From Moses to Madonna: Kabbalah Scholars and Spiritual Leaders Gather to Address the New Wave in Mainstreaming Jewish Mysticism

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A historic forum will take place in San Diego, December 18-19, 2006, entitled "Kabbalah for the Masses? The Promise and Problems in Mainstreaming Jewish Mysticism." Tiferet Institute (http://www.tiferet.org), dedicated to excellence in the study and teaching of Kabbalah, will convene eminent scholars and rabbis to deliberate on the popularization of Kabbalah and its impact on the future of Judaism, Christianity and the emerging globalization of spiritual culture.

We need to gather together and reflect on the ramifications of flooding the spiritual marketplace with Jewish mysticism

A historic forum will take place in San Diego, December 18-19, 2006, entitled "Kabbalah for the Masses? The Promise and Problems in Mainstreaming Jewish Mysticism." Tiferet Institute, dedicated to excellence in the study and teaching of Kabbalah, will convene eminent scholars and rabbis to deliberate on the popularization of Kabbalah and its impact on the future of Judaism, Christianity and the emerging globalization of spiritual culture.

Keynote speakers include: Rabbi Dr. Arthur Green, scholar and leading proponent of neo-Kabbalah, a non-orthodox approach to Jewish mysticism; Rabbi Michael Berg, co-director of the controversial Kabbalah Centre which has attracted non-Jewish celebrities such as Madonna, Ashton Kutcher, and now, Geri Halliwell; and (via live video-conferencing) Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, founder of Jewish Renewal, a new kabbalistically-oriented denomination of Judaism. They will address the objectives and implications of their work in the years ahead. Respondents–representing a wide spectrum of distinguished spiritual teachers and academic scholars–will probe and challenge the presenters.

This fall, a brazen new phase in popularizing Jewish mysticism is being marked by the publication of three new books:Kabbalah: A Brief Introduction for Christians, Kabbalah and Meditation for the Nations, and the inevitable Kabbalah for Dummies. Bold efforts like these, aimed at revealing the mystical secrets of Judaism to the non-Jewish masses, are creating quite a stir in the Jewish community.

Critics abound, such as Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz who claims that "pop culture Kabbalah is to genuine practice what pornography is to love." Others, like Professor Reuven Kimelman of Brandeis University, say that "Kabbalistic studies have two tendencies; an elitist one favoring exclusiveness and a populist one fostering inclusiveness. The populist tendency argues that the messianic age is dependent upon all the hidden wellsprings gushing outward. The question is whether we are now approaching such an age."

"We need to gather together and reflect on the ramifications of flooding the spiritual marketplace with Jewish mysticism," says Rabbi Yakov Travis, director of Tiferet Institute and author of the forthcoming book, Kabbalah: From Moses to Madonna. "A key question is: As Kabbalah becomes a universalized spiritual path, how do we keep it authentic and anchored to its Jewish roots?"

The Tiferet Forum, "Kabbalah for the Masses?" will be held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego, December 18-19, 2006, during the Jewish festival of Chanukah, the holiday dedicated to increasing light in a darkened world.

For more information, visit KabbalahSanDiego.com.

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YAKOV TRAVIS
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