Old shack will give Madonna front-row seat for arrival of her Messiah

The Sunday Times, London/March 4, 2006
By Ian MacKinnon

Madonna is trying to buy a house overlooking the Sea of Galilee at the place where followers of her Kabbalist faith expect the Messiah to reappear to herald world peace.

Representatives of the 47-year-old US singer have been cold calling home-owners in the picturesque mountain retreat of Rosh Pina and offering to pay any price to secure a property on her behalf.

The star — who was raised an Italian Catholic but adopted the Hebrew name Esther several years ago — wants the house to turn it into a Kabbalah study centre where followers can pore over the mystical texts.

When she made a highly publicised trip to Israel 18 months ago she visited many sites important to Kabbalah.

Kabbalists believe that the Messiah will appear at Safed and walk to Tiberias on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, travelling along the ravine that cuts through Rosh Pina.

The fabled gorge, or wadi, cuts through the rambling back garden of Shiri Havkin’s ramshackle home. The 100-year-old stone house was owned by her mother, Drora, a famed Israeli singer who passed on the property. Ten days ago Mrs Havkin, 41, herself a singer and actress, got a telephone call out of the blue from someone claiming to represent an “international celebrity” and asking if she wished to sell the house.

Her response was that she had no desire to sell. But, during the short conversation, the caller told Mrs Havkin, whose three children were born in the house, that he represented Madonna and that the price was not an issue. “I was wondering why my house?” she told The Times. “It’s old. It’s not fancy and it only has five rooms. But for me it has great sentimental value. Anyway, I thought the whole call was just a hoax.”

Some days later when a television company asked if she could confirm a rumour about Madonna’s interest, Mrs Havkin questioned her neighbours. She found that they, too, had been approached.

“The house is worth a little more than $500,000 (£294,000), but I would sell it to Madonna for a million dollars and buy another property for me and my family in the area,” she said.

Avi Ben-Porat, a Rosh Pina estate agent, also had a visit from people wishing to buy a property for a Kaballah centre and has arranged viewings.

Madonna turned to Kabbalah in 1997 through Rabbi Philip Berg’s Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles, which offers a path to spiritual enlightenment through a mix of Orthodox Jewish tradition, visualisation and positive thinking.

Mystic sect

  • Dates from 13th century. Based on the Zohar, an interpretation of the Torah
  • In 1969 an ex-salesman, Rabbi Philip Berg, set up the Kabbalah Centre International, which now has 3.5 million followers
  • It claims kabbalah can end disease, depression and achieve immortality
  • Kabbalists believe that God has masculine and feminine characteristics
  • Believers wear red string to ward off the evil eye

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