What’s the only thing that Israel and Iran can agree on?
Israeli singer Liel Kolet has teamed up with exiled Iranian singer Ebrahim Hamedi, 64, better known as Ebi, to release a holiday single called “I Can Hear Christmas,” Ynet reported.
Originally written by Yoav Ginai and Tomer Addadi for Israeli singer Boaz Sharabi, the song was released as “Chag Sameach Ahavat Chayai” (happy holiday, love of my life) about three years ago. Kolet got the idea of re-recording by Tomer Addadi, to be featured on her upcoming album.
What ensued is perhaps the most absurd Christmas video ever to hit the Internet, from the early shots of a yarmulke-clad boy bowing to a little girl in a hijab (and then them holding hands in front of the Christmas tree) to the black and white montage of the singers dramatically embracing world peace.
(JTA) — Pop superstar Lady Gaga has plans to perform in the Holy Land in the summer of 2014, Israel’s Channel 2 reported.
The show, which will be Gaga’s second in Israel, will likely take place in Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park, and will likely not feature a kosher meat dress, although that would be pretty great.
In other American music news, Beyonce, who was set to play Israel in the spring, may not make it due to what Haaretz calls a “snag” with an Israeli concert production company. But it’s not all bad on the concert front — Israeli Beliebers will be pleased to learn that Justin Bieber’s previously announced show has an official date: May 14.
(JTA) Israeli actress and model Gal Gadot, who has been featured in some the “Fast and the Furious” flicks, went online Sunday to share her grief over the tragic car accident that took the life of franchise star Paul Walker.
Walker, 40, was in the passenger seat of a two-seater Porsche Carerra GT Saturday when the driver lost control and slammed into a post or a tree. The car burst into flames; the driver was killed as well. At time of his death, Walker had reportedly just left a charity event to aid victims of Typhoon Haiyam for his organization Reach Out Worldwide.
“Lost a dear friend today. So sudden and tragic,” Gadot said on Twitter, alongside a photo of herself with Walker.
Close to 800,000 followers clicked the like button on her Facebook post, where she expressed herself herself in English and Hebrew.
“I’m so sad he’s no longer with us. Can’t believe I’m actually writing this.. I’m sending my condolences to his family and his precious daughter Meadow. Rest in peace brother. We will miss you here,” she wrote.
The former Miss Israel began working with Walker when she broke into the “Fast & Furious” franchise in its fourth installment. The seventh film is currently in the works.
Grab a Hebrew or Russian-speaking friend and check out this sweet video released Sunday by Israeli political party Yesh Atid, promoting their proposed civil unions bill.
You might not be familiar with many of the 20 Israeli celebs who appear on screen answering the question, “Why do I support civil unions?” But surely the face of a certain blonde supermodel will ring a bell.
“Because a loving family is the most important thing,” Bar Refaeli responded.
Israel: Brace yourself.
Twerking queen Miley Cyrus is headed your way next June.
Channel 2 which broke the story, says there aren’t many details about the formerly sweet Hannah Montana star’s trip, but we can only imagine what havoc she’ll wreak on the holy land.
Earlier this fall Cyrus complained about old Jewish men at her record label: “With magazines, with movies, it’s always weird when things are targeted for young people yet they’re driven by people that are like 40 years too old,” she said. “It can’t be like this 70-year-old Jewish man that doesn’t leave his desk all day, telling me what the clubs want to hear.”
Well Miley, we hate to break it to you, but you might see your fair share of old Jewish men next summer.
Paula Abdul canceled her much-hyped bat mitzvah at the Western Wall, opting instead for a low-key ceremony in the town of Safed, The Times of Israel reports.
Per Israel’s Tourism Industry, which hosted the former “American Idol” and “The X-Factor” judge, the switch was due to jet lag. But the officiating rabbi, Eyal Riess of the Tzfat Kabbalah Center, claims it was to avoid the media.
Either way, the deed is done. Mazel Tov! Now she can go relax…
Singer and dancer Paula Abdul met in Jerusalem with Israeli President Shimon Peres.
Abdul, former “American Idol” and “X Factor” judge, met Peres Tuesday at the start of a ten-day visit to Israel. She is scheduled to tour sites including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and northern Israel and learn more about Israeli society, fashion, dance, theater and music.
“I’m so overwhelmed with gratitude to be here, I’ve wanted to come for years. My career took me many places and this is my first vacation in almost eight years that I’m actually here to sightsee like a regular tourist. My family was here and they were crying, overwhelmed with joy that I’m here,” Abdul told Peres, his office said in a statement.
“I am sure that wherever you go you will feel the warmth and love of the people of Israel, you will feel at home here,” Peres told Abdul.
She responded: “Everyone told me you’re so sababa and it’s true.” Sababa is an Israeli expression equivalent to awesome.
Abdul reportedly will have a bat mitzvah at the Western Wall during her trip.
After two years off-screen, the tribe’s pride and joy (a Harvard graduate!) is back in the limelight.
Natalie Portman shines on the November cover of Marie-Claire, and dishes about her love for Los Angeles, her upcoming move to Paris and how, really, she’s just like you and me.
She even has bad habits! “I bite my cuticles,” she offers, apologetically. “Oh, and I can go into a Food Network hole.”
On Hollywood’s tendency to typecast her: “Like, every Jewish role comes to me,” she says, laughing. Even now, when everyone from Mila Kunis to Scarlett Johansson is of the faith? “I look more Jewish than Scarlett,” Portman deadpans.”
Portman’s next project will also be her directorial debut: She’ll be starring as Amos Oz’s mother in “A Tale of Love and Darkness.”
Though the Israeli-born actress is fluent in Hebrew, she admitted to be being somewhat nervous about carrying on whole conversations in French, though she can definitely get through the basics. “I mean, not about, like, philosophy,” she explains. “But about this and that, I can manage.”
Welcome back Natalie, and bon voyage a Paris!
His most recent films may be based in just about every (almost) Western European capital, but Woody Allen says he’s not a big tourist.
But in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 on the eve of “Blue Jasmine“‘s European release, everyone’s favorite neurotic admitted to considering bending the rules for a trip to the Holy Land.
“My wife is of Korean origin and she’s been trying for years to convince me to go to South Korea with her — so far, unsuccessfully,”he said, according to the Times of Israel. “She’s also very curious about Israel and wants to go there with the girls, so they can see and understand their father’s Jewish culture. I assume we’ll go and visit Israel soon. There’s no way around it.”
Allen has never visited Israel, though he brandished the hasbara banner when asked about his thoughts on the country: “I support Israel and I’ve supported it since the day it was founded,” he said. “Israel’s neighbors have treated it badly, cruelly, instead of embracing it and making it part of the Middle East family of nations. Over the years Israel has responded to these attacks in various ways, some of which I approved of and some less so. I understand that Israelis have been through hard times, I don’t expect Israel to react perfectly every time and that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a wonderful, marvelous country.”
The 77-year-old also included a signature zinger. When asked if it’s harder to be a Jew in America today, he answered: “No, I don’t think so,” before adding: “by the low standards of tolerance for Jews all over the world, America’s been a very tolerant country.”
Natalie Portman is currently in Israel working on a film adaption of an autobiographical novel by Israeli author Amos Oz.
The Jerusalem-born Oscar winner will direct and star in “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” which is to be filmed in Hebrew in Jerusalem. This will be her feature film directorial debut.
Portman, who is staying at a Tel Aviv hotel, is currently writing the screenplay and ironing out production details, with filming scheduled to begin in January.
“A Tale of Love and Darkness” is based on Oz’s autobiographical novel of the same name, which takes place in Jerusalem in the second half of the 1940s. The story focuses on the author’s childhood, his mother’s mental illness and his father’s helplessness on the backdrop of the period’s historic events.
Portman is expected to play the role of the author’s mother, and will act in Hebrew.
Read more at Haaretz.com
Shoshana Colmer, 93, a survivor of Auschwitz, was crowned Miss Holocaust at a contest in Haifa.
The second annual Miss Holocaust Survivor Beauty Contest was held Aug. 22 at the Municipal Sports Complex before an audience of thousands.
More than 300 women from Israel and around the world applied to participate in the contest, according to Haaretz. Colmer told the audience that she sang one song to a Nazi guard each morning in Auschwitz in return for an extra piece of bread. She was liberated after taking part in a death march from the camp.
Dr. Izabella Grinberg, a geriatric psychiatrist, and Shimon Sabag, director of Yad Ezer L’Haver, an organization that assists Holocaust survivors, developed the contest. It is designed to help the contestants and the survivors watching to come to grips with their survival and boost their self esteem.
Check out a video about the inaugural pageant, which took place last year:
(JTA) — Dr. Mehmet Oz sat down to talk with JTA on the Tel Aviv coast last week, but what he really wanted to do was go to the beach.
Oz, the surgeon and well-known TV personality, was in Israel for the first time and had a packed itinerary. He traversed the country from the Red Sea to the Golan, lectured Israeli physicians in a northern Israeli hospital and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
His host on this whirlwind tour was Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the author and sexpert who lives in New Jersey. The two met when they were both on an Oprah Winfrey radio program. Boteach recently gave Oz an award for being a “champion of Jewish values,” and the trip was paid for by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, another recipient of the award.
A Muslim of Turkish descent, Oz delivered a relatively conservative line on Israel in an interview, even casting doubt on the viability of the two-state solution. He also explained why he went to Hebron and Psagot, two controversial Israeli settlements deep in the West Bank.
For her 30th birthday, Meytal Cohen is achieving every struggling artist’s dream — she’s sticking it to her family.
On August 9th, Cohen’s Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for an original album will come to a close. With only three days to go, she has almost doubled her $60,000 goal and has 2,519 backers.
But Meytal Cohen isn’t just anyone. With 391,953 fans as of this morning, the Israeli transplant to the U.S. has more Facebook likes than both President Shimon Peres (162, 625) and model Bar Refaeli (203,642), and trailing only slightly behind Benjamin Netanyahu (460,756), making her what newspaper Yediot Aharonot called “the second most liked Israeli on the Internet.”
For this heavy metal drummer who rose to fame on Youtube — her videos have been viewed over 65,000,000 times — it’s a dream come true.
“It’s very humbling, I don’t know how [it] really happened. I’ve been shooting and uploading, note for note drum covers of my favorite songs/drummers for the last 3 years now,” she told the Forward in an interview. “I feel I have this huge data base of drum grooves and fills, and now it’s time for me to take all that I’ve learned from my favorite drummers and create something new.”
Excitement over her upcoming project aside, Cohen’s enthusiasm stems from newly found support from family members, impressed that she is achieving her dream on her terms.
This wasn’t always the case.
“My dad was killed by a drunk driver while he was standing on the sidewalk when I was in second grade, and my mom raised us all by herself,” she explained. “It was very important to her that we all go study and have a ‘serious profession that you can actually make a living of off’ so she wasn’t happy with[my decision to be a musician]. My entire family consists of lawyers, and doctors and I would get calls on a daily basis asking me if “’I’ve made it yet.’
Their attitudes changed after Cohen made it onto a front page spread in Yehidot Aharonot, one of Israel’s largest newspapers.
“It definitely helped me with my family. Suddenly I was in the newspaper and my mom was [talking about my number of followers] like it was the first time she ever heard it,” Cohen laughed. She said ‘Do you get how much that is? ‘ Like, she’s telling me.“
Cohen first got into metal in high school, when her first boyfriend gave her a mixtape (Aw…). But being a female heavy metal drummer has its ups and downs. On the one hand, the surprising combination is part of Cohen’s appeal to viewers, who see a feisty woman playing an instrument traditionally associated with the John Bonhams of the world. On the other, she often has to push against stereotypes.
“Before I did Youtube I would go to audition and I felt like there was a lot of pressure for me, almost like I was representing the female gender,” she said. “It stressed me out. I didn’t want to play the stereotype and I felt that if I wasn’t good enough I was ruining it for women everywhere. “
As an Israeli, Cohen must also walk a thin line. Though she gets positive comments from fan all over the world, from Europe to South America, she also deals with haters who tell her to “go back to Auschwitz.”
Nevertheless, Cohen says she will push forward and remain vocal about her identity. “I’m proud and always very public about being an Israeli and the fact I served two years in the IDF, she said. “I am who I am, and I’m not trying to hide it. From 3 years of reading YouTube comments, I can guarantee that you can never make everybody happy…so I try to focus on the people that are.”
We would expect nothing less from the second most liked Israeli on the Internet. Bibi better watch out — Meytal Cohen is gaining on him. Fast.
Roger Waters, a rock musician critical of Israel, used a giant, pig-shaped balloon emblazoned with a Star of David and symbols of dictatorial regimes during a recent concert in Belgium.
Waters, who recently urged other performers to boycott Israel and compared Israel to apartheid South Africa, was singing on stage on July 20 under the balloon while toting a machine gun replica and wearing a long black leather jacket with a red-and-white arm band, reminiscent of a Nazi uniform.
The former Pink Floyd member was singing “get him up against the wall, that one looks Jewish and that one’s a coon, who let all of this riff-raff into the room” – the lyrics of the song “In the Flesh.”
Thousands of fans shouted his name and applauded as he stood on stage pretending to fire the replica.
Michael Freilich, editor-in-chief of the Belgian Jewish monthly Joods Actueel, called on the government to issue a statement condemning what Freilich called “an anti-Semitic display” at the concert.
Meeting that special someone is hard enough without him or her living halfway across the planet. But Jewish singles planning to make the move to the Holy Land this Tu B’Av can rejoice — the Israel dating scene just got a whole lot closer.
Jewish dating site SawYouAtSinai.com has partnered with Nefesh B’Nefesh to create a new site aimed at singles planning on making Aliyah.
SeeYouInIsrael.com launched last week, right in time for Tu B’Av (Jewish Valentine’s Day) on Monday. According to Yael Katsman, Director of Marketing and Communications for Nefesh B’Nefesh, 150 people signed up on the first day. As of today, the total was up to 304.
“We’ve been identifying a growing need for a site like this for some time,” Katsman said. “We’ve been meeting with Jewish singles from all over who expressed concern that one of their obstacles for making Aliyah is trying to date like-minded individuals.”
“Many young Olim who have a passion for Israel and Zionism express a desire to connect with similar minded people,” Nefesh B’Nefesh Director of Pre-Aliyah Marc Rosenberg said in a statement. “We also encounter immense excitement and anticipation among local singles – both Olim and Israelis - when we have groups of North American singles arriving on Aliyah. This dating site will provide a great forum to bring these people together.”
In case you were wondering (on the off chance your brain still works after seeing this picture), the woman kissing Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli is Orna Elovitch, TMZ reports.
The caption reads: “B & O standing on the grass and k.i.s.s.i.n.g”
Yesterday evening marked the beginning of Tisha B’Av, the annual fast day which commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples and the subsequent exile of the Jews from the Holy Land.
Regarded as the saddest day in the Jewish calendars, all pleasurable activities are forbidden. As in a period of mourning, there is no eating, no drinking, no bathing, no leather shoes, and no sexual activity.
Once all that’s ruled out, what is there left to do? Well, the thousands of Jews who spent the night at the Western Wall in Jerusalem last night provided the answer: prayer — and a little shut-eye.
Splayed out in rows or curled up in corners, the faithful grabbed 40 winks where they could:
George Mason University has announced that a new endowed professorship has been created thanks to a substantial donation by American-Israeli businesswoman Shari Arison.
The recipient of the Arison Group Endowed Professor of Doing Good Values will work under the purview of George Mason’s New Century College and “will be dedicated to research and education that focuses on the application of fundamental human values to global business and a strong global ‘moral economy,’” according to a statement released by the university.
As the owner of the Arison Group, a global umbrella of business and philanthropic organizations, Arison has been listed by Forbes as one of the World’s Greenest Billionaires in 2010 and ranked on the Forbes Most Powerful Women list in both 2011 and 2012.
“The Doing Good Model is all about making the circles of good grow in the world. It captures the approach of making a positive difference, bringing fundamental values into the hearts of people, communities, businesses, and organizations,” she said in a statement. “This model, and the academic research involved, practically bridge between values and organizational structures, to enable decision making processes to be foremost values-based, for the benefit of society, the economy, and the environment.”
George Mason University president Ángel Cabrera added that his institution was “committed to making a positive difference in the global economy, and this professorship melds perfectly with the university’s mission to create a more just, free, and prosperous world.”
It is safe to say that after the Alicia Keys Fourth of July performance on Thursday night, the audience went home satisfied.
Keys performed all her hits, the band was a blast and together they enchanted the 8,000 concert-goers at the Nokia Arena in Jaffa.
It already appeared from the start of the evening that most Alicia Keys fans were females of all sorts. From the somewhat religious to the hard-core secular, from young girls with “Girl on Fire” ringtones to women who dragged their husbands or kids along to the concert, they were all in the crowd.
Overall, there appeared to be a female to male ratio of eight to one. The photographer complained that there weren’t any celebrities in the audience or anyone else to photograph. The degree to which the crowd was straitlaced was extremely impressive. No pot, barely any beers to be seen, a quiet audience in which one can hear the noise of iPhone camera clicks before the performance.
The concert began to the sounds of Ethiopian Israeli musician Ester Rada as the warm-up act. Indeed, Rada warmed up the crowd with her excitement and polished sound, accompanied by seven excellent musicians. Rada had a stage presence much greater than the limited amount of time in the she has been in the spotlight would suggest. She began her set with a venue one-third full and finished it in front of a packed venue of fans. Hats off to her.
For more go to Haaretz
Have you ever seen a real, live legend? I have. This Saturday, I went to see Barbra Streisand live in concert. Earlier in the week, she landed in Israel to participate in President Shimon Peres’s birthday celebration. But unlike many of the other famous guests, Streisand spent the week in the Holy Land, toured the country and gave us a once in a lifetime opportunity to see her performing live.
She does not perform very often. In fact, this performance was roughly her 100th concert ever. But that was just another reason to pay an unreasonable amount of money to go see her. Though I’m not a die-hard fan and only know a few of her songs, I waved goodbye to 1,500 shekels for two seats (one for my Grandma, the true fan in the family) and what I knew would be an opportunity worth taking. After all, as Fanny Brice once said: “I gotta fly one, I gotta try once, only can die once. Right, sir?”