What is Kabbalah and what does the red thread mean?

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In the early 2000s, it was rare to see celebrities like Madonna, Ashton Kutcher and Lindsay Lohan without a piece of red string tied around their wrists. The bracelet signaled that they followed the mystical religion known as Kabbalah.

The religion seemed to reach its cultural peak in the first decade of the 21st century, when Rebekah Neumann, former WeWork brand and impact manager and wife of WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann, joined. .

In We crashedthe new Apple TV+ series that depicts the rise and fall of the coworking giant, you can see Rebekah (played by Anne Hathaway) wearing the thin red string around her wrist while leading a meditation class.

Rebekah and Adam met in 2007, when she was still Rebekah Paltrow (she is Gwyneth’s first cousin), and she quickly introduced Adam to the religion.

And while the Neumanns incorporated their Kabbalah beliefs into the WeWork empire, in the decade since, many other celebrities have fallen in love with the religion.

Adam Neumann in 2016 (left) and Rebekah Neumann in 2010 (right) both wear the red Kabbalah thong on their left wrist

(Getty)

What is Kabbalah?

Kabbalah has long been associated with Judaism. The word itself comes from the Hebrew word meaning “received knowledge” or “tradition”.

Kabbalah followers, or kabbalists, say their beliefs date back to the origins of the Torah and have been an integral part of Judaism since the 12th century.

Kabbalists’ beliefs have been described as “mystical” because the practice focuses on direct communication with God through solitary study.

According to the Kabbalah Center website, Kabbalah is “ancient wisdom that provides practical tools for creating joy and lasting fulfillment. It’s an incredible technological system that will completely change the way you see your world.

When did Kabbalah become popular?

The practice became popular in the United States in the 1960s when a rabbi, Philip Berg, began studying the religion during a trip to Israel in 1962.

Berg then opened the Kabbalah Center, which saw Kabbalah in the United States focus more on personal improvement and spiritual happiness. He led meditation classes and started a Kabbalah 101 self-study course.

The way Berg ran his Kabbalah centers meant that he was easier to digest, as people did not have to learn Hebrew to practice the religion. Instead, he published his interpretations of ancient Kabbalah texts.

However, Berg’s teachings had many critics. Rick Alan Ross, executive director of the Cult Education Institute, said Widely that most of the teachings of the Kabbalah Center have “no basis” in the Jewish text.

He added, “Berg’s teachings represent his own idiosyncratic combination of beliefs. For example, that perusing the pages of the Zohar, even if you cannot read Hebrew, will somehow imbue you with supernatural power.

Which celebrities have followed Kabbalah?

In addition to Madonna, other celebrities who have followed Kabbalah include Ashton Kutcher and his ex-wife Demi Moore, Lindsay Lohan, Monica Lewinsky, Ariana Grande, James Van Der Beek, and Donald Trump’s ex-wife Marla Maples. .

Other celebrities associated with religion include Britney Spears, Mick Jagger, Naomi Campbell, Mary-Kate Olsen, Paris Hilton and Elizabeth Taylor.

Guy Ritchie and Madonna in 2008 (left) and Adam Kutcher and Demi Moore in 2007 (right). Madonna and Moore wear a red string on their left wrist

(Getty)

In 2014, Grande told the Telegraph that she turned to Kabbalah after her brother was “rejected by the Catholic Church” for being gay.

“When my brother was told that God didn’t love him, I was like, ‘OK, that’s not cool.’ They were building a Kabbalah center in Florida, so we both checked it out and really connected with it,” the singer said at the time.

“Since then, my life has been going in a very beautiful way, and I think it has a lot to do with the tools I learned through Kabbalah, really.”

In 2003, Madonna spent £3.5million on a townhouse in London it intended to turn itself into a center of Kabbalah.

“I think Kabbalah is very punk rock,” she said at the time. “It teaches you that you are responsible for everything. We don’t realize there is a bigger system at work. Everything that happens to you has a reason – and I think that’s pretty revolutionary.

When Berg died in 2013, the singer emailed The New York Times which read, “I learned more from him than any human I’ve ever met.”

She added, “This concept that he taught me, and that Kabbalah teaches, is that you have to take responsibility for your life. You can’t blame other people for what happens. You are in control. of your destiny.

Kutcher and his then-girlfriend Mila Kunis were also present at the funeral. It is unknown which celebrities, if any, still follow Kabbalah or frequent the Kabbalah Center.

What does the red string Kabbalah bracelet mean?

The red cord worn around the wrist is the most recognizable sign of the Kabbalah movement.

It is often worn on the left wrist and is said to ward off “evil and misfortune” that might be “caused by the evil eye”.

What scandals has the Kabbalah Center been involved in?

Model Jerry Hall revealed in a 2005 interview with Index magazine that followers of the Kabbalah Center who passed through the “Door of Miracles” had to hand over 10% of their earnings.

She said, “We had a fantastic time with the Kabbalah Center for about a year. They give very practical advice on everyday things, like how to be a better parent. But we couldn’t go through the Gate of Miracles unless we gave the people of Kabbalah ten percent of our money, so we couldn’t study it anymore.

Money was one of the reasons Madonna apparently cut ties with the Center as well. According to a NewsWeek investigation in 2011, Madonna and Berg’s son Michael raised $18m (£13.6m) through their joint foundation Raising Malawi.

They had planned to build a school for girls in Malawi, but the project was scrapped after $3m ​​(£2.2m) was spent on the LA Kabbalah Centre. This led Madonna to take charge of the foundation.

The Center has also seen former student successfully sues Yehuda Bergson of Philip Berg.

The student alleged that Yehuda tried to drug and sexually assault her. Yehuda and Kabbalah Center were ordered to pay $177,500 (£134,450) in damages in 2015.

At the time, a spokesperson for the Kabbalah Center said Widely“Yehuda has not been involved with the Kabbalah Center since he resigned in 2012. When Yehuda left the Center, he made it clear that he was doing so because his departure was in the best interest of the Kabbalah. center and in the best interest of his personal effort to change his life.

What is Rebekah Neumann’s history with Kabbalah and how was she introduced to WeWork?

It’s unclear when Rebekah Neumann started taking classes at the Kabbalah Center in Los Angeles, but it’s believed to be when she moved there to try and become an actress in the early 2000s.

It was Rebekah who introduced Adam to the school of thought, and it was at the Kabbalah Center that Adam met Kutcher, an early investor in WeWork.

A close friend of Rebekah said Restlessness in a 2020 profile: “There’s this saying in Kabbalah that the woman is the CEO of the relationship, and she was 100% the CEO of the relationship.”

As head of brand and impact, Rebekah also channeled religion into WeWork’s offices. the Restlessness The report says Adam “expected deputies to show up for Kabbalah meditation classes.”

A separate report from the wall street journal claimed that Adam would bring Kabbalah Center teachers to corporate offices and retreats to teach executives. Adam is also believed to have formed WeWork’s corporate values ​​from what he learned through religion.

In a 2013 interview with The real deal, Adam said, “I noticed that in the Kabbalah community, people were really helping each other. I wanted to translate that into business.

A spokesperson for Adam later denied that Kabbalah influenced WeWork’s philosophy, mission, or business decisions.

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