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

CHELM-ON-THE-MED©, August 2009 - Column 2


   Hadera* - a small city in the Sharon best known as the birthplace of much-loved song composer Ehud Manor - has a solution to sooth the nerves of impatient motorists: Soon the main traffic circle into Hadera that suffers from constant congestion will enjoy a 20 M NIS facelift, marked not only by entry and exit lanes. The crowning glory of the upgrade will be ...singing traffic lights.
   Hadera's mayor went on record to underscored: Hadera's musical traffic lights will only play Hebrew songs by leading Israeli vocalists, dead and living - from Shoshana Damari to Shlomo Artzi and Arik Einstein.

* The ‘central region' of the country - the equivalent of ‘the greater metropolitan area of Washington D.C.' is usually measured ‘from Hadera to Gadera'.


   The Israel Electric Company sought to improve its public relations by engaging in a bit of online journalism. Did the CEO publish an op-ed? Did he give an exclusive interview to an influential member of the press?
   No. Actually, the powers-that-be at the pubic utility decided to generate grass-roots support by hiring someone to writing bogus talkbacks in the online editions of major Hebrew newspapers praising the company and panning uncomplimentary news coverage.
   Was there hell to be paid? You bet.
   A comprehensive investigation was launched to uncover who leaked the invoice that revealed the Electric Company was paying a 5,770 NIS-a-month ($1,442) retainer to a PR firm specializing in such ‘services'.
   And the talkbacks?
   One beauty claimed government clerks were "tripped-out on cheap* hallucinogenic mushrooms from India" after the civil servants reported shortcomings at the Company and proposed power production be opened to competition...

* alluding to shabby goods ensuring ‘a very bad trip'



   In mid-2008, Michal and Guy brought a four-room apartment in Beer Yaakov priced at 940,000 NIS ($235,000). In mid-2009, their friends Keren and Gal bought a five-room apartment in Beer Yaakov priced at 1.1 M. NIS ($275,000). Everyone was happy, until the two couples compared notes - discovering the difference in the overall size of their respective digs - 110 square meters vs. 119 square meters - boiled down to a mere 9 square meters. In other words, Keren and Gal had paid 17,000 NIS ($4,225) per square meter for their ‘roomier' 5-room apartment.
   Did they sue?
   The floored couple discovered they had not only ignored the maxim ‘let the buyer beware' before signing the contract. The contractor was squarely within the letter of the law. The minimum size of any full-size bedroom according to the law books is eight square meters (!) just a wee bit smaller than the average prison cell in America (8 x 12 feet).
   Builders retorted that shrinking bedrooms are an accommodation to rising market demands for individual children's rooms. A tiny bit of privacy has given rise to another Israeli innovation - the sapapa*: a youth sofa that opens up to become a 1½ -size ‘double bed' that can accommodate a high schooler'/soldier'** and his or her girlfriend/boyfriend in liberal Israeli households.

* from sapa - Hebrew for sofa, designed to rhyme with sababa, Hebrew slang for ‘cool'.
** many Israeli soldiers commute to base during national service.


   Since the 2008/9 winter Cast Lead Campaign, Israel's south has been relatively quiet, but people remain edgy. Ironically, peace and quiet wasn't broken in Ashkelon by a Palestinian rocket. Overly-zealous religious residents decided to let everyone in their neighborhood know it was the Sabbath by sounding private sirens from their balconies minutes before sundown on Fridays.
   Not surprisingly, this ‘mitzva'* caused countless Ashkelonians - religious and non-observant - to nearly jumped out of their skin when they heard the wail of these ‘Sabbath siren' (which are common in all-religious communities like Bnei Brak). Ashkelon residents with frayed nerves are pressuring the municipality to pass a local ordinance that will outlaw the sirens within city limits.

* good deed



   Ettie Zaken (32) spent the evening at a pub, and was caught driving home in the wee hours with three times the alcohol content permitted when operating a motor vehicle. The pair of cops who pulled her over, pulled her license on the spot. As customary in Israel, her car was not impounded, only ‘grounded for a month'.
   There was nothing unusual about this encounter with the law until the rest of the story leaked out when the tipsy driver contested the charges in traffic court: It seems that Cop No. 1 told the offender to get into the squad car and asked his partner, Cop No. 2 to drive Zaken's vehicle to the motorist's home several kilometers away.
   The only hitch was Cop No. 2 didn't know how to operate a stick shift...
   Stymied but not for long, the cops had put Zaken back behind the wheel with Cop No. 2 in the passenger's seat. Cop No. 1 followed in the squad car, escorting car and owner safely home. The judge rejected Zaken's plea, saying that while the chevalier cops may have acted recklessly, their impromptu escort service was not grounds for dropping the drunken driving charge.


* 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.