* Israel's Beauty and the Geek's semi-finals turned out to be more than your everyday reality show episode. The final four couples visited Turkey on a very special mission: to try and make things right between the two states. As most of you already know, things aren't going so great for Israel and Turkey. After maintaining a good, healthy relationship, based mostly on mutual tourism, a line of diplomatic mishaps brought the relationship between the allies to a new low-point. In fact, for the past year or so, the state has recommended Israelis avoid taking vacations there. In the popular show's semi-finals, the couples took the not-so-secure trip over there, and became Israeli ambassadors, while trying to bring the relationship status back to "friends". After performing various tasks, they did not succeed in bringing things back to the way they were, but they defiantly took some risks even the best politicians never took.
* Research made by the world's health organization ranked the Israeli youth number three in the world's happiness rate. The research, taken once every four years, tested the mental and social health amongst teenagers from 34 states. In the category testing the contentment from life, the Israeli teenagers were ranked third, while their peers from Macedonia and Armenia are the only ones happier. But while considered happy with their lives, the Israeli teenagers are also the fifth most angry in the world. Well, when it is summer ten months a year, who can blame them?
* A commercial German company, selling puzzles and posters of famous German sites and scenery, decided to add two very controversial sites to their collection, and on the way, hurt many feelings. Under the title of "Germany's most beautiful sites", along with 55 thousand places, the company added a purchasable poster or puzzle of the concentration camps Dachau and Buchenwald. The German-Jewish community expressed their surprise and rage with the new addition, which, in their words, is disrespectful towards the memory of the tens of thousands of people who were brutally murdered there during the Holocaust. Dachau was the first concentration camp built by the Nazis, and Buchenwald was the largest concentration camp built on German land. Today, the places function as memorial and educational sites.
* More achievements for the Israeli Paralympic team! The games in London ended with five more Israeli athletes stood on the podium, and joined the two bronze medal winners from last week: Inbal Pezaro (two bronze medals for swimming) and Itzhak Mamistvalov (one bronze medal for swimming).Pezaro won a third bronze medal (Wonem's 100m freestyle S5), Doron Shaziri won a silver medal for shooting (Men's 50m. rifle 3 positions SH1), Koby Lion won a silver medal for Cycling (Men's time trial H1), and Noam Gershony brought Israel's first gold medal since the games in Athens, 2004. Gershony was injured severely during the second Lebanon war, where he served as a pilot. After winning first place in Wheelchair tennis, he said in interviews he is now "at the top of the world." Gershony and his partner, Shraga Weinberg, also won bronze medal for wheelchair tennis Quad Doubles.
* Rama Burshtein made history last week at the 69th Venice Film Festival. The filmmaker became the first Israeli director with a film presented in the formal contest of one of the three most significant, important film festivals worldwide (Cannes, Venice and Berlin). As if this achievement is not big enough, Burshtein is also the first Haredi filmmaker whose film is presented outside of the community. Her film, Lemale' et Ha'Chalal (Fill the Void), was screened last Sunday and got very loud applause from the audience, which lasted about ten minutes. But it wasn't just the audience who thought this film was a state of the art creation, as critics' compliments started to appear in the papers and online. The film is nominated for the prestigious "Golden Lion" award, and tells of a Haredi family dealing with a tragedy as the daughter dies while giving birth.
* An on the same matter, Hadas Yaron, a 22 year-old waitress-actress who played the lead in Rama Burshtein's film, won the Best Actress award in the festival. Yaron returned to Israel after the movie premier in Venice, and went back to her job at a local coffee shop. On Friday, she received the life changing phone call, with the announcement on her win. On Saturday, she flew back to Italy to receive the prestigious award. Truly a Cinderella story...
Rama Burshtein and the cast of Lemale' er HaChalal at the 69th Venice Film Festival