Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
For this weekend, I would like to recommend a newbie in the Israeli music industry. Her name is Maya Unger, she is 26 years old, and she is not yet famous, but soon to be. For sure. After encountering one of her songs, I fell in love with her fun, catchy music, and decided I had to share. Who knows, maybe in a few years when she is as famous as Justin Bieber (at least!) you would be able to say you spotted that talent before everyone else…
Here are her first two singles. Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend and happy Rosh Hashana!
Lasim Hakol Me'achor (putitng everything behind)
Kmo Halom (Like a Dream)
6.18.13 at 12:37 pm | On my quest of searching better ways to show the. . .
6.17.13 at 12:48 pm | LEGO, Waze, Summer camps, an apology, 8th Wonder. . .
6.14.13 at 12:21 pm | Since I live in Israel and am very passionate. . .
6.12.13 at 12:26 pm | Like many before him, the Cambridge University. . .
6.10.13 at 12:25 pm | This Friday, 100,000 people from all around the. . .
6.7.13 at 12:20 pm | Since I live in Israel and am very passionate. . .
6.12.13 at 12:26 pm | Like many before him, the Cambridge University. . . (443)
6.17.13 at 12:48 pm | LEGO, Waze, Summer camps, an apology, 8th Wonder. . . (103)
6.10.13 at 12:25 pm | This Friday, 100,000 people from all around the. . . (68)
September 13, 2012 | 11:32 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
When the lights in the theater turned on, after a screening of Woody Allen’s To Rome with Love ended, I started visualizing my boyfriend and me wandering the streets of Rome, breathing romance. Just as if I was struck by magic, I couldn’t get Rome out of my head. About a month later, we were on a plane to one of the world’s most beautiful cities. The beauty of Rome is not only in its romantic atmosphere or magnificent buildings. It’s much, much more. Rome holds a combination of old and new, of ancient and modern, which makes it almost unbelievable, even when standing in the middle of it all.
Rome is a different kind of experience, which stimulates all five senses. In just six days, I got to see, touch, taste and smell like never before. I saw buildings that changed the face of architecture, and creations that changed the world of art. For Rome was not only a millenarian empire, it was an artistic empire, an architectural empire, and a religious empire as well. Its impact on the world we now know is indescribable, and to witness all of the above in 2012 is unbelievable no less. When walking the streets of Rome, you can never know what Piazza, fountain or an ancient Roman pole would reveal to you. The combination of architecture, history, art, food and love, managed to make the heat of August all forgotten, and make this vacation simply the best. In fact, even after describing Rome in two whole paragraphs, I still feel I didn’t really describe everything that’s Rome…
Besides the Italian experiences, this vacation, like any other, had a separate Jewish/Israeli experience. The first rule when going abroad is very simple: don’t pack anything that has Hebrew letters on it. It seems a bit strange at first, but we all know that wearing clothing or an accessory with Hebrew letters will simply draw more attention to our Israeli identity, and it is something we wish to hide abroad. Same goes for any Jewish outer identification, such as jewelry with Star of David, or a Yakama (some wear a hat to cover it). When I write it down right now, I must admit it looks weird, unnatural almost. I mean, why would anyone want to hide his or her identity? But bottom line is, it is a natural part of our packing process. The proof to that is that just now, after God knows how many flights, I notice how strange it is.
Perhaps those of you who’ve ever been abroad went through the same process. Perhaps you haven’t. I am still not sure if it’s a Jewish thing or just an Israeli thing. If it’s the fear of bombing or the fear of Anti-Semitism I get every time I land in Europe. For some reason I didn’t feel it as much when I was in the States. It could be because it is a safer place, but maybe it’s because I was usually amongst a Jewish community there. Both types of fear, the Israeli and the Jewish, is a common feeling amongst Israelis who travel abroad. It’s very rational and most certainly didn’t pop out of nowhere: as you all know, there had been many incidents aimed both for Jews and Israelis. The latest occurring in Burgas, almost a month ago, and took the lives of five Israelis. Six months ago, there was that murder in Toulouse, which dragged other crimes of hate towards Jews in the area. These are merely a few examples of attacks towards Jews and Israelis in Europe, and the realization and actualization of that fear.
In spite of that fear, we don’t walk with our heads down, hiding in the shadows of the European streets. We don’t think about that fear every minute of every day, and we most certainly enjoy our vacations. For most of my vacation days in Rome, I had a blast, thinking of my Judaism only when trying to fight the Ham attack that took over every single menu. I almost didn’t think of what happened and what could happen. That is until I came across a swastika, painted on a wall in one of the side-streets. This brought everything back to my attention. From this point on, I was grateful for being able to enjoy my vacation as much as I did, and landing back in Israel, safe and sound. This swastika reminded me, more than any article, that outside of my home in Israel, I am never completely safe from hate. And I am not referring to any type of hate, because wherever we are, hate exists. I am talking about the scariest type of hate. The one that nearly destroyed us as Jews, and the one that is threatening us as Israelis today.
That trip reminded me that it is important to appreciate what you have and who you are. That after 2000 years of depression and disasters, we managed to stay united under the warm hug of Judaism, and that there’s anything we cannot survive. But this trip also brought back to my attention something a little girl with red shoes once said: there’s no place like home.
September 11, 2012 | 12:50 pm
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
I was only 11 at the time, but 9/11 is a date I'll never forget. I was at home alone, busy with my homework, when the phone rang. I picked it up, and on the other side was my aunt, and she sounded hysterical: "Noga! Where is your father?" –"Abroad", I replied. "Somewhere In the States. New-York, I think". –"Oh my God, do you know if he is okay?" I replied I didn't hear from him that day, but I guess he is just fine, and she hung up. I had no idea what was the conversation about, so I decided to wait for my mother to return home and ask her then. Meanwhile, I turned on the television, and looked for something interesting to see. When I reached one of the news channels, I couldn't look away. In front of me, on the screen, were images too rough to see. People screaming and crying to the sight of the twin towers slowly collapse. The reporter analyzed the situation, but I wasn't listening. I was captured by the unbelievable pictures, of one of the darkest days of the 21st century. It wasn't long until I realized my aunt's panic. My father is there, god knows how close to the smoke and flames. I called my mother, and she hurried to calm me down. My father was safe and sound and in Florida. It wasn't until a few days later when he told me he was supposed to be in New-York, at that time, having a meeting in one of the towers, but eventually experienced some change in plans.
It could be faith, a higher power, or merely luck, but the bottom line is that my father was saved and got to live a happy life in the next 11 years (and counting). Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the thousands of people who woke up that day without knowing it will be their last. Ever since that day, 9/11 became a day of both memory and salutation. On that day, for 11 years, we bow our head in memory of the ones who were lost forever, and salute to the heroes who saved lives, and helped preventing a maybe bigger attack. But the most admirable aspect of the post 9/11 US, is the fact that in it is not just one day a year. 9/11 is everywhere, every day to everyone: from memorial sites, to special programs, to unity with those whose world collapsed and never restructured- you are all united in this memory for 11 years.
At this point, I just want to let you know we remember 9/11 too. We also bow our heads in memory of this unforgettable day and wish it didn't exist. We hold your hands and embrace you all, in hope to never witness such a disaster ever again. But in order to never letting this repeat itself, we all must stand together in the battle against terror. In the past several years, it continues to grow and the threat for all countries of the world is getting more and more solid. Terror continues to grow, and the only way to stop it is to stand together. Together we are a wall, stronger than any brick or metal. The fight against terror may sometimes seem like an impossible fight, but things are always better once you know you're not alone out there. Together we will make a better world, where our children will spend a lifetime not knowing what terror is, remembering the 21st century as the day the world said: "enough". May you all be strong, and may 9/11 always refer only to the year 2001.
September 10, 2012 | 10:30 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
* 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
September 7, 2012 | 11:54 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
This week I'll make an exception and recommend a song. In 2002, Ariel Horowitz, son of Israel's greatest songwriter and composer- Naomi Shemer, released a single from his second album. Horowitz was already quite famous at the time, and continued to maintain a respected musical career. But from his total of five albums, his 2002 single, Renée, is his most famous to this day, and considered one of the most iconic songs in the Israeli culture. Renée was written about Renée Zellweger, whom Horowitz had a crush on after watching Jerry Maguire. This song is so good and so smart, I decided to translate it to English, for you to enjoy, because it's not every day you find a song with lyrics as good as the melody. Rhymes and wordplay not included, so it's not a good as it sounds in Hebrew. However, this song tells of a man who decided to peruse his dream, telling Renée Zellweger he loves her, and take her with him back to Israel. With the combination of wit, innocence and insistence, the hero of the story tells us his entire plan, from deciding to leave Israel, through finding Renée and finally- giving her his big speech. The story is left open, as we have no idea what her answer is. In real life, however, I can reassure you this story remained in Horowitz's dreams.
I went to see an American movie and fell in love with the actress.
On my way back home, in the cab, I was thinking to myself:
why not pack all my belongings, thank my mother for all the years, and just go?
On the wing of the airplane, the homeland's flag shine,
My beloved doesn't yet have a clue
That I, with determination of a unavoidable faith, am closing the gap, and I got an address and a photo.
Your life is about to change completely, because I am on my way.
The custom clerk in New York, with politeness packed with alienation
Wants me to tell him the purpose of my visit.
'I come from love', I say.
To ocean would ever tear us apart, Renée .
Your life is about to change completely, because I am on my
A restaurant, a black dress, a confusing cleavage.
Good thing I prepared my speech in advance, in Israel
Touch me, Renée, and you'll see, I am not made of Plastic.
You'll have a real life with me:
On Thursday nights your will lay in bad, reading a book,
While the guys and I will watch Basketball.
We'll live in a small apartment in Motzkin (a small town in Israel)
And once a year, you'll make a movie with Ivgi (Moshe Ivgi, one if Israel's greatest actors).
Your life is about to change completely, because I am on my way.
September 4, 2012 | 10:00 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Yesterday's headline made no room for mistakes: "A secret message from the US government to Iran: don't attack us if Israel attacks you." According to the paper's main story, Obama's government sent a secret message to Iran, through two European countries, asking Ahmadinejad to avoid attacking US military bases in the Middle East. The article also said that Obama stated he would not support an Israeli attack in Iran, and would not support any one-sided attack by Israel. Lately, there had been much speculation regarding a possible future attack in Iran, but this one caused quite a commotion.
In the past few months, we got used to reading almost every speculation regarding an Israeli attack on Iran. Day after day, the main articles in leading national newspapers went through the various possibilities for an attack. Sometimes, they referred to Israel's military options, sometimes to Obama's speeches about the sanctions, and sometimes to the failure that is the Obama- Netanyahu relationship. Due to the overdose of articles and new-old-not-so-breaking-news, we got rather indifferent to them, knowing the papers are drying up the Iran- attack well in the search of a non-existing sanctions. The articles mentioning the US government were the most boring of them all, because they were always the same: Obama is calling for sanctions, and asking Netanyahu to contain the attack for a little while. This is exactly why yesterday's headline was anything but boring.
This reported "secret message" meant that our one powerful ally, our solid backer, will not support us, in case of an attack in Iran. It meant that Obama doesn't really care we are under a life threat as Iran continues working on a nuclear weapon, while Ahmadinejad is telling whoever wants to hear that he wishes to kill all Israelis. It meant the one person we could trust to help us win this scary battle is not really there. It seems as if Obama doesn't trust Israel to attack Iran only in case there will be no other choice, and is willing to abandon the strong, six decades long friendship with Israel. More than the feeling of betrayal, I felt fear. This message was plain and simple, and shook us up. Of all the many speculations regarding the future attack, this one was by far the scariest. The US was the one partner we knew would help us win every battle and help us get through the roughest of times, and in one headline, the security was gone. After reading about the Obama-Netanyahu decreasing relationship recently, this story appeared as the bottom line and basically sealed the deal: the US-Israel relationship cannot be saved. We WILL lose the war against Iran.
This story was discussed on social networks and in each and every Israeli's mind. It made me restless, and for the first time, I was worried. It was only later in the evening when the US government replied to the story, when the White House spokesman Jay Carney told Reuters that this story is incorrect on every level. On the eight o'clock news, the anchor reported that US government officials blamed the false news on the Republicans, saying this is a part of their presidential campaign. I know the people behind this message probably won't read this, but I have something I want to say to them: Sorry, but this time you've gone too far. I get why the approach towards Israel will affect the support of the Jewish communities for your presidential candidate, but creating such a false story meant taking this election campaign too far. Just to make is clear: I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat, I am Israeli. I know we are far away, and not as many as you, but yesterday, you got many of us scared. Your little prank hurt the "little people", plain and simple. We also matter. We are not only a pawn in your campaigning game, and I can only hope both candidates fully understand this. Don't play with us, because everything you do, for better and for worse, affects us.
September 3, 2012 | 11:35 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
* In 2006, an Israeli couple changed the rules of Jewish marriage in Israel, when the orthodox court had to acknowledge their homosexual marriage. Now, they may change the rules once again. The two fell in love several years ago, but due to the Israeli law, which claims only orthodox court can legalize marriage, they were unable to tie the knot legally in Israel. Therefore, the couple got married in Canada. With their return to Israel, they turned to the Supreme Court, and at the end of a very long process, the state acknowledge their marriage, and every other gay marriage from that day on, as legal. Since the orthodox court do not recognize gay marriage, most couples still get married abroad, but with their return to Israel, the state legalizes their marriage. A couple of days ago, this couple created yet another "first": they want to get a divorce. Since they broke up, and one of them chose to remarry, they need to legally end their six years of marriage. In Canada, the law states only citizens can get divorced. So they had no other choice but to approach the only legal authority in Israel in charge of marriages and divorces- the orthodox court. The only problem is that it does not recognize gay marriage, which is against their belief. Now, the rabbis there are trying to figure out how to give the couple a divorce, and go according to law, while not betraying their faith.
* Dozens of Pro-Palestinian activists caused a riot during a performance of a performance of the Israeli dance group, Bat-Sheva in Edinburgh. The respected dancers were invited to this prestigious international dancing festival, where they performed in front of an audience of 1500. Prior to the performance, 300 protestors stood outside the performance hall, shouted "Free Palestine" and caused a commotion. However the riot did not end there. Some managed to enter the hall, and interrupted the performance until the police escorted them outside. Somehow, some managed to go back inside, and interrupted the performance yet again. The dancers had to stop their performance several times, until at some point, the audience rose on their feet and clapped in respect to the Israeli dancers, not letting politics get in the way of culture.
* Ronit Levitan in came in third at the European Chess championship for kids and teenagers. Ronit, only eight years old, beat 53 young girls from 28 different countries, until winning the Bronze medal. But even at eight, she is still very aware of the respect she brought to her country, and proud of her achievements.
* The Paralympic games started only a week ago, but the Israeli team is just getting started. After a rather rough disappointment in the Olympic Games last month (zero medals, for the first time since 1988,) the Israeli team won three medals so far in this grand international competition for athletes with a range of physical and intellectual disabilities: Inbal Pezaro won two Bronze medals for swimming (Women's 50m Freestyle, and Women's 200m Freestyle), and Itzhak Mamistvalov won Bronze medal (Men's 200m Freestyle.) So far, Israel is located at the 13th place in the world when counting Paralympic medals, with a total of 336 medals.
* Not only US and Britain: soon, Israeli women would be able to also enjoy "50 Shade of Grey". The erotic novel, which sold more copies than Harry Potter (a worthy achievement indeed), was translated to Hebrew, and will soon be taken from every bookstore shelf in Israel. The reviews are glorifying, and pre-orders have already been made.
August 29, 2012 | 11:00 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Stand With Us is an international, non- profit organization, founded in 2001. The organization is dedicated to informing the population of the world about Israel, and to help fight the hate and anti-Semitism by simply acknowledging. By creating various projects and helping those who wish to stand for Israel, the organization manages to also correct common prejudices about the Arab-Israeli conflict. The members of Stand With Us, coming from the U.S, Israel, UK and France, use print materials, speakers, conferences, missions to Israel, and campaigns, both face to face and online, to follow their mission.
The Stand With Us Fellowship is a program of the Israeli branch of the movement. The fellowship trains students from all universities to become young diplomats and become spokespersons of Israel worldwide. Nowadays, the Fellowship completes their final preparations for the 2012 year-end projects, ranging from conferences on start-ups, social entrepreneurship, and women’s changing roles to explorations of Israel’s myriad cuisines and archeology. All of those projects will being students specializing in those various areas to explore more of their specialties here in Israel. The most attractive project of the Fellowship for the summer, is “Once in a Lifetime”, which continues to run for the third summer. This project brings influential bloggers worldwide to tour and to write about Israel. This year, however, the project got a twist, and instead of bloggers, ten influential Instagram users will land here on September 2dn for eight whole days of Israel.
Ten influential Instagram users will land here in just a couple of days: Carli Kiene (@inkedfingers), Joey Mena (@nerdx), Sam Horine (@samhorine), Bex Finch (@bexfinch), Eelco Roos (@croyable), VuTheara Kham (@vutheara), Angeliki Jackson (@astrodub), Steph Goralnick (@sgoralnick), Dave Temple (@kewiki), Jorg Nicht (@JN). They all have a total number of over 3 million followers put together, and they were picked after a long process of online researches made by the Fellowship members. Only two of them are Jewish, and most of them have never been to Israel before. During the eight days of stay, they will see every bit of Israel, from north to south, and take Instagram pictures for you to see.
Stand With Us Fellowship