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Israel’s ambassador to the United States Michael Oren presented an out-of-the-box model for how diplomats can make friends and influence people – a laid-back jam session at his Maryland home. What was all-the-more extraordinary was the program itself. The evening wasn’t devoted to Israeli music at all. It was Irish music – albeit performed by an Israel trio called Yarok-Ad (Evergreen) that had just finished an Irish gig at a local synagogue.

Ambassador Oren – an Irish music aficionado – invited select members of Congress and heads of the local Jewish and Irish community, including Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, head of Washington’s Archdiocese, to the unique affair, where the ambassador jammed away with the trio on a genuine Celtic bodrun drum, joined by Maryland’s Irish governor Martin O’Malley on the guitar.


To mark Israel’s 63rd Independence Day, the National Water Company Mekorot and the Prime Minister’s Office decided to restore 1948-vintage graffiti on a pumping station at Sha’ar Hagai on the main road to Jerusalem. Fresco preservationist Shay Farkash was called in to reconstruct the historical war graffiti painted in hot tar: “Baruch Jamili PT, PALMACH 1948.”

The Petah Tikva soldier who left it had been guarding the building as Jewish convoys sought to force open the road to Jerusalem. Although it become a familiar landmark along with the remains of convoy vehicles that line the gorge as a memorial, Jamili’s graffiti was erased in 1984. The objective: to send a message to modern scribblers who were defacing historic tourist sites with their names and the date. Such vandalism, it was thought, had unwittingly been “encouraged” by vocalist Shlomo Artzi’s 1974 pop hit that glorified the mysterious Jamili asking: “Who was Baruch Jamili?... Where is Baruch Jamili [today]?”

In 1986, Baruch Jamili petitioned the courts to restore the message, but to no avail, He died in 2004 at age 81. (Arutz 7)


A middle-aged Jerusalemite on the way to shop for a new dining room table for Passover in Tel Aviv passed a National Lottery kiosk in the Big Orange that jogged her memory. Rummaging through her pocketbook, the matron took out an old Lotto ticket stashed in her wallet that she’d bought way back in late December 2010 and handed it to the agent.

“You look at me like I just won 700,000 NIS ($200,000),” she ribbed the lady in the booth checking the numbers.

“Not 700,000,” replied the lottery agent evenly. “You won 20 million NIS ($5.7 M).”

Not an isolated incident; stories pile up of better-late-than-never Israelis who have lucked out due to spring cleaning: in 2010, a couple’s 74 million NIS winnings – a record-breaking $19.5 M jackpot, after 22 weeks without a Lotto winner – languished near the bottom of a pile of papers for three months until the lady of the house nagged hubby to tidy up for Passover. And speaking of tidy sums – a dirt poor Israeli student found a winning lottery ticket among the dust bunnies on the floor of his bachelor pad when the young man finally got around to cleaning up his flat just days before the winning ticket was about to expire.


Remember the recent story about painter Menashe Kadishman taking his work to a department store chain to introduce run-of-the-mill Israelis to fine art? Well now it’s belle lettres turn.

For weeks prior to and following Hebrew Book Week in mid-June, Israel’s leading authors are holding intimate reader-writer meetings over coffee at select cafes throughout the country – including the geographical periphery as far-flung as Nazareth and Mitzpe Ramon.

Participating writers include leading novelists such as Meir Shalev and Yoram Kaniuk. But anyone who has always dreamed of sharing a latté with Amos Oz will have to traipse all the way to Arad, Oz’s home town in the middle-of-nowhere, because apparently he’s not going anywhere... at least no further than the Arad library which will host his coffee klatch.


The efforts of politicians trying to make an interlocutor feel at home took a rather bizarre form when during a meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres at the White House, President Barak Obama served Peres humous for lunch...

The media report didn’t say whether the twosome ‘wiped up’ humous with pita – a real bonding experience – or whether Obama served the humous with forks, God forbid.


When Ben-Gurion Airport came to a standstill due to contaminants in jet fuel storage tanks, the foul-up not only grounded planes and messed up flight plans for days, forcing aircraft to make fuel stops in Cyprus. With thousands of travelers ‘trapped’ at the terminal (or on the tarmac for hours) before they were sent packing at dawn, customs officials had to decide overnight the fate of duty-free purchases – which had increased in volume by seven percent due to the extended delay. In an extraordinary move, customs officials decided that exhausted and exasperated travelers reentering Israel without actually going anywhere could take their duty free purchases* home with them tax free, rather than adding the aggravation of wholesale refunds to thousands of customers.

If you’re thinking liquor and perfume, think again. Israel has a special arrangement where duty-free stores hold purchases for Israelis to pick up upon return from abroad – purchases that can vary from perfume or cosmetics and bulky toys, to stereos and microwaves and even full-size washing machines within the $200 duty-free limit.