Madonna news - Sep. 2004

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30 September - Now Madge courts fans *rumour*
Great news for Madonna fans. We hear the superstar is planning three more dates at London's Earls Court.
Sources say the 46-year-old singer, who makes around £1million per concert, was so pleased with the response from fans when she performed there last month she wants to play there again.
An insider tells us: "It's still in the planning stages, but Madonna can't wait to go back to Earl's Court. She's hoping the shows will take place next month, we're just waiting to get confirmation."
Let's just hope the tickets are less expensive this time around. (source: The Mirror)
~ Now, as much as I would want this to be true, I feel I must warn all of you who are already getting their hopes up: this story is 99% likely to be untrue. Madonna is someone who always plans in advance. She's not someone who finishes a tour in style, then goes off to Israel on a religious holiday, and then comes back to do encore-shows in a city where she's already given 6 concerts earlier this summer. The contract of the dancers expired September 15th and to get the show rolling again administratively and technically is way too expensive and way too much trouble. But... you never know; we can always hope :-) -Bartie

30 September - Madonna's university challenge
There are a few challenges left for Madonna - and a university degree is one of them.
Having pretty much conquered the world of pop, Madge is now set to read Literature at Oxford University.
The Material Girl is to further her knowledge of British literary greats such as Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy and Jane Austen by studying for a Bachelor of Arts qualification.
But undergraduates should not get too excited about sharing halls of residence with her — she will be doing the course from home.
A source said: “Madonna was always frustrated about having to sacrifice her education when her music career took off.
"She is fiercely intelligent and incredibly well read and has always taken a keen interest in literature. She is determined to get a qualification.
"She sets herself new challenges all the time and the Oxford University course is her latest.
"It’s an illustrious place to study and she was delighted to be accepted and will make the most of the opportunity."
Madonna is a dab hand on the computer and researched courses where she could study from home and submit her assignments online — from anywhere in the world. And distance learning at Oxford means just that.
Its Faculty of English is the largest in the UK with about 100 professors and lecturers.
Madge was 19 and learning dance after finishing school in Michigan when her pop career took off.
Since then the Queen of Pop has longed to get her education back on track.

10 songs Madge could sing at uni:
1. Don’t Cry For Me Academia
2. Papa Don’t Teach
3. Die Another Degree
4. M.A.terial Girl
5. Borderline First
6. True Oxford Blue
7. La Isla B.A.nita
8. Crazy For Uni
9. Love Prof-usion
10. (Bloody Long) Holiday
(source: The Sun)

29 September - Eminem is mocking Madonna
The controversial rapper dresses up in drag for footage he’ll likely use in an upcoming video, appearing as the Material Girl as she looked during her Blonde Ambition Tour, a source tells The Scoop.
In the scene, Slim Shady wears full make-up, a long ponytail, and conical bra. He reportedly wants to use the footage in his video, “Just Lose It.”
“Eminem is really getting into sex and gender issues,” says the insider, who points out that the rapper recently also shot scenes for a video while buck naked — except for shoes and socks and a sock covering his private parts. It’s not certain that either the Madonna or the nude scenes will be used, says a source close to Eminem.
His spokesman had no comment. (source: MSNBC)
~ We'll have to wait for the actual video to see if he's "mocking" her. If so, that would be rather stupid and ingrateful of him, after all the things Madonna said in his defense. But either way, it's sad to try and revive a career mocking other and bigger artists or imitating a look of 14 years ago.

29 September - Madge offers newlywed Britney UK honeymoon
Britney Spears and new husband Kevin Federline are coming to the UK for their honeymoon after being invited by pop queen Madonna.
Madge called the newlyweds to send her congratulations - and then offered to put the pair up in her sprawling country estate in rural Wiltshire.
The pop stars have had a special relationship since working together.
Madonna sent the happy couple a Kabbalah text as an engagement present, and Britney has kept it with her ever since.
Britney also sang a medley of Madonna songs, alongside the Queen of Pop herself and Christina Aguilera, at the MTV Music Video Awards in August last year.
The performance ensured massive publicity for all three women after they engaged in a fake lesbian kiss.
Britney's on-stage "lesbian" kiss - which was one of the showbiz fads of the year - drew the wrath of R&B superstar Beyonce Knowles.
Beyonce, a devout Christian, said she had permission from God to wear sexy clothes and strip on stage - but not to have a girl-on-girl snog. (source: Sky News)

27 September - More on possible new single *rumour*
Earlier this month we reported a rumour about a possible new single. Fellow fansite DrownedMadonna adds more fuel:
"DrownedMadonna can reveal that during some European rehearsals for the Tour, Madonna rehearsed a new song but she never actually put it in the show. Her management wanted her to do it for the DVD taping but Madonna didn't want to waste it in the RIT DVD. The song is an electro-pop ballad. As for now it's due in 2005. [...]
The song has been already recorded, and even if it is due in 2005, at this stage it's too early to state that it will be THE new single, although insiders say that Madonna is strongly determined to have a Number 1 single again. Apparently the song was written by Madonna and Patrick Leonard, produced by Guy Sigsworth and mixed by Stuart Price."
~ Naturally, this is all unconfirmed so far, but we keep you informed - as usual. :)

26 September - More on 'The Adventures of Abdi'
Cover of The Adventures of Abdi On November 8th, Madonna will release her 4th childrens book 'The Adventures of Abdi'. After the success of 'The English Roses' (Sept. 2003), 'Mr. Peabody's Apples' (Nov. 2003) and 'Yakov and the 7 Thieves' (June 2004), Madonna is once again combining entertainment and morality in this Kabbalah-inspired story. Amazon has posted a different book cover than the one we posted in February. Here's what they write about the storyline:
"Long, long ago, in a land far, far away, a little boy named Abdi was given a very big task -- to deliver the most precious necklace in the world to the queen.
Come along with Abdi on his fantastic journey into a magical world of ruthless rogues, savage snakes, and deadly dungeons, where he remembers the wise words of his mentor: "Everything we have been given in life is always for the best"."
Pre-order 'The Adventures of Abdi' at Amazon.
According to Amazon, the release of the fifth and final book, titled 'Lotsa de Casha', has been postponed to June 2005.

23 September - Madonna is one of UK's 'best-planned business organisations'
Manchester United, Lego, easyJet and pop queen Madonna have been named as the four best-planned business organisations in the UK.
A new book, Business Plans for Dummies, by Colin Barrow from the Cranfield School of Management, says the 40-something "Material Girl" is a model to other businesses.
Mr Barrow says the way she has expanded, planned, managed her image and kept her customers - the fans - satisfied is particularly praise-worthy.
"She manages her own career, chairs her own group of companies and charts her own path based on an uncanny instinct for knowing what the public wants and what it will tolerate."
Manchester United, which is reporting its full-year results on Monday, is praised for "developing an organisational culture based on winning everything it does".
Mr Barrow says this culture is now so embedded at Old Trafford that winning is "simply expected". (source: Manchester Online)

23 September - Parliament forbids the entry of Madonna into Egypt
Egyptian Parliament members have submitted an order to Government demanding that American singer Madonna be prohibited from entering Egyptian soil. Parliament members also included a number of other international singers on their list of people forbidden from entering Egypt and called on all their embassies abroad to not grant any of them visas into Egypt or be allowed to shoot any of their music videos on Egyptian soil.
The demand came after Madonna announced that she will celebrate the Jewish New Years in Israel and that she had converted to Judaism. On a similar note Arab Parliament member, Ahmad Al Taibi, in the Israeli Knesset turned down an invitation from Madonna to an event she held after she showed inconsideration for the sufferings of Palestinians, especially children, under the occupation of Israeli soldiers.
Ahmad had stressed that he wished the singer would try and learn from other international stars like Richard Gear and Julie Christie who came to the occupied lands and showed their support for the suffering of Palestinians.
Madonna had announced that she has changed her name, which has become a marker throughout her career, and now demands to be called by her new Jewish name Esther. The singer who has adopted the Jewish sector "Kabbalah", revealed that she has become so affected by her religion that she felt she must change her name to go with her belief. The well known Material Girl was named after her mother who died when the singer was young and said she wanted to be attached to the "energy" of a new name.
During an interview in the United States, the Catholic born singer said that since following the teachings of the Jewish mystical faith Kabbalah - whose principles she said were very "punk rock" and anti-establishment - Madonna has learned to follow new directions.
Adopted by gurus of popular culture, the Kabbalah, an ancient Hebrew mystical system of thought, embodies the mystical side of Judaism and teaches one to embrace small sparks of daily experiences and the seemingly insignificant moments of life.
Madonna stressed that she will not answer to her old name and will only accept being Called Esther from now on. One of the key changes to date has been her name, "I was named after my mother. My mother died when she was very young, of cancer, and I wanted to attach myself to another name. (source:
~ Just thought I'd comment: while on tour, Madonna has joked herself about the press articles claiming she completely *changed* her name to Esther. She just considers it as an extra name, like she once chose Veronica as her Christian name. The press has - once again - just blown this all out of proportion. Bartie -x-

23 September - Sex bondage outfit up for auction
Madonna's sex outfit up for auction Christies auction house pop department employee Katherine Williams puts finishing touches on a display of a black leather bondage costume worn by Madonna for her 1992 book 'Sex' in their central London auction rooms Wednesday Sept 22, 2004. The outfit is expected to fetch between $7,200 and $11,000) in the auction to be held Wednesday Sept. 29, 2004. (source: AP Photo/Adam Butler)
Comprised of a backless bra and thong connected with a network of straps, the naughty ensemble is signed by the pop star – along with an affectionate XOXOX – in a not-so-discreet spot. (source: Hello Magazine)

23 September - Madonna: 'I've not been tamed'
Pop superstar Madonna is adamant marriage and motherhood haven't tamed her.
Now 46, married to director Guy Ritchie and with a daughter, Lourdes and son Rocco , the Material Girl has been performing for 20 years.
She has also found god, in the form of her interest in the Kabbalah, a mystic branch of Judaism - but the singer insists she hasn't lost her edge.
Madonna tells, "I am happier now than I've ever been in my life. I have two beautiful children and a brilliant, gorgeous husband. I have my work and I have my faith. None of that means I've lost my sense of humour or my sense of fun. If that's boring to some people, I can't tell you how much I don't care." (source: ContactMusic)

23 September - New tour goodies
We've added some new avatars and wallpapers inspired by the re-Invention tour. Check them out in our Mad-Goodies section! We also updated the tour section with more details and pictures. Enjoy!

23 September - Worldwide re-Invention tour grosses
Billboard has reported the official numbers and figures for the re-Invention tour, which confirm that the tour was indeed sold out. Only for Slane Castle Madonna sold "only" 62.000 tickets out of the available 70.000. For the 56 shows there were almost 900.000 tickets sold, grossing almost $ 125 million! Naturally, this was the top grossing tour of 2004.

1. Inglewood, Calif.: $6,965,055 - 3 shows - 43,158 attendance
2. Las Vegas, Nev.: $7,005,548 - 2 shows - 28,341 attendance
3. Anaheim, Calif.: $4,164,450 - 2 shows - 24,250 attendance
4. San Jose, Calif.: $5,543,715 - 3 shows - 40,205 attendance
5. Washington, D.C.: $3,486,684 - 2 shows - 26,788 attendance
6. New York, New York: $12,674,925 - 6 shows - 88,625 attendance
7. Boston/Worcester, Mass.: $6,439,890 - 4 shows - 46,075 attendance
8. Philadelphia, Pa.: $4,134,478 - 2 shows - 30,575 attendance
9. East Rutherford, N.J.: $4,437,345 - 2 shows - 29,315 attendance
10. Chicago, Ill.: $7,894,105 - 4 shows - 59,591 attendance
11. Toronto: $5,322,703 - 3 shows - 52,167 attendance
12. Atlanta: $3,450,874 - 2 shows - 25,627 attendance
13. Fort Lauderdale/Sunrise, Fla.: $3,834,522 - 2 shows - 28,208 attendance
14. Miami, Fla.: $4,145,760 - 2 shows - 30,580 attendance
Totals for North American leg: 39 shows reported to Billboard - $79,500,054 - 553,505 tickets

1. Manchester, England: $5,136,114 - 2 shows - 27,320 attendance
2. London, England: $6,356,207 - 2 shows - 34,087 attendance
3. London, England: $9,809,717 - 4 shows - 45,267 attendance
4. Meath, Ireland: $6,575,339 - 1 show - 62,275 (only non-sellout date)
5. Paris, France: $7.357,529 - 4 shows - 68,000 attendance
6. Arnhem, Nethlerlands: $6,759,661 - 2 shows - 73,300 attendance
7. Lisbon, Portugal: $3,286,166 - 2 shows - 33,460 attendance
Totals for European leg: 17 shows reported to Billboard - $45,280,733 - 343,709 tickets

WORLDWIDE TOTAL: $ 124,780,078 - 56 dates - 897,214 tickets
(source: Billboard; thanks to Jim Radenhaus from MIR)

20 September - In Israel, Madonna finds little solitude
Madonna wanted to see Israel, and Israelis yearned to see Madonna. But in the end, each side managed only a glimpse of the other.
Madonna came to Israel with some 2,000 fellow followers of cabala, a form of Jewish mysticism, and spent most of her five days here holed up in the luxury David Inter-Continental Hotel, across the street from the Tel Aviv beachfront.
Her planned tour of Jewish holy sites was curtailed, most notably in the early hours of Sunday, when her heavily guarded convoy pulled into the stone plaza near the Western Wall in Jerusalem around 1:30 a.m.
Madonna at the tomb of Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag Despite the hour, a large gathering of Jewish worshipers were taking part in prayers linked to the Jewish New Year, which fell last week. In addition, several dozen photographers were prowling the grounds. Madonna looked out the darkened windows of her van for several minutes as the crowd gathered around. The van then drove off without Madonna's ever opening the door.
Secular Israelis have been starved for big-name international acts in recent years and were ready to embrace Madonna, who sang here in 1993.
But she came to pray, not to perform. She and her husband, the British filmmaker Guy Ritchie, took part in cabala sessions in the hotel's conference room, which was converted into a synagogue, with segregated men's and women's sections.
Madonna's only formal public appearance came Sunday night, when the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Center, which organized the trip, staged a children's program at the hotel that featured Jewish and Arab youths and drew more than 1,000 guests, including Israeli government officials.
"I was a bit hesitant to come here after seeing so many news reports about terrorist attacks," said Madonna, wearing a low-cut dress with a black and white leopard print. "I realize now that it is no more dangerous to be here than it is to be in New York."
Madonna has been exploring cabala since 1997 and now dresses and often performs with symbols of Judaism and cabala. She sometimes wears a Jewish star and often has a red thread on her wrist, a cabala trademark intended to ward off the evil eye.
When she visited a Tel Aviv restaurant, she wore a glittery necklace with a large letter E, apparently a reference to her recent adaptation of the biblical Jewish name Esther.
But Madonna said she was not representing a religion. "I'm here as a student of cabala,'' she said. "A cabalist sees the world as a unified whole. A cabalist asks why. A cabalist believes that he or she has the responsibility to make the world a better place."
The Israeli government seized on the singer's visit for tourism promotion, and Tourism Minister Gideon Ezra presented her with a Byzantine-era oil lamp and a coin on Sunday. Earlier he had suggested that it would be helpful if Madonna would pose for a picture with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, though there was no sign that this materialized.
Madonna arrived in Israel on Wednesday night, at the beginning of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, and organizers had announced planned visits to several religious shrines. But whenever she tried to venture out, she found herself surrounded.
After the Friday night dinner in Tel Aviv, two of her bodyguards were arrested after scuffling with and injuring two photographers.
Just after midnight Saturday, she made a pilgrimage to the Jerusalem grave site of the cabalist sage Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag.
Madonna and her husband, with police and photographers in tow, spent more than an hour inside the stone mausoleum. She prayed, chanted and placed candles on the tomb, and shortly before leaving wiped tears from her eyes.
Afterward, she made her abbreviated trip to the Western Wall, the holiest site for Jewish prayer. Other planned visits, including a trip to the tomb of the biblical matriarch Rachel, which is in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem in the West Bank, never took place.
While Madonna has studied cabala for seven years, there are still plenty of skeptics questioning her commitment to a form of study traditionally reserved for men over 40 who have mastered the Torah and the Talmud.
"It is forbidden to teach a non-Jew cabala," Yitzhak Kadouri, a leading cabalist, recently told the Israeli newspaper Maariv.
But the Kabbalah Center says the cabala is open to all. (source: New York Times)

20 September - Madonna speeches for peace
Madonna was the center of attention at Sunday night's Spirituality For Kids (SFK) in Israel foundation gala dinner, held at the David Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv.
Madonna reaches out to children as she leaves the stage after her speech The guest of honor, however, tried to move the focus to the Kabbalah Center-sponsored foundation. Madonna was toasted by everyone from Karen and Michael Berg, leaders of the US Kabbalah Center, via a recorded message, to her guru, Eitan Yardeni, to the night's host, TV personality Dan Shilon. After a standing ovation, Madonna took the microphone and presented a prepared speech promoting SFK.
"We're teaching children about the laws of cause and effect. We're teaching them that for every action there's a reaction. We're teaching them the concept of responsibility," read the singer, who is the mother of two. "We teach children what we're trying to learn as adults. The difference is children are more open, they are more alive, they are more pure, and they do not see the world in a fragmented way. They are closer to God."
She went on: "When a child sees another child they just want to play. They're not thinking, 'Oh, he's Muslim' or 'she's a Jew.' They do not judge one another by the color of their skin or the style of their headdress. It's adults that put these ideas into children's heads."
Madonna also made reference to the Kabbalah Center's holiday conference, noting that despite the media attention she has garnered here, she is really just like everyone else. "I am not here representing a religion or any religious group. I'm here as a student of Kabbala," said the superstar. Tourism Minister Gideon Ezra told The Jerusalem Post that he read that the Kabbalah Center has 22 million supporters. "That's more Jews than there are in the world. If all these people are sympathizing with Israel and the Jews then I am happy."
Her fellow enthusiasts say her star status hasn't detracted from the spirituality of the holiday get-together. The singer famous for her overtly sexual and controversial antics is described by fellow Kabbalah students as "modest" and "a serious student." "Everyone's the same here, Madonna hasn't been a distraction," said Mezada Petilon of the Manhattan center.
"Madonna's real. She is into the stuff like the rest of us," said Don Ellis, a Christian from Texas who got hooked on Kabbalah two years ago after hearing the CD Power of Kabbala. "She just has a bigger name than the rest of us."
While the Kabbalah Center gathering was promoted as spiritual, there was also a commercial aspect. At booths set up in the lobby, Kabbala-inspired goods such as backpacks, jewelry, stuffed dolls, and children's clothing all emblazoned with one of the 72 names of God were on sale. They were even tequila shot glasses (NIS 125 each) with one of God's names on them. "We want to have more things relating to Kabbala. They help us with our transformation, with developing a change from within," said Rachel Roded, of the LA center.
"You wouldn't understand, it's hard to explain to you," Ellis said of the wide variety of goods on sale. The fact that the Catholic-bred Madonna is the symbol of the Kabbalah Center hasn't seem to bother anyone either. "I think it's inspiring that people of all religions are here because that's what will bring peace," said 28-year-old Petilon. As for the pop icon herself, she said, "In the past four days, I have met people from all over the world... held hands, sung, danced, and prayed with Sufis, Christians, Jews, and Muslims. We all have one thing in common. We want to create peace in the world. We want to put an end to chaos and suffering but most of all we want to put an end to hatred for no reason. That is why I am here."
Singers Ahinoam Nini and Amal Murkus, a Palestinian, performed John Lennon's song Imagine - the song Madonna ended each of her concerts with during her latest "Reinvention" tour. Tickets to the gala were much sought after and many journalists and fans waited outside the door. Among the guests who did get in were many local TV, theater, and movie stars who came to see their idol. Madonna told Sunday night's crowd - who payed $500 per person to attend the gala - that she was hesitant to come to Israel but is happy she did. "I'd like to say how happy I am to be back in Israel. I promise not to stay away for another 10 years," said the singer, who was last in town for a 1993 concert.
"To be perfectly honest, I was a bit hesitant to come here after seeing so many news reports about terrorist attacks and reading travel warnings about how dangerous it is for Americans here. I realize now it's no more dangerous to be here than in New York. I feel very safe and welcome. The most dangerous thing I've encountered here are the very naughty paparazzi waiting outside my hotel."
Said Ezra: "It's very important to Israel when a personality like Madonna comes here. I hope other people will follow her example and come too." (source: Jerusalem Post; picture courtesy of AP)

20 September - Madonna visits Western Wall in the middle of the night
Pop star Madonna is so desperate to avoid being mobbed by photographers during her spiritual quest to Israel, she visited Judaism's sacred Western Wall in the middle of the night.
The Material Girl -- who has joined 2,000 fellow followers of the Kabbalah to celebrate the start of the Jewish New Year -- was driven to the historical site early Sunday morning, after making a midnight pilgrimage to a Jerusalem cemetery.
But Madonna remained inside her car when they arrived at the Western Wall, where the biblical temples once stood, and admired the spectacle from afar -- much to the disappointment of many visitors.
"Why did she not come out of the car? We were waiting for her," said Hadass Chen, who made the trip to see the singer. "You don't feel the vibe if you don't touch the wall."
The singer -- who is an avid follower of the mystical Jewish offshoot -- paid homage to Kabbalist sage Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag with her film director husband Guy Ritchie at the Kiryat Shaul cemetery, and held a ceremony at his grave, before heading off to the Western Wall. (source: SouthFlorida)

20 September - Nothing phony about Madonna's spiritual journey
Leave Madonna alone.
You didn't like her when she was emphasizing materialism.
You called her a hedonist.
You didn't like her when she was flaunting her sexuality.
You called her a slut.
You didn't like it when she became a disciplined practitioner of yoga.
You called her a poseur.
And now that she's found what, to me at least, appears to be a serious spiritual discipline that seems to have transformed her into a more serious, modest and generous mother, wife and entrepreneur, you call her an opportunist.
You say she's faking it.

Will Madonna forever be damned by the sins of her past, incapable of genuine transformation and beyond redemption?
It's as if her interest in Kabbalah, the esoteric Jewish mystical tradition that teaches, among many things, that humans can overcome death and illness by the way they behave and think, somehow detracts from or sullies the tradition itself. As if a single person could diminish such ancient, enduring wisdom.
Even if Madonna's approach to Kabbalah is more neo-mystical than traditional, how is that a bad thing for anyone besides, perhaps, herself? And who, exactly, is she hurting by wearing a piece of red string around her wrist and spending time studying spiritual texts?

Grew up Roman Catholic
This week, Madonna and her family have traveled to Israel during the Jewish High Holy Days to attend the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Center's International Congress with 2,000 other Kabbalah enthusiasts. She arrived Wednesday, on the eve of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.
It's a visit that has been almost universally mocked by the media and has managed to unite some of Israel's Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders in their condemnation of the pop star's presence in their troubled land. Because they don't have enough to worry about already.
The Kabbalah is considered an extremely serious -- some even say dangerous -- discipline. Historically, women were forbidden to study it, and men had to be at least 40 years old and married with children to begin their Kabbalistic practice. There are even tales of students who went insane studying its main text, the Zohar, which first appeared written in Aramaic in 14th-century Spain.
Reportedly, Madonna and others who traveled to Israel for the Kabbalah Center's congress plan to visit Jerusalem's Western Wall; the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai who is believed to be the author of the Zohar; and the tomb of the Matriarch Rachel. Before it is cut into individual pieces, the red string she and other Kabbalah practitioners wear around their wrists is wound around Rachel's tomb. The red bracelet is supposed to ward off stink eye, or envious stares.
Most traditional Kabbalists in Israel and elsewhere insist that Kabbalah is not supposed to be taught to non-Jews. So some would say Madonna really has no business studying Kabbalah in the first place.
She was reared Roman Catholic. I haven't heard her give her spirituality a particular religious label lately, so I don't know if she still considers herself a Christian. But I haven't heard her say she's converted to Judaism, either.
Perhaps it would have been more acceptable if she had embraced Christian mysticism, or traditional Catholicism, instead of Kabbalah. But somehow I think she would be condemned no matter what path she chose.
Such is the curse of celebrity.

Why Esther?
Madonna has been criticized for allegedly making herself out to be an ersatz poster child for Kabbalah. But I have not read or heard her say that she is any kind of Kabbalah expert. Instead, she presents herself as an enthusiastic student who is, at worst, evangelical about sharing lessons that have been helpful to her with others.
"My Kabbalah teacher, one of them, used to say to me, 'When in doubt, act like God.' And then you think, well, what does that mean? You know, it's like -- describe God. God would be compassionate. Unconditional. All-giving. All-loving. So, when in doubt, behave that way. You'll never go wrong," Madonna told Cynthia McFadden of ABC News in a television interview that aired in June.
"I'm getting better. I mean, I'm a very judgmental person. I mean, I always have been. And, you know, I see people, I put labels on them, I put them in boxes. They behave badly and I immediately want to say they're a jerk. But in Kabbalah, you learn that, you know, you never know, you never know about people," the 46-year-old singer said.
What, exactly, is controversial or scandalous about a statement like that? She sounds to me like someone who is trying to clean up her act, an example that all of us would benefit from following, whether we buy into Kabbalah -- her version or someone else's -- as a spiritual path or not.
As for the oft-reported bit about her changing her name to Esther, she explains it this way: "Well, let's say -- I don't go by the name of Esther. But, yes, that is my Hebrew name. Yep."
I can understand this. When I studied French in college, my French name was Chantal. Cathleen sounded funny when pronounced in French. I didn't change my name, I just used a different name that made more sense while I was studying.
Madonna told McFadden that she chose the name Esther herself, and explained why. "I was named after my mother. My mother died when she was very young, of cancer," the singer said. "In the metaphysical world, I wanted to attach myself to another name. So -- and this is in no way a negation of who my mother is. So, I read about all the women in the Old Testament. And I loved the story of Queen Esther. She saved the Jews from annihilation."
If Madonna is guilty of anything, it may be Jewish envy. And I can understand that, being a fan of Judaism myself.

Out to make the world better
I'm not Jewish, but as I sat through my first Rosh Hashana service Wednesday night, I was transported and inspired by the spiritual beauty unfolding before me in the liturgy and Scripture.
I don't know from Hebrew, but as the congregation lifted their voices to sing Hash-kiveynu Adonia, Eloheynu l'shalom ... the words of an evening prayer, I found myself attempting to join them. There's something implicitly edifying about singing praises to God, of being part of a tradition -- even for a moment, even if it's not your own -- with such estimable, ancient roots.
Madonna seems to be attracted to the same thing.
After years of what she admits was a self-centered existence, she says she wants to learn, to make herself more godly and the world around her a little bit better.
Would that we were all guilty of that.
(source: Chicago Sun-Times)

19 September - Ultra-Orthodox prevent Madonna from visiting Western Wall
Since landing in Israel to attend a Kabalah conference, mega-star singer Madonna has managed to stir quite a bit of commotion. Last night, hundreds of ultra-Orhotox Jews prevented her from visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
Madonna visits Cabbalist Rabbi Ashlag's tomb in a Jerusalem cemetery While approaching the area, her convoy was surrounded by hundreds of Orthodox men who chanted "Shabbis" (Sabbath in Yiddish). Police did not take any chances and refused to allow her passage. Thousands of religious Jews pray at the Wall every night ahead of Yom Kippur (day of fasting to repent sins).
Madonna’s private Boeing 737-800 arrived in Israel on the eve of Rosh Hashana (Jewish new year). She was then escorted to the David Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv.
The majority of her visit is defined as private, but tonight she is expected to take part and perhaps even deliver an address before an official event of the “Children’s Spirituality Fund”, which is to take place at her hotel.
Over 2,400 people, including Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie, attended Sabbath prayers. She was also present during Torah reading, the blowing of the Shofar and her spiritual mentor’s lecture.
On Friday, the conference’s participants performed the ritual of Tashlich, but Madonna or Esther (her Kabalah name) did not take part. However, her husband, Ritchie, joined the worshipers.
According to the organizers of the event, Madonna’s presence isn’t causing a great deal of commotion as expected. Fellow conference participants are acting as usual while organizers insisted there have not been any special problems.
However, during a visit to a Tel Aviv restaurant, a brawl erupted between Madonna’s bodyguards and several paparazzi photographers who tried to get close. As a result, several photographers sustained light injuries and were evacuated to a Tel Aviv hospital for further treatment. (source: Maariv International; picture courtesy of AFP)

19 September - Madonna: Israel is as safe as New York
Madonna speaks at the Kabbalah International Conference in Tel Aviv Pop-star Madonna said Sunday she found Israel just as dangerous as New York.
Madonna arrived Wednesday night to celebrate the Jewish New Year and study Kabala (Jewish mysticism) in a hotel opposite the Dofinarium, site of one of the worst intifada attacks.
Speaking at a gala event Sunday evening Madonna attributed her hesitation to come to Israel to "so many news reports about terror attacks" and State Department travel warnings.
"I realize now that it is no more dangerous to be here than it is to be in New York," she said.
Madonna benefited from special security precautions: bodyguards surrounded her and clashed with photographers, the hotel was closed to people who were not its guests, and a police motorcade accompanied her.
Her complaint was about the paparazzi whom she claimed were "naughty."
At Sunday's gala event, an Israeli children's choir and a Palestinian sang to more than 1,000 people and Tourism Minister Gideon Ezra praised Madonna for having come to Israel.
The Tourism Ministry was hoping her visit would boost Israel's image as a tourist destination. (source: Washington Times; picture courtesy of Reuters)

19 September - Madonna fends off fans and protesters to finish her retreat
Madonna, the Catholic pop diva turned Jewish mystic, ended a five-day retreat last night with 2,000 fellow searchers in the comfort of a five-star Tel-Aviv hotel. She was flying home to London with her film-director husband, Guy Ritchie, in their private jet.
In one of her few forays outside the seafront David Intercontinental, Madonna made a midnight pilgrimage at the close of the Jewish New Year on Saturday to the tomb of Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag. The Polish-born sage, author of Sulam, a commentary on the Zohar, the kabbalistic "Book of Splendour," died in 1954.
Madonna prays inside the tomb of Kabbalist Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag Madonna, sporting a diamond-encrusted letter E for Esther, her new name, meditated inside the limestone mausoleum for more than an hour, circling the grave, praying, chanting and lighting candles. The singer, her wrist draped in a red cord against the evil eye, wiped tears from her eyes.
From the Givat Shaul cemetery at the entrance to Jerusalem, Madonna drove to the Western Wall. By arriving late at night, she had hoped to avoid publicity, but the paparazzi were waiting - and refused to be shooed away with an imperious wave. Madonna fretted inside her armour-plated limousine on the edge of the plaza, then drove off under heavy security. Bodyguards kept the photographers at bay, but there was no repeat of a brawl on Friday night when they came to blows and had to be separated by police.
Contrary to advance reports, she did not visit Rachel's Tomb, where barren women pray for fertility, on the outskirts of the besieged West Bank city of Bethlehem.
Pro-Palestinian protesters had planned to greet her with "Don't Cry for Me, Palestina". They mingled instead with fans gathered outside the David for last night's gala finale of the five-day Kabbalah fest.
Awe-struck local media reported that their royal suite boasted a specially built yoga room, its own coffee machine, crates of holy mineral water and a chef. At the opening ceremony on Wednesday night, Ritchie was said to have danced while embracing a Torah scroll.
"I am very enthusiastic about Israel," Madonna told one of the local participants at last night's gala. "I thought that everyone here would be extreme and fighting. I love the country and the great spirituality it has." Not a word to the Palestinians. (source: The Independant; picture courtesy of AP)

19 September - Paparazzi Madonna's only fear
Madonna speaks at the Kabbalah International Conference in Tel Aviv US pop diva Madonna today said paparazzi and not Palestinian suicide bombers had been her only fear during a four-day visit to Israel. "I would like to emphasise that I felt very safe and very welcome," she said at a gala reception in Tel Aviv following her much publicised spiritual retreat. "The most dangerous thing that I encountered were very naughty paparazzi in front of my hotel," she said, alluding to yet another bust-up between her bodyguards and press photographers. The weekend incident outside Madonna's hotel on Tel Aviv's Mediterranean seafront led to two of her bodyguards being arrested and two photographers being taken to hospital. The Material Girl, a keen aficionado of the ancient Jewish mystical tradition known as Kabbalah, arrived in Israel last week for a three-day retreat, which began with a traditional blessing ceremony to welcome in the Jewish new year. Madonna turned to Kabbalah in 1997 after coming into contact with the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Centre which, according to its website, offers a path to spiritual enlightenment through an eclectic mix of Orthodox Jewish tradition, visualisation and positive thinking. Two months ago, she took the Hebrew name Esther and is now reportedly observing the Jewish sabbath, although she has not converted to Judaism. (source: The Australian; picture courtesy of Reuters)

18 September - New single? BS video and BA Tour on DVD? *rumour*
David Figueiredo from MIR reports the following rumours:
" Warner in the US is trying very hard to rush out a new single ... my source would not say if it's Imagine or something else ... but just said for me to be patient and that if it does happen that I would be very happy ... ultimately the decision to release it is Madonna's ... but Warner is trying to push for it to go ahead.
Also, reports are that several remixers have already completed mixes for:
* The full Bedtime Story video as a separate video "extra" on the DVD
* The Blond Ambition Tour on DVD"

18 September - Madonna ends Re-Invention Tour on high note
Madonna wrapped her Reinvention tour [Sept. 14] with the second of two sellouts at the Pavilhao Atlantico in Lisbon, Portugal. The tour, destined to be the top-grossing trek of 2004, grossed $124.5 million and played to 880,000 people, according to producers.
The tour was produced worldwide by Clear Channel Entertainment's touring division. "Madonna's Reinvention tour was a brilliant success on every level," Arthur Fogel, president of CCE Touring, tells
Madonna was particularly hot in the U.K, where she grossed $9.8 million from four sellouts at Wembley Arena in London, $6.3 million from two sellouts at Earls Court in London and $5.1 million from two sellouts at the Manchester Evening News in Manchester, England.
Reinvention's North American run was topped by six sellouts at New York's Madison Square Garden that grossed $12.7 million; she also took in $7.9 million from four sellouts at the United Center in Chicago, $7 million from two sellouts at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, $7 million from three sellouts at the Forum in L.A. and $6.4 million from four sellouts at the Centrum in Worcester, Mass. (source: Ray Waddell; thanx to Jim Radenhaus from MIR)

17 September - English Roses clothing & dolls features on Today Show
Madonna fans be sure to tune in to NBC's The Today Show on Friday September 17th! Steven Cojocaru will be unveiling Madonna's new line of English Roses Girls Clothing, Raincoats, Tea Sets & Tea's, and Jewelry. The English Roses line is designed by Madonna and based off of her bestselling children's book. (source:

17 September - Madonna thanks fans for attending tour update Madonna's official site has been updated. Instead of the tour picture and schedule, the homepage features a dreamy picture of the tour book and a thank-you message from Madonna: "Madonna thanks all of you who attended her re-invention tour and proved once again that music makes the people come together." There's also a quote from John Lennon's Imagine next to the 'register to vote'-button. Let's hope our American friends will take her advise in November... There's a link to a nice new Re-Invention Tour section, including the setlist, the tour schedule, merchandise, some pix, wallpapers and reviews. Click here to visit

16 September - Madonna visits Israel on spiritual quest
Israel was abuzz with excitement Wednesday over the arrival of Madonna, its biggest celebrity visitor in years.
The pop star came to the Holy Land on a spiritual quest, including visits to the graves of revered rabbinical sages. Yet some were perplexed by the raunchy diva's interest in the esoteric Jewish mysticism called cabala or Kabbalah, and rabbis said she had no business studying holy texts.
Raised a Roman Catholic, Madonna has adopted the Hebrew name Esther, wears a red thread on her wrist to ward off the evil eye and reportedly refuses to perform on the Jewish Sabbath. She also has incorporated Jewish symbols into some of her music videos, much to the consternation of religious leaders.
The organization hosting her in Israel ordered news reporters to wear white clothes and not to take notes when covering Madonna's appearances during the New Year's holiday, or Rosh Hashanah.
Madonna attending a Kabbalah conference in Tel Aviv "This is entertainment, not Judaism," said Uri Orbach, a popular talk-radio host and Orthodox Jew. "I think the general public will celebrate this, but the religious public will be indifferent."
Madonna and friends flew into Tel Aviv Wednesday evening on a private jet and drove straight to their downtown hotel in a convoy of limousines escorted by police. They did not speak to journalists, who were kept well away from the celebrities.
Fashion designer Donna Karan and Marla Maples, an ex-wife of Donald Trump, were other celebrities among some 2,000 students from 22 countries, according to the Kabbalah Center, sponsor of the trip. The Los Angeles-based center teaches Jewish mysticism as a spiritual tool regardless of religion.
Liora Goldenberg-Stern, a culture writer at the Maariv newspaper, said Madonna would be welcomed by Tel Aviv's rich and famous, which has embraced cabala. "It's a social thing, very trendy," she said.
Madonna's picture appeared on the Maariv back page, while the mass circulation Yediot Ahronot announced the visit on the front page.
Inside Yediot, a half-page spread included a photo of Madonna's luxury hotel suite as well as the special holiday meal she would be eating, including salmon mousse, steak and chicken in mustard sauce and honey cake.
Madonna was not scheduled to perform during the five-day visit. Earlier this year, she canceled three Israel concerts, citing security concerns after Israel assassinated the leader of the Hamas militant group.
Israeli police spokesman Gil Kleiman said more than 1,000 officers were being deployed to protect the Kabbalah delegation, although no special precautions were being taken for Madonna, who has a private security detail.
On Sunday, Israeli Tourism Minister Gideon Ezra is expected to give Madonna an ancient oil lamp and a coin from the Byzantine period. The ministry also hopes to use images of Madonna to promote the country abroad.
But not everyone was so welcoming.
A small group of peace activists demonstrated at Rachel's Tomb in the West Bank -- one of the stops on Madonna's itinerary -- to draw attention to the plight of Palestinians living under Israeli military rule.
"I hope she's aware of where she is going," said Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, one of the protesters.
The itinerary also includes stops at the Western Wall in Jerusalem; the northern city of Safed, a center of Kabbalah; Rachel's Tomb, the traditional burial place of the biblical matriarch; and the grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, author of the Zohar, the core text of Kabbalah.
Rabbi Yaakov Silber of the Merkaz Harav Jewish seminary in Jerusalem said it was hard to imagine a rabbi would be willing to teach Madonna.
He said religious study frowns upon raunchy, materialistic values the singer has promoted in the past. "Maybe she has changed," he said. (source: CNN)

16 September - Palestinians protest against Madonna's visit
A woman protests against Madonna's visit Israel might be preparing to honour Madonna for her devotion to Kabbalah, the cult which has its roots in Jewish scriptures, but the pop singer's visit to the country for a five-day spiritual fest for the Jewish New Year, which began last night, is already marred by controversies.
According to the Telegraph, Madonna's pilgrimage has aroused anger amongst the Palestinians ,who have accused Madonna of neglecting their plight, as well as the Jews who find her 'religiously insensitive'.
The protestants, reports the paper are particularly enraged about Madonna's visit to Rachel's Tomb, the Bethlehem shrine where a security barrier is being erected for Madge's protection. This has angered the Palestinians living in the area, who believe that the barrier is a mere guise being used by the Israeli authorities to capture their land and legitimise the occupation.
"Rachel's Tomb has become a symbol of our misery. What they are doing when they come here to the tomb is endorsing the misery," Michel Nasser, a Palestinian leader of Bethlehem's Christian community, was quoted by the paper as saying. (source: New Kerala)

16 September - Heightened security for Madonna's Tel Aviv spiritual retreat
Security was watertight in and around the hotel where American star Madonna kicked off a three-day spiritual retreat cum Jewish New Year celebration in Tel Aviv.
Hundreds of identification badge-clad Jewish followers of the ancient mystical tradition known as Kabbalah had also gathered at the David Intercontinental hotel to take part in the Roshashan festivities, quite at ease with the celebrity's appearance.
"It's OK, same to me, I'm here to rejoice," said Mikhail, a Russian man who recently immigrated to Israel.
Madonna attending a Kabbalah conference in Tel Aviv Iris, a 35-year-old Israeli woman, said Madonna's presence attested to "the Kabbalah's great attraction."
"One doesn't have to be a Jew to embrace Kabbalah which is about knowledge and making the world a better place," she said.
Reporters could hardly get a glimpse of the once self-proclaimed Material Girl owing to an impenetrable security cordon, but a lucky few managed to attend part of the celebrations which started without Madonna's attendance.
Renowned American Kabbalahists delivered recorded speeches, broadcast on large video screens, calling for world peace and peace of the mind and simultaneously translated in Hebrew, Spanish and Arabic to a joyful audience.
Men and women, sitting apart in a large conference room serving as a synagogue, applauded in unison at the end of the feed.
They went on chanting a peace song that mixed Hebrew and Arabic and then stood up clapping and shaking their left hands up in the air to repel evil.
"It's like imagining you're throwing away a ball of fire which represents negative energy or evil," explained Iris.
Men donning white clothes stepped up on stage and danced rapt and entranced with a Muslim sheikh in their midst.
Organizers from the Kabbalah Center explained that the dress code was commanded by religious reasons, although most women at the event -- most of them American and Latin American -- had opted for colorful evening gowns.
Madonna is due to visit several Jewish religious sites after her Tel Aviv retreat, including Rachel's Tomb in the southern West Bank town of Bethlehem.
A group of Israeli pacifists urged the superstar in an open letter Tuesday to stay clear of any controversial visits as it underscored the need to understand the plight of the Palestinians living under Israel's occupation.
"This visit takes you to the heart of occupied territory in Bethlehem: a closed-off prison, a ghetto, whose civilians now have no work, no freedom, no life," said a statement by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
"Are you being used to legitimize the occupation of Palestine? Are you being exploited, without your full awareness? Has your wish to bring peace been co-opted by other forces?" it added.
Israel's tourism ministry has vowed to use Madonna's visit to boost tourism. "Madonna's visit to Israel is very important for promoting tourism to Israel ... the tourism ministry intends to use her visit to promote Israel as a tourist destination," it said in a statement.
Tourism Minister Gideon Ezra is set to present Madonna with an antique oil lamp and a coin from the Byzantine era at a ceremony Sunday in Tel Aviv, the statement also said.
Prominent American fashion designer Donna Karan, who joined Madonna in her Israel tour, will also receive a gift from the ministry.
Madonna turned to Kabbalah in 1997 after coming into contact with the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Centre which, according to its website, offers a path to spiritual enlightenment through an eclectic mix of Orthodox Jewish tradition, visualization and positive thinking.
Two months ago, she took the Hebrew name Esther and is now reportedly observing the Jewish Sabbath. (source: AFP)
16 September - Re-Invention picture galleries
A few days ago we presented our picture gallery for the re-Invention show in Paris Bercy. We have now added two galleries for the first show in Arnhem, Holland. Our personal photographer Marcin had a great general view from his 1st category seats that night and took a bunch of great pictures, some close-ups and some overviews. People that were lucky enough to be in the pits that night, might be able to spot themselves! Click here for gallery I (from The Beast Within till Lament) and gallery II (from Bedtime Story till Holiday). Enjoy!

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