Only in Israel


We’ve all uttered the phrase “only in Israel” at some point — the resilience during times of unrest, the technological innovation, the military might. (For me, it was finding some of the best shawarma I’ve ever had on the side of a road in the middle of nowhere.)

In the Dec. 13, 1974 edition of the JT, Carl Alpert’s “Inside Israel” column, with the headline “Only in Israel…” provided insightful anecdotes.

“A religious solider in the Israel army queried his rabbi if he was obliged to affix a mezuzah to his tank, since he spent so much time in it,” the column read. “If so, where? Reply was in the negative.”

The column reports that all Israeli hospitals reported a boom in births in September and October, nine months after soldiers began being discharged from the army. Israel’s baby boomers? Coincidentally, records showed that dozens of couples who had filed for divorce canceled their requests in the months after the war. “Perhaps their personal problems seemed insignificant from the new perspectives,” Alpert remarked.

Under the heading “Not Too Bashful to Ask,” Netanya sanitation workers reportedly asked for bonuses “as compensation for their shame and reluctance to reveal to friends where they worked.”

Building contractors reported that the apartments fetching the highest prices were the ones that faced cemeteries. “The tenants are assured of quiet, and can also be confident that nothing will be constructed across the street.”

These, in addition to stories about government officials signing documents with thumb prints and reporting that no one hollered at anyone during a meeting, are evocative snapshots of the young nation. And while these incidents probably could have happened anywhere, as Alpert puts it, “the Israelis seem to have developed their own category of odd, unique, humorous or off-beat occurences.” Only in Israel …

Flashback is a feature that honors the JT’s 100th anniversary. Have a particular date you’d like us to look at? Let us know.

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