HOLLYWOOD “SCANDAL”: While Israel is no stranger to scandal, this week it was the turn of actors on the hit U.S. television series by that name to hit the country. “Each and every day there was some fantastic experience, like when we visited Rambam Medical Center and we saw a beating heart muscle made from stem cell technology,” said “Scandal” co-star Bellamy Young. She was accompanied by fellow cast members Guillermo Diaz, Katie Lowes and Adam Shapiro. Lana Parrilla of “Once Upon a Time” and art director Julie Walker (“The Mentalist”) also joined the trip.
Their visit was sponsored by America’s Voices in Israel, a program of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “There are two things which stand out − there seems to be art and creativity everywhere, whether it was in the galleries of Jaffa or along the streets of Jerusalem,” said Diaz before the group left on Sunday. America’s Voices director Irwin Katsof led the weeklong trip, aimed to promote Israel’s image abroad by introducing Hollywood stars to influential figures in Israel.
IRELAND’S PROTESTANT JEWS: Pssst ... Don’t tell anyone, but Sephardi Jews pre-dated Ashkenazi Jews in Ireland. Breifne O’Reilly, Ireland’s ambassador to Israel, will shed light on this topic when he introduces what promises to be an instructive, first-of-its-kind seminar in Israel, “Secret Jews of Ireland,” at Netanya Academic College on Monday. Israel Ireland Friendship League chairman Malcolm Gafson will also weigh in, with “An Inquisitive History of Ireland’s Jewish Marranos.” The first Jews in Ireland were Marranos who came in from both Spain and Portugal,” Gafson told Haaretz yesterday. “They were inwardly Jews, outwardly living the life of Christians, so when they got to Ireland they were called ‘foreign Protestants.’ They opened the first synagogue in Dublin with Sephardi rites.” The moderator will be Neil Davis of the Neil Davis Charitable Foundation. The program will be introduced by the event’s organizer, Gloria Mound. She is the executive director of Netanya’s Casa Shalom, Institute for Marrano (Anusim) Studies. For details contact Malcolm at (050)822-1732.
GOING TO THE SOURCES: Lit lovers seeking to unlock the language of S.Y. Agnon, Israel’s sole Nobel laureate in literature, need look no further than an upcoming course offered at his former residence in Jerusalem. In the latest initiative of “Midrash Agnon,” Rabbi Jeffrey Saks will explore the award-winning novella “In the Prime of Her Life,” which the Jerusalem-based rabbi describes as a “tale of love lost and found, and the profound way the older generation shapes the life of its children, as told through the perspective of a young female narrator.” The three-session course, which starts on Sunday, will examine the novella from a literary perspective while unraveling the Jewish sources from which Agnon drew. The book will be read in English translation. For details call (02)567-1719.
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