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Madonna to receive Byzantine period gift from Israel

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Israeli Tourism Minister Gidon Ezra is planning to present American singer Madonna with an oil lamp and a coin from the Byzantine Period in honor of her current visit to the country. Madonna’s name and that of her husband, director Guy Ritchie is inscribed on the box holding the rare items, according to the Tourism Ministry. The icon is here with thousands of other Kabbala devotees for a 5-day learning seminar based in Tel Aviv organized by the Kabbala Center. The Tourism Minister said that Madonna’s visit to Israel is very important for promoting tourism to Israel and that attention to her visit in the international media will strengthen the flow of tourists to the country and awareness of Israel as a tourist destination. Late Saturday night, Madonna and her entourage made a pilgrimage to a Jerusalem cemetery, holding a mystical candlelit ceremony at the grave of a Jewish sage. Following her graveside visit, Madonna went to the Western Wall.
source : israel21c.org

Madonna’s Pilgrimage Plea for World Peace

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Pop diva Madonna today called for world peace at a conference on Jewish mysticism a highlight of her five-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Israel hopes the star the biggest pop celebrity to visit in years will revive tourism battered by four years of Mideast violence, and government officials were on hand at a Tel Aviv hotel to share the spotlight, the glory and the photographs.
Madonna, wearing a low-cut dress with a black and white leopard pattern, said she was hesitant to come to Israel after seeing so many news reports about terror attacks, and reading State Department travel warnings.
“I realise now that it is no more dangerous to be here than it is to be in New York,” she told the gathering.
At the gala event, an Israeli childrens choir and a Palestinian sang to the gathering of more than 1,000 people. Israeli Tourism Minister Gideon Ezra presented Madonna with a small gift and praised her for coming to Israel.
Ezra told Israel TV that he looked forward to sitting next to her at dinner and hoped “she will say nice things about us”.
Tourism officials hope the singer’s well-publicised visit to Israel will calm fears that have kept many potential tourists away from the Holy Land, despite its religious and other attractions.
Speaking without notes, Madonna said the people she met during her five-day Holy Land trip have one thing in common we want to create peace in the world.
We want to put an end to chaos and suffering, she said, but most of all we want to put an end to hatred with no reason.
The singer said she was not representing a religion. Rather, she said: I’m here as a student of Kabbalah. A Kabbalist sees the world as a unified whole. A Kabbalist asks why.
While many Israelis welcomed the singer and her entourage, others were uncomfortable with the mission.
Over the years, observant Jews have considered Kabbalah a powerful, even potentially dangerous undertaking to be tackled only by the most qualified and learned men. Now, many Orthodox Jews reject the adoption of Kabbalah by non-Jewish pop figures as a desecration of the holy.
Earlier today, Madonna went to the Kiryat Shaul cemetery outside Tel Aviv to visit the grave of a famous Jewish mysticist.
Guarded by police, Madonna and husband, Guy Ritchie, walked past rows of tombstones to the grave of the Kabbalist sage Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag.
Polish born Ashlag is the renowned author of the Sulam, the ladder, a commentary on the core Kabbalistic text, the Zohar. He died in 1954.
Madonna, wearing jeans, a black and grey checked sweater with a matching cap and a large diamond encrusted letter E on a chain to symbolise her adopted name Esther, spent more than an hour inside the stone mausoleum, placing candles on the tomb, praying and chanting.
Led by a rabbi, Madonna and her small entourage recited blessings over food and wine, drank from small plastic cups and circled the raised stone grave. Toward the end of the ceremony, Madonna wiped tears from her eyes.
Adherents of Jewish mysticism believe that praying at the graves of sages can help achieve one’s wishes. Millions make pilgrimages every year to the more than 100 of these burial sites across the Holy Land, praying for health, children or to find a mate.
source : scotsman.com

Ultra-Orthodox prevent Madonna from visiting Western Wall

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Since landing in Israel to attend a Kabalah conference, mega-star singer Madonna has managed to stir quite a bit of commotion. Last night, hundreds of ultra-Orhotox Jews prevented her from visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
While approaching the area, her convoy was surrounded by hundreds of Orthodox men who chanted Shabbis (Sabbath in Yiddish). Police did not take any chances and refused to allow her passage. Thousands of religious Jews pray at the Wall every night ahead of Yom Kippur (day of fasting to repent sins).
Madonna’s private Boeing 737-800 arrived in Israel on the eve of Rosh Hashana (Jewish new year). She was then escorted to the David Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv.
The majority of her visit is defined as private, but tonight she is expected to take part and perhaps even deliver an address before an official event of the Children’s Spirituality Fund, which is to take place at her hotel.
Over 2,400 people, including Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie, attended Sabbath prayers. She was also present during Torah reading, the blowing of the Shofar and her spiritual mentor’s lecture.
On Friday, the conference’s participants performed the ritual of Tashlich, but Madonna or Esther (her Kabalah name) did not take part. However, her husband, Ritchie, joined the worshipers.
According to the organizers of the event, Madonna’s presence isn’t causing a great deal of commotion as expected. Fellow conference participants are acting as usual while organizers insisted there have not been any special problems.
However, during a visit to a Tel Aviv restaurant, a brawl erupted between Madonna’s bodyguards and several paparazzi photographers who tried to get close. As a result, several photographers sustained light injuries and were evacuated to a Tel Aviv hospital for further treatment.
source : maarivintl.com

‘Spiritual Girl’ has paparazzi, prayer-filled Rosh Hashana

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Madonna is to speak Sunday night at the “Spirituality For Kids” benefit for a “spiritual fund for children” at the David Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv, following a holiday weekend of prayers, religious study, and a paparazzi mishap.
Hosted by Dan Shilon, the evening will include speeches from Labor Party leader Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Ehud Olmert, and Druse leader Sheikh Abulrocan. Singers Ahinoam Nini and Amal Murkus, a Palestinian, are to perform.
“The ‘Spirituality For Kids’ Israel event will mark the beginning of a peace movement that will show children and adults around the world that the road toward peace begins with embracing your voice and others’ with compassion, respect, and acceptance,” the US-based Kabbalah Center wrote in a press release.
The Catholic-bred American pop icon is in town for the Kabbalah Center’s Rosh Hashana gathering.
The pop diva’s first venture out of her hotel on Friday night resulted in turmoil, sending two photographers and a policeman to hospital.
As she went out for a brief walk along the Herbert Samuel Promenade in Tel Aviv and then for a bite to eat, photographers tailed Madonna’s moves. But two of her bodyguards hit the lens-men. First an Associated Press photographer was attacked, then another photographer coming to his rescue was assaulted, and finally a policeman hoping to end the scuffle suffered wounds.
“Two security guards were detained for questioning by the Tel Aviv police department,” police spokeswoman Liat Pearl said.
Since her arrival Wednesday evening, Madonna has spent the majority of her time in the confines of the David Intercontinental Hotel.
On Thursday, she and husband filmmaker Guy Ritchie attended a lecture in the hotel delivered by their spiritual teacher, Eitan Yardeni of the LA Kabbalah Center.
Some 2,000 Kabbala enthusiasts from 22 countries are taking part in the Rosh Hashana conference. Other celebrities rumored to be coming for the congress include Marla Maples, ex-wife of business tycoon Donald Trump, actress Demi Moore, and fashion designer Donna Karan.
“It’s an annual world convention,” said Shaul Youdkevitch, head of the Kabbalah Center’s Tel Aviv branch. “Usually it’s held in the States; this year there was a decision to hold it in Israel. And the only place big enough is in Tel Aviv.”
Familiar to controversy, Madonna’s participation in the conference has caused ire among both Palestinians and Israelis. Palestinians charge her of ignoring their suffering, while Orthodox Jews have portrayed her as religiously insensitive.
Kabbala has long been thought of as the exclusive domain of devout male scholars. But US-born rabbi, and the director of the Kabbalah Center and Madonna’s guru, Philip Berg, popularized it in the West in the 1960s.
“It is forbidden to teach a non-Jew Kabbala, not even Talmud, not even simple Torah,” leading kabbalist Rabbi Yitzhak Kadouri told AP Television.
“Non-Jews can study Kabbala and women can study Kabbala. There are some people who don’t understand that the Middle Ages aren’t over yet,” said Youdkevitch, in response.
For her part, Madonna, who reportedly no longer performs on Shabbat, has said she is not following some trend but is truly devoted to Kabbala. She has used Hebrew letters and Jewish prayer accessories in her music video clips. And she wears a red thread on her wrist to ward off the evil eye.
Besides prayer services, the conference itinerary includes trips to popular tourist sites including the Western Wall, Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, and the graves of famous kabbalists in Safed.
source : jpost.com

Letter by Madonna Fan

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Fellow Madonna Fans -
This letter serves as a plead for assistance. I am disputing the business practices of Music Today with regard to Madonna’s Re-Invention Tour. My case has been in arbitration since June & I am looking for people to support my position.
My situation involves the VIP package sold through Music Today. Here is an account of my experience:
March 22: Madonna’s Re-Invention Tour was announced with one concert date in Chicago. A membership to her fan club was also highly promoted as an opportunity to purchase concert tickets before the general public. Not wanting to miss Madonna’s one & only stop in Chicago, I purchased a fan club membership for $38.00.
March 23: Tickets went on sale to fan club members via Ticketmaster. I was online immediately, but only managed to get second level ($150.00) seats. With taxs & surcharges, each ticket came to $169.00.
March 24: Madonna VIP tickets were announced. For $739.00, fans could get a seat guaranteed within the first 20 rows. Again, wanting a better seat to Madonna’s one, only & possibly final stop in Chicago, I decided to purchase one of these seats.
March 26: I purchased my VIP ticket & had no choice but to agree with Music Today’s policy that seat locations would not be made known until the tickets are delivered two weeks before the show.
March 27: Tickets went on sale to the general public via Ticketmaster. Once the first date sold out, two dates were added. As a result, people who did not join the fan club were getting better seats for the second & third shows than those of us did join & bought tickets for the first show. A forth show was also announced.
It is my assesment that a false sense of urgency was created & marketed to the public. Feeling pressured by the initial announcement of only one show per city & being drawn into these “great” opportunities to get tickets first, Madonna fans like myself found themselves backed into a corner.
April 3: Tickets went on sale to the general public via Ticketmaster for a forth & final Madonna show in Chicago.
Early April: Sometime in early April, VIP tickets for all four Madonna shows in Chicago were on sale. However, seat locations were now being provided; contrary to Music Today’s initial policy of NOT providing seat locations.
I believe that seat locations were initially NOT provided so as to entice the diehard fans to purchase ANOTHER VIP ticket with a seat location. At this point, I had a fan club membership, two tickets from the fan club on-sale & one VIP ticket. All in all, I had spent $1,115 on Madonna tickets ($946 for myself).
May 7: Everyone who bought tickets through Ticketmaster, had them in hand. However, Music Today was still holding out on even providing seat locations. Feeling taken advantage of, I called Music Today regarding my VIP ticket purchase. The telephone number directed me to their e-mail address. I wrote to them, but didn’t get a response. I continued trying to reach them until June 2 without success.
June 2: I had been keeping an eye on available tickets through Ticketmaster. Suddenly today, a lot of tickets were available within the first 10 rows on the main floor. Having not received a response from Music Today on the status of my VIP ticket, I started believing that this VIP offer might not be legitimate. So, I contacted my credit card company & started the dispute process. At the same time, I purchased two more tickets for $638.76. I was now up to $1,753.76 in Madonna tickets ($1,265.38 for myself). Within days, my two tickets from Ticketmaster arrived & I was more than satisfied with my seat locations.
September 14: After months of investigation, my credit card company found no reason to uphold my dispute against Music Today. They said that I agreed to the terms of sale & am responsible for paying $739.00 for a concert ticket I didn’t use.
Which brings us to today. As a Madonna fan, I am outraged that her name was used to generate revenue by a company who does not know the meaning of “customer service”. The marketing of Madonna’s Re-Invention tickets was geared to rape hardcore fans who only wanted the best chance of getting close to Madonna. It is clear that we were bated with better tickets in an effort to sell out the shows & maximize profits. In the end, how many of us were stuck with numerous tickets &/or a lot of debt to show for our obsession?
I have filed complaints again Music Today with the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, the Attorney General of Virginia (where Music Today is located), & the Attorney General of Illinios (where I am located). Complaints can be filed online & I encourage you to follow suit.
Please, please, please e-mail me at FrozenLight2003@hotmail.com with comments or stories that support my case. Let’s band together & fight against the exploitation of Madonna & her fans.
Thank you,
Jeff Larsen

Police arrest Madonna bodyguards

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Israeli police have arrested two of Madonna’s bodyguards after an alleged brawl with photographers outside the singer’s hotel.
Madonna and her family are on a spiritual pilgrimage to mark the Jewish New Year.
Two of the photographers, and a policeman who tried to break up the fight in Tel Aviv, were injured.
Israeli police spokeswoman Liat Pearl said two security guards had been detained for questioning.
Media frenzy
Madonna has been in Israel since Wednesday, along with 2,000 other students of Kabbalah – a type of Jewish mysticism.
Her visit has sparked a media frenzy with the local newspapers devoting pages detailing her stay.
The scuffle allegedly broke out on Friday evening as the photographers trailed Madonna from a restaurant to her hotel.
A cameraman for the Associated Press, who was at the scene, claimed that as photographers followed her convoy back to the hotel, some of the bodyguards stopped and tried to push another photographer off his motorbike.
He also alleged that one photographer was knocked to the floor before a second, who had tried to intervene, was also attacked.
Kabbalah bracelet
The two bodyguards were taken away by police for questioning.
Madonna had already entered her hotel when the fight broke out.
Madonna’s interest in Kabbalah became public when she was spotted wearing its traditional red string bracelet.
Since then, a string of high-profile celebrities including Britney Spears and Courtney Love have been seen sporting the bracelet.
Designer Donna Karan and Marla Maples, an ex-wife of Donald Trump, were among those travelling with Madonna, according to the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Center, sponsor of the trip.
source : bbc.co.uk

Madonna willing to pay 5 million pounds to be Gwen’s neighbour !

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After a string of celebrities, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Kirsten Dunst, it is now turn for the Material Girl Madonna to buy a new mansion.
The singer is reportedly planning to ditch her house in Belgravia for a new mansion in Belsize Park, London, next door to close friend Gwyneth Paltrow and other celebrity friends and fellow mums Sadie Frost, Kate Moss and Helena Bonham-Carter.
According to the Daily Express, Madonna has put down an offer on a nearby 5 million pounds terraced house.
“It’s an impressive building. It’s got to be worth 5 million pounds and has been decorated in sumptuous style. It’s in a prominent position and you can imagine Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie moving into it,” the report quoted an insider as saying.
“Even if Madonna is just putting out feelers, it’s an indication she wants to be nearer to her celebrity pals. This way she can pop next door to see Gwyneth and their children can play together,” the source added.
A spokesperson for Madonna, however, said: “It’s unlikely but we wouldn’t comment on a private matter like that.”
source : ANI

Madonna’s Holy Land Pilgrimage Boosts Israeli Tourism

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The Material Girl was flying to the Holy Land today on a spiritual quest.
Madonna, a student of Jewish mysticism, was arriving in Israel for the Jewish New Year, which begins at sundown.
The five-day visit, which includes trips to graves of rabbinical sages, brought a quirky diversion to a country normally focused on the conflict with the Palestinians. Israelis reacted with a mix of excitement, bewilderment and anger.
Madonna isn’t Jewish, but has taken an interest in Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism, in recent years. She has adopted the Hebrew name Esther, wears a red thread on her wrist to ward off the evil eye, and reportedly refuses to perform on the Jewish Sabbath.
She also has incorporated Jewish symbols into some of her music videos, much to the consternation of many religious leaders.
The organisation hosting her in Israel ordered news reporters to wear white clothes and not to take notes when covering Madonna’s appearances during the New Year’s holiday, or Rosh Hashanah.
“This is entertainment, not Judaism,” quipped Uri Orbach, a popular talk-radio host.
Madonna was joining a group of some 2,000 other students of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism, from 22 countries, according to the Kabbalah Centre, sponsor of the trip.
Designer Donna Karan and Marla Maples, an ex-wife of New York property billionaire Donald Trump, were among the other celebrities expected to attend, the centre said. Madonna is not scheduled to perform during the five-day visit.
The newspaper Yediot Ahronot reported Madonna’s visit on its front page.
Inside, it devoted a half page to the singer under the headline “Esther is coming for the holiday.” The story included a photo of the luxury suite in Tel Aviv where Madonna will be staying, as well as the special holiday meal prepared for her, including salmon mousse, steak and chicken in mustard sauce and honey cake.
Israeli officials were giddy over the presence of a big-time star. Tourism, a key sector of the economy, has been battered by four years of fighting between Israel and the Palestinians.
On Sunday, Israeli Tourism Minister Gideon Ezra is expected to give Madonna an ancient oil lamp and a coin from the Byzantine period.
“There’s no question having stars in the country is a wonderful way to show the world the wonders of our nation,” said Rami Levi of Israel’s Tourism Ministry.
Levi said the ministry was hoping that Madonna would agree to be filmed for a video to promote tourism.
Police spokesman Gil Kleiman said 1,000 officers were being deployed for the Kabbalah delegation. He said no special precautions were being taken for Madonna, who is being accompanied by private security guards.
The itinerary includes stops at the Western Wall in Jerusalem the northern city of Safed, a centre of Kabbalah and Rachel’s Tomb, the traditional burial place of the biblical matriarch in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.
It also includes discussions on the first-century sage Akiva and Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, author of the Zohar, the core text of Kabbalah.
Rabbi David Rosen, director of interreligious affairs at the American Jewish Committee’s office in Jerusalem, said the visit did little for interfaith efforts but that he nonetheless saw an upside.
“I know that some of my colleagues find it very offensive. I can’t say I’m enchanted by it,” Rosen said. “Nevertheless, our tradition teaches that intention is a key factor in people’s behaviour. I feel pretty confident that her intentions are only positive.”
Other religious leaders have been harsher. Rabbi Yitzhak Kadouri, a leading Kabbalist and revered rabbinical sage, said that non-Jews, and women in general, are banned from studying Jewish mysticism. “It is forbidden to teach a non-Jew Kabbalah,” he said.
source : scotsman.com

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