The Chelm Project is a pro bono endeavor. Your donation is greatly appreciated. Your support helps balance overly conflict-driven news that warps perceptions of Israel.

Donate in Shekels


Donate in Dollars

Subscribe to our list

Email Format

Join us!

Are you a publisher or literary agent?

Click HERE

Savor Classic Oldies from 1987-2007
Click HERE

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google BookmarksSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

CHELM-ON-THE-MED©, May 2010 - Column 1


   What's green on the outside and red on the inside?
   Watermelon? Think again.
   The correct answer is a new variety of green tomatoes that is red and ripe inside. Another Israeli first is a ‘naturally dehydrated' variety of tomatoes dubbed a ‘spreading tomato.' It can be mashed and spread like avocado, ending the bane of packing sandwiches garnished with lip-smacking tomatoes for lunch - soggy bread.



   About the same time that Ryanair was planning to charge ‘basic fare passengers' for using the john on short flights, El Al was canceling its basic program altogether.
   The program flopped, and not only because Israelis prefer ‘everything included' holiday deals with no unexpected add-on charges. El Al personnel - from pilots to cabin crew - simply hated the plan. Jewish hospitality is intimately bound up with food. The signature ‘Israeli breakfast' in the hotel industry reflects this. But food-laden hospitality is hardly reserved for guests alone. Even before a service technician is halfway through the door, the average Israeli will rush to pour them something cold to drink, and if the repair takes time, will insist the perfect stranger must "eat something."
   Is it any wonder cabin crews applauded when the irritating basic plan was scratched? "It's very uncomfortable to serve a full meal to passengers in row 25, when those passengers seated behind them get nothing," said one stressed El Al cabin attendant, with relief.


   Among the latest private bills presented by this or that crusading Israeli lawmaker is one that would slap price controls on an essential commodity: limiting the high price of popcorn at movie theaters.
   According to the sponsor of the bill, the price of a giant bag of popcorn at the movies runs NIS 23-27 ($6.20-$7.30) a pop - twice the price of a family-size bag of microwave popcorn at the supermarket. And a large Coke costs NIS 16-21 ($4.32-$5.68) compared to NIS 7 ($1.89) for a whole 1.5 liter bottle at the corner grocery. Dozens of lawmakers have jumped on the bandwagon, charging that since movie theater owners prohibit patrons bringing food into the theater, food concessions prices are a monopoly and popcorn prices need to be regulated.
   Ah yes. Another out-of-the-box legislative proposal will require that the small print on quarterly bank statements be enlarged - a bill submitted on behalf of Israel's farsighted elder generation.



   Ingenuity knows no bounds. Volunteers from the IDF Ordnance Corps are periodically called upon by an NGO to solve unique problems facing people with disabilities, when no solution exists. The devices they've designed to add an extra ounce of independence in sensitive spots includes a gadget that the soldiers jury-rigged that enables a religiously observant amputee to put on tefillin, single-handed.

* For a explanation, see



   Believing Zionism needs a grandiose national project to fire the imagination of Jews around the world, back in the 1980s now deceased Likud leader Menachem Begin championed the idea of the Two-Seas Canal between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. No one dug it. About the same time, the late president Chaim Herzog was trying to mobilize support for a railway to Eilat. Herzog envisioned it would be laid by legions of Jewish laborers: Jewish volunteers from abroad...
   Of course, in 2010 there still isn't train service to Eilat - although in 2003 the government resolved - in principle - to realize the dream. Now, the Development Bank of China - the largest infrastructure bank in the world - has offered to build the railroad, and in record time. They say the China Rail Construction Company can lay the track within three years, at an estimated cost of $1.3 B. Moreover, the bank promises trains will be able to travel at speeds up to 250 km an hour, completing the run from Tel Aviv to Eilat in two and a half hours flat. Such a ‘railroad bridge' would allow shippers to practically ‘overnight' marine containers from the Red Sea to the Med, without the time and expense of going through the Suez Canal.
   Sound too good to be true? In fact, Chinese contractors just finished digging the much-awaited car tunnel under Mount Carmel - ahead of schedule - slated to open in the fall of 2010.


   Will lox & bagel become an ‘endangered species?'
   A halachic decision by an overzealous ultra-Orthodox (haredi) fringe group in New York recently ruled that salmon isn't kosher because the fish harbor tiny water parasite that are hard to spot and remove.
   The Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the U.S. and Canada jumped to the salmon's defense, arguing that the question of the tiny parasites in salmon is as old as the Talmud, where the fish was ruled kosher. The Chief Rabbinate in Israel quickly took sides to save smoked salmon - which, with rising standards of living in recent decades, has become a popular if pricey ingredient on Israeli menus, along with imported Philadelphia brandTM cream cheese - although one still can't find a decent bagel anywhere in the Jewish State.


   Is 115-year-old Iranian-born Meir David Pur (b. 1895), a former advisor to the Shah who immigrated to Israel in 1949, the ‘Oldest Man in the World?' The Guinness Book of Records people are investigating. If not, the old man has another ‘ace' up his sleeve: Pur only quit smoking at age 110...


* Copyright© 2010 by Daniella Ashkenazy. All rights reserved worldwide. For limited usage, see FAQs. All stories are completely rewritten by Daniella Ashkenazy from news items gleaned from Yediot Aharonot, unless another news source is stated.