A center for the mystic Jewish study of Kaballah opened this week in Lebanon — but members include Muslims and Christians who see their study as removed from Judaism or Jewishness.
“I have to reinforce the idea that Kabbalah is not Judaism,” a Muslim teacher in the group identified only as Sara told the Middle East Eye.
A “new, ancient, form of spiritualism has joined the scene this week,” the Middle East Eye reported.
“I can actually decipher the Quran because I have studied the Zohar,” Sara said. The Zohar is the central text of Jewish mysticism.
Sara called Kabbalah a “practical philosophy,” and a “spiritual practice,” that was “no longer explicitly Jewish.”
The group is not affiliated with the Kabbalah Centre organization, which has helped popularize the traditionally Jewish esoteric teachings in recent decades. The Kabbalah Center has attracted high profile (and non-Jewish) celebrities like Madonna, Demi Moore and Britney Spears.
According to the Middle East Eye, there is also an informal study group for Kabbalah in Dubai. The Kabbalah Centre website indicates that their organization has an affiliated study group in Turkey. The Centre’s website also includes resources in Farsi, though does not indicate there is a location in Iran.
Tomer Persico, a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute focusing on Jewish spirituality, wrote that the new center was a sign of Lebanon have an active “New Age scene.”
“How do you know Lebanon is the most Western Arab country? There’s a New Age scene there,” he wrote on Twitter in Hebrew. “So much so that they opened up a … Kabbalah center.”