An Israeli resident, living in the center of the country, claims that Rabbi Feibel Berg and the teachers of the International Kabbalah Learning Centre, frequented by singers and movie stars, have fraudulently took away all her money and her home.
Madonna, director Guy Ritchie, the actors couple Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, fashion designer Donna Karan -- all fell under the spell of Rabbi Shraga Feibel Berg, the head of the International Kabbalah Learning Centre. All of them, probably, have nothing but many praises for him.
But the rabbi does not receive only praise. Ms. Z., a 56-year-old Israeli resident, living in the center of Israel, had filed a lawsuit against the rabbi. In the lawsuit, filed yesterday in the District Court in Tel Aviv, Ms. Z. claims that the teachers of the Centre "Stole her mind" and used fraud and deceit, in order to coerce her to donate her inheritance money, as well as sell her home and forward the sale proceeds to the Center.
The lawsuit was filed against the Centre, against Rav Berg and his wife Karen, his son Michael and other rabbis at the Centre. Concurrently, Ms. Z. filed a complaint against all of the above mentioned in the department dealing with fraud cases at the Tel Aviv police.
"They used to tell me that a person should take whatever he needs and give whatever he can, that giving should cause some pain" said Ms. Z. According to her claims, in addition to the promises made to her that her financial donations would be used to help others and transform the world into a better place, she was also promised living arrangements in a planned new community village; that would be built and designated for Kabbalah students.
She took care of Rav Berg's children
"They promised me that as soon as this village is built, I will no longer need money nor property, that I would be taken care of and live in the spirit of the Kabbalah with like-minded people, like myself". She claims, however, that the moment she ran out of money to donate, she was sent away empty handed.
In the lawsuit, filed by the attorney Chaim Cohen, Ms. Z claims that she started to take Kabbalah classes at the Kabbalah Center in Haifa in 1993, after listening to some audio lectures. Three years later she moved to live close to the Kabbalah Center, located near the Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv, where she continued her studies and started to work as a nanny, taking care of the children of the staff members at that location.
In time, she also took care of the grandchildren of Rabbi Berg and his wife Karen. She also moved to live with them out of the country for a period of time to take care of the children of Michael Berg, who is considered to be his father's heir apparent.
"The defendants used the plaintiff to perform various chores in Israel and abroad and made her work almost around the clock" wrote Mr. Cohen in the lawsuit. "All this for a salary of 3,000 New Israeli Shekels per month -- most of it paid back to the Centre, as she succumbed to their persuasion and pressure, since according to the "rules of Kabbalah" she needs not have any money at all."
The Centre response: She was given all her rights
Ms. Z. claims that she was brainwashed, that she was like "clay in the potter's hand", having been taken advantage of by the Kabbalah Centre staff. "It did not happen all of a sudden, the is a gradual process; which takes a very long time. You go through a series of persuasions until you believe one hundred percent every word being spoken by them. At the end you realize that you were lied to", so she says. "They misuse the reputation of the Kabbalah's name and act in their own personal interest."
The attorney for the Kabbalah Centre, Ravit Ben Saruk, claims in response: "My clients are taken by surprise by this lawsuit and its timing. Where was Ms. Z. during those 20 years she is complaining about today, using the media tools? This is a cynical abuse of the Kabbalah Centre, a place that was her warm home for many years; a place where she was taken care of, even beyond her basic needs, when she joined a group of friends and members who diligently work to realize the vision on which the centre was established.
For 9 years, Ms. Z. and my client enjoyed an employer-employee relationships, during which and until the ending, Ms. Z. was fully paid, according to all her legal rights. Any donations, including those given by Ms. Z. fifteen years ago, were given out of her free will, with no stipulations. The Kabbalah Centre is an organization that works to spread the wisdom of Kabbalah around the whole world and is being supported by donations from a very diverse body of students, entertainment personalities, business people and more. This lawsuit is totally unfounded and is intended for media purposes".