It was reported this week that Israeli Canadian billionaire Sylvan Adams is expected to pay for Madonna’s performance at this years Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv. The contract is expected to be signed in the next few days.
According to sources, Adams “has given the green light to finance the performance,” equaling about a million dollars, at the request of the Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation (IPBC), which will broadcast the event, and the Bluestone Production Company
After Madonna became interested in Jewish mysticism to the point that she even opened up more than one Kabbalah center and invested heavily in studying the ancient Jewish tradition, numerous Hollywood stars including Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, the late Elizabeth Taylor, the late Marilyn Monroe, the late Sammy Davis, and Sandra Bernhard similarly expressed an interest in the Jewish Kabbalah. The question is, why would famous Hollywood celebrities who were not born Jewish become so fascinated in Jewish mysticism to the level that they practice it routinely and in some cases, even convert to Judaism because of it?
Sandra Bernhard told the Los Angeles Times that Kabbalah eliminated “at least 80 percent of the chaos in my life.” Paris Hilton concurred, telling Great Britain’s More Magazine: “When I split with Nick Carter, I coped by going straight to the Kabbalah Center in Los Angeles, told everyone about the break-up and got a new red string Kabbalah bracelet. I go there regularly. It helps me deal with my life.” Many celebrity students of Kabbalah feel similarly. According to the Kabbalah Center website, Kabbalah is “ancient wisdom that provides practical tools for creating joy and lasting fulfillment. It is an incredible system that will completely change the way that you look at the world.” Chabad stresses that it is the “soul of the Torah” which teaches “the deepest insight into the essence of G-d, his interaction in the world and the purpose of creation. It offers a comprehensive overall structure and plan for the universe, as well as a detailed understanding of the particulars of our lives.”
However, not all of the Hollywood celebrities were attracted to Kabbalah merely in order to deal with personal problems. The late Sammy Davis told Time Magazine: “I wanted to become part of a 5,000 year-old history and to hold onto something not just material, which would give me inner strength to turn the other cheek. Jews have become strong over their thousands of years of oppression and I wanted to become part of that strength. As an African American, I felt emotionally tied to Judaism. Certainly, the background of my people and their history cannot be compared to that of Judaism but the same oppression and obstacles thrown in our way were overcome by a greater force than mere tenacity. I wanted to become a Jew because Judaism held an honesty and spiritual peace that was lacking in my personal makeup.”
“One of the main precepts of Kabbalah is that we are put on earth to help people,” Madonna told Time Magazine in 2006. “And your job is to figure out how you can help and what is it that you can do.” For Madonna, this meant working to spread the message of Kabbalah across the world. For the late Elizabeth Taylor, becoming interested in Kabbalah led to her converting to Judaism, supporting the Simon Wiesenthal Center, partaking in the documentary “Genocide: The Story of the Holocaust,” and being an outspoken advocate for Israel. At the height of her pro-Israel activism, Taylor even offered herself in exchange for the 100 Israelis that were held hostage by terrorists at the Entebbe Airport in 1976. Although she did not wear the Kabbalah on her sleeve like Madonna does, the study of Jewish mysticism still greatly influenced who she was as a person and led to her doing everything that she could to help make the world a better place.
However, believing in the need to help others and seeking stability in a chaotic world are not the only reasons why numerous Hollywood stars are attracted to Kabbalah. The late Marilyn Monroe felt absolutely no connection with the “fundamentalist Christianity” that her foster parents raised her with. According to the Daily Beast, she was attracted to Judaism’s concept of having “a close family life” and in the end, she converted to Judaism for her difficult upbringing made her “identify with the underdog.” She also had enormous respect for the late Albert Einstein and was greatly influenced by his writings. According to Rabbi Robert Goldburg, who oversaw her conversion, “I have always felt that she was an extremely loving person who was not able to overcome the terrible emotional burdens, which were part of her childhood and aggravated by her tremendous fame.”
Other Hollywood Kabbalah fans were less sincere in their intentions. Britany Spears got introduced to Kabbalah by her long-time friend Madonna. For a while, she was really interested in it. She told Christian Today: “I read the Kabbalah books and I meditate on them. They are all in Hebrew. I don’t understand everything. But it’s kind of ok that you don’t. Kevine (her ex-husband) isn’t into it as much as I am. For some reason, I am thirsting it.” However, after she broke up with Kevine, she renounced all forms of faith, explaining: “My baby is my religion.” Later on, she became interested in Hinduism. For her, Kabbalah was merely a fad that she abandoned on a rainy day but could pick up again at another time if it suits her.
Such sentiment has prompted many Orthodox Jews to be critical of the Hollywood stars who study Kabbalah and this has led to a wave of criticism directed at the Kabbalah Center in Los Angeles that offers lessons to the non-Jewish stars. A group of Orthodox rabbis even wrote a letter of complaint directed at the Kabbalah Center to the Los Angeles Orthodox Jewish community: “We have become aware of a group of young men promulgating the sale of so-called Kabbalistic literature and of their establishment of classes on this topic. We categorically state that the group known as the Center for Kabbalah Research is not approved nor endorsed by the undersigned rabbis.”
Traditionally, Kabbalah is only supposed to be studied by Jews over the age of 40; by offering Kabbalah lessons to non-Jewish stars before they officially converted and in some cases before they reached the proper age goes against the Orthodox Jewish tradition. However, according to an obituary published in the Telegraph of Rabbi Philip Berg, who led the Kabbalah Revolution in Hollywood together with his wife until his death in 2013, “by simplifying Kabbalah and drawing on aspects of modern life to make it more relevant, Berg claims that he made the struggles of biblical figures accessible.”