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It’s winter–are you taking a Donut Shower?


Do you shower differently in the wintertime?

Here in Israel, it’s officially Winter.  And in Kiryat Shmuel, where we're always the last to hear about such things, it's actually kind of cold these days, blessedly so.

In the next couple of weeks, we have an oddity coming up:  the one Jewish observance that's keyed to the secular calendar.  From now until the year 2100, in regular years on the night of December 4, and in leap years (2019, 2023, 2027, 2031, 2035), on the night of December 5, we start adding the words ותן תל ומטר לברכה / v’sen tal umatar livracha (Sephardi pronunciation uses v’ten instead of v’sen; both are correct), “and send dew and rain for blessing,”  to the Shemoneh Esrei.

A reader has pointed out that in Israel, we start saying Tal u'Matar on the 7th of Cheshvan, which was a few weeks ago already.  Which just goes to show ya... don't trust everything you read on the internet, even if it was written with the loveliest of intentions.

And also the very commonsensical rule that halacha from chu"l doesn't always apply here in Israel.

This isn’t the first seasonal change to the Shemoneh Esrei.  You probably already noticed that we started saying משיב הרוח ומוריד הגשם / Mashiv haruach umorid hageshem, “You cause the wind to blow and the rain to fall,” all the way back on Shemini Atzeres.

But December 5th is when we get serious and really dig in (click here to find out why).  At that point, we’re not just asking for geshem, rain, we’re also asking for tal and matar – two other types of precipitation.  Why?

Because every single drop counts.  Not a single drop of dew can be taken for granted here.

There was an ad in the newspaper yesterday driving home this point. 


It basically says, “Yeah, we know it’s raining, but don’t start throwing water away just yet…”

(I’m not sure why they needed to use some glum-looking Israeli celebrity for this message – not that I have any clue who she is…)

They suggest some of the obvious things – water the garden less, use the small flush instead of the big one, and spending only 2 minutes in the shower. 

TWO minutes?  Seriously?

If you’re anything like me, that might sound next to impossible.

But slowly but surely, even I have had to change just a little.  And if it still sounds mighty hard to you, maybe you could try one of my new favourite tricks: the “donut shower.”

It’s basically exactly like a long, luxurious shower… with a great big hole in the middle.  Here’s how it works:

  1. Run the water for a little bit, enough to get soaking wet and lather up (I’ve recently switched to using a Salux scrub cloth instead of a regular washcloth, and these things get so bubbly with just a little soap and water!).
  2. Turn off the water.  Welcome to the “hole” of your donut shower!  (brrr…)
  3. Soap up all over, and do all the regular shower things.  (I ALSO recently bought one of these awesome foot scrubbers in a frantic effort to have softer feet…)
  4. Turn on the water and quickly rinse off.

That’s it!  You have now successfully donut-showered and saved (hopefully) quite a bit of water.

BONUS:  If you have showered with a basin beside you to catch extra water for the garden, give yourself a zillion extra shower points.

It helps to have a small bathroom, and maybe even a space heater, so you don’t freeze while the water’s off and when you step out, because 2 minutes isn’t really enough to steam up the place.  And you’ll definitely want a towel and dry clothes waiting somewhere nearby, because despite everything I’ve said, it really does get cold here in the winter.

Here’s a nice bonus:  2 minutes isn’t really enough to steam up the place, so hopefully your mirror won’t need wiping when you get out!  And if you really want to snazz things up, you can even show off your awesome new showering habit with the spiffy donut-themed shower curtain shown above, to share a lively and colourful wink with those in the know.

In case you’re willing to go a little above and beyond in your water-saving this year, I want to recommend a slightly different kind of product for a very different purpose:  Poo-Pourri Before You Go Toilet Spray


Have I sold out by telling you about this product?  No.  I don’t get this free and I’m not being paid to promote it (Full disclosure: all links are Amazon affiliate links and if you click through I might make a tiny fraction of the purchase price), but I’ve bought and used it for a couple of years now and really, really like the way it covers up scents in horrible Israeli bathrooms.  And it can also help you save water.

A while back, I read this article in The Atlantic about how Johannesburg, South Africa was about to run out of water and had resorted to using a “pee spray” to cover up scents and avoid having to flush every single time.  I can now report that Poo Pourri works very well at this task.  You could probably brew up your own – the primary scents of the original seem to be lemon and ginger.  But the beauty of this spray is that it floats ON TOP of the water so smells can’t escape, so you’d have to figure that part out as well if you were to mix up your own version.

(Poo-Pourri comes in many scents, all with pretty dumb names.  My favourite is Ship Happens, and I didn’t like the Royal Flush.  You’re pretty safe starting with the original.)

In case it sounds a little bizarre to quit flushing even some of the time… well, I want to warn you – I do my best to keep the content of all my sites as squeaky clean and family-friendly as possible, but there are a few bits in the following informative Dinosaur Comic that you might not want to share with your kids.  Read them yourself.  Cover your eyes for the yucky words if you’d like. 

Because this is what is truly bizarre.


(Dinosaur Comics © 2010 Ryan North, reused with permission)

Bizarre, right?

In a world where so much clean, drinkable, purified water is literally being used for this… yeah, maybe we should all start shpritzing and reusing that water if we can.

And in case you’re wondering, the correct answer to my question at the top is – NO.

I really hope winter hasn’t changed the way you take a shower.  Even if it’s raining (or even snowing, where you are), which would certainly be the answer to all our prayers… every single drop STILL counts.  All summer long and all winter long.


It’s a good habit to start practicing even before you come to Israel.  And so are others, like turning off running water while you’re brushing teeth or washing dishes, and reporting any spraying or running water you spot while you’re outside.

Indeed, Israel isn’t the only country that’s having to cut back and save water every way it can.  And it’s predicted that more and more places are going to have to take steps to save on water, even places like North America, which has always taken abundant fresh water for granted (unless you live in a First Nations community!).

As Israelis, people who pray for every single drop of rain and dew we get, all winter long, I hope we can set an example of how to live with very little water that other countries can try to follow. 

So as we gear up to celebrate Chanukah the Festival of Donuts of All Kinds, let’s declare December 5th National Donut Shower Day – heck, let’s start an International Donut Shower Day movement! – and start showing off how simple it is to live with just a little less water and what it means to cherish every single drop.

I’d love to hear all about YOUR water-saving tips and experiences in the comments.

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה


  1. Actually, in Israel we start saying Tal Umatar on 7 Heshvan, which this year was Oct. 15!

    1. Drat! Seriously? Wow. I appreciate your pointing this out and will update the post if so.
      Thanks so much!


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