Former Idol judges stand up for Israel, here and abroad

Paula Abdul was in Israel this week for her first visit to the Jewish state, where she planned to celebrate her bat mitzvah at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Abdul, 51, whose parents are Jewish, arrived at Ben Gurion Airport from Los Angeles on Oct. 27. She came as a guest of Israel’s Tourism Ministry and, in addition to the Western Wall coming-of-age ceremony, planned to fulfill another dream during her visit: a meeting with President Shimon Peres. She met with Peres at the president’s residence in Jerusalem the morning of Oct. 29.  She also expected to meet with Tourism Minister Uzi Landau.

The popular singer and dancer has said previously that she always felt proud of being Jewish. She was raised in a Reform community and strengthened her faith following a meeting with Rabbi Chaim Mentz, who established the Chabad center of Bel Air in Los Angeles.

Abdul declared her desire to hold a bat mitzvah ceremony in Jerusalem on TV’s “American Idol,” where she served as a judge for a few seasons before moving to “The X Factor.”

About a year ago, during a Chabad fundraiser in Toronto, Abdul called herself “Chabadnik.”

In related news, another “American Idol” icon, Simon Cowell, also showed his support for Israel, but in Los Angeles.

Cowell attended an American Friends of the Israel Defense Forces fundraiser Oct. 22 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The event, attended by some 1,200 people, raised a record $20 million for IDF soldiers’ welfare.

Cowell, the tough judge on “Idol,” “The X Factor” and “The Next Big Thing,” agreed to put his dignity on the line for the cause, by singing in public

According to the Daily Mail, the event’s host, billionaire Power Rangers creator Haim Saban, offered to make a $1 million donation if Cowell sang the show’s theme tune with him.

The 54-year-old British star delighted the packed room of guests after he accepted the challenge. Midway through his performance of Ron Wasserman’s “Go Go Power Rangers,” Simon jokingly offered to donate $100,000 of his own money if he was allowed to stop. Saban then agreed he could stop singing for $250,000.

Cowell was not the only star teased into song; Lionel Richie gave a rare performance to loosen the attendees’ purse strings.

Among the largest donations to the IDF: Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, president of the International Fellowship of Christ-ians and Jews, pledged $4.5 million; Saban gave $2.3 million; and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison of San Francisco gave $1 million. —