(JTA) – Pop star Harry Styles gave a shout-out to a pair of Orthodox Jewish friends who walked close to 10 kilometres to attend a concert of his at London’s Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
Jewish Chronicle reporter Tash Mosheim, who was at the show, heard Styles tell the crowd of 90,000 that he was grateful for Ben and Meredith Winston’s efforts to show up at the gig, which opened its doors well before sundown on Shabbat. The couple walked from their home in Hampstead, an outlying area of London, to avoid violating the laws of Shabbat.
The Winstons have been close with Styles throughout his rise to superstardom. While he was a contestant on the British music competition show The X Factor, Styles stayed in the Winstons’ attic bedroom for 20 months. A 2017 Rolling Stone profile claimed that “the Winstons’ Orthodox Jewish lifestyle, with a strong family emphasis, helped keep [Styles] sane” through the stress of the competition.
Ben Winston, a producer for James Corden’s Late Late Show and the Grammy Awards show, continued as a mentor for Styles as he joined the boy band sensation One Direction and later embarked on a wildly successful solo career.
The pair even co-produced a CBS sitcom that ran for one season called Happy Together — which involves an up-and-coming pop star who moves in with his accountant’s family — loosely based on their experience living together.
In the years since the start of their friendship, Styles — who is not Jewish — has tweeted about Jewish holidays (and engaged with Jewish social media users) on multiple occasions. He has a tattoo with his sister’s name spelled in Hebrew and a kippah with his own name on it, courtesy of Winston.
He is also a godparent to the Winstons’ young daughter Ruby, who voiced the line that starts his song As It Was, which topped the singles charts in dozens of countries last year: “Come on, Harry, we want to say goodnight to you!”
Winston’s father is Robert Winston, a pioneer in IVF research and later a TV presenter, and his mother Lira worked with several British-Jewish organisations.