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Geddes filed a separate lawsuit in the same court alleging that after she came up with the idea of a Kabbalah home-schooling program, which Yehuda Berg expressed “excitement” about, she donated $495,075 to get it started, but no such program ever materialized.
Despite the fundraising success of Raising Malawi, which collected a reported million in donations and spent .8 million on the planned academy, the girls’ school has been abandoned and the Raising Malawi foundation has imploded.
The Kabbalah Centre’s impressive growth has been paralleled by the volume of its detractors, some of whom have labeled it “Jewish Scientology.” Disaffected followers have accused Berg and his family of treating congregants like personal servants, housing them four to a bedroom, paying them a -a-month stipend, and advising them to apply for food stamps. taking some of our sacred books and reducing it to mumbo-jumbo, all kinds of hocus-pocus.”Berg, who is now 81 and referred to by insiders as “the Rav” (an honorific meaning teacher), is still very much the patriarch of the Kabbalah Centre, despite a stroke in 2004.
One prominent critic, Rabbi Immanuel Schochet, has said, “They are distorting Kabbalah .? But day-to-day operations are controlled by his wife, Karen, 68, and their two sons, Michael, 37, and Yehuda, 38, all of whom share the title of codirector.
To the question of whether “any funds or property of the organization” were to be used by any minister or officer “for his or her own personal needs and convenience,” the center answered that members of the religious order (including the Bergs) “have taken a vow of poverty” and look to the center “for their meals, lodging and other subsistence.” Paradoxically, while the center takes full advantage of tax laws benefiting religious organizations, its website states that “Kabbalah is not a religion.”Nelson Boord, the center’s CFO until 2009, has written that its six nonprofit and three for-profit entities collectively earn annual revenues of million, own a 0 million real-estate portfolio, and manage a million investment fund. Boord says the center warehouses a million inventory of Berg-blessed items, including candles, astrology sets, and .99 Divine Sex CDs.
For .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.”A recently filed bankruptcy lawsuit has alleged that the Kabbalah Centre was a beneficiary of a million Ponzi scheme perpetrated by Goldan, LLC, that ended with the criminal prosecution and conviction of Mark Goldman, a Goldan principal.
A higher-up at the center allegedly advised a wealthy Kabbalist, Courtenay Geddes, to liquidate an 5,692 trust portfolio and invest it in Nay’s company.
The real-estate firm then failed to file a tax return, indicating it was a dissolved corporation and wiping out Geddes’s investment.
Keep up with this story and more To understand what went wrong, one has to look at Madonna’s partner in the foundation, a mysterious and controversial organization called the Kabbalah Centre International, which is now a focus of federal investigators.
The center is a Jewish mystical organization 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.
Spirituality for Kids was Madonna’s pet project before Raising Malawi, and she served as its chairman of the board. Spirituality for Kids has also raised at least million for Malawi.
According to its filings, it had an offshore account in the Cayman Islands, a tax haven that seems an odd place for an entity that runs children’s programs in L. In 2005 the center was hit with a torrent of bad press about marketing such items as Kabbalah miracle water and a set of Kabbalah shot glasses.
Goldman was often seen at the Manhattan temple, introduced as an attorney by millionaire garment businessmen.