It’s been just a year and a half since my Aliya, and just about six months since I wrote to the Times of Israel about my work on launching Playboy Israel Magazine. I thought it might be a good time to write a little update.
My first job as an entrepreneur was to put together a great team of enthusiastic professionals, and since then we’ve all been pretty busy! We have accumulated 11,000 likes on Facebook (including a significant number of women) and our web site (playboy.co.il) gets thousands of hits every day from within Israel and around the world.
We’ve published interviews with former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter, author Amos Oz, Israeli comedian Maor Cohen, Israeli sports figures Jordi Cruyff and Ron Ben Shimon, and Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei. We’ve printed in-depth articles on the role of women in the Arab Spring, the diplomatic career of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the “Femen,” (the controversial feminist Ukrainian protest group), the Duvduvan (the elite Israeli special forces unit) and a great essay on the role of sexuality in Judaism by orthodox rabbi and contributing author Shmuley Boteach.
But there’s more to Playboy than just the articles. We’ve also done some tasteful and very beautiful photo productions with a number of gorgeous Israeli women: including models, dancers and students. Oh, and we’ve thrown a few parties as well.
People often ask me how Israel is responding, and so far I’ve found the response to be very positive. We are constantly being approached by media outlets and recently closed a production deal with Israel’s “Ego” television networks, with Fashion TV, and there are more to come. We are a frequent headline in the Israeli news media, and more and more artists, business people, sports figures and politicians are reaching out to work with us. We realize that Playboy is not a perfect fit for every one of Israel’s diverse communities, and so we have behaved with respect: not distributing or marketing in religious communities, and not showing nudity on our covers. I am pleased to say that we have seen respect in return. All in all, I think we’ve made a pretty good start.
In the beginning there were some people who predicted that no Israeli woman would ever pose for Playboy magazine, that no political or cultural figure would dare to be associated with our brand, and that religious communities would erupt in protest. I am pleased to say that we’ve proved a lot of people wrong, and I believe this is a reflection of the true character of our diverse and beautiful country.
In fact, when we started on the path to launch our magazine I knew I’d be speaking within Israel about Playboy, but along the way something special happened: I found myself also speaking around the world about Israel. I have done two interviews on CNN, spoken on BBC radio, AP and REUTERS, and we’ve been featured in newspapers, web sites and TV channels in literally dozens of countries. Every time I interview internationally, people ask me, “How can a modern, sexy, entertainment magazine exist in Israel – isn’t Israel all about religion and war?” To me it is an honor and a privilege to be able to answer these questions on a global stage, to represent my country and say with pride, “Actually, Israel is a beautiful and diverse place, with many communities and influences. Just walk down the street and you’ll see everything from coffee shops and fashion stores to synagogues, churches and mosques. That’s the kind of place that Israel really is.”
On a personal note, I have been working every day with Israelis in Hebrew, which has helped me immeasurably in learning my new language and adjusting to my new home. I’ve had some victories and also faced some challenges but I’ve never done either alone: I’m surrounded by a great team, good friends and lots of passion. To me, that’s what Israel is really all about.