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CHELM-ON-THE-MED©, APRIL 2014 COLUMN 1
Israel’s assistance to new immigrants (and ‘returning Israeli’) is legendary. For olim (new immigrants) Israel can be strange, confusing – unknown territory and the objective of government ‘absorption packages’ is to ease acclimation with guidance, re-training and financial assistance.
Now parliamentarian Zahava Gal’on (MERETZ) wants to extend the ‘absorption basket’ to another group for whom Israeli society is often just as foreign and at times even more difficult to navigate: Young people from haridi (ultra-religious) homes who abandon a religious lifestyle and fine themselves cast into an unfamiliar world on their own although they are native-born. Gal’on wants to legislate a special ‘absorption package’ that can enable such chozrim b’she’alah – estimated to be 500 per year – a roof over their head and the opportunity to acquire marketable skills (master English, mathematics, etc.) to enter the job market, just as the State of Israel provides Hebrew language classes and housing to new immigrants.
* The label coined by secular Israeli Jews for those who abandon a religious lifestyle (meaning literally ‘returning to question’) – as a counter to the religious term for non-observant Jews who become observant: t’shuvah in this context meaning ‘repentance’ – but t’shuvah also means ‘an ‘answer’ in Hebrew…
BUILDERS AND SONS
There are plenty of cases of children following in the footsteps of their parents, becoming performers or artists in their own right, but artist Mosh Kashi recently recalled how he felt the same sense of preserving a family tradition in 2005 when one of his paintings – Tree without Roots – was hung on the wall for exhibition at the Israel Museum. Things had come the full circle.
Was his father a famous artist?
No, but Mosh could say he was nevertheless a chip off the old block: The elder Kashi had spent 35 years as a manual laborer working for Solel Boneh, the construction corporation that had built the Israel Museum. When his son’s work was exhibited, the elder Kashi returned to the Israel Museum for the first time, in order to see his son’s handiwork hanging on one of the very walls he himself had erected forty years earlier.
SPOKE TOO SOON?
Safe bicycle paths are the latest rage among municipalities in the Dan Region* so there was nothing new when the Ramat Hasharon Municipality decided to dedicate part of the sidewalks to bicycle riders. But when residents sought to use the new bike lanes, it turned out that not only did some of the paths zigzag, randomly switching sides of the street; some paths ended without warning, leading riders straight into the bushes before an intersection or smack into a bus shelter and a host of other obstacles along the way.
City elders said the contractor had failed to follow instructions.
* the Tel-Aviv metropolitan area
NO SALVATION IN NAZARETH…
The greatest hike in the cost of an apartment registered in 2013 wasn’t in the Big Orange. The place where prices rose the fastest was…Nazareth, where the average price of a flat spiralled by 61.1 percent in the past twelve months – for an all-time high of 830,000 NIS ($237,143).
In a truly groundbreaking power play, a group of five convicted criminals serving time in the Ma’asiyahu and Hasharon prisons filed a 150 M NIS ($42.9 m) class action suit against their keepers, charging that the Israel Prison Service ‘hasn’t delivered the goods’.
The hand-written petition filed in a Tel-Aviv district court without the assistance of an attorney charged that annually the Prison Service receives budgets and grants from the government to rehabilitate inmates, but the money is never put to use…at least not the use it was intended. The five plaintiffs asked the court to intervene in their behalf “to assist penniless and powerless inmates demand their rights.”
WELCOME TO THE KNESSET
Want to visit the Knesset but can’t afford to buy an airline ticket?
Now there’s a shortcut. The Israeli parliament has inaugurated a virtual tour that allows surfers a peek inside the Israeli parliament, courtesy of Google Street View. Just go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFmlXIkZEpc&feature=youtu.be
DUCK AND COVER
Thirty-four year old Noah Velensky from kibbutz Usha has founded a unique fashion line designed to answer the needs of nursing mothers who don’t want to give up wearing dresses.
Peek-a-boo fashions produces thirty styles that incorporate a hidden flap that can be opened to accommodate a hungry baby without apparel looking like a nursing top. The entire nursing (and maternity) line boast a signature embroidered duck logo near the hemline…
Truly duck soup!
THE PAPERLESS OFFICE A LA ISRAEL
It wasn’t that the southern division of the Ministry of Health had become a bunch of tree-huggers all of a sudden… The regional office in Beersheva was simply close to running out of toner and paper, leading pencil pushers to request that the public – particularly food manufacturers and chemical plants that constantly need authorizations from the Ministry of Heath - send requests for documents by snail mail only, and refrain from sending faxes and e-mails that had to be printed out.
A Ministry spokesperson said the division’s ‘supply and demand’ problem was being addressed.