Jewish Journal

Kabbalah Centre drops lawsuit against spin-off

by Brad A. Greenberg

August 9, 2009 | 9:09 pm

Universal Kabbalah logo

I wrote an article last fall about the Kabbalah Centre’s lawsuit against a spin-off Kabbalah group started by two former teachers at the celebrity-rich centre:

The lawsuit, which seeks damages in excess of $100,000 as well as any profits, accuses Universal Kabbalah Communities of unfairly competing, of stealing “trade secrets,“ of setting up a Web site and using an acronym (UKC) that people could confuse with the Kabbalah Centre (TKC), of trying to steal the center’s members and of claiming to be intellectual successors to the teachings of Rabbi Philip Berg and his predecessors.

The 23-page suit cites numerous cases in which their activities allegedly violated California law. Among them, that their Web site, www.livekabbalah.org, is too similar to the center’s, www.kabbalah.com, and that Universal Kabbalah Communities invited members of the Kabbalah Centre to a celebration on the anniversary of the death of Rabbi Yehuda Brandwein, who led the center before he handed the reins to Berg in 1969.

Aviv Tuchman, an attorney for the Youdkevitches, called the lawsuit “groundless.“

“The word kabbalah is not trademarked; the observance of the rabbi’s yahrzeit is certainly not some proprietary right, the observance of Jewish holidays is not some proprietary right,“ Tuchman said. “The sole purpose of their lawsuit is to harm Shaul and Osnat—it is to intimidate them and deter them from freely practicing Judaism and kabbalah.“

It appears the Kabbalah Centre decided this was a fight they couldn’t win and recently dropped the lawsuit, according to a statement I received today from Universal Kabbalah Communities:

Now that the lawsuit has been dropped, Shaul and Osnat would like to thank the many, gracious, loving, kind people around the world that supported them with unconditional love; with housing, clothing and all their needs since they left the Kabbalah Centre.

Special thanks should go to Suzanne Wilson and John Danos from Arnold & Porter Law firm who took the case as Pro-Bono. Without their gracious support, their kindness, brilliance and unlimited efforts, the activities of Universal Kabbalah Communities around the world would have been severely damaged as well as Shaul and Osnat’s efforts to rebuild their lives.

A little more background at the Youdkevitches’ blog.

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