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CHELM-ON-THE-MED©, September 2011 Column 2


Good news for cinnamon bun addicts!

Professor Michael Ovadia isolated an active ingredient in cinnamon bark – CEppt – that can delay advancement of Alzheimer’s disease by altering buildup of a certain toxin – at least in mice and flies. 

What got the Tel-Aviv University zoologist interested in cinnamon? 

The Bible.

As a high school student Ovadia placed second in the International Bible Contest finals, held annually on Israel's Independence Day. One of the questions that almost put him out of the running dealt with the consistency of the holy paste that priests at the Temple spread on the altar before sacrifices.

“I had a blackout and only remembered, in the nick of time, that the paste contained cinnamon - just before the bell rang.  But, “why cinnamon” continued to trouble me and I decided to study its properties…until the present discovery,” revealed Ovadia. (Haaretz)


Do the trains have to run on time? 

Better late then never, said a Haifa District Court, ruling that the Israel Railways Authority train schedule is not a binding contact.  While the schedule creates a “certain commitment of the train vis-à-vis the passenger…the contractual relationship carries the possibility that the train will be late,” argued the court. 


Rejecting common dumpster diving, a young Jerusalemite adopted an outrageous form of scavenging to supplement his meager stipend as a yeshiva student: Fishing (at the crack of dawn) for unusual-looking notes – including bank notes*, stuffed between the cracks of the Kotel (the Western Wall).

The gamble almost paid off: The midnight scholar's moonlight rummaging turned up an uncrossed** personal check at 5 AM, to the tune of $100,000, written in English to the order of "The Holy Western Wall."  Yet, instead of hitting pay dirt, there was hell to pay: The youngster's father – totally appalled by his son's shenanigans – called Kotel rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz.  Although dumbstruck by the breach of privacy, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation is checking whether the check is a prank or for real.

* his friends say two years ago he netted a $600 cache, in cold cash.

** an open check that can be endorsed to anyone, on the back.


Dr. Arcadi Levin believes he has found a new source of safe clean water: literally drawing water out of thin air, without electricity. 

The small pilot that the former cooling systems engineer from St. Petersburg built at Kibbutz Einat consists of a 12 meter-deep (39.3 foot)  pipe, three air ducts and a faucet. When hot humid air is drawn into to pipe, in the cool bowels of the earth water in the air condenses, collects and flows naturally out of a faucet on the earth’s surface, says Levin. 

Levin declared that the trick is to “invent things that don’t work on electricity” that are suitable for places off-the-grid like isolated army bases and people in water-poor countries in the Third World.

Now he’s looking for an investor to scale-up his “water pump.”

* living off air, in Yiddish


Today there are more families with a copy of the Talmud in South Korea than the number of Jews in Israel, boasts the outgoing South Korean ambassador to Israel Young Sam Ma. 

How did the Talmud, translated into Korean become a best seller in Seoul?

“We tried to understand why Jews are such geniuses, and we came to the conclusion that they study the Talmud,” revealed the diplomat with candor, impressed* by the extraordinary number of Jewish Nobel prize laureates and the number of academic papers and patents authored by Israelis (second only to the US in absolute numbers, not per capita). 

As a result, millions and millions of South Koreans have taken up study of Gomorrah**, hoping some Jewish genius will rub off on South Korea’s own 49 million citizens.  (Ynet)

* Young Man himself began studying Torah as an adolescent.

** Gemorah - rabbinical analysis of and commentary on the Mishnah (a core compilation of Jewish oral law), that together make up the Talmud.


What do Israeli soldiers most fear forgetting at home when returning to base after a great weekend pass? 

The Aguda Lemaan HaChayal (the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel's Soldiers) – an NGO that seeks to ease the rigors of military life for inductees took a survey:  95 percent of all recruits said their cell phone was the most important piece of gear not to forget when returning to base. Only 78 percent feared forgetting their credit card; 71 percent their unit beret, 65 percent their dog tags and 54 percent leaving their toothbrush (e.g. personal hygiene supplies) at home.

Something missing on this list of essential gear?

Only 33 percent cited that they feared forgetting their rifles by mistake

What did personnel miss most when on base?  Sixty-two percent missed their momma’s cooking, 52 percent missed their personal computers. 


As part of Israel’s preparedness campaign in the event of all-out war, the IDF's Home Front Command not only has a program for the orderly exodus of up to 300,000 civilians from heavily-targeted areas to hotels and public buildings on the periphery.* TLC in the event of trouble includes an odd essential: money to buy pacifiers for infants and toddlers, courtesy of the IDF.

* Many others would be billeted in the homes of friends and relatives as during the Gulf War, one assumes.