Home Celebrity Madonna’s Religious Leader, “Rav” Philip Berg of Kabbalah Infamy, Dies at 86

Phillip Berg, founder of the Kabbalah Center and Madonna’s religious leader, has died at age 86. Berg’s death was announced on the Kabbalah Center website. Born Fievel Gruberger, Phillip Berg reinvented himself around 1969 when he left his eight children and first wife (now deceased) named Rivka. He married a second time, to Karen Berg, and had two children. Philip Berg was a life insurance salesman during his first marriage but became known as “Rav.” He is thought to have adapted the Kabbalah Center from Karen Berg’s uncle, Rabbi Yehuda Brandwein, an actual Kabbalah scholar.

In March 2011 I published an interview here with one of Berg’s original eight children. He was concerned that his father, who hadn’t been seen in a long time, was in poor health. In 2010 I told you about Karen Berg globe trotting around the world with a new paramour while Philip Berg languished at home. http://www.showbiz411.com/2010/04/30/is-madonnas-new-spiritual-leader-named-muki

Thanks to the canny manipulation of a few celebrities, the Bergs have managed to amass quite a war chest and a lot of real estate. In the last few years they managed to get Madonna involved in the ill-fated charity Raising Malawi, collecting millions of dollars for a leadership academy that was never built in the central south African country of Malawi. At one point there were reports of a grand jury being convened to figure out what happened to the money.


Now it should be interesting to see how the Kabbalah Centre handles official succession. Stay tuned…

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5 replies to this post
  1. CORRECTION: Rav Yehuda Brandwein was NOT Karen’s (Kathy’s) uncle. He was the uncle of Berg’s late, first wife Rivka. Karen was Berg’s secretary before he divorced his teacher’s niece and went on to create the organization that Karen has headed since the Leadership Conference in Boca Raton in 2007, when it was decided the family would be co-directors together.

  2. Thanks, Mr Friedman. I too wait with interest as to what the Kabbalah Centre will do next. Just one point that I think needs to be clarified though – Rabbi Yehuda Brandwein, the great Kabbalist was actually Berg’s first wife, Rivka’s uncle – not Karen Berg’s. Rabbi Brandwein may have been a teacher to Berg, but what Berg did by leaving his teacher’s niece and their 8 kids to hook up with Karen, and then what Berg proceeded to do with kabbalistic teachings ie bastardizing them for the purpose of making himself rich beyond the wildest dreams (the complete antithesis to the whole entire teaching of kabbalah) – is not a good way to repay the great teacher who taught him the wisdom in the first place. IMHO.

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