You WILL see a celebrity in the Israel streets

Israeli Judo Champion (and olympic bronze medalist) Arik Zeevi, along with my 
left eye and my husband's right ear. We're not that short; he is actually that tall.)

So far, I've seen the singer Miri Mesika in a mall, the fat and thin guys from the Israeli Amazing Race in a Tel Aviv coffee house, and some girl from the "Mifratz HaAhava" (who I'm ashamed to say I recognized) in a pizza shop around the corner. I've also actually met the Israeli judo champion, Arik Zeevi... and thanks to this post, I'm Facebook friends with Maya from the Israeli Amazing Race. My husband regularly sits next to the Israeli equivalent to Dr. Phil on the train to Tel Aviv.

This list isn't all that impressive, but in my defense, reality TV stars become actual stars more quickly in Israel than in the US. (The blondiniots from the Israeli Amazing Race are now doing condom commercials.) Yet in 24 years of life in the US, my closest encounter with a celebrity came from knowing someone who went to high school with people who went to high school with Christina Aguilera. I never once saw anyone I recognized from national TV without specifically going somewhere to do so. By contrast, we ran into all of the people in the paragraph above within the last year.

Here's the thing: Israel is really, really small. You are likely to run into people you see on TV because there simply aren't many places for them to go. National news in Israel is equivalent to local news in the US; you see a house fire and probably know someone who lives near that street. (This might be one reason why Israelis watch the nightly news obsessively, gasping at any act of violence, shocked that someone in their "neighborhood" could be capable of murder or theft.) Imagine if every reality TV show cast only people from the three cities closest to your home. If you don't see someone you recognize from TV in Israel, you probably just don't pay enough attention.

Have you had any close encounters with celebrities in Israel or in the US?


  1. I think it depends where you live. here in the south (of Israel) we dont see many celebs (or at least not ones that I would recognize- my husband always points out low level sports stars from 10 years ago)... and in California I went to school with children of celebs

    or maybe its just that im an Olah and dont yet know all the cool stars

  2. Probably... we didn't see that many stars in Pittsburgh. Or maybe you just don't watch enough trashy TV. :)

  3. Actually, when we lived in Beer Sheva we never saw celebrities either. Probably because they never leave the center of the country...

  4. Hi Maya, I came upon your blog about a week ago after my 3rd trip to Israel. I live in New Zealand - bigger than Israel but far smaller than the US. We often see local celebrities here, mainly because I am in Auckland where many local shows are filmed. Flying through LA once I saw Paul Hogan - Crocodile Dundee - that's my closest to a US encounter.

  5. Hey! I saw Richard Gere when he was filming Mothman Prophecies in Kittanning. =) When we lived in Nashville, we saw numerous music stars. No one here though. (fun post!)

  6. I think that anyone walking around in Tel Aviv walks past dozens of celebrities, whether they realize it or not.

    But Israelis aren't obsessed with celebrities like Americans are..in Israel people mostly like them because they know that they really are like everyone else; not to mention that the majority don't earn nearly as much as even a d-list celeb in Hollywood.

  7. Jamie-Lynn Sigler was on my birthright in January 2008. We were not in the same group, but she was on both my flights. I asked for her autograph while waiting to board in Tel Aviv.


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