One of America's most popular violinists returns to play with the Israel Philharmonic one year after his last appearance here. Joshua Bell made his debut at 14 in Carnegie Hal with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and has performed since with most of the world's major orchestras and conductors. He performed the solo on the Oscar-winning soundtrack for The Red Violin and has won a Grammy for his own recordings. He also appeared in the film Music of the Heart. The son of two psychologists, and Jewish on his mother's side, Bell began taking lessons at the age of four. His teacher was Joseph Gingold, a Russian Jewish violinist whose love for the instrument rubbed off. Through Gingold he was introduced to a generation of great Jewish violinists such as Fritz Kreisler and Mischa Elman, who became his idols. Bell's instrument is a 300-year-old Stradivarius, the Gibson ex Huberman, made in 1713 during Antonio Stradivari's Golden Era. In a recent interview with The Jewish Journal, Bell said he feels his Jewish identity with particular acuteness when he performs in Israel. His mother lived here, and his grandfather was a sabra. Bell plays this week in a series of IPO concerts under conductor Zubin Mehta. The concerts are being held at Tel Aviv's Mann Auditorium and Haifa's Auditorium, and the program includes Johan Strauss, Bruch's violin concerto, Saint-Saens's violin concerto No. 3, Schubert's Symphony No. 9 and Brahms's Symphony no 4. See Classic Music listings for details.