couponing in the holy land

Frugal food shopping for the Anglo Israeli

A new Osher Ad opening tomorrow, 15 Sept 2014 in Talpiot

I just received a tip from a reader that a new Osher Ad is opening tomorrow, 15 September 2014 in Kanyon Hadar in Talpiot, Jerusalem.  I didn’t know where the new store is opening because this is the ad on Osher Ad’s Facebook page:

Osher Ad is opening in what was formerly Mega Bul and is close to Rami Levy and Shufersal Deal.  Osher Ad has a strong following without advertising or even a web page, known for their good prices and their Costco products.  Here is a list of their branches, phone numbers, and hours:

I recommend that everyone go and check it out- they are bound to have some amazing deals.  Let us know if Costco products can be found there as well!

Sources: Michael Rose and Globes

Seven shekels per litre of gas at Ten on Mondays!

Tomorrow, get to your closest Ten gas station and fill up on gas for only 7 shekels per litre! (In Eilat it is 5.99 shekels per litre)  If you miss it this week, you can try again the next two Mondays, 22 Sept and 29 Sept.  To find the gas station closest to you, click here.

New Toys R Us coupons- expire 17 Sept 2014

Click on the picture to enlarge and print.

Rami Levy wins again!

Two surveys just came out showcasing Rami Levy.  Channel 10 went searching throughout the country for the cheapest supermarket for your holiday purchases.  They found the Rami Levy store in Nesher to have the best prices.  Israelis, however, weren’t convinced; see for yourself here.

In addition, Yediot Achronot published the results of their customer survey which concluded that Rami Levy was “the national supermarket chain chosen to be the least expensive and have the best customer service.”

Not only that but Rami Levy is putting on a show for chayalim on 18 September 2014 with all of the most popular singers for only 19.90 shekels per ticket- food and drink included!

Kosher turkey bacon has come to Israel!

Turkey bacon, the healthy alternative to pork bacon in chul, has arrived in Israel and is now kosher!  It has no artificial colors, no trans fat, no MSG and is gluten free.   Fry it for a few minutes and it is ready to eat.  You can find Of Tov turkey bacon in Shufersal and Mega (currently out of stock) supermarkets.  For a 5 shekel coupon, go to Of Tov’s Facebook page.  The current price is 13.80 shekels according to My Supermarket.


How the other half lives: The Wolfowitz Family

Yael (30) and Mor (29) Wolfowitz have three children: Ariel (9), Netanel (8) and Yasmine (5).

They live in a 4 room (3BR) garden apartment in Yishuv Avnei Hefeitz in the Shomron for which they have a mortgage.

Yael is a secretary for the rehabilitation work center “Chimes Israel” in Kfar Saba.  Mor is a networks manager for Machon Mor as well as studying for a bachelor’s degree in information security in Michlelet Or Yehuda.  Their car is a company car.

Hobbies and chugim: Netanel takes a drums chug, Ariel is in an art chug and Mor loves to fish.

Vacations: “After three years where we didn’t go on a vacation due to financial reasons, last July we went away for four days to the family hotel Nova Like in Eilat.  Every year we also go on a vacation on Sukkot.”

Budget: Yael: “I am on the internet obsessively and check my bank account all the time.  We had a fall, but when that happened we returned to Paamonim, got myself together and returned to proper financial management.  It isn’t simple, especially in the months of July and August.  In the past we were dependent on our parents but now we are completely independent.  Because of Paamonim I am more careful and on my own I began to volunteer to help others better manage their home finances.  Today I am a different person and that makes me much happier.  When I get into a disaster I know how to get out of it, and that is the best present that I received.”

Monthly expenses:

Apartment: 2093 shekels

Electricity and water: 520 shekels

Communication and television: 350 shekels

School and chugim: 2050 shekels

Car and gas: 220 shekels

Insurance: 400 shekels

Kupot Cholim: 230 shekels

Food and household expenses: 2800 shekels

Culture and leisure time: 200 shekels

Vacations: 300 shekels

Miscellaneous expenses ( pets, haircuts, fines, clothing, shoes, present, etc.): 845 shekels

Loans: 1500 shekels

Savings: 1000 shekels


How the other half lives- The Bass Family

One of the most important issues for new olim is learning how to make ends meet at the end of each month.  Sometimes it feels as if we are drowning and wonder how it is that Israelis seem to have it so much easier than us.  Every once in a while the newspapers publish stories about average Israeli families and their financial situations.  I think it is important for olim to see how the other half lives to help us put our own financial struggles in perspective.  This article was published in Yisrael HaYom  on 12 September 2014.

Yasmine (34) and Amit (36) Bass

Two children: Orin (6) and Yanai (4)

They live in a 3 room apartment (2BR) in Haifa for which they have a mortgage.

Yasmine has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and is studying social work at the University of Haifa.  Amit is a welder for the electric company.  They own a 2006 Renault Scenic.  For hobbies, Amit plays sports on the beach for free.  Yasmine: “I am a proud housewife and student, and my hobbies and free time revolves around the house.”  The last vacation they took was three years ago when they went to Eilat through Amit’s work so it was very cheap.

The budget: “We are constantly in minus but we know that it is a temporary situation because learning is intensive right now.  We are about 4000 shekels short each month.  We generally live on Amit’s salary. Since I started learning two years ago we are living on our savings.  We sold our apartment in Rishon L’zion specifically so I would be able to learn.  With what we earned from the sale we were able to buy the apartment in Haifa and be able to start learning.   To my luck I am an excellent student – so that I am able to deliver the goods.  We received help from Paamonim and got insight into household financial management and we are trying to pay up front so that we don’t build up debt.”

Monthly expenses:

Apartment: 3388 shekels

Electricity and water: 565 shekels

Communication and television: 540 shekels

School and chugim: 742 shekels

Car and gas: 2210 shekels

Insurance: 660 shekels

Kupot Cholim: 223 shekels

Food and household goods: 3000 shekels

Culture and socialization: 233 shekels

Vacations: 0 shekels

Miscellaneous expenses (pets, haircuts, fines, clothing, shoes, presents, etc.): 1175 shekels

Loans: 350 shekels

Savings: 500 shekels


Food News Roundup – SodaStream, 100-calorie club, Rosh Hashana products and more

1. The possible closing of the SodaStream factory in Mishor Adumim went viral on social media but according to the company they are NOT closing down the factory and moving to the Negev right now.  They are in the process of making a decision as to the fate of the Mishor Adumim facility but if anything does happen, says the Director General of SodaStream, it will be based on financial considerations and not the BDS movement.  SodaStream currently has a factory in Lahavim in the Negev which will be undergoing expansion in the near future.  If SodaStream does decide to fire workers in the Mishor Adumim factory, it will be only be a few hundred and the factory will not close but will continue to hire Palestinians, Arab Israelis, and Jews.  Source: Yisrael HaYom

2. One of the biggest difficulties I have found when trying to diet here is the nutritional labeling, which is most frequently per 100 grams and not per serving size.  While using 100 grams allows us to compare the nutritional quality of different products, if I need to count calories, I have no idea how to take that number and convert it to a cup, slice, or other portion size.  Other people, frustrated by the insufficient nutritional labeling in Israel, created a “100 calorie club.”  On their web site, you can find a multitude of products in Israel that are 100 calories (or really close).  Since calories are not the only measure of a healthy diet, the web site also rates each product based on the amount of salt, sugar and fat it contains.  They also have a Facebook page for the latest info.  It doesn’t cost anything to join the club but by joining the movement you are telling manufacturers that they need to provide consumers with practical nutritional information.  Who knows? Maybe even the Ministry of Health will listen and make it mandatory.


3. Tivall has come out with a great new snack- crunchy corn nuggets in flavors such as barbecue and extra spicy.  They got favorable reviews from Yediot Ahronot and from my kids.  Unfortunately I haven’t found a coupon for it but the price pretty low- 8.90 shekels at most stores.


4.  Have you noticed any unusual looking grapes on the market?  Machon Volcani, Israel’s agricultural research center, has developed three new strains of grapes for our culinary pleasure.  “Mitzpeh”grapes are large, purple and with pits that look like seeds.  “Big Pearl” grapes are named for Dr. Avi Perl who is the primary researcher of these new strains. They are pale green with huge pits which can be cracked open in your mouth and a thin peel.  The third strain, “Ancient Red”, is a clear purple with a very fruity flavor and a very high level of antioxidants.   Source

5.  Two honey-flavored products have come out exclusively for Rosh Hashanah. Tenta, whose factory is in Sderot, has a honey-flavored sucking candy with only 14 calories and no artificial colors and Klik has come out with “honey stings”- chocolate with a touch of honey.  Each package is 5 shekels.

6.    Elite has combined my two favorite products- coffee and chocolate- into one 80 ml container.  Each coffee shot has 75 mg of caffeine which is slightly more than a cup of espresso and comes in milk or dark chocolate.   Source

Pre-Rosh Hashanah sales and deals

We have just finished our second week of school- two weeks of picking out chugim, getting back to a routine, figuring out what to make for lunches, and homework, homework, homework.  Throw into the mix an out-of-the-country spouse, and you can just imagine how I haven’t been able to post for a few weeks.

There is no time to spare, however: we need to start getting ready for the holidays.  Here are some of the latest sales and deals:

1. The annual book fair at Heichal Nokia in Tel Aviv is going on now.  They don’t advertise that they have English books (but they also don’t advertise that they don’t).  All books are 7 for 100 shekels but if you bring the coupon below you can get 8 books for 100 shekels.  The fair is open Sunday-Thursday from 10:00-22:00, Friday from 10:00-16:00 and Saturday night from after Shabbat until 23:00.  The address is Yigal Alon 51 in Tel Aviv- Gate #4 next to Aroma.  For more information go to their Facebook page.

2. Nu- Pharm is selling hundreds of products at the low price of buy one, get the second one for 1 shekel.  To see what products are on sale, click here.  Stock up on the products you need for the holidays while the prices are low.  Sale ends 30 September 2014.

3. The supermarkets are slowly pulling out their loss leaders.  Go to Israflyer or Webflyer to see each store’s sales for that week.  Here are some of the deals I noticed:

Shufersal Sheli-  Shufersal brand honey (with the Israeli Standards Institute’s seal of approval), three 1.5 liter bottles of Pepsi or three rectangular containers of Starkist tuna for 10 shekels.  Sale ends 29 Sept 2014.  Limit three of each sale items.

You- This store has prices that knock out the competition.  Hawaii shampoo/conditioner is only 5 shekels (YOU members only) and a 4-pack of Filtuna tuna (including tuna with canola oil) for only 17.90 shekels!  With a 100 shekel purchase, you can get whole fresh carp for 14.90 shekels/kg and Adom Adom fresh lamb shoulder for 59.90 shekels/kg.  They also accept Rav-Tav cards at 100%.  Sale ends 15 Sept 2014.

Yesh B’schunot- Also has a 10 shekel deal- Telma cornflakes, Emek Hefer honey (with the Israeli Standards Institute’s seal of approval), Yesh brand gefilte fish, three 1.5 liter bottles of Pepsi, 4 bags of Yesh pasta, three cans of mushrooms, or three cans of Yesh brand pickles all for 10 shekels.  Sale ends 24 Sept 2014.

Shufersal Deal/Online- Four 450-ml wine glasses or a 34.6 * 20.7 * 5.3 cm rectangular glass pan for 10 shekels.  I bought the pan and will get a few more for Pesach.  The Brita Marella with three filters is 99 shekels and the SodaStream Genesis Deluxe is only 199 shekels (moadon members only).  Thirteen fancy plastics disposable bowls and serving spoons for 29.90 shekels.  Sale ends 24 Sept 2014.

4.  If you are traveling in the near future, you must check out this deal on three spinning hard plastic suitcases- 50, 60, and 70 cm, TSA locks and in a choice of many colors for only 299.90 shekels at Harmonia Labayit.  I can’t vouch for their quality but at that price they are worth a spin.  To find a store near you go to their web site.


Shmitah: Otzar Beit Din

Observing shmita can be difficult both for the farmer and for the consumer.  The farmer has to rely on the harvest from the sixth year to support him/her during the shmitah year or find alternative sources of income.  The consumer still needs to eat fruits and vegetables (although my kids would debate that last point).  In an agrarian society, one could walk up to the ownerless field and take what you need for your meals.  Today we are much further removed from the fields- our produce comes from supermarkets and it is unrealistic to drive out to the country to pick a few tomatoes.  Plus, as we learned yesterday, the point of shmitah produce (peirot sheviit) is not to have it sit and rot but to eat it.

So what is a modern society to do?

Machon HaTorah v’Haaretz-  The Institute for Torah and the Land of Israel- has provided us with a solution- the Otzar Beit Din.

מכון התורה והארץ

You might recognize the symbol on certain produce in the supermarket.

During the shmitah year the Oztar Beit Din becomes the middleman between the consumer and the farmer.  The farmer signs a contract that the Beit Din is permitted to remove produce from his/her land and store it in the Beit Din’s warehouse.  The Beit Din then distributes the produce to the members of its community.  The Beit Din compensates the farmer for transporting the produce to the warehouse (and other permitted activities).  The community members pay a fee to belong to the community.   Since it is forbidden to weigh, sort, categorize or do any sort of commerce with peirot sheviit, the Otzar Beit Din sets up a different system for people to collect their produce.  For example, the consumer pays a set price each month and the prices of the produce is set based on expenses only and therefore does not earn a profit.

It is important to pick an Otzar Beit Din that is reputable and large enough to meet the supply and demand of its community.  If a Beit Din is unscrupulous, it will simply become a legal loophole that allows commerce to continue throughout the shmitah year.  In addition, it is important to feel that you are truly part of the community that the Beit Din represents and not just through financial support.

The Otzar Haaretz Otzar Beit Din supported by Machon HaTorah v’Haaretz already has a significant number of rabbanim, farmers and consumers signed on.  I will repost here the information in English that they have on their web site. Most of the information is in Hebrew.

You can become members of the Otzar HaAretz Customer Club through a simple process. All you have to do is register at the site. During the course of the registration you will choose how much you intend to spend on fruits and vegetables during the coming Shmita year. We will load the sum you choose into a “smart card” which you will use as a means of payment for fruits and vegetables during the Shmita year. We will divide the sum into 12 even parts and you will be able to use the relative amount each month. For example, if you chose 600NIS for the year, you will be able to use the card to purchase up to 50NIS each month. Additionally, the card will grant you unique club benefits.

Our sources of supply:

  1. Vegetables which were picked during the sixth year:  During the course of this year, the sixth in the Shmita count, we purchase vegetables from Jewish farms and store the produce in various manners.  From a halachic perspective, this produce is preferable since it has no connection at all with Shmita labors.  Aside from this meticulous halachic observance, or “hidur” we encourage the Jewish farmers to increase their production, as long as it is still halachically permitted.
  2. Mounted trays in hothouses:  This is one of our original methods for agricultural production during the course of the Shmita year.  In the framework of this method we grow vegetables in closed hothouses, in sealed planters (with no openings) placed upon a sealed surface, having no direct contact with the ground.  From a halachic perspective, this method is based on a combination of two opinions:  (1) The opinion of those who permit planting during Shmita today in plain earth which is located inside a structure.  According to this opinion, this question can be related to more leniently since in any case, Shmita laws today are “Midrabanan”/(Rabbinic Decree) according to Pe’at HaShulchan Chapter 20 paragraph 52 and other Rabbinic authorities, and (2) the fact that planting in a perforated container (with an opening) outdoors is prohibited by Rabbinic decree.  Therefore a combination of the two opinions is initially permitted.  This solution enables us to increase the production of certain vegetables by Jewish producers specifically during the course of the Shmita year.
  3. Fruits and vegetables which have “Kedushat Shvi’it” [Shmita year produce sanctity]:  This refers to fruits in orchards which will begin to grow during the Shmita year and which will be picked during the Shmita year or the winter of 5776.  According to that same principle there will be a supply of vegetables which were planted in the sixth year and will be picked during the seventh (Shmita), based on the accepted opinions in halacha that vegetables which began to grow during the sixth year and were picked during the seventh are permitted to be eaten, however, they must be treated as having “Shmita Sanctity”.  (Based on R’sh M’Shantz Shvi’it, Chapter 9, Magen Avraham, text beginning with “All sfichin” [after-growth vegetables], Chazon Ish on Shvi’it 9:A, “Shabbat Haaretz” Chapter 4:3:B comment 11, “Yalkut Yosef Shvi’it” 23:14, in the name of the Rishon L’Zion, Rav Ovadia Yosef ZT”L, “Maadanei Eretz Shivi’it” Appendices Section 10, 11 and we also heard it from Rav Mordechai Eliahu ZT”L.  (It is important to note: The farmers who will grow vegetables having Shmita sanctity will be agents of the “Bet Din” [Rabbinical Court] from the beginning of the growth through its completion, as well as all those involved in the supply of this produce from the fields and orchards until it is received by the consumers, will be done by agents of the “Bet Din” of Otzar Haaretz in accordance with the halachic restrictions which exist regarding produce having Shmita year Sanctity.  Additionally, the consumption of those fruits must be in accordance with the laws regarding “Shmita Sanctity” (See an expansive explanation in our article “Halachic Fundamentals of “Otzar Bet Din” [Rabbinical Court Storehouse] in “The Torah and the Land” section 6 pps. 389-422.)
  4. Vegetable produce from the Southern Arava in addition to the strict interpretation of the “Heter Mechira”; the Southern Arava is indeed included in the boundaries of the Promise to Avraham Avinu at the Brit bein haB’tarim (the “covenant of the pieces”), however with regard to the commandments unique to the Land of Israel there is a disagreement among the commentaries and the halachic decisors (“poskim”) if it [that section of land] had ever been sanctified.  According to the decision of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel since the establishment of the State, the commandments unique to the Land of Israel are to be kept there (According to Rav Yechiel Mechil Tukichinsky, “The Land of Israel” pps. 34-35 and pps. 82-84; the Gaon Rav Zvi Pesach Frank ZT”L, the Gaon Rav Ovadia Hadaya ZT”L, “Yaskil Avdi Responsa” 6:2, and Rav Eliezer Waldenberg ZT”L in the “Tzitz Eliezer Responsa” 3:23).  Therefore, we use this produce with the addition of the strict interpretation of the “Heter Mechira”.  This way we act in a way that is acceptable according to all the approaches, and at the same time we strengthen the Arava producers and supply their produce during the course of the Shmita year.
  5. Vegetable produce grown in hothouses in the Western Negev including the strict interpretation of the Heter Mechira:  The Western Negev, an area which is located southwest of Ashqelon, was settled only by Egyptian immigrants during the First Temple Period, but not by Babylonian immigrants during the period of Ezra & Nehemia, through the end of the Second Temple period.  It is important to note that despite the fact that working the land in this area is prohibited during the Shmita year, and in fact, the produce from there must be treated as having Shmita Sanctity, there are mitigating factors as follows:
    1. They have no prohibition of “sfichin”.
    2. Even according to the strict halachic decisors who do not allow use of the “Heter Mechira” during Shmita, it is permitted to do so and to eat its produce without treating it as having Shmita Sanctity following the sale of the land (according to the Gaon Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ZT”L, “Minchat Shlomo Responsa” Section 3 158:3).  Through the use of this important area we can considerably increase the marketing of our fine produce during the course of Shmita and thereby strengthen Jewish Agriculture in the Western Negev.  At the beginning of the Shmita year, vegetables planted in the sixth year will be grown and harvested during the seventh, and as such will have Shmita Sanctity.
  6. Non-Jewish Produce: A small portion of the vegetables available in the Israeli market are purchased from Arab farmers all the time.  We will continue to purchase from the same supply sources during Shvi’it in a manner which will not expand their share of the Israeli market.
  7. Import:  If, during the course of the summer, the produce from the above sources shall run out, we will supply imported agricultural produce, although we will not supply produce from the Palestinian Authority and Jordan.


For a list of supermarkets that will be carrying Otzar Haaretz produce (confirmed and in the process of signing up), click here.

Of course, this being a couponing site, I have to mention that signing up for Otzar Haaretz gives you big discounts on things like the Chavaya at the Tzomet Institute,  Chavaya ba Shmitah at Machon Hatorah v’Haaretz, rafting, ice skating, the visitor’s center at Mitzei Keshet, the glass-bottomed boats in Eilat and more.  See all of the discounts here.

Next topic in the series: heter mechira.

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