Global convention draws 7,000 followers from 54 nations, including Muslim visitors from Turkey.
Lovers of the Kabbalah from 54 countries – 4,500 Israelis and 2,500 visitors from other nations – gathered on Tuesday at the Trade Fairs Center in Tel Aviv for the Eighth Annual World Kabbalah Convention. The mostly non-Jewish visitors hailed from Turkey, Germany, China, South Africa, Sweden, among others.
Holding their countries' flags, delegation representatives took to the stage at the opening ceremony. "I really feel like you are my family," said a member of the Japanese delegation, who was overcome with emotion.
The convention was organized under the slogan "Connecting to Goodness" by the Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education & Research Institute, which was founded by Michael Laitman. Laitman, a doctor of philosophy, interprets the Kabbalah in a manner different from the teachings of the Kabbalah Center in Tel Aviv, which draws celebrities the likes of Madonna and Demi Moore. "We don't have holy water or red string," explained one of the convention attendees.
Laitman's intention is to present the spiritual ideas of the Kabbalah as a science, without a religious connotation. This was the main draw for Muslims from Turkey, who arrived as though the Turkish Mavi Marmara Flotilla to Gaza never happened. Though the cultures and beliefs of the attendees are different, one Turkish visitor said, they have one common goal: to connect through the same spiritual vessel.
Ilmez, another visitor who lives on the border between Iraq and Turkey, explained that there is no connection between the Kabbalah and religion: The ideas of the Kabbalah work for everyone.
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