Keeping up with Kabbalah’s Queen of Pop

As Madonna prepares for her Thursday night show, fans and gossip sites pump up the crowds

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

Paparazzi staking out Madonna's MDNA rehearsals (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90)
Paparazzi staking out Madonna's MDNA rehearsals (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90)
Madonna rehearsing with her dancers in Tel Aviv (Courtesy Madonna Facebook page)
Madonna rehearsing with her dancers in Tel Aviv (Courtesy Madonna Facebook page)

With Madonna’s sold-out Tel Aviv opening show for the MDNA 2012 tour just two days away, local paparazzi, reporters and fans are camping out near the celebrity singer’s Tel Aviv hotel and Ramat Gan stadium, hoping for a glimpse or comment from the Material Girl or her entourage.

There’s been some coverage of her visits to the Kabbalah Center in Tel Aviv and private Kabbalah study sessions, but “our private Esther,” as one Israeli celebrity blog called her, was asked not to visit the graves of the Kabbalah rabbis in Safed, because it was deemed disrespectful.

At rehearsal (Courtesy Madonna Facebook page)
At rehearsal (Courtesy Madonna Facebook page)

There were some other minor controversies as well. One of her dancers, Ali Ramadani, posted a picture from his visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and tweeted, “I don’t want to say it’s in Israel, but Palestine, strength and honor.”

There was no response from her team on that comment, nor on the news that the Queen of Pop seemed to be yet again slighting Lady Gaga with her rehearsal mashup of “Express Yourself” and “Born This Way.” Madge has mentioned more than once that Gaga’s single “was reductive” and clearly influenced by her own earlier work.

Of course, for die-hard fans, a Madonna concert in Tel Aviv is an opportunity to party, as evidenced by the before- and after-parties being hosted throughout the city.

The festivities in her honor began a few weeks ago, with a slew of Madonna-oriented bashes, but the official opening party was produced by Shimon Shirazi, known as the gay party king of Tel Aviv’s night life. He hosted the tour’s dancers and backup singers, with Israel’s leading drag queens performing Madonna’s hits.

Channeling Israel's security concerns? (Courtesy Madonna Facebook page)
Channeling Israel's security concerns? (Courtesy Madonna Facebook page)

Some fans, however, have to suffice with the information offered at Madonna Israel, the Facebook fan page for her Israel fans, created by local fan Avihay Asseraf.

He and his fellow Madonna-worshippers appear to have been hanging around the Ramat Gan stadium since her arrival Friday, capturing the odd photo and video of her rehearsals and debating whether their information is more current than that of local celebrity gossip sites.

According to Asseraf, the set list is as follows:

“Girl Gone Wild” (meets “Material Girl”)
“Gang Bang”
“Papa Don’t Preach” (edit)
“Hung Up” (MDNA remix)
“I Don’t Give A” (rock remix)
“Best Friend”/”Heartbeat” (interlude)
“Express Yourself” (meets “Born This Way”)
“Turn Up the Radio”
“Give Me All Your Luvin'” (Just Blaze remix)
“Open Your Heart” (meets “Sagarra Jo” by Kalakan)
“Masterpiece” (feat. Kalakan)
“Justify My Love” (William Orbit remix—interlude)
“Candy Shop”
“Human Nature”
“Like a Virgin”
“Nobody Knows Me” (interlude)
“I’m Addicted”
“I’m a Sinner” (meets “Cyber-Raga”)
“Like a Prayer”

There are also some rehearsal photos tweeted and posted on Madonna’s official Facebook page by Madonna’s Israeli-born manager Guy Oseary. Those in the know recommend keeping up with his tweets, as he may give away an extra ticket or two to his followers.

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