Singer-dancer Paula Abdul touched down in Israel today to fulfill a lifelong dream and celebrate her (belated) bat-mitzvah at the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem. Abdul also got to meet Israeli President Shimon Peres.
Abdul is of Jewish descent (her mother, Lorraine Rykiss, is a French-Canadian originally from Manitoba and her father Harry Abdul, was born into the Syrian Jewish community in Aleppo) and has always said she is proud of her heritage. This is her first visit to Israel.
On her first day in Jerusalem, the former American Idol judge visited the Israel Museum and tasted fare at Mahane Yehuda market.
“I’m so overwhelmed with gratitude to be here, I’ve wanted to come for years. My career took me many places and this is my first vacation in almost eight years that I’m actually here to sightsee like a regular tourist… I know already when I have to leave I won’t want to,” she said.
The two-time Emmy award-winner Abdul is a guest of the Israel Tourism Ministry and will meet one-on-one with Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau. She will tour the major historical and religious tourist sites and also get a taste of the innovative side of Israel.
Abdul, who has recently become more connected to her Jewish heritage, joined forces with Chabad last year and even hosted a benefit for one of the Toronto chapters of the Jewish organization. Abdul has said that regardless of her age — 51 — she has always dreamed of celebrating a bat-mitzvah in Jerusalem.