Kabbala is at the Centre of exposés

The kabbala sect of Madonna (here visiting Israel, sporting red string) gets scrutiny from Radar magazine and '20/20.'

New York Daily News/June 16, 2005
By Rush and Molloy

The mystical religion of Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Madonna, Guy Ritchie and Britney Spears is about to lose some of its mystery. Radar magazine and ABC News' "20/20" unload dueling exposés on kabbala this week. The "20/20" piece airs tomorrow. Posting today on www.radaronline.com is the first of four installments in which writer Mim Udovitch alleges the celebrity sect isn't all red string bracelets and prayer. Among her bullet points:

Kabbalah Centre founder Philip Berg has made suspicious claims about being the rightful successor to revered kabbalist Rabbi Yehuda Brandwein. Berg also settled a lawsuit that charged him with copyright infringement and plagiarism.

Philip Berg and his wife, Karen, who have tried to tear kabbala away from its Jewish roots, have used Craigslist to solicit freelance ghostwriters to help the Bergs write "scholarly" books on kabbala.

The Centre has a penchant for lending money to companies owned by the Bergs' friends. That includes one $1.8 million loan to a company that flips real estate in inner-city L.A. neighborhoods.

The Bergs' luxurious lifestyle stands in stark contrast to the bleak four-to-a-bedroom quarters of those who cook and clean for them, making $35 a month.

The Centre's leaders have claimed its Kabbalah Water can do everything from cleansing the lakes of Chernobyl to curing cancer. All the same, Madonna is going to team up with the Centre in marketing the water to the masses. Kabbalah Centre lawyer Bert Fields declined comment yesterday. Word is that Madonna, Ritchie, Kutcher and Moore turned down invitations to discuss their faith with "20/20."

The biggest celebrity the show nabbed, we hear, was Roseanne Barr.

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