Everett group finding wisdom, growth in Kabbalah

Cafe Zippy is Everett’s home of poetry readings, live music, a hang-out for progressive activists and, oh yes, those steaming, foamy-topped caffeinated drinks so associated with the Northwest.

Now it’s opening its doors to a new group interested in exploring Kabbalah.

Kabbalah isn’t a religion, it’s wisdom, said Bonnie Campbell, 70, who leads weekly Kabbalah meetings in her Everett apartment. “We need a spiritual life, a connection, something to really believe in,” she said.

The philosophy has received national attention largely through the publicity surrounding its celebrity adherents, including Madonna, Roseanne Barr and Sandra Bernhard.

Campbell said that her interest has nothing to do with its rich and famous followers.

While interest in Kabbalah may have grown from its association with such well-known followers, “from my small circle it’s negative,” she said. “People say, ‘I don’t want to get involved with something involving a movie star.’”

Campbell said the thing that matters most to her is its meaning in her life. “It has worked wonders for me,” she said.

In part, this philosophy calls attention to the personal pitfalls that can occur through an oversized ego. These include the thoughts, or inner voice, that, by turns, can encourage us to indulge in even the minor temptations of daily life, like eating a piece of cake, then criticize us for doing so.

“The whole idea is to diminish that ego, to squash it as much as you can,” Campbell said. “It represents fear, our dark side.”

Campbell said she received a workbook and other information from the online Kabbalah University to guide her studies.

“I believe they’re trying to get you to get off the surface and get down deep to see what you really, really want and to look at how you’ve been behaving and treating other people,” Campbell said.

“They do advocate strongly that we help other people in whatever way we can.”

Karin Jones, of Arlington, said she began noticing changes in those following Kabbalah principles and decided she would try it, too.

She said she hoped that following the Kabbalah philosophy will help her be “the best person I can be … having a positive effect on the world and others.”

Although some contemporary Kabbalah followers say it has no direct ties to religion, historically there has been a Kabbalah tradition in Judaism that dates back centuries.

“It’s a very complicated subject,” said Martin Jaffee, an emeritus professor in comparative religion and Jewish Studies at the University of Washington.

Kabbalah was “pulled out of the nest” of Judaism, he said.

Its Jewish traditions date back to the 3rd century A.D., he said, with practices that included meditation and magical visions of the heavenly world by keeping the commandments.

Kabbalah is simply experiencing God’s presence in the act of fulfilling the commandments,” he said.

Rabbi Jessica Marshall of Everett’s Temple Beth Or, said that the practices of modern Kabbalah may be loosely inspired, but is fairly removed from its Judaic roots.

Jewish Kabbalah practices involved different emanations of God that we’re able to connect with as humans, Marshall said.

Part of this Kabbalah tradition is included in the temple’s Friday evening Shabbat services, she said.

“This idea of unification with the divine or transcendent is something that almost everyone seeks in some way or the other,” Marshall said.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com.

Learn about Kabbalah

Cafe Zippy, 2811 Wetmore Ave. in Everett, is hosting a Kabbalah class. Possible meeting times include Wednesday evenings or Saturday afternoons. For more information, call 425-303-0474 or email CafeZippyInfo@gmail.com.

More in Local News

Snohomish mayoral candidates have very little in common

Karen Guzak and John Kartak are vying for the new position.

Second teen charged after $1 million in school vandalism

Two teens now face felony charges for damage at two schools in Darrington last summer.

Charged in stabbing, his long list of felonies could grow

The Arlington man is accused of attacking a man who interrupted a possible burglary in Everett.

A potentially transformative council election in Snohomish

As the city adopts a new form of government, many new faces are seeking office.

Mill Creek hires Gina Hortillosa as public works director

Hortillosa will be responsible for creating strategic infrastructure plans to promote economic growth.

1 shot dead, another wounded in apparent Everett robbery

There are indications the victims might have known the shooter, who apparently fled in a vehicle.

No third term for Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe

He quietly has been letting staff and community leaders know that he plans to retire in December 2018.

Ballots are going out and voting will soon begin

In Snohomish County, one of the marquee contests is in Everett where voters are choosing a new mayor.

Most Read