April 2016 Column 3

GLEANED FROM ISRAEL’S HEBREW MEDIA

April 14 – April 20, 2016

PASSOVER SPECIAL

ABOUT THIS COLUMN: “Backpage News from the Front” is a series of weekly special reports ‘for the duration’ of  the Jihadi Wave of 2015/6 (for lack of a better name) that combines the regular odd and only-in-Israel Chelm-like-but-true news stories ‘hiding’ in the Hebrew media that are normally reported by this author twice-monthly in columns entitled “Chelm-on-the-Med Online” – antics that Israelis continue to do even in the worst of times, and piquant aspects of heightened conflict – from the galling, to the touching, to the downright bizarre.

The 5th QUESTION

The Aviv Matzah factory shared some of its trade secrets – for example, why matzoh is scored with lines and little holes: To prevent the dough from fermenting in the 18 minutes it takes to mix flour and water, roll-out and cut the dough into squares, and bake the matzah at 400 C (752 F).

Hummm, OK, but how many holes are there in a standard matzah?

Aviv’s food technologist counted: 800 holes.  Now you know. (Israel HaYom)

SIGN IT’S PASSOVER TIME…

Among haredi families who often go to extraordinary lengths to remove all possible forms of hametz (leavening) from their houses, family food budgets during Passover week can run 5,000 NIS ($1,315).

Trolling for a hunk of this lucrative market, the Fish Breeders Association in Israel published an ad in a haredi newspaper warning gullible consumers: “There are fish that eat hametz…and there’s Israeli carp – fresh and Kosher for Passover!”

Does it actually matter to end consumers in the food chain – in terms of Jewish Law – that Salmon from Norway or Nile Perch from Lake Victoria ‘don’t keep kosher’? Actually, no. But the fishermen are neither the first nor the last advertisers to use fear as bait. (Israel HaYom)

DON’T’ DO WINDOWS

A Petach Tikvah matron caught up in the fury of Passover cleaning was determined at all costs to thoroughly clean the fashionable ‘picture window’ in the living room that has replaced porches in some upscale Israeli apartments. Stepping out on the wide decorative ledge outside her apartment sure enough…the window slammed shut, leaving the overeager cleaner locked outside her apartment…on the 18th floor!

Luckily a neighbor on the 16th floor across the street – Naomi Manor – who’d gone out on her porch for a smoke, spotted the stranded woman and rushed over, her heart in her mouth.

Pounding on the door (opened by a kid home for three weeks Passover vacation) Manor rushed – breathless – into the living room where her heart dropped into her stomach to find the ledge empty!

Luckily Manor had miscounted and was on the 19th floor…  (Israel HaYom)

FLOOD OF IDEAS

Just before Passover, Palestinians social media were flooded with stories that Israel plans to detonate a quote “biological bomb” that would cause a tsunami in Gaza and drown all the Palestinians. Of course, in the past they claimed flooding in Gaza caused by torrential rains was the result of Israel opening the floodgates to non-existent dams facing Gaza – also designed to drown all the Palestinians…

The trigger this time wasn’t the image of Israelis rejoicing the Egyptian army being swallowed up in the Red Sea after the Children of Israel passed safely through; it was the tsunami warning signs posted on Ashkelon and Ashdod beaches, reported by Chelm-on-the-Med two weeks ago… (Walla.com)

LAST DITCH MEASURE

An estimated 350,000 Israelis nationals are heading abroad during Passover week.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised the outward bound they were bound to be arrested and deported at their point of destination if they didn’t double-check sthat there were no stray bullets in the side pockets of that duffle bag last used during reserve duty…

Considering the number of Israelis whose passport gets lost, stolen, or put through the washing machine each year (see the September 2014 piece, “Sequel of Senior Moments”) it’s not all that surprising that Ben-Gurion Airport has – in addition to the usual Border Control points – a branch of the Ministry of Interior* that’s prepared to bail out anyone ticketed for a flight taking off in less than 24 hours who plum forgot their passport on the dining room table when they took off for the airport, or were stopped at Border Control with an expired passport. (Ynet.com)

* designed primarily to process new immigrants. Word to the wise: Entry into some countries requires a passport with at least six months time left before the expiration date.

THEY’RE BACK!

Looking for a fashion statement to wear to the seder?

Two forward-thinking Israelis are resuscitating two iconic brand names of yesteryear – Maskit and ATA – both defunct fashion pillars in nation-building.

The first – Maskit – was founded by Ruth Dayan in the early 1950s to provide employment for new immigrants. Maskit was all the rage in high fashion ‘ethnic’ designs. Twenty-two years after Maskit folded (1994), the label is being revived by Shenkar-graduate Sharon Tal (31), boasting luxury fashions with a twinge of the same ethnic tinge, with 97 year-old Dayan serving as honorary president.

At the other end of the fashion scale, film-maker and advertising producer Shahar Segal (52) bought the ATA trademark* – a factory founded in 1936, whose navy blue-collar cotton shirts and khaki shorts/pants topped by a signature kova temble were for forty years the quintessence of the sabra and Israel’s halutzic (pioneering) ethos. ATA’s Kiryat ATA factory which went bankrupt in 1986 ended up as a shopping mall… The old fashion line with a new touch was debuted in ATA’s new Allenby Street store a week before Passover.

Both enterprises hope to ride a wave of nostalgia reflected in the popularity of vintage cookie jars and bread boxes as a fashion statement, and the ‘hipness’ of dilapidated historic neighborhoods such as Florintine. (Yediot, HaAretz)

* an acronyms for Arigim Totzeret Artzanu (Textiles Product of Our Country)

COMING CLEAN

Periodically, the IDF launches a campaign to ‘retrieve’ gear that soldiers have taken home without permission – from winterized jackets to night-vision binoculars ‘just in case they need them’ in reserves, or as a personal souvenir of their national service.

Anyone can hand back anything – from a handful of ammo in an old army duffle bag, to a pristine purloined assault rifle – without fear of being prosecuted. Those dropping off gear between mid-March and mid-April didn’t even have to give their names to make a clean breast of it.

Among the oddities returned in the ‘Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell campaign’ was a 109 year-old rifle used by the American cavalry, found buried in the sand in Gaza (no one knows how it got there) and two F-15 joysticks – worth tens of thousands of shekels – in perfect working condition…. (Yediot) 

HAPPINESS IS…

Did your spouse share the burden of pre-Passover cleaning chores?

The ‘toilet duck’™ people ordered a survey of 500 Jewish adults in Israel to find out: 70 percent of the men think things are honky-dory; only 51 percent of the women agree. (Israel HaYom)

TAKING THE LONG VIEW

So, UNESCO’s executive board – the people who sponsor the World Heritage Sites initiative to honor and preserve historic and cultural sites – dropped any connection between the Temple Mount and…the Temple Mount, moving to describe Mount Moriah where the First and Second Temples stood, only as the site of the al-Aqsa mosque?

As vocalist Meir Ariel z”l said in his 1990 song of woe – Avarnu et Paro: Avarnu et paro, na’avor gam et zeh (We got through Pharaoh, we’ve get through this, too).

CHAG SAMEACH!   (Ynet)

* Ariel’s tale of daily woe included problems with tax authorities and unpaid bills and an ATM devouring his credit card along with a host of other daily tzuros (Yiddish for troubles’)

 

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