Nude activists, lawmakers’ charm school, Israel’s ‘pork’


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

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 last week 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.”

Charm school for lawmakers

Israeli lawmakers are going to charm school.

A special etiquette course will open in the Knesset in two weeks following several embarrassing incidents during lawmakers’ meetings with their counterparts both in Israel and abroad, Ynet reported.

The workshop will deal with issues including the proper way to eat with a knife and fork, and not using foul language in public. The course also will attempt to teach Israeli lawmakers to let go of their cellular phones, and not to play with them or answer calls during government sessions.

Image consultant and etiquette guru Tami Lancut Leibovitz will lead the course. She reportedly has spent hours watching the Knesset Channel in preparation for the tough assignment.

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.

Giving up the (crocodile) farm

Israeli women looking for real crocodile leather bags and shoes soon will not be able to look for that made in Israel label.

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority said it will allow a regulation permitting crocodile and ostrich farming for commercial purposes to expire, essentially outlawing the practice.

Ostrich farming will be banned beginning next year. Crocodile farming will be allowed to continue for a short time, as the crocs are transferred to countries that allow the use of their skin to create leather products. Slaughtering them in Israel, however, will be outlawed.

Zoos will continue to be allowed to raise and display the animals.

The name’s the thing

A haredi Orthodox family that offered to name its next baby after a stranger’s deceased relative — for a fee — found a taker.

The family, from the haredi conclave of Bnei Brak, was facing a financial setback and placed an advertisement in a haredi newspaper that read:  “A prominent family is interested in naming its baby after a good person, for a fee.” The ad gave the phone number of a neighbor who had placed the ad on behalf of the family, Ynet reported.

Contacted by Ynet, the neighbor said the naming rights had already been sold.

The starting price was thousands of shekel, according to Ynet. The family required that the person for whom the baby would be named be a “good” person whose family did not have anyone to name for him.

The baby, a boy, will be born in the next few weeks, according to the newspaper.

It is believed that a child carries on the good traits of the person for whom he or she is named. 

On stage in Tel Aviv

Habima Theater, the national theater of Israel, reopened after a five-year, $28 million renovation.

The building was dedicated earlier this month, opening with a performance of “Morris Schimmel” by Hanoch Levin.

“Habima will once again be a cultural focus, as was the original intent, but this time within a 21st-century context,” Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said at an inaugural event for the renovated theater.

The theater is now suffering under a load of debts, including a deficit of nearly $11 million, of which $6 million is owed to the state and the rest to banks and suppliers.

The new theater is a far cry from its humble beginnings in Moscow in 1905 as one of the first Hebrew-language theaters. The theater brought its company to Palestine in 1928, and eventually was established in a building in Tel Aviv in 1945.

Its new main lobby encloses within the columns from the original entrance to the building. The original granite cornerstone laid in 1935 was discovered during excavations for the renovation, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Hula frog hops out of extinction

The Hula painted frog recently leapt out of a more than 50-year extinction. The species, unique to Israel, was long thought to be extinct.

Called “agulashon shehor-gahon” in Hebrew, the tiny frog has a black belly with white spots.

The frog disappeared from the area in the 1950s after the drying of Lake Hula to stop the spread of malaria. The last Hula painted frog was sighted in 1955; it was officially listed as extinct in 1996.

Nature and Parks Authority warden Yoram Malka discovered the frog, which apparently is a female. Malka is on a mission now to find her a male companion and return her to the wild.

Probing Tel Aviv towers

The tallest building in Tel Aviv is being investigated by the city’s police for negligence after 10 people jumped to their deaths in the last three years.

The jumpers have leapt from a rooftop balcony of the Azrieli Center complex of skyscrapers. Fencing surrounds the balconies, but some say it isn’t high enough despite being up to local code.

Two of the jumpers’ families have filed lawsuits against the towers’ management.

The center is made up of a circular, triangular and rectangular tower.

A bill with claws

Israeli cat lovers’ furniture and curtains may never be the same.

A Knesset committee has unanimously approved a bill that would forbid pet owners from declawing cats. The bill would ban surgery to remove the claws unless the cat is completely confined to home and its owner would have medical problems if scratched.

Several European nations already have declared the declawing practice illegal. The surgery involves removing the claws from the root.

Who built the Temple Mount walls?

A recent archaeological discovery has thrown cold water on the notion that King Herod constructed all of Jerusalem’s Western Wall.

Israel’s Antiquities Authority discovered a mikvah that predates the construction of the walls that was filled in to support the wall. Inside the ritual bath were four coins dated about 20 years after Herod’s death.

The discovery proves that construction of the Temple Mount’s Western Wall was not close to being completed at the time of Herod’s death.

Historian Josephus Flavius had written that work on the Temple Mount was completed by King Agrippa II, Herod’s great-grandson.

Tour guides now will have to rethink their automatic answer of Herod when asked who build the Temple Mount walls.

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