It is not suprising that Guy Ritchie dumped the Kabbalah Center – what is suprising is that it took him so long to figure out that it was fleecing him with a fake religion. Inevitably, Madonna and Ritchie have to split because the cult business advises its adherents to dump spouses that don’t practice its voodoo. As the Sun writes:

GUY RITCHIE and MADONNA’s marriage has been thrown deeper into meltdown after he told her he’s quitting Kabbalah.

Madge has become increasingly involved with the mystical Jewish religion, but her film director husband is a step closer to hitting the road after losing his faith….

Now a source close to the couple has revealed: “Guy has turned his back on Kabbalah once and for all.

“He has gone hot and cold on the religion in the past, but now he’s given up on it altogether. It has always been her thing and is more a part of her life than ever. “

Notice they call it a religion. Anyway, Ritchie now can do the right thing and spill the beans. 20/20, Radar, BBC and others have uncovered the unseemly truth behind this imposter religious leader and his minions. [Wow that sentence might be tough enough to get a letter from their lawyers.] Ritchie had access to the highest echelons and must have some damning stuff. But then again he wants to see his kids again. They have three kids together and his dumping on her high-priest many harm him in divorce court.

So will the Madonna Ritchi Split endanger the Kabob center? Most likely no, but it does offer us another opportunity to remind everyone of this not-harmless brainwashing cult business lurking in our backyard.

About the author

Rabbi Yonah


  • something about glass houses and throwing stones. …or the pot calling the kettle black would be appropriate here, I’m just to flaberrgasted to articulate it. This comment from a Rabbi who probably get funding from organizations that pick up “disenfranchised” youths at the Kotel and convinces them to wear long sleeves and give up careers to “go study”?

    Damn straight dumping on the high priests hurts you in divorce court, especially when the whole “community” comes in and says you are a bad influence on your kids for dumping the religion they were “raised” in (all 6 or 7 years of their lives).

  • Oh Chutzpah! I can assure you that neither Rabbi Yonah – who works with Hillel – nor Jewlicious, get any funding from any organization that picks up “disenfranchized youth at the Kotel…” Clearly you’ve been reading David Kelsey too much and you see “Big Aish” around every corner. As for Kotel activities, all I see is little Jeff Seidel running around and finding people places to eat on Shabbat. How effective is he as a cult leader? Not so much. He makes no demands and on a recent Saturday night, his minions were all up and down Rivlin street, greeting their patron while hanging out in bars, smoking hookas and checking out the babes. Some cult…

  • Chutzpah – my heart does go out to you and I am sorry that you suffer so much. I hope that you are able to heal the wounds from what sounds like a very painful past.

    I would only ask that you not take out your anger and hurt on me. I did not have anything to do with whatever happened to you.

    Your characterizations of me are so, so wrong.

  • Kiruv, outreach, cult-like behavior…all the same thing in my book. Any organization, whether Hillel or “Kabob” Center, which seeks to encourage people to engage in spiritual practices or other “group think” mentality is suspect of “cultish” behavior.

    Rabbi, I do apologize, you certainly don’t deserve my anger (except when you write hypocritical posts). I wish we could meet.
    I would love to meet an honest Rabbi who was not completely influenced by where his funding comes from. Unfortunately, there are none in N.J. that I have been able to find.

    The prognosis for my wounds healing within the next 8 years are very, very slim. When my youngest, who is now 10, goes off to college or Israel (whatever he decides) I will be free to leave the shtetl where I am now imprisoned to be near my children and their friends and school. Maybe I will do tshuva at that time or maybe I will move to China and help save the Pandas.

    Believe it or not, I do NOT read David Kelsey and I never log onto his site. I did once or twice and ironically, I found it too angry and venomous!

    Bottom line is I don’t appreciate leaders of a religious movement which advocates swinging chickens over one’s head once a year accusing other “movements” of voodoo. If you want respect for your beliefs, you’ve got to demonstrate some for the beliefs of others, even if you think they ripped off and distorted yours. Most Jewish leaders consider all of Christianity and Islam to be rip-offs and distortions of Judaism, but that doesn’t mean those movements didn’t bring spiritual strength and peace to many of their followers.

    P.S. My ex-husband was recruited into Ohr Somayach by Jeff Seidel.

  • Rabbi,
    Maybe you can use this as an opportunity to educate us on when the “business” of “mainstream” Judaism advises its adherents to dump spouses. I believe failure to practice it’s voodoo is right up at the top of the list with adultery.

  • The funny thing is, the post would not have bothered or offended me at all if it was written by your average blogger. In fact, if Esther had written it, I would have found it entertaining and in the spirit in which it was intended.

    HOWEVER, the fact that a supposed lay “leader” who is charged with being a role model in attitude and action for young Jews is what bothered the SHIT out of me.

    I don’t find it “cool” or “hip” when spiritual leaders try to funny at the expense of other’s beliefs, whether they be “valid” beliefs or not. It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth and now I’m going to have to drink some Kabbalah water to rinse it out.

  • Its a good question Chutzpah about when I might advocate leaving a spouse…. I cannot speak for mainstream Judaism – I am not sure it exists in any Platonic way. ANd I would enjoy meeting you as well – perhaps you would see that not all Rabbis have fangs.

    The Shulchan Aruch gives guidlines – they include when a spouse has disavvowed Judaism, run off with another. Failure to practice is one thing – practice of something else is another. I would only advocate a that one spouse leaves another on an individual basis in consulation with a psychologists and another opinon.

    As far as swinging chickens – don’t do it. There is no halacha to do this, it is a custom that many great rabbis disagree with with. Of course others think its grand. But I appreciate your good sense of humor – that is about the most voodoo that we Jews get.

    The Kabbalah center is not a movement – it is not Judaism. They don’t pass the litmus test.

  • I got caught putting the milk dishes in the meat dishwasher, wearing no hat when out of the eruv, wearing short sleeves in the summer ;and, taking my son, who was two at the time, to the indoor climbing area at Burger King in the Winter and feeding him french fries . For this I have been banished from The Tribe.

    I don’t think all Rabbis have fangs, but I do think that there is not a Rabbi on earth who would pass up a deep pocket “congregant” or “follower” like Madonna .

    Like meatprocessing, Judaism is a business that requires money. Instead of packaged beef, the product is “saved souls”. I don’t think The Kabbalah Center has to pass any litmus test of being Judaism or not, it has passed the “ability to raise some serious cash” test.

    There are plenty of “types” of Judaism that don’t pass the litmus test. In fact, in my little shtetl in N.J. I don’t pass the litmus test of being a Jew and I can trace my Mother’s side of the family directly to Tosfos Yom Tov Lipman Heller and come from 4 generations of Cantors on my Father’s side.

    My kollel landlord who put my safety at risk by building an illegal apartment above mine even sent me some document in Yiddish from the Bait Din of New Square which revoked my right to be Jewish (I think, I don’t read Yiddish). But, he is a future Torah Sage and I am just a tv watching, shop at Loehman’s on Saturday type of sinner.

    My heart is broken, my soul is broken and I’d do anything to be the naive 24 year old who only wanted to connect to Hashem and follow in his ways and do mitzvahs and sing nigguns again…before I saw all the disgusting, revolting and true stereotypes of what goes on in American Jewish Orthodoxy. 20 years of seeing and hearing GARBAGE is way too many…. I gotta go listen to some Tom Jones to cheer me up…

  • They don’t have three kids together…only two, one being biological, the other adopted.
    The third was from one of Madonna’s prior relationships. He probably got attached, anyway.

  • Chutzpah,

    I deeply admire your candor in explaining where you’re coming from. Though I do side with R’ Yonah about the illegitimacy of the Kabbalah Center – I don’t know of other organized religions that sell Kabbalah Water Healing Spray for $10 : “These waters have been energized with the same 4,000 year old technology. To direct the cleansing power of the water to the area of your body that needs healing energy, simply spray on the area.” (pulled from their website!) – I agree that respect is needed. Yet it’s also easy to understand how a Rabbi who holds his faith so closely to his heart takes offense when it becomes exploited for what many, many people and investigative journalists as a scheme.

    I’ve had my share of kiruv as well, and as a ‘searching’ young Jew attest that I never felt like I was lacking something, never felt that I needed to do more to be Jewishly fulfilled, and that living a non Orthodox life was somehow wrong when in R’ Yonah’s presence. He’s down to earth and I wish there were more of him. And I’m not the easiest judge of clergymen!

    If I’m overstepping my boundaries, I’ll apologize beforehand…But there are Jews who don’t exhibit those ‘disgusting, revolting stereotypes.’ probably. I’m not fully sure about the disgusting part, but they’re out there. We’re out there. Perhaps there’s more left to discover?

    And if you ever need me to kick your landlord’s ass, let me know. I’ll be in NY in the next few months. Either that or we can call my cousin. He’s a great attorney that will draw up some phony, unsubstantiated charges that won’t hold a drop of water in court but might still cause him a minor aneurysm.

  • Chuzpah,

    As someone who grew up in a Kiruv family, I take issue with the cult claims. However, I will agree that there ARE such aspects. Also? Your landlord is a jerk, regardless of faith. As for imprisonment – surely there is someone you can speak to? A therapist? No way to move out at all?

    As for Rabbis in NJ, the very reason we chose out shul was due to the Rabbi. My wife does not cover her hair except in shul, will eat parve out, and cusses. Our shul is rather Yeshivish. Yet we are welcome by the Rabbi and congregants.

    I think that’s a huge thing.

    I don’t know your situation, but if you need to cut all ties and move, you should. Don’t wait, just do it.

    Forgive my presumption.

  • Yes, my therapist says I should move a.s.a.p. but I don’t feel the kids should have to spend all their “parenting time” traveling back and forth on the N.J. Turnpike. And where am I going to go? I don’t exactly fit in with the Polish in Garfield or the Mafia Princesses of Nutley.

    As for my landlord, the City is going to get him good…fines, penalties, etc. Do I feel guilty about turning in a fellow Jew? YES!!! BUT, he was the one who served me with notice that the Chasidim in New Square don’t consider me Jewish, or whatever that notice said.

    Recently, I expanded my “gentle critique” of Jews to secular ones as well, especially those that live in Short Hills, when I encountered a wealthy secular Doctor who was embezzling money from Research Grants to help cure diseases to pay for his luxury vacations and a BMW for his kid. So yes, there’s more left to discover…

    As to Madonna’s friends, “illegitimacy” is a difficult word. People used to consider children born out of wedlock “illegitimate”…is there really such a thing as an illegitimate person?

    There are many, many, many products on the market that claim to help you lose weight, stay young or achieve spiritual peace. “Whatever gets you through the night” seems to be the best yardstick to judge these by. For example, some people enjoy mezuzahs that are photocopied and sell for $5.00 while others insist their mezuzahs must be hand-written by a guy who jumps in the mikvah at every impure thought and costs more than $36.00.
    Is one “illegitimate” and one not? I would argue that whichever one brings joy to it’s owner passes the litmus test.

  • Nicole,

    Your attitude on adoption makes it sound like an adoptive parent gets “attached” the way a pet-owner does after bringing home a cat or dog from the shelter.

    Most people consider it impolite or ignorant to point out whether a child is adopted or biological.

  • Chutzpah,

    I think Nicole was speaking about Madonna’s first child (with Carlos Leon) when she was speaking about Guy Ritchie being attached.

    I do agree with you about pointing out that a child is adopted/biological. It is impolite.

  • I really emphathize with earlier commentors who feel disaffected and worn out from all the hypocrisy they have been exposed to. But if it was merely and only an intellectual hypocrisy I am sure they would not feel so bad: we must be talking about a hypocrisy also of actions and behavior that leads to real trauma. Now I think the whole point of the swinging of the chickens was not that the practice is wrong (I happen to support it fully!) but the HYPOCRISY of criticizing others who do something very similar. We can talk all day on how different voodoo actually is in thought and deed, but someone some where really has to give some real thought to all the mockery we (that is, we frummies) find ourselves immersed in. We get mocked, and we spend a lot of time mocking everyone else. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. So my heart really goes out to all those who have been reminded of religious trauma by some article about the Kabbalah Center. I hope something positive can come out of all this.