the Jewish new year with Israeli president Shimon Peres
and declared herself an ''ambassador for Judaism,'' local
newspapers reported Sunday.
The singer, who
is not Jewish, arrived in Israel Wednesday on the eve of
Jewish new year to attend a conference on Kabbalah, or
Madonna met Peres
at his official Jerusalem residence on Saturday
evening, and the two exchanged gifts, with Madonna receiving
a lavishly bound copy of the Jewish Bible.
She gave Peres a
volume of The Book of Splendor, the guiding
text of Kabbalah, inscribed, ''To Shimon Peres, the
man I admire and love, Madonna,'' the Yediot
Ahronot daily reported.
A Peres aide
confirmed the meeting but had no details.
''You don't know
how popular The Book of Splendor is among
Hollywood actors,'' Yediot quoted Madonna as telling
Peres. ''Everyone I meet talks to me only about that.
I am an ambassador for Judaism.''
Madonna, who was
raised a Roman Catholic, has taken the Hebrew name
Esther and has been seen wearing a red thread on her wrist
in a Jewish tradition to ward off the evil eye.
But her interest
in Kabbalah in recent years has been criticized by
Orthodox Jews, who say it is an abomination.
who flew in for the Kabbalah conference included movie
star Demi Moore and her husband, actor Ashton Kutcher; Rosie
O'Donnell; and fashion designer Donna Karan. Madonna
came with her film director husband, Guy Ritchie.
Haaretz daily quoted Kutcher as telling a group
of Israeli businessmen and entertainers on Saturday that
Kabbalah had answered fundamental questions in his
life and made him a better actor.
specialize in Kabbalah have criticized the interest of
non-Jewish celebrities in the subject. Jewish tradition
holds that Kabbalah is so powerful and complicated
that only bona fide students may begin to approach it
and then only after age 40. Among the elements of
Kabbalah are mystical revelations drawn from holy books by
recombination of letters and other signs.
particularly incensed by Madonna's song, ''Isaac,'' about
the revered 16th-century Kabbalist rabbi Yitzhak
Luria, featured on her 2005 album, Confessions on a
During her visit,
Madonna plans to visit sites sacred to Kabbalists. It
was not known how long she intends to stay.
Madonna paid her
first visit to Israel three years ago on another
''I can't believe
that I'm celebrating the new year with you in Israel,''
Maariv newspaper quoted her as telling Peres on
Saturday. ''It's a dream come true.'' (AP)