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|The Winners of the 4th Annual Chelm Awards for 2012|
The 4th Annual "Chelm Awards" reveal the quirkier side of Israel
by Daniella Ashkenazy
Of course not.
We all know the most definitive events of the past year were hidden in the back pages of the Hebrew papers. These wild and wacky stories not only provide fodder for Chelm-on-theMed Online year-round. They provide the candidates for The Chelm Project's annual "Chelm Awards" for the nuttiest or most piquant Only-in-Israel stories of the past year. So who are this year's Chelm laureates?
The 2012 Chelm Awards for the Weirdest Behavior by an Israeli Politician goes to Ron Prosor for a matchless stroke of public diplomacy. When the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations discovered that his counterpart from the Ivory Coast was none other than Youssoufou Bamba, Prosor decided to cement good relations between the two nations by introducing the African diplomat to – Israel's popular peanut-flavored melt-in-your-mouth snack food of popped corn grits, telling the Ivorian that his name was “on the lips of every single child in Israel…”
Who took home Chelm's Religious Oddities Award this year? The winner for 2012 is Moshe, the gabbai (sexton) of a hole-in-the-wall synagogue in Nachlaot - a quaint and picturesque maze of narrow alleyways in the heart of Jerusalem, who hatched a unique combina (deal) that ensures he will have a minyan (prayer quorum) every morning, while demonstrating affordable housing could be just around the corner: The sexton slashed the rent in a renovated apartment building he owns just down the street, provided that occupants sign a one-of-a-kind lease promising not only to pay their rent and utility bills on time; tenants are legally obligated to rise every morning at 5:30 AM to join Moshe's minyan at the landlord's synagogue.
The Chelm Award for Chutzpa for 2012 was a tossup:
Red tape is universal, but can take some odd forms in
And speaking of odd laws, this year's Chelm Award for Landmark Legislation has nothing to do with slapping price controls on popcorn at movie theatres or attempting to ban free newspapers as undemocratic.
While the spotlight for Israeli inventiveness is usually trained on high-tech firms, the 2012 Israeli Ingenuity Award belongs to kibbutz Sdeh Nechemia, whose 'silent night sewer pipes' solve a universal irritant that plagues apartment dwellers everywhere. The pipes magically absorb the noise of flowing water so plumbing no longer conveys the news to all the neighbors every time someone somewhere in the building visits the WC – eliminating the need for laws like the one in
The 2012 Chelm Prize for Out-of-the-Box Pedagogy goes to curriculum developers at the Ministry of Education who plan to establish a statewide network of boys' choirs for third to fifth graders that the innovators believe will build healthy "male empowerment"; the pedagogues hope the glee clubs will break down macho stereotypes and combat bullying at schools, not teach the boys to sing on tune – a truly unique form of preaching to the choir.
The Chelm Award for Business Acumen has been awarded to a Bnei Brak couple who found themselves strapped for cash and decided to turn their progeny into a cash cow. Placing an ad in the ultra-orthodox newspaper Yeted Ne'eman, the unnamed couple offered to "name their fourth child after a good man" with the honor going to the highest bidder. Within days, the 'position' was filled…for an unnamed sum.
Last but not least, the Best Only-in-Israel Story goes this year to a group of fertility specialists – OB-GYNs Ronit Kochman, Ariel Horwitz and Eli Mimon. Taking Israelis’ unbridled propensity for frankness and striking up conversations with total strangers one step too far, the threesome waded into TA’s anything-goes (well, almost-anything-goes) nightlife to strike up conversations with the café and bistro crowd and tell single women over a cold beer about the possible repercussions of enjoying their carefree Thirties – sparking an uproar. Actually, the well-meaning in-your-face physicians not only wanted to remind the women that their biological clocks were ticking. They also wanted to make sure the ladies knew freezing one’s eggs in a timely fashion was included in the basket of services covered under
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