Chelm on the med

Israel Seen – Back Page News from the Front Nov 3 2017

Israel Seen – Back Page News from the Front Nov 3 2017

BALLOON FESTIVAL

For those who remember the September Chelm piece “Crack the Habit” on the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s installation of zillions of hand-painted ceramic sunflower seeds, here’s another out-of-the-box ceramics concept, this one for artsy window dressing, not art museums: Israeli artist Sivan Sternbach sculpts partially inflated balloons in every size, shape and color, in kiln-fired ceramics.

Where did the idea come from? Actually, it’s not her’s. Her beginning ceramics teacher threw out the challenge that in lieu of the standard “make a plate, make a vase” for newbies, that the former pastry chef suffering from burnout “sculpt a balloon”…and the rest is history.

Her balloons are made by covering partly-inflated helium balloons with thin layer-after-layer of ceramic clay like one makes a papier-mâché piñata. She adds patinas and glazes, and pops the balloon before popping the fully-dried but fragile balloons into a kiln for 24 hours. Her works are all the rage, debuting in Bergdorf Goodman in Manhattan—a store renowned for its mindboggling window displays by BG’s celebrated in-house window dresser David Hoey. (Yediot) Photo credit: Sivan Sternbach’s website

 

THE NEW ROAD WARRIORS

Does the boss yell at you a lot at work? A Haifa University study found the psychological stress of an abusive boss not only affects the way an employee will behave in general, it also has dangerous repercussions on their driving habits.

Two scholars at the Faculty of Management assembled a group of employees less than 12 months on the job who go to work in their private cars and asked them to keep a record when they took risks behind the wheel. The results showed the more abusive the boss, the more an employee tends to exhibit dangerous behavior on the road, such as sending emails, looking at Whatsapp messages and so forth to alleviate pressures on the jobs, and such motorists begin to consider such risky practices normative. The researchers believe abusive bosses are a factor influencing road accidents. (Yediot) Photo credit: Multitasking – Peoplematters.in

 

WHEELING AND DEALING

 

Remember the story about the Tel Aviv Municipality’s plan to provide special parking spaces for bicycles* in municipal garages to combat epidemic levels of bicycle theft in the Big Orange (25,000 a year)?                                                Before embarking on the project, a survey was taken to measure demand for such a service.

The results? Twenty-four percent of the bike riders in Tel Aviv had their bikes stolen in 2016! Sixty-four percent of bike owners were willing to pay a monthly rental fee for a safe parking space.

Exactly how much? Between 30-50 NIS a month ($8.60—$14.28) …about the cost of two to three cups of espresso at their favorite local café. (Yediot) Photo credit:  UCL Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science – London

 

* 200 bikes on a carousel contraption that only takes up four parking spaces for cars.

DO ISRAELI COURTS MEAN BUSINESS?

Remember the May 2017 piece “Double Chutzpa” about a court case that dragged on for seven years, until the convicted offender claimed (fallaciously) that he had Altzheimer’s?

Just how slowly do the cog wheels of justice grind???

Very slowly, according to a comparative study of ‘enforcing contracts’ in 189 countries, part of a study entitled Doing Business sponsored by the United States’ National Economic Council to gauge how hard or how easy it is to ‘do business’ in different countries.

Indeed, Israel ranked 166th out of 189 in the first of three criteria – the length of the process (600 days. Or over two-and-a-half years, according to a World Bank estimate*) but came in ‘only’ 77th in the cost of the litigation.

The good news? Israel ranked 7th in the third category – the quality of the process.

When other aspects were factored-in (from getting a business license to getting connected to the power grid, tax policies, how bankruptcy is handled, etc.) Israel ranked 56th out of 187 in “the ease with which one can do business” among the countries surveyed… (Yediot) Photo credit: CC StationNT5Bmedia

 

* Actually, the Israeli court system’s records showed it ‘only’ took 426 days from the filing of a suit to enforcement of the ruling…

 

 

JEWISH BRITEX?

It ‘s a well known fact that French Jewry is feeling increasingly uncomfortable and unsafe in France. What’s surprising is feelings among Jews in the UK: A recent survey of 4,000 respondents in 2016 and 2017 revealed: one out of every three British Jews has been thinking of leaving. One out of six feels they aren’t welcome in Britain. A third (37 percent) feels they have to hide their Jewishness.

Mendy Blumenthal, a commercial real estate broker from Birmingham whose mother was an English judge and whose father served in the British Army told poll-takers: “I’m not worried about what will happen in the next year or two, but I’m sure the situation of Jews in another decade will be intolerable.” Blumenthal is planning on making aliyah within the coming months, feeling “there is no other option.”

Is it the open anti-Semitism of the British Labour Party that’s getting to them, or something else? There are a quarter of a million Jews in the UK. Will they act on such feelings, and if so will they opt to immigrate to Israel or choose to go to another English-speaking country—Canada, Australia or the USA?  It’s anyone’s guess. (Israel HaYom) Photo credit: The Peak – Creative Commons

 

POWER SHARING

Due to Hamas mismanagement,* Gazans suffer from daily power outages…but not Gamil and his family.           They now have their own off-grid power supply: solar panels and storage batteries that run the frig and the washing machine, and light his home at night when the power goes out. The expensive solution was a unique ‘perk’ to a former employee…

In better times (since the 1980 and up to the Disengagement in 2006), Gamil had been kibbutz Mifalsim’s maintenance man. When the kibbutzniks (whose kibbutz is situated adjacent to the Gaza Strip) got wind of their former employee’s plight—food that spoiled in the frig, no lighting in the evening, and so forth—they spontaneously launched an in-house ‘crowd funding’ campaign to help underwrite purchase of a solar electric system for the family.** (Ynet, 102 FM)

 

* including siphoning off fuel for on-site power stations for military use, and refusing to pay for electricity received from the Israeli power grid across the border.

 

 

** Gamil is not the only one making the move from unsafe private generators (or simply sitting in the dark), to solar panels. According to the Arab newspaper Al Monitor, there are 40 companies in Gaza busy installing solar electric systems in homes.

 

A MUSEUM WHERE?

nyc tenement 311. (photo credit:Keino Niwa for LESTM)

 

Israel has more museums per capita than any other country in the world. Not just landmarks like the Israel Museum with its Shrine of the Book, the country is literally dotted by more modest and unique museums from the Tax Museum in Jerusalem, to the hole-in-the-wall Sandal-maker’s Museum in kibbutz Kfar Masaryk. Then there are the in-house family endeavors devoted to books in Yiddish, 1920s 1930s vintage toys. But surely one of weirdest venues is a museum to Israeli spy Eli Cohen…housed in an elementary school in Kiryat Malachi named after Eli Cohen.

 

Full disclosure: I’m a museum groupie and as a journalist have a lifelong weakness for small quirky off-the-beaten track museums from a secret 1948-vintage bullet-making factory in Rechovot to the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side. Aharonchik in the short doco flick on Kfar Masaryk was my father-in-law, the sculptor Aharon Ashkenazi.

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