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The Religious Affiliation of Pop Singer, Actress
Madonna


Madonna was raised as a Catholic, an influence which showed up in various ways in her musical career, including in the choice to use only her first name as her stage name. (Her birth name is Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone.) Madonna was essentially a lapsed Catholic during much of her adult musical career, until she converted to Kabbalah.

From: Rachel Hoag (Associated Press), "Some Rabbis Criticize New Madonna Song", 9 October 2005, on ABC News website (http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory?id=1198546; viewed 10 October 2005):

A song on Madonna's upcoming album dedicated to a Kabbalist rabbi is drawing criticism from other rabbis, the Israeli Maariv daily reported Sunday.

The album, "Confessions on a Dance Floor," is to be released on Nov. 15 and features a track entitled "Isaac" about Yitzhak Luria, a 16th century Jewish mystic and Kabbalah scholar.

Rabbis who oversee Luria's tomb and a seminary in the northern town of Safed are unimpressed with Madonna's musical tribute and see the inclusion of the song about Luria on the album as an attempt by the pop star to profit from his name.

Rabbi Rafael Cohen, head of a seminary named after Luria, suggested Madonna's actions could lead to divine retribution.

"Jewish law forbids the use of the name of the holy rabbi for profit. Her act is just simply unacceptable and I can only sympathize for her because of the punishment that she is going to receive from the heavens," Cohen told the newspaper.

Another rabbi called for Madonna to be thrown out of the community.

"Such a woman brings great sin on kabbalah," Rabbi Israel Deri told Maariv. "I hope that we will have the strength to prevent her from bringing sin upon the holiness of the rabbi (Yitzhak Luria)."

Madonna spokeswoman Liz Rosenberg didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment Sunday.

The singer and actress was raised a Roman Catholic but has become a follower of Kabbalah in recent years and adopted the Hebrew name Esther. She made a much publicized visit to Israel in 2004, when she visited many sites important to Kabbalah, but didn't travel to Luria's grave.

From: Gary Strauss, "Stars unleash their passion", published in USA Today, 4 July 2005 (http://www.usatoday.com/life/people/2005-07-04-celebs-religion_x.htm; viewed 21 November 2005):

What happens when a Hollywood star spouts off about religion?

...The relationship between celebrities and religion can be mutually beneficial. "Religious groups clearly feel having a celebrity endorsement helps give pizazz and credibility, just like any product that benefits from a celebrity endorser," says Steve Waldman, editor ofbeliefnet.com, a multi-faith and spiritual Web site. "It's particularly true with Scientology or Kabbalah."

...There has been little apparent fallout on others who are vocal about their not-so-mainstream religious beliefs. Madonna is an advocate of Kabbalism. Her embrace of the mystical Jewish movement seemingly has no effect on her singing career. Her film career is more affected by a string of box-office failures (The Next Best Thing, Swept Away).

"In film entertainment, she's not taken seriously," Speier says.

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Webpage created 10 October 2005. Last modified 21 November 2005.
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