Tag Archives: Superman

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.

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: Menachem Golan

Menachem Golan

Menachem Golan

Menachem Globus (1929-2014) was born in Tiberias, Israel to Polish-Jewish parents. He served as an air force pilot and bombardier during Israel’s War of Independence (when he changed his last name to Golan). After this, he studied theatre and drama in England, followed by film-making in New York University. Together with his cousin Yoram Globus, Golan began making Israeli movies in the 1960s. They would go on to produce some of Israel’s most famous classics, such as Operation Thunderbolt about the IDF Entebbe raid that saved Israeli hostages in Uganda, and the comedy series Eskimo Limon, which left a permanent mark on Israeli culture. In 1979, Golan purchased the Cannon Group and expanded into Hollywood. Throughout the 1980s he produced some of the biggest action hits of the time, including Sylvester Stallone’s Over the Top, Chuck Norris’ The Delta Force, and Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Bloodsport and Kickboxer. He was also one of the first to see the allure of adapting toys and comic books to film, producing Masters of the UniverseSuperman IV, and trying to bring Spider-Man to the big screen (it did only after Sony bought out the film rights). In all, Golan produced over 200 films, and directed 44 of them himself, earning three Academy Award nominations, and the Israel Prize. Sadly, Golan passed away last Friday. Paying tribute to the filmmaker, Chuck Norris said that it was Golan who turned him into a superstar, and Van Damme tweeted: “I love you, and will always do.”

Words of the Week

…splitting Judaism into ‘orthodox, conservative, and reform’ is a purely artificial division, for all Jews share one and the same Torah given by the One and same God. While there are more observant Jews and less observant ones, to tack on a label does not change the reality that we are all one.
– Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe