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


    Meet the MSC Danit.
    The largest container ship in the world - a Swiss-owned vessel bigger than an aircraft carrier, capable of carrying 14,000 marine containers - was named after an unknown Israel attorney and mother of three from Jerusalem - Danit Cheshin.
    What did she do to deserve her name being splashed across its hull?

    Nothing. It boiled down to tit-for-tat.
    As chief exec of MSC in Israel, her father had made MSC the largest foreign shipping firm in Israel, second only to Israel's Zim Lines. So, Geneva responded in kind saying dad was free to name the largest container ship after any one of his kids. Well, almost any.
    In fact, the choice was a default, since the other three kids are all boys. Even in this day and age all ships - even those built like battleships - are still named after women.



    The ultra-Orthodox municipality of Bnei Brak found itself grappling with a unique problem: an outbreak of break-ins because residents were reluctant to break the Sabbath by calling police - turning Bnei Brak into a paradise for petty thieves working weekends.
    The city's rabbis and city elders who might be equally pious but were not about to be anyone's patsies found an unconventional but highly effective deterrent. They not only hired a team of shabbos goys* built like Mac trucks to patrol the streets in specially-marked cars. Most of the occupants were ‘imports' from...Chechnya.
    Not just the strong silent type, the Chechens quickly learned Hebrew and even a bit of Yiddish, although word that a band of don't-mess-with-me Chechens was in town was enough to send the burglars elsewhere.

* a Yiddish term for a non-Jew who does essential work religiously-observant Jews are prohibited from doing on the Sabbath - in Israel, usually Druze or Muslims.



    A group of aging but athletic men had been play soccer on a miniature soccer field adjacent to Shlomit Lavitzky's house in Pardes Hana every Friday afternoon since the 1970s. In 1990 the Lavitzkys had bought the empty building lot next door...clearly not on a Friday.
    Ten years later, fed up with soccer balls bouncing into their yard, the Lavitzkys built a 2.5 meter-high wall, but to no avail. High-flying balls keep coming fierce and fast - turning their yard into a dodge ball court and damaging shrubbery. Shlomit Lavitzky decided it was time to play hard ball. The light-footed phys ed teacher began confiscating out-of-bounds soccer ball catch-as-catch-can before they could be retrieved...500 of them, only a third of the 1,500 balls she estimated had been kicked into her yard in the course of 18 years.
    The guys cried ‘foul ball' and filed suit in court to get even. Adding insult to injury they demanded NIS15,000 ($3,660) in damages for 500 balls. The court chose to even the playing field instead - kicking the gang out of court and ordering the 25 out-of-bounds plaintiffs - most of them bankers, doctors, accountants and lawyers - to pay the lone defendant in the case NIS5,000 ($1,220) in damages, citing the commotion they created on the court, not in court.



    Eyal Bino was not about to depend solely on his spouse's memory ‘til death do they part.
    The Israeli bachelor in New York sought an unforgettable spot to pop the question to his girlfriend - Dina Ammanto, the only child of an Italian father and an Irish mother. Nothing short of the United Nations would fit the bill.
    The Israeli and Italian delegations to the UN agreed to string along, arranging a bogus ‘grand tour' for the two. When the couple reached the General Assembly Hall, on signal, Bino asked to say something. Sprinting up to the dais he took the floor under the huge UN seal and kneeled to propose. 
    His floored sweetheart said ‘Yes'.
    Is City Hall the next stop?
    No, the couple plan to tie the knot in a Jewish ceremony after Ammanto converts.



    In the middle of chairing the morning meeting at a Rehovot firehouse, Fire Chief Shimon Gamliel got a phone call that rang a bell: "We sent a fire engine to a fire on Zecharia Madar Street 21," said the dispatcher.
    "Which floor," asked Gamliel, his heart skipping a beat.
    "First," came the reply at the end of the line - leaving a small margin of error as for whom the bell tolled.
    Luckily cities come small size in Israel, including Rehovot. Arriving home in the nick of time, the fire chief found a team of fire fighters about to break down his front door and handed them a key. The responding fire fighters quickly put out the fire in the kitchen, apparently sparked by a short in the fire chief's dishwasher.
    And the fire chief? He washed his hands of any negligence, responded dryly: "Nobody's foolproof when it comes to fires."


* 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.