Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Celebrity Hebrew Tattoo

While not particularly interested in the private lives of celebrities (Okay, I'm not at all interested), I do admit to having a certain fondness for quirky stories like this one.

By now, I would imagine that some of you may be familiar with the term "Kabbalah" thanks to the likes of Madonna and Britney Spears. Now, I have to admit that I grew up with virtually no formal Jewish education to speak of. (In fact, the only reason my brother had a bar mitzvah was because my grandmother was still alive), but I did develop a nodding acquaintance with some rather esoteric Jewish subjects thanks to my father's Orthodox childhood, and one I knew was that Kabbalah was definitely not for civilians. In fact, I've since learned that it's only supposed to be practiced by Orthodox married man over a certain age.

So, imagine my astonishment when I discovered there was "Kabbalah for the masses." And as if that weren't bad enough, something I had always taken as gospel, which is that Jews were never supposed to be tattooed, also fell by the wayside the first time I was in Israel and saw a lifeguard with a tattoo, in the days before everybody and their mother had one. I have to admit I was pretty shocked because I had always heard that if you had a tattoo, among other things, you could never be buried in a Jewish cemetery, something I would have thought could be very problematic in Israel where, until recently, even atheists were buried in Orthodox cemeteries. (That's a subject I could write volumes about, but I'd have to be prepared to take the heat once I do). So, now it looks as if we've arrived at the point where Madonna can practice Kabbalah and Jews can get tattoos. What's the world coming to?

11 Comments:

At 9:54 AM, Blogger Gindy said...

"I have to admit I was pretty shocked because I had always heard that if you had a tattoo, among other things, you could never be buried in a Jewish cemetery,"

I was definitly brought up knowing that Jews don't get tattos. Although my understanding is that several thousand years ago Jews did get tatoos. That is not a fact, but I think it is correct.

 
At 10:26 AM, Blogger Mark said...

Another interesting fact related to this issue is that it was not every Nazi concentration camp that tattooed inmates. Omly Auschwitz did so. (Not that that in any way lessens the stigma of tattoos where Jews are concerned).

I have mixed feelings about this, but on one point I am adamant: I think the whole Madonna/Spears/celebrity crew attending classes at a "Kabbalah Center" is a fucking joke.

 
At 10:29 AM, Blogger Mark said...

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/tattoos1.html

 
At 11:58 AM, Blogger muse said...

Well, Jews study Hinduism etc...

 
At 1:13 PM, Blogger Rory said...

Gindy, I think there's something about not changing what God created (kind of like you're supposed to go out the same way you came in) and so things like tattoos would violate that.

Mark, I can imagine that tattoos would have become a very raw nerve after the Holocaust. Also, I can understand where you're coming from about all these celebrities becoming enamored with Kabbalah as the "religion de jour" because I think this whole Kabbalah Center business is a scam. But, the upside might be that for some people who may have never met a Jew, the fact that their favorite celebrity is embracing certain aspects of Judaism might engender a more positive feeling. While you and I know it's pretty lame, at least it's giving Judaism some positive p.r. for a change.

Muse, they do, and Buddhism and many other Eastern religions, as well.

 
At 5:04 PM, Blogger Esther said...

I could have done without Madonna adopting the name Esther. ;)

 
At 5:23 PM, Blogger beakerkin said...

Well at least he picked a nice phrase. Ani ldodi vdodi li

 
At 6:49 PM, Anonymous Rachy said...

It just disturbs me that the likes of Madonna and Britney Spears appear to think that they can purchase salvation, and that with their "spiritual enlightenment" they have the right to dictate to us mere mortals what good and bad morals are. Madonna lecturing people on materialism? Britney on how to treat your fellow man? Puh-lease

 
At 8:56 PM, Blogger drummaster2001 said...

to everyone:

check out the movie "Pi" if you are somewhat interested in kabbalah, or not. this is a very good movie about patterns, cracking the code in the stock market, and kabbalah (real kabbalah, although there is a questionable scene as to the authenticity).

 
At 10:43 AM, Blogger patrickafir said...

Celebrities are such a bunch of goofballs. I'm wondering if Hebrew tattoos will be the next craze like "tribal" and Japanese ones. haha The best tattoos are the ones on your heart, I think.

drum: π (Pi) was a great movie. A really enthralling psychological thriller.

 
At 12:36 PM, Blogger Rory said...

Esther, you're so funny. Maybe I should tell everybody that what the lifeguard had tattooed on his arm was the name "Esther." Feel better now?

Beaker, you're right. It's quite lovely.

Rachy, it's more than a little hypocritical, I agree. Madonna teaching about morals? Now that she's had children, she seems to be taking the term "Madonna complex" just a little too seriously.

Drummaster, "Cracking the code in the stock market?" Where was this movie when I sold my Microsoft stock over 15 years ago???

Patrick, I never realized you were such a romantic. ;) I certainly agree with you about celebrities and because I have a short attention span and rarely watch movies, I don't usually pay much attention to their escapades. But this story caught my attention because I guess I was somewhat intrigued by the Jewish angle...and I also have a "thing" for David Beckham. Well, maybe if he doesn't open his mouth.

 

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