Shaul Youdkevitch, head of the Rabbis Bergs' Kabbalah Centre in Israel, and the man who hosted Madonna's much touted visit there last year, has been arrested for extorting close to $50,000 from a woman suffering cancer. You'd think 50 Gs would result in a cure. Think again:
Police claim Mr Youdkevitch and rabbis running the Israel Kabbala Centre persuaded Leah Zonis and her husband, Boris, to make what they called "a significant and painful donation" if she wanted to recover. They were also alleged to have sold her bottles of "holy water" at inflated prices under the Kabbala label.Not just any water, but Kabbalah water! It must have lost it potency by means of some scoundrel's evil eye. The bastard!
Mr Zonis's lawyer, Haim Cohen, told Haaretz newspaper: "The woman's condition continued to deteriorate and instead of telling the truth, that these were empty promises, they took more money and cheated with medication that is just a bottle of water."
The news will take some shine off of Madonna's triumphant recent visit to NYC, where her new album and Kabbalah-inspired documentary were surprisingly well received, despite the fact that they're both full of culty propaganda.
Could this arrest be a sign that the Bergs' red-string power continues to be on the wane? It's going to take a lot more more than some record sales to offset the fact that a major Kaballah Centre player has been busted for satscamming—in the birthplace of the ideology and for plain, old simple quackery at that.