Tag Archives: IDF

Jew of the Week: Gal Gadot

Wonder Woman

Gal Greenstein (b. 1985) was born in Petah Tikva, Israel, the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors and immigrants from Poland, Austria, Germany, and Czechoslovakia. As is common in Israel, her parents Hebraized their last name, choosing Gadot, meaning “river banks”. After graduating from high school, she was spotted by a talent agent and convinced to participate in the Miss Israel beauty pageant. Gadot joined for fun, with no interest to actually win – but she did. When moving on to the Miss Universe pageant, she purposely sabotaged her chances of winning by not wearing the required dresses or putting on makeup. Upon her return, she completed her two year military service with the IDF, then enrolled in college to study law and political science. Meanwhile, her appearance at the Miss Universe pageant brought many modeling agencies to her door. A year later, Gadot was called to audition for the part of a Bond girl in Quantum of Solace. Though she didn’t get that part, she was soon given the part of Gisele in the Fast and the Furious series, going on to appear in three of the films. She starred in a number of other Hollywood and Israeli movies and TV shows. Her big break came in 2015, when she was cast as Wonder Woman in the Dawn of Justice film. She did a great deal of training for the part, and put on 17 pounds of muscle. While the movie itself received mixed reviews, Gadot’s performance was applauded, and she was signed on for two more films, including a stand-alone Wonder Woman movie. That film (described as being “75 years in the making”) was recently released, and broke records for the largest opening weekend for a film directed by, and starring, a woman. It has raked in an impressive $450 million so far. The film has received marvelous reviews – already ranked among the greatest comic book movies of all time – mainly for Gadot’s performance, described as being inspiring and “electric”. Gadot has been credited with saving the DC Universe of films. (Amazingly, she was pregnant with her second daughter while filming Wonder Woman, yet still trained around the clock and did her own stunts.) Gadot has been praised for her unrelenting pro-Israel stance, her unfazed response to ceaseless criticism, anti-Semitism, and sexual harassment (even her role as the UN’s Honourary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls was protested heavily), for being down-to-earth and keeping it simple (she appeared at the LA premiere in $50 flats from Aldo), and sticking to Jewish traditions over the years despite the fame and fortune. Gadot has entranced much of the world, particularly at home in Israel, where she has been called a “national treasure”, and surprisingly in China, where she has been awarded China’s “Most Popular Hollywood Actress.” Gadot will reprise her role as Wonder Woman later this year in the forthcoming Justice League film.

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Words of the Week

In youth, one learns to talk; in maturity, one learns to be silent. This is man’s problem: that he learns to talk before he learns to be silent
– Rabbi Nachman of Breslav

Gal Gadot lights Shabbat candles with her daughter and stands up for Israel

Jew of the Week: Ezer Weizman

Ezer Weizman (1924-2005), the nephew of Israel’s first president, Chaim Weizmann, was born in Tel Aviv and raised in Haifa. In his youth, he joined the Haifa Aviation Club and was flying planes by age 16. At 18, in the midst of World War II, he enlisted in the British Royal Air Force and served in Africa and India. After the war, Weizman lived in London and studied aeronautics. It was there that he joined the Zionist paramilitary group, Irgun. Weizman returned to Israel to fight in the Independence War. He was one of Israel’s very first fighter pilots, co-founded its air force, and participated in the first air force mission. He continued working for the army after the war, and in 1958 became the commander of the Israeli Air Force. He modernized the IAF, personally trained its pilots, and transformed it into the powerful and feared juggernaut that it is today. In 1967, Weizman was the IDF’s chief of military operations, and helped persuade the Israeli government to launch a preemptive strike against its aggressors. He directed the surprise attack on Arab air forces on the first day of the Six-Day War, totally destroying their air power and thus securing Israel’s lightning victory. (It has been said that the Six-Day War was won by the Israeli air force in the first six hours!) In 1969, Weizman – now a major general and deputy chief of staff – retired from the military and joined the Gahal political party (the precursor of Likud). He served as a Minister of Transportation and later as Defense Minister. He oversaw the development of Israel’s Lavi fighter jet, and the critical 1978 campaign in Lebanon (Operation Litani). Meanwhile, Weizman also became an important peace negotiator. He spoke Arabic fluently, and grew close to Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, who went so far as to call Weizman his “younger brother”. Not surprisingly, Weizman played a key role in Israel’s 1979 peace treaty with Egypt. He later founded his own party, Yachad, and sat on the Knesset between 1984 and 1992, serving as Minister for Arab Affairs and Minister of Science and Technology. A year after leaving the Knesset, Weizman was elected Israel’s seventh president. By this point, he had built a reputation as a dove, and worked hard to promote peace. He was credited with making the office of president more relevant in Israeli society, and was praised for his warmth and concern for all of Israel’s citizens, including Arabs and Druze. After being reelected to a second term, Weizman resigned as president in 2000, and passed away five years later. He has been voted the 9th greatest Israeli of all time.

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Words of the Week

There are free men with the spirit of a slave, and slaves whose spirit is full of freedom. He who is true to his inner self is a free man, while he whose entire life is merely a stage for what is good and beautiful in the eyes of others, is a slave.
Rabbi Avraham Itzhak Kook