The Shmooze

Justin Timberlake Prays at Western Wall

By JTA

Justin Timberlake landed in Israel and went straight to the Western Wall a day before his scheduled Tel Aviv concert.

Timberlake avoided most of the paparazzi, landing at 3 a.m. on Tuesday and heading straight to the wall with his wife, actress Jessica Biel, and his parents. He posted a photo of himself at the site on Instagram.

“The Holy Land… What an experience. I will never forget this day. #Israel,” he tweeted.

Timberlake is scheduled to perform Wednesday night at Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park as part of his 20/20 Experience World Tour.

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Ben and Jerry's Excellent Holy Land Adventure

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images
Ben and Jerry Stiller

The Christmas-release underdog this year — in the ring with “American Hustle” and “Wolf of Wall Street” — is “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” in which Ben Stiller plays a man with a vivid imagination who embarks on the adventure of a lifetime.

In an interview with Parade to promote the movie, Stiller dished about a real-life adventure he took with dad Jerry Stiller as a teenager:

“My dad and I took a father-son bonding trip to Israel when I was about 16. We got a car and drove across the country. We went to Jerusalem and Masada. I’ve always loved history, so it was great exploring that part of the world.”

In between scuba diving in the Red Sea and watching Jerry rocket around on a Jet Ski going 40 mph, Ben admitted to engaging in some naughty business — behind the Kotel.

“I met a girl on that trip and we had a whirlwind romance,” he said. “Is it blasphemous to say we ended up making out near the Western Wall? It might be. But we did.”

Apparently, Jerry was supportive. Of course he was.

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No Kotel Bat Mitzvah for Paula Abdul

By JTA

Paula Abdul canceled her much-hyped bat mitzvah at the Western Wall, opting instead for a low-key ceremony in the town of Safed, The Times of Israel reports.

Per Israel’s Tourism Industry, which hosted the former “American Idol” and “The X-Factor” judge, the switch was due to jet lag. But the officiating rabbi, Eyal Riess of the Tzfat Kabbalah Center, claims it was to avoid the media.

Either way, the deed is done. Mazel Tov! Now she can go relax…

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And on The Ninth Day, They Prayed

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Yesterday evening marked the beginning of Tisha B’Av, the annual fast day which commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples and the subsequent exile of the Jews from the Holy Land.

Regarded as the saddest day in the Jewish calendars, all pleasurable activities are forbidden. As in a period of mourning, there is no eating, no drinking, no bathing, no leather shoes, and no sexual activity.

Once all that’s ruled out, what is there left to do? Well, the thousands of Jews who spent the night at the Western Wall in Jerusalem last night provided the answer: prayer — and a little shut-eye.

Splayed out in rows or curled up in corners, the faithful grabbed 40 winks where they could:

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Stricter Gender Rules at Western Wall on Sukkot

By Nathan Jeffay

During the Jewish festival season, which finished yesterday here in Israel (and draws to a close tonight in the States), thousands have descended on the Western Wall. All sorts have made their way to the popular pilgrimage site, from secular to Haredi Jews, as well as a sizable contingency of Christians from around the world who visit Jerusalem every Sukkot. But all of them, it seems, are being subjected to norms of Haredi society.

The area directly in front of the wall itself — essentially a large synagogue as it is used for prayers — has long been segregated along gender lines, and this is relatively uncontroversial. But it seems that visitors in recent days have been instructed to segregate long before arriving at the wall — rather being asked to get in line, according to gender, ahead of the security checks for the whole Western Wall Plaza.

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Shyne On: Rapper Shyne Talks About His Prison Stint and Becoming a Hasidic Jew

By Nathan Jeffay

Jewish-born hip hop star Shyne tells the Forward that he spent his nine-year prison stint “wrapping tefillin.” Could he soon be rapping about tefillin? Freed from U.S. detention 15 months ago for injuring three people when he opened fire in a Manhattan nightclub in 1999, the 34-year-old Belize native now resides in Jerusalem as Moses Michael Levi and spends 12 hours a day studying religion with Hasidim. While he made a name for himself rapping about scantily clad women in the song “Bad Boyz” and for his professional relationship to Sean Combs (Combs and then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez were at the club the night of the shooting), today his adherence to Jewish modesty laws means he doesn’t even shake women’s hands.

Shyne is planning a world tour to coincide with the release of two albums, “Messiah” and “Gangland,” on April 5. He spoke with the Forward about his views on Judaism, rap music and helping Israel.

You have been strictly observant for seven years, but your move toward Orthodox practice was triggered earlier - before you went to prison when you were worried that your first album, “Shyne,” might get shelved. Tell us about that.

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Prayer at the Western Wall: A Weekday-Only Activity?

By Nathan Jeffay

The Western Wall was abnormally busy this afternoon. More people than on a usual Friday left their Sabbath preparations and braved the cool Jerusalem weather to head for the Wall. Why?

One reason is that today is a fast day, the Fast of Tevet, and people wanted to pray at the special afternoon service. But there’s another far more surprising explanation. Israel’s most revered Haredi rabbi, Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, had declared that going to the Western Wall should be a weekday-only activity because when the site’s security cameras film you, you become a Sabbath transgressor.

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Puff Daddy Protégé Prays at the Western Wall

By Dana Shay Ipri

Moses Levi wasn’t always an Orthodox Jew living in Jerusalem. Just last year, the 32-year-old Belize born rapper finished serving a nearly 10-year prison sentence for a 1999 shooting incident that took place in a New York City bar and involved Sean Combs, then known as Puff Daddy — his former mentor — and Jennifer Lopez. Levi was charged with assault, gun possession and reckless endangerment, but he doesn’t hold a grudge: “That’s the past, I got so much going on,” he recently told The New York Times. “We move on.”

And move on he did — to the Holy Land. Prior to his arrest, Levi, whose stage name is Shyne, was already studying Judaism. However, it wasn’t until he was behind bars and under the guidance of prison rabbis that he became a practicing Jew, keeping kosher and observing Shabbat. Today, you’ll find Levi at the Western Wall, not at the club, dressed in traditional Orthodox garb and Ray-Ban sunglasses. He spends his days studying the Talmud and preparing to re-launch his music career.

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Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher: Tweet, Pray, Love

By Dana Shay Ipri

Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher are not new to controversy or gossip, but the latest rumors of Kutcher’s infidelities had them packing their bags and heading to Israel. Following reports of marital trouble, the Hollywood power couple jetted off to the Holy Land. The Jerusalem Post reported that the duo has already been spotted visiting the Western Wall.

This past weekend, People.com reported that Kutcher tweeted to his 5.9 million followers, “Sharing Love & Light while in Israel.” This tweet came a few weeks after the king and queen of Twitter took to the web to let their fans know that all was well. In response to a tabloid story that their marriage was on the rocks, Kutcher, who is 15 years younger than his wife, tweeted that the story was “fiction.” Moore echoed his sentiments, tweeting, “Excellent point my love!”

Since the cheating accusation broke, the couple has stood by each other, appearing at the Clinton Global Initiative, on the Michigan set of Moore’s upcoming movie and even out on a date in Los Angeles.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: The Kabbalah Center, People.com, Mrs. Kutcher, Jerusalem Post, JTA, Holy Land, Demi Moore, Celebrity Cheating, Bezeq Expo Conference, Ashton Kutcher, Twitter, Western Wall

The Western Wall's Makeover

By Lauren F. Friedman

The Western Wall is very, very old, and no one seems to mind. (In, fact, that’s kind of the point.) But it’s about to get two decidedly un-Biblical upgrades.

As reported in The Jerusalem Post, the Jerusalem Planning and Building Committee is currently considering a proposal to build an elevator and pedestrian tunnel that would ease access to the Kotel, which now must be reached by several flights of stairs or the Dung Gate road, which has no sidewalks. That’s not ideal for people with strollers, gray hair, disabilities or uncomfortable shoes.

“The idea is to make a simple connection between the Jewish Quarter and the Kotel. We want to make the Kotel more accessible to people with disabilities, or even large families with baby carriages,” Daniel Shukuron, the director of the company behind the proposal, told the Post.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Western Wall, Strollers, Stairs, Kotel, Jerusalem, Dung Gate




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