Madonna’s £1.6m home gift for sect

Madonna has bought a £1.6million Georgian mansion to be used as a hotel and drop-in centre for the controversial Kabbalah religious sect.

The singer, who became a devotee of the mystical Jewish faith in the 1990s, acquired the five-storey house in Regent’s Park, London, not far from her home in Marylebone.

Neighbour uproar

However, some neighbours are against having a sect on their doorstep.

Zeze el-Dib, 56, said people were wary of Kabbalah and its leaders’ motives.

“We do not want any sect here. I do not want to interfere with anybody’s religious wishes but with Kabbalah we have to be suspicious,” she added.

Another neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said: “Having a Kabbalah centre would be totally inappropriate.

“It is a seriously manipulative sect which is very good at getting people’s money, including Madonna’s.”

However, former Kabbalah member Morris Conroy had no objections.

“This is a Central London location where residents are used to people coming and going,” he said. The teachings of Kabbalah, whose celebrity followers include Britney Spears, Demi Moore and Barbra Streisand, are based on a 4,000-year-old Hebrew philosophy.


Denounced by some rabbis as crackpot, its devotees chant and meditate at meetings into the early hours.

Peter Stillwell, who previously owned the house, believed Kabbalah wanted it as a place for visiting members to stay. “As far as I am concerned, Kabbalah can do what it likes with the building,” he said.

It is the second property that Madonna – or Esther as she is known by other devotees – has bought for the group.

The 46-year-old star has already spent £3.6million on a headquarters in the West End of London.

Interest in Kabbalah has been growing despite claims that converts are brainwashed into handing over a large slice of their earnings to fund the lifestyle of its US-based leader, former insurance salesman and New York rabbi Philip Berg.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
The Daily Mail, UK
June 10, 2005

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