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©, January 2011 - Column 1


A new-fangled Hollywood fad claiming that showering daily, using deodorant and frequently washing one's hair is bad for your health and wastes water? This would never wash with Israelis - not even in drought-struck Israel. Statistics show Israelis are "the cleanest people on earth."

Who says so? Kimberly-Clark.

"Based on paper consumption among Israeli, nobody believes we're only 7.5 million people," says KC's local CEO Ari Melamed. The conglomerate's statistics show per capita turnover for paper goods and personal care products among Israelis is double that of the unnamed country that takes second place. Israelis not only consume more shampoo and soap per capita than any other nation on the face of the planet, 80 percent of all women use panty liners, he revealed.

    Is it any wonder KC's Presidential Forum - an inner sanctum composed of KC CEOs covering four demographic giants - Brazil, China, Russia and South Korea - has a fifth member: Israel? Now, Israeli hygienic patterns have prompted the paper goods and personal care giant to open an R&D center in Israel.



A massive 14-meter-long six-meter-high stone wall at a Jaffa building site collapsed overnight, burying more than nine parked cars under the rubble. What made this freak accident enticingly newsworthy? For months prior to the ancient wall collapsing, a contingent of ultra-Orthodox demonstrators who opposed work at the Andromeda Hill construction site had been praying and blowing rams horns at the wall which surrounds the site, to protest "desecration of human remains" that were removed from the site, which the protesters claim are ancient Jewish graves.



The IDF has developed special energy bars for personnel in the special forces; the munchies don't go snap, crackle or pop, lowering the risk that the position of a reconnaissance unit hunkered down in the bush could inadvertently become a dead giveaway in enemy territory due to nutritious but noisy field rations.

Another upgrade? Noisy generators are out. Solar tarps are in. The photoelectric cell-studded sheeting can simply be slung over the top of a tent to power up cell phones, computers and other electronic devices.



Large families with a dozen offspring are no longer the norm, but they are not unheard of among ultra-Orthodox couples. However, Amit, a special ed teacher, and his wife Esther are only 25 years old... so how did they manage to become a family with 13 kids?

Looking for a change and a challenge, the two moved from Migdal Haemek in the north to Kfar Chabad on the outskirts of Tel Aviv with their one daughter and another daughter on-the-way to become surrogate parents to no fewer than 11 kids between the ages of eight and 14 in need of foster homes. The position can hardly be called a paying proposition: The two only receive a modest joint 6,000 NIS ($1,666) salary for running the four-bedroom foster home established by an NGO, yet the easygoing young couple view their instant extended - at times overextended - family as a mission and a personal contribution to society.



They say in Hebrew that "troubles come in threes," but talk of tales of woe in the jaws of the bureaucracy.

In 2005, Tehila and Lior Golan lost their home in Gush Katif as a result of the Gaza Disengagement. That wasn't all. While the couple was busy helping Tehila's parents pack up their house, unidentified agents had packed up their belongings - uninvited - loading the Golans' worldly possessions onto a government-supplied marine container. The two came home that night to an empty house.

Where was the giant container? To this day, nobody knows.

Adding insult to injury, bureaucrats charged that perhaps the family had never actually lived in Ganei Tal and the claim was a rip-off for the 'contents' of an unoccupied dwelling. As if that weren't enough, after the couple proved otherwise, the pencil pushers offered them 7,000 NIS ($2,000) 'for their stuff' - less than compensation for a lost suitcase on an international flight... Not surprisingly, they took the case to a higher authority, and filed suit.

While the wheels of justice turn painfully slowly, a furious court recently raked civil servants over the coals for their total lack of sensitivity and awarded the former settlers a six-digit settlement totaling a quarter-of-a-million NIS ($69,444) The judge stipulated that 15,000 NIS ($4,166)  was earmarked to retake lost wedding pictures of the once-newly wedded couple who by now were a family of five - including renting an identical wedding gown.



         The snowstorm that totally disrupted flights on the east coast of the US in late December may have left countless travelers to fend for themselves, but it's precisely in times like this that the Jewish people's sense of solidarity kicks in - especially when the issue is hungry Jews.

         After sitting endlessly on a runway (being wined and dined and entertained on what turned out to be a 9-hour flight-to-nowhere), El-Al passengers were returned to a packed overextended terminal to wait out the storm...but they were soon munching fresh bagels - the ultimate Jewish comfort food, courtesy of the nearby Jewish community. A passenger had called the rabbi of a nearby Jewish community who sent the El-Al passengers bagels, doughnuts, soft drinks and even milk for the children. Less than a week earlier, a blizzard that hit Europe caused a flight from London to arrive in Israel late - just before the Sabbath, leaving a group of religious passengers stuck in the airport.  But fear not! ZAKA* had gotten an emergency call in advance of their late arrival and delivered mattresses, towels, baked goods, vegetables and challah...and even a huge pot of Cholent** to the airport.


* ZAKA, an emergency response organization of ultra-Orthodox Jews, originally organized to evacuate and identify the bodies of causalities at suicide bombings and other mass casualty events.


** Cholent: a traditional Sabbath stew put up to cook on a hot plate just before the Sabbath and served the next day for lunch.