The Israel You Love Photo Contest

Show us the Israel you love in a new photograph contest by ISRAEL21c that launches next week and you could win an iPad mini or two runners up prizes of Amazon gift cards.

The new ISRAEL21c photo competition.

The new ISRAEL21c photo competition.

It’s the first time that we’ve run a photo competition and we’re keen to see what you can come up with.

We’re looking for great images that celebrate Israel. Wild, wacky, beautiful, happy, funny, warm, moving, breathtaking – we want to see Israel and its people through your eyes.

The competition begins next week on February 11th and runs until February 25th. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for details.

Readers can vote for their favorite snaps until March 5, and then ISRAEL21c will choose the final three winners from the top 20.
Winners will be announced on March 8.

The best shots will be featured on ISRAEL21c and will be included in a special movie to celebrate Israel’s 65th birthday in April.

So let your friends know, get your cameras out, and start snapping.

Nostalgia Sunday – Gottex retrospective

Gottex-barFrom the 1970s onwards, the brand name Gottex was synonymous with Israeli fashion. Named for its founders, the Gottlieb family, Gottex and its legendary head designer Lea Gottleib, the First Lady of Israeli fashion, were credited for bringing bathing suits into the realm of high fashion.

Before she died this past November, at the age of 96, Gottlieb was involved in the creation of a retrospective of her life’s work. Curators from the Design Museum Holon met with Gottlieb at her home where they sorted through thousands of items. The resulting exhibition, A Tribute to Leah Gottlieb 1918-2012, will be the opening event at Holon Design Week, starting next month.

The first section of the Tribute exhibition, curated by fashion historian Ayala Raz will include historical items from collections of the late 1970s to early 1990s, including items from Gottlieb’s personal collection.

A quick run-down of the company’s history, courtesy of Wikipedia: “Gottlieb and her family survived the war, and after the liberation, she and her husband ran a raincoat factory in Czechoslovakia. They emigrated to Haifa, Israel, in 1949…With money borrowed from family and friends, she and her husband opened a similar raincoat factory near Tel Aviv in 1949. But for months, they ‘saw no rain, only sunshine’. As a result, in 1956 they founded Gottex…”

“She sold her wedding ring for capital, bought fabric, borrowed a sewing machine and began to design swimsuits that were unique to Israel, inspired by the local Middle-Eastern light and colors: “the aqua of the Mediterranean, the golden yellow of the desert, the blue of Lake Tiberias, the pink of Jerusalem stone and the greens of the Galilee.”

“In Gottlieb’s vision, Gottex collections can be worn “from pool to the bar,” and then to a restaurant or cocktail parties. In addition to swimsuits, Gottex produces caftans, tunics and trousers, combining swimwear and beachwear.

“By 1984, Gottex had sales of $40 million ($89 million in current dollar terms), and was the leading exporter of fashion swimwear to the United States, and had two-thirds of the Israeli swimwear market. Among those who wore the company’s bathing suits were Diana, Princess of Wales, Spain’s Queen Sofia, Elizabeth Taylor, Brooke Shields and Nancy Kissinger. The company’s 1984 strapless one-piece swimsuit became the most widely sold style in the world. In 1991, almost half of the company’s $60 million business was in the United States.

“Lev Leviev, the owner of the Africa-Israel Group, acquired Gottex in 1997. After about a year heading the design team, Gottlieb left the company. Once her non-compete agreement with Gottex expired, at the age of 85 she founded a new swimwear design company, under her own name.”

Also according to Wikipedia, in the spirit of Israeli innovation, “Gottex is a pioneer of swimsuits with hard-cup bras. Gottex is known for using innovative fabrics. It was the first manufacturer to introduce Spandex [to swimwear].”

The contemporary section of the Tribute exhibition will present swimsuit designs by Gottex’s current artistic director, Molly Grad. Another part of the exhibition, “Me and bathing suit”, will examine the broader social issues of modern swimwear design.

The exhibition, A Tribute to Leah Gottlieb 1918-2012, opens in March and will run through May 2013. For more information, visit the Design Museum Holon website.

Two sides of Israel and racism

Tom Franz and  Salma Fiyumi react as the winner of MasterChef is announced. (Courtesy Keshet)

Tom Franz and Salma Fiyumi react as the winner of MasterChef is announced. (Courtesy Keshet)

You can make pretty strong cases that Israeli society is either inherently racist or the most flourishing, open society in the world.
Proponents of both view had plenty of ammunition this week to state their cases – the Betar Jerusalem saga and the MasterChef reality TV competition. Let’s start with Betar, the country’s flagship soccer team.

Last weekend, the team made headlines after fans protested the team’s decision to sign two Muslim Chechen players by hanging a banner reading “Betar forever pure” and shouting anti-Muslim chants during a game.

The outburst, which led to three arrests, was condemned by politicians and pundits across the spectrum. Former prime minister Ehud Olmert, a longtime Betar fan, announced that he would no longer be attending the team’s games. “For more than 40 years I’ve been following this team with love and excitement,” Olmert wrote in an op-ed for the Hebrew news site Ynet. “[But] I’m sick of being identified with the ignorant vulgarity of people who aren’t and will never be what Betar should symbolize in Israeli society and sports.”

But, with Betar’s policy of never having signed an Arab or Muslim player before, and the team’s staunch nationalistic identity, the fans’ reaction was not surprising. And unfortunately, it’s indicative of a not-small percentage of the population’s mindset. The team’s management, fearing that those widespread racist attitudes would spread out during the week, held their Jerusalem game against the Arab team from Uum El Fahm without any audience in the stands. A sorry state of affairs.

That’s why the finals in the MasterChef reality show on Channel 2 were so uplifting. Based on the American series, the Israeli version was a huge hit in its third season. The finale this week pitted Tom Franz, a 34-year-old attorney and religiously observant German convert from Tel Aviv against Salma Fiyumi, an Arab nurse and Alzheimer’s researcher from Kafr Kassem, and Jackie Azoulay, a 29-year-old housewife from Elad.

The camaraderie, good will and cultural tolerance that was on display went a long way in washing away the bad taste of the Betar affair. Seeing Fiyumi, a religiously observant Muslim, and Franz display their unique brands of Israeli-ness alongside the familiar Elad was truly inspiring. As was the food – all three contestants prepared main dishes using kadaif — an Arab pastry of fine, thin noodles — to enclose and cover either mushroom, chicken or chicken liver sautés.

With Franz and Fiyumi left in the finals, it was clear that no matter who won, it would be a victory for Israeli diversity and multiculturalism.

Gold medals, best actresses and rockets

September 9, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: A New Reality, Entertainment, General, Israeliness, Life, Movies, News, Sports, War 

Hadas Yaron at the Venice Film Festival.

It was quite a spectacular weekend of Israeli accomplishments while the southern part of the country once again came under siege from enemy rockets fired from Gaza.
The country woke up proud to the fact that Israelis in two different parts of Europe, won two very different first-place awards.

At the Venice Film Festival, 22-year-old Hadas Yaron won the ‘best actress’ award for her role in Fill the Void, by Israeli director Rama Burshtein.

Hadas Yaron won the best actress award at the 69th Venice Film Festival on Saturday night. Yaron stared in Fill the Void, a film by director Rama Burshtein that also received accolades.
Burshtein, an observant Jew, made the film about a secluded haredi community in the Tel Aviv area. Yaron plays 18-year-old Shira, who is looking forward to an arranged marriage, when her sister dies. She’s pressured into a marriage with her bereaved brother-in-law instead, forcing her to make a choice.

The film, which received rave reviews in the movie trade magazines and has been called by its producer Assaf Amir as “a Jane Austen of the Hasidic world,” offers a rare glimpse into the Orthodox way of life, its rigid customs and traditions, but also deals with the wider themes of relationships and family pressures.

“People don’t know much about this world, so it’s not a question of celebration or criticism, it’s a window into this world,” said New York-born Burshtein, who grew up in a secular family but became ultra-Orthodox shortly after graduating.

“I love this world, I come from it, I chose it, I was not born in it. But I think we hear many voices (in the film), I think it’s open,” she told reporters in Venice.

The secular Yaron said it was a lot of work getting to know that world.

“It’s all about emotions and choices and what leads you (to) do what you do. Shira is different from me because she’s not familiar with all these feelings that she’s experiencing for the first time,” she said.

Noam Gershony celebrates his victory.


While Yaron was reveling in her award, Noam Gershony was mounting the podium in London at the Paralympic Games in London to accept the gold medal in the Quad wheelchair tennis tournament.

Six years ago, the 29-year-old suffered severe injuries when his Apache helicopter crashed to the ground near Ramot Naftali near the Lebanese border after a collision with another IDF helicopter.

Part of his rehabilitation was learning to play wheelchair tennis and earlier this year, he won the French Open and rose to become the world’s No. 2 ranked player. On Saturday in London, he won 6-3, 6-1 over world No. 1 David Wagner, becoming the first Israeli to win a Paralympic gold since 2004.

“I can’t put into words how it felt to hear Hatikva and see the flag at the top of the pole,” said Gershony. “I never thought I would have the chance to represent the country and certainly never believed that I would be able to bring it such honor.”

Gershony received congratulatory calls from both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, and will carry the Israeli flag at the closing ceremonies in London on Sunday. Israel won a total of eight medals at the Games, two more than it achieved four years ago at the Beijing Games.

All in all, a mixed bag to start the week, but that’s par for the course in Israel.

Foto Friday – This Sporting Life: UK in Israel Photo Contest

The concept of sportsmanship is uniquely British – ask any Englishman. According to DeBretts, Britain’s authoritative guide on all matters of etiquette, taste and achievement, “Generations of British schoolchildren have been taught that – in sport, as in life – it’s not all about winning the game, it’s about playing well. This means being magnanimous in victory, and gracious in defeat. Sportsmanship is no more than good manners: congratulating your opponents on effective play, accepting the decisions of the referee/umpire with good grace – absolutely no whining, arguing, sulking or triumphal strutting.”

To honor the spirit of British sports and the ideal of sportsmanship at the 2012 London Olympic Games, the British Embassy in Israel is hosting an online photo competition, UK In Israel, seeking striking digital images of sports in Israel (more details below).

Interestingly, the British contribution to Israeli popular sports goes far beyond lawn bowls and can be seen everywhere, from cycling

Photo: End of the road by Amir Bernat

To billiards…

Photo: First ever female billiard competition in Israel by Osnat Dubronski

Football (or soccer to the Yanks among us)…

Photo: Playing football in Jerusalem by Thomas Higinbotham

Cricket, played by the local Indian community…

Photo: Nothing stops a good game of cricket by David Harris and Charlton Book

Field and track, or just plain fun running!

Photo: Maccabiah 2009 by David Katz

The young man draped proudly in the Union Jack is Richard Goodman, Junior 1500 Meters Gold Medalist at the 2009 Maccabiah Games — the so-called “Jewish Olympics”. Maccabi Great Britain is now planning its largest-ever squad for the 2013 Maccabiah Games in Israel, taking place on July 14-31, 2013.

To see more images or to enter the UK In Israel photo competition, visit their Facebook page. Photos can also be entered via Instagram (email: ukinisrael.photo@gmail.com and mention @ukinisrael). There are prizes for each weekly winner and a grand prize of a digital video camera. The final winner will be announced by September 9, 2012.

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