The Chelm Project is a pro bono endeavor. Your donation is greatly appreciated. Your support helps balance overly conflict-driven news that warps perceptions of Israel.

Donate in Shekels


Donate in Dollars

Subscribe to our list

Email Format

Join us!

Are you a publisher or literary agent?

Click HERE

Savor Classic Oldies from 1987-2007
Click HERE

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google BookmarksSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn



Ah yes – it's that time of year again:  Passover cleaning.  But what about housekeeping the rest of the year?

According to a survey of Israeli households, half of all Israelis clean house once a week – (which includes washing tile floors 'the Israeli way').  A third clean more often, some daily. Of those who clean the house more than once a week 37 percent are low-income families - most probably DIYers; 27 percent have above-average incomes...and probably have an ozeret*... Only 19 percent bite the bullet and hit the dust when the shmutz** becomes unavoidably visible.

What do cleanliness nuts have to say for themselves?  Yediot interviewed several obsessive-compulsive cleaners.  Guy Mansharov (30), owner of a hole-in-the-wall convenience store in the Big Orange dusts every snack bar on display daily; claiming the exercise enhances the 'shopping experience,' Mansharov insists "It's more pleasurable to buy cigarettes (!) and milk when everything is sparkling clean and absolutely tidy."  And Rachel Har-Tzvi (44)?  Although married for 28 years, she admits:  "I've never done the Passover seder, What?! After cleaning for Passover? Are you nuts!'"

* ozeret:  literally "assistant."  Israeli domestics don't work on Passover – the Festival of Freedom - leaving their employees to sweep up the matzah crumbs for a solid week.

** shmutz: dirt in Yiddish



Jerusalem is not about to bow to geography or the elements; Mayor Nir Barkat contracted eight Chinese sculptors to create replicas of Jerusalem landmarks such as Jaffa Gate and the walls of the Old City, and the ironic Sir Moshe Montefiore's windmill across the vale.

Who needs facsimiles when the originals are literally set in stone a stone's-throw away??? Good question...

Well, the sculpture exhibit – that also boasts a Lion of Judah, and Noah's Ark and classic Israeli children's fables among others – are all sculpted in ice.... 

Throwing caution to the wind, the Jerusalem Ice Festival (which opened on March 8th) will run through April 30th – the Passover season marked by periodic hot 40° C (104° F). hamsin winds from the desert. But fear not: The sculptures are ensconced inside a 1,500 sq. meter* portable 'freezer' imported from Belgium that will be kept the sculptures at a safe but chilly 20° degrees below zero (minus- 4° F). 

* 16,146 sq. feet


Back in September 2011 – on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 two Israeli nationals who went to the bathroom one time too many on a five hour 45 minute coast-to-coast flight, led to F-16 fighter planes scrambling to intercept and shadow the passenger jet on the last leg of the journey. The Israeli tourists were personally escorted off the plane by air marshals due to suspicious behavior on two counts: 1. making frequent trips to the bathroom. 2. gesturing with their hands as they talked. Anyone familiar with the perpetual motion and commotion on El-Al flights knows that an Israeli cabin crew would shrug off such behavior as perfectly normal.

Alas, this was not a one-time incident. Two Israeli passengers were recently collared and escorted off a British Airlines plane by armed London air marshals for interrogation – also for suspicious behavior. The two had engaged in a non-stop political discussion throughout a long non-stop flight from Los Vegas to London – avid conversation that included "repeated condemnations of Iran."

A British Airlines official said that such utterances "were threatening and unacceptable" adding that such talk was "unsettling for the rest of the passengers."    



Most men over 60 remain safely in a state of denial regarding growing flabbiness around their middles, but Uri Barak from Upper Nazareth decided to make the best of his paunch and took up belly dancing.  

The 76 year-old  former x-ray technician said he fell in love with belly dancing seven years ago after mistakenly walking in on a belly dancing class at the local health club, and he has been attending belly dancing classes three times a week every since – the only man among 16 enrollees.

The former Argentinean revealed that even before that fateful encounter, he was already an aficionado of the Israel Broadcasting Authority's Friday afternoon Arabic flick (which wouldn't be an Arab movie without at least one belly dancing scene). While most men his age might prefer to compare themselves to a Paul Newman or Marlon Brando, Barak boasted: "If you ask me, I don't have anything to be ashamed of* compared to the women [belly] dancers in these movies."

* View the video clip and judge for yourself.


Matkot (Rackets) is a non-competitive Israeli beach sport that looks like a 'doubles game' of paddleball only without the elastic string... 

To get the hang of it, imagine playing a game of ping-pong on a patch of sand, without a net* and without a table – the object being to bat a squash ball back and forth in the air between two players for as long as possible. 

Now, the Crowne Plaza Hotel has asked Tel-Aviv city elders to move the city's only officially-sanctioned matkot 'court'* (situated back-to-back with to the beachside hotel) somewhere else – because of the racket. The pock-pock, pock-pock pock-pock, akin to a non-stop out-of-kilter metronome, is driving away tourists and dozens of guests have left angry notes saying they loved Tel-Aviv and had a genuine ball, but the matkot players just beyond their windows drove them absolutely bonkers.  

* Demarcated by a 'safety net' designed to prevent other beachgoers from getting whacked by wayward balls (an amenity that, incidentally, doesn't exist on other Israeli beaches).