couponing in the holy land

Frugal food shopping for the Anglo Israeli

Archive for the category “Other assorted posts”

Tu B’shevat- did we make aliyah or not?

Tu B’shevat has come, the holiday for the trees- the almond tree is blossoming- and we are eating dried fruit from Turkey.  WHAT? That is not how the song goes.  Tu B’shevat is not a well-celebrated holiday in chul- it is still generally very cold, nobody lives near an almond tree, and planting a tree in Cleveland/Cornwall/Capetown isn’t as exciting as planting in KKL forests.  Some of us ate dried fruits (remember that carob/bokser?), some of us ate the seven species, but most of us rushed past the holiday to get ready for Purim and (gasp) Pesach.

This year is different.  We are in Israel.  The trees are flowering.  The citrus is sweet and juicy.  Youth groups are taking kids on tiyulim.  Some of us even have a seder.  But many of us are still eating those dried fruits from Turkey.  WHY??  We now have access to beautiful locally produced fresh fruit that our ancestors could only dream about.  They might even be growing in your yard!  So why not eat them?  For example, we will be having this big rimon that we found at Rami Levy:


We will also be having several “Sweeties”-a mix between a grapefruit and a pomelo- in my opinion, one of the best Israeli inventions of all time.  Don’t forget other “ha’etz” Israeli products such as olives and top it off with a glass of Israeli wine.

If you find it incredibly difficult to break the dried fruit habit, at least look out for Israeli dried fruits, many of which are organic.  We picked up these badatz  dates in Rami Levy:


Kibbutz Neot Smadar also has organic produce such as apricots, almonds and raisins:


So whatever your minhag, whatever your hashgacha, Israeli fruits are the answer.  I am probably writing this a little late to change your mind this year, but at least it will be food for thought for next Tu B’shevat.  We were fortunate enough to make it to Israel- let’s not ignore what we have been blessed to receive.

Egg prices are going down!

The Ministry of Agriculture has announced the new lowered price of eggs that come under price regulation, which includes a package of 12 “regular” eggs (not omega, organic, or free range):

Egg weight (grams) Egg size New price (inc. Ma’am) Old price (inc.Ma’am) New price in Eilat (inc. Ma’am) Old price in EIlat (inc. Ma’am)
over 73 grams  XL 13.20 13.60 11.20 11.50
63-73 grams  L 12.10 12.50 10.25 10.60
53-63 grams  M 11.20 11.50 9.50 9.75

***In the interest of public health, consumers are advised to only purchase eggs in closed packages.

Don’t worry, your eyes aren’t tricking you- the new price is only 3% lower than the previous price, which is similar to the last price adjustment in November 2013, which was lowered 3.3%.

Source: Misrad HaChaklaut


No more mercury thermometers on the shelves

On 4-May-14, in accordance with Medical Administration Circular 23/2013, the Pharmaceutical Administration of the Ministry of Health directed pharmacies and Medications Rooms (in HMOs, health institutions, pharmacy chains and private pharmacies) to refrain from selling mercury thermometers in pharmacies, starting from 1-Jan-15.

Thermometers that do not contain mercury and are suitable for use on Shabbat and Yom Tov can be purchase in pharmacies (Jewish law does not allow the use of digital thermometers on Shabbat and Yom Tov ).

The Ministries of Health and of Environmental Protection are currently seeking an appropriate solution for the collection of old thermometers.

Hot meals for 5 shekels- now in Jerusalem

Tel Aviv residents have been enjoying the five shekel meals served by Cofix this winter.  Now, Jerusalem residents can also have a hot meal for only five shekels!

The coffee shop “Pashut Taim” in the tachana merkazit is selling 12 different meals- mejaderra, rice and beans, couscous, noodles, and more.  Each meal weighs 300 grams and is packaged in a 350 ml container:

"היינו רעבים ולא רצינו להוציא 50-40 שקל" (צילום: גיל יוחנן)

Photographer: Gil Yochanan

For the curious, Cofix’s meals are 150-200 grams each.

To see the store in action or if you want to learn more, watch this TV excerpt:

Source: Ynet

New Shufersal brand diapers- boon or bust?

In an effort to increase sales after their 156 million shekel loss last quarter as well as the lowering/cancellation of import taxes on many food products, Shufersal has been increasing the number of generic products that they sell.  Diapers are the newest addition to the lineup.  As you can see below, the price can’t be beat- especially compared to premium brands Huggies and Pampers.  As every parent knows, however, sometimes diapers can be too cheap- there are few things worse than a diaper that can’t hold in what it is meant to hold in.


Readers let us know- are these diapers worth the price or are they not really a bargain?

Goodbye Burger Ranch, Hello Burger King

Some of you might remember that Burger King used to have a prominent place in Israel’s fast food economy but then suddenly disappeared.  Burger Ranch, however, has been an institution for many a year and is the focus of my occasional nostalgic daydreams.  It might surprise you to know that Burger Ranch and Burger King were both owned by the same people- brothers Eli and Yuval Orgard.  When they purchased Burger Ranch in 2008 for 25 million shekels, they already owned Burger King and debated whether it was advisable to own two burger chains.  In 2010 they decided to shut down Burger King altogether.

Now in 2014 the Orgad brothers have decided to sell their 50 Burger Ranch chains and have them all converted to Burger Kings for 50 million shekels.  The new owners are a partnership of several businessmen such as Asaf Greenberg who owns the Frangelico restaurant chain and Rani Tzim who formerly owned Kimat Chinam and currently is an owner of Retail 3000, which owns Office Depot and Kfar Shaashuim.

What is your opinion?  Are you ready to see the demise of Burger Ranch?  Do you think Burger King can survive this time around?  I personally am much happier seeing my “Jewish McDonalds” in Israel. You can leave the American chains on the other side of the ocean.

Source: Yisrael HaYom

Thousands of tons of apples trapped in the Golan

In the months that have passed since the closing of the Quneitra Crossing which allows passage between Syria and Israel, the Syrian Druze have been left in a predicament.  Since 2005, Syrian Druze living in the Golan Heights have been exporting thousands of tons of apples to Syria.  With the closing of the border, however, they are left with a huge crop and no place to sell it.  Both the Israeli and Druze crops are approximately 20-30 percent larger than last year.  If the Israeli market suddenly becomes flooded with the Druze produce, the price of apples will drop significantly.  This might be good for the consumer but will bankrupt those farmers trying to earn a living.

The Druze apples have already been picked and are sitting in refrigerated warehouses while their fate is being decided.  The Israeli Ministry of Agriculture along with Druze farmers have entered negotiations with Jordan to explore the possibility of exporting to Jordan, but the Jordanian Ministry is requiring a very high import tax which would price the apples out of the hands of the average Jordanian.  Furthermore, the tensions in Jerusalem have ended negotiations whatsoever at this time.

Itzik Cohen, the head of the Fruit Growers Association in Israel,talks about the current difficulty.  “We have never exported apples to other countries, and we are looking for other possibilities.  This problem will saturate the [Israeli] market.”

Israelis eat approximately 120 thousand tons of apples per year.  This year’s crop produced approximately 140 thousand tons.

Source: Mekor Rishon 11 Nov 2014

WARNING: Swimming forbidden at all Israeli beaches

Misrad HaBriut is warning the public not to swim at all Israeli beaches after the heavy rainfall.

The heavy rains caused drainage water to enter the sewer system of the Dan Municipality, which has caused a heavy burden on the drainage system.  In order to prevent flooding, sewage was released into the sea at the Tel Aviv and Herzliya beaches.

Source: Ynet

Sweet revenge against the EU

The Russian invasion of the Ukraine has made many nations upset, including the EU.  The EU, in fact, is so upset with Russia that it has banned the export of all EU produce to the Soviet nation.  In theory that is commendable, but nobody thought of the European farmers who are left with a considerable amount of produce and no buyer.  The EU then came up with the idea of selling the produce to a neutral country, having that country change the origin labeling and then sell it to Russia.  To that end, representatives from Holland came to Israel to meet with farmers from the Jordan Valley to present their idea.  Their presentation did not go over so well- actually, it was refused on the spot.  Why?  Well, as you, know, the EU has insisted on the labeling of all food that comes from Israel as to where exactly it was produced to boycott products from Yehuda and Shomron.  Considering that parts of the Jordan Valley is included in that boycott, the farmers felt that the Dutch request was quite audacious.

I for one am glad that we stood up for ourselves!

Source: Mekor Rishon

George Orwell is alive and living in Eretz Yisrael

Yesterday was a very sad day for Israeli consumers.  Eitan Cabel’s law forbidding Yisrael HaYom to distribute its newspaper for free passed the first reading in the Knesset (it needs three readings to become a law).  Yes, you heard correctly.  A law is soon to be passed that forbids someone to give out a newspaper- it forces them to charge money for the paper!  Why in the world would Eitan Cabel do this?  Because a free paper is unfair competition to the other papers who charge money, of course!

A little background for those of you who don’t read the mainstream Israeli papers. Yisrael HaYom is considered to be a center to right wing paper. Yediot Achronot, the second most widely read paper, is considered to be left wing, Haaretz extremely left wing, Mekor Rishon is for intellectual dati leumi Jews, and Maariv is read by almost nobody.  Yisrael HaYom is financed by Sheldon Adelson, a right-wing American Jew who happens to be the 10th richest person in the world.  He is a strong supporter of Bibi Netanyahu and created Yisrael HaYom as a backlash against the left wing papers (mainly Yediot Achronot) who strongly dislike Bibi, to say it politely.  Remember some of these campaigns?


To get back to the point, the free Yisrael HaYom angers the other newspapers because (a)  they have to earn money because they don’t have a financial backer, (b) they hate any thing or any one that disagrees with their political viewpoint, and (c) Yisrael HaYom is the most widely read paper in Israel.  So what do you do if you can’t beat the competition?  In Israel, you don’t join them, you make them illegal!

Sounds Orwellian, does it not?  What happens if this becomes a precedent in other industries- will they ban 1+1 sales? “Free gift with a purchase”? Force all businesses to charge the same price so everyone earns the same amount of money?  Not that, of course- that is called price fixing and it is illegal.  Speaking of illegalities, there is a primary law in Israel (the equivalent of an Act in the US or a Regulation in the EU) which ensures the right of each and every citizen to open and run any business: “כל אזרח או תושב של המדינה זכאי לעסוק בכל עיסוק, מקצוע או משלח יד”.  So if this is true, then it would be reasonable to assume that Eitan Cabel’s law would be thrown out of the knesset.  In fact, a judicial decision was published stating that this law is “illegal” (the Israeli version of “unconstitutional”).  Despite that, it was still brought to the knesset!

For all of you who live in small communities who publish their own paper, never fear- the law only applies to “full-size” newspapers.  You can still give away your local paper, as long as it isn’t full-size, whatever that means.

I am truly shocked and amazed at the fact despite its illegality, our government representatives are still more concerned with political bickering than doing something about the “yoker mechiah”- the high prices of just about everything in Israel.  We can’t even get a newspaper for free!  Not only that, but I am disgusted with the thought that there will be only one political voice in Israel.  Every time I see a pro-Palestinian group quote an article in Haaretz, I cringe.  We all see the bias shown towards Israel in the foreign press- why should we allow it to happen here?

You may be thinking that this is an important issue, but what does this have to do with Couponing in the Holy Land?  Well, as you might have read in other posts, Yisrael HaYom is a good source for coupons, deals, and sales advertisements.  They also have a great section on consumerism.  In addition, I see no reason to pay for a newspaper when I can get one for free- that is being smart financially.

If you also disagree with Eitan Cabel’s proposed law to shut down Yisrael HaYom, there are several things you can do to make your voice heard.

#1: Sign the Atzuma petition.

#2: Go to Eitan Cabel’s Facebook page.  Hear his vitriol against Yisrael HaYom.  Comment on his page.  So far the great majority of comments are against him.

#3: Write to the supporters and opponents of Eitan Cabel’s law to express your opinion.  Most of the opponents, as you could imagine, are Likud members.  Most of the supporters are Yesh Atid members and further left.  A big surprise for me was seeing Dov Lipkin’s name as one of the supporters- as a former American I would expect him to be a strong supporter of free enterprise than he apparently is.

The full list is below, but some of the prominent supporters of the law also include Yair Shamir (Minister of Agriculture), Yael German (Minster of Health), Avigdor Lieberman (Minister of Foreign Affairs), Tzipi Livni (Minister of Justice), Shaul Mofaz, Uzi Landau, Yitzchak Aharonivich (Minister of Public Security), Sofa Landver (Minister of Immigration), Ahmed Tibi, Meir Shitrit, Amir Peretz, and as previously mentioned Dov Lipkin.

Some of the prominent detractors include: Yuval Shteinitz (Minister of Strategic and Intelligence Affairs), Yisrael Katz (Minister of Transportation), Moshe Feiglin, Uri Orbach (Minister for Senior Citizens), Yuli Edelstein (Speaker of the Knesset), Moshe Yaalon (Minister of Defense), Limor Livnat (Minister of Culture and Sport), Meir Porush, and Benyamin Netanyahu.

Yair Lapid, Naftali Bennett, and Shai Piron are not listed.

התומכים בחוק: חברי הכנסת אביגדור ליברמן, אילן גילאון, אראל מרגלית, דוד רותם, יאיר שמיר, יצחק אהרונוביץ’, מיכל בירן, סופה לנדבר, עומר בר-לב, ציפי לבני, רות קלדרון איברהים צרצור, איציק שמולי, בועז טופורובסקי, חמד עמאר, יואל רזבוזוב, יצחק הרצוג, מסעוד גנאים, סתיו שפיר, עפו אגבאריה, קארין אלהרר, שאול מופז, אורלי לוי אבקסיס, איתן כבל, דב ליפמן, חנא סוייד, יעל גרמן, לאון ליטינצקי, מרב מיכאלי, עוזי לנדאו, עפר שלח, רוברט אילטוב, שמעון סולומון, אחמד טיבי, אלכס מילר, דוד צור, טלב אבו עראר, יפעת קריב, מאיר שטרית, נחמן שי, עמיר פרץ, פאינה קירשנבאום ורונן הופמן.

המתנגדים לחוק: חברי הכנסת אופיר אקוניס, גילה גמליאל, יובל שטייניץ, ישראל כץ, משה פייגלין, פנינה תמנו-שטה, אורי אורבך, זאב אלקין, יולי אדלשטיין, לימור לבנת, משה יעלון, ציפי חוטובלי, אורית סטרוק, זבולון כלפה, יוני שטבון, מאיר פרוש, משה מזרחי, שולי מועלם-רפאלי, בנימין נתניהו, זהבה גלאון, ישראל חסון, מרדכי יוגב וניסן סלומינסקי.

נמנעו: חברי הכנסת אברהם מיכאלי, חיליק בר, אורי מקלב, יעקב אשר, באסל גטאס, נסים זאב, יואב בן צור ועמרם מצנע.

As you can see, it is pretty well divided politically.

Hopefully the Knesset will see come to their senses and vote down this incredulous piece of legislation, but in case it doesn’t, I pulled out my copy of 1984 to read this Shabbat so I will be ready for what the future holds in store for us.

“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”
George Orwell, 1984

Sources: Mako and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs



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