Pop star Whitney Houston, who visited Black Hebrews in Israel, dies

Whitney Houston

JTA

JERUSALEM — American pop star Whitney Houston, who visited a community of Black Hebrews in Israel in 2003, has died at the age of 48.

Houston was discovered dead Saturday afternoon in the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. just hours before she was scheduled to appear at a pre-Grammy party. The Grammy Awards, to take place on Sunday evening, will present a tribute to the singer.

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In Israel, radio stations played Houston’s music, including her iconic “I Will Always Love You,” from the movie “The Bodyguard,” in which she also starred.

Houston and then-husband Bobby Brown, visited Israel in 2003, at the invitation of the Black Hebrews, who live in Dimona in Israel’s South.

The couple and their daughter spent a week traveling throughout Israel including meeting with then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Houston reportedly told Sharon during the meeting that “I feel at home” in Israel.

Houston reportedly hoped the visit would help inspire her in creating a Christmas album, and called the trip a “spiritual retreat,” according to reports.

Houston and Brown visited the Black Hebrews in Dimona, wearing traditional African dress, and were named honorary citizens of the Israeli city.

No cause of death has been announced.