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In 1953, a 7.3 earthquake devastated the Greek island of Kefalonia, killing 600 persons.  Within 24 hours, a fleet of four Israeli navy vessels on a training exercise in the Aegean, anchored their ships at Kefalonia and pitched in, saving countless people buried in the rubble, and transporting 300 badly injured by boat to a hospital. The residents never forgot and in gratitude named the main street “Israel.”

            Recently Kafalonia commemorated the 60th anniversary of the miraculous arrival of the Israeli sailors ‘out of the blue’ in their hour of need, with Israeli ambassador to Greece Areh Mekel present.

            According to Israeli diplomat David Saranga (whose father was one of the sailors) back in 1953 a pregnant woman who gave birth on one of the ships, named her son Mivtachus after the vessel that came to her rescue: the Israeli frigate Mivtach. The Israeli diplomatic corps in Greece and the former Israeli sailors – now in their 80s and 90s – are searching for 60-year old Mivtachus to offer him a free tour of Israel. 


* Thirty-thousand Kefalonians hope Israeli tourists will get the message that they welcome Israelis with open arms, and make the island the destination of their next vacation.    




The 400 year-old Druze village Beit Jann at the foot of Mount Meron just placed third among 135 Israeli communities with over 10,000 inhabitants, ranked for the highest number of high school seniors passing their matriculation exams in 2012: 85.46 percent in Beit Jann – just behind the affluent Jewish bedroom communities Kochav Yair (90.17 percent)  and Shoham (88.16 percent). In the year 2000 only 12 percent of Beit Jann’s youth passed their matric.   

            What happened?

            The teachers are the same teachers, but it took more than a ‘Yes, we can!’ attitude on the part of the staff. The key to success is a change of attitude – encouraging students to embrace “a western mindset, without losing an eastern heart,” said school principal Ali S’lalcha.  The principal spilled the beans, revealing that in 2013 Beit Jann will outshine Kochav Yair and Shoham and take first place; all 188 of the seniors in the Beit Jann Comprehensive High School passed their matric this summer! 

            Mission completed?  Nope. 

            With a thousand college grads over the past decade out of a population of 11,000 inhabitants, S’lalcha has set his sights on Beit Jann’s bagging a Nobel in physics or chemistry. (Channel 10, Yediot)


* In Tel Aviv-Jaffa only 73.68 percent qualify for a full matriculation.



Thousands of Israelis with smart phones thought the SMS they received from their service providers saying they should “temporarily change their time zone to Athens”* (instead of Jerusalem) was a joke; in fact, this was the only way to rectify an only-in-Israel computer bug: The strange maneuver (to avoid having to inactivate automatic time updates) was necessary because authorities moved the end of daylight saving time in Israel from September 8th to October 27th on short notice, after the ultra-Orthodox SHAS party lost the Ministry of Interior portfolio* and before service providers could update their systems. Thus thousands of smart phone users got up an hour late because their cell phones erroneously rolled over to the ‘winter clock’ in the wee hours of September 8th.

            Alas, not only countless citizens were caught off guard because they disregarded the alert; adding to the confusion, even the Bezeq telephone company’s ‘talking clock’ gave the wrong time to callers seeking the correct time!


* Which for decades, arbitrarily ended daylight saving time just before Yom Kippur to ‘ease the fast,’ causing a serious waste in energy consumption.



Just before the High Holidays, Shlomo Avni (83) finally got the green light to depart by ‘doing it his way.’
            The Israeli Supreme Court – which rejected Avni’s 2009 plea to have his body tossed into a field on the Golan Heights to be eaten as carrion after his death to repay a debt to nature after a lifetime at the top of the food chain - finally relented and approved the crusty octogenarian’s demand that the State of Israel recognize and officially approve his right to be tossed into the Med to serve as “food for one of God’s creatures” after he dies.

            The ruling rejected the objections of the country’s Sea & Shore Authority that allowing him to do so would be contrary to the Barcelona Convention to Protect the Mediterranean to which Israel is a signatory. The High Court did stipulated, however, that Avni’s son must bury his father at sea at least 22 kilometers off-shore – beyond the territorial waters of the State of Israel.  



We all know how hard it is to part with our cell phones even when going to the john…

            Yigal Sokrofa’s family decided to spend the four-day day Rosh Hashana holiday camping on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.  But, instead of keeping close to camp, on Thursday evening, the 27-year old set his blow-up air mattress in the lake to relax a bit , but within minutes found himself floating a full kilometer out in the drink without a paddle. . 

            Luckily, Sokrofa had naturally taken his trusty (and apparently waterproof) cell phone with him. He called his wife, who called the cops. The lost mariner turned his cell phone monitor into a beacon successfully alerting  his lifesaver of his whereabouts – beach manager Aharon Ben-Na’im (57)  who went looking for him on a chasika*. .

            Surely some bright light ought to be able to make a killing tweaking a suitable app that would broadcast SOS in Morse code (and other life-saving messages) in emergency situations.

            Oh dear, someone already has…  (Israel Hayom)


* chasika: a 1930s-vintage hollow one-man float made of wood or fiberglass with an ‘stretched’ kayak paddle  – a cross between an inner tube, a surfboard, a kayak and a flat Arab fishing ‘boat’ - used by Israeli lifeguards on the beach to this day.