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CHELM-ON-THE-MED©, August 2010 - Column 2


   Wealthy alumni donating a chair to their alma mater is common, but the program that a senior VP at IBM devised for Israel's MIT - the Technion - was a prizewinner.
   The Technion had prepared him well professionally for success, said the pioneer of information storage technology, but he added: in its uncompromising drive for excellence, the Technion had become a gauntlet lined with exceptionally smart but exceedingly inhospitable faculty who took the fun out of learning, leaving a trail of suffering students in their wake.
   Determined to change the milieu, Moshe Yanai donated NIS 40 million ($10.5 m. and change) to the Technion to establish what might be dubbed a Dean's List for faculty. Each year for the next 20 years, Technion students will choose the 15 most outstanding lecturers on campus for recognition. Each winner will receive NIS 100,000 ($26,315), a rather powerful incentive.
   How will excellence be judged?
   The measure will not be knowledge and didactic skills alone. Yanai expects each prize recipient will be, first and foremost, a mensch.

* mensch - a ‘good person' or ‘decent' human being' in Yiddish/German.


   They say, "never argue with a lawyer," but a Tel Aviv Municipality parking inspector had the audacity to slap attorney Gai Naaman with a ticket for parking his motorcycle on the sidewalk.
   Naaman hauled City Hall into court saying it was an unwritten law that the city doesn't enforce the law vis-à-vis two-wheeled vehicles on sidewalks on side streets. The only issue, argued the lawyer, was whether he'd left 1.3 meters (4'3") of sidewalk for pedestrians to squeeze by, or whether he was guilty of "blocking a sidewalk" as the parking inspector claimed.
   The judge squashed the fine saying drivers didn't have to carry tape measures. City Hall should take measures to demark where parking on the sidewalks is actually perfectly fine.


   Will the red Mediterranean tile peaked roofs that almost iconize Jewish* communities in Israel become an endangered species?
   According to a new study conducted at the Weizmann Institute, there are 250 square kilometers (96 sq. miles) of roof surfaces in Israel - residential and commercial, peaked or flat. The scientists figured out that even if only a third of all roofs in Israel would be covered with black solar panels, Israel could produce 30 percent of its electric power needs with sun power, without impacting on limited land reserves or intruding on desert vistas in open spaces like the Negev.
   What happens on cold cloudy or rainy days when demand peaks? They didn't say.

* Most Arab houses have flat concrete roofs, although this is changing.


   The website of Israeli social security system - the National Insurance Institute ( - is, of late, attracting an extraordinary number of hits from surfers from Arab countries: 1,548 from Saudi Arabia, 976 from Egypt, 775 from Morocco, 593 from Algeria, 378 from Jordan, and so forth. There were even 40 hits from Iran and 29 from Syria. Traffic patterns show many surfers checked out Israel's child allowances, disability payments and unemployment benefits.
   While this seems to indicate that most visitors are curious about Israel, officials don't rule out the possibility that at least some of the surfers might be confusing the Mossad - Israel's CIA*, with the Mossad l'Bituach Leumi - Hebrew for National Insurance Institute.



   It's not that Israel's founding fathers thought that flag burning should be legal or considered flag burning a legitimate way of expressing disapproval with government actions. They didn't. It's just that the deterrent for burning the Jewish flag now stands at 3 agurot - or just under one cent.
   The original law enacted in 1949 set the fine at IL 300 * - a heavy fine eaten up by inflation long ago. The government is now updating the law, raising the penalty to NIS 50,000 ($13,157).
   In the meantime, it is hard to recall anyone actually being prosecuted for burning or desecrating a flag.

* Israeli lirot


   Divorced parents find all sorts of creative ways to badger an ex-spouse, but undoubtedly one of the strangest is a divorcee who walked off with her ex-husband's toilet.
   According to the charge sheet, she entered his home in violation of a court order - once to take the toilet, the second time to take away his stereo (which she later returned).
   Far from being pissed, her former husband appeared in court as a character witness saying there were no hard feelings about the toilet*, asking the court to drop the case.

* He had forgiven her on both counts and the second unscheduled visit was leverage to get him to visit their kids.


* 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.