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In January 22 elections, out of 33 parties that ran, only 12 made it home to the House.*  Among the 'also ran for office' were a host of what a columnist in the Times of Israel aptly labeled "novelty parties." Incredibly, the mélange of unhinged social tinkerers and economic eccentrics, religious astronauts and secular potheads, tree-huggers and a pirate or two, as well as a sprinkling of splinters from veteran parties were able to attract close to a quarter of a million (247,967) 'wasted votes' out 3,793,246 valid* ballots cast, that got 'lost in the shuffle'  – an interesting reversal on ballot stuffing.


* another 40,000 were invalid (two slips of paper, a blank ballots, empty envelope and so forth.)





Who says it sounds better in Yiddish?

            There are four hundred Yiddish language students at Bar-Ilan University, 25 percent of whom are…Arab students. 

            "My dream is to read Shalom Alechem's Tevya and his Daughters (of Fiddler on the Roof fame) in the original, says Yusuf Alakili (50) from Kfar Kasem, presently earning a Master's in Hebrew literature. Another enrollee, Salam Bashara who just finished his undergraduate degree in Arabic literature says Yiddish tales of loss and tribulation have universal appeal; the 22 year-old student from the township Tira revealed he hopes to devote his master's thesis in comparative literature to parallels between Arabic and Yiddish literature. But, a female Arab student who fell in love with Yiddish confided in the program head there are red lines to this odd love affair: Like Tevya – devastated when one of his daughters married a goy* -- she revealed "her father would also 'sit shiva'** for her…if she fell in love with a Jew…"


*   a non-Jew.

** sit shiva – a Jewish practice of seven (shivah) days of mourning 




Ariel Street in Romema became an illegal shortcut for motorists after the Jerusalem municipality changed the direction of one-way traffic. For months, vehicles of all kinds began barreling down the narrow street in the 'wrong direction' when nobody was looking…well, almost nobody.

            An epidemic of head-on collisions and countless close encounters with pedestrians and other vehicles – including one fatality, led residents to take the law into their own hands in a unique way: A little-known clause on the law books allows any citizen to initiate a moving violation citation on a special form that can be downloaded from the Jerusalem police website.

            Armed with digital cameras, Rachel Gvertiz and a group of lady friends who all live on Ariel Street set up a unique 'neighborhood watch.' The vigilantes captured hundreds and hundreds of offenders in the act – sometimes four an hour, and even three in the course of ten minutes ignoring clearly posted DO NOT ENTER signs, Gvertiz revealed. The incriminating evidence, accompanied by a signed affidavit by the paparazzi witness was then sent to authorities for processing.*

            Motorists quickly got the message.**


* Called a 'white report' because police have to fill in the name of the vehicle owner based on the license plate and send the moving violation to the owner's address, 


** Most preferred to pay the hefty 500 NIS ($125) fine; six drivers who decided to contest the ticket in traffic court were all quickly convicted on the strength of testimony under oath by the neighborhood witness. 



An El-Al pilot was dragged over the carpet after he told passengers on a Marseilles-bound aircraft "Contrary to what you've heard – I'm not sick.  The fact is, I'm flying you and I apologize in advance for any disruptions." 

            What sparked the unsettling incident:  Two previous flights where air crew 'called in sick' at the last moment during a minor labor dispute, forcing El-Al to cancel the flights…or so the company claimed, while the pilots shot back that the move was a ploy and there were plenty of spare pilots in the wings.




How many people have searched high and low only to find their car keys or their cell phone hiding in the frig or the freezer with the chicken breasts.  Thus, Sara Lobser (21) a new immigrant from the USA wasn't the first person nor the last to misplace her wallet, but searching high and low, the wallet was nowhere to be found. 

            No wonder. Unknowingly the clueless young lady had mistakenly thrown it in with the goodies she packed to be sent by the Soldiers' Welfare Fund to an unknown solider during Operation Pillar of Defense.

            Sure enough, a solider foraging for his favorite comfort food among the pile of packages his unit had received discovered the wayward wallet and returned it – totally unexpected, along with the pro forma thank you note that she anxiously awaited.


* Two decades ago, when my daughter Efrat was an adolescent, she sent a similar care package via her high school; like her girlfriends, she dreamed of getting a thank you note in return from a cute young recruit and was crestfallen to learn that lo and behold (Israel's a small country) the random recipient of her package was her uncle...