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Everyone and his brother is looking for the golden key to affordable housing, but few can beat the out-of-the-box scheme dreamed up by an elderly Jerusalemite named Moshe...well before demonstrations protesting high price of living broke out. 

Moshe, was the gabai* of a small synagogue in Nachlaot - a quaint and picturesque maze of narrow alleyways in the heart of Jerusalem.  He was also the landlord of a vintage stone-faced building farther up the street. 

A search for a foolproof way of ensuring Moshe would have a minyan (prayer quorum) every morning for public prayer gave way to a unique combina (deal):   The gabai offered to rent out rooms in his renovated apartment building to young men, charging 500 NIS a month for rent...but there were strings attached: Tenants – who normally would shell out at least triple that amount for a room in Nachlaot – were required to sign a rental contract in which they not only promised to pay their rent and utility bills on time.  Each of the building residents was legally obligated to rise every morning at 5:30 AM to join Moshe's minyan at the landlord's synagogue down the street – a truly groundbreaking concept in time-sharing. 

* gabai: beadle

** A win-win solution for all comers, when the landlord passed away, the new owner decided to continue the tradition of cut-rate rent in exchange for prayer attendance in homage to Moshe's memory.


Everyone knows kids under the age of three will put anything in their mouths.  More than one baby has been found happily chewing on the contents of a full diaper given the chance, but Imad Aleeyan from the Arab town of Shfar'am east of Haifa, undoubtedly takes the prize for gross munchies. 

When his mother Ghadir walked into her son's room bright one morning armed with a nice bottle of warm milk she found the already-hungry 18 month-old toddler chewing on...a 30 centimeter*-long snake, which was hanging out of his mouth like a motley shoelace. 

She nearly died of fright. A neighbor who came running to the rescue managed to pry the kid's mouth open, but he didn't have to kill the snake. The toddler – who had only cut four teeth – had already bitten its head clean off!

Luckily for the Aleeyans, the less-fortunate baby snake was a "harmless" Coluber nummifer** - not a look-alike poisonous viper.

* foot-long

** Zaafon matbe'ot in Hebrew


In order to reduce congestion on Sunday morning trains (the first day of the work week in Israel) Israel Railways concocted an alternative plan with the IDF for hoards of soldiers commuting to their bases after weekend leave. The army could save a pretty penny by chartering pokey buses during peak hours for IDF personnel (who don't pay for buses and trains) – leaving rush hour trains for civilian commuters. 

Were commuters thrilled?  Not by a long shot!

Far from a win-win solution, the better part of the civilian population was up in arms.  Editorials and op-eds abounded; demonstrations and other protests followed. One particularly livid citizen - owner of the Greg Café chain Yair Malka - angered that only soldiers from well-to-do homes could afford rush-hour tickets out-of-pocket, sent his waiters to hand-out $8 one-way tickets from Haifa to Tel-Aviv to hundreds of soldiers, calling on other chains to follow suit. The head of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee (ex Chief-of-Staff  Shaul Mofaz) put on the screws, declaring the IDF wouldn't get a red cent until the army coughed up the 20 million NIS ($5.4 M) subsidy to get railroaded soldiers back on the fast track.


For years, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga were political adversaries, until fate threw the two together.  Well perhaps not exactly fate but certainly some fancy diplomatic juggling.

Both heads of state scheduled state visits to Israel on the same dates. Fearing the African leaders would both cancel if they got wind who else was blowing into town, Israeli diplomats kept mum.

Once the two Africans were settled in their respective hotels at a discrete distance from one another, Israel’s ambassador to Kenya Gil Haskel broke the potentially unsettling news.  In a bit of shuttle diplomacy, Haskel delicately asked each if they were willing to meet the other to patch things up. With diplomatic aplomb both men politely agreed…and within a jiffy found themselves in a hotel lobby deep in conversation over East African affairs and the crisis in Somalia.

The Kenyan leader crowned the historic meeting that broke the ice - "the Holy Land Summit."


Can there be more than one version of the iconic "talking sabra"* cactus in puppetland?

The Center for Educational Television is taking the Olympic Committee of Israel to court for designing a mascot for Israel's top athletes that television authorities charge is a look-alike of Kishkashta* - the iconic green hand puppet who starred in the unforgettable and much-loved children's program Ma Pit'om** that ran for 15 years beginning from the mid-1970s – a persona as emblematic of Israel as Mickey Mouse is of America.

Educational Television doesn't object to Kishkashta becoming Israel's Olympic mascot for the 2012 London Olympics in exchange for a modest franchise license fee; they strongly object to staging a poor and pointless imitation of Kishkashta called Shpitzik.  (Globes, Yediot)

* sabra: the term for native-born Israelis, named after the prickly pear cactus or tzabar in Hebrew who it's claimed, is prickly on the exterior and sweet on the inside.

** loosely translated: Jabber Box

*** For a translation of the title – Ma Pit'om, a slang idiom - see THIS