(Clockwise from top right): Peter Dinklage in 'Game of Thrones'; skydiver Walter Bingham; actress Gal Gadot; the cast of 'The Band's Visit'; and the team from Clownbulance. (Clockwise from top right): Peter Dinklage in 'Game of Thrones'; skydiver Walter Bingham; actress Gal Gadot; the cast of 'The Band's Visit'; and the team from Clownbulance. (Clockwise from top right): Peter Dinklage in 'Game of Thrones'; skydiver Walter Bingham; actress Gal Gadot; the cast of 'The Band's Visit'; and the team from Clownbulance. (Photo: Courtesy)

10 things we’re thankful for in 2018

At our Thanksgiving table, we will be raising a toast to those who inspire us to be better.

This year has given us a lot, some good and some bad. And being that it's the holiday season, we're choosing to look at the "glass is half full" side of things.

While we're enjoying some delicious Mediterranean side dishes at our Thanksgiving meal, we know we're going to be asked that ultimate turkey-day question: what are you thankful for this year? Instead of mumbling through some half-cooked answers, we figured we should give it some careful consideration. So we held a staff meeting, passed out pen and paper, and asked everyone to throw some suggestions into the pilgrim style hat. Every idea is a good idea. Gratitude is an attitude.

So after much thoughtful discussion and debate, we composed a list. It's by no means comprehensive, but rather a launching point to realize that in a sometimes dark world, all is not bad. Plus, we still have a month to go in 2018. We're looking at you, December.

So, without further ado, we're thankful...

Because clowns bring more than smiles to a party

We're suckers for stories that bring a smile to our face – and this one is guaranteed to turn any frown upside down. Israeli clowns Smadar Harpak and Michal Korman launched the Clownbulance program with the goal of acting as a wish fulfillment agency. They offer sick children the opportunity to make one of their dreams a reality – whether that be recording a song in a music studio or shooting hoops with professional basketball players. Today, they have 100 clowns who work across 29 hospitals in Israel. And they're not taking off for Thanksgiving. "There is a long list of wishes waiting to be fulfilled," Harpak told us.


Because flash mobs can make kindness go viral

What's not to love about an organization whose mission is simply to spread kindness around the globe? We can get on board with that. Earlier this month, we watched tens of thousands of people in 247 cities in 65 countries all do the same dance in honor of World Kindness Day. It was organized by Dancing for Kindness, which uses the annual epic flash mob event to inspire people to do good. Everyone who dances is given a "Kindness Card" that has an act of kindness printed on it like "Bring breakfast to your co-workers" or "Stick up for someone even if they aren't around." Once you're done performing the task, you pass the card onto someone else.


Because cannabis-flavored ice cream exists

green ice cream Is cannabis the next big flavor trend? (Photo: zefirchik06/Shutterstock)

When you're debating politics with your uncle at the Thanksgiving table, we have the perfect solution to mellow the mood: cannabis-flavored ice cream. It pairs perfectly with family disputes. You can pick some up at one of Vaniglia Gelato's six locations across Israel. It's made from a blend of herbs and nuts that owner Itay Rogozinsky concocted after studying the anatomy of a marijuana plant. It's green in color, with an unidentified leafy herb sprinkled on top. Rogozinsky assures inquirers, however, that none of his ice cream has any actual marijuana in it. Perhaps. But, for some reason, we're now craving Funyuns.


Because a certain 94-year-old is still living his best life

Walter Bingham is an inspiration to us all. We can only hope to accomplish just a sliver of what this 94-year-old has accomplished in his long and storied life. He's Israel's oldest working journalist, hosts a long-running radio show and has appeared in two "Harry Potter" movies. So, what does a nonagenarian do next? He just became the oldest Israeli to skydive. When he landed, Bingham said he hoped to do it again on his 100th birthday. “Breaking records is my latest hobby!" he exclaimed. Our wish for the new year? That we all share in Bingham's passion for life.


Because winter is coming, and 'Game of Thrones' is returning, too

After more than a year hiatus, and months and months without any news about the Lannisters, the Targaryens or the White Walkers of Westeros, news came this year that we're finally going to get to see the concluding season of HBO's "Game of Thrones." Dreams do come true. David Nutter, one of the show's directors, said to expect twists in the final season. “Hang onto your seat 'cause it’s going to be special,” he told fans. OK, David, we're hanging onto our seats and gleefully marking our calendar.


Because these bold women are making a real difference

This holiday season we're thankful for all the inspiring women who we get to write about here at From The Grapevine. There's Inna Braverman, who, after surviving the Chernobyl nuclear disaster as a baby, has made it her life's mission to find a new source of energy. Along with Oprah, she was named one of the most influential women of the 21st century for her work. There's Danit Peleg, who's revolutionizing the fashion industry with 3D-printed clothes. And the next generation is represented by preteen Meital Sternthal, who is sewing handbags to raise money for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.


Because Broadway shows can have a positive message for all of us

The cast and creative team of 'The Band's Visit' are all smiles after accepting their 10 Tony Awards Sunday night at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The cast and creative team of 'The Band's Visit' are all smiles after accepting their 10 Tony Awards Sunday night at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. (Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images)

What better show could there be than one that promotes a message of inclusiveness and befriending those who are different than you? This month marks the one-year anniversary of the premiere of "The Band's Visit," a musical comedy based on an Israeli movie of the same name. The show tells the story of an Egyptian band that, after a mix-up at the border, is sent to a remote village in Israel. With no bus until morning and no hotel in sight, these unlikely travelers are taken in by the locals and their lives become intertwined. It's no wonder that the feel-good affair won 10 Tony Awards – including for Best Musical.


Because IsraAid is always showing up


Whether it's a hurricane or an earthquake or a forest fire, you can always count on IsraAid to come to the rescue. In recent years, the Tel Aviv-based nonprofit organization has been busy. After a cyclone roared through Vanuatu, and an earthquake rattled Nepal, and a flood ravaged West Virginia, IsraAid ran to the rescue. They've gone on missions to the South Sudan, Japan, India, Sierra Leone and the Philippines, just to name a few. They send teams of Israelis to help with rescue efforts, clean up and to help victims with the psychological toll of surviving a natural disaster.


Because Gal Gadot is on this earth

We're not saying that the 33-year-old Israeli actress is the sweetest woman in Hollywood ... but we're not saying she isn't either. The "Wonder Woman" star serves as a role model for young girls – even comforting one at Comic-Con, as you can see in the video above. She uses her social media savvy to support causes close to her heart, like a foundation that helps sick children or to tell the heartbreaking story of a pilot who lost his daughter in a tsunami. At this year's Critics Choice Awards, Gadot received the #SeeHer Award for working to change stereotypes and recognize the importance of accurately portraying women across the entertainment landscape. Oh, and did we mention she gives out free candy?

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My dear friend Sivan is working on a beautiful foundation supporting an incredible cause. Sivan was a mother of precious and sweet girl named Ranni. The universe wasn't fair and Ranni had a rare genetic metabolic disease and died at an extremely young age. I will never forget her and forever she'll be in my heart. Ranni’s Wish bracelet was designed by Agas & Tamar and created with love for Ranni’s Wish foundation. This foundation was established in memory of Ranni Fisher and is dedicated to help children whom are suffering from genetic metabolic diseases. The bracelet is made with a red cotton string that has a small balloon attached filled with inspiration, memory, hope and future. All the proceeds from the bracelets will be contributed to Ranni’s Wish foundation to assist in establishing a genetic metabolic center at the Dana-Dwek Children’s hospital. 🎈 #ranniswish #4ranni #הצמידשלרני

A post shared by Gal Gadot (@gal_gadot) on



Because if this earth doesn't work out, Avi Loeb is finding us a new one

While we're eating turkey and watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the chair of Harvard's astronomy department is looking up to the skies – way up. Dr. Avi Loeb, who runs Harvard's astronomy department, is spearheading a $100 million project to find aliens. Yep, you read that right. It's not a silly cause, but a noble one: he believes that eventually earth will become uninhabitable and it behooves us as a society to find a new planet to live on. (Hopefully, we can bring Gal Gadot with us.) So he's actively seeking aliens with the hopes of asking if we can move in with them. We'll even chip in on the rent. In the meantime, can you pass the yams?

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10 things we’re thankful for in 2018
At our Thanksgiving table, we will be raising a toast to those who inspire us to be better.