Madonna’s Malawi scheme collapses
ALLEGED dodgy dealings within an a mystical outfit described by some as “Jewish Scientology” may have led to the collapse of Madonna’s $15-million girls’ school in Malawi.
Newsweek reports that the pop superstar has abandoned the project despite helping raise $18-million, and that the collapse of the Raising Malawi scheme was largely due to the involvement of the organisation that was partnering the venture: the Kabbalah Centre International, which is now a focus of federal investigators.
The center is a Jewish mystical organisation that follows a set of esoteric teachings called Kabbalah, which adherents believe explains the relationship between humans and their creator and our true purpose in the universe. Madonna has said that she turned to Kabbalah in 1996 when she was pregnant, exhausted from Evita, and looking for an anchor. Since then she has reportedly donated at least $18 million of her personal fortune to the Kabbalah Centre.
Newsweek reported that the Kabbalah Centre’s impressive growth – it has expanded to 77 centers and study groups around the world – has been paralleled by the volume of its detractors, some of whom have labeled it “Jewish Scientology”.
Disaffected followers have accused its founder Philip “The Rav” Berg and his family of treating congregants like personal servants, housing them four to a bedroom, paying them a $35-a-month stipend, and advising them to apply for food stamps.
Amusingly, one prominent critic, Rabbi Immanuel Schochet, said:
They are distorting Kabbalah … taking some of our sacred books and reducing it to mumbo-jumbo, all kinds of hocus-pocus.
In 2005 the center was hit with a torrent of bad press about marketing such items as Kabbalah miracle water and a $35 set of Kabbalah shot glasses. Soon afterward, Michael Berg and Madonna co-founded Raising Malawi.
The Center is said to have a $10 million inventory of Berg-blessed items, including $72 candles, $63 astrology sets, and $12.99 Divine Sex CDs. For $24.95 you can also buy the Rav’s book Immortality, which explores:
The origins of death and the spiritual tools necessary for its final disappearance from the world.
Commenting on the fact that “some famous Scientologists” showed up at a Raising Malawi fundraising bash in New York in 2008, cult watcher Nick Ross said:
While it seems that these two “new religions” have little in common doctrinally – one supposedly believes in Jewish mysticism while the other has made intergalactic space travel an article of faith – they do seem to share at least two things in common: recruiting celebrities and what appears to be an insatiable desire for cash.
Hat Tip: Name Withheld