Israel has received an influx of American talent this week. There are those here for work, and others on vacation.
A group of TV actors are currently on a week-long tour of the country with American Voices in Israel, a program aiming to bolster Israel’s image in the United States by bringing over celebrities who will then hopefully become friends of Israel.
Trip participants include Switched at Birth and Back to the Future actress Lea Thompson, her director/producer husband Howard Deutch, and their daughters Zoey Deutch — who stars in the Harvey Weinstein-directed film, Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters — and musician Madelyn Deutch. Visitors not part of the talented family include C.S. Lee from Dexter, Sullivan & Son co-star Vivian Bang and Anson Mount of Hell on Wheels.
“We’ve always really wanted to come to Israel but we never got around to it,” said Thompson, whose husband and children are Jewish. “This is the perfect opportunity — not only to be able to collaborate with other artists, but to have a tour geared toward artists.”
Stops have so far included Yad Vashem, Tel Aviv and the Golan Heights, where the stars were treated to a VIP tour of the Golan Heights Winery to discover Israel’s award winning wine.
For Thompson, though, one of the most enlightening parts of the trip has been time spent away from the tourist attractions, at the homes of regular Israelis.
“It’s impossible to understand a place this complicated without visiting it and having conversations with people there,” she said while en route to a Shabbat dinner. “I’ve learned that Israel is in a lot of ways like America in that you’re allowed to have a different opinion. There’s a lot of messiness in a democracy, so it feels familiar in that way.”