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Tag: Pop Music

Rihanna Does Israel Right

The Grammy Award winning popular rhythm and blues singer Rihanna performed at Tel Aviv’s Bloomfield Stadium Sunday night.

The 22-year-old singer, born in Barbados and currently based in the United States, spent two days prior to the concert touring sites in Israel – one such site was of course the Kotel where she purchased a Red-String Protection From Evil Eye Bracelet. She bought it on the steps in front of the Beit Midrash of the Aish HaTorah world center and made of it a photo opportunity.

As part of a volunteer project, Rihanna also helped paint a mural on the Kfir Scouts community center in Tel Aviv.
She said that her Israel journey was an “amazing, amazing experience.”

In September 2009, Rihanna performed at Jay-Z’s “Answer to Call” concert, a tribute to the police officers and firefighters who died during the September 11 attacks.
Metallica also performed in Israel a couple of weeks ago and other artists, such as the Pixies and Elton John have shows scheduled in Israel this summer.

In addition to her tour of Jerusalem, Rihanna’s first Israel visit also included a taste of hummus in Abu Gosh. The young artist refused to tell the reporters what she wrote in the note she hid in the Western Wall, saying that it was between her, God and the wall.

It was requested of the reporters to not to ask about her personal life or about the cancellation of the Elvis Costello gigs. Most of the press conference was devoted to the volunteering project, with Rihanna expressing her delight over the success of the campaign.

Tel Aviv was Rihanna’s last destination in her current European tour, which was launched to promote her latest album, “Rated R”. In the past two months she performed in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Holland and Scotland.

Madonna in Israel for Tel Aviv Concert

Madonna in IsraelJust when I thought I’ve seen it all, this happens. Madonna, on tour in the Holy Land for a Tel Aviv concert, went on a double date last night with Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni and her husband. But that’s not the funny part. The funny part is that Madonna, a student of pop Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism, is in Israel with her boyfriend whose name just happens to be Jesus. Livni’s husband’s name is the relatively more Jewish sounding Naftali Shpitzer. I’m sure Jesus and Shpitzer hit up a storm. I’ll just leave it at that and call it a strange day.

It is actually reported – I mean people know about this, which is the surprising thing – that Madonna ordered fish and Jesus ordered meat. Witness described the couple as “happy.” That’s “good.”

Before her Tuesday night concert in Tel Aviv, Madonna headed to Jerusalem’s Old City and walked through the tunnel tour under the Wailing Wall. She was brought to the tunnel by police, not talking to any reporters, and then was escorted away half an hour later.

This is Madonna’s first concert in Israel since 1993, which she was young and blustery 35-year-old. She is now 51.
The pinnacle of her trip, besides the concert of course, is her high level meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where the two will probably discuss solutions to the Middle East conflict. Her ideas couldn’t be worse than anyone else’s I guess.

I’m just joking. They’ll probably talk about…I really don’t know. But I’m anxiously awaiting the report on whether Madonna orders the fish or the pasta. And what Netanyahu thinks of Jesus.

Madonna’s Letter In Israel

Madonna
There is an old cliché: When the student is ready the teacher appears.

I had traveled the world many times over, performed in soccer stadiums, appeared in films, dined with state leaders, collaborated with great artists and achieved what most people would view as a high level of success but I still felt something was missing in my life.

I was pregnant with my daughter, almost 14 years ago and I had just finished the film Evita and realized I had spent my whole life worrying about myself, and that I would soon be responsible for someone else’s life.

I was raised a Catholic and my father was very religious but none of my questions ever really got answered when it came to trying to understand why people suffered in the world or what the meaning of life was all about.

And suddenly I thought, “What will I teach my child about the important things in life?”

I was practicing Yoga for years and studying Sanskrit. I had read many books by the great Yogi Masters and Indian Avatars. I studied Buddhism and the teachings of the Dali Lama. I studied Taoism and the Art of War.

I read about the Gnostics and the early Christians. I learned a lot and I was very inspired but I still could not connect the dots and find a way to take this knowledge and apply it to my daily life.

I was looking for an answer.

I went to a dinner party in L.A.

A woman sitting next to me was telling me about a class she was taking from a Rabbi.

She said it was so inspiring and that I should come along. I asked her what it was about.

She said, “Life.”

I asked her what it was called.

She said “Kabbalah.”

I told her I wasn’t Jewish and she said: “What difference does it make what it’s called and what religious upbringing you have had if you are inspired?”

She had a point.

So I went to the class and sat in the back and I listened to a man named Eitan teach the class.

I heard what he had to say and I knew at this moment my life would never be the same.

I began to go to the classes regularly and sit in the class with my notebook. No one bothered me. I took notes.

Red StringI met with Eitan privately and asked a lot of questions. The thing that was encouraged the most was to inquire further.

All the questions I had about life began to be answered and I realized I had finally found a “belief system” or philosophy that incorporated Science and Spirituality.

I was learning about Physics, Astronomy, Nature and the laws of Cause and Effect.

All the puzzle pieces started falling into place.

Life no longer seemed like a series of Random events. I started to see patterns in life. I woke up. I began to be conscious of my words and my actions and to really see the results of them.

I also began to see that being Rich and Famous wasn’t going to bring me lasting fulfillment and that it was not the end of the journey; that it was the beginning of the journey.

I have been studying with Eitan consistently since that first class and it was only a matter of time before I met Michael Berg, whose father Rav Berg comes from a long line of Kabbalists and was the teacher of Eitan.

Michael Berg is a very unique human being. He might be the smartest person I know.

At first he seemed quiet and shy, conservative and even perhaps a bit naïve. But ask him a question on any subject and you will find yourself swimming in an ocean of information.

It’s astounding what he knows and what he has accomplished at such a young age. The fact that he translated 22 volumes of the Zohar from Aramaic into Hebrew and English is remarkable.

The funny thing about Michael is that he is as comfortable and knowledgeable about discussing the teachings of the Ari as he is of discussing his favorite Seinfeld episode.

He knows more about Pop Culture and what’s going on in the world than anyone I know and yet his desire to really affect change in the world and the compassion he feels for people who are suffering is unparalleled.

When Michael gets up to tell a story in front of a room full of people there is never a dry eye in the house, including his own.

I am lucky to call him my friend.

He has a child with Down Syndrome and it is perhaps because of this that he feels the need to come to the rescue of children who are living in challenging situations or abject poverty.

We were both looking for a project to do with children and low and behold a Malawian woman appeared and told us about the plight of over 1 million children orphaned by AIDS in a small landlocked country in Africa.

Before we knew it we were visiting Malawi and that was the birth of our foundation: Raising Malawi.

Of course now that I know what I know, I realize that this did not happen by chance.

Once again the students were ready and the teacher appeared. In this case the children of Malawi are the teachers.

They have taught me so much. And they continue to teach me.

As do Michael and Eitan.

Read more about Kabbalah Bracelets

A sad farewell to the King of Pop

For all the millions in the world who watched yesterday’s farewell memorial service for pop star Michael Jackson, and especially those present in the packed Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, not shedding a tear or two for this truly musical genius would have definitely been out of place. The star studded extravaganza, lasting more than two hours, continued to build up momentum each time a music artist sang one of Michael’s songs, or a memorial testimonial was given. The mood seemed to grow more poignant, even though the 20,000 people in attendance (including more than 17,500 who received tickets via the internet) were remarkably well behaved; which added significantly to the tribute being given to Jackson.

Michael Jackson MemorialFollowing an introductory eulogy by Pastor Luther Smith, a long time friend of the Jackson family, recording artist Mariah Carey sang Jackson’s “I’ll Be There”; Lionel Richie followed with “Jesus is Love”; an emotionally wrought Usher sang “Gone Too Soon”; John Mayer did an instrumental version of “Human Nature”; and Stevie Wonder sang “I never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer” as a personal tribute to a fellow “brother” and artist. “This is a moment that I wish I hadn’t lived to see” Wonder said, trying to hold back his tears. Jennifer Hudson, a former American Idol winner and one whom Jackson had personally admired, also sang one of Jackson’s former hits.

Many of the personal tributes given were as moving as the musical renditions, especially those by Brooke Shields, who had known Jackson since age 13 and said she and Jackson “formed an immediate bond as we both understood what it meant to achieve stardom at a very young age. We were considered by many as an ‘unordinary pair’, but we knew we could depend on each other”. She went on to call Michael Jackson “the sweetest and purest person I have ever known”.

But perhaps the greatest tribute, from a professional standpoint, came from Gary Gordy, whose Crown Record Company helped propel the Jackson Five singing group and Michael Jackson individually to stardom. Gordy said: “not only was Michael Jackson the undisputed King of Pop; he was much more than that – he was the greatest entertainer who ever lived!”

Of course there were other tributes, including those by basketball greats Kobi Bryant and Magic Johnson (who said he was most impressed when he shared a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken with the pop star); the Reverend Al Sharpton, and both of Martin Luther King’s children Eunice King and Martin Luther King III, who said that “you have be the best at what you are, and that’s what Michal was”.

Congressperson Sheila Jackson Lee, from the Houston Texas Congressional District, pointed out Jackson’s many good deeds, including his many charities (“he may go down in the Guinness Book of Records for the number of charities he was actively involved in”) and when he visited wounded US servicemen at Walter Reed Hospital, outside Washington D.C. “When he died on June 25th, we all stood in a moment of silence for the passing of a great American icon. Michael Jackson, I salute you!”

Other musical renditions were given in Jackson’s honor, including those by Motown great Smokey Robinson (of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles) who wrote a number of songs that Jackson later turned into hits. But perhaps the most musical surprise of the evening came from 12-year-old Shaheen Jafargholi, of Swansea Wales in the U.K, with an excellent rendition of Jackson’s “Who’s Lovin’ You.” The young singer had been picked by Jackson to appear in his “This is It” concert tour, which would have begun in London in a few days.

Jackson’s own family rounded out the celebrity and star-studded morning with his brother Jermaine Jackson singing a wonderful version of the Charley Chaplin song “Smile” which Michael made famous as young child. And Marlon Jackson, choked with emotion, said of his departed brother: “we will never understand what he had to endure. Maybe now, people will leave him alone”.

As a final musical tribute, everyone who participated came on stage for the finale musical number “We Are the World”, which Jackson made famous as a song of love and hope for all the world’s children.

What brought down the house, emotion-wise, however, came from his 11 year old daughter, Paris Katherine, who sobbed: “Ever since I was born, daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine – and I just want to say I love him so much!”

As his bronze and gold plated coffin was wheeled out, voices from the audience cried “Michael, Michael” in one last tribute as the dead King of Pop left for his final journey to his eternal resting place. And as it was with another King, Elvis Presley, only history will conclude how great Michael Jackson really was.

Shiri is back

Shiri Maimon, who represented Israeli in the 2005 Eurovision song contest, came to fame as the second runner-up in the first season of the Israeli version of ‘American Idol’. Now she’s back with a new video clip, and her usual brash attitude.

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