David Arquette celebrates bar mitzvah at Israel's Western Wall (Photos, Video)
David Arquette recently celebrated his bar mitzvah in Israel at Jerusalem's Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site.
The 40-year-old "Scream" actor is Jewish by birthright via his mother, the daughter of a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust. Arquette is currently on his first visit to Israel, to film a series called "Mile High" for the Travel Channel.
On Monday, June 11, he visited the Western Wall while shooting an episode and came across a bar mitzvah ceremony, a Jewish rite of passage typically performed for Jewish boys when they turn 13. He was then asked if he wanted to have one too. On-site rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch strapped phylacteries to his arm and placed a strapped leather black box over his head. Arquette wore a prayer shawl and read from the Torah.
"I had my Bar Mitzvah today at the wall," he Tweeted. "Finally I'm a man."
"He was very emotional, saying he was happy to be part of the chain of the Jewish people," Rabinowitz told the Associated Press, regarding Arquette's bar mitzvah. "I'm very pleased to see a man who is returning to his roots."
The actor was born on a Virginia religious commune co-founded by his mother, who was born Jewish, and father, who converted from Catholicism to become a Muslim. Arquette told The Jewish Journal in 2002 that his his family celebrated both the Jewish holiday of Passover and the Islamic holiday of Ramadan.
Arquette played a Jewish prisoner of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz in the 2001 film "The Grey Zone." His maternal grandfather was a Polish Holocaust refugee and lived with the family until his death in the 1980s. The actor told The Jewish Journal: "I regret so much that I didn't ask him more about his past."
The Western Wall is believed to be part of the perimeter of the second biblical Temple. Scores of citizens and foreign visitors flock to the popular tourism site every year to pray and place notes with prayers written on them in the wall's cracks. If you can't make the trip, you can email your message.
Arquette is co-producing his Travel Channel series with Omar Epps, who starred in FOX's hit medical drama "House" and who visited Israel earlier this year. Both were guests of the Jewish state's Ministry of Tourism. Arquette also shot segments for his show in Tel Aviv and the Dead Sea. The footage will be featured on an episode of "Mile High" that is set to premiere later this year.
"I love Israel," Arquette told the Israeli website Ynet after his bar mitzvah ceremony. The Ministry of Tourism has been very nice to us. The most incredible thing was seeing the Shabbat [festivities] on Friday here ... all the tradition and the people. I love the people of Israel."