Bob Dylan and Jesse at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, Israel, September 20, 1983.

Bob Dylan (Shabtai Zushia,his Hebrew name)

Bob Dylan (Shabtai Zushia,his Hebrew name)


Bob Dylan (Shabtai Zushia,his Hebrew name)at his oldest son Jesse’s (Yishai) Bar Mitzvah,at the Kotel,about 37 years ago.From left to right,Bob Dylan,Moshe Schlass (Officiating Rabbi,in charge of Bar Mitzvahs for the Ministry of Religion,at the Kotel),Bob’s son Jesse (Now a well known public figure)


Dylan attend the bar mitzvah of their son Jesse at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, Israel, September 20, 1983.
The bar-mitzvah is a religious initiation ceremony to which every Jewish boy undergoes; with it, the initiate is admitted to the cult and since that day has to observe the precepts of their religion.


September 20, 1983 bob dylan

Bob Dylan visiting the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem on the day of his son’s bar mitzvah, September 20, 1983.


Bob Dylan in Jerusalem, taken by Sara Dylan (1983)


Bob Dylan in Jerusalem, taken by Sara Dylan (1983)


On May 24th, Dylan’s 30th birthday, a photographer got a shot of him praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem while wearing a kippah, the traditional Jewish head covering.The photo ended any possible privacy. At some point in late May or early June, the Dylans visited Givat Haim, a kibbutz, to explore the possibility of staying there for a while. Eve Brandstein, a member of the kibbutz, told Dylan biographer Clinton Heylin that Dylan wanted to stay in a guest house but not work on the kibbutz. The kibbutz members did not want to accept his conditions for living there and were scared their home would be a magnet for the curious.

From April 11th to May 17th 1983 Dylan spent 19 recording sessions producing his album Infidels. On April 19th he sang six versions of a new song, “Neighborhood Bully,” and on May 17th, at the very last session recording the very last song, he did another take of the song, which, to me at least, indicates he wanted to get it right. “Neighborhood Bully” is a sarcastic, unvarnished full-throated defense of Israel. The Israelis, ironically called the bully of the neighborhood, have “got no place to escape to, no place to run.” They are “criticized and condemned for being alive.” There’s no subtlety here, no nuanced view of Middle Eastern history. The persecuted Jews are in the right and are simply defending their lives. Dylan invokes the Jewish people’s tragic history as a way of defending Israel:

The neighborhood bully been driven out of every land,
He’s wandered the earth an exiled man.
Seen his family scattered, his people hounded and torn,
He’s always on trial for just being born.

The album wasn’t released until November 1, 1983, but in September that year Jesse Dylan, Bob’s then seventeen year old son, had a late bar mitzvah in Israel, and his father flew over for the event. He was again photographed wearing Jewish religious items.

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  1. You forgot to mention that it was in May 1971 that Dylan visited the Wailing Wall and later made inquiries about joining/staying at Kibbutz Givat Haim.
    I must admit that I’ve always felt uneasy in following an artist such as Dylan who readily embraced & fell into the lap of Christianity but later seemed to deny his Jewish roots and even reportedly rejected his Jewish parents whom he reportedly disrespected a number of times in interview, all it seems in order to hop on board the ‘American Dream’ and to become a part of the fabric of Americana that is traditionally Christian based. He is now almost certainly, through his hard work, a ‘living legend’, while he almost totally ignored in his art The Holocaust and the suffering of his people so as not to rock the boat he was rowing (apart from a token performance of ‘Let My People Go’ here and there), my Father-in-law is a survivor of Auschwitz Concentration Camp and maybe instead of making a hero out of a multi murderer such as ‘Billy The Kid’ was, or perhaps if he’d sang about Anne Frank instead of singing about an American gangster, things might have been different, some may even suggest that he sold his people out for fortune and fame or that he ‘Sold His Soul to the Devil’ for the same ends. Congratulations on getting where you are and for finally arriving at the top of the tree Robert Allen Zimmerman, or should I call you by your adopted name of Bob Dylan and as you once sang, ‘May The Lord have mercy on our souls’, for we will all return to the dust as we came, poor and naked to the bone and remember one last thing, a quote from one of your works, ‘All the money you made won’t buy back your soul’.
    Anyone interested in some of the songs I help write about The Holocaust so that we shall never forget can be checked out at

    Paul Robert Thomas, Song Lyricist

    • I fail to see why anyone would have an expectation that Dylan would write about the Holocaust.

      Nor do I see why it is any of your business if he decided to change his name or his spiritual path.

      I love Dylan’s work, it has inspired me, moved me, delighted me and at times sustained me. I am grateful for his genius but I have no rights over him.

      Given the judgemental nature of your comment, I’ll pass on the invitation to check out your work.

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