Star of Hollywood's most recent Israeli-independence movie turns 100

Michael, Anne, Catherine, and Kirk Douglas
 photo --------------------------------------------------_zpsc763f19f.jpgKirk Douglas was 50 when he made Hollywood's most recent movie on Israeli sovereignty. Now he's 100. 

Kirk Douglas, born Issur Danielovitch in upstate New York on 9 December 1916, turned 100 on Friday 9 Dec 2016. His family threw him a birthday party at the Beverly Hills Hotel for around 200 family and friends. Douglas grew up in poverty with his immigrant (Belarus) parents Bryna “Bertha” and Herschel “Harry” Danielovitch, and six sisters. The family spoke Yiddish at home. The family adopted the name Demsky, so Kirk grew up as Izzy Demsky, and changed his name to Kirk Douglas before enlisting in the Navy in World War II.

Douglas had a complicated relationship with his Jewish identity. In 1999, at age 83, he celebrated his second bar mitzvah, telling the congregation at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, “Today I am a man.”  But between his first and second bar mitzvahs, Douglas was living well outside his Jewish faith.

In an interview he gave in 2000, Douglas explained: “Judaism and I parted ways a long time ago, when I was a poor kid growing up in Amsterdam, NY. Back then, I was pretty good in cheder, so the Jews of our community thought they would do a wonderful thing and collect enough money to send me to a yeshiva to become a rabbi. Holy Moses! That scared the hell out of me. I didn’t want to be a rabbi. I wanted to be an actor. Believe me, the members of the Sons of Israel were persistent. I had nightmares – wearing long payos and a black hat. I had to work very hard to get out of it. But it took me a long time to learn that you don’t have to be a rabbi to be a Jew.”

All his children were born to non-Jewish mothers, but Douglas insists they were “aware culturally” of his “deep convictions,” and he never tried to influence their own religious decisions.

Douglas’s wife Anne converted to Judaism in 2004. Douglas told author Deborah Moore in 1994 that the underlying theme of some of his films – The Juggler (1953), Cast a Giant Shadow (1966), and Remembrance of Love (1982) – were about “a Jew who doesn’t think of himself as one, and eventually finds his Jewishness.”

The Juggler was the first Hollywood feature filmed in the state of Israel. Cast a Giant Shadow was a big-budget action film based on the life of Colonel David “Mickey” Marcus, a Jewish-American military officer who commanded IDF units during the 1948 Israeli War of Independence. Kirk Douglas starred as Marcus, alongside Senta Berger (as Haganah fighter, Magda Simon), Yul Brynner (Haganah commander Asher), John Wayne (Marcus’s commanding officer in the Second World War), Frank Sinatra (Vince Talmadge, an expatriate American pilot) and Angie Dickinson (Marcus’s wife). Melville Shavelson adapted, produced and directed.
Don Rickles, 90, cuts-up with Kirk Douglas' on 100th birthday

Douglas is also credited with being on the side of the angels, publicly crediting Spartacus screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in an effort to end the Hollywood Blacklist.

Kirk Douglas speaks Hebrew at "Israel at 60" 2008 .Academy Award recipient Kirk Douglas, introduced by L.A. Sinai Temple's Rabbi David Wolpe, addresses the Kodak Theatre audience in Hebrew, recalling the films he made in Israel, including Walter Mirisch's "Cast a Giant Shadow," with John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, and Yul Brenner.  
Hosted by Joshua Malina, the event features a cameo appearance by Kirk Douglas, a tribute to Gerda Weismann Klein, HBO's documentarian Cary Antholis, and a speech by American Jewish University's Dr. Michael Berenbaum. 

Award-winning, Keshet Chaim, a contemporary L.A.– based Israeli dance company premiered a new work in honor of Israel’s 60th. US Holocaust Memorial Museum LA Event Dec '11

Son, Michael Douglas pays tribute to the generosity of father Kirk Douglas at Motion Picture & Television Fund's 95th celebration, Hollywood's Night Under the Stars, on October 1, 2016.

Complexities of King David's Holy Temple-building son portrayed on L.A. stage

Solomon, son of King David, ruled the sovereign nation of Israel and in 832 BC, began construction of the Holy Temple (Beit Hamikdash) in Jerusalem.

In L.A., actor and co-writer Marcus J. Freed depicts the complexities of Solomon's world in a humorous, biblical comedy. "Solomon: King, Poet, and Lover" takes you on a funny & fast-paced roller-coaster ride through the life of King Solomon. You meet Solomon as he tries to open the Temple, publish astonishing books of wisdom, experience every delicacy on earth, and keep 700 wives happy. Freed's Solomon is also the King of 700 wives and 300 concubines.

In this video excerpt, Freed likens Solomon's concomitant responsibilities (and proclivities) to spinning juggling plates:

Interview with Solomon actor and co-writer, Marcus Freed: 

Secular-Jewish, Barak Raviv reacts to Solomon production:

Orthodox visitor, Chaya Parkoff from Denver, reacts to show:

Reaction from frum Pico-Robertson's Miriam Greenberg:

The 60-minute performance is witty, engaging & thought-provoking. Los Angeles premiere runs: Sat 12/3 7.30pm, Sun 12/4 3.30pm; Sat 12/10 7.30pm, Sun 12/4 7.30pm. For tickets, click here.

Netflix launches Israeli West Bank spy TV series "Fauda" (2015/16 season) worldwide today

"A top Israeli agent comes out of retirement to hunt for a Palestinian militant he thought he'd killed, setting a chaotic chain of events into motion." The first season of Israeli suspense series, Fauda, completed on Israel's "Yes" network (which is readying for its second season there) launches Friday 2 Dec on Netflix. Itay Stern characterizes in Ha'aretz
“Fauda” (which means "chaos" in Arabic) was a major commercial success for Yes. It portrays a group of mist’arvim – undercover soldiers – who work in Judea and Samaria disputed territories, and was acclaimed for its unusually complex and humane portrayal of Arab characters, and realistic focus on life under the Palestinian Authority. The second season has been delayed due to disputes between the production companies, but is due to air in 2017. “We’re so thrilled,” says Raz, about the Netflix purchase. “This is an achievement not only for me and for (co-creator) Avi Issacharoff, but for all the writers and the director and the cast. And especially for Yes, which took on this series that no other broadcaster believed in. Without them, none of this would have happened.” 
“Fauda,” with Hebrew and Arabic dialogue, will air as is, but as an “original Netflix series,” with a new Netflix-produced opening. In some countries, the show will have subtitles, while in others, such as in South America and Eastern Europe, it will be dubbed. 
Here is the trailer

The show was co-created by lead actor Lior Raz and writer Avi Isaacharoff. Mr. Issacharoff is an Israeli journalist known for his focus on Palestinian affairs. He is Middle East analyst for The Times of Israel and its sister news portal Walla!  From 2005 until 2012, he was the Palestinian and Arab affairs correspondent for the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz. The two filmmakers appeared at  the Netflix premiere screening in Hollywood this Monday, but they were not available to tape an interview with JooTube.

Lior Raz, Meir Fenigstein (Israel Film Fest), and Avi Isaacharoff in Hollywood
Lior Raz appeared at international film festival screenings in Europe last year where the show (first 2 episodes combined) met with wide acclaim among liberal judges in Israel-loathing / Palestinian-loving Europe.

When he accompanied the "film" to the Israel Film Festival in Hollywood last November, JooTube asked him about the wisdom in revealing Israeli undercover operations to a distrusting, Muslim and Christian world which suspects Jews of treachery and Israelis of unethical treatment of Palestinians in general. Here is his response:

Lior Raz answers audience questions following screening at Israel Film Festival last November.  JooTube asked him whether he feels there is a risk in showing the world the Palestinian enemy in a way which humanizes them and increases sympathy for their cause:

The news about “Fauda,” whose first season was broadcast by the Yes cable TV channel last year, comes one week after Netflix announced that it had purchased the rights to “Hamidrasha,” a series shown on Channel 2's Reshet franchise. Created by Uri Levron, Daniel Syrkin and Izhar Harlev, "Hamidrasha" is about a group of Israeli agents who are training to work for a Mossad-like espionage organization, and stars Yehuda Levi, Itay Tiran and Yehoram Gaon. It will also be available to Netflix subscribers in 130 countries, including the U.S. and Israel, under the title “Mossad 101”; it will be aired in Hebrew, with subtitles. A few weeks ago, Turner Broadcasting also purchased the rights to “Hamidrasha” for dozens of channels which broadcast in countries including South America, Poland and Russia.- Itay Stern
Text excerpts: "Netflix Buys Rights to Two New Israeli Shows"
'Fauda' will air as is, with Hebrew and Arabic dialogue, as an 'original Neflix series' with a new opening.