American pop diva Madonna and other celebrity practitioners of the ancient Jewish mystical tradition Kabbalah are in Israel
for the new year holiday of Rosh Hashana, local media reported on Thursday.
Madonna, who last visited Israel in 2004, arrived surrounded by bodyguards several hours late at a large Tel Aviv hotel, the reports said.
The London-based singer will be joined by US actors Ashton Kutcher, his wife Demi Moore, Rosie O'Donnell, and clothing designer Donna Karan, a spokesman for a Kabbalah center in Tel Aviv sponsoring the visit told AFP on Tuesday.
Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore in Tel Aviv (Photo: AFP)
In 2004 Madonna took the Hebrew name Esther and is now reportedly observing the Jewish sabbath, although she has not converted to Judaism.
She made a previous visit to Israel three years ago at the height of the Palestinian intifada, and told reporters at the time that she was more worried about paparazzi than suicide bombers.
Madonna turned to the Kabbalah in 1997 after coming into contact with a Los Angeles-based centre that teaches an eclectic mix of Orthodox Jewish tradition and positive thinking aimed at spiritual well-being.
But from the point of view of Orthodox Judaism, this is sacrilege. Even if she were to convert she would be denied the right to study the Kabbalah, which is open only to married men over 40 who have studied the Talmud for years.