Madonna’s Kabbalah teacher Rabbi Philip Berg has died aged 86, after battling 10 years of ill-health.
Known as the “rabbi to the stars”, he had developed a large celebrity following in Los Angeles, with students including Britney Spears, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher visiting his famed Kabbalah Centre.
Born Shraga Feivel Gruberger in New York, Berg sparked criticism and controversy among the Orthodox community. By making Kabbalah a household name – and inducting women, non-Jews and high-profile names into its study in the process – he was thought to be exploiting its mystical philosophy.
Further complaints were directed towards his Los Angeles Centre, which received hundreds of millions of dollars in donation from its wealthy attendees and popularised the fashion of wearing Kabbalah red string bracelets and drinking expensive, “blessed” water.
Rabbi Berg was buried on Tuesday in Safed, an Israeli city long associated with Kabbalah.