Here are some of the rules that the Black Hebrews of Dimona, Israel, live by, according to their Web site. We can all decide if Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, their guests this week, will be interested in signing up when they read these:
Twelve Redemptive Steps
1. Prayer: toward Land (Israel); City (Jerusalem); Temple. I Kings 8:22-54.
2. Support National Vegan Day: Introduction to vegetarian cuisine and another level of dietary consciousness. Fourth day (Wednesday) every week.
3. Prepare more meals at home: Classes on nutrition, proper shopping and preparation of food are available. Male and female students are welcomed.
4. Abstain from smoking cigarettes.
5. Learn to make naturally fermented wine sweetened with honey or maple syrup. Use naturally fermented wines to replace strong alcoholic liquors at your social affairs.
6. Keep cycles of abstinence and dedication (fasting, prayer) in harmony with the cycle of the day given by the God of Creation -- sunset to sunset.
7. Avoid sexual activities during a woman's menstrual cycle, seven days from the onset of her issue of blood. This will prevent venereal disease, vaginal tumors, cervical cancer and fibroids.
8. A challenge to immodest dress: Begin to wear creative styles of dresses that come below the knee.
9. Parents: Get back involved in the decision process for your children!
10. Research the origin of Christmas: Jeremiah 10:1-5. Virtually any encyclopedic or historical reference will clearly outline its pagan origins.
11. Research the biblical High Holy Days (Passover [Feast of Unleavened Bread], Feast of Weeks, Memorial Blowing of the Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles) and consider their relevance and importance in the cycles of life.
12. Read the Resurrection Series written by Ben Ammi (the group's self-appointed leader).
Sounds like fun, kids! Send a postcard!
And to the London Sun and all British tabloids: We don't mind you quoting our stories, but let's try and give credit to this Web site from now on ...
How much does it cost to go fly-fishing with NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw? The answer, apparently, is a swift $320,000.
That's how much former New York Knicks coach Pat Riley paid last night during an auction at the annual Robin Hood Foundation dinner. Obviously, basketball has been very, very good to the Miami Heat's current well-dressed leader.
The Brokaw auction was just one of several items at the Robin Hood's hush-hush affair last night at Javits Center. Altogether the charity raised a whopping $16 million to disburse to a number of New York organizations that help the poor, homeless and needy.
Another item, though, was the big "get" of the night. Auctioned off was the right to be a "Robin Hood" to the Abraham House in the Bronx. This is a facility run by a Belgian nun, Sister Simone, who, according to the Robin Hood brochure, has slept under an umbrella when the roof leaks rather than use the charity's funds. (Someone should tell these stories to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, don't you think?)
With Sister Simone on the main stage in front of 3,400 well-heeled guests, hands went up and up and up. In the end, two auctions -- one for $500,000 and another to match it -- gave Sister Simone $1 million to take home. Some of that will go to a new roof.
The Robin Hood Foundation likes to give their annual dinner in secret, lest we know who's ponying up the big bucks at this auction. But I will tell you that several well-known faces dotted the dinner crowd, including Brokaw's contingent of Katie Couric, Jeff Zucker and Matt Lauer; Diane Sawyer and Claudia Cohen of ABC; and actors like Steve Buscemi and Matt Dillon. Ex-rocker Patty Smyth and hubby John McEnroe were also on hand, plus Miramax's Harvey Weinstein, News Corp.'s Lachlan Murdoch and Infinity Broadcasting's John Sykes.
There was no sign, however, of Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, which was a little odd since Robin Hood was the pet charity of her late brother, John. Nevertheless, the Kennedy family was represented by John's cousin Bobby and his wife Mary. And listed in the seating plan was Rose Marie Terenzio and guests. Terenzio was John Kennedy's personal assistant and close friend at George magazine; perhaps she was standing in for the rest of the Kennedys.
For all this money -- and there was lots of it coursing through the Javits Center last night -- the upscale patrons did get something as a bonus: back-to-back one-hour shows from Elton John and James Brown. Yow!
Sir Elton made the scene with a full band, and put on a surprisingly well-executed show. He thanked Universal Music Group's Doug Morris for making him do the show, then launched into "Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word."
He also performed a whole set of greatest hits, from "Love Lies Bleeding" to "Your Song," with stops along the way for "Tiny Dancer," "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues," and "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me." During "The [Expletive] is Back," Elton actually rolled up onto the piano and slid around a bit, just like the old days. His voice was in fine form, too. You go, Elton!
Not to be outdone, James Brown seamlessly grabbed the stage, pulling his dozen-or-so-piece funk orchestra and half-dozen backup singers and dancing girls with him. Recently pardoned for all his crimes, Brown -- who says he just turned 70 -- is a force of nature and a law unto himself.
He has never looked healthier or sounded saner, which is kind of frightening. He actually does a version of his old dance steps, swiveling on one foot (the good foot!) and grabbing the mike stand as if he were going to strangle it.
Brown knows how to pace his voice, and in fact sounded best on snippets of ballads like "You Send Me" and "Try Me." He still yowels on key, and pumps the funk like no one else in this world. Yow!
It was a shame more Robin Hooders didn't stick around to see the end of Brown's show. But baby-sitters and idling Volvos were calling out to the largely white, yuppie, late-30s crowd. They can't stay up as late as James Brown, no sir.