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


   Baron Edward de Rothschild decided to settle in Israel. The new immigrant went through the same procedures any oleh goes through after landing at Ben-Gurion Airport... with one exception. When Rothschild was handed his teudat oleh (immigrant certificate), the Parisian banker's son genteelly turned down the offer of an absorption basket of financial assistance* designed to ease his acclimation.
   What made the 53-year-old Rothschild take such a leap?
   Well, it seems Edward de Rothschild's life dream hasn't been to make aliyah**. This was a ‘default' of sorts: his life's dream has been to participate in the Olympics in equestrian sports - scheduled to take place in London in 2012. The baron told a Parisian magazine: "I hope to represent Israel in equestrian competitions, since I'm not good enough to represent France at the Olympics."

* NIS 15,789 ($4,155) in cash payments as housing subsidies and so forth.

** immigrate to Israel



   Bat Yam - a warren of modest lower and middle-class apartment buildings on Tel Aviv's southern flank - suffers from a unique form of urban gridlock: 40 percent of Bat Yam's public spaces (and 7.5 percent of the city's overall land area) is occupied by the Bat Yam cemetery.
   Having run out of empty space to park public buildings, the Bat-Yam Municipality is "rezoning" the cemetery for multiple-purpose use. City Hall plans to construct an elevated sports and entertainment center above the graves. A botanic garden will also be added on what will become the "ground floor" so to speak - designed to attract regular visitors out for a walk in the park, not just funeral parties.


   Pregnancy can do strange things to people, but the anxieties of one expectant father set a record.
   Unhappily married for 12 years and the father of one child, the custody suit that hubby filed was not for his daughter (for whom he already has custody). It was for his unborn son - a rather premature step considering Junior was only a three-month-old fetus.
   Puzzled, the courts asked the attorney-general to rule on whether the three-month-old fetus had any standing in a court of law that would give the father a leg to stand on - legally speaking - or whether the petitioner would have to bide his time, or nurse his grudge, as the case may be, until his son was born.


   The Afula Medical Center found a way to alleviate the facility's acute shortage of nurses, right under their noses: an extreme makeover for four 25-31-year-old Ethiopian women who for years had spent their working days making beds, mopping floors, serving meals and bathing patients. Enrolled in the nursing program at the local academic college on municipal scholarships, the foursome finished their first year of studies with flying colors, parallel to working almost full-time at the hospital and caring for their families. Seven more low-skilled but highly motivated employees from the auxiliary staff will enter the one-of-a-kind nursing program in November.


   A thief was apprehended for stealing dill pickles - an entire marine container of pickles - from the yard of a kibbutz factory. Caught in the act, after a year-and-a-half in the can, he'd learned his lesson: skip the pickles.
   But alas, now three years later, the same unnamed crook is again in a genuine pickle (along with eight accomplices). This time he was caught red-handed with a truckload of Elite-Strauss chocolate bars worth almost their weight in gold.
   Hardly a case of taking candy from a baby, the gang had to scale a 15' wall to gain access the warehouse in Upper Nazareth, soon after which the truck bearing tens of thousands worth of NIS* in purloined chocolate was stopped by Israel's Finest before they could even get beyond the city limits.

* In the vicinity of $100,000


   An article with quirky IDF statistics (the tallest and the shortest soldier, the female soldier with the longest ponytail*, and so forth) had one strange stat: the fastest keyboarder in the IDF. The champ types 165 words a minute.
   Outstanding? The average English typist does 80-90 words a minute; 120 WPM is considered top-class; while the world record was set by an IBM secretary named Stella - 216 WPM.
   But wait a minute! Isn't this like comparing apples and oranges?!
   In Hebrew, possessive pronominal adjectives (my, his, ours), prepositions (in, at, to, as, like) and the conjunction 'and' are all tagged onto the noun or verb they modify ‘as one word.' Thus, ‘in your house' (b'beitecha) ‘counts' as one word. There's another bonanza: modern Hebrew is written without vowels (which the reader fills in according to the context of the sentence**) - a form of shorthand when it comes to key strokes.
   As a result, every 150 words in English is only 100 words in Hebrew.
So does Corporal Hadas Segal type 165...or 238 WPM - breaking Stella's world record set in 1946?
   And how does she do it?
   "I play the piano*** and the transition to a keyboard is very natural," says Segal.

* Women are not required to have short haircuts, but must gather their hair in a bun, ponytail or braid. The winner sports a 1.12 meter ponytail.

** Cn y rd ths sntnc? t tks sm prctc.

*** Guinness's world record is 498 notes (strokes) in 60 seconds, set by Hungarian pianist and composer Balázs Havasi in 2009.


* 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.