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Friday, July 31, 2015

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Heebonics is a division of The Canadian Jewish News bringing news and views to Jews in their 20's and 30's interested in Jewish culture, including music, film, travel, business, social activism, and more.
Updated: 59 min 14 sec ago

Top firms latch on to Israeli tech boom

Wednesday July 29, 2015
As detailed by Viva Sarah Press of Israel21C, it's become a well-documented fact that Israel stands toe toe toe with the Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 firms in Silicon Valley, Calif., when it comes to developing next-generation technologies and applications.

Israeli ingenuity in connected devices, wearables, perceptual computing and robotics is one of the hottest commodities the country's innovators have to offer.

Over the past month, Microsoft has just about closed its biggest deal on record, acquiring the cloud security company Adallom for a reported $320 million. If it indeed goes through, the purchase will be the largest ever completed in Israel by the American multinational. While Adallom's headquarters are in Palo Alto, Calif., its development centre is in Tel Aviv.

A logical acquisition for Microsoft, Adallom is the security firm that exposed the flaw in Microsoft's Office365 server following a hack in December 2013.

Similarly, and almost exactly a year after Facebook acquired Oculus and its headset the Oculus Rift, a popular virtual reality gaming headset, for $2 billion, the Facebook division has now bought Israel's vision specialist Pebbles Interfaces. It's reported the deal is valued at $60 million.

It appears Mark Zuckerberg's social media powerhouse will try to takes its users' experiences to the next level. On the homepage for Pebbles Interfaces, the Kfar Saba-based team wrote the following: "For the last five years, we've been focused on building a technology that extend human behaviour, enabling simple and intuitive interaction with any consumer electronic device."

According to a report from Ynet, Facebook is likely to now open "a VR development centre in Israel and benefit from abundant local talent in the field."

From the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology to the University of Haifa, there is most certainly no shortage.

Summer concerts: R&B icons take over Tel Aviv

Wednesday July 29, 2015
Top musicians come from around the world to give concerts in Israel, mostly in Tel Aviv, and every year the number is increasing!

Leonard Cohen, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Paul McCartney are just some of the big names who have given concerts in Israel in recent years.

This summer’s concerts are all about R&B with performances by such artists as Chris Brown and Mariah Carey.

More than 10,000 people gathered Monday night at Live Park in Rishon LeZion to see Chris Brown, one of the most popular rappers in the world. Brown, 26, gave the audience a show full of energy, and played many of his big hits including Turn Up the Music and Yeah 3x, as well as several cover versions, among others, of songs by Michael Jackson. Sometimes the brightly lit stage was transformed into a New York rap club, with the appearance of more than a dozen dancers.

Mariah Carey, one of the most celebrated singers in the world, is also coming to Live Park next month to give her first-ever concert in Israel.

The gig comes less than two months after Carey made her first visit to Israel, with boyfriend James Packer, an Australian businessman who reportedly is a friend of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The couple had a “pre-engagement spiritual meeting” with an unnamed religious leader meant to advise them on whether or not to marry. Most famous for her five-octave vocal range and 18 No. 1 singles on the Billboard charts, Carey will make $500,000 for her first concert in Israel.

Hilarity for Charity bar mitzvah for James Franco

Thursday July 23, 2015
We've been tracking stories of the business world's elite spending exorbitant amounts on bar/bat mitzvah parties for their sons and daughters, which often feature celebrities making special appearances.

We've also brought you similar reports of celebrities re-committing or reconnecting to their Judaism through the ceremony.

In 2012, David Arquette and Drake both grabbed headlines, and last year, Lisa Kudrow's son avoided an all-out lavish affair by "becoming a man" in a drive-by bar mitzvah.

Apparently it's now James Franco's turn in the spotlight.

Good friend Seth Rogen, who has worked with Franco, 37, on half a dozen films since first meeting on the set of TV's Freaks and Geeks in 1999, is planning to officially initiate Franco into manhood with the traditional right of passage. It's scheduled to take place during the annual Hilarity for Charity variety show at the Hollywood Palladium on Oct. 17.

The Hilarity for Charity fund was founded four years ago by Seth and his wife, actor and screenwriter Lauren Miller Rogen, to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer’s disease.

Actors and comedians such as Paul Rudd, Aziz Ansari, Sarah Silverman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and even Montreal Canadien P.K. Subban have performed at past benefits.

If it'll be anything like Franco's comedy roast or the spoof's of Kanye West's and Kim Kardashian's shenanigans, like their Bound music video, you know it will be a laugh-out-loud affair.

Rogen has said he may also hire a mohel and add to the occasion “a live bris for James.” Mazel Tov!

Tickets to the event are available for sale starting Aug. 11 from Hilarity for Charity.org.

Details on the broadcasting of the ceremony have yet to be announced.

Ivanka Trump extolls her conversion to Judaism

Wednesday July 22, 2015
Donald Trump – American business tycoon, reality TV star, author and investor – may be making headlines for hateful speeches criticizing Mexicans and John McCain while running for America's top job, but Ivanka Trump is making headlines for a far more positive reason.

Extolling how fulfilled she is after having converting to Judaism in 2009, when she tied the knot with businessman Jared Kushner, Trump told Vogue magazine in a recent interview, "It's been such a great decision for me... I really find that with Judaism it creates an amazing blueprint for family connectivity."

Trump, 33, and Kusher, 34, are proud parents of two small children, Arabella, 3, and Joseph, now almost two years old.

Trump classifies her observance level as modern yet traditional: the family keeps kosher and observes Shabbat. From sundown Friday until sundown Saturday, they fully unplug from the world. "We don't do anything except play with each other, hang out with one another, go on walks together," she says. "Pure family."

As it states in Pirkei Avot, "Who is rich? He who is content with his lot," and when a family takes the time to truly be together, disconnected from all distractions, there is perhaps no richer unit in the world.

Ashton Kutcher remodels home with Israeli app

Thursday July 16, 2015
While his earnings from Two and a half Men can provide much more than just a comfortable lifestyle for wife and new mother Mila Kunis, after production wrapped last winter Ashton Kutcher's mom got some attention, too.

Having invested in the home design website of the Israeli-created company Houzz, the Hollywood actor and producer once again stepped in front of cameras as the new face of its interior designing app.

Residing in Los Angeles, Kutcher, 37, believed it was time to renovate the childhood home that he built with his step-father at the age of 13 back in Iowa. In time for mother's day, Kutcher's mom was gifted with an updated basement for when the grandchildren come to visit.

For the man who portrayed Walden Schmidt, a billionaire internet entrepreneur on Two and half Men, it's a logical fit that Kutcher would use the latest technological tool to get the job done. According to Houzz.com, 7 million interior design gallery photos are browsed by more than 25 million visitors each month.

Having documented the project, watch as Kutcher explains how he came to realize his vision for the space.

Olympian sheds clothes for ESPN The Magazine

Thursday July 9, 2015
Taking her team to gold at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, then captain of the U.S. women's gymnastics team, Aly Raisman is once again being honoured.

Joining a host of other female athletes for ESPN The Magazine's annual Body Issue, Raisman poses for a tasteful pictorial on rings and on a balance beam, albeit entirely without her clothes.

What does the perfect physique of an athlete or more precisely a gymnast look like? "I don't think there is one" she says. Clearly keeping up with her workout regiment, Raisman adds her muscular physique is on the bulky end of the spectrum for gymnasts. You can tell by her poise, she's more than comfortable with her appearance.

Hailing from Needham, Massachusetts, at the summer games she also took home gold for her routine on the floor and a bronze for the balance beam.

Proud and upfront about her Judaism, many will recall her golden Hava Nagila performance in the 2012 finals, which had the crowd and audience watching at home, clapping along.

Raisman's rabbi, Keith Stern of Temple Beth Avodah in Newton Centre Massachusetts told the New York Post "Neither she nor her family explicitly sought to send a message. But it shows how very integrated her Jewish heritage is in everything that she does."

Hoping to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, she'll then be 22 and the oldest member of the team. No doubt her fans will chomp at the bit to see her repeat.

Lead singer of U2 pays tribute to Shimon Peres

Thursday July 9, 2015
Treating fans to both classic tracks from yesteryear and current hits alike, Irish rock band U2 did not disappoint. Regarded as one of the best selling music artists of all time, they performed for a sold out audience of 20,000 at the Air Canada Center in Toronto earlier this week.

Having flown to Canada for the primary purpose of taking part in an economic conference, former Israeli president Shimon Peres was invited to attend the concert as a special guest. Not only did Peres take in the concert, he met the band backstage.

U2 lead singer Bono paid a special tribute to Peres prior to playing One in the final encore and it's clear they share a mutual admiration for one another. Bono had this to say of his fellow laureate of Nobel Peace Prize,

"In a region where the loudest voices are often the bellicose ones, we understand, president Peres, that you have tried to be the voice of reason, and you've dedicated a lot of your life, all of your life, to try and bring peace in this really dangerous region."

"We wish that you, who worked so hard for that incredible Oslo Accord, that you don't give up on the two-state solution. At age 92, we know we can count on you."

Hear these words, at 17:40 in the clip below:

Backstage according to reports, Peres reciprocated Bono's praise equally calling him "a voice for hope and peace."

Gadot gets more screen time as Wonder Woman in new flick

Thursday July 2, 2015
Although it was initially reported that Gal Gadot would only have a brief cameo as Wonder Woman in the upcoming sequel to Zack Snyder's take on the Man of Steel, new images for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice show the Israeli beauty featuring far more prominently in the storyline by Chris Terio and David S. Goyer.

Fans of the DC Universe who have followed the exploits of these three heroes, from their beginnings to the formation of the Justice League, know that a very close-knit relationship and bond forms between Detective Comics' most popular protagonists.

From the film's first official poster to Entertainment Weekly's 2015 Comic-Con special edition, the Amazonian warrior princess is front and centre between the Dark Knight and the last son of Krypton. It's a similar placement to the comic art we posted here at the time of Gadot's casting.

Few details are known as to how each of the heroes will find themselves battling against one another, only to emerge as the first and greatest team of superheroes (they came together in 1960, before Marvel's Avengers in September 1963).

We may get a softening of Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne/Batman by the time Dawn of Justice concludes, as this image of Diana Prince and Bruce Wayne together at a party in once-stately Wayne Manor suggests.

The blockbuster, scheduled to hit theatres next summer, will also introduce us to Jason Momoa's Arthur Curry, a.k.a Aquaman, and Ezra Miller's Barry Allen, better known as The Flash.

Jerusalem couple uncovers 2,000-year-old mikvah

Thursday July 2, 2015
Making headlines around the world, the Israel Antiquities Authority has confirmed that a mikvah discovered underneath the living room floor of a family home in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem neighbourhood is approximately 2,000 years old.

The ritual bath – used in conversions to Judaism and to fulfil family purity laws – was also a treasure trove containing stone vessels and pottery dating back to the period of the Second Temple, which was destroyed in 70 BCE.

The family residing in the home had purchased it three years ago, but were fearful to report their finding at the time, believing that the authorities would hold up a planned renovation or prevent them from staying there.

There fears were put to rest, and now the home is far more valuable to them than they had ever dreamed.

See how they made the discovery in the video clip below.

Conspire2Inspire and help children in need

Thursday June 25, 2015

After a successful launch last year, Conspire2Inspire, one of the largest young professional events in the country returns to build on the $30,000 it raised in a short-term campaign for ChaiLifeline Canada, a not-for-profit organization that helps children suffering from serious illnesses, and their families.

This year's committee of philanthropic-minded young professionals in Toronto will gather approximately 400 of their peers June 30 to the ultra-trendy Airship 37 event venue.

Conspire2Inspire2 will both kick off the summer and raise awareness for Chai Lifeline programs that need help to continue providing support to more than 350 Canadian families.

"Funds raised from the committee's social media, marketing campaign and ticket sales this year will be directed to one of five programs. We hope our young professional guests to Tuesday's wrap party will volunteer to get involved with Chai Lifeline and the program of their choice,"  said event chair Tracie Kuchinsky.

The recipients of this year's funds will be:
  • Send a child to Camp Simcha, an overnight camp for sick children
  • Shining Stars, an after school program
  • Chai Lifeline Canada's trip to Disney World
  • Heart to Heart, a Big Brother/Big Sister program
  • Chai Lifeline Canada's toy campaign
The night will feature an open bar, entertainment and light refreshments. If you haven't purchased your ticket yet, there's still time.

 For further details, visit the Conspire2Inspire2's Facebook page.

Watch for post-event photos in upcoming editions of The CJN and the all-new Socialite page.

The King and the Whopper set to return to Israel

Thursday June 25, 2015
While the love affair with traditional fast food chains in North America appears to have run its course – as McDonald's, Burger King and Taco Bell are being shunned in favour of healthier, fast-casual options such as Chipotle, Panera Bread, etc. – the King is returning to Israel.

In 2009, Burger King closed all locations in the Holy Land, ceding the territory to the Golden Arches, its arch nemesis.

But in a recent $12-million (US) deal, Pierre Besnainou, a partner in Carmel Winery and the Chefs Meals & Service catering company, acquired the rights to open 50 new franchise locations throughout the Jewish state over the next five years.

It's truly a Whopper of a deal.

Music Fills The Soul comes to Baycrest

Wednesday June 17, 2015
It's been almost a year since the young professional initiative Music Fills The Soul launched in Toronto, bringing together talented musicians and vocalists to perform for the elderly.

What began at Bayview Extendicare was then sought after by Four Elms in Concord, Ont., Brookside Court & Hilltop Place and then booked by Thorne Mill on Steeles in March of this year.

A milestone fifth show is scheduled for Sunday, June 21, at Baycrest, one of the world's premier academic health science centres and care facilities for seniors.

The team behind the undertaking continues to deliver smiles to the faces of those in need of constant care who, because of limited mobility, often find it hard to venture out and find entertainment themselves. Treating them to the music of legendary hit-makers from yesterday and today fills their days and nourishes their souls.

Event chair and principle organizer Julie Ruchlemer had this to say in advance of Sunday's cavalcade of local talent taking to the stage: "It's a magical experience. We continue to look forward to giving back and adding an hour of joy to the lives of our seniors."

For more information visit Music Fills the Soul.com  by clicking here.

Related: Volunteers sing classics for seniors

A Terminator takes over Waze

Wednesday June 17, 2015
To coincide with the big-screen release of Terminator Genisys, a reboot of the cinematic series that supercharged the film career of the Austrian-accented and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1984, Skynet is replacing the navigation app Waze's assistant with the voice of the T101.

According to USA Today, the Israeli-designed traffic and navigation app that was sold to Google in 2013, landed the action movie star by forming a partnership with Paramount Studios.

For anyone unfamiliar with the franchise, director James Cameron's vision was of a dystopian future where humanity fights for its survival against a sentient computer network and its enforcers of the new world order, the Terminators, who are exterminating mankind. Sarah Connor and her son John are humanity's best chance at averting the pending apocaplyse, or at the very least starting a rebellion to defend its continued existence.

It took just a single hour for the Hollywood actor to record all the necessary automated prompts, ranging from the simple "turn left" to his messages as you begin and end your journey: "I'm a Terminator Cyberdyne Systems Model 101, and you're coming with me" and the ever famous "Hasta la vista, baby."

What was just science fiction then is a bit of reality now.

Art Garfunkel returns to Israel after 17 years

Thursday June 11, 2015
Art Garfunkel, one half of the folk-rock duo Simon and Garfunkel, gave a moving performance this week at Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv.

A native New Yorker, Garfunkel, 73, has mostly been a solo act since parting ways with singer-songwriter Paul Simon in 1970. The music they made defined a generation in the 1960s and has had lasting appeal.

Garfunkel's set list included some of the duo's classics, including Sounds of Silence, which hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1965, and Bridge over Troubled Water, which was also the title of their final studio record, one of the best-selling albums of all time.

The capacity of Bloomfield Stadium pales in comparison to the numbers for Simon and Garfunkel's famous 1981 reunion concert in New York's Central Park, which attracted more than half a million people. The pair last played Israel together in 1983 as they neared the end of their reunion tour.

Amid performances of his solo material and songs by the duo, and accompanied by his son James on guitar, Garkfunkel read a selection of his own prose poetry off the back of envelopes, making it an event for all artistic tastes not been seen by fans since his last solo concert in the Holy Land back in 1998.

He has clearly left an indelible mark on fans the world over.

Film fest selection returns to the big screen

Thursday June 11, 2015
Originally released in July 2013 in Israel, Hunting Elephants made the Toronto Jewish Film Festival's roster of must-see films. Nearly two years to the day after its initial showing, the film returns this Friday to three Rainbow Cinema theatres in Greater Toronto Area.

The film centres around Jonathan, a boy genius with severe social problems. After losing his father in a traumatic event, his mother leaves him at his grandfather nursing home and he's forced to reconnect with the bitter old man, who never sought to stay in touch. While there, Jonathan meets a host of eccentric figures, including his grandfather's friend Nick and past Lehi underground members who used to rob banks for their country during the British occupation.

From acclaimed writer and director Reshef Levi, the mad-capped caper climax is about a plan to rob the bank Jonathan's late father worked for. It co-stars Patrick Stewart, known for his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation who was last seen in last summer's blockbuster X-Men Days of Future Past as Prof. Charles Xavier. In Hunting Elephants, Stewart  portrays Jonathan's uncle as a near-caricature of himself, an Englishman and frustrated Shakespearean actor trying to get his hands on his sister's inheritance.

Call it Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with an Israeli twist.

‘Little Israel’ in the happiest place on Earth?

Thursday June 4, 2015
Don't get your hopes up folks, this is just a joke, but how good would it be if this news were true from the House of Mouse?

I don't know about you, but if Disney World in Orlando, Fla., carved out some land to represent the Jewish state, I would make aliyah to "Little Israel" tomorrow.

Here's an excerpt of an article written by Rube Silverhill and posted today by The Israeli Daily:

The Happiest Place On Earth just got a little happier, as Disney announced the opening of Little Israel at Epcot Center this past weekend. The multinational corporation has carved out some land to represent the Jewish State, providing authentic cultural experiences all staffed by out-of-your-league chicks rocking casually slung assault rifles.

As Epcot is known for showcasing technological innovations from around the world, Little Israel features the Iron Dome Missile Defense system. Sirens playing “It’s A Small World After All” air every 15 minutes, luring tourists into bomb shelter-themed gift shops. Meanwhile, colorful fireworks displays are sent up to destroy candy-filled projectiles sent from Little Gaza (which can’t be made any smaller and thus will be its actual size). ‘Cast members’ in the Little Tel Aviv section appear unaffected by the sirens, and continue going about their day relaxing on the beach and eating at outdoor cafes.

To read the article in its entirety,  click here.

Kick off summer with the beats of Y-Studs

Thursday June 4, 2015
With the rise of such mainstream acts as Pentatonix (not Jewish) and the local Jewish talent of Toronto's Varsity Jews, a cappella groups are becoming more and more popular.

After making a splash with an album in 2011 with a different group of Yeshiva University students, the Y-Studs are back with a fresh and talented new lineup. A five-track EP called Days of New is available now on all major digital music outlets, including iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and more.

The second lead singer in this video, Jonathan Green, is a Torontonian and a graduate of Associated Hebrew Schools and the Anne and Max Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto who transferred to Yeshiva U after spending two years at the University of Toronto.

The latest from Y-Studs is a cover of  Hashem Melech, originally performed by Gad and Beni Elbaz. It's a perfect track to jump-start your summer listening playlist. Have a look at the video below.

Famous Laffa Kosher to open in Thornhill

Thursday May 28, 2015
The kosher Middle Eastern eating establishment Famous Laffa, on Magnetic Drive in Toronto, is amassing quite the following and reputation for flavourful, filling cuisine with an ambience that makes Canadian patrons feel as though they are being served by their Israeli brothers and sisters.

Now franchising around the city, this rapidly expanding operation may soon have a neighbourhood location near you.

After undergoing a renovation that began around Passover, the Magnetic Drive flagship location (formerly called Dr. Laffa) was scheduled to re-open this month. A take-out location opened in mid-April on Bathurst Street south of Lawrence Avenue in the commercial heart of the Toronto Jewish community (and right next to the only remaining Dr. Laffa on the Go, operated by a former partner of Famous Laffa's founder, Sasi Haba).

Other Famous locations – some kosher, some not – are also popping up along major city streets, including Yonge Street, where one is set to open soon just south of Steeles Avenue and Centerpoint Mall.

Today, Famous announced via Twitter that its latest kosher franchised location will open this August inside Thornhill's Promenade Mall. Great news for students, young families and kosher foodies of all ages who have seen many kosher establishments close in the last few years due to market constraints.

The battle for your falafel and shwarma dollar is about to heat up, and just in time for summer.

Could the Iron Dome be coming to your town?

Thursday May 28, 2015
It's been just over four years since Israel's Iron Dome, a mobile missile air defence system, was deployed near Be'er Sheva.

It was sesigned to intercept and destroy short-range rockets launched by Israel's neighbours in Gaza and the north, and by late October 2014, the total number of attacks deterred by the program – which can be operated remotely, day and night and in all weather conditions – was heading north of 1,200.

A three-day conference was recently held in Israel to explore the potential for similar systems to be employed by nations in the west and elsewhere who one day may need to protect their citizens from hostile actions of the kind Israel faces on a regular basis.

It's a scary thought, but a system such as this could show up one day at a military installation near you.

Sandler's Pixels looks like a retro gamer's treat

Thursday May 21, 2015
It's been just over two years since Disney's release of Wreck-It Ralph, an animated film that took gamers on a wild adventure ride with a behind-the-scenes look at what might happen to those classic and new-age characters when the game-play ends.

The titular "bad guy" sets off on a game-hopping trip to prove that he, too, has what it takes to do good, after decades of watching the hero be celebrated and honoured for saving the day.

Moviegoers were treated to cameos from game characters of titles we all grew up with, from the 1980s to the modern consoles of today.

This summer, it's the real world that will be threatened by classic video game characters of yesteryear. From the mind of Saturday Night Live comedian Adam Sandler comes the feature film Pixels.

When aliens intercept a video message to the stars from Earth, showing scenes of classic arcade games, they misinterpret them as a declaration of war, launching an attack on the planet using the games as instruments of our destruction.

The film co-stars Sandler's good pal Kevin James, along with Sam Brenner, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad and Michelle Monaghan, who will come together to save the world.

Sound off on what your favorite games have been over the course of the last three decades.

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