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.