We are excited to work with Judy Lash Balint on a TV series based on her two books, titled Jerusalem Diaries, when IZZY launches in Fall 2020.
Originally from London and the daughter of Holocaust survivors, Judy moved to Israel and became an Israeli citizen in 1998, after living in Seattle for the previous 25 years.
“All four of my grandparents perished in the Holocaust,” she says. “My parents were staunch Zionists who would have come to Israel, and not the UK, if the borders would have been open.”
“My inspiration to move to Israel and become an Israeli citizen came from wanting to be play an active part in Jewish history — to be on the stage, if you will, not watching from up in the balcony. I have always been in awe of the fact that I’m part of a generation that’s alive during the formation of a modern Jewish state.”
Judy was a member of the Bnei Akiva Religious Zionist Youth Movement as a teenager and fell in love with Israel during her first time here in high school. She returned to Israel every summer thereafter, and then spent a gap year at the Hebrew school on Kibbutz Beerot Yitzhak.
In 2001, Judy wrote the first Jerusalem Diaries: In Tense Times book to describe the momentous events happening in Jerusalem, starting with the years of the Second Intifada (2000 to 2004). In her second book, Jerusalem Diaries II: What’s Really Happening in Israel, Judy details the withdrawal from Gaza/Gush Katif (2005) and the Second Lebanon War (2006).
“As a freelance writer for many English-language publications, I wanted to give context and tell the backstory of those events,” she says. “Particularly the stories of Israelis who back then did not necessarily have a voice in the mainstream media.”
Judy says the evolution of Jerusalem in the years since then has been epic.
“During the intifada, Jerusalem was a ghost town. No tourism, other than the occasional ‘solidarity mission.’ Hotels had closed. Restaurants were empty. Many people were afraid to sit in cafes or ride on buses after so many had been blown up. Everyone knew people who had been killed or injured in terror attacks.”
“Today, Jerusalem is at the center of Israel’s dynamic cultural and social scene, according to Judy. “It’s the vibrant center of the Jewish world where people from every corner of the world converge to forge a new Jewish identity while honoring the thousands of years of the Jewish past that can be seen all over the city.”
“You can find every kind of Jewish religious expression here; every kind of Jewish music, art, theater, food; and the most exciting Jewish institutions in the world — from the new National Library of Israel, to the Israel Museum, the Cinematheque, and the Biblical Zoo.”
Judy says the one thing most people outside Israel don’t realize about Jerusalem is that it’s not just an ancient city filled with historical sites sacred to three religions.
“Jerusalem is a dynamic place full of ethnic diversity and fascinating, intense people who are striving to shape Jewish life of the 21st Century,” she says. “And living a life that’s purposeful and full of meaning. It’s a place where it’s impossible to escape experiencing the emotional highs and lows of Jewish existence.”
For more about Judy Lash Balint, visit her website.