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CHELM-ON-THE-MED©, DECEMBER 2014 COLUMN 1
YOUR PLACE OR MINE?
In Israel it is common for couples to time-share when it comes to Sabbath dinner with the in-laws, one week at ‘your family’ - one week at ‘mine.’ Ditto for Passover and the Jewish New Year where the venue is alternated. Yet, the Shust and Elad families found a very creative alternative after both grandmothers were widowed. The two 77 year-olds – Rama Elad and
Batya Shust, simply moved in together.
Well acquainted for over 30 years since their kids got married, the two women got along well. So, when both sought to ‘downsize’ – one seeking a suitable apartment (small but with a lift) while the other weighted moving to an assisted living complex, ‘the kids’ – now in their 50s – suddenly hit on an out-of-the-box solution: renovate Rama’s oversized apartment to accommodate the two – two bedrooms each with a private bath and ample room to host the grandkids in a guest room. As a bonus, they can scratch ‘time-sharing’ and hold a joint seder or Friday night dinners in the ample living area.
MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, YOU SAY?
Israel continues to look for a site to build a second international airport that can serve as a backup for Ben-Gurion Airport in case of extreme weather or a major war.
When the Ramat David military airbase in the bucolic Jezreel Valley was suggested, angry residents in adjoining settlements who opposed such a step yelled in unison: “NIMBY!!!*” but added a point: Jumbo jets would not only introduce a hell of a racket. Opponents claimed the airport would turn their homes into a target for Hezbollah rockets ‘out of nowhere.’ (Kav leMoshav)
* Not In My Back Yard
There are unfair employees the world over, but an agency that employed an 80 year-old woman – identified as G. – as a security guard at a museum for 17 years tried to give her the sack in a unique fashion. After failing to re-secure the security guard public tender for another year, tender or not, the law required the agency to either give G. suitable equivalent work elsewhere or pay her a month’s severance for every year she had been employed. So, the agency offered the octogenarian a series of positions…as a armed night guard.
Kiss her severance pay goodbye? Not on your life!
Perhaps she wasn’t fit to pass a course in bearing arms, only sit in a corner in an air-conditioned gallery and police noisy children, but
G was not about to be an easy mark. She hired a lawyer.
A NEW LAW OF RELATIVITY
According to Professor Itsik Pe’er, an Israeli academic at Columbia University, all Ashkenazi Jews in the world are the offspring of 350 Ashkenazi Jews who lived in Europe 600 to 800 years ago. The study is based on the genetic heritage of 128 Ashkenazi Jews in the United States whose entire genomes (i.e. entire DNA profile) were mapped.
Now all Ashkenazi Jews can claim - and not merely by a stretch of the imagination - that they are related to such luminaries as the Vilna Gaon, Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud in one way or another…even if in the worst scenario they are only cousins 30 times removed.
* The study was not designed to seek the source of Jewish genius, and although it found a fairly even mix of European and Middle-Eastern ancestry (refuting claims that Ashkenazim are of Khazar ancestry) it is actually designed to help combat Jewish genetic flaws passed down from generation-to-generation such as Tay-Sachs.
‘SERVICE-ORIENTED’ AT CITY HALL
Everyone knows who owns the sidewalk, but the Petach Tikva municipality went overboard, trying to broaden its tax base by demanding 370 NIS ($100) arnona (local property taxes) per annum from a vending machine company for recently-installed one-square-meter automated filling stations for ‘topping up’ magnetic Rav-Kav bus tickets, as if they were a blooming petrol station.
If that’s not enough, city elders demanded another 370 NIS for ‘advertising’ because the machines bear the Rav-Kav logo!
In Rishon le-Zion city hall is weighing a similar measure, but in the meantime only demanded bus companies pay arnona for placing 12 electronic ‘Next Bus’ signs within city limits with information when the next bus will arrive.
The Israel Ministry of Transportation’s Public Transport Authority went ballistic. The municipalities claimed evenly that their steps were lawful. The Ministry retorted they’d change the law if necessary.
VISION OF THE DRY BONES
A group of Palestinian grave robbers from the Jerusalem-Bethlehem region was apprehended red- handed near an army checkpoint in the dead of the night with no less than eleven Jewish carved stone burial coffins (sarcophagi) with fancy decorations and Greek and Hebrew writing.
Much to the astonishment of Antiquities Authorities’ archeologists, the sarcophagi, which were in mint condition despite being some 2,000 years old, not only carried the names of the occupants in the square lettering typical of the Second Temple era – including the name Yo’azar (‘the Lord helps’), a popular name in antiquity.
Inside two of the coffins were some remains* of the occupants!(Yediot, Walla)
* pieces of bones, which were turned over to the Ministry of Religion for a Jewish burial.
EAT YOUR VEGETABLES!
An article in Calcalist painted a very glum picture of the state of Israel’s medical system – one-tenth of the investment in health care than other western countries, three MRIs per million inhabitants compared to 35 in the United States.
The only ‘problem’ with the profile: Israeli men rank 4th in the world for longevity – 80.2 years – even with losses to war and terrorism.
So what’s the story? Could inflated health investments and diagnostics elsewhere only reveal the price paid for an unhealthy life?
Not only “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”: According to the OECD Israelis consume 197.6 kg (435 pounds) of vegetables a year. That’s 1.2 pounds (!) of veggies per day, not counting Yom Kippur…ranking third place in the world for vegetable consumption, after Greece and Turkey. Israel also placed third* for consumption of legumes - 5.1 kg (11.2 pounds) annually – thanks to hummous, no doubt. Alcohol consumption on the other hand averages 2.4 liters per person over the age of 15 compared to 11.7 liters in Germany, ten in the UK, and six in the USA. (Calcalist, Haaretz, WHO)
* surpassed only by Mexico and Canada.