Madonna, during her 2009 visit to Israel in the company of then-boyfriend Jesus, said that “I truly believe that Israel is the energy center of the world. And I also believe that if we can all live together in harmony in this place, then we can live in peace all over the world."
It was on a prior visit, in 2004, that Madonna also worked in a visit to Rachel’s Tomb, on the outskirts of Bethlehem, and found time to unwind at her posh digs at the David InterContinental Hotel in Tel Aviv. In fact, it was that hotel stay that prompted me, as senior editor of an online travel section of Forbes in 2008, to commission a story on Madonna’s global travel secrets.
In my own experience with those who have had direct contact with Madonna, very little has been revealed. But journalist Kristin Luna had this to report at the time: “In town for a Kabbalah convention in 2004, Madonna first stayed in the Tel Aviv branch of the massively popular [InterContinental] international chain. General Manager David Cohen says the singer was ‘very easygoing’ [wow!] and that the hotel sparked ‘a great relationship with her PA who prepared us in advance.’ While residing in Tel Aviv, Madonna utilized the gym and her private yoga room, as well as requested Pinchas water. She occupied a presidential suite and connecting room to give her two bedrooms in which to lounge and accommodate her crew. She booked a suite in the InterContinental once more in September 2007 for another conference, alongside hotel guests Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher and close gal pal Rosie O'Donnell.”
Now I’m going to tell you a secret: On at least one previous visit to Tel Aviv, Madonna emerged from the luxury cocoon of the InterContinental to have dinner at – yes! – a restaurant much-favored by Tel Aviv’s expatriate French community. Messa, you’re thinking? Shmulik Cohen, perhaps? No. A true hideaway haunt called Stefan Braun, at 99 Allenby Street, telephone 011-972-5604725, and don’t ask me for the website because there isn’t one. But Madonna has indeed dined there, and on the late side too, and that’s a good thing because Stefan’s bitchin’ kitchen turns out the likes of Moroccan lamb soup with lentils, lamb chops, steak skewers and more until 3AM nightly. Not exactly macrobiotic, Madge!
Healthy or not, when you eat out that late, it’s no wonder that the next day you’re going to be working out in the hotel gym or – at least if you’re Madonna – jogging in public along the seaside promenade. Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah musings aside, there’s no tonic like the salt air of the Mediterranean and nine miles of paved boardwalk to keep fit.
I would recommend that, on her next trip here, Madonna continue her jog along Rothschild Boulevard, pausing for a coffee at the café of my choosing so that I can ask her about her forthcoming album, if she still speaks with her brother after he wrote that book, and if she knows that just as she once set out to conquer the world, Napoleon once had his eye on Jerusalem. But that’s another story.