Beliefnet columnist Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has often criticized pop star Madonna and her affiliation with the controversial Kabbalah Centre. In columns for Beliefnet, Boteach has written that Judaism is becoming increasingly dependent on depraved pop cultural icons, including, he says, Madonna, to make it appeal to the masses. He has also written that the Kabbalah Centre's brand of kabbalah is not Jewish.

Recently, Boteach wrote in the Jerusalem Post that Philip Berg, head of the Kabbalah Centre, should "dump Madonna as [his] principal spokesperson."

Madonna's spokeswoman fought back.

"I find Rabbi Boteach's comments regarding Madonna frightening," Liz Rosenberg told MSNBC. "His vile attacks on her character and as an artist are staggering for someone who professes to be a religious person. ...I suggest this man take a look at his own character and what problems he may have that would make him feel that he should make statements about a truly beautiful human being that he does not know in the slightest. ...Madonna's relationship with the Kabbalah and her commitment to (their) teachings has been a beautiful experience for her and the fact that Madonna wants to share her lessons...is yet another example of her truly generous and loving spirit."

In response, Rabbi Boteach released the following statement:

"For two decades Madonna has been allowed to destroy the female recording industry by erasing the line that separates music from pornography. Before Madonna it was possible for women more famous for their voices than their cleavage, like the beautiful Ella Fitzgerald, to emerge as music superstars. But in the post-Madonna universe, even highly original performers like Janet Jackson now feel the pressure to expose their bodies on national TV in order sell albums. This in turn has spawned the lascivious careers of Madonna copycats like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.

"While it is unbecoming of responsible feminist leaders not to speak out at Madonna's wholesale vulgarization of the female image, it would be downright scandalous for Jewish religious leaders not to object to Madonna being promoted as the foremost practitioner of Judaism in the world. Judaism and Kabbalah are, above all else, moral disciplines that demand a striving for moral excellence. Stripping on stage and calling oneself a Kabbalist are mutually exclusive.

"For Madonna to put herself forward as a spiritual spokesperson while continuing to degrade women by simulating sex acts at music concerts, portray full nudity in her movies, and to ridicule lesbians by performing same-sex kisses merely for TV ratings, is a mockery of her claims to a life of spiritual renewal based on the teachings of the Kabbalah.

"Women like Liz Rosenberg especially, who have greatly distinguished themselves professionally through their brains rather than their busts, should be at the forefront of criticizing Madonna's assault on feminine dignity."

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