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Weird Happenings in and around Jerusalem
Mayor Uri Lupolianski gets ready to fire the Ramadan cannon
by Judy Lash Balint
September 2, 2008

On September 1, Jerusalem's Haredi Mayor, Uri Lupolianski, will go over to the walls of the Old City and fire up the cannon that marks the beginning of the month-long Ramadan festival.

Even in Israel, it's hard to find a stranger spectacle...

Lupo (as he is affectionately known) will be joined by Rajai Yehye Sandouka in setting off the ceremonial shot. Sandouka is the latest in a long line of family members dating back to Ottoman rule in the early 20th century who have fired the traditional cannon.

Last year Sandouka said the tradition might be in jeopardy. He told journalists that Israeli officials had ordered him to undergo explosives training before this Ramadan or he would be barred from lighting the fuse. We're all waiting with baited breath...

Next week, a few miles east of Jerusalem, another off-beat event will take place down by the Dead Sea. Magen David Adom--Israel's version of the Red Cross, will host the Second Annual MDA Olympics.

According to the MDA PR spokesperson: "Teams from the Israeli Army and international emergency services from Turkey, Canada, Ireland, England, Holland, Norway, USA, Germany, The Czech Republic, France, Jordan and Poland will compete in 11 stations of treatment and safety, including one at night, during which they will have to deal with various scenes that will test their capabilities for giving correct treatment responses, medical response for victims of a mass casualty incident, treatment for conventional and non conventional incidents and also giving life saving treatment to patients and victims with problems in the fields of trauma, cardiology, children, respiratory emergencies etc.

The judges will measure, estimate and grade the capabilities and professional expertise of the competitors in the different categories.

This year there will also be a number of amazing and challenging stations in which the medics and paramedics will have to show their determination, physical fitness and ability to work under difficult conditions."

Teams will have to get to some "patients" by camel; others will have to be treated in Bedouin tents; and one scenario asks participants to administer aid to a biblical figure who experiences symptoms of a heart attack...Winners get a certificate and a pat on the back at the closing ceremonies at Kibbutz Ein Gedi on September 10--stay tuned.