Abdul, a two-time Emmy winner, met Israeli President Shimon Peres this morning and is in the country as a special guest of the Israel Tourism Ministry. She will have the opportunity to meet with Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau. “From age 17 I have been working and haven’t taken a vacation for 8 years. I knew when I had the chance I would come to Israel and see it like a regular tourist. Today I am fulfilling the dream and am very excited to be in Israel. I only landed yesterday and I already feel I won’t want to leave,” she said.
Abdul was delighted to meet Peres and said that the president is “so sababa” (a Hebrew word for awesome). She plans to tour Israel’s historical and religious sites, as well as meet with the who’s who of culinary, dance, music and fashion leaders as she makes her way through Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Galilee.
The pop star has, in recent times, become more connected to her Jewish roots. Her father, Harry Abdul is from the Syrian Jewish community of Aleppo, and her mother, Lorraine Rykiss, is a French-Canadian from Manitoba, with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestors from Russia and the Ukraine. Last year, Abdul hosted a benefit with Chabad for one of their Toronto chapters. She was raised Jewish and maintains that she has always been proud of her heritage. At age 51, her bat-mitzvah is a belated one, but it is definitely a dream come true for her to have it in Jerusalem. “I’m so overwhelmed with gratitude to be here,” Abdul said.
Peres told Abdul how happy the country is to host her. He presented her with a bottle of olive oil pressed from olive trees at the President’s Residence. “I am sure that wherever you go, you will feel the warmth and love of the people of Israel. You will feel at home here,” he said.
Paula Abdul is just one of the many high-profile American entertainers making well publicized visits to Israel. Grammy Award winning singer Rihanna made a stop in the Holy Land just last week, as a part of her Diamonds World Tour. Her concert in Tel Aviv sold out to over 50,000 fans. She was also spotted swimming in the Dead Sea. In the last decade, singer/actress/producer Madonna has made several trips to Israel and was reportedly scouting for apartments this past summer. Madonna chose the city of Tel Aviv as the launch location for her MDNA 2012 Tour, performing to a crowd of 30,000 at Ramat Gan Stadium. During a show in Israel in 2009, the megastar wrapped herself in an Israeli flag and called Israel the “energy center of the world.” In September, a group of 13 television actors from America came to Israel, hosted by the Foreign Ministry, the Israeli Consulate in New York and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. The roster of actors included David Zayas and Lauren Velez from the suspense series “Dexter,” Zoey Dutch, star of “Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters,” Malik Yoba, of “Girlfriends,” and “The Twilight Zone,” and Lea Thompson, best known for playing the title character in the series “Caroline in the City,” to name a few. The delegation of actors arrived as a part of “America’s Voices in Israel,” a PR project that works to uplift Israel’s image in the United States by making American celebrities friends of Israel and encouraging them to visit.
Ms. Abdul, who served as a judge on both “American Idol” and “The X-Factor” is a loved personality with 2,423,692 followers on Twitter. Her time in Jerusalem is a personal experience for her that could very well inspire other entertainers to follow in her choreographed steps.