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Rabbi’s sex demands: Is Kabbalah a drug-crazed cult?

A former student of Kabbalah Centre International testified Tuesday that the organization was a “cult” and that its former director plied her with Vicodin and alcohol in an attempt to convince her to have sex with him.

Jena Scaccetti told a Los Angeles Superior Court jury that after she refused to succumb to the sexual demands of Rabbi Yehuda Berg at a Kabbalah Centre apartment in New York City three years ago, he threatened her life.

“He said, ‘I will (epithet) kill you or beat you until the whole side of you is blue,”‘ Scaccetti testified.

The plaintiff was the second witness to take the stand in trial of her lawsuit against Berg and Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles, where Madonna, Ashton Kutcher and other celebrities have studied.

Scaccetti sued Berg and the Kabbalah Centre International in January 2014 on allegations that include battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

She said she had been a member since 2007 and had been in New York City for three weeks in October 2012 when Berg invited her to the apartment where his mother normally stayed.

She said she was suffering from kidney stones that evening and turned down Berg’s invitation for dinner, but later accepted when he asked her to come to the apartment and visit.

She said that at the stage she had reached with Kaballah, she had been fully indoctrinated by her teachers and believed it when one of them told her that Berg was an even more important figure than the Dalai Lama.

“I felt really special that I was going to spend some time with him,” Scaccetti said

She said she also believed Berg when he said he could heal her from her kidney stones.

But Scaccetti said Berg engaged in obscenity-laden conversations with her that left her taken aback.

“It was shocking, it was disgusting,” he said. “It would be equivalent to hearing the Pope saying something like this.”

Berg called Madonna a “whore” and said the only reason Kutcher married Demi Moore was because he was obsessed with her when he was a child, according to Scaccetti.

She said Berg gave her alcohol and Vicodin, but she only took one of the pills and put the rest in her pocket. She said she worried that such a combination would make her more sick than she was already.     “He started touching my legs,” Scaccetti testified. “He embraced me and he wouldn’t let me go.”

She said that after Berg threatened her harm if she told anyone what went on between them, she became motionless.

“I just stayed where I was,” she said.

Scaccetti said she joined Kabbalah in part because she had just ended an abusive romantic relationship and felt she could obtain peace of mind there by converting to Judaism.

“I was in the most vulnerable time in my life,” she said.

But she said her teachers were controlling and convinced her to give thousands of dollars to Kabbalah, which she labeled a “cult” in which she was given false promises of help. She said one teacher also told her she needed to take a trip with him to Israel even if it meant she was fired from her $100,000- a-year job as a shoe designer.

“Even if you get fired, you have to do this for your soul,” the teacher said, according to Scaccetti.

She said she was indeed ultimately fired by her employer and that the teacher later convinced her to take another job for $11 an hour selling children’s clothing.

Scaccetti said she initially believed everything the Kabbalah teachers told her.

“I started to believe him,”‘ she said. “It was my safe haven, the one place I trusted.”

Berg is the author of about 30 books, including “The Power of Kabbalah” and “The 72 Names of God.” His father, Rav Berg, and brother, Michael Berg, also taught at the Los Angeles center.

Berg admitted during his testimony that he was addicted to “anything that can make you high or drunk.”

He said he started abusing alcohol and drugs in 2004 after his father, who he considered his mentor and best friend, suffered a stroke.

“When he had his stroke, it devastated my life,” he said.

Berg said he managed to perform his duties and write books despite his addictions.

“I was a very high-functioning stone person,” Berg said. “No one would know I was high but me.”

Asked by Scaccetti’s attorney, Alain Bonavida, why he invited the plaintiff over to the New York City apartment that night, Berg said, “My intent was to have her come over and see what happens. “I’m someone who just flows and goes wherever it takes you.”

Berg said he called a taxi for Scaccetti and told her to text him when she got back where she was staying.

Berg, who is married and has five children, said his wife was “very mad” when she learned about his actions in the apartment with Scaccetti and said he feels “really bad” in retrospect for his behavior.

Berg said he left the Kabbalah Centre in May 2014 because of his addictions.

— Wire reports 

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