Thursday, August 27, 2015

Star Trek Beyond cast pays tribute to mensch Nimoy

Having touched the lives of many in his lifetime – young and old, famous and not – Leonard Nimoy left an indelible mark on the people of planet Earth.

Nimoy's character Spock, the first Vulcan we were introduced to in Gene Rodenberry's Star Trek, spanned six motion pictures with the series' original cast, made appearances in just about every Trek spin-off series, and played a pivotal role in the motion picture reboot helmed by director and executive producer J.J. Abrams.

The franchise, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2016, recently announced that the first official Star Trek cruise will set sail in January 2017. And over the summer, fans have been given the chance to make history themselves by competing for the first walk-on role in a Star Trek movie.

The cast and crew of Star Trek Beyond, the next film in the canon with the fresh-faced ensemble, have dedicated this week to Nimoy's memory and legacy, as well as his humanitarian efforts, influence and love for the human spirit.

Hear the praise in the clip below that actor Zachary Quinto bestows on the mensch whom he was honoured to call a friend and Trek mentor.

Dead Sea products can rejuvenate your pet, too

The Dead Sea is renowned for its extraordinary revitalizing and healing properties, and many of us who have visited the world wonder have experienced them first hand.

But did you know that these minerals are also beneficial for your pets?

Toronto startup Soos offers a unique line of Dead Sea products for cats and dogs, including natural shampoos, conditioners and remedies for dry skin, chronic pain, wounds, fleas and ticks.

The company was founded by young Jewish entrepreneurs Yemina Kaiman and Yosef Benayon, along with their seasoned partner, Shay Shvartshtein.

Soos Pets was inspired by Shvartshtein’s rescue Shetland sheepdog, Shane.

The dog suffered from a lacklustre coat, dry skin, irritated paws and sore joints. Finding that available treatments were expensive and contained complex chemical ingredients. Shvartshtein decided to find the perfect combination of natural ingredients and make them available to the public so that all pets could reap the benefits of natural treatments.

After much research, Soos Pets was founded and began producing and importing handmade products from Israel as a way to contribute to the Israeli economy. The company also donates a portion of its proceeds to local animal shelters and organizations helping animals in need.

 For more information visit

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Filmmaker touts vibrant Israeli food scene

Working toward a release on PBS later this year, Emmy- and Peabody-award winner Roger Sherman's documentary The Search for Israeli Cuisine will undoubtedly whet the appetite and palates of Americans and Canadians alike for far more than falafel and shwarma.

Over the course of two hours, Sherman explores the 70+ cultural influences on Israeli chefs and restaurants in the Jewish state.

He admits that up until his first trip to Israel almost five years ago, his "Jew-ish" – ie., non-religious, not entirely practising – upbringing left him without an understanding of the worth of Shabbat or an appreciation for the rich history of the foods that make up the Jewish experience.

After returning stateside, Sherman says, "It became clear that most people I meet don’t know much about the Israeli people either, and they’re surprised at what I reveal. I discovered a vibrant restaurant scene in Tel Aviv that rivals New York, San Francisco, London and, yes, Paris. And, more and more of Jerusalem’s restaurants, once thought stuffy, are must-experience destinations.

"I tasted wines from some of the 350 boutique wineries gaining international acclaim. I savoured distinctive cheeses that you’d find in France or Italy. And I found remarkable food traditions as diverse as Moroccan, Persian, and Lebanese, French, Italian, and Russian, in the most cutting-edge restaurants – Jewish, Arabs, Palestinians, Christian, and Druze – kosher and non-kosher, secular and religious. I learned that home cooks are preserving their grandmothers’ recipes and dynamic chefs are updating them."

While no official air date has been announced either in Canada or the United States just yet, this teaser will give you the taste of what's to come, as Sherman is now putting the final touches on this delectable inside look at Israel's culinary delights.

Coming soon to #TIFF.40

With the summer of 2015 drawing to a close and September nearly upon us, various expos and festivals are about to signal a return to fall.

Chief among them, of course, is the 40th annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), which runs this year from Sept. 10 to 20, with a lineup of well over 100 films from around the world.

Here on Heebonics, we'll feature just a taste of the documentaries, shorts and features that will grace Toronto screens and have their world premières here in four short weeks.

We're leading off this week, giving you a preview of director Danae Elon's documentary P.S. Jerusalem, a joint Canadian-Israeli production.

Returning to her hometown of Jerusalem with her young family after several years abroad, Elon offers an intimate, ground’s-eye view of one of the most fiercely contested cities in the world.

With the program book available from the TIFF festival box office beginning Aug. 25, the schedule of festival showings is also likely to be posted online by then at

Check back each week leading up the start of this year's celebration of world class offerings as we highlight some of the festival's top Jewish-theme films.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Star Trek goes to warp speed on the high seas

Fans of the two most popular science fiction franchises, Star Wars and Star Trek, have much to be excited about over the next six months.

While movie theatres will see the return of Han Solo, Luke, Leia, Chewbacca and the Droids for a seventh instalment of the iconic Star Wars series in December, Trekkies will be booking tickets for January 2017, travelling not to a galaxy far far away, but rather somewhere a little closer to home, on Norwegian Cruise Lines.

Star Trek: The Cruise, a six-day voyage between Florida and the Bahamas on the Pearl – with stops in Cozumel, Nassau and Norwegian's private island Great Stirrup Cay – will treat approximately 2,200 travellers to a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

Captaining the six-day "immersive journey" is none other than the Enterprise's crooning captain James T. Kirk, portrayed of course by much-loved Canuck and Montreal-born Jew William Shatner.

“I am excited to be the host of Star Trek: The Cruise,” Shatner said. “When I was told that this was the first authorized Star Trek cruise and part of the 50th-anniversary celebration [of the show], I just knew that my participation would be something that our fans would enjoy. It should be a lot of fun.”

Until now, CBS Studios, which controls all things Trek, had not endorsed Cruise Trek, which has been running for years, but now the timing is right.

The cruise – billed as "a new way to engage with the global science fiction phenomenon's past present and future universe," according to the cruise's website – will additionally feature Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis and Denise Crosby from Star Trek: The Next Generation; James Darren of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; Robert Picardo of Star Trek: Voyager; and John de Lancie, who portrayed "Q" in all three of those later Star Trek series.

Passengers will also be treated to speaking engagements with leading scientists, influencers and experts, as well as viewings of Star Trek movies on deck, themed bars and much more.

Tickets range from $975 to $7,500, and you won't want to delay, as they'll go at warp speed.

Get yours at

Lost Girl last episodes start airing Sept. 6

Heebonics has been there since the beginning, chronicling the journey of self-discovery that Anna Silk's alter ego Bo Dennis has travelled since the still-popular supernatural hit series Lost Girl began on Showcase in September 2010.

Sadly, we are less than a month away from the start of the final eight episodes of the Canadian Screen Award-winning show, which begin Sept. 6.

Exactly one week ago, Showcase released the first teaser trailer, giving us a glimpse into the drama yet to unfold in the world of the fae and what fate awaits Bo's two foremost romantic loves: Dyson, the werewolf portrayed by Kris Holden-Reid, and doctor Lauren Lewis, played by the equally wildly talented Zoie Palmer.

In the clip below, the much-loved Kenzie (played by Ksenia Solo) returns for a final showdown to aid her best friend, the succubus Bo, and defend their world and protect their family from Bo's father, the king of hell, who we will finally see in the form of Eric Roberts.

Excited? We are.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Smartphone or school: chassidic village makes parents choose

Most schools forbid the use of cellphones by students during class, but in the chassidic Jewish village of Kiryas Joel, New York, it’s the parents who are being required to power down.

At the end of July, a notice was sent to families in the haredi Orthodox community about 50-miles northwest of New York City detailing strict parental prohibitions on smartphone use as a prerequisite for their children’s enrolment at the local yeshiva.

The main synagogue in Kiryas Joel, N.Y.
“Make sure to put your devices in order and send in the filled out rules form for both parents (enclosed) before the above date, in order to avoid inconveniences,” read the announcement, unearthed by Shmarya Rosenberg on his Failed Messiah blog. “Remember: we will not provide acceptance cards if you are not in order with the technological rules.”

The notice went on to list several digital commandments: Men may use a smartphone if deemed essential to business and, in that case, only with an approved filter; women may not use a smartphone, only a basic cellphone.

Home computers may not be connected to the Internet. All members of the community must have a stamp of approval from religious leaders on their devices, even “kosher cellphones” that have been inspected by rabbis and whose web browsers have been deactivated.

After detailing the exact devices that each person in the household possesses, and the level of restriction (email only, basic apps, browsing with filter), the parents are required to sign the following affidavit:

“We the parents are confirming in writing that our cellphones/smartphones are in accordance to the rules of the community and yeshiva, according to the guidance of our holy grand rabbi and the judge. We also confirm that we do not possess in our home another cellphone/smartphone except for the ones mentioned above.”

Kiryas Joel was established in the 1970s by members of the haredi Orthodox Satmar chassidic community who had moved to the region from Brooklyn. The insular village of approximately 22,000 residents has faced numerous legal battles with its neighbours over the years, one making its way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1994 over the question of whether district boundaries had been unfairly drawn to accommodate a religious population.

In the 2010 census, Kiryas Joel was named the poorest city in the United States, with nearly 70 percent of its population living below the poverty line.

Founded in Romania at the start of the 20th century, the Satmar are considered among the most religiously stringent of the chassidic sects. They are also one of the fastest growing, with over 100,000 adherents and counting. Committed anti-Zionists, they reject the political state of Israel because it was not established by the messiah.

In creating a self-sufficient and isolated community, the Satmar chassidim of Kiryas Joel and similar enclaves manage to operate in a world largely untouched by modern temptations. They see technology as a potential puncture to their carefully constructed bubble — the recently released school mandate referred to smartphones as “extremely dangerous.”

Even for a community heavily regulated by religious decrees, the school’s smartphone requirements are notable for threatening punishment of the children (non-enrol
ment) for the sins of the parents. For those whose parents comply, the new school year begins on Aug. 16.

From JTA