Whitney Houston called Israel visit a ‘spiritual retreat’


JERUSALEM (JTA) — American pop star Whitney Houston, who reportedly told then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon during a trip to Israel in 2003 that "I feel at home," 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.

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, and wore traditional African dress. They were named honorary citizens of the city.

The couple and their daughter spent a week traveling throughout Israel, which included a visit with Sharon in which she made the comment about feeling 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. 

No cause of death has been announced. The six-time Grammy winner had battled drug and alcohol addiction.

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