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Abstract

This paper focuses on the Kabbalah Centre, an international new religious movement that popularizes formerly esoteric Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) and attempts to spread it to a universal audience. Like many new religious movements, its cultural and social nonalignment fosters intense opposition as well as attraction, the latter most notably from celebrity followers such as Madonna. I summarize portions of my ethnographic and historical research to illumine some basic aspects of the movement: its connection to Jewish and Christian Kabbalah, its postmodern social structure, and its appeal to both people seeking a spiritual outlook and practice seemingly unconnected to normative, organized religion.