From the LA Times
Madonna and the Kabbalah Cult
By Yossi Klein Halevi
JERUSALEM — Madonna's visit to Israel last week, as part of a High Holidays pilgrimage organized by the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Centre, was greeted here with an enthusiasm deeper than mere excitement at the presence of a pop superstar.
Israelis were understandably grateful to her for showing solidarity with their besieged country and for defying the fear of terrorism that has kept so many tourists away. Her very presence reminded Israelis that they still had friends around the world.
However reassuring, Madonna's embrace should be treated by Jews warily. The source of her Jewish connection, the Kabbalah Centre, has been repudiated by the mainstream Jewish community for its alleged cult-like behavior. Accusations against the Centre (the pompous spelling is theirs) include exploiting volunteers, breaking up marriages when one partner opposes involvement in the group, and even instructing one terminally ill L.A. man to cure himself by filling his swimming pool with water "blessed" by the Centre's leaders. (In fact, the Kabbalah Cafe in the Centre's L.A. headquarters has a sign that reassures patrons that all coffee and tea sold there is made with this water.)
The mainstream Jewish community is so wary of the Centre — which claims to have influenced about 3 million people, including Mick Jagger and Britney Spears — that the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles has excluded it from a listing of local Jewish organizations.But no less disturbing for religious Jews than the Centre's alleged abuses is its doctrinal distortion of cabala, the ancient mystical tradition revered as the inner sanctum of Judaic devotion and thought. [more...]