Israel Briefs: Israeli Sitcom Wins International Emmy, Vanilla Found in Ancient Tomb and More

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Israeli Sitcom Wins International Emmy

Nevsu, an Israeli comedy chronicling the marriage of an Ashkenazi Jewish woman and an Ethiopian Jewish man, won an International Emmy Award on Nov. 19, JTA reported.

The show is the first in Israel to include a black lead character. In the Ethiopian language of Amharic, nevsu is a term of endearment.

Lead actor and co-creator Yosi Vasa and director Shai Be Atar accepted the award at a ceremony in New York City.

Fox announced in April it would adapt the show for American audience. It will be called Culture Clash and the relationship will be between a white Midwestern woman and an Ethiopian refuge.

Also at the ceremony, Dutch filmmakers Stephane Kaas and Rutger Lemm won an arts programming award for their documentary Etgar Keret: Based on a True Story about the Israeli writer and humorist.

Diverted El Al Flight be Investigated

El Al Airlines CEO Gonen Usishkin announced on Nov. 19 the establishment of a committee to examine what happened when a Nov. 15 flight from New York to Tel Aviv was diverted to Athens so Sabbath-observant passengers could deplane, JTA reported.

The committee will also look into whether some passenger acted with violence toward flight attendants.

Bad weather had delayed the flight for more than five hours; the flight was trying to reach Israel before Sabbath started. Some passengers wanted the plane to return to the gate at John F. Kennedy Airport so they could disembark, but the plane took off.

Haaretz said El Al spent about 1 million shekels, or about $270,000, to make the Athens stop and put up 150 passengers in a hotel by the airport.

‘Half-Shekel’ Weight Dating to First Temple Found in Jerusalem

A small stone “half-shekel” weight dating to the First Temple period was unearthed north of the City of David in Jerusalem, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The City of David Foundation said Nov. 21 that the stone was found while sifting archaeological soil in the Emek Tzurim National Park. The soil originated from the foot of Robinson’s Arch at the Western Wall, just north of the City of David.

The word Beka is written on the weight in an ancient Hebrew script. The weight was used as a donation each person over the age of 20 brought as a census and to maintain the Holy Temple.

16 Stores Demolished in Refugee Camp

Jerusalem demolished 16 storefronts on the Shuafat refugee camp’s main commercial street on Nov. 21 as part of a new policy extending municipal reach to neighborhoods outside the security fence, The Times of Israel reported.

The city said the stores were all built without permits, but rights groups said demolition warnings were issued only 12 hours earlier. Police contended that camp residents had complained that the stores created traffic and congestion.

Outgoing Mayor Nir Barkat said in October that he would expand enforcement of city ordinances to Shuafat and other Arab neighborhoods beyond the security fence, while also upgrading access to city services.

Vanilla Found in Ancient Israeli Tomb

Scientists have long thought that the use of vanilla originated in South America, but the discovery of the spice’s residue in a 3,600-year-old tomb in Israel has changed that thinking, according to The Times of Israel.

Vanillin compound was found in three small jugs placed as part of burial food offerings surrounding three intact skeletons, adorned with gold and silver jewelry. The jewels and vanilla extract were in an untouched Bronze Age burial chamber labeled Tomb 50 that was first excavated in 2016 at Megiddo.

Led by Tel Aviv University Professor Israel Finkelstein, the excavating team believes the tomb’s displayed wealth is part of an elite — or possibly royal — Canaanite burial.

“We dig at Megiddo because it is the most celebrated site for the Bronze and Iron Ages in the Levant,” Finkelstein said. “The finds at Megiddo are the key for understanding 3,000 years of history of the region, between 3500 and 500 BCE, including the material culture of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and issues related to the biblical text.”

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Andy Gotlieb is the managing editor of the Jewish Exponent. He holds 31 years of experience in communications, mostly in journalism, with a decade in public relations, too. Prior newspaper stops include the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Tampa Tribune and the Philadelphia Business Journal. The first 17 years were spent in print journalism, where I covered, at various times, business, politics, crime and government, among other beats. The final 2.5 years in that stretch was an editor at the Philadelphia Business Journal, where my responsibilities included complete control over a weekly section and working with both staff writers and freelancers. In late 2005, I switched gears and began working in public relations for the next decade. I learned the ins and outs of public relations -- including being on the other side of the media-PR equation -- and made numerous contacts. I rejoined the ranks of journalism in March 2016, starting as the managing editor of the Jewish Exponent.

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