Israel’s Marital Mitzvah Machine - The ATM

What would you think if you walked into a wedding reception and saw an ATM at the front door?

Get used to the idea, because this type of kiosk - designed for those who want to give money to the bride and groom - may be coming soon to a wedding hall near you.

Israel's Gan Oranim is better known for hosting tech innovation competitions than weddings - until now. The Tel-Aviv landmark has become the first in the world to feature a credit card machine at the entrance to a wedding reception, allowing guests to shower shekels on the bride and groom. Aya Alon Kaufman, spokeswoman for the hall, explained, "It's very convenient... Guests can give a gift even if they forget their chequebooks."

The experience is akin to using an ATM: each guest types in their PIN and an amount, which is transferred to the couple's account the next day. Okay, a regular ATM could do that, but this Marital Mitzvah MachineTM ("mitzvah" is a good deed) goes a step further: it provides guests with a receipt of sorts, confirming the gift-giver's name and amount. Guests sign the receipt and place it into an envelope along with their mazel tov ("good fortune") wishes, then deposit it into a specially designed slot for the couple to read later.

While a credit card machine sounds cold, strange and downright rude to some, it's a logical innovation when viewed in a cultural context: Contrary to anti-Semitic stereotypes, Judaic law requires its adherents to give money that will do good - not unlike Christian tithing - thereby "infus[ing] it with holiness." On a secular level, giving money is seen as a way of sharing with others who have not yet gained financial security. The tradition of presenting cash or a check to the newlywed couple reflects both religious adherence and cultural generosity.

Inventors, take note: Gan Oranim's Kaufman says the kiosk is "new in Israel and the world." She's right...sort of. The idea, however, has been ‘invented' independently at least six times, according to Israeli Patent Attorney Dr. Michael Factor. All six envisioned putting a machine at the entrance to a wedding venue or reception, enabling direct-deposit cash gifts and a personalized receipt to be included with a card.

What's more, Dr. Factor wrote about these six in his blog a year ago, when the Tel Aviv Court dismissed one company's claim that another had infringed on its patent. In his post about Shai 4U ("shai" is Hebrew for gift) vs. Cheque-Out, Factor mentioned that in 2004, he represented a client (I'll call him "Inventor #3") who came up with an identical concept. When the lawyer sought investors to back his client, he was turned down by a credit-card machine tycoon who claimed he had come up with the wedding kiosk idea - several years earlier (#4). But wait! There's more! While working on his initial client's patent, Factor received a call from yet another inventor. Guess what he had invented (#5). Still determined to help the inventor (that would be, uh, the #3) claim rights to his innovation, Factor arrived at the patent review... only to learn that an American company had patented an identical machine (#6) the early 1990s.

No word on which one got credit for the the one in this story.

Source: Yahoo News

Sarah Chauncey
Guest Blogger

Our Guest Blogger, Sarah Chauncey, is a veteran writer beguiled by the bizarre. She is here to share with readers those inventions that make the world just a little bit (or a whole lot) stranger.

Jul 15, 2008
by Anonymous


So... people give money and gifts at weddings. Who knew? I may be missing something here...