Spirituality for kids: a Kabbalah project supported by Demi Moore
How Hollywood's A-list stars are bringing the cult of Kabbalah to inner-city schools in London. Is it sinister or safe?
...Demi Moore is on stage with two candles. She spreads the flame from one candle to another: "About ten years ago I was in an enviable position. I was making $12 million a movie. I was at the top of my career. I stepped away from all that to spend time with my children. Now I make $125,000 for a movie, but do I have less?"
Well, obviously she does have less - "but there is no accounting for spending that time with my children". It is all about finding your light and sharing it. At this point more people emerge from the darkness with candles. "I share this light in peace," says one, as each person leaves a candle at a table.
This is not a strange childhood dream; it's the Greenwich Village studio space that belongs to the designer Donna Karan and is bustling with a New York-LA nexus of fashion and fame. Karan, Moore and her actor husband, Ashton Kutcher, are present for this high-powered fundraiser. Madonna is a co-chair. They are all friends, tied together originally by the red string of Kabbalah, the controversial religious group that has now given birth to the focus of the evening, Spirituality for Kids. SFK is a global youth programme that is already working within British schools as part of the curriculum and plans to expand. Its purpose, it claims, is to encourage children to recognise their own goodness, see the light and have more spiritual powers.
Kabbalah opponents have been surprised and outraged to learn that SFK is now running classes in six schools in London, with more on a waiting list.
...Critics believe the modern-day Kabbalah movement has hijacked a traditional form of Jewish mysticism and promoted it for financial gain using high-profile celebrities, most prominently Madonna. While traditional Kabbalah is practised only by male Hassidic scholars over the age of 40, celebrity Kabbalah spawned a T-shirt saying: "I scanned the Zohar with Ashton." When David Beckham, Winona Ryder and, briefly, Britney Spears, were spotted with a red Kabbalah string tied to their wrists the group was dubbed "Hollywood's hottest cult".
"That it is not supported by any main religious group in the world, what does that tell you?" Rabbi Schochet asks. "I'd like to tell Madonna: I won't meddle in your songs if you stop meddling in my Judaic traditions."...