Israeli unemployment hits record low

Israel’s unemployment hit a record low of 3.4% percent in October, Globes reported, citing data from the Central Bureau of Statistics.

October’s rate was down from 3.6% in September. 

Among men, the unemployment rate dropped to 3.1%, compared to 3.3% a month earlier. For women, the rate fell to 3.7% from 3.9%.

Even with the record low unemployment, the statistics bureau said Israel’s labor market is unsettled.

A slowdown in economic expansion may be ahead, as the number of available jobs has dropped. The total number of employed people in Israel actually declined 0.7% in October.

Pepsi to expand SodaStream plant

PepsiCo — which bought Israeli home soda maker manufacturer SodaStream in 2018 for $3.2 billion — said it plans to expand the company’s southern Israel plant, JTA reported.

The plant will hire 1,000 more workers after a $92 million expansion.

The Rahat-based plant now employs 1,500 people, with Bedouin Arabs from the nearby area comprising a third of the workforce. The workforce includes 74 West Bank Palestinians who worked at SodaStream when a since-closed factory was located in the West Bank.

Yas’ur transport helicopters grounded after one catches fire

The Israeli Air Force grounded all of its aging Yas’ur transport helicopters after one was destroyed Nov. 26 when its engine caught fire, The Jerusalem Post reported.

All 11 soldiers and two pilots aboard made it out unhurt after an emergency landing near Beit Kama in the northern Negev desert. It was one of three helicopters headed to a southern Israel base for a training exercise

The Israel Defense Forces said a “technical malfunction” caused the fire, but a further investigation is planned.

The Yas’ur helicopters, which were first used in 1969 are the primary helicopter the air force uses to transport soldiers and equipment. Although they have been upgraded over time, plans are in place to replace them by 2025.

A State Comptroller report in March recommended replacing the aging helicopters as soon as possible, citing safety implications and high maintenance costs.

Israeli stamps depict first Torah in space

Israeli issued limited edition commemorative stamps that show the first Torah flowing in space and also feature Jeffrey Hoffman, the United States astronaut who brought the Torah and other items with him in 1985, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Only 200 sheets of the stamps were produced, and sheets are being sold online for anywhere between $100 and $360. Proceeds are to go toward production of a film about Hoffman and the Torah.

“It kind of blows me away, to be honest. I’ve never been on a stamp before,” said Hoffman, the first Jewish-American man in space and now a professor in aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Along with the Torah, Hoffman brought a mezuzah with a Velcro strip that he attached to his bunk, as well as a weighed prayer shawl that wouldn‘t float away in zero gravity. In addition, he brought a menorah to celebrate Chanukah, but he never lit it aboard the Space Shuttle.

Hoffman flew on five Space Shuttle missions between 1985 and 1996. JN

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