Chelm on the med

IsraelSeen – Back Page News from the Front Nov 18 2017

IsraelSeen – Back Page News from the Front Nov 18 2017

 

SIGN OF THE TIMES

Never argue with a lawyer…particularly if he is a zealot when it comes to the Hebrew language.

Traffic attorney-at-law Asaf Oren (of all people) got socked with a parking ticket for failing to pay for parking* in a municipal lot where the sign stating paid parking was in force between 09:00-19:00 hours on weekdays and 09:00-14:00 hours on Fridays and holidays. The scrappy young lawyer told the Rechovot Municipality that since Hebrew is written from right-to-left, the hours stating on the sign should be reversed (19:00-09.00) and he had every right to assume the sign meant motorists had to pay for parking between 7 PM and 9 AM…not 9 AM to 7 PM, logic aside and norms not withstanding. After all, the fine letter of the law is what counts, right? The Municipality accepted Oren’s argument, squashed the ticket, and began changing the signs on the times and the times on the signs, accordingly…probably thoroughly confusing everyone except Asaf Oren. (Yediot)  Photo credit: the problematic sign

 

* In Israel parking meters are largely a thing of the past, and one pays for parking using a virtual parking meter…a smartphone app called Pango (or Cellopark in Jerusalem) that covers all municipalities, that identifies the correct jurisdiction by GPS, and sends a monthly bill by credit card.

 

GOING TO THE DOGS

After branding Israel as a gay-friendly place, a new campaign dreamed up by Vibe Israel—“Dog Plus One Journey”—is designed to target dog owners in the United States as potential tourists.* Some of the most popular bloggers on-all-fours will be invited to visit Israel (where Tel Aviv has the largest dog population per capita in the world), The winners’ human companions will tag along on what has been billed as a Doggy Vacay…

Such blogs, “written” from the dog’s perspective, are all the rage in America. The five winners were to write about their experiences, post Instagrams, send out tweets, and share Facebook posts during their all-expense-paid five-day visit to Israel, which included accommodations and gourmet meals, romping on the beach and trips afield, massages and spas, and play dates with eligible Israeli dogs, with everything captured on video, uploaded to each VID’s blog as a finale. No bark mitzvahs were planned, however.

Celebrity bloggers on-all-fours could sign up as early as late August (within days there were 50 candidates) but the organizers were no fools. The five winning couples only arrived in late October (the 22nd through 26th) well after Israel’s hot and humid Dog Days had passed. (Yediot)

 

* according to the SPCA, 44 percent of all households in the USA have a dog, some 78 million dogs.

 

GOING THE EXTRA MILE

It’s well known that Chabad emissaries (shlichim, in Hebrew) live in the weirdest locations, including South Korea. From the Chabad House in Seoul, rabbi Osher Litzman administers to the needs of some 200 Jews temporarily posted in South Korea, while also conducting a course in Talmud for locals…

Litzman, born and raised in Kiriyat Malachi, explained how shlichim in such remote locations educate their kids (they have an Internet-based school for Chabad schlichim kids in far-flung locations—15 kids in each grade of the network’s virtual classrooms). While kosher food is flown in to such posts, life is not without its rigors: Litzman’s wife has to fly from Seoul to the closest (albeit swank) mikvah in Beijing or Tokyo once a month, as Jewish law proscribes…but from the looks of it, it’s worth the 15 hours roundtrip!  Not alone, likewise, the wife of the Chabad shaliach in Khabarovsk (in the Russian Far East, closer to China and Japan than any major metropolis in Russia) takes a 9-hour (8,000 mile roundtrip) overnight flight to Moscow each month, to the Russian capital’s opulent mikva (opened in 2016). (Yediot Darom)  Photo credits: Chabad in the CIS and Chabad Beijing

 

* There are some two thousand Chabad shlichim worldwide that offer Torah classes, synagogue services, and assistance with Jewish education and practice worldwide literally from Kalamazoo to Timbuktu. (While for most, “practices” congers up visions of a 1,500 strong Passover seder in Katmandu, I must say, mikvot have come a long way since I visited one on the edge of Bnei Brak for the first and last time, on the eve of my wedding 45 years ago…)

 

ROOM WITH A VIEW

Oh no…another reality tv show!?

Yes, but this production is a bit out-of-the-box: The BBC plans to mark Israel’s 70th upcoming independence year by sending ten British Jews to work in Israel as kibbutz volunteers beginning this December. Location hinged on finding the right kibbutz…one that can provide ten rooms (and work) for the participants as well as an unstated number of living quarters for the crew, as well…Their first choice is the Jezreel Valley or the Megido area. The participants will be a mix of British Jewry in terms of age, temperament, orientation, outlook and lifestyle and will present the volunteers with a host of challenging situation unique to Jews and Israel. The series will be aired in 2018. (Yediot)

 

POOR SPORT

A spot check of 297 private doctors’ VAT reports found a third (111 cases) took questionable liberties in filing their monthly VAT payments.*   One doctor – a sports physician – went so far as to deduct as a business expense 100,000 NIS (well over $25,000) worth of trips abroad to watch soccer matches …while most other offenders sufficed with charging their lingerie or jockey shorts…or too many restaurant tabs as a business outlay. (Calcalist) Photo credit: Association football – CC BY-SA 3.0

 

* Israel has a hefty 17 percent Added Value Tax on all goods and services (except vegetables).

 

Every month, the independently employed individuals with ‘certified status’ with tax authorities including countless free professionals are allowed to subtract at the source the 17 percent VAT they bill their clients for, against the 17 percent VAT paid out on business purchase receipts, before transferring the difference to tax authorities.    

 

DUCK SOUP

Channel 10 news ‘blew the whistle’ revealing how a member of the all-powerful workers’ committee at Israel Aerospace Industries (16,000 employees) – Haim Azulai – turned a patch of unoccupied turf in the middle IAI’s sprawling complex situated to the north of Ben-Gurion Airport into…his own private zoo.

The unmarked ‘facility’ known as “Haim’s Zoo” situated behind the Lahav Division’s Hanger for Upgrading Military Aircraft, boasts a small herd of goats, peacocks and other fowl including a large goldfish pond with ducks, and picnic tables* where Haim and his cronies can hang out. (Channel 10 TV) Photo credit: screenshot from the Channel 10 segment

 

* Azulai says he should get the Israel Prize for his initiative, but Channel 10 claims Azulai’s hobby is underwritten by a questionable ‘special welfare budget’ euphemistically labeled a “members’ kitty’ (kupat chaverim) that collected an extra 80 NIS ($20) from a third of IAI’s employees beyond regular employee dues, to cover the zoo’s operation costs…

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