Askew

Joel Schatz

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

Askew

Hoity toities, engaging rhinoplasty, and the news about Aaron

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Pay toilets go upscale 

They're popping up all over Europe. Now Tel Aviv has Israel's very first boutique pay toilets.

Located on a busy stretch of King George Street, the "2theloo" storefront offers a sharp contrast to the dingy public bathrooms you find in bus stations, the Jerusalem Post reports. For 78 centstriple the bus station rateyou get piped-in Pink Floyd and your choice of spotless, dark-wood stalls wrapped in giant photo murals of swimming polar bears, the Tel Aviv skyline or, if you prefer, a seat on the beach. There's also a giraffe-accented baby-changing station, toiletries and diapers for sale, and a refrigerator with soft drinks.

The general manager says there are 400-500 guests a day, and people have reacted better than expected. Of course, that doesn't mean there aren't the inevitable jokes. The JPost itself headlined the story "Boutique toilet chain debuts Mideast 'relief' plan."

Does this make scents?

A Jewish plastic surgeon in Miami is offering scholarships for nose jobs, in an effort to help Orthodox Jewish singles find marriage partners, according to CNN.

Dr. Michael Salzhauer says he has at least 15 applicants. But not just anyone can qualify. In addition to meeting all the necessary medical and psychological requirements, potential patients must verify financial need. And they have to be referred by a matchmaker or rabbi.

The doctor fully expects some people to be critical of the effort, the story says, but he's hardly a stranger to controversy. Last month he drew heavy fire, and an ethics investigation by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, when he commissioned an Orthodox pop-punk band (yes, they do exist) to create a music-video love song to teen-age nose jobs.

You don't have to be Jewish…

Nose-job scholarships may not be available (at least, not that I know of), but a growing number of non-Jewish couples are incorporating Jewish trappings into their weddings. At the top of the list: the ketubah, the traditional Jewish marriage contract.

Websites and ketubah artists say they are getting more and more customers looking for "non-Jewish" ketubot, according to the Associated Press. Some select fairly traditional Jewish text. Others customize, or mix in blessings and inspirational thoughts from a wide range of cultures and philosophies.

One couple, whose traditional Catholic wedding reflected their Filipino and Puerto Rican backgrounds, also had a ketubah written in English and Hebrew and "signed by, among others, the priest who married them."

"We like to learn about other cultures and other traditions," the story quoted the bride. Their ketubah is "hanging in our living room, next to our crucifix, no less."

According to Aaron

Aaron Cohen and his new-found friends Aaron Cohen, Aaron Cohen and Aaron Cohen are making a documentary about Aaron Cohens. The video is written, produced, filmed, edited and marketed by Aaron Cohens and, of course, stars a whole lot of Aaron Cohens.

The whole thing started one day when AaronI'm not quite sure which onestarted friending other Aaron Cohens on Facebook. He found several. In New York. Omaha. Spartanburg. Fargo. Juneau. By his count, there are 323 in Israel.

The whole thing eventually led to the idea of making a filmthey're calling it The Aaron Cohensthat "explores the serendipitous interactions of hundreds of men with the same name and how social media can create a sense of identity never before experienced." And to make sure the concept isn't too one-dimensional, they're including the mothers of Aaron Cohen, who are described as "proud, loud, nurturing, overbearing, cute and not-so-cute."

Aaron and friends hope to release the film at Chanukah. You can find out more, and meet a few Aarons, at their website.

Oh, in the interest of full journalistic disclosure, I should mention that my boss just happens to be Aaron Cohen. Honest. To the best of my knowledge, he's not connected to this project.

Beautification takes wing

The Israeli coastal city of Bat Yam has launched a plan to attract new residents. Butterflies.

City elders are convinced loads of butterflies can make the city more attractive for other residents. To lure more butterflies into the city, the municipality planted 100,000 nectar-rich wild shrubs around built-up neighborhoods and distributed window boxes to residents with the same varieties, practically free of charge.

In two years, Bat Yam registered a net gain of seven new types of butterflies including swallowtails - bringing the butterfly population to a total of 20 different species, out of 113 species in Israel as a whole. The pioneer program is now being copied by Lod, Natanya, Ashdod and Jerusalem.

Courtesy www.chelm-on-the-med.com

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