What Is The Kabbalah Center?

WCBS TV News, New York/July 7, 2008

New York - Pop star Madonna and Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez reportedly became acquainted through their interest in Kabbalah, an ancient form of Jewish mysticism.

Jews have been studying Kabbalah since it started about 800 years, but the organization that Madonna is connected with, the Kabbalah Center, has taken the Jewish tradition and made it accessible to everyone.

"Kabbalah is esoteric or deeper teaching of the Torah, which is the Old Testament. It refers to a separate receiving of teaching that just sheds light on what the Torah means on a deeper level. Simple as that," said Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn.

Einhorn says not all Jews study the Kabbalah - it's basically another tool used to get a deeper understanding of the religion.

So what is the Kabbalah Center, which has a midtown office on 48th St.?

The center has basically taken ideology from Kabbalistic teachings, and turned it into a spiritual movement.

Rick Ross has been studying controversial religious groups around the world for more than 25 years. He feels the Kabbalah Center is nothing more than a religious spiritual empire.

"The Kabbalah Center is really not recognized within the organized Jewish community. It's really more of a family business, run by Philip Berg, his second wife Karen, and their two sons," said Rick Ross. "In my opinion, the Kabbalah center can be seen as a cult."

"If the family doesn't go along with the loved one's involvement with the Kabbalah Center or spouse doesn't follow along into the Kabbalah Center, they may break up a family, they make break up a marriage," added Ross.

According to the center's website, the organization began in the 1920's. It only became well known recently, thanks to some high profile members.

"Madonna is to the Kabbalah Center what Tom Cruise is to Scientology. That is she is its public face," feels Ross.

Other celebrities who have practiced Kaballah Include Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Streisand, Rosanne, Donna Karen, Britney Spears, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher

Ross feels the Kabbalah Center takes advantage of people financially.

Critics of the Kabbalah Center say it teaches a watered down version of the true Kabbalistic teachings.

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