Askew

Joel Schatz

Joel Schatz offers a slightly off-center look at the news.

Askew

Champions galore, Bibi in Chinese, and one small victory for bedtime

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Row row row your boat 

When Moran Samuel won a rowing competition in Gavirate, Italy, in preparation for the London Paralympics, the problems began when Italian organizers began playing Hatikvah. There was no resemblance between the Israeli National Anthem and what came over the PA system.

Without so much as missing a beat, the plucky athlete, who is paralyzed from the waist down, came forward and asked the MC for his microphone and took the lead for the second time that day, belting out a perfect rendition of Hatikvah on her own and perfectly in tune, winning a special round of applause for her outstanding performance in addition to a gold cup, according to IBA - 2nd Channel.

Courtesy Chelm-on-the-Med.com

An historic match

More than 46,000 fans packed a stadium in New York City on May 1 for one of the most anticipated soccer exhibitions in history. The match drew major buzz for weeks before. The New York Times was there to cover iteven though the "home" team was hastily assembled just for the event.

If somehow you missed the action, or didn't catch it on ESPN, you have a good excuse. The match, featuring the all-Jewish Hakoach Vienna squad on its first tour of the United States, took place May 1, 192686 years ago. It drew the largest crowd ever to watch a soccer game in the United Statesa record that stood until Pele arrived some 50 years later.

While summer soccer tours of the U.S. now are a popular way to promote major European teams, New York Times soccer blogger Ed Upright notes that was hardly the case in the 1920s. And this particular squad"a formidable team of Jewish players that won the Austrian championship in 1925"wasn't simply promoting itself. As Upright quotes author Franklin Foer, "Instead of selling jerseys … Hakoah sold Zionism."

In its first nine exhibitions in America, Hakoach Vienna drew 178,000 spectators (at a time when soccer was a complete novelty in the U.S.) and won several of those matches. The New York contest, however, was not one of them. Hakoach lost 3-0, "understandably impeded by the home team's defensive system of 'jamming' the goal with all 11 players."

And the champion is…

When the UJA-Federation of New York set out to do some good late last month, they did it in a really big way.

As part of its Mitzvah Day, the Federation gathered 100 volunteers at a synagogue on Long Island to make sandwiches for the needy, the Jewish Voice reported.  Lots of sandwiches. 1,660 in one hour, to be precise. And precise the count had to be, because there in the crowd was a representative of Guinness World Records making certain that the old record of 1,500 sandwiches was, indeed, surpassed.

"To qualify as a sandwich," the Jewish Voice story explained, "the slices of bread were coupled with two foods: soy butter and jelly. Soy butter was selected to ensure the sandwiches would be edible for all, including those with allergies and other health-related issues."

Big hit

In honor of the Chinese New Yeardebuting the Year of the Dragonthe Israeli embassy in Beijing decided to scrap written greetings through diplomatic channels and opted instead for a videotaped greeting from Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu* and the President of the State of Israel Shimon Peres, direct to the Chinese people.

What makes the gesture unique is both Israeli leaders delivered their greetings in Chinese.  The small gesture immediately went viralreceiving 37 million hits on one Chinese website alone in the first three days after it was posted.  

And speaking of messagesshort and sweet, cadets for Israel's diplomatic corps are now required to take a special course on How to Tweet.  

* To see an uncensored behind-the-scenes clip of Netanyahu being tutored in Chinese diction by diplomat Guy Kibitz , see this YouTube clip. To view the PM's full greeting (climaxing a 2:15 minute message in English) go here.

Courtesy Chelm-on-the-Med.com

Silent night

Jewish ingenuity is at it again! 

Kibbutz Sdeh Nechemia's Huliot Industries has designed patented plastic sewer pipes specially suited for apartment buildings. 

Their unique acoustic attributes solve a universal irritant that plagues apartment dwellers everywhererich and poorleading Switzerland to pass a law prohibiting the flushing of toilets after 10 p.m. The kibbutz's silent sewer pipes magically absorb the noise of flowing water when someone, somewhere in a residential building, goes to the toilet … and the sewage pipes no longer convey the news to each and every tenant anywhere in the building.

Courtesy Chelm-on-the-Med.com

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