Madonna set to celebrate Rosh Hashanah in Israel

Israel Insider/July 28, 2004
By Ellis Shuman

American singer Madonna will make a "private" visit to Israel and spend the High Holidays in Tel Aviv at a Kabbalah spiritual retreat, Yediot Aharonot reported today. Officials at the Los Angeles Kabbalah Centre said Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie would participate in a delegation of some 3,000 Kabbalah students and teachers led by Rabbi Philip Berg, the paper said.

Madonna, 45, had originally been scheduled to perform twice at Tel Aviv's Bloomfield Stadium in September as part of her Reinvention World Tour. Those concerts were canceled after Palestinian terrorists reportedly threatened to kill the singer and her two young children. According to a report in The Sun, Madonna was said to be terrified when she received threatening letters from an unnamed Palestinian group which mentioned details about her children, Lourdes, 7, and three-year-old Rocco.

"Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie will come to Israel for a private visit on Rosh Hashanah, after Madonna completes a concert tour in Europe," Eitan Yardeni from the Kabbalah Centre told Yediot Aharonot.

According to reports in Yediot Aharonot and Haaretz, the Kabbalah retreat organizers have already fully booked Tel Aviv's Intercontinental and Dan Panorama hotels.

"As of now, we're talking about a large group of people involved in Kabbalah who are supposed to come to Israel," tourism officials told Yediot Aharonot. "We are very happy if celebrities will also come. There is no doubt that this is excellent public relations encouraging tourism to Israel," the officials said.

According to the Yediot Aharonot report, actress Demi Moore, 42, who is also involved in Kabbalah studies, may accompany Madonna on the upcoming trip to Israel. The newspaper speculated that Moore's boyfriend, actor Ashton Kutcher, 26, may also visit. The latest rumors, the paper said, suggest that Moore and Kutcher may tie the knot during their Israel visit.

MSNBC reported two weeks ago that Madonna, her husband and 4,000 other followers of Kabbalah would make a three-day pilgrimage to Israel in mid-September. "The faithful will be staying at three hotels. Madonna has booked one hotel where she and her friends and family will stay," an insider said, according to the report.

In recent media interviews, Madonna said critics have no right to poke fun at her interest in Kabbalah.

"I'm a little bit irritated that people think that it's like some celebrity bandwagon that I've jumped on, or that, say, somebody like Demi [Moore] has jumped on," Madonna told ABC-TV's 20-20 program. "We don't take it lightly."

During the interview, Madonna wore the red string around her wrist that is a symbol of Jewish mysticism, though she wore it beneath her watch. Madonna is writing children's books based on Kabbalah and has reportedly stopped performing on Friday nights, the start of the Jewish Sabbath.

Last month Madonna announced that she's changed her name to Esther, saying she identifies with the biblical queen and wants the "energy of a new name"

"I was named after my mother. My mother died when she was very young, of cancer, and I wanted to attach myself to another name. This is in no way a negation of who my mother is. I wanted to attach myself to the energy of a different name," Madonna told ABC.

Madonna has never publicly mentioned any desire to convert to Judaism, media reports stated.

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