A former student of the Kabbalah Centre is suing the Centre and the Berg family for 8 million shekels

Megafon, Israel/February 21, 2012

"They took my savings and my apartment, they took advantage of me as a baby-sitter for the Berg family and threw me out to the street, without any means of support and no roof over my head", claims a woman who used to be a student at the Centre. In her lawsuit she claims that the Centre and the family, acting like a cult, have accumulated substantial wealth by exploiting numerous people in Israel and all over the world, by money laundering and breaking tax laws. She filed a complaint with the police and is asking that the centre's assets be subject to a foreclosure procedure.

A lawsuit in the amount of 8 million New Israeli Shekels was filed at the Tel Aviv District Court against the Kabbalah Centre and its founders -- Rabbi Philip Berg, his wife Karen and their two sons, Michael and Yehuda, who have assumed the running of the Centre around the world over the last few years. The claimant is a 56-year-old woman, a former student at the center. According to her, she transferred over to the Center all her assets, including savings accounts and the proceeds from the sale of her apartment, a sale to which she was mentally coerced, threatened, and brainwashed, through criminal acts of deceit and stealing. According to her claim, after they stripped her of all her possessions and took advantage of her by making her work as a baby-sitter for the Rav's grandchildren, they "threw her out to the street", causing her severe mental and financial crisis, since she is a single person, left without family or a home. She claims that the Centre and its staff have broken and denied the false promise they made to her, telling her that with her money and the money of many others, they were planning to build a large, spacious community site in Israel, where she could live. The project never materialized and she never received back the large sums of money she donated.

According to the lawsuit, filed by attorney Chaim Cohen and Shomrit Oz of his office, on behalf of the plaintiff, the Center is operating like a "cult", which is forbidden by law. This is how they were able to have a hold on the plaintiff for 10 years, like "clay in the potter's hand", taking advantage of and brainwashing her, until they realized that there was no more money to be gotten from her. This is when they threw her out into the street, left with nothing. In order to execute their plot, they used criminal and legally forbidden measures, such as deceit, exploitation, pressure, scare tactics on one hand vs. "promises" on the other. This was all done in a very clever and premeditated way, by falsely using the most important values and writings of the Jewish religion and the Kabbalah. They falsely used the words and concepts such as: "Kabbalah", "The Holy Spirit", "Giving", "Charity (tzedaka)" and even invented new concepts: "Painful giving", "Painful Tzedaka or donation".

It is asserted in the lawsuit that the plaintiff and her legal team are privy to even more severe cases; which were filed with and handled by the police, where the defendants have pledged in the past that they would stop acting out and/or using those harsh measures. But in actuality, nothing has changed and they continue operating the same way.

According to the lawsuit, the Centre and the Berg family have amassed incredible wealth, by dispossessing many people, using the same or even more severe methods, in Israel and all over the world. They cover-up a major portion of this money and organize financial campaigns to hide even more. According to the plaintiff, there is a serious concern that if their activities, in Israel and around the world, would be investigated, much more severe cases of criminal acts of theft, deceit, breaking the law, money laundering and tax frauds would be uncovered, since the Centre does not issue receipts on all the money they receive from their supporters.

The plaintiff is saying that not only do the legal authorities not stop the activities of the Centre and its staff, but the Centre continues to enjoy major exposure in the media and continues to preach to the listeners, in a clear and shameless way, about "giving" and invites the listeners to visit their Centre, where later they take over their assets or steal large sums of money from them. The Centre also enjoys wide positive and supportive media coverage because of the well known personalities who join, like Madonna, and this is another way they manage to entice the public. According to the plaintiff, the Centre employs experienced professionals in Israel and around the world, among them PR experts, which help them squash or silence any activity that should not be publicized.

Concurrently, the plaintiff also filed a complaint against the defendants with the Anti-Fraud division of the Israeli Police. This unit had already investigated a similar severe case in the past, involving the Centre, which resulted in the Centre returning all the money to the plaintiffs and signing a "criminal bridge" document, stating that they would stop using those methods completely. In actuality, however, not only did the Centre not follow the agreement; they continue acting the same way and sometimes even more severely.

According to the plaintiff, "It is not inconceivable that the defendants would do everything within their power to hide more assets, fearing that because of this lawsuit and investigation, more lawsuits will be filed. It is also very possible that the defendants would use their vast resources to hire the best legal experts and consultants, in order to launch an all-out war against the plaintiff. Therefore, the court is being asked to consider asking a representative from the office of the Legal Counsel to the Government to join in, or perhaps appointing additional lawyers, similar to cases of dismantling and such, so that these additional professionals could help investigate and substantiate this lawsuit even more, and could also help in locating (the Center's) assets in Israel and around the world, assets which were acquired as a result of these alleged acts of theft and deceit."

In addition, the plaintiff is asking to impose temporary foreclosure procedures over the property and all other assets of the Centre, the Berg family and all the executives of the Centre in Israel, in order to reach the amount of 8 million New Israeli shekels, as specified in the lawsuit.

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