It is no secret that the Kabbalah, that is, the mystical and philosophical traditions based off of syncretic texts of both Judaic and Christian religious traditions, is highly popular in Hollywood. Cultural icons like Sammy Davis, Madonna, Britney Spears, Elizabeth Taylor and that 70s show actor Ashton Kutchner are all heavily involved practitioners of Kabbalah, many of whom are or were also members of the prestigious and well known Kabbalah Center. Though it is believed by many that the pop superstar Madonna, who is easily the most famous and beloved proponent of Kabbalah in America, was the primary popularizer of the spiritual movement. However, this is not quite true – while it is certainly true that Madonna is the most well known popularizer of the Kabbalic Traditions in Hollywood she was not the first, that honor belongs to the famous Rabbi Philip Berg, the founder of the Kabbalah Institute and a very well respected academic, philosopher and theologian.
Rabbi Berg first conceived of the idea for the Kabbalah institute due to his unwavering belief that the conservative traditionalist rabbis were wrong as they did not allow anyone who was not a male, religious Jew over 40 years of age to read the Zohar (the central text of the tradition) – Berg thought this was selfish and sought to bring his wisdom tradition to a wider audience, thus founding his institution which is now known the world over.
According to many of the previously mentioned Hollywood celebrities they were primarily drawn to the Kabbalah due to its intense focus on clarity of thought and order in one’s life. Given the nature of life as celebrity, constant interviews, photoshoots, travelling and media harassment, it is easy to understand how the Kabbalic traditions might have helped to quell the chaos in their lives and leave them with a better sense of peace and well being.