[Associated Press Report]
Whitney Houston visits Israel for inspirational visit
with the Black Hebrews
By JENNIFER KNOLL
.c The Associated Press
JERUSALEM (AP) - American pop-star Whitney Houston has come to Israel for a
spiritual journey she hopes will provide her with the needed inspiration for
her upcoming Christmas album.
Houston, who arrived Sunday evening, is being hosted by the Black Hebrews, a
group of nearly 2,000 black Americans who followed a Chicago bus driver to
Israel decades ago and believe they are descendants of one of the lost
tribes of Israelites.
Their religious customs include a vegan diet and polygamy, and they have a
well regarded choir at their compound in the desert town of Dimona. Israel
does not recognize them as Jews.
``It's a spiritual retreat at the village of peace in Dimona,'' said
Patricia Houston, the singer's spokeswoman and sister-in-law. ''She wanted
to be here before recording her spiritual album.''
Patricia Houston said the singer had planned to come earlier, but her trip
had been postponed a number of times because of the precarious security
``We pushed for this, we have been working on this visit for two years
because we felt it was important that another message be sent to America
that Israel is a safe place to come visit, despite the problems and the
issues we have,'' said Asiel Ben-Israel, one of Houston's hosts from the
Black Hebrews community.
Houston spent her first day receiving massages, relaxing, and meeting with
members of the Black Hebrews, who call each other saints.
``She is loving it,'' said Patricia Houston, adding, ``She is a spiritual
woman and wanted to come here and touch the land and be around the saints of
Dimona.'' Whitney Houston is accompanied by a group of relatives, including
her husband, singer Bobby Brown, and their daughter.
Houston who is scheduled to stay for a week, plans to visit holy sites in
the country, including the Western Wall and the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem
and the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel.
26 MAY 2003