If Friday is cancelled, when is Shabbat?
The last Friday of 2011 disappeared on the tiny Pacific island of Samoa. And if that sounds strange, just wait 'til you hear what the rabbis have to say about it.
The nation officially moved itself to the other side of the international dateline that weekend, JTA reported, in order to be in the same day as its major trade partners, Australia and New Zealand. The shift meant Samoans went straight from Thursday to Saturday.
For the locals, it was a one-time event. But for Jews—and, apparently, there is exactly one there on a full-time basis—the consequences are much more far-reaching.
First, of course, there was the immediate question of when Shabbat begins if there is no Friday. Answer: Thursday at sunset.
With the calendar shifted, however, the answer is the same every week, even though Friday only went missing once, according to Rabbi Dovid Heber, an adviser to the Star-K kosher certification agency. And it ends on Saturday after sundown—resulting in a 49-hour Shabbat each week.
You might want to keep that in mind when making travel plans.
Would Facebook sue Mark Zuckerberg?
Israeli entrepreneur Rotem Guez was having a few problems with Facebook. Seems he was selling highly prized "likes" to advertisers, and the social network slapped him with a couple of cease-and-desist letters for violating its Terms of Service, the rules that govern use of the site.
The 32-year-old Guez saw it differently, and wasn't particularly inclined to shut down his business. But to avoid legal woes, the Daily Beast reported, he decided the best strategy was to legally change his name to—drum roll, please—Mark Zuckerberg. Yep. The same name as the co-founder and head of Facebook.
"His logic:" reporter Brian Ries reported, "Facebook wouldn't really sue Mark Zuckerberg, would it?"
The answer is not yet clear. But The Daily Beast did run an interview with Guez/Zuckerberg to get his view of the situation, as well as what it's like to be newly Zuckerberg, and which Mark Z. he thinks is handsomest.
Nude women back blogger
Dozens of Israeli women went au naturel in support of a female Egyptian blogger.
The young women posed nude—with a banner strategically placed in front of them—to back Aliaa Magda Elmahdi, 20, an activist and university student who was condemned throughout Egypt in November after posting photos on her blog showing her standing wearing only stockings. She reportedly called the photos, viewed by more than a million visitors to the site, "screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy."
The young Israelis' banner read "Love without Limits" and "Homage to Aliaa Elmahdi. Sisters in Israel."
They learned of the event through a Facebook event page, which invited them "to show support in a non-violent and legitimate way for a woman who is just like us—young, ambitious, full of dreams and evidently has a developed sense of humor." - JTA
Let them eat pork—sort of
Israel's chief rabbi has agreed to allow the import of a Spanish goose whose meat reportedly tastes like pork.
Three non-Jewish chefs have confirmed that the goose meat indeed tastes like pork, The Associated Press reported.
Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger has ruled that the meat is kosher. He cited a Talmudic statement that for every food prohibited to the Jewish people, there is a kosher substitute with the same taste, according to Ynet.
The geese are still young and it will be some time before there is enough of their meat to go around. - JTA
And the winner is …
Chelm-on-the-Med, a regular source of odd-but-true tales for this blog, has decided that the "Best Only-in-Israel Story" for 2011 belongs to the Israel Electric Company and kibbutz Nachal Oz.
No one—including service reps at the Israel Electric Company—knows why Nachal Oz is repeatedly being sent the electric bill for Hamas, the terrorist group that runs neighboring Gaza. Nevertheless, the statements for power drawn from the Israeli grid by Gazans—addressed to "The Palestinian Authority - Nachal Oz"—continue to arrive by mail.
Each is in the vicinity of $750,000, not counting $19.7 million for previous unpaid bills, say kibbutz accountants. The village—which hugs the Gaza Strip—gets socked coming and going, not only hit with the Palestinians' bills, but also with Palestinian rockets fired regularly from Gaza. How have the kibbutzniks responded? They laugh at the absurdity of the situation, and with typical Israeli perseverance in the face of adversity, plant a new sapling in every crater caused by a mortar or rocket lobbed inside the kibbutz perimeter. - Courtesy www.chelm-on-the-med.com.