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CHELM-ON-THE-MED©, JANUARY 2015 COLUMN 1
Half anhour after Route 1 was reopened at 10 am after plummeting temperatures and precipitation blanketed the Jerusalem Hills in snow Friday night,* police had to issue a warning to motorists that it was illegal – in fact, dangerous to pull over and park on the narrow shoulders of the six-lane highway (!) from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem just to give youngsters from the coastal plain a rare chance to build a snowman less than a half-hour drive from home and without a pricy ski pass…
* The ISIS Effect has turned the world upside down - the news from Israel focused on the weather, the news from France on terrorism. (Israel HaYom journalist Adi Rubinstein commented dryly on panicked media reports about a little snow that “in Israel, daily salvos of rockets are tagged “a drizzle” (tiftuf) while the first sign of snow flurries is labelled “a storm” (se’ufa)…)
Veteran readers probably remember the time back in July 2012 when to mark 120 years since the founding of Rechovot scientists from the Weizmann Institute climbed down from their ivory towers to mount bar stools in pubs and bistros to give free lectures to young Israelis out for a night on the town? Well, the concept of this one-night-stand has gone viral in Israel, morphing into one of the hottest trends in Tel-Aviv night life – lectures ‘playing’ at pubs and cafes, organized by a dozen demobilized keyboard warriors from 8200* (‘Unit Eight Two Hundred’).
The concept, dubbed WIZE**, is similar to TED (‘Ideas Worth Spreading’) but it rejects the ‘sage on the stage’ format. Loquacious and gregarious Israelis demand spontaneous interaction that can only come from intimate face-to-face encounters, with ample opportunity to interrupt the speaker to ask a question or interject a comment… (Channel 10)
* The IDF’s most elite cyber unit.
** heralded under the banner Chacham b’Lilah, an in-your-face reversal on the Yiddish pejorative - a ‘smart-aleck in the dark.’
YITZHAK RABIN SLEPT THERE
Who isn’t familiar with the roadside attractions in America claiming ‘George Washington slept here’?
Well now you can own the penthouse duplex apartment of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin z”l in Ramat Aviv. The flat is being offered by the posh auction house Sotheby’s as an historical site, for the tidy sum of 18 million NIS ($4.5 M), after a major renovation…but minus Rabin’s iconic wood-panelled study which was removed and ensconced in the Yitzhak Rabin Center at the other end of Ramat Aviv.
* It was reported that the apartment was sold by Rabin’s son and daughter for a million dollars in 2004 ‘as is’ (purported to have include Leah’s and Yitzhak’s clothes neatly folded in the bedroom cabinets).
IN THE DRINK
When an Israeli woman entered a posh hotel on the Dead Sea to attend a Ladies’ Day event she was ‘run over’ by a harried waiter, spilling the hot coffee she was carrying, all over herself. The hotel claimed the mishap happened in a crowded lobby, arguing that anyone stupid enough to pour a cup of hot coffee under such circumstances “exposes themselves to the dangers involved.” The judge ruled otherwise, awarding the victim 44,500 NIS ($12,714) in damages saying the hotel had been stupid enough to set up the table with refreshments near the entrance to the crowded lobby and therefore management was the guilty party on all counts – establishing a new definition’ for the term ‘tourist trap.’
PAWS FOR THOUGHT
Who needs websites with a pay wall to access the unlisted phone numbers of celebs? In Israel, all one needs to do is access Israel’s national Dog Database operated by the Ministry of Agriculture, where not only is every dog’s name and rabies vaccination duly registered, but also the particulars of the dog’s owner– including countless politicians, wealthy business types, famous sports heroes and socialites…including the IDF’s chief-of-staff Benny Gantz and supermodel/actress Agam Rudberg.
The recently-launched smartphone application – designed as a health measure - allows surfers to enter a chip number to check a dog’s vaccination status or return a lost dog to its owner …but also to check out the record of a specific dog owner. Officials said dog owners could have their phone numbers removed from the data base if they wished.
A 21 year-old first-year student at the Hebrew University found herself in a unique bind when it turned out she was the only student registered to major in the University’s undergraduate Talmud program that year.
Ten other students who had registered, all decided to major in something else… What made her plight particularly difficult was not just that there was no one to copy notes from if she skipped a class. Talmud study is based on a chevruta – or studying and arguing in groups.
Luckily, there are a few ‘Talmud groupies’ who show up to sit in on her classes without paying tuition or enrolling in the courses.
TASTE OF THE GOOD LIFE?
The beleaguered Israeli home soda-maker Sodastream™ targeted by those who aspire to isolate/boycott Israel, got a free promotional pitch for its product when a YouTube video went viral attracting 2.5 million viewers who apparently have ‘a Champaign taste and a beer pocket.’’
Then, try out this solution dreamed up by a father-son team to put some sparkle in a regular bottle of Riesling wine…for pennies, with the help of your own Israeli home soda-maker.
Warning: The method apparently needs a bit of fine-tuning.
FAST FOOD PICK-UP
Desperate to save his corner grocery from going broke after 40 years behind the cash register, an aging Bnei Brak merchant named Yoav applied his noodle: Closing early one Friday afternoon, the grocer went to check out the competition – the major chain stores eating away at his business base like an army of termites.
No, he couldn’t beat their prices. Nor their wide selection. The place was mobbed, with plenty of familiar faces of former clientele in the check-out lines, but not one happy camper could be found - not even in the so-called ‘express line’.
YES! Time was on his side!
Delivering fliers throughout the neighbourhood, Yoav the grocer announced he would be taking orders by e-mail by Thursday evenings for any amount of groceries – large or small – which could be picked up like piping hot take-away pizzas early Friday morning after dropping the kids off at school – already bagged and tallied up. The unique ‘beat-the-system system’ has been such a hit the ‘arrangement’ now operates on weekdays, as well. (Calcalist)
DON QUIXOTE IN JERUSALEM
Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat thinks the time is ripe for a change in the IATA international code for Ben-Gurion Airport – replace TLV with JLM…
What are the chances that the International Air Transport Association would agree to the change in the code used for passenger reservations, ticketing, and by baggage-handling systems worldwide from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem – keeping in mind that Brussels thinks giving a kid the name ‘Jerusalem’ would be detrimental to his health and Washington refuses to register kids born in Jerusalem as having been born in Israel!* While there are Israeli politicians who support the move, probably the chances of adoption are as good as a snowball in hell….
* an issue pending before the United States Supreme Court.