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California: 'Kabbalah' meeting draws debate
'Kabbalah for masses?' forum in San Diego conference hears justifications for kabbalah center activities

A San Diego conference on kabbalah organizations and their activities drew panelists from the controversial kabbalah center for "constructive conversation on the contemporary phenomenon of mainstream Jewish mysticism," the Los Angeles Jewish Journal reported this week.


Rabbi Berg's kabbalah center, which has been accused by some of being a cult which eventually enslaves its members and robs them of

all of their financial assets, was described at the conference by Berg as being "many things to many people."


In 2005, Tel Aviv Police arrested a kabbalah Center head, Shaul Youdkevitch, for suspicion of extorting money from a dying cancer patient. He was released to house arrest, but the charges against him were surprisingly dropped by the Boris Zunis, husband of the cancer patient.


At the conference, Berg dismissed traditional Jewish guidelines limiting Kabala study to those very well acquainted with the Talmud, saying that "we now have permission to reveal the great secrets," and adding that "we are standing on the threshold of a new spiritual era." He also claimed to access secrets which could overcome "pain, global suffering, and even death," the Jewish Journal reported.


One delegate said that Madonna, who is also a member of the kabbalah center, was unfairly targeted by the media.


New York Jews party on Christmas 

As America's Christian majority celebrates the holiday of Christmas, US Jews use the opportunity to hold a night of partying, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency said.


"While much of New York resembled a ghost town on Christmas Eve, thousands of Jews took to the streets in what has become the biggest Jewish party night of the year," the report said, adding that one organizer said the parties were held "because there was nothing for Jews to do on Christmas Eve."

Another organizer said the parties also increased the chances of finding a Jewish partner.


Australia: Holocaust survivor murdered 

The Australian Jewish News reported that an 81 year-old woman, Kathy Schweitzer, who was a survivor of the Holocaust, was murdered at her home in Sydney this week.


The AJN added that police said the woman had been strangled, and released a description of a man they said could assist them with the investigation.


"According to media reports, the executor of Mrs. Schweitzer's will has said that, having no family, she has left considerable money to Jewish charities," the AJN said in its report.


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