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An outpost for Kabbalah

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 8, 2012 - For years, Miriam Steinau was searching.

More than a decade ago, she walked into a book store and ended up in the self-help aisle. "You find yourself in that section," she laughs, "and there was Kabbalah."

So, Steinau bought a few books, got home and started reading, but she didn't get too far. "It was very scholarly, and it was clear to me that I wasn't smart enough to get through it."

Then, about four years ago, she and her daughter attended a local class on Kabbalah, and Steinau began the journey of finding what she'd been searching for.

"It just resonated with us," she says. "Everything that we were hearing made perfect sense."

Now, Steinau is the manager of the new St. Louis Kabbalah Book Store, which has its official grand opening on Tuesday, Jan. 10.

The book store is the first of its kind in St. Louis and is like an outpost for the Kabbalah Centre, a non-profit organization with locations in more than 40 cities, according to kabbalah.com.

"Kabbalah is ancient wisdom," says Rachel Glik, a licensed professional counselor and volunteer with the store. Based on Jewish mysticism, Kabbalah offers students tools to live, she says.

"Kabbalah predates religion," Steinau says. "It's universal truths, universal laws." When Glik first started studying Kabbalah eight years ago, there were no study groups or teachers in St. Louis. So she and her husband found a teacher and studied with him over the phone.

Now, with the book store, located in Clayton, people can find study groups, resources and a place to get to know Kabbalah.

"We are one of the very first book stores," Glik says.

Since the book store opened, Steinau says people from all faiths, all colors and ages have stepped through the doors.

"I've had literally every walk of life walk through that door, and what I'm learning sitting in here every day is I can't know the kind of people this is going to attract." Customers don't even have to buy a book, she says, but are welcome to sit on the couch and read it at the store.

Some famous practitioners of Kabbalah include Madonna and Demi Moore, and, according to an LA Times report from May of last year, the Kabbalah Centre in LA was being investigated by the IRS for tax evasion.

"A student is a student, though, even a celebrity," Steinau says. "A person's study of Kabbalah is a very personal thing, so I would imagine that having it be discussed by the media as if it is newsworthy must be challenging."

She also adds that she doesn't know anything about issues with the IRS.

Grand opening events, which begin at 4 p.m., include a raffle, speakers, live music and a ribbon cutting.

Weekly, the store offers group classes, from a free introduction to Kabbalah on Wednesday evenings to classes called Practical Kabbalah on Tuesday evenings, which costs whatever people feel it was worth.

Kabbalah isn't self help, Steinau says, and now with the book store, people who want to learn more don't have to wonder those self-help aisles searching by themselves.

"Years ago, it was just me and the book," she says. "But through the center, I have a teacher, so I'm never alone."

For more information about the new St. Louis Kabbalah bookstore and Kabbalah classes, call 314-643-7272 or visit www.stlkabbalahcentre.org.

Kristen Hare