Israel Seen – Back Page News From the Front June 3 2017
Once again Daniella Ashkenazy treats us to “daily life ” in Israel according to the Hebrew Press
LAND OF MILK AND HONEY
The week before Shavuot – a holiday celebrated in Israel by harvest pageants and wolfing down a host of dairy dishes* from blinzes to cheesecake – a group of approximately one thousand radical vegans (out of a local population of 300,000 vegetarians in Israel) plopped down 2,000 NIS a piece (200,000 NIS in all, almost $50,000) to rent a full size billboard on the side of a building adjacent to the Ayalon Expressway that cuts through the heart of Tel-Aviv to wish Israelis “A Sad Shavuot Holiday” designed to protest dairy cows being separated from their newborn calves to produce the milk that the vegans abhor…(Calcalist and Maariv, and mouse.co.il) Photo credit: Artists illustration of the planned billboard.
* Why do Jews eat dairy dishes on Shavuot? See this somewhat belabored explanation. On the spiritual side of the holiday which celebrates ‘the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai’ – through-the-night Torah study sessions interlaced with a song fest (tikun leil Shavuot) have become a fad in some secular circles with no less than 16 edutainment events in the Big Orange advertised on the City Mouse entertainment site.
THINKING LIKE AN ISRAELI
The father of Israeli spy satellites (and UAVs and a host of other far-reaching technological capabilities) Brigadier General (res.) Professor Haim Eshed gave Israel Hayom readers a behind-the-scenes recap of the launch of Israel’s first satellite in 1988…
It’s well known that everyone launches satellites eastward (‘think Cape Canaveral’) to gain a boost from the earth’s rotational force…everyone except Israel. Due to geographical exigencies* and counter to economic and aerospace principles and logic, Israel is forced to launch its spy satellites westward into a retrograde orbit. So in 1988, in addition to the suspense of the first-ever launch of a satellite westward (over the Med). Eshed revealed that when the count-down at the Palmachim Airbase launch site reached ‘three’, the Israeli-designed Shavit rocket unexpectedly took off into the wild blue yonder!
In such a scenario, the safety officer on duty was supposed to abort the mission. But instead of pressing the button to demolish the rocket and its payload, in a split-second decision – realizing the ‘impudent and impatient’ three-stage ballistic rocket appeared to be on course – the junior officer scrapped procedures and let the rocket continue its ascent. The experimental Oz 1 satellite entered its prescribed orbit without another hitch, and was renamed Ofek 1. (Israel HaYom) Photo credit: Israel Aircraft Industries
* Israel is incredibly narrow and densely populated, and cannot allow the launcher’s first stages to fall on populated areas…or worse (in the case of a malfunction) to have a top-secret Ofek military satellite itself fall into enemy hands in surrounding Arab countries to the east. Actually, even a westward launch has a very limited trajectory – a tiny ‘window’ of several degrees that avoids flying over islands in the Med. Heavier Israeli Amos civilian communications satellites are launched westward from abroad.
THE EGG AND I
The Pu’ah Institute – an orthodox organization that since 1990 has worked with Jewish couples worldwide with fertility problems, offering free consultations and guidance and designing halachically-approved solutions to make advanced procreation technologies ‘kosher’ – has broadened its mission to embrace religious girls with a looming ‘infertility issue’: unmarried singles whose biological clocks are ticking down.*
The NGO will offer such women in their late thirties the option to freeze their eggs under Pu’ah’s auspices. In a pilot, 60 percent of the Institute’s ‘put-away plan’ participants subsequently got married or engaged. The Institute hopes to push up their success rate by offering an ‘enhancer’ to those who don’t want to merely put all their eggs in one basket: a personal Pu’ah-appointed matchmaker who will sent the participant several potential marriage partners on a weekly basis. (Yediot) Photo credit:single momYael Ukeles, a founder of Kayama Moms and her son.
* Once considered unthinkable, another option has become more and more acceptable among religiously-observant families in Israel: for an unmarried daughter to become a single mom by choice with the assistance of a sperm bank or an unmarried male friend (a path Pu’ah frowns on, contrary to some modern Orthodox rabbis like Rabbi Yuval Cherlow who argues unmarried women who have reached their late 30s should not be denied the opportunity to have children).
Students at ORT Alon Technical High School in Upper Nazareth chose to toss out the playlist of pop icons like Rihanna, Justin Bieber and One Direction pumped over the public address system during recess and replace it with…Mozart, Bach and Beethoven after students were ‘introduced’ to classical music (which they had labeled disparagingly “elevator music”) when passing a grassy green* across from their school, embellished with a sculpture of a quartet that ‘plays’ live classical music all day long. (Israel HaYom) Photo credit: Emek News website
* Upper Nazareth – Natzrat Illit in Hebrew – (p. 40,000) already has two other ‘musical roundabouts’ – one with a violin, the other with a harp.
Scandal broke out in the halls of government after the Israel Police published an 8 M NIS ($2+ M) public tender for police uniforms that stipulated only bidders who had manufactured uniforms for at least 25 (!) different police forces in the years 2014-2015-2016 were eligible to submit bids thus ‘eliminating’ Israeli contenders while tailoring the tender for cheaper mass suppliers from China. The objective: to skirt a 1995 ordinance that requires local manufacturers receive preference in supplying goods and services to the Israeli government
Following an emergency meeting of the Knesset Economics Committee, the tender was shelved, scheduled for a ‘makeover’ although no one was forced to tender their resignation. (Yediot) Photo credit: CC – Mark Probst
Israel has witnessed a host of harebrained schemes to captivate movie fans. Surely the weirdest was an 1980s ‘off season’ schedule dreamed up by El-Al to keep their planes in the air by offering passengers two-hour ‘movie flights’* to nowhere, while circling over the Med – an instant flop considering customers were only entitled to popcorn, not duty free privileges…
Recently, the Globus Max movie theatre chain adopted another only-in-Israel come-on to attract avid movie fans to a new theatre complex in Kfar Saba: offering silver screen addicts an unlimited magnetic movie pass called ‘Infinity’ that entitles the bearer to see as many movies as they like – ‘for life’.** The price? 25,000 NIS ($6,757).
* Of course, this was decades before in-flight entertainment consoles…and in an era when ‘flying’ was a novelty beyond the pocket of the majority of Israelis (still viewed by the government as a ‘luxury’ that incurred a hefty per capita Travel Tax’ – between 1985-1993 $100 and 20% of the ticket price.
** actually valid for 25 years