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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Orthodox rabbis’

Israeli Government Pays Salaries of 4 Reform Rabbis

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Israeli government money was transferred for the first time to the Reform Movement in Israel to pay the salaries of four community Reform rabbis.

The transfer of the more than $86,000 on Wednesday comes 18 months after Israel’s Supreme Court approved an arrangement to enable non-Orthodox spiritual leaders who lead congregations to receive state salaries like Orthodox rabbis.

The money was paid by the Culture and Sport Ministry instead of the Religious Services Ministry, according to the Times of Israel.

Under the agreement, the Reform and Conservative rabbis in Israel’s regional councils, but not in large cities where most serve, will be recognized as “rabbis of non-Orthodox communities” and will receive wages equal to those of their Orthodox counterparts. In addition, the rabbis must work full-time and be present at their congregation for at least 40 Sabbaths per year. Only rabbis of congregations with at least 250 members can receive full-time pay; those leading congregations of 50-250 members may receive half a salary even though have to work full-time.

Prior to the agreement, sparked by a lawsuit filed in 2005 by Reform Rabbi Miri Gold, only Orthodox rabbis received state funding.

“This is a historic and important step in the long struggle toward pluralism, religious freedom and the recognition by the State of Israel of all branches of Judaism,” Rabbi Gilad Kariv, director of the Reform Movement in Israel,” told Haaretz. “The Reform Movement will continue to act to redefine the relationship between religion and state in Israel and to separate the religious establishment from the authorities; however, as long as the state continues to fund religious services and the salaries of rabbis, we will make sure that this is done on an egalitarian basis.”

Former Followers of ‘Kabbalah Centre’ Sue for Fraud

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

The controversial Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Centre is being sued for over $1 million by former followers in two lawsuits alleging fraud and misuse of funds.

Both suits were filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court and claim that the Centre pressured the plaintiffs “to give money until it hurts,” in order to receive “the light” from its leaders, Karen Berg and her adult sons Yehuda and Michael.

Carolyn Cohen, a San Diego real estate broker, said that she and one of her companies lost some $810,000 to the Centre, which, she claimed, “engages in a pattern and practice of raising funds … for the purpose of enriching itself.”

San Diego business owners Randi and Charles Wax, the other plaintiffs, alleged losses of $326,000.

In both cases, the plaintiffs said they were told that the donations were earmarked for a new Kabbalah Centre building in San Diego and for a children’s charity, but they said the new Centre was never built and the charity abruptly ceased operation.

The late Rabbi Phillip Berg established the initial Kabbalah facility in Jerusalem and the first American operation in New York in 1965. Since 1984, the Centre’s worldwide operations, with 50 branches, have been headquartered in Los Angeles.

The Berg family has received worldwide publicity by attracting such Hollywood followers as Madonna, Britney Spears, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher.

Over the past years, the Centre also has attracted numerous lawsuits in the United States and Britain, and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service launched a tax evasion investigation in 2010. The outcome is still pending.

Traditional rabbinical authorities repeatedly have denounced the Centre’s teachings and methods as a perversion of the Kabbalah’s profound mysticism. In Israel, one synagogue told The Jewish Press that after a Christian Zionist organization donated a set of Berg’s version of the Zohar, the local rabbi ordered that the books be buried so that they would never be read.

They were not burned despite his suspect interpretations because the set includes original text of the holy Zohar.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/former-followers-of-kabbalah-centre-sue-for-fraud/2013/12/05/

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