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CHELM-ON-THE-MED©, April 2009 - Column 1


    Any dog owner knows puppies will devour anything in sight or on-site - puppy chow or chair legs, new $200 designer boots or dirty diapers. But when Gili Dvorkin took 10-month-old Chonka to the vet after the young Golden Retriever began showing clear signs of respiratory and abdominal distress, the cause was one for the books.
    A Kfar Saba vet found the dog's distended stomach was not only hard as a rock. To be more precise, x-rays showed it was filled to capacity with smooth river pebbles - with two extra pebbles tightly lodged respectively in the poor pup's gullet and upper intestines - a clear explanation why the animal was having so much trouble breathing, why his stomach looked so funny...and why he suddenly seemed to weigh a ton while being lugged to the vet's.
     Two-and-a-half hours of emergency surgery solved the problem, but left two issues still to be addressed: What made the Golden Retriever swallow no less than 40 river pebbles weighing 5 kilograms (11 pounds). And what exactly were the Dvorkins supposed to do with tons of river pebbles that cover most of their back garden in lieu of grass?



    Kadima party leader Tzippi Livni took leave of her post at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make room for the next minister, appointed by the newly-elected Natanyahu government. At the farewell ceremony, a saucy workers' committee gave Livni a parting gift...or a parting shot, depending on who you ask: a cook book.
    Not only that. The farewell token contained recipes cooked up by the employees. Not about to be sent back to the kitchen, Livni demonstrated she could dish it out as well - clarifying if she did cook up a storm, it would only be as opposition leader.




    Agriculture and basic industry being a gamble in any case, six years ago kibbutz Ein Hashofet decided to hedge their bets by adding a new branch to the kibbutz economy: They invested in 20 ‘permanent' lottery ticket numbers.
    Hardly down on their luck and against all odds, the scheme hatched an 875,000 NIS ($218,750) nest egg: The kibbutzniks won tidy sums three times in a row: 125,000 NIS in 2003, 250,000 NIS in 2006 and now in 2009 - a true jackpot (though not the grand prize) to the tune of half a million NIS.



    Bialik once commented that Jews would be a ‘normal nation' when Tel Aviv had its first Jewish thief. As Tel Aviv sets out to mark the Centennial Year of the First Hebrew City's founding on the sand dunes outside Jaffa in April 1909, burglars are hardly in short supply...but not just your regular run-of-the-mill petty criminals after the car keys or your wallet.
    In a special weekend supplement published by Yediot Aharonot ten Tel Aviv writers took pen in hand to celebrate their city's special flavor from a personal perspective. Journalist Smadar Peri described arriving in the Big Orange from Haifa as a student and waking up to find her one-room 4th-storey apartment had been broken into by a cat burglar.
    The unidentified intruder not only took off with a handful of valuables while she slept. He also stole all three brand-new unread Hebrew novels she'd bought herself as a ‘moving present'.

* Israel's national poet, Haim Nachman Bialik, who was one of the 60 founding families of Tel-Aviv.



    Rapid development of cities and towns in the Sharon has led to main arteries becoming clogged with bumper-to-bumper traffic during rush hour. Naturally, commuters sought shortcuts: cutting through the fields and narrow lanes of agricultural villages along the way. To dissuade the outsiders from turning the moshavim into a scenic detour, disgruntled villagers established ‘gated communities' with code-activated automated gates. But not moshav Bnei Zion. No sir! These farmers chose a less conventional vehicle for ‘routing out' commuter-intruders.
    For three days residents kept traffic entering Bnei Zion to a crawl by setting up a bogus border patrol checkpoint at the popular cutoff manned by local volunteers who thoroughly checked each and every car that sought to enter the moshav between 7 to 9 AM - one day claiming they were looking for a rapist, the next day for a terrorist, and the third for uninvited visitors looking to lift agricultural products or equipment.
    Although motorists were fit to be tied by the highly irregular deployment of a security road block, by Day Three most got the message.



    Can 1.3 billion Chinese be wrong? 
    Well, yes and no.
    On one hand, the pop tune ABANIBEE -a song written in the Hebrew equivalent of Pig Latin that means "Only I Love You" - has recently been translated into Chinese by a pop star from Taiwan 30 years after it won the 1978 Eurovision Song Competition* - landing the song on the mainland China hit parade...alongside but another Hebrew pop tune in translation - originally performed by Israeli vocalist Sarit Hadad.
    What's the sudden interest in Israel among mainland Chinese?
    As fate would have it, among the most popular self-help books in mainland China today is one called How to Make Money like Jews and another entitled The Secret of the Jews Global Success.

*For the 1978 original with Zohar Cohen, see
For the 2008 Chinese version, see



* Copyright© 2009 by Daniella Ashkenazy. All rights reserved worldwide. For limited usage, see FAQs. All stories are completely rewritten by Daniella Ashkenazy from news items gleaned from Yediot Aharonot, unless another news source is stated.