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Sunday, May 24, 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: 20 min 20 sec ago

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.

Bittersweet end for Letterman and Shaffer

Thursday May 21, 2015
David Letterman bid fans a truly heartfelt goodbye on The Late Show with David Letterman this week as he ended his 33-year late-night run after 6,028 episodes.

Canadian musician and Late Show band leader Paul Shaffer, 65, has been along for the long ride as Letterman's sidekick from even before his days on CBS. When the boy from small-town Indiana got his first late-night hosting gig with rival network NBC, Shaffer was there.

At many points throughout his final monologue, Letterman reminisced with Shaffer on the many experiences they shared on the show together, calling Shaffer a dear friend. He also called him a "musical genius" and "partner in comedy."

Letterman likened his relationship with Shaffer to the magic act and animal exploits of Las Veagas stalwarts Siegfried and Roy, and he joked that he and Shaffer could next be seen at Caesar's Palace with their own white tigers.

Many of us grew up with Letterman's late-night shenanigans, and he and Shaffer were our constant companions these last 33 years.

They will be missed.

Chriqui and the Entourage boys are back

Thursday May 14, 2015
Excitement is building for the release of the much-anticipated film version of the TV comedy-drama series Entourage, which hits the big screen this summer.

Most enthused perhaps for the series to finally reach theatres is its perennial guest star, Canadian Emmanuelle Chriqui, known for playing the character Sloan in the HBO hit.

In a recent interview, Chriqui said, "I think it's amazing. I think people are going to love it. It's the best version of the show."

Loosely based on the life of producer and actor Mark Wahlberg, Entourage lasted eight seasons before going off the air in 2011.

For those unfamiliar with the show, it told the story of Vincent Chase, played by Adrian Grenier, his brother and two closest friends from Queens, N.Y., who all move out to LA as Vincent becomes an A-list Hollywood star.

The film picks up shortly after the events of the finale, as Chase re-unites with his former agent, Ari Gold, played by Selfridges' Jeremy Piven, who's now a studio head and wants to re-team with his former client.

If you haven't yet seen the trailer, here's your chance.

Ontario-Israel collaboration gets 5-year renewal

Thursday May 14, 2015
Reza Moridi, left and Avi HassonHistory has been made with Ontario and Israel celebrating a 10-year collaboration in developing innovations in the field of life sciences, medical devices, clean tech and telecom.

The cumulative investment in the program, which was renewed May 10, is $18 million, to which both countries, Canada and Israel, contributed half.

Advances by companies that have participated and worked together on various commercial power, water monitoring projects and ADD treatments have generated about $1 billion in total revenue.

"There's huge human potential in Ontario in every area," Ontario's Minister of Research and Innovation Reza Moridi said in a recent interview, and Avi Hasson, Israel's chief scientist in the Economy Ministry, agreed.

A report on the top R&D states and provinces in the United States and Canada ranked Ontario No. 7, while Toronto is North America's third-largest financial centre, behind Chicago and New York.

Kol Hakavod! The future is bright.

Portman takes her directorial debut to Cannes

Thursday May 7, 2015
Academy Award-winning actress turned writer-producer-director Natalie Portman, 33, is preparing to re-emerge in a major way after a brief hiatus from the Hollywood spotlight.

After finishing post-production on her feature directorial debut, Portman will land in Cannes for the annual film festival, to screen her adaption of Israeli author Amos Oz's memoir A Tale of Love and Darkness on May 18 in the hopes of securing North American distribution.

The story centres on Oz's relationship with his troubled mother, portrayed by Portman, who killed herself when Oz was but 12 years old, and he grows up to become an acclaimed writer in Israel's early years.

Portman optioned the rights to A Tale of Love and Darkness eight years ago, and in a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter, she said that she spent a considerable amount of time working on the $4-million dollar film, which was shot entirely in Hebrew.

She insisted on shooting in Hebrew, whatever the cost, producer Ram Bergman told THR. "She said, 'It's got be a love letter in Hebrew.' I said, 'It will make things harder.' She said, 'I don't care.'"

Hoping for the best, the actress-director has no expectations as she showcases it in Cannes, knowing it may have limited commercial appeal.

Speaking about Oz's memoir itself, "The language was really what [drew me], his obsession with words and the way words are connected in Hebrew, which has this incredible poetry and magic," she says. "It's obviously almost impossible to translate, but there's just incredible beauty to that. [Jews are] a people built of words, people built of books, and it's quite beautiful to see that, which is a strange thing to start for a movie."

Now that the film is finished, Portman says she's eager to return strictly to acting, "I don't think I'll stop unless I'm made to by lack of opportunity."

On deck is Portman's first self-produced feature film, Jane Got a Gun, by her company Handsomecharlie Films. It's scheduled for a September release, and her documentary Eating Animals is due before the end of 2015. Production has also been completed on Weightless, due for release in 2016, which will co-star actor Michael Fassbender.

Tetish helps close Canadian Music Week 2015

Thursday May 7, 2015
With performances at more than 60 venues in downtown Toronto, Canadian Music Week is nearing the end of the festival's 33rd year. What began on May 1 ends May 10.

To help close it out, Tetish a new Israeli musical project by Itai Shitrit and Etan Salomon, accompanied by Nir Shlomo on guitars, Noam Shacham on bass and Daniel Azta on drums, will perform at The Garrison May 8 at 8 p.m. and the Magpie Taproom May 9 at 10 p.m.

For tickets, log on to CMW.net.

Silk and Wexler Golden Maple Award nominees

Thursday April 30, 2015
Nominations for the inaugural Golden Maple Awards were announced on April 27, a product of the newly formed Academy of Canadians in Sports and Entertainment – Los Angeles (ACISE-LA). The Canadian talent in television series broadcast in the U.S. don't just dominate the categories, they literally own them all.

The Golden Maple Awards are, of course, designed for that express purpose.

The list of the TV series that aired between July 2014 and July 2015 and will be honoured by way of their stars speaks volumes about American audiences' diverse tastes in Canadian-made productions featuring Canadian stars.

From left - Anna Silk and Brooke WexlerHere at Heebonics, we are particularly thrilled for Lost Girl's lead Anna Silk, in the running for best lead actress in a TV series, and Brooke Wexler of Netflix's Richie Rich, who hopes to be named newcomer of the year and whom The CJN labelled an up-and-comer to watch back in February.

The awards will be handed out, quite fittingly, on Canada Day, July 1. A venue and possible broadcast of the awards is yet to be announced. Congratulations as well to all others nominated.

Wicked composer to receive special Tony Award

Thursday April 30, 2015
While the Hollywood award season for film and television has wound down, the last of the big name hardware to be handed out are the Tony Awards. With nominations having been announced earlier this week, news also came on Monday of a special Tony to be given to Wicked composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz.

Stephen SchwartzSchwartz, who also wrote music for Pippin and Godspell, will receive the the Isabelle Stevenson Award, presented annually to a member of the theatre community who has made a “substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of one or more humanitarian, social service or charitable organizations,” according to the announcement.

With Neil Patrick Harris having cast off the hosting duties of the Tony Awards in favour of the Oscars, Kristen Chenoweth and Alan Cumming will share the stage when the awards are broadcast live on June 7 from Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Sony and Seth Rogen are at it again

Thursday April 23, 2015
Anthony Mackie, Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-LevittWhile The Interview was not a moneymaker for Sony nor for lead actor Seth Rogen, the publicity generated from the controversy over the film got the ball rolling on Rogen's next feature.

Set to co-star pal Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie, X-Mas has secured a Nov. 25 release date. While few details are known about Rogen's next comedy, the plot will reportedly focus on three friends who reunite in New York City to party on Christmas eve. Rogen will, of course, bring the Chanukah spirit, as evidenced by the sweater he'll be wearing.

Rogen's also ready to add another producing credit to his growing list of projects, as news broke this week that Garth Ennis' and Steve Dillon's '90s comic-book series Preacher will, after many years of being kicked around, go straight to series and air on AMC later this year. Rogen's producing partner,, Evan Goldberg, is also attached to the project.

Dominic CooperFor those unfamiliar with the story, the comic follows Jesse Custer, a conflicted preacher in a small town who, with the help of his former flame and a party-animal Irish vampire, attempt to find God in the hope of stopping the powerful offspring of an angel and a demon, who has escaped from heaven. From what we understand, Custer will somehow be combined with the creature, giving the Preacher unique abilities that will aid him in his search for the divine.

While not a comic-book series focusing on run-of-the-mill meta-human heroes, it will feature Dominic Cooper, who has previously played Howard Stark (father of Tony Stark's Iron Man). as well James Bond creator Ian Fleming in the mini-series Fleming, which aired on BBC last year.

AMC is home to one the most watched sci-fi programs on cable television, The Walking Dead, and believes Preacher will be an excellent companion to it in the coming season.

2015 NFL season to start on Rosh Hashanah

Thursday April 23, 2015
In past posts, we've written about athletes who have had to make the hard choice whether to play when their games are scheduled on the Sabbath or key holidays on the Jewish calendar.

On Tuesday, when the NFL announced its 2015 fall schedule, Jewish football fans learned that the kick-off, normally held on the second Thursday of September in recent years, has been moved to Sunday. This year, that Sunday, Sept. 13, is Erev Rosh Hashanah.

All but six teams in the league are affected, but the change will especially impact fans in the New York area the most, as the Giants are due start their game at 8:30, more than one hour after the start of the holiday.

As well, according to JTA, the Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers will be playing their first games the following night, on Rosh Hashanah.

Abstain from services or add one more sin to those requiring repentance on the High Holidays? Either way, many observant Jews/fervent football fans will undoubtedly lament their choice.

Gene Simmons to bring brand expertise to Toronto

Thursday April 16, 2015
On May 25, a one-day conference will share with attendees how five internationally renowned best-selling authors and thought leaders employed cutting-edge thinking and real-world experience to tackle today’s most critical marketing issues.

Headlining this year's conference is the co-founder of Kiss and author of Me, Inc., Gene Simmons, who will impart key strategies on how to unleash your inner rock God in business.

Born Chaim Witz in Israel in August 1949, Simmons has been an American rock icon for 40 years.. Learning both from his triumphs and failures has helped him continue to sell out stadiums around the world, as well as help him get Kiss inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014, obtain his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and make him the media mogul he is today.

For more on the chance to network with Simmons and more than 1,500 of Canada’s most influential marketers, explore what The Art of Marketing Toronto has to offer by clicking here.

Netanyahu addresses the nation on Yom Hashoah

Thursday April 16, 2015
The official ceremony marking the commencement of Yom Hashoah was held April 15 at Yad Vashem to remember the martyrs, heroes and six million Jews whose lives were lost during the Holocaust (1939-1945).

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to the podium and delivered the following address.

For a full transcript of the PM's address, go to here on cjnews.com.

Goldberg and Baruchel's Goon 2 is good to go

Thursday April 9, 2015
Good news for fans of Goon, the little sports comedy that could: it looks like a sequel is on the way.

Like the original, the new film was co-written and is being co-produced by Montreal hockey enthusiast, Canadian actor, writer and producer Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg of Vancouver, better known as Seth Rogen's production partner.

After premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011, Goon earned just under $6.5 million worldwide after a late-winter release in February 2012.

It wasn't a huge haul, but it was enough for the film to be honoured with Telefilm's Golden Box Office award as the top-earning English-language Canadian film that year, which undoubtedly helped to green-light the sequel.

In July 2013, Baruchel told The Canadian Press the sequel script was nearly completed, and "if all goes according to plan, we'll be shooting this time next year."

Baruchel's projected production start was just a little bit off, by about a year. While the original was shot in Manitoba, principal filming in Ontario will begin in three months time.

"I'm proud as hell of the first one, but I think we're going to smoke it with No. 2," Baruchel said.

It will be a bit darker, but will have "a bit more gravitas," he added.

The film's lead actor, Sean William Scott, portrayed a good-natured bouncer who becomes a minor league hockey team's enforcer. Baruchel co-starred along with the likes of fellow veteran Canadian comic actor Eugene Levy and Ray Donovan's Liev Schreiber.

After production wraps, Baruchel will begin work this fall in Toronto on a second season of his TV series Man Seeking Woman, which airs on FX Canada and is executive produced by Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels.

Oregon accuses SodaStream of mislabelling

Tuesday April 7, 2015
The bullseye on the "West Bank" manufacturer of home carbonated beverages has returned.

The Israeli company SodaStream has been forced to change the labelling on parts of its product line, specifically those produced in its main facility in Ma'ale Adumim.

As reported here last November, the factory is schedule to close by the end of 2015 and move to Israel's southern Negev region, to the community of Lehavim near Be'er Sheva

In the meantime, the company has been forced to bow to the ruling of the Oregon Department of Justice (ODJ), which maintains it has violated the state's Fair Trade Practices Act by giving products made in Ma'ale Adumim a "Made in Israel" label when the parts are actually sourced from the West Bank settlement.

The act, which is meant to protect consumers, makes false representations and false advertising of a consumer product illegal and holds retailers accountable if they sell such products.

Does the label change compromise the quality of SodaStream's product? The answer is most certainly no.

Under the guise of human rights, boycott, divestment and sanctions movement supporters want to harm Israeli exporters around the world. Petitioning regulatory bodies to argue that Israel and its successful businesses conduct illegal practices, act unethically or operate in ways that undermine Palestinian society is a key tool in their toolkit.

Rod Such, speaking on behalf of the PDX Boycott Occupation Soda! Coalition, made the following statement: "Many people of conscience refuse to purchase products made in Israel's illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, but in the case of SodaStream, they were deceived by false labelling that claimed the products were produced within Israel's internationally recognized borders."

Palestinian employees are valued by SodaStream, so much so that CEO Daniel Birnbaum very much wishes to keep them on and arrange for them to follow the facility when it moves to Lehavim. Work permits issued by the Israeli government would allow them to enter Israel each day for their shifts.

Alas, aside from all that the BDS movement is doing to undermine the company, SodaStream is reportedly facing significant declines in revenues and profits as North Americans increasingly shift their drinking habits in favour of juices and teas.

As a result, 2015 is looking no better than 2014 turned out to be.

A new kind of Dayeinu from the Maccabeats

Wednesday April 1, 2015
Over the years that we've been posting to Heebonics, the holidays don't quite feel like the holidays until the Maccabeats put out their newest video.

Well Heebonics readers, we've found it.

Chag Kasher v'Samayach!

Adele's award-winning track anchors a Passover tale

Wednesday April 1, 2015
Grammy-award-winning singer-songwriter Adele's chart-topping hit Rolling in the Deep may have been released five years ago, but imagine if you will the story of the Passover deliverer Moses adapted to fit the stick-in-your head melody of the much-loved chanteuse.

That's what Felicia Sloin did to produce Floating in the Reeds, a new parody for 2015.

Try retelling the Passover tale yourself in song at this year's seder table.

First Wonder Woman, and now Gadot's a Gucci girl

Thursday March 26, 2015
While we're still months away from seeing Israeli model and actress Gal Gadot's portrayal of DC comics amazon princess Wonder Woman in Zac Snyder's Batman v Superman:Dawn of Justice, earlier this week, Gadot took to her Facebook page to announce that she'd been chosen as the new face of Gucci fragrances, a prestigious role previously held by contemporaries Blake Lively and James Franco.

Gadot's star power appears to be rocketing to great heights, with contracts to take the great DC warrior princess from Batman v Superman to DC's Justice League and then on to her own solo Wonder Woman feature film.

Gadot's 30th birthday, which she celebrates in April, comes a few weeks after her return to the big screen next Friday, reprising her role as Gisele in the seventh instalment of the Fast and Furious franchise.

Over the past few months, Gadot also joined an incredible cast list of Hollywood veterans in two movies that recently finished filming: Triple 9 alongside Aaron Paul, Kate Winslet and Woody Harrelson, as well as the new thriller Criminal with Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones and Ryan Reynolds, and directed by Israeli-American Ariel Vromen.

Look to the sky: it's not Superman but Gal Gadot taking the world by storm.

Baking a sweet treat before Passover

Wednesday March 25, 2015
It was a Monday unlike many others as 30 young professionals (ages 22 to 35) came together earlier this week at The House for a unique, dynamic and creative program, one not yet held anywhere else in the city.

Emily Goldstein, program co-ordinator for the organization, wanted to go beyond the popular baking event Challah for Chesed with an offering of a different sort.

The Rugelach Bake-Off was a smash success to an equal extent.

While the dough was left to set, the lead baker of the evening, Estee Kafra, led the event's attendees in a brief discussion on Jewish values and traditions that highlighted the importance of the miracle we'll read about in the Passover Haggadah. It was not just that we were freed from the yoke of slavery, she said, but it also marked the first reference to Klal Yisrael as being God's people.

Everyone then returned to their baking stations to finish preparing the delectable treats. The recipe everyone was following offered two filling options. The traditional route was the classic chocolate with added chocolate chips. For those bold enough to try something new, the alternative was to roll them up with a spicy apricot preserve, with raisins thrown in for good measure.

If anyone was suffering from any residual feelings of depression from the frigid winter temperatures we faced this year, the sense of accomplishment that seasoned bakers and first timers alike derived from Monday's event changed all that indeed.

Mayim Bialik comes to her alma mater's defence

Thursday March 19, 2015
Mayim Bialik wants you to know that UCLA is not anti-Semitic.

A graduate of the University California Los Angeles (UCLA) and a product of Hillel's leadership education and programming, the Big Bang Theory star is also a regular contributor to Kveller.com, a Jewish parenting website, where she penned a defence of the West Coast school earlier this week after a member of UCLA’s student government was asked in a hearing last month whether her Jewish identity presents a conflict of interest.

Bialik wants parents to know that it was four members of the student government who raised objections to her candidacy because of her affiliations with Jewish causes, but that this is not in any way a viewpoint shared by the majority of UCLA's faculty nor the university's administration.

Jump here to Bialik's detailed defence of her alma mater.

Rest on Shabbat or play in March Madness?

Thursday March 19, 2015
It's long been a conundrum for many Jewish pro and high-level amateur athletes who have been brought up in observant homes and have attended Jewish schools.

Unlike Tamir Goodman  – the so-called "Jewish Jordan," who played NCAA basketball at Towson University in the early 2000s and decided to be true to his upbringing by not playing on Shabbat – Zach Yoshor, a freshman guard for the Harvard Crimson has chosen to play on the day of rest, but the decision has not been an easy one.

And now that his team has made the NCAA's year-end tournament by winning the Ivy League title, more Saturday games are a distinct possibility.

Raised in an observant home in Houston, Yoshor also attended a modern Orthodox high school, the Robert Beren Academy, that doesn't schedule games on the Sabbath.

For Harvard basketball games that do occur on Shabbat, Yosher keeps religious violations to the bare minimum by refraining from using his cellphone or writing. Twice this season, he has flown separately to games to avoid taking team flights on Shabbat.

On team bus rides on the day of rest, he reads books to pass the time.

For more on the story, see Hillel Kutler's post to JTA .

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