About the multi-tentacled organization named Bnei Baruch (or “Kabbalah La’Am”).
Tomer Persico, a research of contemporary religions in Israel, has defined Bnei Baruch in an article that was published in “Ha’Ain Hashviit” (the seventh eye), “Bnei Baruch is probably the largest cult in Israel, where the absolute authority of Leitman is obeyed by several thousands adherents in Israel and around the world (they claim to have two million students)”. In Uri Blau’s investigation, published in Haaretz, he is quoted as saying “they are driven by a totalitarian messianic vision, whereby in the near future a government of Kabbalists will be formed, and disputing their words will be prohibited.” According to the article: “The “Kabalah La’Am” organization formed by Michael Leitman deals with teaching and spreading Kabalah. The system that operates the Organization is an organization named “Bnei Baruch” that was formed in – 1997.”
You may have run into Bnei Baruch, its activities and members under a different name but are not aware of it. First, there is the ‘Arvut Organization’ that was established by Bnei Baruch, which “integrated into” the social protest in 2011. There is also the political group “BeYachad” that ran for Petach Tikva City Council It is formally not related to Bnei Baruch but on the party’s website is information about the joint activity of its members as part of the “Arvut Organization” as well as the membership of some of its group’s members in Kabalah La’Am. And there is also the organization known as “Ligdol BeKeif”(Grow Happily), a subsidiary organization formed in order to operate “under the radar” inside the Israel education system using a name other than the Kabbalah brand of Kabbalah La’Am or Bnei Baruch, possibly in order to provide no clues to the education system or parents about Ligdol BeKeif’s origins or curriculum. My letter of complaint, for which the lawsuit against me was filed, deals with the question of the true connection between the organizations known as Ligdol BeKeif and Bnei Baruch/Kabalah La’Am.
This is a large and well set up organization. In addition to books, newspapers and a multi-faceted website network, Bnei Baruch has a production company (ARI Films) that operates the channel “Connecting to Goodness” (Channel 66 in TV cable companies Yes and Hot). In addition, Leitman (who is presented as a “Rabbi” but is not a Rabbi) offers a “daily class” on HOT channel 39.
In the letter of defense I filed in response to the Defamation Lawsuit by Bnei Baruch, I wrote the following: “The defendant believes ‘Bnei Baruch’ – and the reference is of course to those circles that are close to “the leader” – has all the characteristics of a cult. This has been and still is my belief. The defendant is not alone. Many others think that ‘Bnei Baruch’ has characteristics of a cult. The Israeli Center for Victims of Cults , an organization investigating cultish organizations, also believes so, as they note: “Bnei Baruch has the characteristics of a cult, both in the professional sense (as defined by researchers and counselors) as well as in the “public” sense of the term. Bnei Baruch recruits the resources of members it captures in its net, and exploits members’ resources (both monetary and time) solely to its benefit. The result is financial empowerment…”
In the same investigation, the Haaretz newspaper pointed out the organization’s income breakdown: “Bnei Baruch’s income in 2010 was approximately NIS 21 million (a significant increase compared to the previous year, which was NIS 13.5 million). The major part of this sum – close to NIS 10 million – came from donations, and the rest from other sources: more than NIS 6.5 million is income from the Congresses (annual events) conducted by the organization in Israel and abroad, approximately NIS 1.7 million comes from the sale of books and cassettes, and around NIS 1.5 million from ‘campuses’ that are run by the organization, where paid classes and courses are given.“
Concerning the nature of the donations, it was reported that “the donations to the Israeli organization are divided into two main groups. The first one comprises wealthy people connected to the activity of the organization in Israel and abroad, those who transfer great amounts of money that reach hundreds of thousands of shekels each year (in 2010 Leonid Macron, a millionaire from Russia, transferred the largest private donation – approximately half a million shekels). The second group is of smaller donors, and includes Israeli members who are asked (coerced) to allocate one tenth of their monthly income to the organization.”
The letter of defense describes my experience of this organization’s nature as a result of my son joining “Bnei Baruch”. “He closely witnessed, in a personal and unmediated manner, how Bnei Baruch acts in more or less sophisticated means in order to gradually take over the consciousness, viewpoint, money and lives in general of those, who were captivated by it and have joined the inner circles of the organization, and certainly to its hard core, causing severe damage to their relationships with their parents, relatives and friends, up to a complete disconnect.”
Additional Publications about Bnei Baruch
“De Bullshit Cult” Tomer Persico – Ha’Ain Hashviit
“Kabala to the People, Millions to the Till” Uri Blau – Haaretz
“Is there finally a suicidal cult in Israel?” Tomer Persico – Lula’at Ha’El
“Concern in the Likud – members of “Kabala La’Am” are joining the party” – Zeev Kam, NRG.