Who says St. Louis isn’t hip?

By Ellen Futterman, Editor

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I checked out the new St. Louis Kabbalah Bookstore in Clayton. What I found was a spacious, sunny room with comfortable seating and bookshelves displaying dozens of titles such as “The Power of You,” “Kabbalah for the Lay Man,” “God Wears Lipstick,” “The Power to Change Everything” and “The Kaballah Book of Sex.” (No, I didn’t buy the last one, tempted as I was!)

I also found Miriam Steinau and Rachel Glik, who were eager to tell me about the center, its roots and of course, the practice of Kabbalah.

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Yes, I went there knowing what most of you know—how Hollywood heavyweights like Madonna, Demi and Ashton, Sandra Bernhard, Roseanne, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and others are students of this previously secret Jewish mysticism. It all sounded somewhat New Age-y, if not cultish, but I’ll admit I was curious, especially about a center dedicated to Kabbalah in St. Louis, not exactly the epicenter of trendy or cutting-edge.

Steinau and Glik explain that the St. Louis Kabbalah Bookstore hosts weekly classes, seminars and special events. It started informally eight years ago when a group of local individuals formed a Kabbalah study group, which Glik was apart of, and grew to where the Kabbalah Centre, with U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles, felt St. Louis had enough devotees and those potential interested to support a bookstore and study center. The Kabbalah Centre owns the St. Louis bookstore, which is staffed by volunteers and has become a model for other freestanding Kabbalah bookstores planned in cities such as Chicago and Houston.

Steinau explains Kabbalah as a mystical spiritual practice rooted in Judaism that has been around for 4,000 years. It helps answer questions, provide solutions and unravel puzzles. It also offers practical tools, she adds, that can alleviate chaos and allow you to live more authentically.

“It showed me how I am in control of the cause and effect of my life,” she says. “How I can’t blame everything on anyone else.”

She says she and her husband were close to divorce before she and her daughter went to a Kabbalah event in St. Louis in 2009. “By the time I left, I realized that regardless of whatever happened between my husband and me, I wasn’t responsible for making him happy and he wasn’t responsible for making me happy.”

Six months later, after seeing such a positive change in his wife, Steinau’s husband came to a class and has been practicing Kabbalah ever since. She reports that their marriage has vastly improved because “we are supporting each other in ways we didn’t know existed before.”

Glik, who is a psychotherapist, says anyone can benefit from Kabbalah if “they are open and willing to change. It forces you to go out of your comfort zone. Depending on a person’s desire for change will determine how much they are willing to go out of their comfort zone.”

Glik grew up at United Hebrew Congregation, though she and her family are now members of Central Reform Congregation. She said the teachings of Kabbalah aren’t meant to replace religion but rather “provide a deeper layer. They help me connect to my Judaism.”

Adds Steinau, who grew up an Episcopalian: “The wisdom of Kabbalah helps support and enhance whatever faith background you come from.”

I’m still not sure if I understand what Kabbalah is all about but I did purchase “The Power of Kabbalah” by Yehuda Berg, who is part of a long lineage of Kabbalah teachers—his parents, Philip and Karen run the LA-based Kabbalah Centre. And should I—or you—be so inclined, the St. Louis Kabbalah Bookstore at 8121 Maryland Avenue is holding a free event at 7 p.m. Monday called “The Best Kept Secret,” which introduces Kabbalah and its principles, and will be led by Yehuda Guez, who comes to St. Louis from LA twice a month to teach classes here.

The St. Louis Kabbalah Bookstore is also offering a more intensive, two-part study course from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. on both Sunday, March 11 and Sunday, March 25. The cost is $200.

For more information about any of these events, as well as other future seminars or the center’s weekly study classes, call 314-643-7272 or go to [email protected]

 

From mysticism to maniacal

NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” is taping live at Fox Theater March 8-10, with host Nick Cannon and celebrity judges Howard Stern, Howie Mandel, and Sharon Osbourne all in tow. Fans of the show can watch the vast array of singers, dancers, comedians, contortionists, impressionists, jugglers, magicians and ventriloquists, compete in the hopes of winning the $1 million prize live in St. Louis, and the best part is that all the tickets are free. The minimum age to attend is 14.

Shows begin at noon and at 5 p.m. each of the three days. Go to www.fabulousfox.com and click on the “America’s Got Talent” display to enter your name for free tickets.