The Jewish people have had many wonderful heroines in its history, from the Biblical matriarchs to female fighters, pioneers and patriots and the mothers of modern-day Israel. Today Israel has a new superheroine. Her name is Gal Gadot, and Warner Bros. announced last week that she will play Diana Prince and her superhero alter ego Wonder Woman in the new Batman vs. Superman film. It is nothing short of mind-boggling that an Israel actress will star in the revered role in the 2015 sequel to Man of Steel, in between Henry Cavill’s Superman and Ben Affleck’s Batman.

Gadot’s first reaction to the announcement made last Wednesday was fittingly posted on Twitter: “Wonder Women! [sic] So exciting!!! Can’t express how happy I am :))))” The 28-year-old actress was born in Rosh Ha’ayin. After winning the Miss Israel title at the age of 19, she represented Israel at the 2004 Miss Universe beauty pageant in Ecuador, which launched her career as a model and actress. A year later, Gadot joined the IDF, and worked as a model throughout her two-year service as a sports trainer in the army. In 2007, she took a part in the Maxim photo shoot “Women of the Israeli Army,” which focused on models who served in the IDF.

Gadot’s photograph soon featured on the cover of the New York Post, and she started working as a “spokesmodel” for the Castro clothing company. She was ranked in April last year by Shalom Life as Number 9 on its list of “the 50 most talented, intelligent, funny and gorgeous Jewish women in the world.”

In Israel, she is best known for playing the lead role in the Hebrew drama Bubot (Dolls), while in the US, she became famous for her role as Gisele Harabo in The Fast and Furious film series, she was devastated by the death of her co-star, Paul Walker, in a car crash in California last Saturday.

Gadot immediately posted a picture on her Facebook page of her with Walker, saying that she had “Lost a dear friend today.”

So sudden and tragic,” she wrote. “Hard to believe.

Paul was a great man with a big heart and passion for life. I’m so sad he’s no longer with us. Can’t believe I’m actually writing this. I’m sending my condolences to his family and his precious daughter Meadow. Rest in peace brother. We will miss you here.”

Walker, 40, who was in five of the six films in the series about illegal street racing, was a passenger in a friend’s car and was attending a charity event, according to a message linked to his Twitter account. Gadot, who starred in three, married Yaron Versano in 2008, and they have a two-year-old daughter named Alma.

Securing the coveted role of Wonder Woman is no mean feat.

“Wonder Woman is arguably one of the most powerful female characters of all time and a fan favorite in the DC Universe,” said film director Zack Snyder in a statement. “Not only is Gal an amazing actress, but she also has that magical quality that makes her perfect for the role. We look forward to audiences discovering Gal in the first feature film incarnation of this beloved character.”

The fact that Wonder Woman was even a character in the feature film was kept secret until last week, and it is expected that the choice of Gadot will make it a major character rather than the usual supporting roles given to women in superhero movies based on DC and Marvel comics. As Time noted in its report, “Though Lynda Carter starred in a popular 1970s TV show about the character, Wonder Woman has yet to have her own bigscreen project — despite the fact that there have been 40 (yes, 40!) superhero movies since 2002.”

Plus, the magazine quips, “Gadot’s casting means Wonder Woman will be Jewish, fulfilling many a fanboy’s fantasy.”

Israel – and the Jewish people – need heroines such as Gal Gadot. They present a picture to the world of the beautiful, sexy Israeli, countering the all-too-pervasive negative and ugly imagery of Israel and Israelis in the international media.

To Gal Gadot, we can only echo the advice of one of Israel’s greatest heroines, the late prime minister Golda Meir, who said: “Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”

Above all, make us proud!

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