Askew

Joel Schatz

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

Askew

Wedding blasts, bureaucrats and liver steak

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Setting priorities

This week, yet again, scores of rockets fired from Gaza rained down on southern Israel. The attacks take a heavy toll on lives and psyches, but Israelis are known for adapting to circumstances and going on with their lives.

Take newlyweds Maor Kardi and Mor Peretz. According to the Israel Hayom newspaper, their wedding reception in Ashkelon may have been punctuated by occasional warning sirens, but "We won't let any Grad rocket or Code Red (early warning siren) dampen the most important event of our lives," they said just before heading down the aisle. The bride did concede that, amid all the preparations, "We thought of everythingjust not the Grad rockets. Now we'll have a story to tell the next generation."

Over in Ashdod, 300 guests showed up for the wedding of Noam Blau and Hagit Brodsky.

"If the sirens go off," the bride told the newspaper. "the bomb shelter is situated right next to the kitchen, so worst case scenario, 300 people will go in. I'm not afraid."

And, of course, babies come when they come, regardless of missle warnings. "We ran to the bomb shelter," said one of several new mothers at Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot, "and as we were running we decided to go to Kaplan. As we were … running to the car we heard five explosions, but we were convinced that we would overcome anything and succeed in the birth process and so it was."

I'll have the liver steak, Celine

Next time you're in Montreal, you might want to grab the smoked meat plate and a sour pickle at Celine Dion's deli.

The pop diva and her husband are part of an investor group that just bought the historic Schwartz's Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen, according to The Forward. The famed shop, which has been feeding Quebec since 1928, has been heralded by generations of noshers, was the title character of a best-selling book, and even starred in a hit stage musical.

Initial reaction to news of the nearly $10 million sale (apparently, smoked meat and brisket have a pretty good ROI) was cautious, at least among purists who feared changes andgasp!Schwartz's clones popping up all over North America. But the head of the new owner's group quickly pledged that franchising definitely is not in the plans.

Speaking of noshing …

Discovering roots is a big part of the Birthright Israel experience. But last month, participants on one Birthright journey paid just as much attention to discovering their root vegetables.

It was just the second Birthright culinary tour, a foodie adventure that combined the key elements of all Birthright trips with a major focus on the unique cuisine of the Jewish State, according to participant Sherri Cohen's article in The Forward.

"We want to show how the food is connected to the country and how the country is connected to the food," said Bill Frankel, who oversaw the program.

Keynote speakers Janna Gur, a food editor and publisher, and Master Chef Israel judge Michal Anksy, "discussed how fresh, high-quality produce and products like tomatoes, silan (date syrup), and freekeh (cracked green wheat) make disparate Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Mizrahi foods Israeli," Cohen wrote.

The gastronomic exploration apparently has its appeal. Cohen says more than 220 hungry hopefuls have signed up for this summer's trip.

Setting the record straight

There are Russian immigrants to Israel who get caught in the jaws of the bureaucracy while trying to prove they are Jews, but Freddy Postovsky is probably the only immigrant forced to prove he's a boy, not a girl. 

Within days of arriving in Israel, the toddler underwent an unscheduled "sex change" when an Israeli Ministry of Interior clerk registered the new immigrant from Azerbaijan as a girl. The family came back the next morning and told the rushed clerk (who had received father Demitri and mother Diana five minutes before closing time) that she'd made a clerical error, but to no avail: Overnight, the data had been entered in the population registry, and Ministry clerks claimed their hands were tired...making it clear to his parents and grandfather that "No, pulling down the toddler's pants was not admissible as evidence."

In an attempt to untie the Gordian Knot, Dr. Lilia Kolkar stepped forward providing a one-of-a-kind one-sentence signed declaration that Freddy was a little boy, not a little girl. But the clerks demanded notarized certification from a lawyer, not a pediatrician ... then changed their tune, demanding authorization on paper from the Azerbaijan consul. The pencil pushers only backed off when Freddy's grandfather called the papers instead, sufficing with a copy of Freddy's original birth certificate from Baku. - Courtesy www.chelm-on-the-med.com

Extra special deliveries

We've all heard of calls for "a man with a van," but how about calls for "a man with a motorcycle?" 

Indeed, delivery services can get some strange requestsat least in Israel. The veteran owner of a courier service revealed that the weirdest request he fielded in twenty years at the beck and call of his regular customers was a veteran client with some "unfinished business" who called him to deliver an emergency roll of toilet paper to his flat. Another courier described how a stressed-out Tel-Aviv executive stuck in a major traffic jam on the way to an important business meeting in Netanya called and asked him to pick her up on his motorcycle, and deliver the damsel in distress to her destination.

Completing the mad dash in the nick of time, the motorcyclist waited until she finished her business and took the lady back to her own pricy vehicle, which the high-powered exec had ditched at the side of the road. - Courtesy www.chelm-on-the-med.com

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