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Amid an array of colorful costumes, pounding drumbeats, dancing and song, the small African community of Hebrew Israelites welcomed Stevie Wonder.

"I have always wanted to see him singing here in the Holy land," said Elisheva Bat-Israel, a member of the so-called Black Hebrews who knew Wonder more than 20 years ago when she was a backup singer at Motown Records.Bat-Israel presented Wonder with a brass plaque Thursday inscribed in Braille with the words: "In recognition of outstanding humanitarian service . . . to the innumerable millions of listeners throughout the world."

Wonder, who is performing in Israel, said that through song, he "can continue the message of peace and unity and wander and fight against racism, prejudice and bigotry."