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After hours chasing a badly injured pelican around the Hula swamp in the Upper Galilee, bird ecologist Ohad Hatzofe and his assistant Tamir Burkowitz threw in the towel and called in a bigger bird to help corral the injured waterfowl: a helicopter.

The thoroughly frightened pelican, which had been tagged with a pricey GPS transmitter on its back, flew straight into Burkowitz’s waiting arms and was transferred to the center of the country for treatment at the Ramat Gan Safari wildlife hospital where veterinarians sewed up the tuckered-out and no-doubt-famished pelican’s torn pouch.


When D. – a single teacher – decided to have a baby, on her dermatologist’s advice, she asked for a sperm donor of Mizrahi ethnic stock after her physician removed several cancerous growths from her very fair skin. Employees at the sperm bank were overjoyed to offer her the progeny of a successful college-educated Yemenite donor.

But her request was rare. In fact, Israeli women who prefer to get pregnant without a biological partner in the picture are exceedingly picky. Overwhelmingly, the women request a tall, educated, blond-haired and blue-eyed (i.e., Ashkenazi) donor, although with slim pickings, they often have to “settle for less.”

Are preferences a reflection of Prince Charming in the fairy tales? The perfect mate never found? Or the fact that 70 percent of the requests are from single women and another 20 percent lesbian couples who are probably overwhelmingly Ashkenazi, too? Whatever the motivation, staff at sperm banks reveal they’re forced to turn down males who are short, dark and handsome for lack of demand. Merely being short can keep a man out of the running since height is a major factor for most women – leading at least one major sperm bank to set a minimum of 1.80 meters (almost 5’11”).

Einstein – 175 cm (5’9”) – would never have made the cut.


Is Israel headed towards a full two-day weekend – where most people will be off on Saturday and Sunday rather than all day Friday and Saturday?

The Israel Federation of Labor, government officials and the financial sector are evaluating the impact on the workplace of putting Israel in synch with the rest of the Western world... well more or less in synch: everyone would work ‘til 1 pm on Friday. (Today, only commercial establishments are open, making a killing on all the office employees who are off shopping.) Lost hours would be made up by adding half an hour to each workday.

What does the public have to say about this?

An opinion poll found 52 percent of the population was in favor – 60 percent among secular Israelis, 33 percent among the religiously observant. Then again, maybe overall support was so high because 55 percent said they didn’t think the change had a chance of a snowball in hell of being instituted, and 54 percent judge the change wouldn’t affect their own lives...


The government is toying with the idea of establishing an Ethiopian village in the middle of Nowhere – Halutza to be precise.

It sounds like a cross between an American Indian Reservation and Williamsburg (the one in Virginia, not the one in Brooklyn). The village would resemble a rural community in Ethiopia, house a historical museum and cultural center about Ethiopian Jewry, and boast a restaurant featuring injera* and other traditional Ethiopian fare. Each family – 100 families for a start – would receive a plot of land to farm and raise traditional crops.

The concept wasn’t proposed by the Israel Ministry of Tourism or the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption. It’s the brainchild of Transportation Minister Israel Katz who envisions that Ethiopian immigrants suffering from prolonged cultural shock and ‘stuck’ for years in absorption centers would be perfect candidates for membership in the agro-tourism venture, while the village would be a source of pride for the entire Ethiopian community.

* Ethiopians’ national dish – a spongy-textured sourdough flatbread


Israelis’ ability to adapt to new conditions without blinking an eye is legendary. With domestic water quotas cutting into plant nursery sales, Kibbutz Givat Brenner is offering special courses concocting home-made aromatic soap based on water-frugal house plants like lavender and rosemary.



Religious-Zionists circles – dubbed kipot srugot or knitted yarmulkes in Hebrew – are rattled by the growing number of religious young adults approaching their thirties who remain single. Matchmaking, however, is considered old-fashioned in such circles, even an admission that one is socially inept.*

Out to change attitudes to matchmaking, MK Uri Urbach (from the Jewish Home party, what else?) has initiated a platform that widens and maximizes social circles in the age-old mating game of “friend gives friend another friend’s phone number.”

Yashfe aspires to reach out to an estimated 50,000 religious singles who are searching for a soul mates... or are simply in no hurry to get hitched. To accelerate the nesting process, Yashfe will train 800 peers – ages 25–30 (mostly married) to scout the territory in their neighborhoods (on a volunteer basis) for suitable “candidates” – particularly potential grooms – get to know the individual well, then introduce him or her to a suitable mate using Yashfe’s national database of unattached men and women.

To bolster the current roster – 3,500 registrants to date, most of whom are women – each aspiring matchmaker must bring two to three eligible bachelors into the database to demonstrate they have the right stuff.