Two years later they launched their own idiosyncratic brand of Kabbalism, popularizing what had until then been teachings reserved for advanced Talmudic scholars.
The Bergs eventually expanded to 77 centers and study groups around the world.
The Kabbalah Centre’s impressive growth has been paralleled by the volume of its detractors, some of whom have labeled it “Jewish Scientology.” Disaffected followers have accused Berg and his family of treating congregants like personal servants, housing them four to a bedroom, paying them a $35-a-month stipend, and advising them to apply for food stamps. taking some of our sacred books and reducing it to mumbo-jumbo, all kinds of hocus-pocus.”Berg, who is now 81 and referred to by insiders as “the Rav” (an honorific meaning teacher), is still very much the patriarch of the Kabbalah Centre, despite a stroke in 2004.
One prominent critic, Rabbi Immanuel Schochet, has said, “They are distorting Kabbalah .? But day-to-day operations are controlled by his wife, Karen, 68, and their two sons, Michael, 37, and Yehuda, 38, all of whom share the title of codirector.
The center covers the Berg families’ food, furniture, clothing, gas, nannies, tutors, gardeners, housekeepers, personal assistants, and more exotic indulgences such as luxury cars, first-class flights, and spas.