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Clever and Upbeat Mark Schiff, comedian: "...Chelm-on-the-Med is clever and upbeat.  These quirky news stories (some truly unbelievable) are not just funny.  They cast Israel in an entirely new light.  Chelm-on the-Med makes my day more interesting but also more fun."
Ever-Growing Collection Israel 21C: " ever-growing collection of local soft news items - those curious, often humorous stories that would sound like they are urban legends if they weren't in the mainstream news media."
A Perfect Counterbalance Mike Burstyn, Israeli Broadway actor-performer: "Chelm-on- the-Med helps me keep up with the humorous, unique and positive aspects of our modern Israeli society. It is a perfect counterbalance to the negative and false images of Israel available via the worldwide Media.”
Epitomizes Life in Israel Prof. Sam Lehman-Wilzig, political scientist/media scholar: "Chelm-on-the-Med's news stories are the very essence of what living in Israel is like: lots of creativity, rule-bending, circumlocution, and eccentricity in a nation full of off-beat citizens. There is no better way to show Israel's 'normality' than to highlight its abnormalities."
Creative and Refreshing Amir R. Gissin, Consul General of Israel, Toronto: "The concept of using humour to break down stereotypes and preconceptions about Israel, and doing this by sharing offbeat amusing stories published in the Hebrew press, is certainly creative and deserves our support. I found the site well crafted - funny and endearing, and it is a truly refreshing 'take' on Israel. We need more of this kind of light-hearted input in our advocacy efforts."
A real mechayeh! Comedian Jackie Mason:"Chelm-on-the-Med Online's uncensored view of Israeli life 'on the inside' beyond the headlines is a riot.These incredible-but-true news stories are a real mechayeh!"(*Mechayeh: Literally, 'a life-giver.' Yiddish for 'a pleasure, a blessing, or a relief' or 'something that gives great joy' or is 'delightfully refreshing.')

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Almost two decades after he lost both his legs in a road accident at age 19, Haim Israel (38) claims that he suddenly “felt as if his two legs had been re-amputated.” What sparked the strange ‘phantom limb’ pains?

            The double amputee discovered that his legs – which his father had insisted on burying next to Haim’s grandfather’s grave in Ramle ‘in advance’- were missing. The family believed in order for his soul to ascend to heaven a Jew must be buried with all his body parts intact’ (or at least everything present and accounted for...)

            For 19 years the burial plot had been marked by a tombstone with the inscription Here lay the legs of Haim Israel, son of Yehuda and Rivka, he should live a long life. Haim Israel claims that not only were his legs reinterred with other amputated extremities in a common grave without his permission; a complete stranger had recently been buried in ‘his’ grave plot next to grandpop.  When the common grave was opened in July 2015, forensic examiners only found a single shin bone that matched Israel’s DNA.

            The Ramle burial society offered the amputee a ‘reserved’ grave plot of his very own - for free*, where the lost and found shin bone would await him when the time comes, but Haim Israel rejected the offer. (Israel HaYom) Photo credit:  


* While funeral costs – including a grave plot and tombstone - is covered under National Insurance benefits, an individual who wants to reserve a plot next to a cherished kin must pay a hefty fee…although due to the growing shortage of land, burial societies recently added an option to spouses to be buried on top of a deceased spouse at no cost.



What constitutes proof of infidelity and grounds for a divorce? Does one need incriminating photos, hot ‘n steamy text messages…or will Viagra pills suffice?

            A wealthy couple in their 40s are engaged in a court battle after the wife found Viagra pills in the bathroom medicine cabinet and asked if they were her husband’s and what he needed them for?  

            He claimed he hoped to discretely jump-start their listless love life without elaboration; she suspected an extramarital affair.

            Neither side contests that their libidos were in the doldrums after 15 years of marriage and they hadn’t made love in three months…but it’s now up to the rabbinical court to decide whether the husband could have Viagra in his possession without telling his wife or whether secretly possessing Viagra is paramount to admitting he’s cheating on his wife. (Ma’arivPhoto credit: Viagra pills



The IDF’s “dual-role military” has always fulfilled nation-building functions in the civil domain (from immigrant absorption to remedial education for marginalized  youth) parallel to its professional soldiering duties, but undoubtedly Uri Ariel takes this second role to new heights…..   

Two-thirds of Israel’s annual carrot yield is normally designated for export, mostly to Russia.  When faced with an unexpected surplus of carrots, Israel’s Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel appealed to Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman and IDF Deputy Chief-of-Staff Yair Golan to increase consumption of carrots on IDF military bases to combat the glut. (Israel HaYom) Photo credit: Daniella Ashkenazy





Why would anyone want to fake such a dreaded disease as Alzheimer’s?!

            Kobi Ben Gur, charged in 2011 and found guilty in 2012 of bribing tax officials, asked in a plea bargain procedure that he be allowed to do public service in lieu of a two month jail sentence. But don’t hold your breath; the wheels of justice turn slowly in Israel (more about that in a future column). When the time came for sentencing – four years later - Gur turned around and told the Supervisor of Community Service that he suffered from early onset of Alzheimer’s that prevented him paying his debt to society - figuring (wrongly) that no one would remember the affidavits he’d submitted in 2012 to avoid time in the clinker stating he was in good health and could do community service).

            Surprise! In January 2017 Gur was forced to admit he had faked having lost his marbles…but in late March 2017 the Supervisor of Community Services ordered Gur to have his head examined anyway: As if the offender didn’t have enough problems on his plate as is, while twiddling his thumbs waiting sentencing Gur fraudulently ‘organized’ three years of disability payments, collecting 6,500 NIS ($1,500+) a month for a faked case of Alzheimer’s. (Calcalist) Photo credit: Altzheimer’s -


* Israel’s Social Security



The Ministry of Tourism, the Tel Aviv Municipality and an NGO called Ir Olam (World[class] City) dreamed up a unique ploy to market Israel as a tourist destination: Inviting movers and shakers in the tourist industry worldwide to spend four days in Tel Aviv not only ‘on the house’ on the beach; one night was literally on the waterline in the Frishman Beach lifeguard’s stand – just below the five-star Dan Hotel.*


          The lifeguard stand was ‘upgraded’ for the occasion and turned into a deluxe pop-up beachfront suite – complete with double bed and en suite bath, sitting room and deck furniture on the lifeguard’s perch. Room service and a full Israeli breakfast were provided by a boutique hotel in Neve Tzedek. (Yediot) Photo credit: Ministry of Tourism - Guy Yichieli  


  * “Just under the five-star Dan Hotel” reminds me of a good family friend named Francis Jaffe who had a wonderful sense of humor (everyone called her Funny, not Francis). On her first visit to Israel in 1970 Jaffe found lodgings at a low-cost hotel on HaYarkon Street in Tel Aviv which she described to me (in a faked Yiddish accent) when I picked her up: “It’s not the Hilton…but it’s near the Hilton…” FYI Update for young tourists on a budget: Tel Aviv elders are weighing putting up tents on the roof of Dizengoff Center as dirt-cheap tourist lodgings for young visitors… 



A Palestinian from Nablus left his tour group to go on a knifing spree in Tel Aviv* while on a ‘day pass’ to visit Tel Aviv from the autonomous Palestinian Authority area under the auspices of NPT (Natural Peace Tour), an NGO that organizes tours of Israel by Palestinians to ‘promote co-existence and good relations between Palestinians and Israelis’… The incident dovetailed an incident three days earlier when two Palestinian sisters - allowed to leave Gaza so one of them could receive life-saving cancer treatment at an Israeli hospital - arrived at the Erez checkpoint into Israel carrying tubes of ‘medicine’ filled with explosive material designed to be used by Hamas operatives to blow up Jews. (Yediot and Ynet) Photo credit: creative worker/laobc


* injuring four people in the heart of Tel Aviv before being overpowered barehanded by the husband of one of the victims.