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Rabbi Philip Berg, who brought the teachings of Kabbalah to a celebrity following that included Madonna, Britney Spears, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, has died. He was 86.
Berg, the founder of the Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles, died Sept. 16. He had been ill since suffering a stroke in 2004.
His widow, Karen, and two sons, Yehuda and Michael, have been leading the center since his stroke, according to the Los Angeles Times. Berg founded the center in 1969.
The Internal Revenue Service opened a tax-evasion investigation into the center last year, though it is unknown if the probe is still being pursued, according to the newspaper.
The center, which is believed to have assets in the hundreds of millions, emphasized cash donations from its members, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Born Shraga Feivel Gruberger in New York, Berg was ordained as a rabbi in 1951.
“Today we believe the Rav has begun to share with us from above, and we will all happily remain connected to and inspired by the Rav’s soul and his vision,” the center said in a statement.
Berg was to be buried in the Israeli city of Tsfat, a center of Jewish mysticism, on Sept. 17, according to reports. — jta
Popular German literary critic dies at 93
Marcel Reich-Ranicki, who grew up in Poland and Nazi Germany, survived the Warsaw Ghetto and went on to become postwar Germany’s best-known literary critic, died in Frankfurt, Germany, on Sept. 18. He was 93.
The sharp-tongued Reich-Ranicki established himself as West Germany’s premier arbiter of literary taste after arriving with no money in 1958 from Communist Poland, where he had served as a diplomat and intelligence agent in the late 1940s.
Initially part of the left-leaning literary circle known as Group of 47, Reich-Ranicki wrote for the weekly Die Zeit from 1973 to 1988. After that, he became the star of a popular book program on public TV.
Reich-Ranicki was born into a Jewish family in Wloclawek, Poland, on June 2, 1920. After Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939, Reich-Ranicki, like other Jews, was sent to the Warsaw Ghetto. There he worked as an interpreter for the ghetto’s Jewish administrative council. — ap
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