Natalie Portman’s missed opportunity

Natalie Portman has many things going for her. She is a talented actress, she is smart, she is beautiful and inspiring. For years, Portman was considered the most successful Israeli – American actress in Hollywood. Both Israelis and Jewish Americans adored her. Coming from the same shtetel, we all felt like her success was somehow also ours.

Born in Israel and raised in the US, graduated from Harvard yet spent a semester at Hebrew University. Portman had a unique opportunity to create a bridge between the different parts of the Jewish people.  Speaking both Hebrew and English fluently, Portman should have been leading the dialogue between liberals and conservatives, left and right, religious and secular.

Sadly, Portman chose the easy way out. Instead of facing this complicated situation, she chose to quit. Instead of taking responsibility and acting as a true Jewish leader, she chose to turn her back to her own people.

Imagine Portman, looking glamorous as always, giving a powerful speech at the Genesis prize ceremony. Just imagine the impact she would have, had she took this opportunity to deliver a personal message to the Jewish people. Portman could have shared her personal views about the current events and the challenges she faces as a liberal Jew and Israeli. Portman could have used this stage to express her passion for Israel and her commitment for peace and equal rights for all. Many people would disagree with her opinions but there is a good chance that it would create a dialogue. Jews from both sides may take a moment and think about the opposite sides opinions.

On the contrary, just yesterday we heard an inspiring speech given by a true Jewish leader – Miriam Peretz. Peretz, who lost both her sons in combat as IDF solders, decided to take her personal agony and turn it into strength. Peretz, took the opportunity she was given as she received the Israel prize and addressed the Jewish people. She expressed her unconditioned love for Israel and the Jewish people and asked that we all focus on the common denominators. Peretz spread love and gave us hope and that is what we expect from our leaders. Therefore, Israelis from all political sides came together and accepted Peretz message.

What good did Portman achieve by boycotting the ceremony?

About the Author
Elkana has been active in the field of experiential education and social entrepreneurship for over 10 years, focusing on community building, social awareness, humanities and Jewish identity. Leading educational programs and tours from over 20 countries, Elkana encourages independent thinking. He is well experienced in leading thought provoking discussions on many topics. After spending a year volunteering with children at risk in the development town of Ofakim and serving for three years in an elite reconnaissance unit in the IDF including serious combat in Lebanon, Elkana's passion for education comes from a deep understanding of the need for positive change. A change that can only come when individuals challenge today's reality and come together in order to offer an alternative on both a personal and global level.
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