On October 30, 2005, Shaul Youdkevtich was arrested in Tel
Aviv, Israel for swindling a cancer patient out of $61,000. Youdkevitch,
the head of the “Kabbalah Center” in Israel,
pretended that the fifty year old cancer victim would be cured if she donated
$36,000 to the
“center”. When that donation did not help, Youdkevitch persuaded the
husband of the patient to donate another $25,000. Shortly thereafter, the
patient died. Similar advice had been given by other employees of the
“center” during the patient’s illness.
Because the American actress Madonna Ciccone has become a prominent follower of
the Kabbalah Center in Los
Angeles, her visit to Israel
in 2004 gave the Kabbalah Center considerable publicity.
Kabbalah Centers in the U.S., Israel
and around the world are so named because they teach their followers to immerse
themselves in a Jewish book by that name. Kabbalah means tradition. The founder
of these centers is Rabbi Philip Berg, who claims that he can secure immortality
and inner peace for those who follow him in studying Kabbalah. To that end
the centers sell “energetically blessed water”, books, tapes, and numerous
accessories. There is a Kabbalah calendar which sells for $19.95, a card deck
holding the 72 names of God for $15, a healing stone for $8.50, and $99
recordings which deal with such topics as Kabbalistic Astrology, Fears and
Phobias and The Technology of the New Year.
These sales and large contributions from Hollywood celebrities such as Madonna, Demi Moore, Donna Karan, Ashton Kutcher, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Roseanne Barr have made Philip Berg a rich man. It is estimated that he has accumulated twenty million dollars or more.
More recently, the son of Rabbi Philip Berg, Rabbi Michael Berg, published a
book by the title “Becoming Like God”. The rabbi also preaches that his
followers can “do away with pain, suffering – and even death.” Rabbi
Michael and his brother Yehuda were appointed rabbis by their father.
The Kabbalah teachers emphasize that one must volunteer one’s money so as to
see “the light”. These lessons have not only attracted Madonna but also
other “celebrities” who are given special treatment. This special treatment
leads the Berg family to give private lessons to Madonna, who also has special
meals cooked for her during Friday night Sabbath dinners. Madonna even sells
Kabbalah T shirts and other items and then gives the proceeds to the Kabbalah
Center in Los Angeles.