“Mazal tov Beckham, you’re Jewish” (& World’s oldest living married couple)

August 08, 2005

* David and Victoria Beckham get Hebrew tattoos
* News on tribal Jews in India
* World’s newest oldest living married couple are Jewish; husband is Dachau survivor

In order to try provide some “light relief” from the often intense and highly politicized nature of my Middle East dispatches, I occasionally try and send emails with more humorous or “human interest” aspects.

Today I am sending three such dispatches. This dispatch has a primarily Jewish focus.

 

CONTENTS

1. “Hebrew tattoo for Becks” (Jewish Telegraph Agency, August 7, 2005)
2. “Mazal tov Beckham, you’re Jewish” (Ynetnews, August 4, 2005)
3. “Holy bath passport for Mizo Jews to Israel” (Web India, July 27, 2005)
4. “State ignores Jews as they have no votes” (Midday.com, July 6, 2005)
5. “World’s oldest living married couple celebrates another milestone” (Jewish World Review, July 21, 2005)


[Note by Tom Gross]

HEBREW TATTOOS FOR “POSH AND BECKS”

The English soccer superstar David Beckham and his wife, ex “Spice Girls” pop star Victoria Beckham (otherwise known as “Posh spice”), have got matching Hebrew tattoos to celebrate their sixth wedding anniversary.

According to Yediot Ahronoth, Israel’s most popular newspaper, the motivation for the tattoos came from the fact that Beckham who already knew his grandfather was a Jew from London’s east end recently found out his mother comes from an extensive Jewish family than previously believed.

The Beckhams’ Hebrew tattoos spell out, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine,” a quote that is frequently to be found on Jewish wedding invitations.

According to Europe’s best-selling daily paper, “The Sun,” of all his many tattoos, David Beckham regards his Hebrew verse to be “the most romantic.”

Beckham is arguably the world’s best known sports superstar today. He has a particularly huge following in Asia, and has had a movie (“Bend it Like Beckham”) named after him. When the English national soccer team played a match in Poland, at Beckham’s insistence most of the national team visited the Auschwitz museum and concentration camp the day before the match.

INDIAN JEWS

Since Beckham has at least one Jewish grandparent he would qualify for Israeli citizenship, under the law of return that allows any person with a Jewish grandparent to reside in Israel. Hundreds of tribal Jews in Mizoram, India are attempting to prove claims that they are Jewish in order to receive a similar right to live in Israel. I also attach an article (below) about Jews in Maharashtra who are not included on the Indian census and thereby denied the right to vote.

WORLD’S OLDEST LIVING MARRIED COUPLE ARE JEWISH

David and Victoria Beckham’s marital difficulties have been covered in excruciating detail by the press all over the world (with the exception of the north American press). No doubt they could learn something from Herbert and Magda Brown who, according to the Guinness Book of Records, are now the oldest married couple in the world.

Herbert Brown, now 105, is a survivor of (pre-war) Dachau concentration camp and appeared before Adolf Eichmann in Vienna before fleeing to England. Hebert shares a one-bedroom apartment with his wife of 74 years, the former Magda Fritz, who is 100. They were married in Austria in 1930, and now live in Philadelphia.

I attach five articles, with summaries first.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

HEBREW TATTOOS FOR THE BECKHAMS

(This is the full item)

“Hebrew tattoo for Becks” (Jewish Telegraph Agency, August 7, 2005)

Victoria and David Beckham got matching Hebrew tattoos to celebrate their sixth wedding anniversary.

Soccer star Beckham was the first to get the biblical saying, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine,” tattooed on his left forearm. His wife, a former Spice Girl, followed suit with a smaller version on her neck. The footballer was said to have chosen the Hebrew inscription because of his Jewish heritage: His maternal grandfather was Jewish and Beckham, 30, has spoken of his fond memories of attending synagogue with him.

Victoria Beckham, 31, has expressed interest in Kabbalah, and the couple has been spotted wearing the red string bracelets that some Kabbalah devotees favor.

 

BECKHAM RECENTLY FOUND OUT HIS MOTHER IS FROM A JEWISH FAMILY

“Mazal tov Beckham, you’re Jewish” (By Mody Kraitman, Ynetnews, August 4, 2005)

English soccer phenomenon and fashion icon David Beckham recently found out his mother comes from a Jewish family.

The enthused Real Madrid halfback, who has a large tattoo of a cross adorning his chest, chose to mark the revelation by adding another tattoo on his left forearm during a recent trip to Singapore, this time of a famous verse from the Song of Songs: “I am for my beloved and my beloved is for me.”

Beckham’s wife, former Spice Girl Victoria Adams, was so moved by her husband’s gesture that she decided to tattoo the same verse on the back of her neck...

 

HOLY BATH PASSPORT FOR MIZO JEWS TO ISRAEL

“Holy bath passport for Mizo Jews to Israel” (Web India, July 27, 2005)

Hundreds of tribal Jews in Mizoram in India’s northeast are giving finishing touches to a ritual bath under the supervision of Israeli rabbis that could serve as their passport to that country.

A team of rabbis, including Israeli architect-rabbi Doron Malka, is overseeing the construction of the ‘mikvah’, or Jewish ritual bath, in the state capital.

“It will take a few more days for the mikvah to be completed and after that the final process of conversion will begin,” Rabbi Hannock Avizedek, an Israeli preacher deputed by the Chief Rabbinate religious jurists, told [the Indian news service] IANS...

The [Israeli] chief rabbi of the Sephardic Jews, Shlomo Amar, announced in Jerusalem in March that members of the 6,000-strong Bnei Menashe tribe in Mizoram and Manipur were descendants of ancient Israelites or one of the Biblical 10 lost tribes.

The recognition by Israel came in the wake of piles of applications from locals here seeking to migrate to Israel, which they say is their “right to return to their promised land”.

According to Israeli law every Jew enjoys the “right of return” - or the right of abode in Israel...

 

INDIAN STATE IGNORES JEWS AS THEY HAVE NO VOTES

“State ignores Jews as they have no votes” (By Sanjeev Devasia, Midday.com, July 6, 2005)

The Jews in the city are upset that the census report of 2001 has no mention of their community in Mumbai or in the state. The tiny community, has just 6,000 members in Maharashtra, including those residing at Thane.

The community members feel the omission is indicative of the government’s neglect towards Jews.

“If they can give the figures of all other major religions in the country, I fail to understand why they cannot give the number of Jews in the city? Judaism is a major religion in the world and the powers here seems to have forgotten to mention the community in the census report,” said J S Solomon, solicitor.

Community members complain that even the small Parsi community finds a mention in the city, but Jews are nowhere to be seen. On the other hand, points out Solomon, the 1991 census report does mention the number of Jews in the state...

 

WORLD’S OLDEST LIVING MARRIED COUPLE CELEBRATES ANOTHER MILESTONE

“World’s oldest living married couple celebrates another milestone” (By Dianna Marder, JewishWorldReview.com, July 21, 2005)

At 105, Herbert Brown is impeccably dressed in a crisp blue shirt that brings out the color of his eyes but belies the strain of time on his frail frame. Given his time spent in a Nazi concentration camp and his run-in with the notorious Adolf Eichmann, it’s a wonder Brown has survived.

But here he is, in the one-bedroom apartment he shares with his wife of 74 years, the former Magda Fritz, who is 100.

Together, on July 15, their ages totaled 205 years and 293 days, making them according to the Guinness Book of World Records the oldest living married couple in the world...

A sepia photograph shows Magda, 26, and Herb, 30, at their wedding in Austria in 1930.

When the Nazis came to power in 1938, the Browns’ lives were imperiled. Magda recalls soldiers entering her house and taking everything of value even rooting through the laundry in search of hidden cash.

Herbert was sent to Dachau. Remarkably, with the help of Christians in the community and a Jewish charity, Magda raised money for his release.

He returned to Vienna but was required to report daily to a government office. One day a high-ranking Nazi official was at the office, conducting interrogations. Brown was forced to stand at attention, with his nose pressed to the wall, for two hours. And then he appeared before the official who turned out to be Eichmann.

The couple fled to England soon after...



FULL ARTICLES

MAZAL TOV BECKHAM, YOU’RE JEWISH

Mazal tov Beckham, you’re Jewish

Finally, a world-class Jewish soccer superstar: English national team and Real Madrid halfback learns his mother comes from Jewish family tattoos verse from ‘Song of Songs’ on his forearm to mark revelation

By Mody Kraitman
Yediot Ahronot
August 4, 2005

English soccer phenom and fashion icon David Beckham recently found out his mother comes from a Jewish family.

The enthused Real Madrid halfback, who has a large tattoo of a cross adorning his chest, chose to mark the revelation by adding another tattoo on his left forearm during a recent trip to Singapore, this time of a famous verse from the Song of Songs: “I am for my beloved and my beloved is for me.”

Beckham’s wife, former Spice Girl Victoria Adams, was so moved by her husband’s gesture that she decided to tattoo the same verse on the back of her neck.

A source close to the glitzy couple told the London-based “Sun” that of all his tattoos, Beckham regards the Hebrew verse to be “the most romantic.”

On Wednesday the “Daily Mirror” admitted it had slurred Beckham when it published an article a month ago saying the soccer star has been harassing his children’s former nanny, Abbie Gibson, on the phone.

The article was posted after Ms. Gibson had given the newspaper a special interview.

The newspaper and publishing house are set to pay Beckham compensation and legal expenses.

The nanny promised not to expose any additional details regarding the fling with her former boss; she revealed that, in the past, she and Beckham had sex but did not engage in intercourse.

 

HOLY BATH PASSPORT FOR MIZO JEWS TO ISRAEL

Holy bath passport for Mizo Jews to Israel
Web India
IANS
July 27, 2005

news.webindia123.com/news/showdetails.asp?id=101022&cat=Asia

Hundreds of tribal Jews in Mizoram in India’s northeast are giving finishing touches to a ritual bath under the supervision of Israeli rabbis that could serve as their passport to that country.

A team of rabbis, including Israeli architect-rabbi Doron Malka, is overseeing the construction of the ‘mikvah’, or Jewish ritual bath, in the state capital.

“It will take a few more days for the mikvah to be completed and after that the final process of conversion will begin,” Rabbi Hannock Avizedek, an Israeli preacher deputed by the Chief Rabbinate religious jurists, told IANS.

“A bath at the mikvah forms an important ritual in Jewish traditions and a holy dip is considered the final step towards becoming a complete Jew.” For a new convert, a divine dip at the mikvah is mandatory.

A similar ritual bath is also being constructed at Manipur.

The chief rabbi of the Sephardic Jews, Shlomo Amar, announced in Jerusalem in March that members of the 6,000-strong Bnei Menashe tribe in Mizoram and Manipur were descendants of ancient Israelites or one of the Biblical 10 lost tribes.

The recognition by Israel came in the wake of piles of applications from locals here seeking to migrate to Israel, which they say is their “right to return to their promised land”.

According to Israeli law every Jew enjoys the “right of return” - or the right of abode in Israel.

“Leaders of the Rabbinical Court will come from Israel and find out who are the people who can take a bath at the mikvah. There are strict rules to be followed and it is not that anybody who claims to be a Jew can take a dip,” Rabbi Avizedek said.

“Once the rituals are over, it will open the gates for people from here to migrate to Israel.”

Although recognised as Jews, tribal people here will have to undergo conversion rituals as they have been not been strictly following Judaism as practiced in Israel.

At least 800 people from Mizoram and Manipur have migrated to Israel during the past decade, the last batch of 71 people leaving for Jerusalem in May 2003.

The local tribal Mizos and some people in Churachandpur area of Manipur are believed to have very many things in common with the Jews in Israel. Like in any Jewish home in Israel, Mizo Jews also place the mezuzah or a wooden box containing verses from the Torah at the entrance of their homes, besides wearing the kippah or headgear during prayers.

“I am convinced the Mizos are Jews. There are lots of similarities between the Israelis and the Mizos,” said Zaitthangchungi, a local researcher and author of a book “Israel Mizo Identity”.

For people like Yonathan Ralte, a young college student in Mizoram, a holy dip could be a passport to Israel.

“I am learning Hebrew and other aspects of Judaism so that I clear the test for conversion. I want to go to my Promised Land soon,” Ralte said while voluntarily helping in the construction of the ritual bath.

 

STATE IGNORES JEWS AS THEY HAVE NO VOTES

State ignores Jews as they have no votes
By Sanjeev Devasia
Midday.com
July 6, 2005

web.mid-day.com/news/city/2005/july/113175.htm

The Jews in the city are upset that the census report of 2001 has no mention of their community in Mumbai or in the state. The tiny community, has just 6,000 members in Maharashtra, including those residing at Thane.

The community members feel the omission is indicative of the government’s neglect towards Jews.

“If they can give the figures of all other major religions in the country, I fail to understand why they cannot give the number of Jews in the city? Judaism is a major religion in the world and the powers here seems to have forgotten to mention the community in the census report,” said J S Solomon, solicitor.

Community members complain that even the small Parsi community finds a mention in the city, but Jews are nowhere to be seen. On the other hand, points out Solomon, the 1991 census report does mention the number of Jews in the state.

“We need to know the number of our brethren in the city. Is it because we are inconsequential in terms of a vote bank, that they have ignored us? We hardly have anyone to represent our case before the authorities,” said Benjamin Isaac, secretary of the Indian Jewish Federation.

“Besides, there has been a large-scale migration of community members in the past and we have a right to know their status,” Isaac adds.

“Jews have contributed a lot to this city and to the country. The census report has to mention the number of people belonging to our community like they do of any other major community,” said Levi Jacob, religious community worker.

Directorate of census operations, Maharashtra joint director R S Meena said that all major religions in the country are declared in the census report.

However, the data on religions such as Judaism may have been put in the ‘others’ category. We do not know the exact numbers of Jews in the city.

The figures may be available with the central office in Delhi. But we do not know, when it will be published,” she said.

If they can give the figures of all other major religions in the country, I fail to understand why they cannot give the number of Jews in the city? J S Solomon, solicitor

We need to know the number of our brethren in the city. Is it because we are inconsequential in terms of a voting bank, that they have ignored us? - Benjamin Isaac, secretary, Indian Jewish Federation

Jews have contributed a lot to this city and to the country Levi Jacob, religious community worker

* The Jews in state *

Population of Jews according to the Census report of 1991

Total Jews in Maharashtra: 3294

Greater Mumbai 2041
Thane 613
Raigad 402
Pune 209

 

“THINK OF LIFE AS YOU WANT IT TO BE”

World’s oldest living married couple celebrates another milestone
By Dianna Marder
JewishWorldReview.com
(KRT)
July 21, 2005

jewishworldreview.com/0705/oldest_couple.php3

At 105, Herbert Brown is impeccably dressed in a crisp blue shirt that brings out the color of his eyes but belies the strain of time on his frail frame. Given his time spent in a Nazi concentration camp and his run-in with the notorious Adolf Eichmann, it’s a wonder Brown has survived.

But here he is, in the one-bedroom apartment he shares with his wife of 74 years, the former Magda Fritz, who is 100.

Together, on July 15, their ages totaled 205 years and 293 days, making them according to the Guinness Book of World Records the oldest living married couple in the world.

Other couples have been married longer, and some individuals are older. On June 1, an English couple, Percy and Florence Arrowsmith, also 105 and 100 respectively, were named by Guinness as the oldest living married couple. But the Browns proved they beat the Arrowsmiths by a few days; on June 13, Percy Arrowsmith died, making the point moot.

Herb and Magda Brown now have this distinction, certified by Guinness.

“We met at a dance, and we fell in love right away,” Magda says, her face brightening as she recalls her days as a finishing school student in Vienna more than seven decades ago.

A sepia photograph shows Magda, 26, and Herb, 30, at their wedding in Austria in 1930.

When the Nazis came to power in 1938, the Browns’ lives were imperiled. Magda recalls soldiers entering her house and taking everything of value even rooting through the laundry in search of hidden cash.

Herbert was sent to Dachau. Remarkably, with the help of Christians in the community and a Jewish charity, Magda raised money for his release.

He returned to Vienna but was required to report daily to a government office. One day a high-ranking Nazi official was at the office, conducting interrogations. Brown was forced to stand at attention, with his nose pressed to the wall, for two hours. And then he appeared before the official who turned out to be Eichmann.

The couple fled to England soon after.

All this and more their daughter, Trudie Solarz, has documented and recounted on videotape for Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation.

The Browns came to Philadelphia in 1940; Magda was a seamstress, and Herb worked at a factory sewing the shoulder seams on tuxedos.

Today, they live in an assisted-living apartment complex called Harbor View.

Magda is meticulously dressed by 6:30 every morning, complete with lipstick and pearls. Herbert’s face bears the scars of melanoma, and his hearing is fading. But he is content.

“He doesn’t talk much,” Trudie says, teasing her father. “But that’s nothing new. Mom never let him get a word in.”

Trudie learns over and puts her lips to her father’s right ear. “Don’t fall asleep!” she says. “You’re getting your picture taken.” He smiles on cue.

Believe what you will about the benefits of exercise (Herbert and Magda were dedicated mall walkers) and eating right (Herbert practically lived on raw carrots; Magda is a chocoholic).

Trudie says, with all due respect, that her father stays alive to give Magda something to do.

“She’s constantly straightening his collar and telling him what to eat.”

At Harbor View, where the staff is planning a celebration, Betty Lowery, the assistant activity director, asks Magda her secret of longevity.

“You have to be happy all the time,” Magda says. “Think of life as you want it to be.”


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.