A look at the coverage that captivated us – and you
From food, fame and fashion to sports, tourism and tech, we've chosen our best reads.
News organizations spend weeks in meetings, imbibing countless cups of coffee, as they contemplate items to put on their year-in-review lists. Now multiply that effort times 10. Trying to encapsulate an entire decade into one article is, to be perfectly frank, a very tall order. Thankfully, we've cut ourselves a little bit of slack: From The Grapevine has only been around since 2014. And yet, that still gives us six years worth of people, trends and news stories to sift through for a roundup that represents the years since we first hit the proverbial "publish" button.
Our staff sat around the table in the break room, dipping pita chips in hummus and drinking upside down coffee. We took breaks, we walked around the block, we sat back down. And we discussed some more. What we came up with is by no means definitive, but it's what we believe are the major storylines and themes that weaved their way through our coverage of the 2010s. So, with that in mind, we hope you enjoy this look back.
Israeli food went worldwide
To some degree, Israeli cuisine has always been popular in the United States. Sure, you might see a falafel stand on the street corner in Manhattan while the hummus section at your local grocery store continues to expand. (Pumpkin spice hummus, anyone?) But in the past decade, Israeli food has taken its place at the table of the great cuisines of the globe. The James Beard Awards, known as the Oscars of the food industry, have continued to laud the rise of Israeli restaurants. Israeli chef and restaurateur Michael Solomonov has created a modern take on his native country's food, earning him six James Beard Awards. Fellow Israeli Alon Shaya's eatery in New Orleans was named the best new restaurant in America thanks in part to its creative fusion of Cajun and Mediterranean cuisine. (Yes, Louisiana shrimp shakshouka is on the menu.) Conde Nast and Yelp have also heaped praise, citing one Israeli restaurant in Atlanta that's so popular with the downtown denizens that it often runs out of food. And if you're looking to create these mouth-watering dishes at home, you needn't worry. We've published more than 1,000 recipes this decade.
So it's no wonder that the Mediterranean diet has become one of the most popular trends in food and fitness. Marked by lean proteins and fresh vegetables, it's been dubbed the easiest diet to follow by U.S. News and World Report. Which is great, because it has an inordinate amount of health benefits. It can help deal with cholesterol levels, chronic pain and blood pressure, and can even aid in the prevention of cancer and heart disease. We'll toast to that.
Israelis were boffo at the box office
From left to right: Sharon Maymon, Jaime Ray Newman, Guy Nattiv and Andrew Carlberg accept the Best Live Action Short Film award for 'Skin' onstage during the 91st Annual Academy Awards. (Photo: Kevin Winter / Getty Images)
The decade began with actress Natalie Portman winning the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in 2010's "Black Swan" and ended with power couple Guy Nattiv and Jaime Ray Newman winning an Oscar for their short film "Skin." And the in-between years were no slouches either. Israeli producer Arnon Milchan delivered us some of the most critically acclaimed movies of the decade: "The Revenant," "Birdman," "12 Years a Slave," "Bohemian Rhapsody," "The Big Short" and "Gone Girl," just to name a few. His new adaptation of "Little Women," starring Meryl Streep and Saoirse Ronan, will close out the decade in style when it arrives in theaters in December. Fellow Israeli producer Ram Bergman traveled to a galaxy far, far away with 2017's "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" and has been tapped by Disney to make three more films in the franchise. But any discussion of the 2010s wouldn't be complete without mentioning our favorite superhero, both on and off the screen. Which leads us to our next entry...
Gal Gadot’s rise to stardom
Gal Gadot proved that she's way more than a law school dropout-turned-Hollywood actress. Her star turn as Wonder Woman in 2017 earned her praise from both critics and fans alike. It was ranked one of the best superhero films of all time and smashed a host of records. Its 2018 premiere on HBO had more viewers than the Olympics. That same year she landed on TIME Magazine's list of the 100 Most Influential People in the world.
Gadot has used her fame to help make the world a better place. Despite her breakneck schedule – she's currently juggling multiple movie projects and has opened her own production company with her husband – Gadot has always found time to give back. Whether it's consoling a parent who lost a child or visiting sick kids at the hospital, she's making the most of the spotlight shining on her. She uses her social media influence – where she has more than 40 million followers, more than Tom Hanks and Oprah combined – to promote worthy causes and the work of others. The 34-year-old mother of two daughters has made it a personal mission to be an inspiration to young girls everywhere. "I think because I'm a mother, I want my girls to have good role models for themselves," she said on the "Today" show. "We showed it in the movie ... that you can be vulnerable, you can be innocent in a way, and truthful and loving ... you can have it all."
Innovators innovated beyond our imagination
Israel has been called the "Startup Nation" since the beginning of the decade when authors Dan Senor and Saul Singer wrote a book of the same name that landed on the New York Times bestseller list. "Israel is the fastest-growing, one of the most entrepreneurial and innovation-based economies on the planet," Senor told CNBC at the time. But little did they know how prescient their book would actually become. In the years since, Israel has really made its mark in the technology sector. That iPhone in your pocket? That USB drive in your computer? That GPS in your vehicle? All of it features technology developed in Israel. In the second half of the decade, Israel made a name for itself in the areas of food tech and driverless cars, among an array of other high-tech arenas. Its schools often top the list of the world's most innovative universities, turning out graduates that are choosing Tel Aviv over Silicon Valley. There are more Israeli companies on the NASDAQ than all of Europe combined.
High-tech entrepreneur Jon Medved is a Jerusalem-based high-tech venture capitalist and has invested in more than 100 Israeli startups. "We are risk takers here," he told From The Grapevine. "We're also delusional; have been since Abraham. I think that combination of risk, acceptance, and delusion makes for great entrepreneurial excitement."
Tourism to Israel rose 25%
There are many reasons to vacation in Israel – enjoying the surf and sand of its Mediterranean coastline, hiking through breathtaking views of nature, touring local wineries, taking a romantic getaway, participating in archaeological digs and the list goes on. The country is home to 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites – including the Bauhaus buildings of Tel Aviv and the Bahai Gardens in Haifa. Tel Aviv, with its vibrant nightlife and five-star restaurants, has landed on best-of travel lists from Forbes, Conde Nast and Travel + Leisure magazines.
Many events led people to Israel this decade: Hollywood insiders from HBO and AMC descended on Jerusalem for the annual TV conference that began in 2012. The Giro d'Italia, part of the Tour de France grand tour bicycling series, came to Israel for the first time in 2018. Perhaps one of the most seminal moments in tourism this decade occurred when Tel Aviv hosted the world's biggest talent show. The 25-year-old Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won the Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon in 2018. Besides a trophy and bragging rights, her win meant that the 2019 edition would be held in her native Israel. It's sort of an international version of "American Idol" featuring performers from 43 countries and watched by 200 million people worldwide. Tourists flocked to the country and booked so many hotel rooms that, at one point, officials considered docking cruise ships to house all the visitors. It capped off years of increased tourism which, according to the Ministry of Tourism, increased by 25% from the start of the decade.
Medical breakthroughs gave hope to patients
One of our most popular stories of the decade was our interview with Michael Pasikov, a classical pianist who lost the use of his dominant hand due to a rare form of cancer. He eventually taught himself to play one-handed and is now performing 100 concerts for charity. These types of against-all-odds stories appeared throughout our site the past few years – including that of plumber Joshua Strahl who, after nearly dying from a heart condition, went on to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Or that of Aharon Schwartz, a factory worker who was injured when a steel object pinned him to the ground, fracturing his leg in two places and breaking six of his spinal vertebrae. In a world first, two robots successfully performed surgery on him.
All three of those men were treated at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, one of the many institutions in Israel that devised medical breakthroughs throughout the decade. There's a blood test that could detect breast cancer before a mammogram, and a breathalyzer that can diagnose 17 different diseases. Doctors at Tel Aviv University discovered a more effective treatment for melanoma while scientists at Ben-Gurion University used a coral-based material to regrow knee cartilage. Dr. Dorry Segev, an Israeli epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, conducted the first-in-the-world liver and kidney transplants between HIV-positive donors and recipients in 2016.
Medical-based startups also made news, with one startup figuring out a way to prevent prescription errors, while another helped print a 3D heart to save the life of a young girl. The decade closed with Israel becoming a major player in the cannabis market, leading Rolling Stone magazine to dub it a "medical weed wonderland."
'The Band's Visit' ruled Broadway
Who would've guessed that the most buzzed-about Broadway musical of 2018 would be based on a little-known Israeli film from a decade earlier? Well, that's exactly what happened with "The Band's Visit,' which tells the story of a band that boards the wrong bus and ends up in the Israeli town of Bet Hatikva. People compared its popularity to that other big hit of the decade, "Hamilton," with the New York Times raving that it's "one of the most ravishing musicals you will ever be seduced by." It won 10 Tony awards, including for Best Musical. In 2019, it went on to add a Grammy to its crowded shelf of trophies. You can now see what all the excitement is for yourself, as the show is currently touring across America – making stops in dozens of cities including Atlanta, Denver and Philadelphia.
Israeli athletes shined in the spotlight
For a country the size of New Jersey, Israel certainly made its mark in the sports world in the 2010s. In 2014, Coach David Blatt led the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team to the EuroLeague championships and was named Coach of the Year. In 2016, Israel won two medals at the Summer Olympics. And in 2018, Israel sent its largest delegation ever to the Winter Olympics. And they hope to break even more records with the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Israel's Sagi Muki is ranked one of the best judo athletes in the world, and Linoy Ashram, a rhythmic gymnast, has been racking up gold medals at qualifying events. With athletes already qualified in equestrian and track and field, Israel is expected to send close to 100 athletes in 18 sports to the Games, practically doubling the record number of athletes they sent to the 2016 Olympics. Those numbers are partly boosted by the unlikely presence of Israel's baseball team. Which leads us to...
The country's baseball team made history
At the 2017 World Baseball Classic, the Israeli team stunned the international baseball community with four straight wins, bringing a sense of history to the tournament. The Israeli team beat Korea in extra innings, shocked Chinese Taipei, defeated Cuba and played the Netherlands (twice!) before falling to Japan in their final game. ESPN dubbed the underdog Israeli team as "essentially the Mighty Ducks, Hickory High and the Jamaican bobsled team all rolled into one.” That winning season is now the subject of a new documentary called "Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel."
But the biggest news came this September, when the Israelis became one of only six countries who qualified to compete at the 2020 Olympics, giving them a 50% chance of medaling at the event. This will mark the first time that Israel has ever had a baseball team at the Olympic Games.
Fashion icons were dressed by Israeli designers
The decade began with two seminal events that made the worldwide fashion community pay attention to Israeli designers. First, Israel became the first country to ban underweight models. And second, the launch of Instagram opened the doors for social media influencers like Korin Avraham and Roza Sinaysky – two fashion bloggers with devoted followings.
One of the biggest fashion trends of the 2010s was the advent of 3D printing. The high-tech invention meant that people could one day customize clothes to their exact size and liking, right from the comfort of their own home. At the forefront of this trend was Israeli fashion designer Danit Peleg. She created the world's first 3D-printed fashion line without the use of a single sewing machine. She whipped up a homemade video about her unique collection and it went viral overnight. That initial burst of publicity led to stories about her work in the New York Times, Forbes, Wired Magazine and even Vogue. She was asked to design a 3D dress for the opening ceremonies of the Paralympic Games in Rio in 2016.
Peleg's emergence into the limelight helped catapult her alma mater, the Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art to be ranked fifth in the world for its influence on global fashion trends. Her fellow Shenkar grad, Inbal Dror, spent the decade designing dresses for Beyonce (as did Israeli designer Galia Lahav). Another alum, Tamar Daniel, designed clothes for Meghan Markle. The Jerusalem-born Daniel now jokes that she's "royally approved." Not to be outdone, Israel's other major fashion school – the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design – graduated student after student who also went on to make their mark internationally. Eyal Gever teamed up with NASA to work on the first piece of art for outer space. Kobi Levi, another Bezalel alum, launched an avant-garde footwear design company that eventually caught the eye of Lady Gaga. And the decade ended with alumnus Hed Mayner becoming the first Israeli to win fashion's coveted Karl Lagerfeld Prize.
Israel led the way with humanitarian relief efforts
The 2010s were a very busy decade for IsraAid, the nonprofit humanitarian aid group based out of Tel Aviv. 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 were particularly active in helping rebuild Houston after Hurricane Harvey swept through Texas in the summer of 2017.
But IsraAid did not act alone. An Israeli group called Innovation: Africa provided electricity to more than 1 million people in rural Africa. Save a Child's Heart has provided life-saving treatments to more than 4,500 kids from 58 countries. Medical clowns from the Mediterranean country have traveled to natural disaster zones to help children with PTSD. An Israeli invention helped stem the cholera outbreak in Cameroon, while another brought clean water to Flint, Mich.
Looking to the decade ahead, IsraAid is now launching the Humanitarian Aid Fellowship for college students to help train the next generation of humanitarians.
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