La Scala, the Met … and increasingly, Masada.
The former Roman fortress near the Dead Sea is continuing its emergence as a magnet for world-famous opera stars, with Andrea Bocelli announcing plans on Thursday to perform there this summer. The Italian tenor will sing at the base of the historical landmark on June 12, singing a selection of arias as the closing act of Israel’s International Opera Festival.
Proceeds from the event - which will feature accompaniment by the Rishon Lezion Symphonic Orchestra -will go to the Or Association, which supports residents of the Negev Desert and Galilee.
An upcoming Brad Pitt movie will shine the Hollywood spotlight on at least one lucky Israeli actress.
Marc Forster, the film’s director, has been in Israel this week to cast one of the story’s supporting roles - a female Israeli soldier who recounts her experiences during a major recent war.
The twist, as far as the Middle East is concerned, is that the combatants in “World War Z” aren’t Israelis and Arabs, or Sunnis and Shiites, but humans and zombies. The story’s Israeli character is just one of several survivors interviewed by a United Nations representative.
Jon Voight is a Chabadnik at heart, or so he declared at a cornerstone-laying ceremony in an east Jerusalem neighborhood.
A long-time Israel supporter, the American Academy Award winner and star of films such as “Midnight Cowboy” is visiting the country with likely Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
Bieber fever has hit Israel.
Tickets to the country’s first-ever Justin Bieber concert went on sale Thursday evening - but remained available for only a few minutes before leaan.co.il, the ticketing website for the Tel Aviv show, crashed due to overwhelming traffic.
Bieber, the Canadian pop singer with a tween fan base more rabid than Old Yeller, announced the concert at the start of December part of his My World Tour.
Couple Rides Bus. Hardly the subject for a news article in a national newspaper, but welcome to the bizarre world of Israel’s Haredi media.
You may recall that there’s controversy in Israel about gender-segregated bus lines in Israel – or in Hebrew mehadrin lines. Earlier this month, the High Court ruled that they are legal, but that segregation must be voluntary – nobody can force passengers to stick to the convention of men at the front and women at the back.
It’s the forbidden fruit… unless peeled.
The strawberry has been the cause of much rabbinical consternation in recent years. The reason is that many rabbis believe strawberries to be a favorite hangout for insects, and eating an insect is actually more problematic in Jewish law than eating pork.
Now one of Israel’s most prolific Haredi organizations, the Eida Haredit, has decreed that strawberries – which are currently in season in Israel – should not be eaten as purchased, even if thoroughly washed. This is not enough to get rid of insects, it says.
Former U.S. Olympian Jillian Schwartz will enter a new phase of her career on Friday, competing for Israel at the Millrose Games at New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
Schwartz, who represented the U.S. in the pole vault at the 2004 Athens Olympics, became an Israeli citizen in 2009 and will compete under the country’s flag on Friday. The 31-year-old Illinois native hopes to take the Millrose title over Brazillian star Fabiana Murer, who won the world indoor pole vaulting title last year.
Are Macy Gray’s political views like the weather? The pop singer, best known for her 1999 hit “I Try,” was “conflicted on whether or not she should cancel shows in Tel Aviv because of the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians,” according to the Hollywood reporter — and “solicited advice on her Facebook page.”
The singer posted: “I’m getting alot [sic] of letters from activists urging/begging me to boycott by NOT performing in protest of Apartheid against the Palestinians… What the Israeli government is doing to the Palestinians is disgusting, but I wanna go. I gotta lotta fans there I dont want to cancel on and I dont know how my NOT going changes anything. What do you think? Stay or go?”
This year’s Academy Award nominees won’t be announced until Tuesday, but Israel already knows its hot streak at the Oscars is over.
“The Human Resources Manager,” Israel’s foreign-language submission, failed to make it onto the short list of nine films in the category, announced Wednesday. The final five nominees will be announced January 25, along with nominees in the other Oscar categories.
Consequently, this year will be the first time since 2007 that Israel’s submission has not been nominated in the foreign-language category.
In all the excitement, controversy and dismay related to Israel’s Defense Minister abandoning his party, Labor, and forming a new faction, it seems that many of us overlooked the funny part.
As the Forward reported here, in what many viewed as an act of self-preservation as Labor turned on him, Likud Barak has now set up the Ha’atzmaut faction and taken four Labor lawmakers with him.
She’s been a red-carpet regular for years, but Monday marked the first time that Bar Refaeli attended the premiere of one of her own films.
The Sports Illustrated cover girl, equally well-known as the girlfriend of Leonardo DiCaprio, celebrated the new film not in Hollywood but in Rishon Lezion, where a large crowd turned out for the premiere of “Session,” an English-language drama directed by Israeli filmmaker Haim Bouzaglo.
Some pretty bizarre ideas seem to be circulating Egypt at the moment. On New Year’s Eve a suicide bomber killed 22 people at the Coptic church in Alexandria. President Hosni Mubarak was quoted saying that the attack bore the hallmark of “foreign hands” seeking to destabilize Egypt. But who could have been prepared for what came next? Yesterday we learned that a coalition of Egyptian lawyers accused Israel of being behind the attack.
“The Mossad carried out the operation in a natural reaction to the latest uncovering of an Israeli espionage network,” lawyers charged at a memorial rally for the victims organized by the Egyptian Bar Association, according to the Jerusalem Post..
Fatally injured in a motorcycle crash on December 20, Avi Cohen, arguably Israel’s greatest ever soccer player, died on December 28, aged 54.
The first Israeli to play in England, Cohen moved to Liverpool in 1979 when they were Europe’s premier team. Although he never established himself in the first team he was famous for being chosen for the game against Southampton on September 20, 1980 — Yom Kippur. To the anger of the Israeli press and the mixed but general disappointment of soccer-supporting British Jews he took the opposite route from American baseball legends Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax and decided to play.
This Yom Kippur game always overshadowed what was a trailblazing but ultimately unspectacular career. He was personally dependable without standing out and, as a defender, his job was accomplished without making a splash. Coming before soccer players commanded vast salaries and also before Israel’s national team was strong enough to compete on a world level, Cohen ended his career with neither fortune nor glory. His ability is evidenced by a cluster of medals that his teams won, even when supporters might struggle to remember his involvement.
Three months after the Forward reported that early registration had launched for Hebrew domain names in Israel, the process has finally opened up to the public. As of December 26, reports YNetNews, the Israel Internet Association (ISOC-IL) will allow anyone to register domain names in Hebrew with the “il” suffix – www.שלום.co.il, for example – through the ISOC web site.
Up to now, “Hebrew domains were available in the pre-public phase only for government offices, corporations, and registered companies,” according to YNetNews. The change is more than cosmetic, writes Haaretz; domain names with Hebrew characters will allow many more Hebrew-speaking surfers to participate in online conversations. “As the new technologies are universalized into a global language, it would seem that Hebrew has been excluded from internet-speak,” writes tech correspondent Sefi Krupsky. “English terms have often been adopted wholesale, without having to go through the process of Hebraicization.” As a result, Krupsky says, Israelis who lack proficiency in other languages have been unable to fully participate in life online. But “Hebrew-loving technophiles can rejoice at the news that the Israeli Internet Association is now allowing domain name registration in the holy language,” he writes.
Shopping in Israel can be an intensely irritating experience. There’s the line-jumping, the willingness of checkout staff to keep customers waiting while they chat with each other or on cell phones, and the hard-sell for things you don’t need just before you pay. Then there’s the overcharging – not the while-you’re-not-looking kind, but the we’re-waving-it-in-your-face-but-you-can’t-protest kind.
In the States, you pay the price displayed in the store. If something is $9.99 you get your penny coin as change. But in Israel, while things are commonly marked 9.99 shekels, 99.95 shekels, etc., the coins needed for change don’t exist. The smallest denomination of coin is 0.10 shekel, so you often end up paying more than you should.
It’s been a week since the devastating fire in Northern Israel began, and already we have self-appointed experts telling us the “message” of the blaze. The latest theory is that it’s meant to focus people on… the campaign to free Jonathan Pollard.
Pollard started serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison in 1987 for passing military secrets to Israel while working as an intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy.
His wife, Esther Pollard, speaking at the Gush Katif Museum in Jerusalem, suggested that the fact that the fatalities occurred near a prison is a sign to make people think of the “prisoner that the Government of Israel has left to rot in an American prison for 26 years” — i.e. her husband.
How does Leonardo DiCaprio look in a yarmulke? We might get a chance to find out. The (UK) Daily Mail reports the 36-year-old, Catholic-born megastar may convert to Judaism as a step toward nuptials with his Israeli supermodel girlfriend Bar Refaeli. “A source” apparently told the Daily Mail that “Leo’s sudden intense interest in Israel, its culture and religion is the clearest sign yet that he intends to marry Bar.” DiCaprio “has been staying with her in a hotel in Tel Aviv for a few days at a time recently so that he can avoid the photographers outside her apartment in a nearby suburb,” according to the source.
When in the Holy Land with his beloved, Di Caprio stays “in the royal suite of the five-star Dan Hotel on the beach of Tel Aviv,” the Daily Mail says. The source, again: “It is a very romantic and private hideaway for them and an easy commute to Jerusalem Old Town, where Leo has spent hours exploring its religious sites with a guide.”
Crossposted from Haaretz
While students in Great Britain set fire to London to protest tuition hikes, in Israel a different kind of student protest is surfacing. No, it’s not against the scandalous “avrekhim law,” which differentiates between students in post high school educational institutions and yeshiva students. The cause that has inspired some students to demonstrate is their disgust with the undignified behavior of passengers on Israeli public transportation.
Under the auspices of a project known as “Mishtarbus” (a Hebrew acronym for “bus manners police” ), students from the College of Administration decided once and for all to establish some order in the public transportation system. The group is seeking to eliminate such nuisances as loud ringtones, chattering across seats and ignoring senior citizens who are forced to stand. Five communications students taking a course on social networking are the driving force behind this project: Sandra Veller from Ra’anana, Tal Gvili from Kiryat Ono, Ran Amichai from Holon, Barak Ben Shimon from Mevasseret Zion and Lihi Ben David from Tel Aviv.
Read more at Haaretz.com.
It is said that Israel is a land flowing with milk and honey. Well I can tell you it isn’t. And that’s not simply my opinion, it’s a factual observation — Israel’s dairy production has been down as a result of a scorching hot summer, and the supermarket shelves here are all the lighter because of it.
In order to keep the nation enjoying milk in their breakfast cereals and cappuccinos, Israeli dairy farms held off from their normal butter production. Of course, they could have cut non-essential items, like chocolate milk (ironically, profit margins on those luxury items are far higher than on butter).
But I digress. So now, here we are, almost butter-less. In fact, things have gotten so desperate in my sandwich-loving household that when my wife and I went out for coffee today, she insisted that we ordered some bread… just so we could take home the minuscule carton of butter the waiter brings with it.
Crossposted from Haaretz
American actor Leonardo DiCaprio is looking to build a house in Israel, the Israel Hayom daily newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Citing associates of DiCaprio, the report said that the actor — the boyfriend of Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli — wants to buy a plot of land on which to build a house that will serve as his base during visits to Israel.
DiCaprio is said to be considering lands in the southern part of the country. Lacking a suitable option there, he will look at lands in the north. He is said not to be considering building a home in the central part of the country, where Refaeli’s family lives.
Read more at Haaretz.com.
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