Jewish-American actress Mayim Bialik was chosen to light a torch at Israel's annual Independence Day celebration— but will be unable to attend due to her shooting schedule for the sitcom "The Big Bang Theory," the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday.
Bialik was to act as a representative at the ceremony on behalf of Diaspora Jews. Culture Minister Miri Regev decided last year to allocate a torch to representatives of Jews abroad.
Numerous names were floated as potential participants in the torch-lighting ceremony after the government asked the public to suggest nominees. Representatives suggested include White House adviser Ivanka Trump, attorney Alan Dershowitz, and actress and singer Barbra Streisand, according to the report. Bialik published a Facebook post asking fans to nominate her.
Bialik has frequently discussed her Judaism and support for Israel, saying last month that her outspoken support for the Zionist movement has come with “a heavy price”.
“It hasn’t yet, that I know of, impacted my acting career, but it has impacted the way that I am seen, and that does impact my career in terms of speaking engagements and endorsements,” she said in a keynote address at the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism.
Bialik said she was particularly prone to anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist attacks because of her huge presence on social media. Bialik has 2 million followers on Facebook, 2.6 million on Instagram and 600,000 on Twitter.
“For me, as a public person who lives in the public sphere where the internet is the method of a lot of communications in my life, anti-Semitism now has a deep and significant reach in ways it never did, and I’m being touched by it in ways I never was before,” said Bialik. “And it has demonstrated to me how much Israel has become a dominant feature of the hatred of Jews.”
Meanwhile, controversy arose in Israel over whether Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, who heads a regime charged with human rights violations and is himself beset by charges of corruption, deserves the honor of being the first foreign head of state to light a torch at the ceremony. Following the controversy, Hernández decided on Monday to cancel his attendance.