How do you pronounce שופרסל?

In my last post, I posed a probing question that elicited riveting debate in the comments-- how do you pronounce the name of the grocery store chain found on these boxes of dried fruit? Take a closer look:


In case anyone reading this doesn't understand Hebrew, this is a tricky question in part because Hebrew is written without most vowels and some letters-- including two in this store's name-- can make more than one sound.  ש can make a "sh" sound or an "s" sound, and פ can make a "p" sound or a "f" sound, so this word's pronunciation comes down to this: sh/s--oo/oh--p/f--a/e/i/o/u/silent--r--a/e/i/o/u/silent--s--a/e/i/o/u/silent--l. Are we confused yet? 

But, see, Israelis all know how words are pronounced, so the system never fails. You just have to be in the know. Right?

So, let's narrow the answer down to the choices proposed by this blog's astute readers in the comments:
Supersell (which wouldn't be weird at all by Israeli standards, Bryan-- I mean, we have a mall known as the Grand Kenyon, in one of the worst English-Hebrew puns I know!)
Shufersal (means "quality basket," supposedly)
Supersal ("Super" makes sense because Israelis call any grocery store the "super"-- see this post about grocery shopping like an Israeli-- and "sal" still means "basket")
Supersol (no idea why "sol" would make sense)

One of the easiest ways to find the answer to this question is to try out all the likely URLs for the grocery store chain. The one that gets to the correct site is the right answer. Let's try it out:

Oops. Except for "supersell," they all work.  

The answer to this trick question is that Israelis don't actually know how some of their words are pronounced. I most often hear people call this chain "supersal," but its name is technically "shufersal" and used to be "supersol." All those URLS redirect to this address, which expresses the brand confusion perfectly: http://www.shufersal.co.il/supersol_he/ 

In part, I suspect this name confusion lies in some kind of tax/anti-trust-lawsuit dodge: Who, us? But we're just a brand new chain, Shufersal. You must mean the old grocery story that used to try to drive all competitors out of the market, Supersol."Mark my words-- they'll be "Supersell" within a decade.

But the bottom line is that Israelis don't actually know how to say the name of this grocery store. In fact, you see Israelis mispronounce other words in fabulous ways too, especially when these words come from foreign languages. Anyone want to go bowel-ing with me? Then we can go get Whoffers at Boorger King! We can wash dishes in our Virlpool dishwasher! (And, as someone else in Benji Lovitt's hilarious Facebook feed pointed out, Israelis are still mourning the death of Parrah Paucett.)

So if you are struggling to read Hebrew without vowels, take heart: Israelis can't always read Hebrew either. :)


Happy Tu B'Shvat!

When it's almost Tu B'Shvat (the "new year of the trees")...

And you live in Israel (where the "new year of the trees" is a widely-celebrated holiday resulting in massive sales on dried fruit in any super)...

And you go to visit Polish Grandparents (who had to fend for themselves as teenagers during the Holocaust, and who therefore think that they need to show their love by giving you all the abundance they lacked, plus some extra just in case you think they skimped on you or maybe you are still hungry because maybe you forgot to buy any food this week, and they want to make sure you don't run out too quickly)...

And they are very concerned about you not eating enough because you're on a diet (and can't seem to understand that deep-fried shnitzel is unhealthy while drinking water during a meal-- tfu tfu tfu-- is ok)...

And you can only stay a few hours for lunch, thus increasing their concern for your well-being (and their fear that you will catch your death of cold or swine flu or hunger while on the train ride back)...

Then you risk returning home lugging about 20 pounds of dried fruit and nuts (yes, those are three full-sized ice cream tubs full of pecans, apricots, and golden raisins).

On the plus side, bags and bags of dried fruit and nuts make a pretty good seat when the train is packed to the brim on Thursday afternoon. Happy Tu B'Shvat, everyone! 

Bonus points if anyone can read the name of the grocery store (שופרסל) where my husband's grandparents bought this insane amount of food. (Hint: this is kind of a trick question. I'll explain later unless someone wants to beat me to it in the comments.)


Bundle up when you come inside!

Last night was our coldest night so far, because it got down to only about 5 degrees above zero (Celsius), which is about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. I still go jogging in short sleeves most mornings and leave the windows open most days.

I grew up in Pennsylvania, so I remember weather that hovered around zero Fahrenheit for weeks on end, but Pennsylvania homes are built for cold weather. Our thermostat and central heating kept our hours a toasty 70 degrees F, and every other part of our life was arranged so that it involved a minimum of actual time spent outdoors. Wood and carpet floors stayed pretty warm (and of course we could always huddle over heating vents if we wanted).

But the problem with Israeli winters is that Israeli apartments are built for summer. Tile floors are refreshing in summer and frigid in winter. We have drafty windows, heavy blinds that block out light (or let in cold air), and cold, thick cement walls. Heavy rains drench me as I run to the yarkan to buy veggies and fruit, and our laundry struggles to dry on racks in our cold "service balcony." (Most Israelis don't even own clothes dryers.)  Central heating? HA! Our only built-in heat source is the "heat" function on our air-conditioning unit, which has one setting: power-guzzle. In fact, our apartment is so good at keeping heat out that it's usually warmer outside than inside in the winter-- I huddle inside wearing four layers of clothing, then step outside and peel almost all of it off.

This winter, we finally broke down and bought several little space heaters. Now life is good. :) (To be fair, I'm also wearing two sweaters and a scarf.) We've learned to place slippers strategically close to the edge of the bed, sleep under down comforters, drink tea, and wear lots of layers. I've also discovered that it actually isn't a good idea to rest my crocs on our space heater... they melt:

Apparently sweatpants melt as well. Don't ask me how I know this.

Of course, our cats have found other ways to stay warm, which mainly involve mauling each other and sitting on various electronic devices around our house. Pixel spends hours every day curled up on top of our HOT cable box (I think he likes hot appliances more than HOT guys), and he recently took it upon himself to compose two separate blog posts while sitting on my keyboard... isn't he talented? I'm keeping his posts up, partly because I'm fascinated by how linkwithin calculates posts related to "xc#2.s!"

Hope you're staying warm!


(Guest post by Pixel while Maya was having lunch)


(Guest post #2 by Pixel)


Still alive! (In which I blame the lack of posts on Lior Narkis)

Just wanted to let y'all know that I'm not sick, have not been hit by a monit sherut, and have not decided to abandon Israel for a small Yurt in the Himalayas. I've actually just been busy, and I figure one of the perks of blogging for fun is that I can take vast unpaid vacations without any warning.

Really, though, what happened was that I saw this Lior Narkis music video and was at a loss for words for several weeks. I can't explain the video. I can't even tell you what aspect of Israeli culture would spawn something this odd, although most oddly, it doesn't surprise me at all. And I should further caveat this video by saying that this song is really popular and blares on Israeli streets from arse-mobiles at all hours of the day, Lior Narkis is a Mizrachi singer who sings love songs, and this is the song's real music video. The lyrics basically say "You're really sweet. Everything you do is really sweet. I want to hug you."

I can't embed the video, so just follow this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zqt-nZHrAfw
And I'm not talking about all the gratuitous bikini shots... watch to the very end.

Now you know.

P.S. In a serious story about Israeli medical rescue, I hope you're all aware of the amazing job that Israel has done in rescuing survivors in Haiti. We were one of the first to set up a fully functional field hospital and we've recently been among the last to pull survivors out of the rubble. Check out a sample story here (and from the Philadelphia Bulletin, just to show that the Jerusalem post isn't alone in applauding the Israeli delegation. I even found a positive mention of Israel's rescue teams at Aljazeera.net).

UPDATE: Oh. My. This music video is part of a series. Here's the next one, and again, you have to watch to the very end. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10c0FVoMfA4&feature=related 
I guess you can say many things about Lior Narkis, many of them starting with "tasteless," but the guy definitely doesn't take himself too seriously!


Standing on the threshold of 2010

I recently discovered this wonderful, thoughtful entry posted among the comments of past messages. Lisa, I can't access your blogger profile, so I can't give you proper credit or a link, but thanks for posting it. While she was talking about 2008, I find this an inspiring read as I move into 2010. (Btw, anyone else want to write a guest post about how you came to be Israeli or any other aspect of Israeli life? I'd love to post more!)


I was just 14 when I first visited Israel and I never suspected that I was about to fall hopelessly and helplessly in love with a country...a nation...a new way of being. Photographs from that life-changing trip show me in tears in the Ben Gurion departure lounge and this became a pattern that continued with every annual visit that followed.

I could never quite understand my depth of emotion for this feisty little country. I was born and bred in South Africa and grew up surrounded by loving family, friends and all the luxuries typically enjoyed by a privileged White child. Why then did I feel so foreign as I drove the familiar streets and interacted with people I'd known for a lifetime and only felt I truly belonged when I stepped back onto Israeli soil?

My love for Israel defined me. I listened only to Israeli music. I lingered over books on Israel in every bookstore I entered and watched movies that were based in the Middle East with an overwhelming longing to transport myself to the world shown on screen. In 1991 I escaped the Gulf War just as the first scuds hit Tel Aviv and went to London where I found myself drawn to the local ELAL offices in the hope of savoring a taste of the country I loved best.

I once explained my attachment to Israel by saying that I went about my daily routine with a constant awareness of missing a piece of my heart and it was only when I arrived back here that I felt that illusive puzzle piece slip seamlessly into place.

Israel soothed my soul in way that nothing else could. It was for this reason that in 2005 I decided that I could no longer spend the rest of my days wishing I was someplace else and put plans in motion to relocate my family to the country of my heart.

We arrived at the Mirkaz Klitah absorption centre in Raanana on the 26th June 2006....and Israel went to war with Lebanon just 2 weeks later. The next 18 months saw me move home 3 times ... tackle the challenges of settling my children into an entirely new school and social environment ... reestablish my cookery school and make new friends ...and face a sudden divorce that saw me unexpectedly navigating my way through single parenting.

It also brought me sheer joy as I realised that this was not merely an infatuation and I truly had found the love of my life. I continue to thrill at the sight of the distinctive blue and white flags that flap in the breeze and I am always the last person on the street to remove my flag from the gate-post after the Yom Hautzmaut Independence Day celebrations are over. My eyes still fill with tears whenever I hear the Hatikva national anthem. And I constantly irritate my children by changing radio stations if the station I am tuned to dares to play anything but Israeli music.

2008 will be a momentous year as Israel celebrates 60 years of independence and I celebrate my 40th and a new found independence of my own. Being here for this momentous birthday is the greatest gift I could ever wish for and I am grateful each and every day to have been granted the opportunity to realise this dream.

Roll on another year of sunshine!
 P.S. Wow, am I ever confused about dates. My original title for this post was "Standing on the threshold of 2009." Am I really senile already??
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