Posts on the topic of "Celebrities"
Neil Armstrong passed away this week at age 82 – a global iconic hero who became the first man to walk on the moon, uttering those immortal words, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
What many don't know is that Armstrong was a lover of Zion. Thomas Friedman's book, From Beirut to Jerusalem, describes a visit that Armstrong made to Israel after his trip to the moon. He was taken on a tour of Jerusalem by Israeli archaeologist Meir Ben-Dov.
"I have to tell you," Armstrong remarked while walking near the Temple Mount. "I am more excited stepping on these stones than I was stepping on the moon."
Truly immortal words.
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The big news in Israel last Thursday was the Madonna concert attended by 40,000 fans in metropolitan Tel Aviv. Because this was the opening gig of her new world tour, media coverage was vast and global.
Welcome to Israel 2012.
Nineteen years ago I authored an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post entitled, "Madonna: Do We Really Wanna-Be?" It coincided with the pop star's first-ever concert in Israel.
At the time, Madonna was pushing the limits of public lewdness: promoting her album "Erotica" and a book entitled simply, "Sex."
My article bemoaned how Madonna's very un-Jewish values were being imported into Israel.
Jewish communities throughout the ages have always stood against such behavior. The Jewish people are the inventors and leading exporters of core human values such as dignity, modesty and discretion.
Israel in particular is a living workshop where lofty Jewish ideals can become reality. We have built our land so beautifully and have achieved so much. But to chase after the lowly elements of Western society? Is this the expression of "light unto the nations?" Is this the culmination of 2,000 years of struggle and suffering? Is this what IDF soldiers died for? Is this being "free in our land?"
Not so long ago Israeli society still held itself to a higher standard. In the 1960s when British rock legend Cliff Richard performed in Israel, parents protested the negative effects of the raucous atmosphere. No, I’m not a prude. But the point is that Israel – the model of morality for world Jewry, and the model for all humanity – had drawn a line.
Achad HaAm called Israel "the historic center of a roving spiritual idea." When Madonna kicks off her world tour and the world watches so closely, we have to wonder: Is this really what we want them to see?
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Iconic hair-dresser Vidal Sassoon died this week at age 84. What many don't know is that Sassoon, a Sephardic Jew who grew up in London, had a long history of fighting anti-Semitism.
At age 18 he joined the "43 Group," a Jewish defense organization working against post-World War II anti-Semitism. Sassoon and compatriots scoured the streets of east London breaking up fascist gatherings -- a legacy that later earned him the title of "anti-fascist warrior-hairdresser."
Of those early years in London, Sassoon recalled:
In 1948, at age 20, Sassoon jumped at the chance to stand up as a proud Jew and volunteered to fight in Israel's War of Independence. He later described that experience as "the best year of my life":
Sassoon described how he
Sassoon continued his fight for Jewish causes throughout his lifetime. In 1982, he founded the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.Robert S. Wistrich, director of Center, writes:
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Mel Gibson, the Hollywood star whose repeated anti-Semitic tirades have offended people of conscience, is at it again.
Joe Eszterhas, who wrote a screenplay for Gibson about the Chanukah hero Judah Maccabee, claims that Gibson
- frequently spews "looney, rancid" derogatory epithets against Jews
- falsely claims that the Torah refers to sacrificing Christian babies
- engages in various forms of Holocaust denial, and
- refers to Jews as "oven-dodgers," a vile allusion to the millions of Jews incinerated in Nazi crematoria.
That’s some rap sheet. But that’s not all – for years Gibson has incensed Jewish groups, who protested anti-Semitic elements in his controversial film, The Passion of the Christ.
In 2006, when Gibson was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, his real feelings slipped out and he ranted to the police officer – who happened to be Jewish – that "Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world."
Mel’s father, Hutton Gibson, raised his son on a steady diet of conspiracy theories, Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic dogma, which consigned all Jews to hell (as well as anyone else who doesn’t buy into his specific brand of radical Catholicism). For rejecting Jesus, Gibson reportedly described Jews as “either Satanic or the dupes of Satan.”
At this point, it looks like the end of the line for Gibson’s involvement in the Judah Maccabee film. That is surely a relief to all those who honor the memory of this great Jewish hero. And especially given that Gibson, according to Eszterhas, had planned to use the Judah Maccabee movie as a way to “convert Jews to Christianity.”
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Speaking of popular singers, this item caught my attention:
Glen Campbell, the five-time Grammy winner of "Wichita Lineman" fame, picked up a Lifetime Achievement award this week at the Grammy Awards.
And he has Alzheimer's disease.
Yet Glen is continuing to perform live in concert. When he has a spell of forgetfulness onstage ― losing his place in a song he's played thousands and thousands of times before ― the audience is totally supportive. They simply sing along in his place.
Glenn, at age 75, doesn't seem to mind.
"I just take it as it comes," he tells CNN. "I know that I have a problem with [forgetfulness], but it doesn't bother me. If you're going to have it handed to you, you have got to take it, anyway."
This got me thinking about how we treat people who have aged and are waning in their abilities. Judaism maintains a strong value in giving honor to those who no longer possess full mental faculties. As a recent Aish.com article pointed out, the tablets of the Ten Commandments ― which Moses shattered ― were kept alongside the new tablets in the Ark of the Covenant. This teaches that we must always respect the elderly, even when they may be intellectually "broken."
As technology keeps us constantly focused on what's ahead, this news about the "Rhinestone Cowboy" is a gentle reminder on the importance of looking back, too.
on the yahrtzeit of my beloved Grandmother, Rose Gess
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Whitney Houston, the pop sensation who died on Saturday, was many things to many people. She was one of the first black women to achieve international superstardom, and raised awareness of two issues that she experienced personally: domestic violence and drug addiction.
Another side of Houston is less known: in 2003, she visited the Jewish state for what she called a "spiritual retreat."
Houston met with Israel's Prime Minister, and spent time with the controversial Black Hebrews, a group of nearly 2,000 black Americans who moved to Israel in the 1960s and believe they are descendants of the ten lost tribes.
For her "crime" of having visited Israel, anti-Israel activists conducted an unrelenting smear campaign against Houston. Yet Whitney's support held tight, in contrast to the chorus of musicians (Elvis Costello, the Pixies, Gil Scott-Heron, Carlos Santana, to name a few) who have succumbed to pressures and cancelled tour stops in Israel.
Houston will long be remembered as a friend of the Jewish state. While in Israel, she said: "I've never felt like this in any other country. I feel at home."
with thanks to Yvette Alt Miller