Woman In Gold, Gold, and More Gold

What an amazing painting featured in the movie, Woman In Gold.


The painting is called the Portrait of Adele Block-Bauer I and was commissioned by her adoring husband. 


That face! And surrounded by everything in gold yet you can still clearly make out her stunning dress. 


I’ve never seen anything like this: the vividness and the majesty of it. 

Honestly, I think there is a resemblance to my beautiful mother, Gerda Blumenthal who was also from Germany. 


The interesting history on this is that it was stolen by the Nazis from the Jewish owners in the Holocaust, but was finally returned to their family in America that succeeded in suing Austria for it back.


This is truly one of the greats! 😉


(Credit Photo: Gustav Klimt [Public domain])

Operation Thunderbolt: Fighting Prejudice and Persecution

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Operation Thunderbolt: Fighting Prejudice and Persecution.”

No people should suffer blatant prejudice and persecution and everyone should be “entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” These are part of the foundational values that America and Israel share. We stand as friends and allies for respecting and valuing human rights, always to be underscored by peace and security for our peoples. Isn’t it an amazing “coincidence” that the rescue in Entebbe occurred on America’s 200th anniversary, July 4, 1976!


The raid on Entebbe and the miraculous rescue of the hostages stands as an everlasting symbol of courage and triumph of good over evil. As we continue to work and pray for a genuine peace in the Middle East for all its inhabitants, we also must stand resolutely and say “Never Again.”

(Credit Photo: Government Press Office Israel via Flickr)

Fire As A Force Of Nature And Man

So fire is a tool for heating and cooking, but obviously it is also a destructive force that can be and is weaponized.

From tales and mythologies of old, dragons would spew fire from their mouths and destroy the enemy leaving only maybe their charred remains (likely, we will get to see more of that in Season 8 of Game of Thrones coming up soon).

In the 20th century, flamethrowers were widely used in World War I and II, and today thermonuclear weapons create great fireballs and mushroom clouds.

But already as far back as the Bible, Samson fought with fire against the Philistines.

He caught 300 foxes, tied them tail to tail in pairs and put a lite torch between them and they ran terror and havoc through his enemy’s encampment.

By the time of the Greek and Roman Empires, they would use catapults to hurl pots or bundles of flaming materials at their enemies.

In the Movie, Gladiator, upon releasing these catapults, he orders: “Unleash Hell!”

During the Spanish Inquisition, the inquisitor and his henchman would force Jews and others to convert or face execution by fire in the auto-da-fe.

Again in the Salem Witch Hunts, they would burn suspected witches at the stake.

And in more recent times, in the War Against Terror, ISIS was shown in videos that went viral torching those they considered infidels.

The other night watching a movie, “Redbad,” there was a riveting scene, where the Franks pour accelerants on live pigs and then light them up with torches and send them darting like crazy into the enemy ranks and villages.

Fire for good or for evil, those flaming pigs, I will never forget. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Judeo-Christian – Friendship and Ties

Star of David.jpeg

So over Thanksgiving holiday, we went to see the new Seth Rogen movie, The Night Before


It’s full of crazy antics as they party on Christmas eve, and Rogen, the token Jew, gets himself in all sorts of trouble, including throwing up in the mass from too much partying. 


But what I liked most about the movie was the friendship between people–in this case, between Christians and Jews.


Today, I read with great joy about the Vatican commemorating the 50th anniversary of the “Nostra Aetate” (which I must say I was completely ignorant about), but which very importantly does the following:


1) Repudiates the charge of “Jewish deicide,” exonerating Jews of any collective guilt for the death of Jesus. 

2) Affirms that G-d’s covenant with Jews was never revoked.

3) Recognizes Christianity’s Jewish roots. 


Continuing these positive developments between us, yesterday the Vatican issued a new document clarifying that the church exempts Jews from conversion, and that Jews are not excluded from G-d’s salvation because they don’t believe in Jesus. 


I think it is wonderful that in modern times, there has been an affirmation of the unity of mankind amidst a monotheist belief in G-d Almighty, our father, and the creator and sustainer of us all. 


The closer relations between Jew and Christians, especially over the last half century is a wonderful milestone that should, please G-d, grow stronger over time. 


Moreover, we should similarly see the people of all religions focus on our commonalties, rather than on our differences, and on doing good deeds one to the other, rather than fighting in the name of religion. 


Religion is peace and love, serving G-d and doing good–the rest is B.S. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Ex Machina Will Even Turn The Terminator

Terminator
So this was a really cool display at the Movie theater yesterday…



They had this head of the Terminator in a enclosed case and roped off. 



Shiny metal alloy skull, buldging bright evil red eyes, and really grotesque yellowed teeth. 



This certainly gets the attention of passerbys for the upcoming new movie, Terminator Genisys (coming out July 1). 



Anyway, Terminator is the ugly dude especially when compared with the robot/artificial intelligence of Ava in Ex Machina that we saw yesterday. 



The Turing test is nothing for Ava!



She can not only fool them as to her humanity, but also outmanuever them with her wit, sexuality, and a good dose of deceit and manipulation. 



Frankly, I think AI Ava could even turn the terible Terminator to her side of things–my bet is that movie to come in 2017. 



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Andy Blumenthal With Roberta Grossman

Andy Blumenthal and Roberta Grossman
What an honor today to be able to take this photo with Roberta Grossman, movie Producer/Director. 



First we saw her upcoming movie “Above and Beyond.”



It is the story about the birth of the Israeli Air Force, and it was co-produced with Nancy Spielberg (Yes, the sister of Director Steven Spielberg). 



In 1948 when the U.N. (under G-d’s guidance) established the State of Israel, the Arab nations prepared to attack the fledgling nation state.



Just 3 years after the end of Holocaust, the surrounded Jewish people with inferior arms, faced almost certain devastating defeat in their War of Independence. 



However, brave volunteer pilots from America, Canada, and South Africa answered the call to help their brethren in Israel. 



With ingenuity, some smuggled air planes, brief training by Czechoslovakia, and the blessings of Hashem, the Israel Defense Forces stopped the advancing Arab armies–of Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon, and Iraq–in their tracks. 



It is an amazing story of courage and heroism, and Ms. Grossman did a wonderful job answering enthusiastic questions from the audience in Virginia today. 



Kol Hakavod on a excellent film–thank you!  😉

Exodus Hollywood Style 2014


Very excited about the new Exodus movie coming next month. 



Looks high budget action and with great special effects.



Hopefully, not a disappointment like Noah (2014 film)–I don’t think it will be. 



Good wins over evil–well, we all know that already from the Bible!



According to the Passover Haggadah, we are supposed to retell every year, from generation to generation, our story of going from the cruel enslavement by evil dictators to the redemption by the merciful Almighty G-d.



It’s timeless and our history!  😉



(Note: Full movie name is Exodus G-ds and Kings, but there is only one G-d.)