Gal Gadot to Israel Supporters: “You’re the most important audience for me”

The “Wonder Woman” actress received the Los Angeles Israel Award for Entertainment at Israel Independence Day event in Beverly Hills.
May 18, 2023
Photo credit: Eden Shohat

Israeli actress Gal Gadot was a surprise guest and honoree Wednesday night at Los Angeles’ official Israel Independence Day celebration at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. She was honored with the Los Angeles Israel Award for Entertainment.

The event was co-hosted by the Israeli American Council and the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles.

Even as Gadot was revealed, the master of ceremonies, actress Alona Tal, admitted that she could barely contain herself.

“Sorry I’m fangirling over here!” Tal from the lectern, flanked by two giant television monitors. “Her magnetic presence and exceptional talent have captivated audiences worldwide from her breakout role and ‘Fast & Furious” to her iconic portrayal of ‘Wonder Woman.’” There was an audible gasp amongst the packed attendees in the Winnick Auditorium. Then the on-stage screens cut to a shot of Gadot in the front row, grinning ear-to-ear and covering her face with her hands.

“If you only knew how nervous I am right now, you’re the most important audience for me,” Gadot said to a packed audience. She admitted that her heart was racing as she spoke. “Today, we gathered here to celebrate a milestone: Israel’s 75th anniversary. Hallelujah! A land of rich heritage and vibrant history. The Jewish State has achieved an astonishing amount in its relatively short history. And as I always say, Israel is where—ha’lev sha’li v’habai sha’li —Israel is my heart, and my home. And we all here are deeply proud of our Jewish homeland.

“And this celebration, this recognition is a testament to our unity, our strength, and our shared vision. As an Israeli living in America, I’m very aware of the importance of enhancing and maintaining strong connections of building bridges between the Americans and the Israeli people. Our backgrounds might be different, our journeys unique, but our collective goal is shared: to create a future that’s rich in understanding, mutual respect and collaboration. You should all thank me for not starting to sing ‘Imagine’ here right now. So you’re welcome.

“Building these bridges is not just a matter of diplomatic ties or shared interests. It’s about strengthening the historic bonds between the United States and Israel. It’s about cultivating a deep, genuine connection that transcends boundaries, a connection rooted in shared values, shared history and shared aspirations. Let’s remember that each and every one of us in our own unique way contributes to this effort. Together we can contribute to a brighter future for both our beloved nations. Todah rabah, thank you very much.”

Other honorees included physician and philanthropist Dr. Miriam Adelson, who dedicated her award to her late husband, Sheldon. Also honored was oncologist, Kite Pharma founder and co-founder of Allogene Therapeutics Dr. Arie Belldegrun, as well as  Dovi Frances, founding partner of investment firm Group 11, who gave an impassioned speech.

Following the awards, singer Tamir Grinberg & His Band performed. The most moving tune of the night was Grinberg’s solo piano rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

The full band returned for the next song, during which Gadot attempted to quietly slip out of the front row and out the side door. There were at least 30 fans ready to rush up to her security entourage for a slightly closer glimpse of Gadot. Although the most exciting face of the night had departed, the hundreds of miniature American and Israeli flags kept being waved throughout the auditorium and the music kept playing.

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