Rabbinical bourekas dictum, underhanded paint job and a checkpoint marriage proposal


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

Rabbis dictating boureka shapes

If it’s a triangle, it must be cheese.

That’s what the Chief Rabbinate wants Israelis shopping for bourekas to know when they pick up the ubiquitous flaky pastry.

In response to kosher consumers who have accidentally violated the laws of kashrut because they did not know if a boureka contained cheese or meat, the rabbinate reportedly called a meeting of Israeli pastry chefs to discuss standardizing the shapes of bourekas according to their filling.

The rabbinate, which is expected to rule on an official policy in the near future, also said that food allergies and lactose intolerance were a consideration in the movement to standardization. 

Unacceptable ‘schlemielism’ in Tel Aviv

Hila Ben Baruch was painted into a corner and came out swinging.

Ben Baruch recently parked her car in a legal space near her central Tel Aviv apartment but returned to find the spot repainted for use by the handicapped — and her vehicle towed.

She threatened to sue the city for ordering her to pay a fine and the cost of towing to recover her car. Ben Baruch had a strong case: A surveillance camera recording documented the space’s transition, and she posted it on Facebook.

The municipality returned the vehicle for free and offered an apology.

“This was indeed a serious error, and schlemielism that is unacceptable to the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality,” the city said in a statement, according to Haaretz.

Ben Baruch says she still plans to sue the city to recover damages for her mental distress. Regardless of any compensation she receives, the prime parking spot is gone — a tough loss in Tel Aviv.

Operation marriage proposal

A Jewish settler from Har Bracha recruited soldiers manning a nearby West Bank checkpoint to help him with an unusual marriage proposal.

Nir Shamir, 26, had to request the cooperation of the Defense Ministry, the Border Crossing Authority, the troops stationed at the checkpoint and their commanding officer to pull off the stunt.

The ruse? The couple would be pulled over in Shamir’s car and accused of being involved in a hit-and-run accident involving a Palestinian child. Shamir had pilfered the national ID card of his girlfriend, Sara Toshinsky, and the soldiers would say they had found it at the scene.

The soldiers took Toshinsky, 23, for questioning, and then led her to an area overlooking the Samarian hills near the checkpoint where Shamir, who uses a wheelchair, had set up a red carpet with flower petals, candles and fluffy pillows. A sign lit up in fire read “Will You Marry Me?”

Toshinsky told Yediot Achronot that she “did not suspect a thing. Another second and you would have had to hospitalize me.”  

The couple enjoyed the atmosphere for about an hour after the proposal, Yediot reported, accepting the congratulations of the soldiers who passed by.

Investment advice from the rebbe?

The Chabad-Lubavitch movement wants to take the shine off a mining company using the late rebbe’s words to push its exploration for diamonds near Haifa.

The movement says the Shefa Yamim Exploration and Mining company is twisting the words of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Haaretz reported.

According to Shefa Yamim, the rebbe in a 1988 conversation with a businessman said he told the then-mayor of Haifa, Arie Gurel, “In Haifa, there is a sea. One shouldn’t become intimidated by something that is deep. This is the uniqueness of Haifa — that it has a sea and that there is a valley and in the valley are precious stones and gems. The Holy One, blessed be He, did a wondrous thing; He concealed them in the depths of the earth, and in any case, in the depth of the river …”

Shefa presented the statement recently to investors, according to Haaretz.

Chabad sources told the newspaper that the rebbe meant his words spiritually and the company using the rebbe to attract investors is “deception.”

The company’s profile on its website says its explorations in the Haifa area have turned up “a number of volcanic bodies, including some with demonstrated kimberlitic (diamond-bearing) signatures.” The profile also states that the explorations have yielded “Hundreds of Precious Stones: Sapphire, Ruby, Moissanite, Various Corundum, Colorless Zircon, as well as 77 Micro & Macro Diamonds.” The company recently announced that it found a 5.72-carat sapphire.

Take my wives, please

Newly elected Bedouin Knesset member Taleb Abu Arar of the Raam-Taal party could not decide which of his two wives to bring to the swearing-in ceremony.

One is eight years older than his 45 years and Abu Arar has nine children with her, according to the daily Hebrew-language Maariv newspaper. The other is 22; the couple have one child.

Maariv said that Abu Arar is not considered a bigamist because his younger wife, who lives in her own home, is officially considered his mistress.

In the end, Abu Arar told Maariv that he did not invite any family members to his swearing-in, only “dignitaries from the Negev region.”

Abu Arar is an attorney, teacher, chairman of a workers committee and a school vice principal, according to the newspaper.

Israelis’ Hebrew woes

Have a hard time reading and writing Hebrew? Don’t feel bad: So do more than one-quarter of Israelis.

Some 27 percent of Israelis age 20 and older have trouble filling out forms or writing a letter in Hebrew, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. The figure includes 45 percent of Israeli Arabs and 60 percent of immigrants from the states of the former Soviet Union.

According to the survey, Hebrew is the native language of 49 percent of Israelis older than 20. The other native languages are Arabic, at 18 percent; Russian, 15 percent; and Yiddish, French and English, each with 2 percent.

Nearly 100 percent of Israeli Arabs speak Arabic at home, the survey found, and 88 percent of Russian-speaking immigrants speak Russian at home.

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