At the dawn of the 21st century there seemed to rarely be a day go by when pop star and actress Madonna did not appear in public wearing the red string of Kabbalah or holding the sacred scripture of the Zohar. Despite it seeming as though Madonna led the rise of this popular form of Jewish teachings, but she is, in fact, the latest in a long line of celebrities who have looked to this ancient form of Judaism to give them meaning and a greater direction in life.
Madonna has become the best known member of The Kabbalah Centre, a global group looking to bring as much information about the ancient teachings of Kabbalah to the people of the world as possible. The Kabbalah Centre began life in the 1920s, but only came to the attention of the general public in the 1960s when Rabbi Philip Berg and his wife Karen opened up their home in New York as the first permanent home of a Kabbalah Centre location.
Rav Berg and his followers found the idea of ancient mysticism had become popular through the growing trend for following the counterculture in the 1960s and set out to make sure as many people as possible were given the chance to explore this ancient teaching thought to out date all mainstream religions. Teachers and members of The Kabbalah Centre are often drawn to the way this Los Angeles based group do not force their own beliefs or opinions on any student; in fact, students are encouraged to follow their own path to enlightenment as all religions are thought to grow from the roots planted by the ancient patriarchs of Judaism.
Although their following of Kabbalah was not as well publicized as that of Madonna and current celebrities attending The Kabbalah Centre, many classic stars of the mid 20th century were followers of Kabbalah, including Elizabeth Taylor and Sammy Davis Jr. The discussions Sammy Davis Jr. had about Kabbalah saw him compare the plight of the African American community in the 20th century to the issues faced by followers of the Jewish faith throughout their history.