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It may not be the largest or the most weighty portfolio in the Natanyahu cabinet but it’s definitely the broadest not to mention the wordiest ministerial portfolio of the lot: Gila Gamliel (Likud) is the Jewish state’s Minister for Veteran Citizens, for Gender Equality, for Equality for Minorities and for the Advancement of Young People in Israel*…in essence, authorized to address the grievances of nearly everyone in the State of Israel, except for Jewish men between the ages of 18 and 67. 

In Hebrew, sarah lezrachim vatikim l’shivyon midgar’I, l’shivyom hami’utim oo l’kidum hatze’irim b’Israel.



If an Israeli soldier wants to grow a beard he ‘signs for a beard’ (chotem al zakan) in one of three ways: 1. by declaring he doesn’t shave on religious grounds* or proving that “a beard is an integral part of his personality”; 2. getting a medical dispensation from shaving; or 3. getting permission from an officer of the rank of lieutenant colonel or above. 

            When army authorities discovered that fifty percent of the soldiers with an exemption had received authorization not to shave by merely enlisting the brass, steps were initiated to abolish the third option.



We’ve all heard endless talk about ‘enhancing the shopping experience” but how do you really keep ‘um shopping? 

            The Superpharm drugstore chain has found the holy grail!  Providing shopping carts that will recharge smartphones to 25 percent capacity in 20 minutes flat.

            No, shoppers don’t have to keep circling the aisles to generate the juice, but Superpharm apparently figures customers will run up a charge at the cash register in any case. (Globes)

* Superpharm revealed that they recognized the need two years ago, and contracted an Israeli company, Draco, to develop the device. A thousand carts have been ensconced in 207 of the chain’s pharmacies for a start.  



Does anyone know why ‘fliers’ are called fliers? 

            Does it matter?

            Yes, if you are an Eilat vacationer who is suing her hotel for 270,000 NIS ($94,736) in damages after she slipped on a glossy pizza flyer in the hallway to her room, sustaining injuries that two months later required surgery to mend a torn ligament in her shoulder.

            That was back in 2012, but the plaintiff hasn’t returned to work since the incident. In fact, she’s convinced that the hotel chain should not only shoulder the damage (10 percent disability set by a medical expert)…but also pay her for loss of earning power to boot. For life.

            The hotel shrugged their shoulders at the sweeping charge, retorting that it was not humanly impossible to prevent tourist-related establishments in a resort spot like Eilat from distributing fliers - short of putting the hotel on lock-down status.  Nor could staff shadow every single guest, should one, perchance, drop a slick pizza flyer in the hallway capable of sending another unwary guest flying.

            The courts still have to rule in the case.  



Usually when trains grind to a halt in Israel it’s because a locomotive has ‘run out of steam’ – figuratively speaking* or passengers have been railroaded by a wildcat strike by disgruntled employees.  Yet, recently it was police who stopped traffic on a section of the busy coastal railroad line for a full hour after a 150 mm First World War vintage artillery shell was unearthed close to the tracks near kibbutz Yakum - apparently from the September 1918 Battle of the Sharon between British and Ottoman Turk forces, if one knows one’s history.

* See Chelm’s February 2014 piece on the “Little Engine that Couldn’t Chug



Cambridge scholars ranked Israel ninth as a country that consumes “healthy food.”

            The down side is that the other countries from first place down to eight are Third World countries in Africa: Chad took first place  - one of the poorest countries on the face of the earth, ravaged by malnutrition where most people can’t afford anything but vegetables and legumes…but where life expectancy is 50 for males and 53 for females.** Chad was followed by Sierra Leone, Mali, Gambia, Angola, Ghana, the ivory Coast and Senegal…raising some serious questions about the research design and making the Cambridge  fellows a shoe-in for an Ig Nobel Prize.    

*   no doubt, thanks to Israeli salads as well.

** in Israel, 80.2 for men and 83.8 for women



Most kids’ lives are documented with dozens if not hundreds of photos from the moment they pop into the world ‘til they leave the hospital, however, adopted children often grow up with a blank when it comes to their first days or weeks or months of life. Not any longer…at least not at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon.

            Staff have come to the rescue of babies abandoned by parents after birth or taken by child welfare authorities - filling in the blanks before they appear. The initiative began spontaneously with three infants born to drug addicts; staff put together photo albums during the months the newborns were being weaned off narcotics. The head of department Dr. David Kohelet served as photographer.* 

            That was two years ago.  Since then the ‘My First Album initiative’ has expanded to provide photo albums for some 40 to 50 infants abandoned by their biological parents who were adopted within several weeks of birth – documentation that always culminates in a group photo of staff and the adoptive parents on that landmark day when the adopted infant goes home. Wolfson social worker Tzila Viedburg who knows each child intimately adds personal captions to each photo.

            The Ministry of Welfare plans to encourage all the hospitals in Israel to follow suit.      

* Since then, professional photographers, graphic designers and printing houses who learned of the initiative have stepped forward to volunteer their services.



Jewish mother syndrome took an incredible twist during the July-August 2014 Protective Edge campaign.

            An unnamed Latin American diplomat with exceptionally warm ties with Israelis who once told her fellow diplomats that ‘she felt she was not only an ambassador of her country in Israel but also an ambassador for Israel in her country’ found herself between a rock and a hard place during last summer’s Gaza War.

            The veteran career diplomat was ‘summoned home for consultations’ as a expression of her country’s displeasure with Israel’s conduct during the Gaza War…forcing her not only to spend six weeks fiddling her thumbs, but also gritting her teeth. 


            Her son - who had gone to high school in Israel and stayed to join the IDF - was participating in the campaign.   

Who wasn’t phased at all by last-year’s war? The dairy herds in the kibbutzim Ein HaSlosha, Saad and Carmia bordering Gaza who just took first place in milk production in Israel out of 510 dairy farms – despite the war (14,896 liters per annum in Ein HaSlosha, 14,693 liter in Saad and 14,364 in Carmia) – no small part due to the dairy crews, not just the stalwart cows, continuing to milk the cows on schedule regardless of constant mortar fire.