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


   Yediot Aharonot asked the Population Registry how many Israelis are named after the Four Species cited in the Torah that symbolize the Sukkot holiday. Ministry of Interior officials replied that there are 10,921 Israelis named Hadas (Myrtle), 282 named Arava (Willow), one Etrog (Citron) and not one single Lulav (Palm branch). When the newspaper tracked down Etrog, it turned out he wasn't born on Sukkot, as one might expect.* In fact, his name has nothing to do with the Four Species at all.
   While it's a Jewish tradition to name a baby after the deceased, Etrog Hillel - a 48-year-old architect - is probably the only person on the face of the earth ever named after a moribund ship. His father was a seaman aboard the Etrog in 1961 when a fire broke out aboard the 1,901-ton Zim cargo ship; Samson Hillel swore that if he survived, he'd name his first child after her.

 * Actually, there are four kids named Sukah, and another four named Sukkot.



   In August 2009 Natanya's city elders decided to dress up the city center with a fresh coat of paint. But it wasn't the building facades on the main thoroughfare that they jazzed-up; it was the main thoroughfare itself - Herzl Street - that got painted. Bright purple, no less. Regrettably, the new look turned out to be short lived. By October, the pricy paint job had faded away - reverting to black asphalt. The municipality said they would demand the contractor redo the job, saying that from the start, the color was off. But will that really do the trick?
   A leading Israeli art critic once wryly quipped that Tel Aviv's signature ‘look' that led the Big Orange to be named The White City was because no color in the world could withstand the fading power of an Israeli sun.



   Declaring your love can be no joke, especially if you own a fancy BMW 520 and are married to an attorney who knows how to play her cards right.
   Hubby decided to surprise the wife, and as a gesture of his love, give her his car as a birthday present. He handed his spouse a gushing birthday card, seasoned with a pinch of humor, fine-tuned to parody her legal bent: "To my beautiful Valentine. For your birthday I bestow upon you all my love + the BMW, and hereby declare the car your private property."
   Alas, birthdays come and go and before the week was out the two had decided to part ways. In the ensuing court battle over allocation of jointly-held assets, she demanded the BMV - waving the trump card under his nose and at the bench. He claimed she'd forced him to write the card, but the judge ruled the birthday card constituted a bona fide property agreement - no strings attached, and awarded the wife the 130,000 NIS ($32,500) BMW.



   While on a tour in Israel, a tourist from the Philippines - Ruth Castro (71), found out that her house had been totally demolished by a typhoon - including a much-loved grand piano.
   Was she devastated? Not the least bit. The unflappable pilgrim was convinced that her cup runneth over. Where did she run to thank Jesus for sending her on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land at such a perilous hour, saving her from certain death?
   The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth?
   Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem?
   The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem?
   No. The Western Wall.
   Castro isn't alone. The number of visitors at the Western Wall has spiraled from two million in the year 2000 (prior to the 2000-2005 Terror War), to eight million in 2008. Those who go to the Wall...or ask that written notes with supplications be placed between the cracks for them (something that can be done by e-mail, as well*) are not solely Jews. The Wall has become equally popular with non-Jews - particularly after visits by celebrities like Madonna, not to mention Pope Benedict XVI.

*See, for example:



   The 32nd Government of Israel (headed by PM Binyamin Natanyahu) is desperately seeking stenographers - a dying breed in the computer age and the communications revolution.
   What for? To record cabinet meetings.
   Why? Well, when debate becomes heated in an Israeli cabinet, any Israeli cabinet - everyone takes the floor at once, with ministers cutting off colleagues in mid-sentence to ask a question, challenge a point, poke fun at the speaker or state their own case above the din. With interjections coming fast and furious from every direction, experience has demonstrated that only a live stenographer is able to keep pace with everyone talking at once, while transcribers can't unravel the voices or keep track of the speakers on video or audiotapes. And that was so back when cabinets had 12, even 16 ministers - not 30 ministers like the Natanyahu Government, a world record.
The Prime Minister's office is down to three overworked stenographers, if anyone is interested in the job.


* 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.