Babs is heading to the Holy Land next month for two major events in her long and legendary career: On June 17, she will receive an honorary doctorate from Hebrew University and, during the same visit, she is expected to perform publicly in Israel for the very first time.
According to a press release, the university will present Streisand with the award in recognition of her humanitarianism and dedication to Israel and the Jewish people. In a statement, Hebrew University president Menahem Ben-Sasson commended Streisand's "transcendent talent," "passionate concern for equality" and "love of Israel and her Jewish heritage."
Streisand has had a longstanding relationship with the university. In 1984, she created the Emanuel Streisand Building for Jewish Studies on Hebrew U's Mount Scopus campus, in honor of her father. During the dedication, she described her father as “a teacher, scholar and religious man who devoted himself to education.” He died of complications from an epileptic seizure when Streisand was barely a year old.
But perhaps even bigger news is that Streisand finally plans to perform for the Israeli public for the first time -- twice during her visit. It's stunning to think that the 71-year-old songstress who has staked so much of her identity on her Jewish heritage is so late in a line of illustrious entertainers -- including Madonna, Elton John and Rihanna -- to perform in Israel, though she has performed in Los Angeles at the fundraising gala for Friends of the Israel Defense Forces Western Region.
In addition, according to the Associated Press, Streisand is also expected to perform for a private group at a June conference honoring Israeli President Shimon Peres on the occasion of his 90th birthday. This will not be the first time that Streisand has performed before Israel's leaders; at the December 2011 FIDF gala, she told the audience that in 1978 she had performed at a 30th anniversary celebration for the State and had the opportunity to speak ("via satellite of course") with then-Prime Minister Golda Meir, which she said was "very special" to her.
Streisand closed her performance before the star-studded FIDF crowd by singing the High Holy Days prayer Avinu Malkeinu.
"I know we all hope and pray we will one day have a world where there is peace and security for Israel and all its neighbors," she said.