Kabbalah Center

From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Kabbalah Centre.png
Mazel tov!
Icon judaism.svg
Kosher articles

The Kabbalah Centre, also known as The Kabbalah Centre International, is a non-profit organization that offers courses about kabbalah and the Zohar to the broader public. It was founded in 1984 by Rabbi Phillip Berg (1927–2013). Kabbalah, a major form of Jewish mysticism, in most Orthodox circles, is believed to be so mysterious and challenging that one ought not study it until a devout student turns 40. However, The Kabbalah Centre tries to make the study of kabbalah accessible to everyone, even those outside of Judaism, which makes it controversial with Orthodox Jews.[1]


Rabbi Phillip Berg

The Kabbalah Centre was originally founded in the United States in 1965 as a publishing house called "The National Institute for the Research in Kabbalah" by Philip Berg and Rabbi Levi Isaac Krakovsky. Eventually, it morphed into the Kabbalah Centre in New York, which was established by Berg and his wife, Karen, after he was excommunicated from the Ashlag Hassidic community.[citation needed] The Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles, now the main headquarters, was established in 1984. They have over fifty branches worldwide.


Compared to traditional kabbalah scholarship's exclusivity, the Kabbalah Centre believes that anyone can study kabbalah, even if one doesn't know Hebrew, or even anything about Judaism at all. They teach that all faiths, from Abrahamic religions to Buddhism are derived from the same universal divinity (Eyn Sof, אֵין סוֹף‎, literally "infinity"), and as such bear a resemblance to kabbalah. The Kabbalah Centre promotes various teachings on sexual activity and romance.[2] They're also really into astrology and assert that Judaism has always had a connection with astrology.[3]

The result is essentially a bastardized, gentile-friendly version of kabbalah which has more in common with the average New Age group than it does with Judaism.

Popularity and criticism[edit]

Pop singer Madonna is an avid member of the Kabbalah Centre and served as a sort of spokesperson for the organization. Other celebrity followers include Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Demi Moore, James Van Der Beek, Marla Maples, Ariana Grande, and more. Many celebrities have also brushed with the center briefly.

The Kabbalah Centre's teachings are controversial and even considered heretical by some kabbalistic scholars. Further, The Kabbalah Centre is often criticized as opportunistic, watering down a profoundly complex aspect of the Jewish faith.[4]

They have been investigated for financial malfeasance, particularly due to a Madonna-sponsored charity in Malawi.[5] Michael Berg, Phillip Berg's brother, stepped down after a court case in which he as accused of sexual assault.[6] A major member of the London branch, Eliyahu Yardeni, said about the Holocaust that the Jews brought it on themselves by not practicing Kabbalah.[7] They have also made crank claims of magic, medicinal water.

External links[edit]

See also[edit]