Kab­bal­ah and the Spir­i­tu­al Quest: The Kab­bal­ah Cen­tre in America

Jody Myers
  • Review
By – February 20, 2012

How does Kab­bal­ah, a move­ment root­ed in medieval Jew­ish mys­ti­cism, fit into the world of Judaism today? Why did an obscure belief sys­tem engen­der so much con­tro­ver­sy and inter­est in recent years that it has become fash­ion­able? What exact­ly is Kab­bal­ah — a cult, a new reli­gious move­ment, a sys­tem of uni­ver­sal wis­dom, or some­thing in between? Dr. Jody Myers, a pro­fes­sor of reli­gious stud­ies at Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­si­ty, North­ridge, has cre­at­ed a valu­able and illu­mi­nat­ing study that pro­vides an in-depth social pro­file of a unique­ly Amer­i­can reli­gious move­ment, par­tic­u­lar­ly as it relates to health and healing. 

In order to find out every­thing she could about the many Kab­bal­ah cen­ters spring­ing up in major U.S. cities, includ­ing New York, Los Ange­les, Mia­mi, and Philadel­phia, Dr. Myers signed up for their cours­es, stud­ied decades-worth of cen­ter pub­li­ca­tions and inter­viewed scores of followers.

The result is an emi­nent­ly read­able vol­ume that blends schol­ar­ly thought with col­or­ful writ­ing. The his­to­ry, beliefs, and prac­tices that make up the grow­ing Kab­bal­ah move­ment are explained in detail in this book and qual­i­fy it as the first thor­ough exam­i­na­tion of what she calls a new Jew­ish phe­nom­e­non, which is, intrigu­ing­ly, both con­tem­po­rary and ancient at once. Bib­li­og­ra­phy, index, notes.

Lin­da F. Burghardt is a New York-based jour­nal­ist and author who has con­tributed com­men­tary, break­ing news, and fea­tures to major news­pa­pers across the U.S., in addi­tion to hav­ing three non-fic­tion books pub­lished. She writes fre­quent­ly on Jew­ish top­ics and is now serv­ing as Schol­ar-in-Res­i­dence at the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al & Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau County.

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