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Madonna News - June 2004

Madonna adopts Kabbalah and new wave of controversy

The Jewish Madonna?
As the Material Girl well knows from her many incarnations, the path to spiritual provocation is marked with sacred signs.
On the road with her Re-invention World Tour, Madonna seemingly has moved from the New Testament to the Hebrew Bible, incorporating signs and symbols from Judaism and kabbalah, a mystical and esoteric study of the faith.
On a recent news-magazine show, she discussed her interest in kabbalah and how she has adopted a Hebrew name, Esther. She has worn a red string on her wrist to ward off the “evil eye,” and used sacred prayer accessories and symbolic Hebrew letters in music videos and concerts.
“What Madonna is doing ” whether or not she wants to do it ” is making certain aspects of Judaism more well known in the public,” said Rabbi Barry Gelman of United Orthodox Synagogues. “She is probably the anti-Joe Lieberman.”
As Gelman sees it, Lieberman is an example of Jewish values, and his 2000 vice presidential nomination raised public awareness about Judaism, including rituals of the Sabbath and the high holy days.
For some Houston-area rabbis, Madonna’s contribution as a Jewish representative is cause for concern. There’s the history of men; there’s Britney; there’s the nudity.
“If she were a woman of valor, that might be one issue,” said Rabbi Yakov Polatsek, executive director of TORCH, Torah Outreach Resource Center of Houston. “But she is Madonna.”
Madonna is a student of the Kabbalah Centre, a worldwide education organization with a center in Houston. The center does not require students to be Jewish, and the study can be incorporated into any faith, said Robin Davis, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles-based organization.
“The aims of the center are to help people navigate through the wisdom of kabbalah and to help them understand it and embrace it and help them incorporate it into their lives so their lives can be more meaningful,” she said.
Madonna has been a serious student for more than eight years, Davis said.
“This is not a trendy thing she has picked up as a whim for the moment,” she said.
But Gelman and other local rabbis are concerned that such study is rooted less in traditional Judaism than in New Age spirituality.
Rabbi Daniel Plotkin of Congregation Beth Tikvah in the Clear Lake area is a self-described child of the 1980s and owns Madonna’s album The Immaculate Collection ” a remnant from a different time and faith. Of course, he has not personally peered into the pop star’s thoughts and deeds, he said, but he doubts she is working on repentance, t’shubah in Hebrew.
Her interest, however, may have a silver lining, said Plotkin, who is leaving the synagogue for St. Louis next week.
“Certainly, anything that causes a young Jewish teenager or an adult to say to his parents or rabbi or her cantor, ‘I saw this. What is it?’ that can’t hurt,” he said. “But at the same time, it is important not to cheapen the value of it.”

Here’s a guide to the Jewish Madonna.
– Esther: A very important woman in Judaism. Esther has her own book of the Bible, and her story is the basis for the holiday Purim. She was a queen of Persia who revealed her Jewish identity to save the Jews within the kingdom from a plot to exterminate them.
– Tefillin: Worn for morning prayers, usually by Orthodox and Conservative Jewish men, as a reminder of the presence of God. Tefillin consists of two black leather boxes containing four portions of the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. The boxes are attached to the head and to the arm with black leather straps.
Plotkin said he is familiar with Jewish feminist artists who have used symbols such as Tefillin in their work. But to use them in a video or concert is “an odd decision, at the least,” he said. Gelman doesn’t see it only as odd. “To use that in a pop concert or any way is highly offensive,” Gelman said.
– Kabbalah: The study and practice of a form of Jewish mysticism. The origins of kabbalah are disputed, Gelman said. Many date the development of kabbalah to the 11th or 12th century, Plotkin said. It became more widespread in the 13th century, especially in Spain, he said. According to Gelman, kabbalah isa secret branch of Judaism, and those who study it are supposed to be older than 40 ” some say male ” and must have extensively studied the Torah, the Talmud and many other Jewish texts before delving into the mystical practice.
“Kabbalah outside the rooted traditions of Judaism, kabbalah in a vacuum, is not real Jewish spirituality,” Gelman said. “When you have people who are studying kabbalah who don’t know the ABCs of Judaism, you have to really wonder what they are doing.”
– 72 names of God: A concept from kabbalah, Plotkin said. There are also 70 unpronounceable names of God. Those who seriously practice kabbalah meditate on the Hebrew letters that make up the names, reciting mantras, he said. “It is something you would do in a room alone or in the woods or a desert,” Plotkin said, “not on a stage at a rock concert.”
– Red string: Protection against the evil eye. It serves as a reminder to others not to think negative thoughts about the person wearing it, lest those thoughts reverberate and become bad luck, Polatsek said. Some say it protects the negative force of ill will from others.
source : Houston Chronicle

Madonna dishes out gin and kabbalah cocktails!

Guests at Madonna’s Re-Invention tour launch party literally got a taste of the pop diva’s newly adopted religion, kabbalah, as she served them cocktail’s mixed with kabbalah water.
According to, at the “American Life” singer’s party, guests were served with a cocktail called “Damn,” which was a mix of gin and soda lime. However, Madonna made sure that all the ice cubes in the drinks were made out of special kabbalah water.
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Madonna brings Jewish mysticism on tour

The queen of pop has become the queen of ancient Persia – and she’s got the Judaic trappings to prove it.
When Madonna – now also known as Esther (as in the Jewish queen who saved her people) – blows into town Sunday for the Boston leg of her Re-Invention Tour, she’ll be schlepping more than the string of hits that made her 22-year career. She’ll also be flashing the symbols of her newfound faith: Kabbalah, with a capital K, an offshoot of ancient Jewish mysticism.
The Hebrew letters lamed, aleph, vov (which together, as LAV, supposedly form one of the 72 names of God) will light up giant video screens behind Madge’s dancing minions. A red string with seven knots (said to ward off the evil eye) will encircle the left wrist of the ex- (she says) Material Girl. A T-shirt reading “Kabbalists Do It Better” will cling to her yoga-toned body. Memories of tefillin – scripture-filled leather pouches worn during prayer, which Madonna uses in her music video ‘Die Another Day’ – will hover over the turntable that spins center-stage. The house will be dark on Friday night and Saturday – the Jewish Sabbath.
What, we wondered, would local rabbis and scholars make of Madonna’s Jewish routes?
None we asked questioned her intentions, though one did wonder whether she’d been drawn into the fold by the promise of immortality through potential DNA restructuring – a tenet, he’d heard, of the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Centre, where Madonna, 45, practices. The same kind of molecular magic, performed by Centre leader Philip Berg, is rumored to transform upstate New York spring water into healing pre-Flood Kabbalah H2O.
But the experts did marvel at her lack of scholarship. “I think she’s a spiritual seeker and not just a faddist,” said Arthur Green, professor of Jewish thought at Brandeis University and a Jewish-mysticism scholar. “She uses letters and they inspire her, and I have no objection to that. But I can’t say there’s any knowledge reflected there.”
Moshe Waldoks, rabbi of Temple Beth Zion, an Independent congregation in Brookline, was more skeptical. “It’s a very strange phenomenon to get involved with the Kabbalah without getting involved with Judaism,” he said. The Kabbalah Centre, which boasts 50 branches, including one in Newton Centre, proclaims on its Web site that “Kabbalah is about ‘light’ not religion!”
“I think one of the main issues that conventional Jewish leaders have with the Kabbalah Centre approach is that Kabbalah is historically and most traditionally something that was preserved for scholars who had achieved a fluency in rabbinic thought and literature,” said William Hamilton, rabbi of the Conservative congregation Kehillath Israel in Brookline.
Rabbi Hamilton has no problem with the letters LAV being projected on a screen, because, he said, it’s “not one of God’s names that cannot be erased,” that is, one of the seven names that, when they appear on paper, can’t be discarded because they have an “inherent sanctity.” Rabbi Waldoks doesn’t think most people will even be able to distinguish the letters from “pig Latin” or “a design.”
The tefillin binding her arm in the music video are another matter. “That I’d be more critical of because I think that gets into perhaps other associations with leather straps and the like, and I don’t even want to go there,” said Rabbi Hamilton.
“A lot of people must think this is a bondage film,” Waldoks cracked.
Though the pop icon’s brand of worship doesn’t appear to put much stock in the central Jewish principle of mitzvot (good deeds), said the experts, good can still come from her embrace of Kabbalah, which has attracted Jews and nonJews alike for hundreds of years.
“Kabbalah has always attracted very serious followers and trivial, superficial followers, because it makes promises that sound very close to magic, like rewards for study that are not always spiritual but sometimes good fortune and magical powers,” said Green. “That is not at all the true meaning of Kabbalah, but the element has always been there. Madonna is turning out to be surprisingly serious in her orientation.”
“Often it’s the nonJew that gets fascinated who brings Jews to re-examine,” said Waldoks. “Madonna’s interest might ignite more Jews to rediscover. Shabbat observance is not one of the top things Jews do. God works in mysterious ways.”
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Madonna Maniac kicked out

A man who has been stalking Madonna was ejected from Madison Square Garden on the first two nights of the Material Mom’s six-night run last week, The Post has learned.
On the first night of her “Reinvention” tour last Wednesday, security guards found the man just outside the arena and booted him, a Garden source said.
He had been identified from a photo handed out to all guards, according to the source. The next night, the stalker was kicked out of the building itself even though he had a ticket for the concert.
The source said the stalker has pestered the singer with calls to her office. Madonna’s security guards alerted the NYPD, which got the Garden involved.
Madonna does not have an order of protection against the man, so Garden security was only able to eject him. He was not arrested.
“We will not comment on her security issues,” said NYPD spokesman Detective Kevin Czartoryski.
A spokeswoman for Madonna could not be reached for comment.
It’s not the first time Madonna has been scared by a stalker. In 1996, Robert Hoskins was sent to jail for 10 years for violent threats against the singer.
Madonna had testified that Hoskins rang the doorbell at her California home and said that “if he couldn’t have me, he would slash my throat from ear to ear.”
Yesterday, a police squad car escorted Madonna’s three-car motorcade from the singer’s Upper West Side apartment to the Garden. The motorcade wove through Midtown in an attempt to find a clear route to the arena. The traffic finally opened up when the squad car started flashing its lights and blaring its siren.
Police escorts for celebrities are not uncommon, a source said, but Czartoryski said that in this case, the NYPD was merely “assisting her move through traffic.”
Still, it was hardly an isolated incident, the MSG source said: Madonna has had a similar escort on at least one other occasion during this tour.
Tonight is the last show of Madonna’s run.
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Piper Joins Madonna for World Tour

A piper who was hand-picked by Madonna to perform on her world tour is having the time of his life, his father said today.
Lorne Cousin, 31, was working as a lawyer in Edinburgh when he received a telephone call from the superstar asking him to play the bagpipes on her five-month Reinvention tour.
Mr Cousin, who is from Campbeltown, Kintyre, is now appearing with Madonna on stage in America, after taking leave from his job.
His father Alastair said his son was loving every minute of performing with one of the world’s most famous women.
“I spoke to him a few days ago, and he seems to be enjoying the experience of being on the tour,”? said Mr Cousin Snr.
“He is having the time of his life – he gets on really well with Madonna, there are no problems there.”?
Madonna first noticed Mr Cousin when she heard him playing the bagpipes at her friend Stella McCartney’s wedding on the Isle of Bute, last year.
Mr Cousin Snr, who is a vet in Campbeltown, became a friend of the McCartney family after looking after some of their animals.
He added that his son would continue with the tour of America and Canada until the middle of July, when he planned to take a 10-day break, before flying back for Madonna’s European concerts.
Simon Mackintosh, a partner at the Turcan Connell law firm where Mr Cousin works, said today: “We are delighted that Lorne has been given this opportunity.
“He is recognised in piping circles as an outstanding piper and is also a valued member of our rural property team.
“It is not easy to lose him for six months, but for Lorne it really is a chance of a lifetime.”?
Another Scots piper Callum “Spud”? Fraser from Aviemore, was initially reported to have been chosen as piper for Madonna’s tour.
Mr Fraser had played the bagpipes at Madonna’s wedding to Guy Ritchie at Skibo Castle in 2002.
It was reported he had been approached by the singer’s staff during the wedding celebrations and asked to come on the tour but he had no contact again.
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The secret behind Madonna’s looks revealed!

Wanna have a face like Madonna? Well, here’s all the dope on what products the Queen uses to remain the Queen of pop.
According to The Daily Mail, Material girl Madonna uses Alterna’s Enzymetherapy Caviar shampoo and conditioner, make-up from the MAC range and Laque Lustres and perfume is Fluerissimo. She wears Prada and Burberry and clothes by her friend Stella McCartney.
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Madonna steals the show at Kabbalah guru’s birthday bash!

Instead of the birthday boy, it was Madonna who hogged the limelight at Rabbi Michael Berg’s 31st birthday bash.
According to New York Daily News,a host of celebrities came to wish The co-director of the Kabbalah center in a private room gathering at the kosher midtown restaurant Solo.
However it was Maddona, one of the most ardent followers of the cult who got the most attention, so much so that it even sidelined the host.
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Vatican raps Madonna over Kabbalah

The Vatican has been holding a special conference of international Catholic leaders to deal with the challenges that New Age spirituality poses to traditional Christian beliefs. Special attention was reportedly given to “kabbala as espoused by Madonna.”
The Catholic-born singer’s public involvement with the Los Angeles-based Kabbala Center, accused by some of being a cult-like distortion of Jewish mystical beliefs, has intensified in recent months. It has been reported that Madonna had decided to observe kashrut dietary restrictions, and not to perform on Friday nights (Shabbat eve). Last week, the entertainer announced that she was adopting “Esther” as an additional name in honor of the heroine of the Purim saga.
“I don’t go by the name of Esther, but yes, that is my Hebrew name. I chose it,” she told the ABC-TV news show 20/20. “I was named after my mother. My mother died when she was very young. I wanted to attach myself to another name. So I read about all the women in the Old Testament, and I love the story of Queen Esther.”
This week the singer released her third children’s book, Yakov and the Seven Thieves, about the travails of a Jewish family in 18th century Russia.
In the on again, off again saga of Madonna’s planned visit to Israel, the latest news according to a well-informed member of the local entertainment industry is that she will be coming – but in a private capacity.
“She’ll fly in when she’s somewhere in the region,” he said, “but she won’t be performing here.”
Madonna will be performing in Europe from mid-August as part of her new “Reinvention” tour.
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Madonna makes models movie

Madonna is casting a range of beauties to play Naoimi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford and Cgristy Turlington in a film- adaptation of a tell-all book about the supermodels. The 45-year-old superstar has acquired the film rights to Micheal Gross’ revealing fashion industry tome Model. David Brendal wrote the movie treatment for Madonna’s Maverick Films, and the movie is expected to air on an American cable network next year (05). A range of other supermodels are expected to be included in the movie, including Sylvester Stallone’s ex-girlfriend Janice Dickonson.
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French Spotlight Magazine is out now

The new issue of the french magazine Spotlight – entirely dedicated to Madonna’s re-Invention World Tour – is now available.
Spotlight #26 contains:
An homage to the late Christophe Coatanoan
An intorduction to the “Re-Invention World Tour 2004”
The complete review of the opening night in L.A. by Fred Gilloteau
An exclusive interview to Christian Lacroix
An interview with Mike McKnight, the keyboards player of the tour band
All the latest news
The pictures from the “Re-Invention World Tour 2004”
A walk through memory lane to the past Madonna’s tours.

Madonna - Spotlight Magazine #26

Vatican warns about Madonna’s Religion

A Vatican meeting has singled out Madonna’s latest religious curiosity as a potential threat to the faithful, MSNBC reported Monday.
The lapsed-Catholic diva and former Material Girl has recently embraced a mystical form of Judaism called Kabbalah and announced she had taken the hebrew name Esther.
The Vatican has been holding a special summit with Catholic leaders from around the world, hammering out a way to deal with New Age religions and spiritual fads that pose a threat to the historic Christian faith.
Last week that summit singled out “Kabbalah as espoused by Madonna,” plus several fad, quasi-Eastern religions.
“In the past, the Pope has criticized Madonna for the contents of her concerts,” said cult expert Rick Ross, who has closely followed the activities of the Kabbalah Center. “Now, ironically, it’s become a theological issue.”
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Madonna – A Chanel Cabaret Girl

She’s off again – for her “Reinvention Tour” (from May 24th to September 5th), Madonna, the uncontested queen of pop and fashion icon always at the cutting edge of the trend, will be revealing her best assets.
This time the singer approached CHANEL, and Karl Lagerfeld designed two fringed bodysuits in a music-hall singer style – one in black and white stripes, the other in red and black. His comment was, “I love Madonna.
She is a source of inspiration for us all – always ready to be transformed. Who could refuse to work with her?”
The items have been designed in a stretch fabric to accommodate the star’s body movements, embroidered with some 200 000 sequins, each one set in place individually using a hook! An amazing achievement that took more than 250 hours of work by the nimble fingers in the Haute Couture workshops.
In all, three copies of each of the two outfits have been made, to make allowance for the little accidents that are likely to occur in the course of a six-month tour.
Madonna will be performing in Toronto, July 18, 19 and 21st, 2004.

Madonna - A Chanel Cabaret Girl

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