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When Palestinians in Gaza again began lobbing Grad rockets at Israeli cities in the south, the timing couldn't have been worse for those who reserved wedding halls in Ashkelon and Ashdod for the second week in March.  But not only must the show go on; in Jewish tradition it's bad luck to cancel a wedding. 

When homeland security brass gave the green light for gatherings of less than 500 people in one place – in spite of Red Alerts, Mor and Ma'or Karadi went on with their Ashkelon wedding as planned, and Noam and Chagit Blau held their nuptials in the heart of Ashdod, unfazed.

The foursome got quite a bang for their bucks: The usual bells and whistles ordered for the two celebrations were augmented by the repeated wail of sirens and the sound of Grad rockets being shot out of the sky over Ashkelon and Ashdod by Israel's Iron Dome system* - like some sort of improvisation on the climatic volley of cannon fire in the closing bars of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.


The Hebrew papers publish several pages of rather pricy* 2.5" and larger personal paid black-bordered death notices placed by bereaved families noting the time of the funeral and where the family is sitting shiva, along side condolence ads placed by close friends and work colleagues ("the administration, faculty and students" or "from your friends at Channel 2").

One can't help but notice that some notices have undergone a small but significant deviation from normal protocol in citing close family members as the mourning family. The death notice for 97-year old Major General (res.) Shmuel Tankus was placed by "the loving family and caretaker Willy." A notice on the next page not only listed the names of the late Frieda Berger's two children, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren; it also included "caretaker Lana" among the bereaved – reflecting the emotional bond oft forged  between such Pilipino or Nepalese au pairs and their ailing employees – making these unsung heroes indeed, "family" worthy of an honorable menschen.    

* 990 NIS ($300) and up. (Most people have similar ads posted for a modest fee in the neighborhood and at the deceased's place of employment.)

** In Israel one can legally 'import' ('for the duration') a specific caretaker to serve as a live-in au pair for a disabled or elderly family member. Not only is the cost affordable; such an arrangement allows countless ailing seniors to remain in their own homes or assisted-living in their declining years, without a 'revolving-door' of agency health aides so common elsewhere.


Two dozen public-spirited Generation Yers from Tel Aviv banded together to form a task force that does good deeds.  Rather than just having a roaring good time, Ze-Ze* engage in 'fixing up society' in their spare time – in an ad hoc way, whenever the spirit moves them.

One of the gang's first projects was to gather together... literally off the pavement, twelve of the best Russian street musicians in Tel-Aviv who had somehow fallen between the cracks. The young adults, using their street smarts and connections, arranged a conductor, organized a place to rehearse, and got the musicians their first gig: a gala classical concert at the prestigious 500-seat Reading 3 Music Hall in north Tel Aviv, at 80 NIS ($21.60) a ticket.

The organizers hope the exposure (and the seed money from the concert) will allow members of the Israel Street Philharmonic to get off the street and begin "to work as a team in an orchestra that fits their talent."

Actually, the twelve musicians who came in from the cold aren't bitter at all: Israeli pedestrians are an appreciative audience, opening their hearts and their wallets, says Valeri Tabrovsky... "particularly when it's raining," stressed the 53 year-old cornet player from Siberia. . 

* Literally – "That's It"


What are Hebrew University researchers up to? 

An exhibit - Inventors Way - that opened on March 14th 2012 on the Mount Scopus campus in Jerusalem to mark International Science Day celebrates the faculty's outstanding contributions to humanity. Applied research breakthroughs range from a pharmaceutical dreamed up by Professors Yechezkel Barenholz and Alberto Gabizon used to treat four different types of cancer – now manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, to a food enhancer developed by Professor Nissim Gerty that not only increases the shelf life of bread; it stretches the time Bazooka chewing gum will keep its flavor.


When Natanel Mas'ud, a resident of Tzfat, threw his line into the Jordan River he hoped to catch some buri (flathead mullet) or musht (St. Peter's Fish) but found himself eyeball-to-eyeball with an honest-to-goodness sturgeon Instead.

Where had the Russian species come from? 

It's clear that the fish probably originated further upstream in Kibbutz Dan's fish ponds on the Lebanese Border where sturgeon are raised in closed fish ponds to make caviar. Yet, the mystery remains:  Just how did the sturgeon sneak away and get to the Dan – one of the tributaries to the Jordan.  Did he jump out of the crowded pond in sheer desperation and hightail it to the river just to get a bit of peace and quiet?  Did the young fish jump for his life on the way to the processing plant before being turned into a tin of caviar? Ah-hah! The perfect beginning for a best-selling picture book (by Yours Truly?) Rafi - The Runaway Fish that Didn't Want to Be Turned into Russian Caviar