Hebrew Hollywood: The Kabbalah Takeover has begun - A look at Kabbalah in the media and how it has got a hold over celebrities such as Madonna and Demi Moore

Essay by HotussiUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, April 2006

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Almost every week a new celebrity is seen either entering or leaving. Aging pop stars, the hottest new starlet and everyone in between is doing it. Many claim it is life changing and it helps them to be a "better person". Some have even gone as far as to donate millions to the cause. No, it's the not the celeb charity du jour or hippest night club. It is the Kabblah Centre, the hottest celebrity spirituality movement since Scientology and just as cultish.

The Kabbalah Centre is an organization devoted to teaching contemporary interpretations of Kabbalah, or Jewish Mysticism. Kabbalah means "to receive" (halevi).

Rabbi Philip Berg (born Feivel Gruberg) and his second wife Karen Berg started the Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles, California in 1984 (wikipedia.com/Philip_berg). Initially organized as a family business including non-profit and for-profit organizations with their sons Yehuda and Michael brought on to run it with them (wikipedia.com/kabbalah-centre).

Today there are over 50 branches worldwide with the major ones being in LA, New York, London and Toronto.

Technically the Kabbalah Centre is a non-Jewish movement. This is due to Rabbi Bergs teaching of the universality of the applications of Kabbalah in all contexts, both Jewish and non (halevi). Members of all faiths, including Jewish are active participants.

What is the appeal? Why are people across the globe flocking to this obscure section of Judaism traditionally reserved for male, erudite scholars over the age of 40? Not only that, but who would take a centuries old mystical practice and convolute it so much that virtually no reputable Rabbi or Jewish scholar of any kind will support it? More interestingly, why are celebrities scrambling to the Kabbalah Centre?

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, one of the world's foremost authorities on all things Jewish has been quoted as saying "what pornography...