couponing in the holy land

Frugal food shopping for the Anglo Israeli

RECALL: Tivall “Meat” and potatoes meal- Arucha tavshil kafri

The Tivall company is notifying the public that the 900 gram package of “Aruchah Tavshil Kafri” was found to have Listeria in two batches: 41693613 with an expiration date of 18.9.2015 and 41703613 with an expiration date of  19.9.2015.  The public is asked not to eat the product and to call Tivall’s central line at 1-800-760-750 for more information.

Source: Facebook and the Ministry of Health

For more information about listeria, go to the CDC web site.

 

Awesome hamburger deal from Mega BaIr- expires 31 Aug 2014

I just came back from Mega and wanted to share this great deal with you.  You get 1 kg of Adom Adom fresh beef (tzavar or tzlaaot) ground, a squeeze bottle of Heinz mayonnaise, and 4 hamburger buns for only 59.90 shekels.  You can multiply this deal by three in one purchase which is what we did.  The store didn’t have hamburger buns left so they allowed me to get half-sized baguettes or a voucher for the hamburger buns.  The meat is definitely not as lean as we usually buy but is tastier for hamburger that way.  Of course my kids don’t realize that I am taking that meat and making my leek and meatballs recipe for Rosh Hashanah… shh- don’t tell…

Shmita news roundup- JNF, marijuana and more

Good news for people who use medical marijuana- the Rabbanut has permitted the use of medical marijuana during shmita.  It does not permit the use of marijuana for recreational purposes under any circumstances, however.  Source: Ynet

JNF (KKL in Israel) has published their policy statement regarding shmita.  Some of their policy changes include:

  1. There will be no ceremonial tree planting during the shmita year, except for specific circumstances that are approved by the Rabbanut.
  2. There will be no planting by students or anyone else for Tu Beshevat.
  3. JNF will not distribute seedlings for planting by outside groups, including bee farms.
  4. Preparation for planting in the year after shmita will be done on an individual basis with approval by the Rabbanut.
  5. Work to preserve trees is permitted, including destroying harmful insects and diseases as well as activities to prevent fires.
  6. The olive harvest during the shmita year (תשע”ה) will take place without any halachic restrictions.  Regarding the olive harvest the year after shmita, the JNF and the Rabbanut will release their policy statement in the coming months.
  7. Harvesting carob during the shmita year  (תשע”ה) can take place without any halachic restrictions.

For a full list (Hebrew), go to their web site.

מדריכות במשתלת גילת. צילום: דוד גרינשפן

The Israeli government has just advertised that they will allocate 100 million shekels for shmita purposes next year.  It will be broken down into the following categories:

  1. 45 million shekels to support farmers who stop all activities on their farms;
  2. 20 million shekels to support farmers who won’t harvest their fruit but will maintain their orchards;
  3. 11 million shekels to support organizations who run an otzar beit din;
  4. 5 million shekels to support farmers who grow produce off the ground, which is not subject to shmita regulations.

The article does not say where the rest of the money will go.  Source: Haaretz

 

Shmita: Where exactly is Israel?

In order to fulfill the requirement of shmita, we are forbidden by the Torah from performing certain types of work on our fields:

  1. harvesting- קצירה
  2. sowing – זריעה (includes planting – נטיעה)
  3. pruning vines – זמירה
  4. cutting grapes – בצירה

There are other agricultural activities that were forbidden by Chazal/Sages:

  1. clearing fields of stones – סיקול
  2. weeding – נכוש
  3. manuring – זבול
  4. hoeing – עדור
  5. watering – השקאה

This is required for all people residing within the land of Israel. The borders of the land of Israel, have changed frequently over the years, from Biblical times:

To the time of King Shaul and David:

To the current borders:

File:Map-Israel.jpg

So how is it decided which borders to use?  Logic might dictate that whatever the current political borders of Israel are, that is where shmita must be observed.  Unfortunately, even the current political borders are disputed and some even dispute that there should even be a political border of Israel.  Therefore, as in most things in Judaism, It is not such a simple question to answer.

If you compare the different maps, you can see that the western border of Israel is the Mediterranean Sea.  The northern border has stretched occasionally into Lebanon and Syria.  We don’t import produce from those countries so that is no problem.  The more southern city of Beit Shean and the surrounding area has been disputed as possibly being outside the land of Israel.  The eastern border has stretched into parts of Jordan (I’ll get back to that issue) and there is a considerable difference between the southern borders on the different maps.  The southernmost border of Israel has been subject to dispute over the years.  Eilat is almost always considered to be “chutz la aretz”.

This is a map of the wandering southern border of Israel regarding shmita:

120

What is the significance of declaring an area “chutz la aretz”?  In those areas the land (and therefore the produce) does not have kedusha/holiness and the farmers are able to work the land during the shmita year.  For the consumer, this means lower prices and better quality produce that what is traditionally purchased from the Palestinian Territories.  This year, the fields of Ein Yahav in the upper Arava were declared outside of Israel by the Rabbanut.

Being the start-up nation, there are “shmita start-ups” to help ease some farmers’ difficulty in observing shmita.  For example, some farms within the borders of Israel have laid sheets of plastic over their fields and placed large quantities of dirt imported from Europe on top in which they will be planting their crops.

One of the more serious issues is the illegal dumping of produce that does have kedusha on farms or countries that do not.  Therefore it is very important to have supervision in the fields to ensure that everything is properly labelled.  The Badatz has set up a “hothouse city” in Jordan this year under their strict supervision to provide mehadrin vegetables from chutz la aretz during shmita.  Apparently there is strong support on the Israeli and Jordanian sides for this project, which brings employment to the region and since Israel has relatively warm relations with Jordan, the Israeli government is able to go to Jordan and inspect the produce with ease.

The whole concept of defining Israel as not part of Israel can have political ramifications as well.  The EU has already declared the areas of Judea and Shomron as not part of Israel.  Is it possible that our declarations can be used to strengthen the argument for the creation of a Palestinian State in those areas?  For that same reason many people reject the heter mechira, which sells the land to a non-Jew the same way we sell our chametz on Pesach.

 Therefore, when buying produce during shmita it is important to understand why there is a difference in the prices based on its classification.  Next up: heter mechira and otzar haaretz.

Sources:

The Borders of Eretz Yisroel by Shmorei Shviit

‘Hothouse City’ Gears Up for Shemittah in Jordan by Hamodia

Shmita and the term “Hutz La’aretz” by yeshiva.org.il

(גבולות הרמב”ם: ‘גבולות מסעי’ או ‘ברית ביה”ב’ (תגובה by The Institute for Torah and the Land of Israel

הרבנות קבעה, החקלאים חוגגים by Israel National News

נסיעה לירדן לפיקוח על פרי אבטיח – רשמי מסע by the Plant Protection and Inspection Services

What to do until September 1- school supplies, vacation schedule and more

We are down to the home stretch before school starts- for the great majority of us, the children fly the coop on September 1.  Here are some activities to do if you have run out of ideas how to keep everyone happy.

(1) If you haven’t done so, now is the time to get school books and supplies.  Today is the first totally quiet Friday in a while and the multitudes are definitely taking advantage.  The school supplies sales this week are not heavily advertised- no Kravitz coupon this week, no ad for Idan 2000 or HaPirat HaAdom for example.   Bank HaPoalim customers get cash back at Kfar Shaashuim- check out the deals on their web site.  The Haredi yeshivas are all on vacation so the stores in those neighborhoods should be quieter during the day.  Home Center is having a sale on school supplies as well as student desks and chairs- you can see the ad here.  For tips on what and where to get school supplies, check out my post from last year.

 

(2) The תשע”ה – 5765 – school vacation schedule is online.  Go to your local crafts or office supply store to get a pad of big block paper and make a master family calendar.  Along with the school schedule, mark who is in charge of dinner each night, have them fill in their meal choice and start doing the shopping now.  I am a big believer of assigning children responsibility for dinner- it reduces the amount of “Icksa” complaints and encourages responsibility.  Let each child prepare according to their age level- from cutting up vegetables to grilling burgers- make it fun and simple with some basic rules (marshmallows cannot be a main course, each meal must have a vegetable) and you are on your way.

(3) It is never too early to cook for the holidays.  Here is a list of TNT foods from a previous post that you and your kids can make together and freeze for the holidays:

  1. Cookies- you can freeze dough or baked cookies.  Make a batch of sugar cookies and let the kids “paint” them with a mixture of powdered sugar, food coloring, water, and vanilla extract.
  2. Cakes- there are lots of simple cake recipes- buy smaller “English cake” trays and have each kids make their own.  Don’t forget trifles for those not-so-perfect cakes!
  3. Challah- kids love rolling and shaping challah- why not have rolls instead of large challahs?  I know we always end up with lots of challah slices and nothing to do with them them.  Having lots of smaller challahs gives you enough for each bracha without a lot of waste.
  4. Chicken- you know the prices go up before the holidays, so get what you can now and freeze it.  Put the raw chicken in a marinade and then freeze it- it will make the chicken softer and more flavorful.  Or you can purchase Of Oz chicken which comes in thick vacuum packages which are great for freezing.
  5. Meatballs- spice them up and freeze them as individuals on a tray, then package them in bags, or cook them before freezing them.  This is not a job for the kids, though.
  6. Potato kugel- if you don’t have a “freezerable” recipe, there is one on my blog.
  7. Soup- it is never a bad time to make chicken soup.
  8. Meat boreka- brown ground beef, add spices/sauce, put it on a sheet of puff pastry dough and roll it up.  I cook this before I freeze it.  It is best sliced cold, before it goes on the plata.

You can search the blog for TNT recipes for the freezer.

***This year it is especially important to buy chicken early if you purchase fresh chicken.  The Muslim holiday, Eid ul Adha coincides with Yom Kippur and Sukkot this year.  Since Muslims are the primary, if not the only workers in Israeli slaughterhouses, the slaughterhouses will be closed for ten days and therefore not be able to provide fresh poultry.  It is a time to be especially aware not to purchase poultry from less than exemplary stores so that you won’t inadvertently purchase poultry that was defrosted and sold as fresh or is past its use by date.***   

(4) Clear out that smartphone and make a digital album at Albombom.  Right now they are offering 45% off each album until 31 Aug 2014.  They also have great deals on personalized calendars.  Lupa is also having a sale on photo calendars- buy one, get two free.

 

(5) If you are a former New Yorker, you remember Shakespeare in the Park. In Jerusalem you can have the same experience without waiting for tickets.  Theater in the Rough is performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream next week for free and in English. For more information, click here.

 

(6)  Once school starts, the parade of birthday parties will start as well.  Stock up with presents at Toys ‘R Us.  Use your Leumi card to purchase 300 shekels worth of merchandise and pay only 200 shekels!  You must pay with your Leumi card and there are no double sales.  For more details click here.  Expires 31 Aug 2014.

(7) The Chutzot HaYotzer festival started this week and ends the 23rd of August.  Discount tickets can be found at the Leumi card web site for 61 shekels each instead of 65 shekels.  Other discounts are available for Jerusalem residents, students, Bank Yahav customers and more- go to the festival’s web site for more information (Hebrew) (English).

חוצות היוצר 2014

 

(8) The holidays will be upon us before you know it and chances are you will be invited out for a meal or two.  Instead of the standard bottle of wine or flowers, go to a paint-it-yourself ceramic studio such as Kad V’Chomer in Jerusalem,  Keyad HaDimyon in Modiin, Rebecca in Moshav Yitzron or  Studio Nomi in Herzliya and create a unique gift for your hosts.

Post your ideas and suggestions as well!

 

Aliyah tip #8- Are you sure that food is organic?

Making the commitment to eat only organic food is not something easily done when you have a tight budget.  Unfortunately, healthier food seems to always be more expensive than processed junk food, and organic produce is no exception.  Israel is a major exporter of organic produce to the EU- 13% of our exported produce is organic, which translated to 85,504 tons of vegetables, 2192 tons of fruits, and 2230 tons of citrus in 2013.   It might surprise you to learn that until 2008 there was no legislation governing organic produce- for example what conditions it can be grown under, what products can be used on organic fruits and vegetables and what symbols are acceptable to identify organic produce.  Since the new law was passed in 2005 (it did not come into effect until 2008) these issues have all been addressed as well as a penalty for falsely labeling a product as organic when it is not.  The law has been written in English and Hebrew so feel free to follow the link and read for yourself.

All produce that is certified organic in Israel must have the Ministry of Agriculture’s symbol, shown here:

In addition, each certified organic product must have the symbol of the certifying agency that inspected the operator.  There are three approved agencies and their symbols are shown below.

In order to ensure that these foods are truly produced without unapproved chemicals such as pesticides, the Ministry of Agriculture samples fresh fruits and vegetables as well as processed foods such as bread and rice cakes and submits them for laboratory analysis.  The results of those tests have recently been published and it is good news for organic consumers.  When products were first tested in 2009, 24% showed the presence of unapproved chemicals.  In 2010 the percentage dropped to 8.6%; 2011 went down further to 3.6%, 2012 went back up to 6.8% and 2013 again showed a downturn to 3.8%.

Since Israel exports organic produce to the EU, it is subject to periodic auditing from the Food and Veterinary Office of the European Commission.  In 2013 they performed an audit on the production of organic produce in Israel.  The full report can be found on their web site along with the Israeli government’s response.  Overall they were satisfied with the Israeli legislation (which is based on the European legislation) and its implementation.  They felt that Israel’s sampling technique and the amounts sampled should be improved as well as the quality of inspections performed at the producer level.  They did find the presence of certain illegal pesticides which the Israeli government agreed to enforce more strongly.  One comment I did find disturbing was that the Europeans were dissatisfied that “foreign” produce was intermingling with Israeli produce and being labeled as Israeli produce.  What is this “foreign” produce?  Produce that comes from the West Bank- Yehuda and Shomron.  What was Israel’s response?  That this matter is an issue for the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture and the European Commission to decide.  Once it is agreed upon at that level, it will be implemented on the “ground level”.

For a list of products that can be used on organic produce, click on the Organic Pesticide Publication (Hebrew/English)

Sources: Ynetsimun_tozeret_organit

Travel abroad a lot? Join James Richardson’s moadon for coupons

If you frequently find yourself roaming the halls of Ben Gurion airport, you might consider joining the James Richardson/Duty Free moadon for free.  You will get emails with all of the latest deals and a $30 coupon on a $250 purchase (not including tobacco and cigarettes).  You can also learn about deals on their Facebook page.  To sign up for the moadon and get your coupon, go to their web site.  The coupon expires 31 Aug 2014, so hurry!

 

New Tnuva coupons- expires 30 Aug 2014- 31 Oct 2014

Now you don’t have to go to Tnuva’s Facebook page to print the coupons- you can also get them on their web site.  You don’t have to register on the web site to print the coupons.  Go to your preffered page to print.

 

 

Rami Levy deals, news, and coupons

For this deal you have to have either the moadon card or credit card.  Expires 31 Aug 2014.

All Corny bars are 9.90 shekels- stock up now for school lunches…

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Opening 12 Aug 2014- Rami Levy in Petach Tikva!

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This is some seriously good chocolate.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you when you finish the box in one sitting…

Rosh Hashana is coming- cook your vegetable dishes now!

Normally I start warning you in July about the impending collision between the beginning of school and the month of non-stop holidays.  This year we have all been somewhat distracted by kidnappings, Tzuk Eitan, and more.  With the 72 hour truce currently holding, I will be cautiously optimistic and begin my persistent reminders.

Why do we need to start thinking about Rosh Hashana now?  For those of us with children, the beginning of the school year is a very stressful time- learning schedules, getting all of the supplies/clothing/lunches organized, finding chugim, babysitters, tzaharonim and more.  The last thing we need to worry about is making meals for a month of holidays!

This year there is another issue that needs to be addressed- shmita.  However you decide to hold, shmita invariably results in increased prices for fruits and vegetables and occasionally (unfortunately) the guest who doesn’t hold by your standards.  For this reason I recommend you start stocking your freezer with as many vegetable dishes as you can- potato kugels, pashtidot, apple pie, etc.  This way you are taking advantage of the currently low prices and are using vegetables and fruits that don’t have holiness- kedusha.

What vegetables are cheap this week? Potatoes, carrots, cabbage, cucumbers, and onions have been 2.90 shekels/kg in several stores.  Last year I posted my freezable potato kugel recipe; today I will post my carrot cake/kugel recipe.  This recipe makes 4-5 English cake tins depending on the size of the tin.  They freeze with ease for several months.

Carrot Kugel (Pareve)

Adapted from The Kosher Palette

Ingredients:

1 bag of carrots

3 cups of whole wheat flour (even if your family doesn’t like whole wheat, this is a great recipe to hide it in) or white flour

1 1/2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 1/2 cups white sugar

4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 cups canola oil

6 large eggs

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

Peel and boil carrots until they are completely soft.  Mash them with a fork.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix with a fork until completely combined.  Pour into pans about halfway full and bake in a 180C oven for 45 minutes (for turbo drop to about 20 minutes).  Kugel is cooked when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  (Don’t  forget this step- it is hard to tell if they are cooked through without confirming)  Wrap well with aluminum foil when cool and freeze.

Feel free to post your TNT (tried n’ true) freezable fruit/vegetable recipes as well!

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