Kabbalah Centre founder Philip Berg has died at 84, the LA Times reports. The death of the modern-day Kabbalah guru was announced in a statement from the center (centre?) which read in part, “The Rav has left us with incredible knowledge through thousands of hours of teaching, examples of courage that we will never forget, and the comfort of a Kabbalah Centre that we can all call home.”
Berg was perhaps best-known for the celebrity attention he brought to Judaism, most notably through Madonna, a devoted, red string-wearing acolyte of Kabbalah. He was often criticized for bringing the secretive mystical practice into the public realm, though his supporters—and there are many—defended him vehemently.
Back in 2005, Alana Newhouse described an encounter with Madonna, Kabbalah—and later, Madonna and Kabbalah—on a great podcast for Nextbook, Tablet’s predecessor. Sending our love to the Material Girl on this sad day.
Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.