Witch’s brouhaha, sitcom America bound, flying females


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

Ding dong, the witch is fined

A rabbinical court in Haifa has fined a woman for practicing witchcraft — but it could have been worse.

The court reduced the value of the woman’s ketubah, the amount her husband must pay her in the event of divorce, by half — or about $25,000. However, the wife was acquitted of refusing to cook for her husband — the least the court could do since her husband had committed adultery.

The wife denied her husband’s charge that she practiced witchcraft, but she failed a polygraph test, leading the court to determine that she in fact had been practicing witchcraft.

Death is the punishment for witchcraft in the Torah, but the rabbis found a source that instead allowed them to mete out the financial penalty.

The couple went before the court to receive a decree of Jewish divorce, or get.

High-flyin’ females

Five women will graduate from the Israeli Air Force’s flight school — the largest group of women to complete the course together since Israel’s Supreme Court ordered the flight school to accept women in 1995.

The women will become IAF pilots in December.  One, known only by their initials, will become the first religiously observant female to complete the pilots’ course. Another is set to become a fighter pilot and two others will be navigators on fighter jets.

A total of 22 women have completed the course prior to this class.

Transplant transcends politics

The kidney of a 38-year-old Israeli man saved the life of a 14-year-old Palestinian from Bethlehem.

The transplant was performed at Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem after a medically compatible Israeli could not be found on the transplant list and the organ was offered to the Palestinian Authority, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The recipient has been undergoing dialysis a few times a week for the last four years following kidney failure and had been waiting for a donated organ.

“We have had a special privilege to contribute to the creation of ‘a mosaic of peace,’ ” the donor family told The Jerusalem Post.

Hog heaven for U.S. vets

More than 70 U.S. military veterans are touring Israel on their Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

The riders, all Christians, are in Israel to show their affinity for the country and their appreciation to fellow veterans as part of a mission sponsored by Hope For Israel. They will spend 10 days touring the country on their bikes, which they sent ahead last month.

They were scheduled to visit military bases, honor fallen soldiers and deliver $500,000 worth of medical supplies donated by the organization’s Hope For Israel Relief Fund that also helps Holocaust survivors and Israel’s needy.

The visit will take the bikers from the Golan to Beersheba, visiting much of Israel and its Christian holy places. It will conclude with a bike ride from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem’s Western Wall.

Peres’ little something for Sarkozys’ baby

Israeli President Shimon Peres sent a baby gift to French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s new arrival.

The gift to Giulia Sarkozy, the daughter of Sarkozy and former fashion model Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, included a pink shirt that reads “I’m a princess” in Hebrew, with matching pants, as well as a book of Psalms.

In a note to the family, Peres wrote that the “people of Israel join me in sending you our best wishes.”

CBS believes ‘Life Isn’t Everything

The CBS television network has purchased the long-running Israeli sitcom “Chaim Ze Lo Hakol,” or “Life Isn’t Everything.”

The popular show centers around a recently divorced middle-aged screenwriter and his ex-wife who are as bad at divorce as they were at marriage; they cannot help meddling in each other’s lives. It recently ended a successful nine-season run on Israel’s Channel 2.

Mike Sikowitz, executive producer of “Rules of Engagement” and formerly of “Friends,” will co-write the scripts for American audiences with Daniel Lappin, the Israeli creator of the original series.

The show is based loosely on Lappin’s life. He was going through his own divorce during the show’s first season.

In recent years, remakes of several Israeli shows have made it to U.S. television screens: “In Treatment” on HBO;  “The Ex List” on CBS; “Traffic Light” on Fox; and “Homeland” on Showtime.

Times Square in Tel Aviv

The Tel Aviv Port will soon become the Times Square of Israel’s city that doesn’t sleep.

An $8 million project will include a culture complex in the north port and a night film screening venue. A wood deck is planned for concerts and multimedia events.

The project was initiated by The Tel Aviv Municipality and the Tourism Ministry through its Atarim company.

An overhaul of the port’s recreation facilities, to bring people to the venue during the day as well as at night, will cost about $26 million, according to reports.

Bibi’s Internet ‘bomb’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has responded to Internet “Bibi bombing,” in which a Photoshopped Netanyahu is seen in several iconic shots on the Internet, with a bomb of his own.

On his Facebook page, a photo shows Bibi watching himself as he addresses the United Nations General Assembly. Coming out of his mouth in a bubble are the words “Doogri, you made me laugh.” (Doogri in this case means honestly or straightforward, and is an expression Bibi used during his U.N. speech when reaching out to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.)

Bibi bombing made its name on the Internet following the release of Gilad Shalit, when Netanyahu made sure to be photographed with the released soldier several times.

Shots of Netanyahu smiling in the background as released soldier Gilad Shalit and his father are reunited for the first time was Photoshopped into shots showing Bibi at Iwo Jima, as Forrest Gump, next to the plane in the final scene of “Casablanca” and at the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Dip for everyone

Women regardless of their martial status should be allowed to immerse in a mikvah regardless, according to an appeal made to Israel’s religious services minister.

The Religious Action Center of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism called on Yakov Margi to order religious councils across the country to allow any woman that wishes to immerse in the ritual bath.

Unmarried women in many communities have been prevented from using the mikvah, which is seen as giving them permission to have sex outside of marriage. The center says it is discrimination and a violation of Israeli law.

The appeal came after a divorced woman living in a small Negev community was not allowed to immerse in her local mikvah after being asked to produce her identity card in order to prove her marital status.

Making more doctors

Israel has opened a fifth medical school, designed to strengthen both medicine and the population in the Galilee region.

The school is under the auspices of Bar Ilan University and is located in Safed. Most of the faculty has committed to living in the Galilee.

Many of the124 students opening the school for the 2011-12 school year studied abroad for their first two years of medical school, and have returned to Israel for the rest of their medical training. The school is expected to grow to 1,000 students in the next several years.

The last time a medical school opened in Israel was in 1974.

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