Boca Raton to get newer, bigger Kabbalah center

Palm Beach Post/November 3, 2004
By Jessica Burke

Demi Moore, Roseanne and Sandra Bernhard are reportedly students of it; Madonna is building a school for it; and many are wearing fashions based on it.

Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism, has touched more than 3 million people worldwide. Now, Kabbalah is expanding in South Florida.

The 10-year-old Boca Raton Kabbalah Centre, affiliated with the Kabbalah Learning Centre in Los Angeles, is building a new 37,000-square-foot home at its current location at 8411 W. Palmetto Park Road. The new building will include an international healing and retreat center.

There are about 250 people attending weekly classes at the Boca Raton center. The new building will hold 720 people in just the main room.

"I'm sure it will be filled very quickly," said Miriam Mara, manager of the center.

The $5.5 million structure is expected to be finished in January or February. When asked, center officials would not comment on the sources of the money for the project.

Kabbalah, which means "receiving" in Hebrew, traditionally was not taught to anyone under age 40, but the Kabbalah Learning Centre welcomes everyone, regardless of age, to study Kabbalah.

"In Kabbalism, the whole situation of the Bible and what you've grown up on have all been misunderstood," said Rabbi Abe Hardoon at a recent Introduction to Kabbalah lecture.

According to the rabbi, the Book of Formations, written by Abraham, contains many secrets of the universe. When Abraham refers to one god, Hardoon said, he actually is referring to energy.

"The first rule of Kabbalism is the energy in the universe is endless and always flowing. That energy is available to all of us in all its forms," said Hardoon, "We do not know how to be a recipient of this energy."

Some common criticism associated with the Kabbalah Learning Centre is that they violate traditional Jewish law by teaching Kabbalah to women and to those with no background in Judaism. Others say that the organization is a profit-making company, charging high fees for courses in mysticism and learning materials.

Aside from free introduction lectures, the next step to "receiving all available energy" through Kabbalism is through The Power of Kabbalah classes. This six-week course is taught by Rabbi Hardoon, and fliers advertise "guaranteed" life changes.

"It's an experience of this - six weeks of understanding life principles. How could this be bad?" said Hardoon.

The cost of the course is $270. Kabbalah water, water that has meditations done upon it, is available for $3.80 a liter. Kabbalists believe the meditations cause the molecular structure of the water to change, and Madonna reportedly drinks it regularly.

"You can shift your DNA," said Mara.

Shakespeare and Isaac Newton also are famed Kabbalist students, according to center officials.

"I'm just looking to see if Madonna is coming," said Howard Feldman at a recent introductory lecture.

Madonna, who has been studying Kabbalah for seven years, has been to the Boca center and was recently at the Miami center. Mara says local celebrities attend the center, but would not reveal any identities.

"We don't want people gawking here to see Madonna," said Mara, "We treat everyone the same, and we don't want to bring attention to them (celebrities)."

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