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CHELM-ON-THE-MED©, March 2011 - Column 1

(NOTE: Chelm-on-the-Med columns are published twice a month)


Seeking to reduce noise pollution, the Knesset passed a series of ordinances to reinstate the slafstunda - Yiddish for midday siesta (although it remains a mystery who exactly can avail themselves of the right to rest in the afternoon with so many people working 10-14 hour days.)

Between 2 pm and 4 pm (and after 10 pm) it will be illegal to knock down walls to renovate an apartment, play a musical instrument or "raise one's voice in a manner that bother disturbs the neighbors" including "singing for practice or pleasure" - even in the shower. 
Furthermore, use of caps or fireworks within a kilometer of a residential neighborhood will be prohibited... except on Jerusalem Day, Independence Day, Lag B'Omer and Simchat Torah...and, of course, Purim.



Remember Harry Kemelman's classic series of the rabbi-turned-detective who used Jewish logic to solve crimes in mystery novels such as Friday the Rabbi Slept Late?

When Rabbi David Shonak found the exquisite ancient Torah ornaments from the ark in his Malan synagogue had been swiped, he did the logical thing: the ex-Israeli paratrooper kept his cool and called in the Italian police, but he also called a slew of leading Judaica dealers around the world.

Within ten minutes Shonak got the lead he was waiting for: The priceless hot merchandise had just been offered (over over-the-counter!) to a leading Jerusalem Judaica shop. Collared by the cops, it turned out the four young thieves had left their backpacks at the synagogue for safekeeping with the accommodating rabbi.  When they went to pick up their gear the next day, the ungrateful nogoodniks decided to take some 'souvenirs' with them.



Or Yehuda's town elders have a special place in their hearts for Major General (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi.  So much so that first they voted Ashkenazi an honorary citizen of their township, then named a traffic circle after the outgoing Chief-of-Staff.  Three weeks later council members named a street in Or Yehuda in Ashkenazi's honor.

Ashkenazi replied that he was proud to accept honorary citizenship, but declined the honor of having a circle or square named after him asking Or Yehuda to rename the 'landmarks' after the Israel Defense Forces (Kikar TZAHALand Rechov TZAHAL).

Unimpressed, Mayor David Yosef said Ashkenazi was too modest.  He was weighing calling a local school after Ashkenazi, as well.



Who says "What you don't know won't hurt you"?!

A labor court ordered an employer to pay a former employee 26,000 NIS ($7,222) in damages because the employer had sacked the plaintiff when she was one day pregnant.

The judge was unfazed by the fact that the medical secretary said she wasn't pregnant when asked point blank by her employer in the course of firing her.  Although she had gotten the news earlier that very morning that she was pregnant, she only told her boss days later that she was expecting, but the judge was unmoved.  The law is the law: In Israel, a woman cannot be legally fired when pregnant.



Mt. Hermon was dubbed 'Israel's eyes'* because it affords a clear view of any suspicious military activity in Syria and other unfriendly neighbors to the east.  But it turns out Mt. Hermon is also an ideal place to keep track of suspicious activity in outer space.

Four hale and hearty gray-bearded PhDs have for decades been quietly manning an Israel space lab on the peak. It's the only observation point in the Middle East that studies cosmic radiation around-the-clock - part of a global network that "monitors changes in the weather in outer space and give a timely warning when necessary."

Warning about what?

Extraordinary cosmic radiation can not only disrupt communications and affect cloud formation on earth with catastrophic ramifications; in the wake of serious magnetic storms after a major sun burst, hospitals can expect a 30 percent increase in heart attacks and strokes patents. Even birds stop migrating because their internal navigation systems go temporarily bonkers.

How do the four scientists deal with winter temperatures that plummet to minus 5° C. ( - 23°  F) temperatures at 2040 meters above sea level?

All For are Russian immigrants.

"This isn't cold by my standards," explained 70 year-old Dr. Igor Tzukerman. "I grew up in Siberia at 40° C below zero (- 40°  F). Minus 5° C is summer."

* Ha-eniyim shel ha-midinah



Israelis have developed an airport screening system that doesn't strip people naked or pat their privates. It uses mice to sniff-out explosives.

The specially-trained rodents will be posted in a cage divided into two interconnected sections at passenger security checkpoints.  When the mice detect the tell-tale smell of explosives on a passenger dressed to kill, they'll high-tail-it into the second room for safety without so much as a squeak - mutely sounding an alarm.