Muhammed Ali, perhaps the most famous boxer and one of the most recognized athletes of all times, has now run the gambit of major monotheistic religions.
Born as Cassius Clay, Jr., Ali was raised a Christian Baptist. In 1967 he changed his name after joining the radical Nation of Islam. Ali formally converted to Islam in 1975. Recently, Ali made headlines after being spotted in a synagogue, where he was attending the bar mitzvah of his grandson, Jacob Wertheimer.
Jacob is the son of Ali's daughter, Khaliah Ali-Wertheimer, and Spencer Wertheimer.
Khaliah told boxing news website The Sweet Science that while she had been raised as a Muslim, "I'm not into organized religion." Khaliah said her son had felt more connected to his father's background and "chose this on his own because he felt a kinship with Judaism and Jewish culture."
Ali's daughter said her legendary father was "supportive in every way" of her son's decision to follow Judaism.
Another celebrity bar mitzvah took place on Monday when American actor David Arquette underwent the traditional Jewish coming-of-age ceremony. At 40, Arquette is well beyond the age that Jewish boys typically mark their bar mitzvah (13). But, as members of Arquette's entourage told him, according to Yediot Ahronot, "better late than never."
Arquette's mother is Jewish, but he never celebrated a bar mitzvah growing up. Arquette's father was a convert to Islam from Catholicism.
Arquette was in Israel this week as a guest of the Ministry of Tourism to film segments for his travel show "Trippin." While visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Arquette witnessed a young Jewish boy celebrating his bar mitzvah. One of his hosts reportedly suggested that Arquette finally go through with the ritual himself.
Days later, Arquette was donning a tallit (prayer shawl) and strapping on tefilin (phylacteries) for his own Western Wall bar mitzvah ceremony, which was directed by Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz.
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