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CHELM-ON-THE-MED©, December 2008 - Column 1


When motorists reported they'd seen a herd of pink sheep on a grassy knoll along the Ayalon Freeway in mid-December, no one demanded the drivers submit to a inebriation test.
The grazing sheep on the edge of the main artery into the Big Orange, moved from spot to spot around Tel Aviv over a solid week before being put out to pasture, were the pet project of an anonymous donor who decided the installation, commissioned from an unnamed artist, was just what the doctor ordered for mounting economic woes and other worries.
The donor said he hoped it would at least bolster spirits with a passing chuckle and give Tel Aviv residents something else to talk about although the sheep might not pack the power to put an ailing world economy back in the pink.



The IDF has a host of unusual posts - including an IDF magician who for three years ‘pulled tricks'* on new recruits at the Tel Hashomer Induction Center to amuse draftees while they waited to hear where they would be assigned. It turns out the Israeli army also has what might best be labeled - an ‘ORGANizer'.
The official mission? Sign up as many personnel in uniform as possible to become card-carrying members of ADI, the national organ donation program.
The young man assigned the unique post, NCO Natan Rachamim, comes armed with impeccable credentials and an unbeatable pitch that also rest on an entrenched IDF tradition: Follow me!
When his brother Yaniv needed a lung lobe to save his life, Rachamim - at the time a combat medic - volunteered. Tragically, this last-ditch effort failed, and his brother died a week later. At first, unable to return to his combat post, the army was going to discharge Natan Rachamim, but on second thought re-assigned him to go from base-to-base to raise awareness of the importance of organ transplants, where in 100 talks the staff sergeant stood and delivered, convinced another 4,500 soldiers to sign-on as potential donors.

* See Classic Oldies in the Archives



In today's global climate, Israel has to find friends wherever it can. Thus in the UN, our staunchest supporters against a steady stream of anti-Israel resolutions are the United States of America...and Micronesia.
Finally, reinforcements are on the way from a no-less surprising source.
The surviving members of a decimated Indian tribe - the 862-member strong Louisiana Coushattas - who make their living primarily from a reservation gambling casino that rakes in $300 M in revenues a year, decided to sign its first and only friendship pact...with the Jewish state. The "Friendship Declaration" - the tribes first foray into the international arena - was signed by the head of the tribal council Keven Sickey and Israeli consul-general in Houston Asher Yarden at the Louisiana hamlet of Elton (p. 1,261) and is designed "to establish business relations with the State of Israel"...which doesn't even have legal gambling of the casino type at all.



With half the business community abuzz with talk that the workplace is akin to a playing field filled with players, especially team players - is it any wonder that researchers at Ben-Gurion University's business and management school decided to study the decision-making patterns of soccer goalies and how they responded to 286 penalty kicks?
Replayed footage demonstrated that the chances of stopping the ball was highest had the players stayed in the center, yet 94 percent of the time, the goalie blindly dove right or left to block the penalty kick. Why? Scholars surmise that seeming to be on the ball by taking action and missing the ball is perceived as better than just standing there and missing the ball. Played out on Wall Street, the same instinct - labeled 'action bias' in economic psychology - is likely to prompt investment managers to juggle portfolios to show they're not sitting on their hands, when sitting on their hands would actually be the best move after all.



Back in the early 1920s, Zionists in Poland and the USA were encouraged to buy building plots in Afula that would be ‘near the opera house' envisioned by the city's German-Jewish planner Richard Kaufman. Of course, no opera house materialized. Situated literally in the boondocks, for years Afula was unkindly dubbed "the hole at the end of the sargel*. Even today, Afula's main claim to fame is its nuts.
Mayor Avi Elkavetz, however, is determined to banish his city's hayseed image as only the uncontested source of the best roasted pumpkin seeds in Israel - the Gar'inei Afula brand: Three years ago, the mayor purchased 1,300 musical instruments and made music a required subject for all 5th graders in city's elementary schools. Forget about recorders or mandolins, folks. The instruments range from 102 flutes and 120 violins, cellos and violas, down to a 40,000 NIS ($10,000) tuba. Today, 70 percent of all the 5th and 6th grades play a musical instrument, under the tutelage of a small army of 100 music teachers mobilized for the project. And speaking of armies, 11 graduates of Afula's music conservatory recently won a place in the prestigious IDF band.

* A straight-as-a-ruler (sargel in Hebrew) highway that leads to Afula, known as the Sargel Highway.



Exercise of reasonable force got out of hand when 6,000 cops gathered at an IDF training base to exercise riot control techniques with half the men in blue cast as cops, the other half as rowdy West Bank settlers and rock-throwing Palestinian armed with tennis balls.
The dry run ran amok when both sides threw themselves into their parts a wee bit too seriously, leaving 54 black-and-blue Men in Blue limping off the field, although a poker-faced police spokesperson adamantly denied that the drill had ended with a number of the ‘cast' in casts themselves.



President Shimon Peres was knighted by the Queen of England Elizabeth II for his contribution to peace in the Middle East, but alas -not being a British citizen, Peres is not entitled to use the title of ‘Sir'.


* Copyright© 2008 by Daniella Ashkenazy. All rights reserved worldwide. For limited usage, see FAQs. All stories are completely rewritten by Daniella Ashkenazy from news items gleaned from Yediot Aharonot, unless another news source is stated.