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Nothing is more annoying in Americanization of Israel commerce than retailers who advertise sweaters on sale for 49.95 NIS or chicken breasts reduced to 19.99 NIS a kilo. It’s not just that the come-on is an ‘optical illusion.’ Israel simply doesn’t have cents since the agura, a feather-light tin coin with scalloped edges - the Israeli equivalent of the penny - was phased out in 1991* when minting the coins far exceeded its monetary value. As a result, Israel still has 100 agurot to every shekel, but no coinage of less than 10 agurot, so, everyone, in essence, gets short-changed at the cash register.

            Citizen Moshe Sho’el is taking the bull by the horns, demanding the Supreme Court sit as a High Court of Justice (BAGATZ) and order the government to forbid merchandisers to advertise prices in coinage that doesn’t exist in the vaults of the Bank of Israel.  In his brief, Sho’el charges that he bought cottage cheese advertised at 5.77 NIS, paid with a ten shekel note and received 4.20 NIS in change – off by 3 agurot.

            Now it’s up the High Court of Justice to decide if the Talmudic adage din pruta k’din me’ah – in loose translation “deal with a penny as you would with a fortune,” still holds.    


* The 5 agurot coin fell to the same fate in 2008




What’s the only IDF vehicle named after a girl…at least in army slang?  

            Soldiers dubbed the light truck manufactured by International Trucks “Dana.” 


            After Israeli pop singer Dana International, a transgender powerhouse who represented Israel in the  1998 Eurovision Song Contest   where she won first place with the song ‘Diva.’




It’s hard to believe, but the first post Six Day War mitnachalim (Jewish settlers) who 45 years ago were allowed to set up house ‘temporarily’ in an army camp near Sabastia in the heart of Samaria are now pushing 70 (or more).  So are countless others who followed in their footsteps. In fact, today there are 14,500 Jewish settlers in Judea and Samaria over the age of 65, out of a population of 360,000 Israelis. 

            Controversy about the wisdom of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria rages on, but time conquers all: The settlers’ movement is planning to establish 13 retirement homes for seniors with assisted-living and nursing facilities for aging mitnachalim in places like Ariel and Beit El.




As toddlers we are taught to differentiate shapes – a square, a rectangle, a triangle, a crescent and a circle – trial and error by trying to put a square peg in a round hole.  But the Chief Rabbinate says there is no room for trial and error when individuals who keep kosher might mistakenly sunk their teeth into a savory Mediterranean pastry (börekes) filled with cheese, after eating a meat meal, or vise-versa.  

            After weighing the ‘marking’ problem at length, the Chief Rabbinate ordered all kosher bakeries to shape-code their munchies. Only börekes containing milk would be triangular-shaped - like the international icon for landmines. Parve börekes with neither milk nor meat (such as potato or spinach fillings) would have their own signature shape, set by the Rabbinate.

            The regulation that was supposed to go into effect on 7 August, was scratched by the religiously-observant Economy and Commerce Minister Naftali Bennett after manufacturers complained. The bakers said they thought the ordinance was a joke. Recalibrating equipment would be exorbitant - a genuine nightmare, they declared.




In a 55 M NIS class action against Calorid filed by a dissatisfied customer for a dietary supplement marketed as a weight loss aid, the defendants offered a ‘unique’ out-of-court settlement to dieters who said they hadn’t lost a gram: Each of Calorid’s 7,000 clients would receive a 150 NIS ($39.50) coupon to buy more of what customers view as a ‘worthless’ supplement… An investigation by Yeditot Aharonot reported that the “eat everything and lose weight” outfit was the work of an Ashdod garage owner and the company’s “chief dietician” was, in fact…a plumber by profession.




The much-celebrated Sapapa* not withstanding, Israeli youngsters under 15 are not as laid-back as they appear.  They’re overwhelmingly celibate says a WHO survey.  Israel placed 32nd out of 35 nations polled in the number of young teens having sex (18 percent, down from 28 percent in a 1998 pole) – just above the Ukraine, Poland, and Slovakia and well short of Greenland (49.8 percent) and Denmark (37.7 percent).

            It’s not solely ‘safe sex’ education in Israeli schools that has elevated fear of AIDS; experts in the field say the dread of a potential partner posting a revealing photo on Facebook is the primary driving force deflating libidos. 


* See Viva la Difference




While normally one blesses a person on his birthday saying – ad 120 (‘until 120’), the Israeli government has its own yardstick. 

            In a rather strange paid public announcement that appeared in the papers of late – alongside the ones for public tenders, homes sold at auction, lost checkbooks, and the likes, the Government of Israel informed all persons over 110 years of age that they would be wiped off the Population Registry* and presumed dead if they didn’t show some sign of life by letting authorities know within two weeks that they hadn’t kicked the bucket yet.  (Maariv, Yediot


* According to population registry statistics, there are 757 citizens over 110 years of age still on the books...