Israeli offspring isn’t always about heaps of smoke-infused laundry and enough stockpiled wood to light up, well, a small country…


After all, upon occasion, those very same Israeli offspring have a habit of accomplishing some pretty amazing things.

(Yes, this is where the aforementioned parental bragging begins…)

For instance, as you may recall, a few months ago I featured a poster that a certain Shiputzim daughter had skillfully drawn for her Mishnah class.

Recently, she had to make another project for the same class, and this time, she chose to make a diorama about Bava Metzia 2:9, which asks, “what is an aveidah (a lost item)?”


As you can see in the following pictures, the right side represents a case which isn’t considered to be an aveidah (one who found a donkey or a cow grazing along the road”), and the left side depicts an example of something that IS an aveidah (“a cow runs among the vineyards”):


IMG_4653As always, please click on the pictures for a much better view.

</parental boasting>

What is your preferred method for dealing with Lag BaOmer’s nuisances?

!שבת שלום ומבורך