The controversial Kabbalah movement is infiltrating state schools by running 'spirituality' classes for pupils as young as seven, it was claimed today.
Five primaries and a secondary school have introduced the sect's Spirituality for Kids programme - some without parental consent.
Devotees of the trendy movement visit the schools and teach youngsters to find 'the light' and reject an inner voice called 'the opponent'.
The Spirituality for Kids group, or SFK, insists the classes are non-religious but one head said he had scrapped the programme after volunteers began preaching to children about Kabbalah.
Originally a mystical form of Judaism, Kabbalah was turned into a global movement in the Seventies.
Jewish leaders believe the modern Kabbalah craze - whose celebrity followers include Madonna and Demi Moore - is distorting the tradition's true teachings.
They voiced deep concern about schools using SFK, which was founded by the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Centre. Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet, of the Mill Hill synagogue in North London, said: 'I heard it was their intent, but I hadn't realised that they had infiltrated British schools. I believe they work using mind manipulation.'
Critics claim the recent branch of Kabbalah has made money out of the credulous. A 2005 BBC documentary found that red string bracelets worn by followers cost £18.50.
Burdett Coutts Church of England Primary School in Westminster ran one SFK programme lasting 26 weeks and was part-way through its second when staff dropped it.
Headmaster John Hicks, who is also a parish priest, said: 'They were working in our school but not any more, after a school investigation found them not to have been wholly upfront about their background.
'We ended the project once the SFK staff started talking about Kabbalah to the children.'
But Queen's Park Primary, in the same borough, introduced SFK two years ago and plans to continue. Deputy head Viv Ambery-Smith said: 'We have monitored it carefully. These are good people with good intentions. As long as they are not indoctrinating children, which they are not, why shouldn't they have their own beliefs?'
She said SFK had paid for ten children to spend a week at a residential summer adventure camp in Kent.
Other schools to offer the SFK programme are St Vincent de Paul Catholic Primary and Essendine Primary in Westminster and two schools in Tower Hamlets, Lawdale Junior and Oaklands School, a secondary.
An SFK spokesman said the charity was separate from the Kabbalah Centre. Volunteers were banned from teaching children about Kabbalah and were instructed to be open about links with the movement.
He added that SFK was 'a separate programme based on the universal lessons of Kabbalah as well as other spiritual disciplines'.