Abdul Visits Israel on Grand Tour
Entertainer and former “American Idol” judge Paula Abdul recently made her first trip to Israel, as a guest of the Tourism Ministry.
She met with President Shimon Peres and toured the Old City and other important Israeli areas. She even allegedly had a Bat Mitzvah at the Western Wall. Abdul, 51, describes the trip as a “dream.”
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Abdul may have left both “American Idol” and “The X Factor,” but she is still very much at home behind the judging panel. The entertainer was announced recently as a head judge on the Australian reality show, “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Abdul was born in San Fernando, Calif. to Harry Abdul and Lorraine Rykiss. Her father is descended from a line of Syrian Jews, while her mother is of Russian-Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.
While studying broadcasting at California State University at Northridge, Abdul became head choreographer of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team. It was during one of the Lakers games that The Jacksons (aka The Jackson 5) discovered, and subsequently, hired her for one of their music videos. The rest, as they saying goes, is history.
Peirce ‘Presenting’ at Humanities Festival
Film director Kimberly Peirce — she recently did the remake of “Carrie” — is scheduled to be a presenter at the 24th Annual Chicago Humanities Festival. The festival will be held through Nov. 10.
The festivals theme this year is “Animal: What Makes Us Human”. a wide variety of speakers and presenters will take part in the annual event.
Peirce celebrated the release of “Carrie” on Oct. 18, her first full-length film in five years. She is best-known for her 1999 debut film, “Boys Don’t Cry”. “Carrie” also features the return of Lawrence Cohen, the screenwriter responsible for the original adaptation of the Stephen King novel in 1976.
Born to Sherry and Robert Peirce, the director grew up in New York City before the family moved to Miami, Fla. Peirce is Jewish on her mother’s side.
She was inspired to create “Boys Don’t Cry” after reading an article in the Village Voice about the murder of a young transgender boy. Peirce shot a short film version before producer Christine Vachon joined the project to begin work on the feature-length film.
Simon Cowell Dusts Off His Dancing Shoes
Simon Cowell, judge of the television show “The X Factor,” is rediscovering his roots in preparation for his marriage to Jewish bride, Lauren Silverman. He is planning on taking traditional Israeli dance lessons to combine his Judaism with his passion for the arts.
Cowell, a former-record label A&R exec, TV producer and
renowned judge, has worked for “Pop Idol,” “The X Factor,” “Britain’s Got Talent” and “American Idol.” He grew up in England and moved to the States to work for “Idol.”
Israel has recently started an Israeli version of Cowell’s “The X Factor.” The show will premiere
with Bar Rafaeli starring and Israel hopes for the show to be as successful as Cowell’s.
Cowell’s late father was Jewish, while Silverman is an affiliated Jew. The couple is expecting a child and plans on marrying soon after their infant’s birth. They will hold both Jewish and Christian wedding ceremonies.
Paul McCartney Releases New Jew-ish Album
Paul McCartney, of the Beatles legacy, has just released his latest album, “New,” the first collection of original songs since 2007. The album came out shortly after his marriage to Nancy Shevell, an affiliated Jew. Many of the tracks are said to be laden with Jewish themes and philosophies.
McCartney has a long and fascinating relationship with Judaism. Not only was his first girlfriend Jewish, but so was his (first) wife, Linda Eastman. McCartney and Eastman were the world’s favorite “rock-star” couple,
always making music together. Sadly, Eastman passed away from breast cancer.
McCartney has openly discussed the idea of converting to Judaism, but has not yet completed the process. His daughter, Stella McCartney, affiliates as Jewish and works in her maternal grandfather’s business.
Brad Ausmus Becomes MLB First
The Detroit Tigers have just hired Brad Ausmus as their team’s manager, making him the only Jewish manager in all of Major League Baseball. Ausmus has been working as Israel’s manager for the World Baseball Classic.
Before managing, he played as a catcher in four different teams, including the Tigers. He also played for the Los Angelos Dodgers, but spent the bulk of his playing career with the Houston Astros.
After retiring, he worked with the San Deigo Padres, until Israel hired him. He was a Major League Baseball player for a total of 18 years.
Ausmus grew up in Connecticut, and was educated at Dartmouth College, where he played minor league baseball. He did not grow up in a practicing Jewish household, but in an interview with the Jewish Journal, he says that he remembered celebrating the High Holiday with his family.