(The Kabbalah Learning Centre)
This article is to encourage people to speak out about their experiences “Rav” Berg’s Kabbalah Learning Center (KLC) Berg’s given name is Feivel Gruberger, an experienced insurance salesman.
It is essential to keep in mind that the actions of the KLC have little in common with traditional or even responsible Jewish renewal Kabbalah teachers.
When I first realized how self-destructively deep my child was involved in this group, I was paralyzed with horror. This gave way to fury, anger, frustration and pain beyond words. It made my blood freeze to realize how subtle and efficient this organization works.
A Mother experiences the KLC
I went to the center because I wanted to improve my life. To improve how I felt about myself, my marriage, my career. There was plenty of room for improvement.
“Kabbalah has the answer for it all”, I was assured by the “rabbi” who was in charge of the center.
That felt great. Finally someone who spoke straight out, full of confidence. He gave me the impression that now, having come to them, everything would easily fall into place.
I had to tell what was bothering me, of course. My marital problems were solved within less than three minutes. “No use fighting for this relationship. We will find you someone better.” When I answered that this was not exactly what I had in mind and that there also were some business links that concerned our marriage, the solution was as simple: I just had to stay on until the business matters were sorted out and then make up my mind. Maybe I could even bring my spouse along. “Kabbalah” would bring light into everyone’s world and there might be hope. Could we afford classes for both of us?
I signed up and attended the Introduction Class.
We were told to write down what exactly we would like to improve during these weeks and were promised that we would experience a miraculous change upon completion of the course.
I learned that “restriction was necessary to produce light”, that to “control yourself” was a very important key to improve your life and that “you have to inject consciousness” into every single action of your daily life, because we had to understand that spontaneity was not a good thing, like some psychologists taught. Everyone had found out, our teacher told us, that psychology and religion have not helped anyone so far, quite the contrary.
We learned “don’t trust your five senses”, that the world as we used to perceive it is nothing but an illusion. The “material world” is only 1%. The “Real world”, however, is invisible but consists of the 99% that is mathematically left over in this equation. This is the realm that counts where the work has to be done.
In due course of the class we were introduced to the “principles of reincarnation” and “Satan” and learned why the time to improve ourselves was running out. We did not have many reincarnations left, if we wanted to be among those who were to be saved in 240 years, which is Judgement Day.
Gradually we were introduced to the tools that would ensure our personal improvement – “reconstructing our nature” the goal of which is “to become godlike” – and that of our lives: different kinds of meditation, volunteering at the center, and tithing.
Questions were encouraged, as long as they did not directly concern the teachings. For example you could ask HOW to do your meditations. When I asked, “WHY I should accept certain teachings in the first place?” I was told that “it will all become clear to you later on”. After all, Kabbalah had been a secret science for centuries and could only revealed to you in little bits and “whenever you are ready”. When I wanted to know why Kabbalah had not been introduced to the world before, if it abolished any kind of pain and even would stop wars, the answer was simple. “The time is right now.”
Patience and obedience to the rules were important, if you wanted results. Questions about the content of the teachings were ignored or – at best – ridiculed. Were not our lives the ones who needed improvement? Were not the people at the center happy? They were the ones that experienced miracles in their lives all the time. Could we say the same about our lives? If we had indeed experienced similar “miracles,” these were just coincidences, whereas when you did Kabbalah, the results were “proactively” produced and were not just arbitrary. There were men and women who testified how wonderful their lives had become. They spoke convincingly about how they led better marriages, how their businesses has prospered, how they had won the battle over cancer and illnesses.
We were invited to Sabbath meetings and dinners. They were lovely. Everyone was so nice and friendly. We were introduced to certain rituals; all questions about the “why?” were answered with “energy”. The KLC teachers “know” about any energy that is out there and to use it for improvement. And all of them are still learning from “Rabbi Berg” who knows all the secrets, I was told.
If you want to know why it takes so long to improve the world with this perfect knowledge at hand, can’t you imagine the answer your “teacher” will give you? The KLC is very liberal, everyone has the right to chose for themselves, no one is forced to become a member… Unfortunately as long as the rest of the world does not “chose” to participate and is too blind to see the truth, the task for the members is harder and chaos and Satan will continue to create evil …
At the end of the class, many of us did not experience the promised miracle. We were told that this was our fault, because we really didn’t try hard enough. Had we done our exercises diligently? Had we volunteered enough? Was there not a little more that we could do to contribute to the center? Also, it must not be forgotten that there was so much more to learn. There were so many more classes to take. Patience.
I did not have this patience and also did not want to come to the Sabbath meetings anymore.
“No problem, this was fine,” I was told. “Everyone has his/her own way to follow, but something terrible would happen to one of my family members and then we would be there for us, because we are forgiving.”
Even though I did not believe their teachings this prophecy about disaster happening to a person I love terrified me for a long time – until I learned about “phobia indoctrination” when I read Steve Hassan’s book. The book opened my eyes to the whole issue of mind control and cults. In the last months I talked to many people who had once been connected with the KLC and there are many people who are still afraid. I mused about how psychology does work after all…
Intellectually, I thought the rhetoric was quite obvious. However, my
brilliant, but naïve child didn’t see it as I did. She attended more
classes, one-to-one-consultations, even long weekends. There was an
enormous personality change.
My child now claims she is free of any worldly desires, except that there always has to be enough money to pay for classes and activities that concern the center. College is not important anymore; all spare time is consumed by working (“volunteering”) at the center and to earn money, so that tithing can be done. Contact to parents and siblings is below minimum level. Conversations are a distant memory from the past. Discussions are not even remotely possible. Criticism of the KLC was met with different levels of arrogance, aggressiveness or flight. In the end our child avoided us altogether.
We have watched the physical deterioration, the loss of his longtime friends, the destruction of a promising career. She cannot communicate normally-everything is in KLC jargon. When she has come home to visit from a weekend or a seminar, my husband and I feel like we are watching someone walking on air, utterly euphoric. What little time that she still spends with the family she is in a moody, uncommunicative and remote, eyes glazed over. It is a terrifying experience. Having worked with problem kids, I can compare this kind of behavior pattern only to drug addicts.
Why did she change like this? How can something like this happen to a gifted child? Why is it so difficult to penetrate this strange behavior?
Recruiting and controlling Strategies
(Please, I hope others will also contribute what information they know that might be useful for others).
When my despair abated I started to educate myself, I read everything I could find about mind control, meditation, trances – and secret notes taken from members at classes. I learned it was mind control indoctrination.
In each class, especially “Personal Growth Workshops”, questionnaires are to be filled out. It is imperative that you “open up”. Also you will soon have “friends” in who you are encouraged to confide in, who are supposed “to help you” – especially to “overcome doubts, as doubts are from Satan”.
Some meditations transfer the trusting member to “the ancient temple in Jerusalem”; in the course of some of these meditations positive images from your life are substituted with KLC images.
Other meditations are about “The Rav”, his greatness etc.
It is indicated that you are really safe only while at a center or in its close vicinity. If you travel to somewhere in the world that has not yet a center it is your “free choice” to expose yourself to such dangers…
Members are trained in blocking out any attempts of criticism of the KLC. I am prepared to take a guess that everyone who has a family member or friend deeply involved in the KLC has experienced the glazing over of the member’s eyes, the rocking forward and backward, the silent reciting of KLC terminology when confronted with unpleasant discoveries about the group.
“The Rav” claims to have the power to change the chemical structure of water and thereby improve its quality to such an extent that its benefits for the one who drinks it are worth the price you have to pay for it. (It is sold at every center. Water provided for meals on weekends is ordinary water). Berg can supposedly do miracles, has knowledge of teleportation. Again, these techniques are sold to interested members, regardless of the potential harm these practices might do to the unsuspecting follower.
“Services” include vehement shaking of fists (induces hyperventilation, which can make your subconscious more susceptible).
“Alcohol carries light”, therefore -especially in the retreats in LA – consumption of alcohol is encouraged to “get close to the light” as part of rituals, also to minors.
Members are videotaped.
Members are encouraged to change their first names according to suggestions of their teacher, because each name “carries energy” and, of course, your teacher knows best what is best for you.
You are encouraged “to let go of your family”- unless you can recruit them, of course.
You are kept busy; there is always something to do. It will never have an effect “on your tikkun” if you help anyone outside the center, because “the center is a holy place”, chosen by superior knowledge. (Which is true, because most locations are where the money is. For example, there is no KLC in Central Africa, Bosnia or India or even in Central Kentucky…) This is why you are encouraged to do well financially, because then “you are able to help the cause better”.
If you are a failure in the material world, though, you don’t have much choice but to become a “chevre”. You work at the center fulltime, for a mattress and enough food to keep you going and thus “bring light to the world” too.
The KLC states that it is “not a religion”, but files taxes as a religion. Members seem to be thrilled that can fool the IRS, since the organization is “above the 1% world”.
In the introduction class you are tempted jokingly, “Isn’t it better to be rich and healthy that to be poor and sick?” If you don’t get these results, it is your fault, but most long term members have forgotten this alluring recruitment promise.
In spite of long hours of work, often experiencing the same if not more obstacles than before in their lives they still claim “It works!”
Why? In the Introduction Course you are taught already that “the more restriction, the more light”, explained by the lightbulb principle. This translates to “the more pain the more gain”. Doubts about this “are from Satan” – we heard this before… – and so the circle closes.
Why should we be concerned if our loved ones claim to be happy?
You need not be concerned if you are sure that the member’s decision was made fully informed about everything that entails being a member BEFORE starting out.
You need not be concerned if the member has had a complete “time-out” for several weeks /months to be able to inform her/himself thoroughly, discussed the topic with her/his OWN words and had time to really think. This is common practice when you decide to join a monastery the Catholic Church recommends about one year to reflect upon your decision.
Members of this group, however, are told that, “this is the absolute and only truth”, refusing vehemently to listen or discuss the topic. Should you be lucky enough to get them to talk, the best you can expect in most cases is parroted phrases they learned at the classes and sessions. If you are familiar with the teachings you will find that most answers you’ll get are literal quotations.
Members are kept by deception and – most appalling – by fear. I told about the frightening prophecy that I was given. Everyone I have talked to had similar experiences. Threats of accidents that you might encounter when you leave, business and or financial losses (if you are rather materialistically inclined), harm that might befall someone you love are common practice.
As the member is discouraged from checking out testimonies from others that have left, these fears stay in place and not only keep the member in the group, but come in also quite useful to exert further pressure.
This does not ensure a free choice.
Why should we tell our story?
Every one of us who has been through this experience knows the changes that occur in our loved one’s personality. Caught in the trap of so-called “self-improvement” lectures, vulnerable, gentle-minded and idealistically inclined students are gradually, but ruthlessly, inevitably, submitted to mind control strategies that are so subtle and efficient that in the end the person exposed to them is alienated from everyone who really cares about them, from career goals, things they liked to enjoy, from every human life experience itself. They are told the goal is “to become Godlike”, to “restructure your psychological DNA” and although the members are far from the former – and have to be forever striving that they can be exploited further, the latter often becomes a horrific reality. In the last few months I have spoken with many distressed families as well as former members, and they have all confirmed my own experience: Your son/daughter, spouse, mother/father, friend changes from a loving caring family member into a cold, emotionless, detached, arrogant and sometimes even violent stranger.
I have to point out, though, that recently (2001) – because of a lot of negative press – communication with family is more encouraged, and living conditions at the centers have somewhat improved. After all, just have one more volunteer work in the kitchen and prepare at least decent food for the hevres is not such a considerable financial loss. Still, the core problem remains. The mind control system still is working. It takes some time of subtle but relentless manipulation to get a new recruit to the point where occasional little “rewards” like playing ball or going for a swim support the reward/ punishment system that keep members at bay. In the end, only one hour of this kind of leisure per week is sufficient to enforce the conviction of a trained, devoted member that the KLC is kind and caring.
This site is for us to speak out.
Each of us needs all the support we can get. Sharing experiences is one step. It will show us that we are not alone, that our loved one is not a silly psycho; it will help us to maintain the love, the strength and the faith we all need until our loved one is finally free to choose again.
Each of us alone might never have the clout, legally, financially or politically to have this group investigated. Together we will. Pooling information, even though it is done anonymously if you wish (through Steve Hassan), is the first step to fight for the freedom of mind and for our families. Media, politicians and law enforcement cannot in the long run ignore groups that undermine the very foundations of our society: Family values, freedom and integrity.
Each of us probably tortures himself/ herself of having failed our loved one at times. We might have. So what?! If we did, we still the right to change and work at what we did wrong, and even if our loved ones do not come back home to us they deserve the right to come back to themselves. They deserve the right to choose. The more stories you will hear the more it becomes obvious that this right does not exist, no matter what you hear. In notes taken at “advanced” classes I found the imperative that “all doubts (concerning the KLC’s teachings) are from Satan” and must be fought accordingly.
In the meantime do educate yourself. At the end of the page there are links to organizations and specialists who have a long and extensive experience with the situation we are in. The more you know, the better you can handle the situation- maybe even find ways to encourage them to think for themselves again, and you can understand the enormous pain every member goes through. Hopefully it will also arouse your moral courage not to let an organization showing unscrupulous greed get away with wringing every possible cent out of its members with no apparent regard for humanity.
Most of all: Don’t be afraid. If you are an ex-member read up on the subject of “phobia indoctrination”. This is a very efficient means to keep members staying in the group and even terrify people enough to keep silent after they left. In my own story, I gave you an example of how they worked it on me, and I am ashamed to admit that it worked to a certain extent. After all, we all are vulnerable somewhere. Joining a group like the KLC means that these vulnerable spots will be the first ones that you will be asked to expose “for your own spiritual growth”. This shows exactly the Achilles’ heel where they will hit you. It is a very effective tool, but keep in mind that it has nothing to do with supernatural powers, just plain psychology.
If you decide to publish your story, but fear that this might cause retaliation from the group or estrange your loved one even further, this is what we recommend and intend:
- Don’t mention name, age or location (it does not matter whether you live in NYC, California or South America),
- Try to avoid the indication of gender, e.g. write “spouse” instead of husband/ wife, “child” instead of son/daughter, “parent” instead of mother/ father.
- You may submit your story, but will not be able to contact each other, except you want to be contacted. Anonymity and privacy will be guaranteed. This is why you need not fill any of the fields when submitting your story/ information except the text part.
- If you feel or as a matter of fact are threatened in any way as a result of telling your story, file a report at your local police station immediately. As with everything else, the more people report legal transgressions the easier it is to put an end to them.
If possible, please fill out a submit group information form or a testimonial and indicate if you are willing to use your real name or a pseudonym. Also, it would be helpful for you to add an email address that will enable people to contact you- if you would like this. Also, let us know if you are willing to be interviewed by the media or are willing to help others.
A concerned Mother.
Copyright, 2002 Freedom of Mind Resource Center Inc.