Kabbalah spiritual figure who drew Hollywood following dies

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rabbi Philip Berg, the spiritual director of the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Centre who helped popularize a form of Jewish mysticism that attracted celebrity followers such as Madonna and Britney Spears, has died at age 86, his organization said.

The Kabbalah Centre's statement late on Monday did not say when Berg passed away, but the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported he died at a Los Angeles hospital on Monday.

Kabbalah has traditionally been reserved for certain learned members of the Jewish community, but at his center Berg worked to open the teaching and practice of kabbalah to anyone, including non-Jews.

A long list of celebrities in recent decades became affiliated with the Kabbalah Centre, including pop stars Madonna and Britney Spears and the actress Demi Moore.

"The Kabbalah Centre is deeply saddened to announce the passing of our teacher, Rav Berg," the Kabbalah Centre statement said. "Throughout the Rav's 86 years, he created a path for millions to learn and live Kabbalah."

Berg, who was born in New York, had already been ordained as an Orthodox Jewish rabbi when he began his study of the mystical tradition kabbalah in the 1960s with Rabbi Yehuda Brandwein in Israel, according to the website for the Kabbalah Centre museum.

In 1965, Berg set up in New York a small institute that was the forerunner of the current Kabbalah Centre, the Los Angeles Times reported in 2011. He later moved to Israel and then back to the United States where he expanded the organization and in 1998 made Los Angeles its headquarters, according to the paper.

The Kabbalah Centre now has centers in more than 40 cities around the world, according to its website. A spokeswoman for the Kabbalah Centre did not return emails seeking more details on Berg's passing.

The Kabbalah Centre's assets, built in part on the organization's emphasis on cash donations from followers, are now believed to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Internal Revenue Service and federal prosecutors in New York have investigated the Kabbalah Centre for possible tax evasion, the paper reported. But no charges have been filed.

Berg's widow, Karen, and his sons, Yehuda and Michael, continue to be involved in running the center. (Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Leslie Gevirtz)

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

On-field action set to divert from off-field drama

On-field action set to divert from off-field drama

The Preview — Defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Kolkata Knight Riders More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

He was aggrieved by the allegations against him during the hearing. More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »

India: cricket's Brazil

India: cricket's Brazil

They are tough to beat with a big talent base exposed to good facilities. (CYCSPL) More »

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Franchises are doing their bit to refurbish the image of the tainted league. More »

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Michael Klinger has revealed he felt compelled to leave South Australia after being told he would be only a fringe part of the Redbacks' plans for next season, and disputed the suggestion that he left… More »

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

The revival of Indo-Pak Test ties could take place in UAE. More »

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

'This time around we will hope to go few more steps ahead and actually get that trophy' More »

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Apart from the foreign players a lot of behind-the-scene activity has taken place in selecting the Indian domestic players. More »

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Leading Spanish club Atletico Madrid and former cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly are among the owners of eight franchises of a new Indian… More »

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

Kiwi all-rounder wants to utilise the India leg to explore the country’s tourist attractions. More »

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Says his mother made him change his mind. More »

Supreme Court says no to BCCI’s request

Supreme Court says no to BCCI’s request

Bench refuses to grant access to recordings of Srini and Dhoni’s depositions before Mudgal committee. More »

Pietersen’s ‘little’ secret is out

Pietersen’s ‘little’ secret is out

A fractured little finger could now throw the Delhi Daredevils captain out of action at the start of this season. More »

SMA Trophy gets short-changed

SMA Trophy gets short-changed

Key players are away preparing for the IPL, taking the shine off the other domestic T20 fixture. (CYCSPL) More »