The Western Wall

President Trump arrived in Israel today and visited the Western Wall. Controversy has swirled around this visit, as Trump was not accompanied by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he visited the Wall. American diplomat David Berns had said to Israeli officials inquiring about the possibility of Bibi joining Trump, “What are you talking about? It’s none of your business. It’s not even part of your responsibility. It’s not your territory. It’s part of the West Bank.” The Western Wall has often been the site of bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies, including those of celebrities. Which of the following held their bar or bat mitzvah at the Western Wall?

Western Wall by Chris Yunker is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

A. Florida Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera had his bar mitzvah at the Western Wall in 2016, at the age of 42. Lopez-Cantera, whose official bio lists his religion as Catholic, had recently announced that he is in fact Jewish, saying, “My father came from Cuba but he married a nice Jewish girl in Miami.”

B. In an interview following a sketch he did with Andy Samberg on Saturday Night Live, singer Michael Bolton said, “I’ve been kicked out of every class. Andy and I were talking about that. Neither one of us had our Bar Mitzvah because we couldn’t take Hebrew school seriously.” However, when Bolton, age 62, made a trip to Israel in 2015, he spontaneously decided to make a bar mitzvah at the Wall after meeting Rabbi Shmuli Weiss, who helped Bolton don tefillin for the first time.

CSinger Paula Abdul held her bat mitzvah at the Western Wall in 2013, at the age of 51. She was wrapped in a tallit, and the ceremony lasted almost three hours, featuring a lot of klezmer music. Upon her arrival in Israel for the ceremony, she met with then-President Shimon Peres, who told her he was jealous because “he’d already had his bar mitzvah, but that she had not celebrated her bat mitzvah, so she had something to look forward to.”

DActor Jeremy Piven celebrated his bar mitzvah when he was 13, though he says he was not a good student. “It was hard for me to learn Hebrew. I actually had to rap my haftorah portion.” In 2016, Piven celebrated his second bar mitzvah on a balcony overlooking the Western Wall. After the ceremony he sang “Siman tov u’mazal tov” with NBA players Omri Casspi and Amar’e Stoudemire.

EIvanka Trump celebrated her bat mitzvah at the Western Wall at the age of 28, after she converted to Judaism and married Jared Kushner in 2009. After the ceremony, her father was overheard talking to Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, who is the Rabbi of the Western Wall. Trump reportedly said to the Rabbi, “I’m gonna be in the market for a big wall. Your wall is so bigly huge. What do you think? Could we make a deal?”

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