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CHELM-ON-THE-MED©, DECEMBER 2013 COLUMN 1
NEW HOUSE RULES
One hundred and seventy Othodox rabbis from Beit Hillel have issued a revolutionary religious ruling or psak halacha. Nothing to do with Hillel House on American campuses, this Beit Hillel is an Israeli association of Orthodox rabbis determined to adapt Jewish law to modern realities by taking a creative and non-rigid approach in interpreting halacha (Jewish law).
The new ruling paves the way for religiously-observant Jews to invite non-observant Jews to dinner on Friday night – without the invitation to dinner turning into an ‘overnight’*…or refrain from visiting at all. The former all-or-nothing interpretation of Jewish law - which considered the host ‘a collaborator to commitment of a transgression’ if guests broke the Sabbath by arriving or departing by car – had prevented many datlashim** from having Shabbat dinner with their parents (a common practice even among secular Israelis), or visiting them during the day Saturday, the one-day weekend. Moreover, it created undesirable barriers between religious and secular Jews, ruled the consortium of rabbis.
* requiring diners to stay with their hosts ‘til sundown Saturday night
** datlash: an acronym for dati l’she’avar or ‘formerly-religious’
UNIQUE BLOCK PARTY
Who says certain service workers are ‘invisible’ – the floor polishers in the supermarket, the garbage collectors, and the street sweepers?
For 21 years, Reuven Kakoshvili swept the streets of the Neve Noi neighborhood in Beersheva armed with a broom and a garbage pail on wheels. The new immigrant from Georgia in the Soviet Union became so much a part of the community – befriended by everyone from the residents to the neighborhood dogs - that when he turned 67, residents of Neve Noi threw him a retirement party. Not only that, they collected enough money to give Kakoshvili a royal sendoff with a farewell gift capable of sweeping the aging street cleaner off his feet: a prepaid credit card from a major department store chain loaded by grateful residents with more money than he probably made in a month of Sundays.
WE’RE NOT ALONE…OR ARE WE?
In Jerusalem, to maintain peace in the Holy City, ads on buses and bus shelters boast only jars of mayonnaise and the like, while ‘figures’ (that is, people – male or female) are not displayed in the capital* in order to avoid friction with ultra-Orthodox residents over standards of modesty for women.
Yet sometimes officials responsible for the ‘arrangement’ go overboard: Bending over backward, the EGGED bus coop rejected a humorous ad by Kidum (a network of schools that provide tutoring in preparation for Israeli college boards - the psychometric exam, because it featured an ET-like figure saying “Advanced intelligence has been discovered on earth” claiming Kidum offered “the most advanced course in the universe.”
The bus company argued without batting an eyelash that EGGED couldn’t appear to sponsor an ad suggesting there were extraterrestrials.
* The limitation doesn’t apply elsewhere.
ONLY ‘DAY USE’?
An industrialist is claiming what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Well, not exactly the gander – but at least all old geezers should be equal before the law.
Former Minister of Defense Ehud Barak and former Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein were ‘given the benefit of the doubt’ whether they knew their wives were illegally-employing foreign nationals as domestics without a work permit, whined the industrialist who’d been charged with a similar offense. Not only was his house solely his wife’s jurisdiction and the ‘misunderstanding’ was therefore hers alone; he should no doubt enjoy the benefit of the doubt even more than the two senior public officials since the two public servants’ maids worked full time.
Do the math, argued the defendant, accusingly: They had six-times the probability of bumping into a stranger from Africa or the Far East dusting the dining room chandelier, while his wife’s cleaner from the Philippines was only moonlighting once a week on her day off as a above-board caretaker for an elderly Israeli, therefore he was much less likely to be party to the offence and therefore less culpable.
HAIL TO THE CHIEF
Gantz to the rescue again.
The IDF Chief-of-Staff, Benny Gantz has won quite a reputation over the past two years as a first responder.
First he spontaneously responded giving first aid to a woman who keeled over in a restaurant with a stroke, until medics arrived; then Gantz turned his ‘coper around in mid-air to pick up a soldier wounded in a military exercise, delivering the injured soldier to the hospital before going about his business; afterwards the Chief-of-Staff commanded an IDF vessel to change course while on deck, so he and the crew could quickly fish two airmen and parts of their F-16 out of the drink after they were forced to eject due to mechanical failure. Now Gantz has done it again - serving as first responder at a bad road accident, departing only after an intensive care ambulance arrived on the scene to find someone else had taken command of the situation – giving a new twist to the IDF officer tradition of ‘After me.’*
* Acharei, in Hebrew – IDF standards that officers don’t order their soldiers into battle, they lead them into battle.
BREAKING THE NEWS
The Israel Broadcasting Authority swears it’s not recycling old news like B-rated movies…
They blamed a “rare computer glitch” for broadcasting the lead story from the previous day’s prime time news program. Poised anchor Yonit Levi had picked up the ball with nary a pause, telling viewers dead-pan: “Those were yesterday’s headlines. We want to open with this evenings headlines...”