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Journalist Danny Adino Ababa was born in Ethiopia in 1973 and came to Israel in 1984. At age 16, he was issued an Israeli identity card that records his date of birth as 00.00.1973.

A clerical error?

No. There are 800,000 Israelis – mostly Mizrahi Jews who didn’t bring birth certificates from their country of origin when they immigrated to Israel in the 1950s – who are all in the same boat. When they arrived, government clerks simply entered a string of zeros and their year of birth in the population registry and called it a day.*

While Hebraizing one’s name is a simple administrative process, lengthy red tape kept most Zeros from having the birth date they chose entered in their IDs. Now, the Israel Ministry of Interior is marking Israel’s 63rd birthday by inviting all of them to choose any birthday they choose, with minimal paperwork – no questions asked.

And speaking of questions... At one point, Ababa asked his parents when he was born. His mother told him he was born “a month after the family donkey died.” His father said it was “a year after his grandfather died.” He chose April 24th as an educated guess, after interrogating some other kin who gave him a closer approximation.

* Any Zero seeking a tourist visa at the American Embassy in Tel Aviv ran into a stone wall. The visa section demanded applicants bring a letter from the Ministry of the Interior attesting that “The Above Person has the birth date -00 because they came from a Third World country without documents...” 



The supervisor of salaries at the Israel Ministry of Finance cut the incentive dockers at government-run ports received every time they offloaded more than 200 marine containers per work shift: a 600 NIS voucher for two free meals at the posh restaurant of their choice. The perk that port workers had dubbed nohal sinta or “the porterhouse special regulation” was costing the Israel Ports & Railway Authority 3.7 mNIS* a year for 8,000 such vouchers. Individual ports (HaifaAshdod and Eilat) could continue the practice if they wished, said the ministry official, but they’d have to fork over the cost of the restaurant bills out of their own budgets.

Not about to eat humble pie, angry Ashdod port workers responded by biting the hand that had fed them, declaring a go-slow strike**. (YediotCalcalist and Maariv)

* $1,057,142

** The beef was finally settled by the odd perk for prime ribs being tucked inside the workers monthly pay slips in the form of a 300 NIS bonus to regular "incentive premiums" for the next two years.


Psychologists warn texting and Facebook are revolutionizing social relationships and even rewiring kids brains – but not according to Israeli kids’ reaction to a new elementary school program for physical education that goes beyond soccer, basketball and calisthenics.

Phys Ed teachers were told to teach kids to play hopscotch, tag and dodge ball.* And guess what? The youngsters loved it so much they are drawing hopscotch squares on the sidewalk at home and playing hopscotch during recess, as well.

Next thing you know they’ll be shooting gulot (marbles) and playing with jacks.**

Classtofeset and machanayim in Hebrew

** For the uninitiated, Israeli jacks are called Chamesh Avadim (Five Stones), played without a ball, throwing one of the small metal cubes up in the air instead (For a demonstration, see this video clip.)


How long does it take to get from Beersheba to Tel Aviv?

Well, it depends whether you take the train or a bus.

The train takes an hour and a half and costs 29 NIS.

The bus – which now takes the Cross-Israel Toll Road* and the Dedicated Fast Lane into Tel Aviv to cut time – takes an hour and 10 minutes, and costs 16.50 NIS.

Go figure.

* Kvish 6 in Hebrew


The vice-president of the Tel-Aviv District Court the honorable Varda Alsheikh requested that a Knesset committee arrange VIP Lounge privileges at Ben-Gurion Airport for members of the court, just like members of the cabinet so she wouldn't have to rub elbows with the public.

What justified special elbow room?

"I was standing in line at the airport and ran into a man whom I'd stood in judgment of. I didn't know where to put myself," said the high-strung judge, hard put to contain herself.


A stream of complaints prompted the Israel Renovation Contractors Association to establish a Code of Ethics for its membership. The Code not only addresses aggravations like noise from taking down interior walls that drives neighbors up the walls, damage to hallways and sloppy workmanship, and it not only stipulates that renovation contractors orshuputzniks must have contracts and receipts. The association decided to stamp out slovenly apparel. Working in sandals or beach thongs was banned and members were told they could no longer work bare-chested.

How about low-rise jeans that inevitably lead to what has become known worldwide as a “plumber’s crack”? Apparently there will be no crack down in this department.