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Jews may not have a Holy Grail, but do they have a Pious Pigeon?

Talmudic students at the ultra-Orthodox Kaminetz Yeshiva in Jerusalem would swear on a stack of Bibles that a white pigeon comes to sit in on their Torah lessons.

For a month, the bird has sat still as a statue on the window sill during the two-hour lesson, only departing when the class is dismissed.

The students view the bird as some kind of medium and have formed 'learning circles' (with the bird in the center) to recite Mishnah passages and request forgiveness from deceased souls that they believe have 'set up house' in the holy bird's body – but to no avail. The bird keeps coming back.

The yeshiva is studying the issue.


A Tel Aviv magistrate reviewing arrest sheets lost his cool over the handling of a police request to keep a suspect in custody. But instead of verbally throwing the case out of his court on procedural grounds and setting the suspect free, Ido Darvian went ballistic, throwing the case file at the police advocate who brought the suspect before the court.

Witnesses are in disagreement whether the cop managed to dodge the file or not, but a spokesperson for the court insists he did. Will someone throw the book at the judge for "assaulting a police officer while fulfilling his duties" or will the magistrate's superiors suffice with a slap on the wrist?

The court clarified that the judge was angry at "the police" not "the police officer." The bench claimed (contritely) that he was aiming for the table, not the advocate.

It's just that his aim was off.


Ninety-five percent of Israeli houses have solar water heaters. Unfortunately, although new high-rise buildings integrate solar panels into the roof design and hide the unsightly storage tanks – site unseen, most solar water heaters are pretty ugly – perched as they are on flat rooftops of apartment buildings like flocks of lifeless metal storks. To be frank, they're ecologically-friendly eyesores.

If the tanks weren't ugly enough to begin with, manufacturers always splay their names in spray paint across the tank exterior as 'advertising' – as if they were selling fashion apparel.

Now a Rechovot solar water heater manufacturer – Tal Sachar - has taken a leap of faith to enhance the aesthetics: For a nominal 50 NIS ($14) surcharge, owners Eli Cohen and Yaakov Cahlon will wallpaper their new solar systems in puffy white clouds on a pale sky-blue background, in lieu of the Tal Sachar logo.


Who hasn't heard of the once-in-a-lifetime Russia offer to launch anyone into outer space at a million dollars a shot? Well, the IDF has inaugurated a much more modest life-altering program under the headline "You'll Never Be the Same Again after You Wear the IDF Uniform."

Nine American Jewish suburbanites who donate $10,000 each to Friends of the IDF* – most of them athletic men in their 50s who live in plush houses – were temporarily 'inducted' into a week-long boot camp. Dressed in IDF fatigues and combat boots - dog tags and all (which they could take home as souvenirs), the nine underwent field training and weapons instruction that culminating in rifle practice at a genuine shooting range...and paint-ball exercises in tactics of insurgency warfare at a genuine mockup used by Israel's special units.

* that collects $50 M annually, earmarked for soldiers' welfare projects.


Inmates of Israel penal institution enjoy a host of rights – from the right to vote to conjugal rights and opportunities for further education – including not just remedial education but even university studies. Now inmates stand to receive another right – the right to strike.

The move is part of a bill submitted to the Knesset by the Minister of Internal Security Yitzhak Aharonovich that calls for establishment of a special labor exchange that will provide gainful employment inside, in lieu of on-site and off-site ad hoc solutions to date. The right to strike has a rider however: It kicks in only if fellow employees outside the facility have walked off the job.


Israel has a fledgling amateur American football league – established in 2008, that hardly makes the news. Yet when the Judea Rebels met the Jerusalem Lions in the opening game of the 2011 season, their unique lineups attracted more than sports fans.

The Judea Rebels are primarily American-born settlers from Judea – whose most ardent fans are Breslov Hassids. But there are three exceptions: Ayub, Mohammed, Musa Elayyan. The three American-born Palestinian brothers comprise the Judea Rebels' star defense lineup. When the three arrived in Ramallah from California three years ago, they were devastated to discover that there are no American football teams in Ramallah...or anywhere else in the Palestinian Authority for that matter.

The three asked to join the Judea Rebels.

Can contact sports improve contact between Palestinians and Jews?

Ayub stressed he doesn't give a fig who he tackles, even when the strapping quarterback of the rival Jerusalem Lions is 31 year-old Etai Ashkenazi – son of Israel's outgoing Chief-of-Staff. "I don't care about playing on a settlers' team, as long as it helps me get closer to my dream of playing collegiate football in America, next season," he explained gamely.

What are A. Elayyan's chances of making the big time? It's not exactly a level playing field: Only in its fourth season, the league plays on a 60 yard field with 8 players per team. (Yediot and Haaretz)