Thursday, January 29, 2015

Israeli blonde bombshell to tie the knot

She's graced the cover of numerous American magazines, turned heads when she landed the coveted cover spot on Sports Illustrated's swimsuit edition in 2009, and rose from third in 2009 to No. 1 in 2012 on Maxim magazine's Hot 100 list.

I'm talking about Israeli supermodel Bar Rafaeli, 29, who was labelled too hot for Israeli TV last year when she was featured in a campaign ad for fashion brand Hoodies in bed with a giant puppet.

After dating her businessman boyfriend Adi Ezra, 40, for the past 2-1/2 years, multiple sources are announcing today that the two recently became engaged and have been very careful to keep the announcement hush hush, but say they are planning a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony, chupah and all.

False reports claiming Rafaeli was romantically involved with the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger separated the Israeli beauty from her beau for a short time, but they managed to find their way back to each other and are said to be stronger together than ever.

We wish them much naches and a heartfelt mazal tov.

Generations gather in honour of Auschwitz survivors

Some 180 people of all ages gathered Jan. 27 at the Jacob Family Theatre at Toronto's Baycrest Centre  to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

It was heart-warming to see how important Holocaust education is to people young and old, and how relevant they find it is to their heritage and personal identity to commit to learning retelling survivors' stories.

Eli Wiesel once said that when you listen to a witness, you become a witness.

Lauren Collins
Everyone was captivated by the multimedia presentation recognizing the 70th anniversary of the death camp's liberation and honouring three of its survivors.

From Helena Jokel's short film We Sang in Hushed Voice to the reading of an excerpt from Anna Molnar Hegedus memoir As The Lilacs Bloomed, exquisitely rendered by Canadian actress Lauren Collins, and John Freund's reading from his biography Spring's End, there was absolute silence as the audience paid rapt attention to all those on stage.

The event was hosted by Elin Beaumont of the Azrieli Foundation and co-sponored by JUMP (Jewish Urban Meeting Place). Following the singing of Hatikvah, Rabbi Joel Wardinger, JUMP's director, invited the survivors present to light a candle with Beaumont, and then invited the children and grandchildren of survivors to do the same in remembrance of all those who lost their lives at the hands of the Nazis.

The imperative to remember and never forget does indeed seem to be in good hands.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Canada and Israel sign new air service agreements

Lisa Raitt, Canada's minister of transport, signed an air transport agreement in Israel this week, along with a declaration of intent on aviation security and a memorandum of understanding on transportation.

Suffice it to say the new agreement will permit a far greater number of Canadian and Israeli airlines to offer air services to more cities in both countries and allow for the scheduling of many more flights each day for both passenger and cargo purposes.

Jump here to our good friends at Size Doesn't Matter for a full account and some historical quick facts.

Former Saved by the Bell star pleads not guilty

For anyone who grew up in the 1990s, a Saturday-morning staple for adolescents and teens was Saved By the Bell. The show ran from 1989 to 1993, spawning a prime-time spinoff Saved by the Bell: The College Years, and later Saved by the Bell: The New Class, which extended the series to the turn of the century.

Many know Dustin Diamond (whose father is of Ashkenazi decent), or more accurately his character Samuel "Screech" Powers, the often socially awkward yet loyal-to-the-end best friend of Mark-Paul Gosselaar's character Zack Morris. Diamond was present in every iteration of the show from its initial beginnings on the Disney Channel, when it was called Good Morning Miss Bliss before it was retooled by then-NBC president Brandon Tartikoff.

While Diamond, now 38, has largely stayed out of the public eye since his sitcom days, falling back on his stand-up comedy, the actor went through many hard times both personally and professionally. The recent holiday season was anything but kind to the once-beloved actor. He and his 27-year-old girlfriend, Amanda Schutz, were arrested following a brawl last month inside Port Washington, Wis.'s Grand Avenue Saloon. Diamond was charged with second degree reckless endangerment and two misdemeanours, while Shutz was charged with disorderly conduct. They've both pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Diamond is accused of wielding a stiletto folding blade and stabbing a man who grabbed him as he trying to come to the defence of Schutz, who was being roughed up by a pair of bar patrons.

His one-time fictional school principal Mr. Belding would definitely not approve.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Famed comedian makes Marvel Comics debut

American comedian Sarah Silverman has revelled in success after success – from conquering the stage and screen, both big and small, to writing best-selling books and lending her celebrity to causes around the world.

Now Silverman has been immortalized, like many before her, in the pages of a beloved comic book series.

In Deadpool # 40, about a fictional mercenary anti-hero whose real name is Wade Winston Wilson, from the Marvel canon of characters, the often-vulgar entertainer takes a stand with the equally abrasive Deadpool, or the "Merc with a Mouth," as he's often called, against the Roxxon company and its environmentally damaging practice of "gracking."

Gracking is a softer term for the real-world equivalent of hydraulic fracturing, used to extract natural gas from the earth, only in the Marvel universe, Roxxon's process uses dangerous Gamma rays that turned mild-mannered scientist Bruce Banner into the brute known as the Hulk.

We really enjoyed this full account by Renee Ghert-Zand for The Times of Israel about comedians making appearances in the pages of Marvel and DC comics.

Check it out.

The Wachowskis' new film to finally hit theatres

It's been a long road for Andy and Lana (formerly Larry) Wachowski to get their latest motion picture into theatres.

After giving us The Matrix trilogy, their follow-up films have not quite generated the same level of notoriety nor basked in the same level of success at the box office.

Their last major outing, Cloud Atlas in 2012, starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, made a disappointing $130 million and was not entirely well received by critics or cinema-going audiences alike.

Jupiter Ascending, starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum, was pulled from last summer's blockbuster roster, as the sibling directors felt the special effects scenes did not meet the level of quality they sought to put forth. Now with a Feb. 6 release date, how will it fare against the Oscar-nominated films contending for this year's coveted awards?

Do you still believe the Wachowskis can capture audiences' attention as they once did?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

You could be sitting on the Iron Throne in Tel Aviv

There are a great many television shows that generate niche followings, and then there are the global phenomena that keep everyone talking. The American fantasy drama Game of Thrones, which airs on HBO, falls into the latter category.

Game of Thrones was adapted in 2011 from the same-titled first book of George R.R. Martin's wildly popular A Song of Ice and Fire four-part series. It's signature catch phrase, "Winter is coming," when heard, often signals the new season's premiere is soon to follow.

In 2012, an exhibition showcasing iconic artifacts, original scripts and costumes from its production travelled the world to transport fans to the epic world of Westeros and beyond. Having completed the North Amercian leg of its third annual tour in 2014, it has just been announced the exhibition will once again travel the world to seven international destinations..

Winter will come (in spring) to Israel with a stop in Tel Aviv this April during Passover (April 5-9). Other stops along the way will include London, Stockholm, Madrid, Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam.

If you have not yet attended the exhibition, here's a taste of what you'd see.