Freedom for movie noshers, vocal over the Voca People, barring bareness

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Here are some recent stories out of Israel that you may have missed:

BYOP* (*popcorn)

Israeli movie goers can soon show their own Junior Mints rather than sneak them into the theater like their American counterparts.

The Knesset Finance Committee approved an amendment last week to the Consumer Protection Law that allow Israelis to bring their own snacks to the movies. Under the amendment, which Ynet reports is being called the Popcorn Law, movie theaters that sell food and drink cannot limit customers to buying only what they sell. It also limits the price of movie concessions.

The committee passed the amendment unanimously, and it is expected to sail through the full Knesset and go into effect in January.  

Voca People’s claims alien to Foreign Ministry

The strangely attired a cappella octet Voca People has angered the Foreign Ministry by disassociating itself from Israel and claiming to be aliens from another planet.

Members of the group, who dress in all white and wear white bald wigs and white painted faces with bright red lips, claim to be friendly aliens from another planet. And the group’s Facebook page lists its hometown as Planet Voca.

The Foreign Ministry recently took the group to task, issuing a letter to Israeli delegations around the world pointing out that the group does not identify itself in any way as Israeli. 

Lior Halfon, a co-creator of Voca People, told Ynet that "The group is not Israeli but rather aliens from the planet Voca."

Eyal Golan wants you … to turn down the volume

A Jerusalem neighborhood reportedly will use a popular Mizrachi singer to combat the loud, early morning call to prayer in surrounding Arab villages.

The French Hill community intends to blast Eyal Golan’s music at a deafening roar at 3 a.m., The Jerusalem Post reported. Apparently the community failed in negotiations with the Issawiya Arab village to convince its neighbors to lower the volume on the early morning (about 4 a.m.) call from the mosques to pray. Religious Muslims answer a call to prayer five times a day between about 4 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Imams in the village reportedly turned down the volume of the muezzins several months ago, but it has regained its full volume again, according to reports.

The community could blast its music from speakers on top of the balconies that face the village or by placing them at the edge of the neighborhood. First, however, it’s making make sure the action is legal, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Not all the French Hill residents opted for Golan’s music; some preferred classical.

Smile and the airline world smiles with you

Among flight attendants, Israelis have that special something.

The Association of Flight Attendants, the world’s largest labor union for flight attendants, voted Israeli flight attendants the most beautiful in the world. The assocation in Saturday’s vote reportedly noted the special smiles of the Israelis.

Aerolineas Argentinas airline was second, followed by Shanghai Airlines.

Name change for disabled

The term mental retardation is out officially in Israel.

Last month, the Welfare and Social Services Ministry announced that one with developmental and intellectual issues will now officially be known as "adam im mugbelet sichli hitpatchut,” a person with intellectual and developmental disability, as opposed to “adam im pigur sichli,” a person with mental retardation. The ministry said the name change will help the disabled’s profile in Israeli society and offer them more respect, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Minister Moshe Kahlon had received hundreds of requests from parents of children with intellectual or developmental disabilities to move away from the term mental retardation.

Here’s your chair, now sit in it

A haredi Orthodox synagogue in Jerusalem can rest easier now that a missing chair that some believe has special powers has been found.

The wooden chair, belonging to Shas party spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, disappeared last month from its place in the Tiferet Yerushalaim synagogue, causing an uproar. But it was found several days later when a synagogue gabbai said he lent it to members of a well-known rabbinical family for a brit milah. The family had wanted to have the chair at its brit so that when the rabbi attended the service as the baby’s godfather, he would be surprised with the chair. The rabbi did not attend the brit, however, and the chair remained with the baby’s family.

Ynet repoted that the special seat is slated to be returned soon.

Bill would bar baring it all

A haredi Orthodox Shas lawmaker wants to make it illegal to bare it all, especially for art’s sake.

Nissim Zeev tried and failed late last year to prevent American artist Spencer Tunick’s nude photo shoot at the Dead Sea, where more than 1,000 Israelis modeled nude for the installation initiated in Israel to draw attention to the environmental plight of the Dead Sea. The volunteers modeled in the sea, on the shore and covered in Dead Sea mud.

Now Zeev has submitted a bill that would send to jail for at least one year anyone who gets naked for artistic or commercial purposes.

"The determination that pornographic expression (including public nudity for art or advertising) is protected by freedom of expression and is an expression of human creation in the modern era and promotes public discourse is contrary to the basic principle mentioned in the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights," the explanatory notes to the bill said, specifically a violation of the of the religious sentiments of religious Jewish, Muslim and Christian citizens. 

Tunick said at the time of the photo shoot that “Israel is not a theocracy, it is a democracy and the only place in the Middle East that I could create this art. Thanks to the participants’ efforts, the world has a new image of Israel as an open and vibrant democracy."

A honeymoon down in the dump(s)

A newly married Israeli couple spent the day after their wedding combing a local garbage dump for checks, cash and cards.

The couple accidentally left a bag full of paper wedding gifts behind in a hotel room the morning after their wedding night. Realizing their mistake they contacted the hotel, which said the room had already been cleaned and the plastic bag was gone, Yediot Achronot reported.

The couple and a group of hotel workers spent the entire day searching the city dump for the bag — in vain.

The amount of money in checks and cash contained in the bag reportedly was "generous."

Dump employees pledged to continue searching for the bag of gifts.

No more marijuana high

Israeli scientists have developed a strain of marijuana that does not make you high.

The cannabis, which already is in use by people who are undergoing medical marijuana treatment, was developed by Hebrew University’s department of immunology and grown in the medical cannabis company Tikun Olam.

The new marijuana strain also does not give users the munchies, according to Ynet.

Meanwhile, police in the largely haredi Orthodox populated city of Elad arrested a yeshiva student and his wife for growing 210 potted marijuana plants in one of their children’s bedrooms, Ynet reported.

The wife told police she tried to break her husband of his habit, and even brought a rabbit into the house to eat the plants. The rabbit did manage to destroy some of the plants. 

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