The Chelm Project is a pro bono endeavor. Your donation is greatly appreciated. Your support helps balance overly conflict-driven news that warps perceptions of Israel.

Donate in Shekels


Donate in Dollars

Subscribe to our list

Email Format

Join us!

Are you a publisher or literary agent?

Click HERE

Savor Classic Oldies from 1987-2007
Click HERE

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google BookmarksSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn



YES!  My favorite Chelm story of all times - In the Dark - about the IDF draftee who was afraid of the dark and called his mom to sneak into boot camp and accompany him whenever he drew night guard duty… It isn’t merely a weird blip on the radar!  

            A 19 year-old IDF female soldier – identified only as ‘Shin’ - called her dad four months into the draftee’s army duty to tell him she’d been assigned a month’s guard duty: “I’m afraid of the dark. Come guard me while I’m on guard duty.”

            So for a solid month, the father – identified only as Corporal (res.) Nissim moonlighted after his day job, standing guard just outside the base on the outskirts of Afula between 6 and 10 PM (out of uniform, he stressed) while his daughter stood guard at the entrance. At the end of Shin’s ‘tour of duty’, at the bushed father’s request, her commanding officer arranged for a transfer to the kitchen detail. But within days the draftee was reassigned to guard duty – with another girl soldier, who as fate would have it, was also afraid of the dark... Nissim said his daughter had initially been told she would be posted as a clerk. He declared he’d continue his vigil as long as necessary, saying: “I have no choice. It’s very important to me that she complete her service as I did; I’m against her going AWOL or deserting. I want her to serve the country.”

            The IDF Spokesperson said the case was under review with the base commander…to make Shin’s service conditions more accommodating to her needs. (Yediot) Photo credit: photo published by the family


* on cold nights, the officer on duty allowed Nissim to join his daughter in the checkpoint booth. Did other soldiers on the base deride her? No, the other girls were envious!



What was the weirdest Purim costume in 2017?

            A couple in their early 40s, Galit and Ofer Mordechi, thought they’d nailed down first prize for originality at a private Purim party held by their chevre (group of friends).  But, the ghoulish costume (more suited to the spirit of Halloween than Purim) - Ofer arriving at the party lying on a stretcher covered with a tallis* with Galit decked out in mourning and carrying a black umbrella - failed to amuse shocked friends…

            A Coca Cola machine walked off with first prize. (YediotPhoto credit: Tal Mordechai


* Prayer shawl. According to Jewish custom, the body of the deceased is wrapped in a shroud covered with a tallis – in most places in Israel, without a coffin – transported to the burial site on a wheeled stretcher.



Passover in Israel is always marked by a host of ‘buy such-and-such - receive such-and-such for free’ campaigns, from foodstuffs to furniture and appliances.* 

            Truly the strangest this year was a full page ad in the dailies: buy a kolnonit – a battery-powered senior mobility cart from kibbutz Afikim…and receive for free a 3,985 NIS (+$1,000) value battery-powered Apollo moped for the grandkid who finds the afikomen**.  (Yediot) Photo credit: The Afikim Afikomen ad in Yediot


* in a classic ‘gem’ of yesteryear, a ready-made salad maker and an appliance chain joined forces offering ‘buy four 500 gram containers of our brand of humous/tchina/egg plant salad and be eligible to buy a major home appliance (a washing machine, cooktop or built-in oven),,,or all three for 6 kilo of salads at half price.


** for a definition of the role of the afikomen in the Passover seder, see THIS.



Google Israel monitored queries among Israeli surfers a month before Passover tied to the keyword/string “[how to] clean …”  The highest number of search requests went to the question “how to clean Blundstone* footwear” -  signature Tasmania Australia work boots (founded 1870)  that come with a lifetime guarantee for workmanship.


Other specific items that perplexed Israeli Jews prior to Passover included how to remove chametz (leavening) from a shofer (ram’s horn) and render it squeaky clean… (Yediot) Photo credit:  Blundstone website



It has nothing to do with a sudden rise in religiosity; only the power of the purse (think ‘big families’ with huge food bills) and extended shopping hours…and perhaps the spread of gender equality (i.e. more men doing the grocery shopping): Three major Israeli supermarket chains – Rami Levi, Yochananoff and Yeinot Betan – are adding a unique ‘department’ for religiously-observant male shoppers*: an in-house synagogue that ‘keeps customers on-site at peak hours…even drawing-in shoppers from other stores in the shopping center – particularly for maariv (dusk) services.*  Each synagogue comes with a 100-200,000 NIS price tag. (Yediot) Photo credit: a Rami Levi supermarket synagogue in Beit Shemesh –


* Men are required to pray three times a day – morning (shacharit)*, afternoon (mincha) and before dusk (maariv). Up until now, Israeli shoppers in some areas have been used to public address system at some malls and chains announcing ad-hoc minyans (prayer quorums) being formed at the back of a store. The new synagogues also serve store staff.



And speaking of weird venues. Where did Pazit Chai give birth to her fourth child – a girl after three boys?

            In a Ramat Gan pharmacy.

            Luckily Tal Bernstein – a certified first responder for the Red Magan David was on duty when the customer was struck by labor pains…at Bernstein’s ‘day job’ at the Superpharm cosmetics department. Even before an ambulance could arrive,
Chai gave birth - behind-the-counter of the pharmacy in the pharmacists’ consulting room.

            Did Superpharm give the baby Superpharm Lifestyle brand products for life?* Nope, but they did give the tough customer a nice baby gift. (Yediot) Photo credit: Yediot – Yossi Zelger    


* a child born mid-flight is considered to have been born in the country that the airline is registered, but it’s a myth all children born in-flight get free tickets for life…



There is talk that Hamas may try to prevent Israel completing the subterranean barrier on the border with Gaza this summer, designed to combat terror tunnels, by launching a preemptive war with Israel. Should this remote possibility prove correct, Israelis will no longer have to “looking for the jingee (redhead) with the key” as one says in Hebrew (in this case, the municipal worker with the key to the local shelter) in the event of surprise attacks:             Multilock – a leading Israeli lock manufacturer - has developed a system that will allow local governing councils to unlock public shelters, kindergartens and other public buildings in a flash – remotely from local emergency command posts. The system is also equipped with motion sensors*, a distress button and intercom. (Yidiot) Photo credit: Mulilock


* many shelters double as clubhouses, synagogues, etc. and motion sensors combat vandalism, theft and unauthorized use.