‘Scandal,’ ‘Once Upon a Time’ cast members visit Israel

Photo courtesy of IMP Media

Dudi Roth, director and president of Meir Panim, Israel’s leading relief organization left, discusses poverty with actor Guillermo Diaz, center. Photo courtesy of IMP Media

The stars visit the Galil Mountain Winery, located on Kibbutz Yiron, near the Lebanese border. Photo by Pioter Fliter

Are you a fan of “Scandal” or “Once Upon a Time”?

Then you might be interested in hearing more about the cast members’ recent tour of Israel. Here’s a recap of their trip from IMP Media:

IMP MEDIA 

    A contingent of stars from the hit ABC-TV series of ‘Scandal’ and ‘Once Upon a Time’ visited Israel April 29-May 5 and were exposed to a whirlwind of Israeli medical and viticultural innovations. The stars, the guests of America’s Voices in Israel ( a division of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations), are being treated to a whistle-stop tour of the country while meeting with influential figures from Israel’s cultural, food, medical, organizational, religious and political spheres . The America’s Voices in Israel trip is led by the organization’s Director, Irwin Katsof and was partially sponsored by El Al and Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Arriving at Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa last week, the stars were greeted by Dr. Rafi Beyar, director of the bustling hospital. After introducing the celebrities, some of whom had guest-starred on medical dramas, to a wide range of cutting edge  innovations,  as well the hospital’s underground parking lot which transforms into a fortified, underground, emergency hospital in just 48 hours, the stars were positively awe-struck. “Everything we have seen here has all of us with our mouths wide open in astonishment,” joked Katie Lowes who plays Quinn Perkins on ‘Scandal.’

Guillermo Diaz (Huck on ‘Scandal’), who also portrayed nurse Angel Garcia in the medical drama ‘Mercy’, was particularly impressed with  PillCam, a futuristic device developed at Rambam ,which is swallowed by a patient like a pill and then transmits images of the small intestine to gastroenterologists. PillCam, which is manufactured and marketed by Given Imaging (NASDAQ), has helped prevent the spread of colon cancer in many countries, including North America, EU and Asia.

The stars also visited the hospital’s laboratories, where they were introduced to Professor LiorGepstein, who showed the stars beating heart cells, which he had developed with advanced stem cell technology.

“I’ve played a doctor on ‘ Miami Medical’ and toured many trauma rooms but I’ve never in my life seen anything like this,” exclaimed Lana Parilla who plays Regina Mills on the Emmy Award winning series, ‘Once Upon a Time’. “It’s unreal!”

The group also visited Meir Panim, Israel’s leading relief organization in Jerusalem.

 During the course of their visit, the stars heard about Israel’s recent social “cottage cheese” revolution and about Israel’s working poor, but, despite it all, were amazed to realize what a happy, vibrant country Israel is.

“You can see by your expressions how completely engaged you are in this organization,” enthused Lowes.   “It’s an honor to be shown this very special part of Israeli society.”

 After another adrenalin-charged visit to an Israeli air force base in Northern Israel and wandering around the mystical town of Safed, the stars’ packed day ended with a visit to the Galil Mountain Winery, located in Kibbutz Yiron, near the Lebanese border. Greeted by CEO, Uri Tyroler who fielded questions about his pride and joy, Israeli wine, the stars toured the unique visitors center which offers unparalleled access to the wine making facilities via a raised platform. They tasted a range of wines from the winery and were impressed by the quality and uniqueness of the wines presented.

“I’m blown away by the red wines here, such as the Meron and the Yiron (both unique blends of the winery),” remarked Lowes.

“When I think of Israel, I would never have thought of wine,” said Lana Parilla. “I had no idea that the wine we would be tasting, would be as delicious and rich as it is. I absolutely loved the wine.”

The stars were given a history of how the Israeli wine industry has developed in recent times and then tasted wines from the award-winning Golan Heights Winery which has been credited with revolutionizing the field.“I was also blown over by the Chardonnay Odem (Yarden) which is absolutely delicious,” continued Lowes. “We’ve travelled all over California, Italy and France, but Israel’s wine industry is incredibly exciting.” Lowes and her husband, actor Adam Shapiro, say that they plan to source Israeli wines upon their return to Hollywood, and are determined to spread the world about the extremely high quality of Israel’s wine industry.

For these thespians, whose views about Israel have been formed by what they see on the local TV news , this was a unique opportunity to relax, meeting and getting to know real Israelis, while sampling award-winning, Israeli wine.

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