Apparently, there’s no need for Israel to loosen up. So say the results of a psychological and cultural study published on May 27 in the journal Science looking closely at 33 different countries in an effort to better understand cultural differences, and consequently foster better cross-cultural communication and cooperation.
A large international team of scientists led by Michele J. Gelfand, a professor of psychology at the University of Maryland, considered the “tightness” and “looseness” of various countries and their cultures. “Tight” national cultures have many strong norms and a low tolerance of deviant behavior, and “loose” ones have weak social norms and a high tolerance of deviant behavior. In determining where nations stood on the tight-loose continuum, the researchers considered factors such as ecological and historical threats, broad versus narrow socialization in societal institutions like government and media, the strength of everyday recurring situations, and micro-level psychological affordances such as regulatory strength and the need for structure.
Of the 33 countries for which data was collected, Pakistan was found to be the tightest, and Ukraine the loosest. The results for many countries were not surprising, Gelfand said in an interview for PRI’s The World. Japan, for instance, predictably turned out to be rather tight.
The homepage of the Arava Power Company’s website shows a clock counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to “Ben-Gurion’s Solar Revolution.”
On June 5, in celebration of World Environment Day, the company will inaugurate Israel’s first commercial solar field at Kibbutz Ketura in the Arava Valley. The Arava Power Company is a privately held partnership, owned by Global Sun Partners, Siemens, and KKL-JNF. It is the only public-private partnership in the solar market in Israel.
The solar power field uses photovoltaic (PV) technology, which produces no emissions, makes no noise and uses no water. The backers of the venture hope that increased use of solar energy will reduce the need for new coal plants in Israel. In November of last year, Israel’s Infrastructure Ministry signed a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement worth NIS 250 million with the company, allowing it to supply power to Israel’s electrical grid.
Spacing out was encouraged at this year’s Limmud FSU, an annual cultural and education festival for Russian speakers in Israel. That’s because the history-making guest speaker was Alexei Leonov, the first man to walk in space when he exited the Voshod 2 ship for 12 minutes in 1965.
According to eJewishPhilanthropy, Leonov’s visit to the Beersheva conference — which had a science and technology theme — was also intended to mark the 50th anniversary of the first flight in space by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. Leonov, himself twice named “Hero of the Soviet Union” back in the day, was joined by cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko and American-Jewish astronaut Dr. Garrett Reisman, eJewishPhilanthropy reported. “The spirit of friendship between them was evident in all their joint presentations as they swapped jokes, mostly in Russian.”
This Sunday, May 29 – Memorial Day Weekend here in the United States – marks the 1,800th day of Gilad Shalit’s captivity. He was kidnapped June 25, 2006, by Hamas in a cross-border raid, and it is believed he has been held somewhere in Gaza since then. He has been denied communication with his family or visits by the Red Cross or by human rights organizations.
Just two days ago, Gabi Ashkenazi, former chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, admitted that he had failed to secure Shalit’s release. He was reported by Ynet as having said, “We have to admit that we do not have the ability to use military force to free Gilad…Hamas has Shalit hidden in such a way that we cannot locate him. We don’t know where he is.” Indicating that he is in favor, if necessary, of releasing Palestinian terrorists in exchange for Shalit, he added, “If we fail to manufacture a military option for his release, we have to admit it and pay a reasonable price for his return.”
Last Sunday, President Obama called for Shalit’s release in his speech to an audience of more than 10,000 at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, in Washington, D.C.
American immigrants to Israel are in shock. No, it’s not the fact that the President of their motherland is clashing with the Prime Minister of their new country, or that many in Israel would have you believe that Barack Obama is turning on the Jewish State. It’s something far more important than all of that political stuff.
Somebody has been messing with their supply of Hershey’s. They have long been paying a premium to get that sweet taste of home, but it seems now that something untoward has been happening with the imported chocolate. The Orthodox Union has just published a warning that stickers attached to Cookies ‘n Chocolate sold here are counterfeit. “This product is sold in Israel with a sticker placed by the importer that contains an unauthorized OU symbol. This product is not certified by the Orthodox Union and the sticker did not originate from the Hershey Chocolate Company,” states the warning. An Israeli website has published pictures of the offending treat.
News of this kashrut fraud comes just a few days after Israel’s state comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss reported that out of 35,000 tons of fresh meat unloaded at Israel’s ports during 2007 to 2009 for sale in the Palestinian Authority, only 15,600 tons reached its stated destination. What does that mean? Well quite possibly, according to the state comptroller, the rest made it in to the Israeli market, sold by butchers claiming it has both veterinary and kashrut supervision that it doesn’t.
The next Bond girl might be Israeli.
Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Esti Ginzburg has been invited to audition for the next James Bond movie, Israel’s Ynet news site reports.
The role would mark a professional breakthrough for the 21-year-old, who had a small role last year in the little-seen “Twelve,” whose biggest star was Chace Crawford of “Gossip Girl.”
A month after his first visit to Israel, Justin Bieber has gotten a Hebrew tattoo.
The 17-year-old pop star showed off the new ink during a visit to Hawaii with his girlfriend this week. (Because that’s what normal 17-year-olds do: get tattoos and go to Hawaii with their girlfriends.)
The letters spell out “Yeshua,” or Jesus, in Hebrew.
It appears that President Obama can cross “Rock and Roll All Night” off his list of potential 2012 campaign songs.
“If you’ve never been to the moon, you can’t issue policy about the moon. You have no [expletive] idea what it’s like on the moon,” Simmons said, apparently unaware that Obama has in fact visited Israel, if not outer space.
Being a young rabbi in Israel just got a whole lot more lucrative.
Starting salaries for Jewish clergy will rise by up to 250 percent in the coming years, according to a new set of raises approved today by Israel’s treasury. Because the salaries will be paid by the government — Israel doesn’t separate synagogue and state — the increases have ignited an explosion of criticism, with one Knesset minister comparing them to a “mugging.”
The issue remains small in the context of the national budget — the raises currently apply to just 15 rabbis, though the new income figures will be extended to more starting rabbis in the coming years. For a rabbi serving a town of 2,500 residents, monthly incomes will rise from 6,500 shekels (about $1,850) to 16,000 (a bit more than $4,560). In cities of 250,000 or more residents, starting rabbis’ monthly incomes will jump from 18,000 shekels (roughly $5,133) to 29,000 (about $8,271). The average Israeli earned a monthly salary of 8,426 shekels ($2403) last year.
Southern Florida is so famously full of Jewish retirees that it often seemed strange that there weren’t any among the main characters on TV’s “The Golden Girls.”
But you can bet there will be at least a couple of Jewish retirees on the new Israeli version of the show, which is apparently so promising that it’s been renewed for a second season, even before a single episode has aired.
Nearly 20 years after the American series went off the air, Israel’s Channel 10 is preparing the launch of a Hebrew-language update that will star some of the country’s foremost stage, TV and film actresses.
Here’s one of the biggest curiosities of modern Israeli identity. On Passover, when Jews celebrate leaving Egypt in ancient times, thousands of Israelis return there. Sinai, a popular holiday destination year-round, is an especially big hit with Israelis. This is despite the repeated travel warnings from the Israeli government, which suggest that Israeli tourists in Sinai are potential terror targets. This is, after all, the territory though which arms are smuggled to Gaza.
But researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have concluded in a new paper that terrorism comes surprisingly low on Israelis’ list of concerns when going to Sinai. They found that tourists there are first concerned about their “relations with their local hosts — Egyptians and Bedouins.” Second up was “standard and quality of hospitality — food quality, sanitation and hygiene standards.” Only after these two considerations were people concerned with “the risk of terrorism.”
In the delicate Middle East, leaders are constantly watching their backs. But not quite enough, so it seems. Of all the hazards facing Ismail Haniyeh — Palestinian Prime Minister, according to his organization Hamas, a pretender to the throne, according to Fatah, and a terrorist, according to Israel — who would have thought that the real danger looms on the soccer field?
Haniyeh, a prolific footballer when he’s not inciting hatred against Israel, was reportedly injured on the soccer field earlier today. He will be on the sidelines for ten days, under doctor’s orders to rest.
This part of the world is a breeding ground for conspiracy theories. Who can forget the South Sinai governor, Mohamed Abdul Fadil Shousha, who was reported in December to have suggested that Mossad was behind a string of shark attacks in the Red Sea? How long before it’s claimed that Israel made the grass on the soccer pitch wonky, or untied Haniyeh’s shoelaces to make him wobbly on his feet?
It was a tall order, but an Israeli couple has come up with a baby name even weirder than Mariah Carey’s.
Lior and Vardit Adler have named their third child “Like,” as in the Facebook term for something you approve of. “I didn’t want to call my daughter by the name of someone I know, or after someone who’s dead,” Lior Adler told Israel’s Army Radio. “I wanted something unique.”
The Adlers have a history of choosing unconventional names for their children: they named their oldest daughter Dvosh (Honey), and their second daughter Pie (or possibly Pi; that combination of sounds isn’t a word in Hebrew).
The end of his marriage didn’t stop Arnold Schwarzenegger from celebrating Israeli Independence Day this week.
The “Terminator” star and former California governor spoke Tuesday at the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles, wishing the country “another 63 years of great joy, peace and a thriving economy.” The appearance marked Schwarzenegger’s first since the announcement Monday of his split from Maria Shriver, his wife of 25 years.
Schwarzenegger was welcomed by Israeli consul-general Jacob Dayan, who noted the actor’s long-standing support of the country, including his defense of its controversial military operations in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead two years ago.
Everyone knows the joke about how much Jews love to disagree — the single inhabitant of a desert island builds two synagogues so that he has one to assiduously avoid. Now, disagreement has cropped up in a new sphere — the calendar.
Children across Israel are scouring forests and streets for sticks and scraps of wood for the traditional bonfires for Lag B’Omer, the next festival. But when is Lag B’Omer? It depends who you ask.
Refer to your calendar and it will tell you that it’s on Sunday (starting as most Jewish festivals do the night before). But the influential Israeli Sephardi rabbi Ovadia Yosef has ruled that celebrations should be delayed by 24 hours. His reasoning is that if bonfires begin on Saturday night, people — including the hundreds needed to secure Israel’s largest celebration at Mount Meron in the Galilee — will be led to desecrate the Sabbath to prepare them.
The Shmooze reported a few months ago that the race was on among Israel’s top actresses to land a part opposite Brad Pitt in “World War Z,” a zombie thriller set for release in 2014.
Well, there appears to be a winner. Hebrew-language news site Ynet reports that the role of a female Israeli soldier will likely go to Mali Levi, a model, actress and generally gorgeous 30-year-old who has also dabbled in pop music. The role will serve as Levi’s Hollywood debut, putting her on the growing list of Israeli knockouts playing key roles in American blockbusters.
It was probably the most newsworthy element of this year’s Independence Day celebrations in Israel, but, oddly, footage of it didn’t appear on television.
At the official state torch-lighting ceremony in Jerusalem, Yoel Shalit — the brother of Gilad Shalit, who has been held captive by Hamas for almost five years — stood up with his girlfriend and displayed signs saying “Gilad is still alive” and shouted in protest against what he considers the government’s lack of effort to bring Gilad home. The two were forcibly ejected from the Monday night event.
The ceremony was televised by three domestic channels, all of which used a feed from a production company engaged by the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry. But the protest was conspicuously absent from the feed, meaning that TV viewers didn’t see it.
The stars of TV’s “House” started their summer vacation by celebrating Israel’s Independence Day in Tel Aviv.
That’s the word from Israel’s tourism ministry, which is co-hosting four of the show’s cast members this week, along with partners including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and El Al.
The four actors — Lisa Edelstein, Amber Tamblyn, Omar Epps and Jesse Spencer — will also visit the Galilee, the Dead Sea and Masada before wrapping up their trip in Jerusalem. They will be tweeting and blogging about their impressions, and “are expected to share their experiences in media interviews on their return to the United States,” the tourism ministry says.
Like my new klingen? How about this cool schirm verteidikung?
Ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel might be asking those questions this week — about their ringtones and screen-savers, respectively — after an Israeli telecom company launched a new “kosher” cell phone with a Yiddish interface.
Reuters reports that “Israel’s second largest mobile provider, Partner, [has] introduced what it hailed as the world’s first Yiddish cell phone.” Hundreds of thousands of mobile phones, popularly dubbed kosher “because they block access to services frowned upon by ultra-Orthodox rabbis,” have been in use for years in Israel.
Biometric identity cards — cards carrying a computer chip with biographical information like a photo, fingerprints, signature, and date of birth — were controversial from the moment they were first mentioned. Now Israel is finally ready to issue them, the local media reports.
We have known this was coming since the run up to the vote on the so-called biometric law, which passed in December. The Forward reported almost two years ago about concerns that were being voiced. But there’s one bizarre detail that has only just come to light.