June 24, 2004

JERUSALEM--Pop star Madonna plans to tour holy places in Israel in October with a group of more than 100 students studying cabala, or Jewish mysticism, Israeli newspaper Maariv reported Thursday.

Madonna recently said she's chosen the Hebrew name Esther for herself as a follower of cabala. The 45-year-old singer wears a red thread on her wrist that's a symbol of Jewish mysticism.

She canceled three Israeli stops on her Re-Invention tour because of violence in the region. "It's not a good idea to go there and do concerts," she told syndicated entertainment TV show "Access Hollywood" in an interview last month.

Her trip is planned to coincide with the Jewish New Year, Maariv reported. Madonna will stay in an out-of-the-way guesthouse and avoid fans and TV cameras so that she'll be able to focus on her cabala studies, the newspaper reported.

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