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Anthony Bourdain reveals Jewish heritage on ‘Parts Unknown’ Jerusalem

by Jana Banin, JTA

September 16, 2013 | 2:18 pm

Anthony Bourdain visits Israel on “Anthony Bourdain Parts Unkown”

Anthony Bourdain visits Israel on “Anthony Bourdain Parts Unkown”

On last night’s season premiere of “Anthony Bourdain Parts Unkown,” the CNN travel show’s host traveled to Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank. There, he shared with viewers not only the lowdown on the region’s food, culture and politics, but also a little fact about himself. Turns out Bourdain is a Jew.

In the episode Bourdain puts on tefillin and says a blessing by the Western Wall, at which time he reveals that while he was raised without religion, he had one Catholic parent and one Jewish parent.

“I’ve never been in a synagogue. I don’t believe in a higher power,” the celebrity chef said. “But that doesn’t make me any less Jewish, I don’t think.”

Other stops include a walking tour of the Old City with Yotam Ottolenghi, author of best selling cookbook “Jerusalem,” the Aida refugee camp, a restaurant run by a Jewish-Muslim couple, and a kibbutz. Bourdain also spends time with a member of the Speed Sisters, a group of female Palestinian speed racers.

If you think the show sounds like it might have a bit of controversy potential, you’re not alone. Bourdain predicts he’ll be hit with comments like “terrorist sympathizer,” “Zionist tool” and — now that everyone knows his background — “self-hating Jew.”

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