Houston felt ‘at home’ in Israel

Whitney Houston visited the Black Hebrew community in the southern town of Dimona during a 2003 trip to Israel.

February 12, 2012 20:52
2 minute read.
Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown, Ariel Sharon

Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown, Ariel Sharon 390. (photo credit: Reuters/Gil Cohen Magen)

Whitney Houston visited the Black Hebrew community in the southern town of Dimona during a six-day trip to Israel in May 2003 and told then-prime minister Ariel Sharon that she felt at home in the country.

Accompanied by her husband, Bobby Brown, and a large group of family and friends, Houston traveled from Eilat in the south to Galilee in the north.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

She was hosted by Sharon at his official residence in Jerusalem but pointedly avoided shaking his hand, letting Brown do so instead.

Asked by Sharon how she felt in Israel, she said: “It’s home! It’s home!”

Wearing bright red African clothing, Brown and Houston – who was then 39 – told Sharon they had come to visit friends and family in the Black Hebrew community. Houston said that while it was her first trip to Israel, she planned to come back and record a Christmas television special here – a promise she never fulfilled.

At the time, Houston’s sister, Patricia, told reporters that Whitney had loved her stay here.

“We arrived in Israel for a spiritual visit, to meet with our brothers and sisters in Dimona,” Patricia said. “She is a spiritual woman and wanted to come here and touch the land.”

A year before, Houston’s sister and brother had visited Dimona and encouraged the singer to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and the Black Hebrew community. Friends in the community served as her hosts.

“She is coming to reach out to the community in Dimona,” Ptachia Weinstein, co-producer of the The Black Hebrews singing group, told The Jerusalem Post before the visit.

After the trip, a spokeswoman for the community, Yaffa Bat-Gavriel, denied that Houston had become a member of the Black Hebrews.

“Whitney’s just a friend,” she said. “[She’s] coming back to Israel to film her Christmas special... and says she will visit us again.”

Houston was said to be planning a recording with members of the Black Hebrew community, which first settled in Israel in 1969 and became known for its gospel choirs and singing groups.

She and Brown also met with then-tourism minister Benny Elon at the King David Hotel.

“It is a pleasure and an honor to be in Israel,” Houston wrote in a letter to Elon. “Thank you for your special attention. I hope to see you soon.”

Related Content

Sarah Silverman
August 26, 2014
Jewish women take home gold at 2014 Emmys