Monday, August 16, 2010

CHELM-ON-THE-MED© Brings Quirky News From Israel To Life

Have you heard the one about the Israeli soldier whose Jewish mother sneaked into his camp every night to accompany her son on guard duty because he was afraid of the dark?

Or the scheme to help solve Israel's water drain by re-channeling used mikvah water?

Or the government decision to paint the legs of all camels in Israel with fluorescent paint to prevent head-on collisions with speeding cars -- a reverse case of camouflage, or maybe it should be called camelflage?

Or the strange get (divorce papers) that required the divorcee to pay his former spouse one pregnant goat a year for the next 35 years?

All of these unbelievable but true stories, and lots more, have been collected by Daniella Ashkenazy, an Israeli journalist, most from the pages of the Hebrew newspaper, Yediot Aharonot.

Ashkenazy has been posting these zany snippets of daily life in Israel on her Chelm-on-the-Med© website since March 2009, and has hundreds more dating back to 1987 that she is compiling for publication in book form.

Why Chelm?  The name Chelm-on-the-Med© was chosen because in so many ways, Israeli public and private life seem modeled after Chelm – an actual Jewish town in Poland that for generations served as the butt of Yiddish folk humor.

Also in the works as part of "The Chelm Project" is a series of short videos that could be used at the end of news telecasts and humorous short subjects in a lineup of items of Jewish interest in the Jewish TV channels that are becoming available on the major cablevision networks.  Here is a sample animated video describing the conflict between highway engineers and a strange coalition of highly-secular environmentalists and ultra-Orthodox Haredi Jews over the construction of a new highway in Israel, and its resolution.

The idea is to present these daily happenings to show that Israel, despite the negative image that's being presented by much of the mainstream media, is not only a normal country, but one in which funny things are constantly happening, and many which can be described as "only in Israel."  The topics covered on the website, the forthcoming book, and animated videos are:
- Silly ministers and parliamentarians
- Quirky rabbis and such
- Weird court cases
- Two-bit crooks and odd capers
- Kafka-like ordinances
- Incredible bureaucratic tangles
- Dumb or kind-hearted cops
- Unforgettable "he and she" sagas
- IDF oddities and quirks
- Only-in-Israel quandaries
- Only-in-Israel solutions
- Countless run-of-the-mill Israelis whose harebrained schemes or bizarre behavior land them in the daily papers
If you want to be notified when new vignettes are published twice a month, go to the Chelm-on-the-Med© website and type in your name and e-mail address at the bottom of the left column.  Enjoy!

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