When pop star Harry Styles was filmed “twerking” at last Sunday’s Teen Choice Awards, fans of his band One Direction ensured the video went viral on the internet.
But it was an earlier image from the awards ceremony that might have done more to catch the eye of JC readers.
Styles was pictured wearing a silver Star of David around his neck as he made his way along the red carpet into the Los Angeles venue.
The 19–year-old heart-throb’s regular references to Jewish life on Twitter have become the subject of fevered speculation among One Direction’s Jewish fans, and an equal level of bafflement for his more than 15 million followers on the site.
Eyebrows were first raised in January when kosher restaurant Met Su Yan in Golders Green was besieged after Styles was spotted dining inside. He later posed for pictures with fans, who quickly spread the news of his new kosher preferences.
He posted a Yiddish-heavy message on Twitter the following week: “Listen Gavriel, all I get from you is tsoros. With you I can never schlep [sic] nachas.”
The “Gavriel” in question is Gabriel Turner, director of independent film company Fulwell 73. And it is with the Jewish founders of the company that Styles’s interest in Judaism is thought to have originated.
Fulwell 73 has most recently helped make One Direction: This is US – a feature-length film due to be released on August 29.
Styles is known to be close to both Turner and his Fulwell co-founder Ben Winston, the man thought to be behind the increase in the pop star’s Yiddish vocabulary.
The son of renowned scientist Lord Winston set up the film company with Turner, friend Leo Pearlman, and Turner’s brother, Ben.
The friendship with Styles flowered after Winston, a former Leeds JSoc president and Maccabi GB football coach, made a one-hour ITV film on One Direction in 2011 and directed a music video for the band. That led to the forthcoming film.
Styles now posts increasingly-detailed messages aimed at his Jewish fans.
In February, he thrilled followers by posting a Purim tweet that left many convinced that the singer’s surprisingly high level of knowledge meant he must himself be Jewish.
Styles wrote: “Happy Purim everyone! Enjoy your seudah today and boo loudly at hamann during the megillah!! x”
A month later, he tweeted: “Looking forward to Seder night. Always get a bit nervous when I have to sing ma’nish ta’na. But do love a schmorreh matzah. Happy pesach.”
That sent his Jewish fans into a state of near delirium, with the message re-tweeted on the social networking site a staggering 50,000 times.
Among Styles’s more than 30 tattoos is a large Hebrew transliteration of his sister Gemma’s name, on his shoulder.
But although his home village of Holmes Chapel in Cheshire is not far from the large Jewish community of Hale, there have been no reports of him turning up at Hale Hebrew Congregation.
It seems the most likely way for Styles to truly be considered unserer – one of us – is if he marries in – the prospect of which would no doubt set thousands of young Jewish hearts racing.