It’s a dark irony that Adi Ezroni, 31, a noted actress on Israel’s top-rated drama series, “Hostages,” was actually held hostage a few years ago. She was traveling in Cambodia, filming a feature film ("Holly") and a documentary about child trafficking ("Redlight"). “The Chinese and Cambodian mobs were after us,” says Ezroni, who lives here most the year. “When I got to the airport, they told me I couldn’t leave.”
Ezroni was held for two weeks before U.S., Israeli and local authorities arranged for her release. Not long after, in 2008, she won The US State Department Anti Trafficking Anti-Trafficking Hero Award. Her work on child trafficking is part of another one of her projects — the nonprofit RedLight Children Campaign, which she founded together with Guy Jacobson — that she says is partly inspired by her Jewish education. “It’s not specifically Jewish,” she acknowledges, “but it’s Jewish in that it’s a universal moral cause.” Her connection to youth and Judaism continues through her active involvement as a board member of ELEM – Entry, The Young Leadership of ELEM in New York, creating fun events for young Israelis and Jews and raising money and awareness for Youth at Risk in Israel.
Her strongest attachment is to Israel, however. Though she’s been in New York for six years, she lived most of her life in Israel and is very much a celebrity there. She began her career as host of the leading Israeli children’s show, but has since migrated to the grittier material of prime time. Her most recent show, “Hostages (Hatufim),” which follows three Israelis held captive by Syrian militants, was just picked up by the American producers of “24.” But Ezroni says she does not know yet whether she’ll be in the American version.
Currently, she’s producing a bio-pic about Rachel Bluwstein (1889-1931), a legendary poet and early Israeli pioneer. Bluwstein came to Palestine from Russia, first in 1909. She returned after the First World War, but caught tuberculosis. “She basically reinvented herself as a poet,” Ezroni said. In Israel today, her poems are ubiquitous, chiseled on monuments and set to music.
Ezroni enlisted Anna Thomas (“Frida”) to write the script, and is looking for additional investors. But she thinks Bluwstein’s story will make it an easy sell.
“It’s a very touching story … I think it’s time to make a film that doesn’t deal with war and that shows [early Jewish pioneers] as regular people.”
Favorite movie(s): Toss-up: “La Vie en Rose,” “The Big Lebowski,” “Barton Fink,” “Waltz with Bashir.”
Favorite Jew: Another wash: Rachel Bluwstein or the Coen brothers.
Want to weigh in on this year’s "36 Under 36?" Join the "Friends of the Jewish Week’s 36 Under 36" group on Facebook
Signup for our weekly email newsletter here.