American singer Whitney Houston has flown into Israel - in search of inspiration for her upcoming Christmas album.

Whitney arrived Sunday (25MAY03) for her stay with the Black Hebrews, a group of nearly 2,000 black Americans who followed a Chicago bus driver to Israel decades ago. The group believe they are descendants of one of the lost tribes of Israelites and their religious customs include a vegan diet and polygamy.

Whitney spent her first day at their compound in the desert town of Dimona receiving massages, relaxing, and meeting with the Black Hebrews, who call each other saints.

PATRICIA HOUSTON, the singer's spokeswoman and sister-in-law, says, "She is loving it. She is a spiritual woman and wanted to come here and touch the land and be around the saints of Dimona."

Whitney is accompanied by a group of relatives, including her husband Bobby Brown and their daughter Bobbi Kristina.

Her spokeswoman says the singer had planned to visit the Middle Eastern country earlier, but her trip had been postponed a number of times because of security concerns.

27/05/2003 02:11