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May 1 was Yom HaYikaron - Israel’s Memorial Day marked a day before Israel’s 69th Independence Day.

            As Chelm has noted time and again, Israelis have a host of life-embracing forms of commemorating the dead – from printing up a recipe book of the deceased favorite dishes, to turning an unused wedding dress into a chupah. Yet, the most prevalent form of memorialization is to name an infant after a close or cherished individual. 

            So far 102 babies have been named after Major Degan Wortman since he was killed-in-action during the 2009 Cast Lead campaign, before Degan himself could marry and raise a family. (NRG – Maariv) Photo credit: a family photo


* The above video was made in 2015 when there were 80 children named after Dagan.



Reason for optimism?  Israel rocks!

            The Jewish state may be located in an increasingly destabilized Middle East as we Israelis celebrate our 69th year of independence, but the business and market website Bloomberg has ranked Israel the world’s 3rd most stable economy after Hong Kong and South Korea and before Denmark and Taiwan.(Israel HaYom)




Thirty-five percent of Israelis living in Tel Aviv believe higher education will ease finding a job and 35 percent dream of working in technology and information technologies, but those ‘walking the talk’ in growing numbers are Israeli Arab students: a whopping 25 percent of the enrollees in computer science on Israeli campuses are Arabs.

            Sami Saadi – founder and head of Tsofen – an NGO that  promotes integration of Israel’s Arab citizens into the hi-tech sector (encouraging students to enroll, honing graduates marketable skills, tweaking CVs, rehearsing how to handle oneself in job interviews, etc.) says “The Arab mother understands  [a son who will become] a doctor* is great, but high-tech is even better…”*

            Saadi not only expects more Jewish startups will be employing such graduates; he expects the next ‘silicon wadi’ to emerge will be in the Arab-dominated ‘Wadi Ara Triangle’…or the Galilee village-turned-town Arraba (p. 25,000) which already has 6 doctors per thousand population -  the highest ratio in the world …producing between 25 and 30 new doctors each and every year. (Yediot, CalcalistPhoto credit: Computer Sciences logo – Technion website


* Eleven percent of Israel’s doctors, 38 percent of all pharmacists and 14 percent of the nurses are Israeli Arabs.



Erroneously throwing out valuables, priceless memorabilia or wads of cash – at time retrieved after rummaging through mountains of smelly garbage, are common ‘fodder’ for odd news sites (including Chelm, see Dumpster Diving), but the careless party in the following news item is unique: A packet containing 50,000 Euro (200,000 NIS) fell into a trash compactor at a Bank Leumi branch in Tel-Aviv (‘due to human error’ according to a bank spokesperson).

            Bank employees only discovered the loss the next morning in an audit, long after a municipal garbage truck had collected the bank’s trash and taken off for Hariya on the outskirts of the Big Orange.

            Luckily for Bank Leumi, Hariya is no longer a dump (‘the story behind the story’): Since 1998 it has acted as a ‘transfer station’ that separates unsalvageable land fill material from elements that can be turned into fertilizer (and recycled water) sending non-decomposables like iron, aluminum, glass, plastic, and nylon for recycling.

            Lucky for Bank Leumi, in March 2017 one the largest automated ‘Refuse Derived Fuel plants’* in the world was officially inaugurated at Hariya; its orderly computerized operation quickly located the garbage truck in question before its content was ‘dropped into the hopper’ so to speak, and municipal workers located the wayward packet within minutes… (Globes economic daily and Yediot)


* Hariya served as the Dan (Tel Aviv) Region’s dump between 1952-1998, creating a 60-meter high ‘artificial mountain’ (populated by flocks of birds that got so high it created a jeopardy to air traffic in and out of Ben-Gurion Airport, not just a serious eyesore on the landscape. For more than a decade, ‘the mound’ has been the source for 70 biogas wells that power a nearby textile factory with methane from Tel Aviv’s decomposing garbage…

            Hiriya processes three thousand metric tons of trash collected daily in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area – two-thirds of which, thanks to the new RDF plant, can now be ‘mined’ for combustible materials once the plant reaches peak capacity. The combustibles will provide 40 percent of the fuel requirements of a huge cement plant outside nearby Ramle (while drastically reduce the bulk of garbage sent to Negev landfills).  



A week after Arik Einstein died in 2013, Moshe Shilo from Yokne’am created a fountain-like monument to the much-loved actor, composer and vocal artist bearing the inscription Yahalom shehNishbarr* above a guitar with a broken neck that ‘pees’ in a bifurcated arch into a small pool above an engraved likeness of Einstein near the base, a piece further embellished on the left by the lyrics to one of Einstein’s best loved songs Ani ve Ata (‘You and I will Change the World’**. The artist hauled the ‘work’ to Tel-Aviv on a truck bed, and plunked it down sometime before dawn on the sidewalk outside Einstein’s apartment.

            Apparently no one – not even the municipality had the heart or the nerve to remove the rather kitschy ‘creation’ which blocked half the sidewalk – particularly after countless Israelis began lighting memorial candles at the foot of the memorial, and Einstein’s widow Sima Eliyahu began placing fresh flowers in the ‘waterfall well’ daily.

            Just after Passover 2017, Shilo - pissed off “that no one said ‘thanks’” – showed up in Tel Aviv and hauled the memorial away to an undisclosed location saying “his ego was hurt.” (Israel HaYomPhoto credit:  CC – Sigal Ben Amram


* A Broken Diamond. It turns out that Shilo also created a monument dedicated to Hebrew songwriter Uzi Chitman with the same ‘Broken Diamond’ inscription  - and peeing guitar motif (0.52) …as well as a one metric ton piano keyboard and fountainhead from basalt rock dedicated to songwriter Naomi Shemer (which the artist said he would be glad to sell ‘as is’…or rededicate to another artist at the buyer’s request).



** See the vintage video clip of Ani ve-Ata from the iconic 1971 television series Lul (Chicken Coop), and the lyrics in translation.