American pop icon Madonna danced, gyrated and hopped in front of 50,000 adoring fans late Tuesday in Tel Aviv, where she is wrapping up her Sticky and Sweet tour with two sold-out shows.
“Hello Israel!” yelled the fervent follower of the Jewish mysticism discipline of Kabbalah as the crowd went wild at the Material Girl’s first concert in the country in 16 years.
At one point in the show, the 51-year-old megastar wrapped herself into an Israeli flag and at another, called the country the “energy centre of the world,” sparking a deafening chorus of approving shouts and whistles.
She is due to play the final concert of her tour in Tel Aviv on Wednesday.
Although the music diva has not performed in Israel since 1993, she has made two private visits to the country in 2004 and 2007, visiting Jewish holy sites as part of her Kabbalah practice.
She arrived in Israel aboard a private jet on Sunday and that evening toured around Judaism’s top pilgrimage site the Wailing Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem along with her Brazilian model friend Jesus Luz and bodyguards.
She dined with Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni late Monday in Tel Aviv and is due to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday.
In an article published in Israel’s largest circulation newspaper on July 31, the star recounted the long spiritual search that led her to the Kabbalah, the mystic Jewish religion that has become popular in recent years in part because celebrities like her have begun practising it.
The Queen of Pop’s spiritual search led her to practice yoga, study Buddhism, Taoism and the Art of War — a 16th century military treaty — and read about the early Christians.
She said her search was over after she turned to the Kabbalah.
In 1997 Madonna came 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.
In 2004 she took the Hebrew name Esther but has not converted to Judaism.
From the point of view of Orthodox Jews, her studying the Kabbalah is sacrilege as they consider it should be reserved for married men over 40 who have poured over Talmudic texts for years.