The split heard 'round the country

What does the future hold for two of Israel's most beloved performers who surprisingly ended their union.

rita 88 224 (photo credit: )
rita 88 224
(photo credit: )
A sharply discordant note has shattered what seemed to be the perfectly harmonious relationship between iconic performers Rita and Rami Kleinstein. The two were an item in their mid-teens and served together in an army entertainment unit before marrying in 1988. For years they have maintained an 'A' list status as musicians and celebrities and were widely perceived to be an ideal couple both on and off stage. Rami, a multi-talented musician, is one of Israel's leading musicians, totally at ease on the keyboard. Recognizing his gift for music, his parents insisted he be trained as a classical pianist, but he was drawn in another musical direction. Now he is known for his soft and soothing voice, which has often been compared to Elton John and Billy Joel. He's won several awards for his musicianship, both as a singer and composer, but the singer for whom Rami wrote and arranged the most is Rita. Whenever they appeared on stage together, the intensity of their feeling for each other was palpable. Although they had an excellent rapport with their audiences, their sense of togetherness was something special. Rita with her sensual looks, her electric stage presence and her dramatic style of singing was an ideal foil for the laid-back Rami. They were living proof of the cliche that opposites attract, not only in terms of their respective personae, but also in terms of their origins. She was born in Iran as Yahan Farouz and came to Israel with her family when still a young child. He was born in New York in 1962 and came to Israel with his family in 1970. Rita is also known as Israel's Diva, with all the positive connotations that come with the title. In her 20-year career she's won a slew of awards, fans and top singles, boasting gold and platinum albums. The unique Persian tones that punctuate her music, coupled with her Western influences, have placed Rita at the center of the nation's attentions and affections. The question as to why the two have filed for divorce has yet to be answered, but it won't hinder speculators. In fact, despite a continued lack of specific details from the divorcing parties, the story made the front pages of the Israeli tabloids on Monday and is big buzz on the Web. But its not only Israelis that are desperate to know why this golden couple have split -- the Kleinsteins overseas fans may be even more upset by the breakup of their marriage. The two frequently appeared abroad for the United Israel Appeal and various Jewish Federations, and continue to be in high demand among many Jewish communities. PERHAPS WE shouldn't be entirely shocked, though. The foundering of marital relationships in the entertainment industry is considered par for the course in Hollywood, and in Israel it's no different. It's almost surprising when people in the business can boast a good marriage, which is why long-lasting couples like actress Yona Elian and musical comedy star Sassi Keshet (married 30 years), or actress Gilat Ankori and anchorman and producer Michael Greenspan (married 30-something years) stand out among the rest. The rule tends to be that love doesn't last among the famous. And in recent months, even the most impenetrable couples have fallen prey to this unfortunate rule. Iconic singers Orna and Moshe Datz, married nearly 20 years, broke up only a few months ago. They persistently denied rumors about troubles at home until they could hide the truth no longer. Their break-up was amicable, though an announcement at the time that they would continue working with each other appears to have been premature. The dissolution of rocker David Broza's marriage this year to his wife of over 25 years, was another unexpected breakup. According to media reports, he simply fell out of love. Singer Boaz Sharabi also ended his marriage this year, though he wasn't married nearly as long (less than three years). Another long-time union that bit the dust was that of musician Yuval Banai and famous character actress Orly Zylbershatz (married 20-something years). The Banais' marriage had been through a couple of rollercoasters in the past, so it wasn't entirely surprising when he left the marital home. While the anti-Cupid virus has not yet reached epidemic proportions, one of the things that the Brozas, Banais, Datzs, and Kleinsteins have in common is that they have all been married for around 20 years. Once upon a time there was a seven-year itch that signified the early signs of cracks in a marriage. Now it looks like the 20-year itch is all the rage. The Kleinsteins even began to feel friction with their label of 20 years, Helicon, several months ago and decided to part ways with them. The label divorce was less than amicable. The Kleinsteins are suing Helicon for NIS 4 million in profits that they allege were unfairly withheld from them over the years. Although the news about Rami and Rita's split only became public knowledge this week, according to reports, they've been living apart for a month. She's at home with her teenage daughter Meshi and six-year-old Noam and he's staying with friends until he finds a new place for himself. According to one report, they've already signed an agreement for a division of assets, which tends to signify that the situation is at a point of no return. It will be interesting to see now what happens to the dynamic singing duo career-wise. Many years back, singer and musician Shmulik Kraus's career took a nose-dive after singer Josie Katz finally summoned up the gumption to leave him 30 years ago. Katz returned to America, remarried and came back to Israel after she was widowed. Now in her mid-sixties, she's back on the charts and her career is taking off again. Kraus, with whom Katz reconciled only to the point of friendship, is not doing nearly as well.