long after publicly announcing his partial Jewish ancestry, David
Beckham, the world’s most famous soccer player, paid tribute to his
newfound heritage with a favorite phrase from the Hebrew Bible — which
he tattooed on his forearm.
Beckham, the soccer superstar for Real Madrid, is only the latest in a
small but growing number of celebrities appearing with Hebrew letters
and Jewish symbols permanently inked on their skin. Celebrity magazines
have reacted with head-shaking amusement, and in some cases irritation,
because tattooing, an especially loaded act for Jews after the
Holocaust, has for centuries been forbidden by Jewish law.
a tabloid fixture in his native England, hasn’t commented publicly on
the seeming contradiction between his newly acquired Jewish pride and
his latest tattoo, which joins others including the names of his two
sons and — ya gotta love it — a not insignificant crucifix on the back
of his neck. Yet despite the incongruity, Beckham’s newest body art
seems to have been selected with genuine enthusiasm, if not an
impressive understanding of Jewish history and law. The tattoo, a
quotation from the Song of Songs, reads, in Hebrew, "I am my Beloved’s,
and my Beloved is mine."
design, which is not Beckham’s first in a foreign language, also joins
a tattoo spelling out his wife’s name — reportedly incorrectly — in
Hindi. But in getting the tattoo, Beckham, at least avoided the
controversy that resulted from a previous fashion innovation: his
public appearance, several years ago, in a fan-donated sweatshirt
bearing the image of executed Holocaust mastermind Adolf Eichmann.
her part, Beckham’s wife Victoria, the former Spice Girl known as Posh,
was so moved by her husband’s Hebrew tattoo that she also had the Song
of Songs saying permanently inked into her skin — in her case as part
of the couple’s sixth wedding anniversary.
whatever extent the Beckhams understand the symbolism of their fashion
statements, it seems clear that no harm was intended with either the
Eichmann shirt or the new "Jewish" tattoos. Instead, the world’s
highest paid soccer player and his wife are merely echoing a trend
started by Madonna and emanating, not from Paris, Milan or even Beverly
Hills, but from Jerusalem.
Kabbalah Center’s most famous adherent released a music video for her
title song the James Bond film, "Die Another Day." The clip portrays
the singer battling her alter ego with swords and battle axes and also,
rather unexpectedly, wrapping herself in tefillin. The video goes on to
display the middle-aged pop star’s right bicep, adorned with the Hebrew
letters lamed, alef, and vav — one of the Almighty’s 72 names,
according to the Kabbalah Centre’s Web site, and among his protective
"instruments of power." The Jerusalem Post