Karen Berg: “Give people the space to allow their unique Light to shine; Allow people to express their creativity, their uniqueness on the way to the vision, and if they forget, you are always there to gently guide them back”

The way that my husband and I always managed the Centre is that we give people the space to allow their unique Light to shine. Just as everyone has a spark of the Creator, every person wants to create and be the cause for something special. Allow people to express their creativity, their uniqueness on […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

The way that my husband and I always managed the Centre is that we give people the space to allow their unique Light to shine. Just as everyone has a spark of the Creator, every person wants to create and be the cause for something special. Allow people to express their creativity, their uniqueness on the way to the vision, and if they forget, you are always there to gently guide them back.

As a part of our series about strong female leaders, we had the the pleasure to interview Karen Berg, Spiritual Director of The Kabbalah Centre. Over four decades ago, Karen and her husband, Rav Berg, set out to make Kabbalah understandable and relevant to all people. Their goal was to teach the spiritual wisdom and tools of Kabbalah, without exclusion. They believed that learning Kabbalah could help people improve their lives, and that by doing so, the world would benefit. Under their leadership, The Kabbalah Centre has grown from a single location into one of the world’s leading sources of spiritual wisdom, with more than 40 Centres around the globe that provide instruction and community to tens of thousands of students. As the Spiritual Director of The Kabbalah Centre, Karen is devoted to an enduring vision — that within each person there is a spark of God that can be bound together to create transcendence beyond all differences. Karen is certain that peace is possible and foresees a world free of hatred and intolerance. She works untiringly to cultivate a new paradigm of Global Spirituality in which people from diverse beliefs can work together to bring the world to a better place through mutual respect, dignity, and love for humanity. Following Rav Berg’s passing in 2013, Karen continues to passionately lead and nurture Kabbalah Centres around the world. She has expanded her efforts to bring peace to the world through spiritual unity and travels extensively. Karen meets with people daily, both personally and online, serving a worldwide community of more than 300,000 souls. Karen has four children, sixteen grandchildren, and considers everywhere there is a Kabbalah Centre her home.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Karen! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

For me, this was not a career path at all, but rather a spiritual path. When I was young I was tormented by bullies, and one day I was thrown into a pit. I couldn’t escape and I truly thought I would die there. In that moment, I heard a voice tell me I would be fine and that the things that I have experienced and will experience are all to teach me about how to be there for others. From that moment on I searched to understand all I could about the metaphysical aspect of life. The nature of the Divine, angels and the like.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Again, it’s a bit different for me. The Kabbalah Centre is a non-profit organization that teaches people the ancient spiritual wisdom of Kabbalah, and provides students with a way to apply and make practical what they learn. We have locations all over the world that have become a global and diverse community of like-minded people from all faiths who are seeking, as I did, to understand that unseen world. I think many people come to those moments in life when they realize the physical world cannot be all that there is because it just doesn’t make sense. It does not add up. And then people start the search for answers. I found those answers in Kabbalah when my late husband Rav Berg began to teach me. I was the first woman in history to study the secret wisdom of Kabbalah in public. I believed that if I can learn this profound wisdom and I am no great scholar, it can also provide answers and lessons for anyone and everyone. So, there is no one interesting story, as for me every person I meet and engage with is the most interesting story. This work has been like a birth and re- birth. I am blessed to have been allowed to be in the service of people. For me there is nothing more important or interesting than that.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I make mistakes every day. But there is a funny story when I was a young receptionist working for Philip Berg, before we were married and before we began the Kabbalah Centre. Our office received a phone call from the Mayor. I was new to the job and did not know that my boss had such powerful contacts. So, when the Mayor identified himself, I said, “Sure you’re the Mayor. And I am the Pope.” I thought it was a prank call! My boss was furious and insisted I get the Mayor back on the phone.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

At The Kabbalah Centre, there is a genuine and constant commitment to be of service to people. Whether a company is for profit or non-profit, what makes all business work is solving problems and providing something that will enhance the lives of others, and the world as a result. We get stories every day of people who feel that their life is enriched because of what we do. There are so many stories I don’t know how to pick just one. What I will say is that today when you mention Kabbalah, people have heard of it, or have googled it, or have in some way interacted with it. 4 decades ago before we began, Kabbalah was virtually unknown.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I travelled around the world for the last few years discussing the concept of Global Spirituality. I feel that if we can get to a place where we can see the spark of Light, a spark of the Creator, in every human being, then we can get pasts the prejudice of how people pray, or what path they choose to take. If we can get to such a place, and I believe we can, then we will have peace both within ourselves and throughout the world. I am not suggesting a unity based on our similarities. My hope is to inspire a unity based on our diversity. Diversity creates something beautiful. Imagine an orchestra where there is only one kind of instrument. It would be unfulfilling and ultimately never reach its potential.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

I would tell them to always center their inner compass so that their true north is always guiding them towards making the lives of others better in some way. And keep checking in with that goal along the way, never stop checking in. Of course, most of us start out with good intentions, but sometimes along the way there are detours that we must take in order to help us grow. When that happens, go back to visit your original desire and ask yourself the question: Am I still seeking to make people’s lives better with my product or service, or did I get lost along the way? If you find that you have, maybe it makes sense to pause, and recalibrate your route to your original destination.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

The way that my husband and I always managed the Centre is that we give people the space to allow their unique Light to shine. Just as everyone has a spark of the Creator, every person wants to create and be the cause for something special. Allow people to express their creativity, their uniqueness on the way to the vision, and if they forget, you are always there to gently guide them back.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I would say that it is the founder of the Kabbalah Centre in 1922, Rav Ashlag, who was the first to translate this wisdom into modern language and to something universal that people can understand and use. He taught his student, who then became my husband’s teacher and so on. Today there are so many teachers of Kabbalah living in service and loving what they do. However I must also say that I feel that the reason for the success of The Kabbalah Centre is that so many people took what they learned and made it their own. They became our most dedicated volunteers and mentors who paid it forward.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

For me success is not something you use to bring goodness to the world. Success is measured by the goodness you bring. I believe that because of our work, people around the world are establishing a clearer and more profound understanding of the realm of spirit, of their own soul, and of the spiritual nature of existence and enriching their own path to the Divine. Every day, we hear countless stories of how The Kabbalah Centre has helped people and I am blessed to be a part of that. If The Kabbalah Centre has brought a little more Light into people’s lives and thereby to the world, if we have tilted the scale to Light more often than darkness for others, that is our only success.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Don’t micromanage people. Do guide them gently by asking questions rather than giving answers. In this way they can become clear about who they are. Let them rise or fall of their own accord. They will feel empowered, and everyone will learn the truth about their skills and passion in the process.
  2. Welcome conflict. Where there is no conflict, there is no growth, no proliferation of ideas. Find a way to harmonize conflict; see the good in it, allow both parties to remain whole; create an environment where new and exciting things are allowed to emerge and be discussed.
  3. Embrace challenge. Innovation happens in response to a challenge. Seek the gift in the challenge let it propel you and your team forward. Understand that every challenge is part of a Divine plan to help you grow.
  4. Seek change. The one constant in life is change. It is the power we were given as human beings. We can change our minds, our way of being; we can transform. The ability to change allows us to influence and alter our destiny. It is a wonderful thing.
  5. Be kind. It takes courage to be kind. It is a quality not often discussed in leadership and I think it is the most important quality of a leader. It establishes a culture of trust throughout the organization which will ultimately create success.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

It would be to help to bring out a global spirituality where people of all religions, all walks of life, all ways of being could find a way to respect each other and treat each other with human dignity and join in their diversity, each remaining whole in who they are and what they do without compromise. Where instead of tolerance or acceptance we can find a way to celebrate our differences. This is what I talk about everywhere I go. If I can just awaken something small in every person to see life that way, to see others that way, then I have done something.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I have many but I would say that the one I use the most is the question I ask of the Creator: “What is it you would like me to do at this given moment?” Another line I like is when I make a mistake or others do, I like to say, “It’s okay to make mistakes. That’s why God put erasers on pencils.”

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

The Thrive Global Questionnaire//

Founder of The Kabbalah Centre, Karen Berg, On A Quote That Gives Her Strength

by Karen Berg

Shabbat is Our Perfect State of Rest

by Josia Nakash

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.