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Israel’s are used to sandstorms from North Africa as a spring and fall ritual, but a freak dust storm that cut visibility to a minimum and ‘painted’ the White City* yellow five days before Rosh Hashanah, came from…Syria

            Even before the dust settled (the day before Rosh Hashanah) climatologist Professor Danny Rosenfeld was explaining that the strange phenomenon – a first since meteorological records began to be taken 75 years ago – wasn’t due only to which way the wind blew. It was probably tied to the war in Syria, surmised the TAU academic: Untilled fields abandoned by farmers fleeing from ISIS, left fields exposed to the winds, while the wheels of thousands and thousands of ISIS pickup trucks were pulverizing the crust of the fragile desert floor. If that wasn’t enough, ‘neighborly’ Turks are exacerbated dustbowl conditions by blocking irrigation water from the Euphrates earmarked for Syria and hogging the water for themselves, he charged. (Israel HaYom, Channel 10 – London and Kirshenbaum 8 Sept) 

* Ha’ir HaLevanah or Tel Aviv



Ruti Chai is a yoga laughter therapist whose clientele are mostly cancer patients. In thirteen years at Shiba Medical Center she has gotten some very strange and unforgettable requests for her very special form of comic relief.   

            In one case, a former patient who had attended one of her laughter yoga clinic requested that on the first anniversary of her death (yortzite) her close friends hold a yoga laughter session with Chai in her memory, basically to celebrate her life. In another case, a dying patient requested that her laughter yoga teacher sing at her funeral. Another asked that Chai lead one rousing round of laughter during the family’s shiva (seven days of mourning).  (Yediot)



What are the requirements for approval of a driver’s license for a truck weighing more than 12 tons? 

            In light of the disproportional number of heavy trucks involved in road accidents  (such trucks constitute 10 percent of the vehicles on the road but are involved in 30 percent of all accidents with fatalities) authorities sought to establish some kind of screening process to weed out questionable individuals who might constitute a jeopardy to road safety.

            The Road Safety Council put the screening process in the hands of health authorities… All  hell broke loose when the latter began administering candidates a battery of tests that health officials said were “conventional psychological profiles for risk evaluation” which included questions such as ‘Did you every wish you were a woman?” and told applicants to answer ‘Yes or No’  to statements such as “I never allowed myself to enjoy kinky sexual behavior”…with nary a question about how the subject would respond if the boss pressured them to work 14 to 18-hour shifts behind the wheel due to a shortage of drivers. (Yediot)



The Ecoland Group – the baby of a patent developer and two budding building contractor - has plunked down 16 M NIS (about $4 M) to buy an empty 164 dunam (41 acre) Finish island called Petajasaari in the middle of nowhere (Parallel 61 N. if you must know).

            The Group plans to build forty 40-to-60 square-meter ecologically-sound off-the-grid housing units that will be sold exclusively (!) to Israelis…perhaps the reason the project promises not only to boast a club house, a small grocery/eatery and a playground…but also “a place where all the community can gather.”* when they’re not communing with nature or taking in the Northern Lights.  

            The entrepreneurs behind the project claim to have already sold 12 $100,000 units. Probably not emphasized in the promotional brochures, most of the year the area is only accessible by snowmobile. BTW: The regional bird is the cuckoo bird. (Yediot)

* I think elsewhere in the Diaspora they call such a place a synagogue, but apparently that’s not the intention…



Tal and Uriyah bought an old house in picturesque Ein Karem, on the edge of Jerusalem. The property came with a unique ‘unfinished basement’ not listed when the property came up for sale: When a worker began renovating their new abode, floor tiles in the living room dropped from sight into what seemed to be a bottomless pit. The new owners inserted a wooden trap door in the middle of their newly stone-tiled living room – disguised under a decorate rug and a chair and remained mum. 

            But uncertainty of what actually lay below caused Tal sleepless nights until the couple decided to call the Antiquities Authority although they were “worried about the consequences.”*

            Archeologists who excavated the site uncovered a 2,000 year-old 1.8 meter-deep Jewish ritual bath or mikvah carved into the rock below the Israeli couple’s new digs – the first evidence that Ein Karem was not just the birthplace of John the Baptist; apparently the village also housed a thriving Jewish community dating back to Second Temple times.

            The excavation left the family with a living room sporting its very own vintage ‘jacuzzi’ (see the video) since it turns out that in the winter the mikvah fills with ground water that needs to be pumped out. The one downside to their unique living room ‘conversation piece’: It’s only accessible via a long aluminum ladder that must be lowered into the hole, to reach the staircase leading down into the 3.4 x 2.5 meter immersion pool. (Ynet)

* In Israel, according to the letter of the law, property owners are supposed to foot the bill for ‘emergency excavation’ of archeological findings discovered on private property leading to some truly nightmarish situation in the past. (photo courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority, Asaf Peretz)


Speak of a narrow agenda! In a unique case of discriminating tastes, a Norwegian documentary film festival entitled 'Human Rights - Human Wrongs' sent a rejection letter to an Israeli filmmaker who submitted for consideration his short award-winning doco The Other Dreamers about the challenges facing exceptional children in Israel and their dreams, including Jewish and Arab kids, explaining to producer Roy Zafrani without so much as blushing: “Dear Roy. I’m sorry but we can’t show this film. We support the academic and cultural boycott of Israel so unless the [documentary] films are about…discrimination of Palestinians, we can’t show them.” (Yediot, the American Jewish Congress)