Meet the Canadian lawyer whose one-act play just won a top Israeli prize

Gabriel Emanuel, born Gordy Wiseman, earned a Prime Minister's Prize for his one-man play about Menachem Begin. (Photo by Ellin Bessner)

Gordon “Gordy” Wiseman—also known as Gabriel Emanuel—wrote Mr. Begin, a one-man play about the life of renowned but controversial Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, nine years ago. But just last month, Israel awarded it the prestigious Prime Minister’s Prize for 2022, an award that only goes out every year to a select few artists. What’s less common is for the award to go to a Canadian.

While Wiseman now lives in Israel, he’s originally from Winnipeg, born into an artistic family. His three brothers all work in the arts: Ron is a musician, Howie is a filmmaker and Bob was a founding member of Blue Rodeo. Gordy, pushed by his parents to get a real job, became a lawyer. But the law couldn’t contain his artistic impulses.

Mr. Begin delves into the lessons and legacy of the sixth Israeli prime minister’s career, echos of which resonate deeply with the country’s messy modern-day politics. Now, with this award under his belt, Wiseman joins The CJN Daily to explain why he hopes Canadian Jewish theatres will mount the play, which dives into uncomfortable issues surrounding Israeli politics, war, peace and Israel’s involvement in the infamous Sabra and Shatila massacre.

What we talked about:


The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Victoria Redden is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Production assistance by Gabrielle Nadler and YuZhu Mou. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, please watch this video.