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When his mother died at age 83, Dr. Yoav Medan and his family found it impossible to sum up his mother’s life in one sentence for her tombstone.  Not one to be stumped by such an deadlock, the former IBM research executive came up with a high-tech solution – engraving a square QR code* on the gravestone that can be read by any cell phone camera, leading not only  mourners but even casual passersby to a website with her life story in words, photos and even a Passover video clip. 

Medan said the idea came to him after he published a paid obit in the daily papers with a URL and an e-mail that led readers to a memorial website to his mom, which prompted a wave of condolence letters from perfect strangers.  

* QR – quick response, a new enhanced version of the common barcode that looks like a miniature crossword puzzle – originally developed by Toyota for parts management


If one needs a sign of the strength of the Israeli economy, take a look at the fate of Israeli-style “dollar stores”: The Israeli chain HaKol bDollar (Everything for a Dollar) was forced to bend realities:  All merchandise is priced below 4,99 NIS (the exchange rate years ago), not 3.45-3.68 NIS (the actual fluctuations in the exchange rate today). 

The owner opted for occasional rows with disappointed customers in search of a bargain, since the alternative – pricing items below the actual exchange rate would have spelled rows and rows of empty shelves since 3.45 NIS is barely enough to buy a small pack of chewing gum.   


Vadim Zefzal, a young Jew from the Ukraine who came to Israel at age 18 without family – studied Hebrew for a year then joined the IDF.  Yet Zefzal found more than a bed and breakfast at Beit HaShiriyon.  He found a bride.

The now 23 year-old immigrant, who often stayed at the 180-bed facility run by the Soldiers’ Welfare Committee*  when he was on leave from his Border Patrol unit was smitten by Hadas Sha’ad.  Hadas, the new 29 year-old manager of Beit HaShiriyon initially turned down Zefzal's advances saying “he was too young.” It took a year of intermittent but intensive courting while Hadas catered to the needs of all the soldiers on leave, before the comely Yemenite administrator fell for her determined Russian suitor and said “Yes.”

* The Israeli equivalent of the USO (United Service Organizations) that provide morale, welfare and recreational services to American uniformed military personnel.


An unnamed Israeli sought to change his name in the Population Registry with a unique first:  He asked to adopt the names of ten British monarchs and royal princes that he admires: Henry, William, Philip, Charles, Fredrick, Michael, Louis, George, Edward and Robert.

The request was turned down on grounds it would “mislead the public.”   Government clerks said regulations limit the number of names one may adopt to a maximum of three.* 

Thousands of Israelis change their names every year.  Many seek to Hebraize a first or last name. Nameless others seek to adopt a new name on the advice of a rabbi, following a life-threatening incident.  

* Nobody can have more than three names except Judy Nir-Moses-Shalom, but she’s a somebody, not a nobody. See why in “Name of the Game.”


A newly-minted President’s Medal will be awarded to people who have made outstanding contributions to the State of Israel or humanity.  Those who want to suggest candidates can do so on President Shimon Peres’ website. The public panel of judges who will choose recipients will be headed by (what else) an ex-supreme court judge.

What prompt the step?  Perhaps knight vision: Back in December 2008 Chelm-on-the-Med reported how President Shimon Peres was knighted by the Queen of England Elizabeth II for his contribution to peace in the Middle East, but alas  -not being a British citizen, Peres was not entitled to use the title “Sir”…


Plan to go rafting on the Jordan?  Better hurry up.

Within three years, conservationists intend to close all boating activity on the Banyas (Snir) stream and cut back the number of kayaks on the Hatzbani (Hermon) watercourses by a third.    


It turns out that rafting and other activities along the tributaries to the Jordan River (and the closest thing to white water rafting one can find in Israel) are spawning trouble.  An every-growing number of kayaks, rubber rafts and inner tubes, operating under license on the shallow and narrow watercourses, are scaring the fish.


Family courts in Israel, like other places, often deal with parental visitation rights over kids, but what about a tug-of-war over  the family dog?

When a young Israeli couple split up, she got the dog.  But, 18 months later he filed for visitation rights. The family court ruled that since the only communal “property” the couple had acquired during three years of cohabitation was an abandoned mutt, the relationship did not constitute a common law marriage relationship.  Furthermore, the judge accepted the girl’s defense that the plaintiff was using the pooch as an excuse to meet her on a regular basis and try to patch things up.


The reception Gilad Shalit received after his release was designed to meet all contingencies: diagnostic equipment right down to an x-ray machine and mobile CT unit, a mobile shower and bathroom unit and a set of fresh clothes.  But what if Shalit was hungry?

Military planners placed a bowl full of Bamba on the table at the Tel Nof Airbase: a melt-in-the-mouth peanut-shaped peanut-flavored snack food, popular not only with Israeli kids, but the ultimate 'comfort food' among Israeli soldiers.  (In fact, immediately after crossing over into Israeli territory when asked if he had any immediate needs or requests, Gilad asked for a banana.)   

While Gilad's grandmother Yael stayed at home in the Galilee to make chicken schnitzel (another Israeli culinary icon) for her grandson, when the Shalit family finally arrived at Mitzpe Hila at dusk, Gilad Shalit had one request: "I want to eat mom's spaghetti."

Humous – another Israeli staple? 

One may safely assume that Shalit had enough of that during almost five-and-a- half years in captivity.  (Channel 10, Yediot Aharonot)