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Tuesday, May 25, 2004

# Posted 6:17 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

MADONNA CANCELS ISRAEL TOUR STOP: Death threats from unidentified Palestinian terrorists have forced the cancellation of three concerts planned for September in Tel Aviv. You can't really blame the Material Girl for backing out, since the terrorists specifically threatened her children.

In spite of the cancellation, I think it's extremely surprising that a top-flight international superstar would identify herself so publicly with the Jewish state. Moreover, Madonna had intended to mark the third anniversary of the September 11th attacks with a special televised concert in Tel Aviv.

So why hasn't Madonna bought into the anti-war, pro-Palestinian Hollywood consensus? I don't really know, but one has to wonder whether her intense attachment to the Jewish mystical tradition known as Kabbala has something to do with it. On the other hand, some (so-called) experts are suggesting that rabbinicial condemnations of Kabbala were responsible for the cancelled tour stop:
“Kabbalah, as it’s practiced by Madonna, is held in great scorn by rabbinical leaders in Israel,” says cult expert Rick Ross. “People in Israel are not reticent about expressing their religious beliefs. If you’re the number one missionary in the world for that form of Kabbalah — which Madonna is — a concert there could be, shall we say, messy."
That actually sounds pretty far-fetched to me. Tel Aviv is the personification of Israeli secularism, and a visit from Madonna hardly merits a commotion on the religious right. Now, if the Material Girl gave a concert in the Old City of Jerusalem, that might provoke a confrontation. But I just don't see busloads of blackhatted haredim descending on Tel Aviv in order to protest.

On a related note, I'm not sure what it means to "practice" Kabbala. I haven't studied it much, but at least in the mainstream, there is no such thing as Kabbalistic Judaism. For those of you familiar with the legend of the Golem, you may remember that the Maharal of Prague, the Golem's creator, was a practitioner of Kabbala. If Madonna has figured out how to animate lumbering giants made out of clay, then more power to her. In the meantime, I'm happy to let Madonna introduce Britney Spears, Posh Spice and David Beckham to the wonders of medieval Judaism.

UPDATE: Sasha Castel has a very informative post on the centuries-old Christian tradition of embracing Kabbala.
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