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Kabbalah leader arrested

by: Avi Cohen, Ynetnews - Last updated: 2005-10-31

Kabbalah Water

Kabbalah water: Photo: Tel Aviv police

Israeli police have arrested Shaul Youdkevitch, head of the Kabbalah Center in Tel Aviv, on suspicion he extracted money from a cancer patient and convinced her that donations will make her recover from illness.

The woman suffering from cancer was talked into paying tens of thousands of dollars to the Israeli Kabbalah Center, on the pretext that the donation would help improve her condition.

Youdkevitch, one of the main figures in Kabbalah studies worldwide and the man behind Madonna's visit to Israel last year, was arrested on suspicion of exploiting and deceiving the woman and her husband.

The couple has previously complained several months ago that they were told by the rabbis who run the center in Tel Aviv that the woman should make 'a significant and painful donation' if she wanted to get well and overcome cancer.

A devotee of Kabbalah, the ill woman put her faith in the center and contributed USD 36,000 to the organization. When her condition deteriorated, members of the Israeli branch recommended she donate another USD 25,000. Meanwhile, rabbis recommended that she also purchase holy water to improve her condition - at an exorbitant price.

The couple, who soon after extending the donations ran out of financial resources, continued to seek help with the center. The rabbis then suggested that the husband leave his job and devote himself completely to work at the center.

The husband, a father of two young children, turned down the proposal and instead turned to the police to report the incidents.
 
First Sergeant Morris Tal told Ynet that according to Youdkevitch, the Kabbalah Center proposed that the woman donate the money, but did not force her to do so.

Reproduced with permission: Ynetnews