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


   Israeli ingenuity knows no bounds: a $200,000 investment in R&D hasn't culminated in a cure for cancer, but it has been crowned by Squeeze Z Hummus*.
   The classic-flavored, dill-flavored and spicy-flavored 18 fl. oz. plastic containers of humous can sit upside-down alongside the ketchup and mustard and other condiments that fill American refrigerators. And humous can now be placed cheek-to-jowl with the salami and pastrami in refrigerated cold-cut display cases to be squirted-out on hotdogs or sandwiches - in true American-style. It took 47-year-old Ami Balishtovsky 25 years in America to figure out how to culturally engineer humous "to fit an American mentality."
   When did that magic moment of serendipity arrive?
   "My American wife saw me ‘wiping up humus' with a pita and told me it was disgusting," revealed Balishtovsky.

* Humus, hummus, humous or hummus - take your pick.


   When the Jerusalem Light Railroad begins service in April 2011, let the lanky beware: the height of the ceiling of the low-slung electric trams was adjusted to the height of the average Israeli (1.70-1.80 meters*). And that's not all. The tram cars don't have straps for passengers standing up, only hand rails.
   It's a climate adjustment. It's like men's battle fatigues in the IDF, which are tailor-made with slits in the armpits for ventilation - only in reverse: "Israelis sweat, and therefore no hang straps were installed that would force passengers to lift their arms," revealed a representative of the City Pass franchise that built the 13.8-kilometer line.

* 5'58" - 5;91"



   Which personalities should be engraved on new Israeli bills, scheduled for release in late 2012?
   The first Bank of Israel committee decided to dress up new bills with the portraits of four elder statesmen (with emphasis on the ‘men'* from Herzl to Rabin) raising the ire of both feminists and the intellectual community. The fact that all the committee members were male only added fuel to the fire. Even Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz labeled the committee's first choices "un-lofty."
   The head of the committee - former Supreme Court Justice Yaakov Turkel - retorted that gender was not the issue. It was ‘two Jews - three opinions.' Reaching agreement vis-à-vis four spiritual and cultural luminaries was an impossible task, held Turkel. To break a six-month stalemate, four women were added to the hamstrung eight-man committee: a sculptress, an exhibition designer, an aesthetics scholar and a radio journalist renowned for her coverage of the cultural scene.

* In fact, Golda Meir appeared on an Israeli bill - a 10,000 (old) shekel note, eaten up by hyperinflation and replaced in 1986 by a NIS 10 (New Israeli Shekel) note that was converted into a coin in 1995, without Golda's image, and boasting a palm tree with seven leaves and two baskets with dates.


   Remember the story* of Chonka, the ‘stoned' golden retriever pup from Kfar Saba who refused to settle for devouring soiled diapers or $200 designer boots, swallowing (but not digesting) 40 decorative river pebbles in the back yard - which explained why he weighed a ton when lugged to the vet to find out why he was so lethargic?
   Well, he's not alone...
   A 10-year-old Rhodesian richback from Ramat Hasharon has just been caught (luckily in the nick of time) suffering from the same ‘ailment' produced by owners of drought-induced graveled-over gardens - only the richback added a handful of case-hardened nails as a chaser.

* April 2009 Column 1, at


   Under Jewish law, it's enough for a bachelor to ‘pronounce himself married' to be married: all that is required is for the groom-to-be to declare in front of two male Jewish witnesses that the bride-to-be is "consecrated [to him] according to the faith of Moses and Israel" and place a ring on her finger to be considered married. But a Jewish couple from Tashkent wanted a wedding with all the trimmings, not a DIY affair.
   Unfortunately, Uzbekistan lacked a rabbi-in-residence, causing a serious hitch to getting properly hitched. So, the two called the Israeli Embassy and asked Ambassador Hillel Neuman to marry them, a truly unorthodox request.
   Normally, an Israeli diplomat (or any diplomat for that matter) doesn't have the power to perform weddings, but since Neuman was an observant Jew and the son of a rabbi to boot, he no doubt knew what to do. Officials at the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem figured that was close enough and bestowed on Neuman the authority to perform the wedding as a one-shot-deal.
   Uzbek officials added their blessings to the diplomatic first, recognizing the union.


   An Israeli startup - Nanolight - is developing a paint that will make airplanes invisible. No kidding. But the developers underscore that the paint can not only "change the shape of tomorrow's battlefield," it can also be used to shield personnel from transformers in hospitals and office buildings and prevent grime and other pollutants from sticking to metal safety railings at intersections. The latter application is being tested ‘somewhere' in Ramat Gan.
   Can the stuff be a major windfall for the IDF? In a test flight, radar had difficulty picking up rockets painted with the elusive solution. The paint ‘swallows' electromagnetic signals emitted by radar and ‘spits them out' in the form of heat energy, making any object coated with the paint hard to spot. While the illusion is not perfect, a can of paint sure beats buying 25 American Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighters for the Israel Air Force - each with a $100-130 M price tag.


* 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.