At the Kabbalah Centre, the surest way to experience "The Light" is to give until it hurts. But once the faithful make their donations to Kabbalah’s founding family, headed by former life insurance salesman Philip Berg and his wife - and former secretary - Karen, results are often scarce.
Here are a few examples, revealed by a Daily investigation:
1. Miriam Raoof paid $100,000 - three to four times the normal cost, rabbis said - to have a Torah written on her behalf after her Kabbalah teacher told her it could cure her cancer. The book was never delivered to her, and teachers stopped visiting her. In 2004, she died feeling cheated and disappointed.
2. Madonna and other New York Kabbalah members donated millions to open a grammar school in Manhattan. Two buildings were purchased and flipped for nearly double the price several years later. One building is now a boutique hotel with $229-per-night rooms.
3. One ex-member provided The Daily with $36,000 worth of checks he donated toward a down payment on a building for a permanent Boston Centre, which was sold three years later for a small profit to a Japanese restaurateur.
4. Spirituality for Kids, a Kabbalah charity, has raised $33 million since it was established in 2001. But federal sources told The Daily that SFK is under FBI scrutiny, and an ex-officer said the charity never seemed to have much money. Courtney Geddes, an ex-member, claims she invested $500,000 in 2007 for an international home-schooling program modeled after SFK and was never even shown the promised feasibility study.