Superstar Madonna will today (15SEP04) set off for a pilgrimage to Israel to mark the Jewish New Year.

The singer will join husband Guy Ritchie and children LOURDES and ROCCO as well as 2,000 other members of THE KABBALAH CENTRE - a mystical offshoot of Judaism - on the trip.

During her journey, Madonna's party will take in the graves of Jewish sages in northern Israel and the Western Wall - but Israeli police are concerned about another stop on their itinerary, Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem, which is on the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank.

Pro-Palestinian activists are planning to protest at the site - so thousands of Israeli officers have been drafted in to protect the group.

RABBI SHAUL YOUDKEVITCH, the head of Israel's Kabbalah Centre, says, "These are energy vortexes. It is known among Kabbalists, among people that study Kabbalah, that you can go there and recharge yourself with positive energy."

Madonna will also give a speech at an event intended to unite Israeli and Palestinian children. Organiser and Kabbalah scholar MICHAEL BERG says, "We need to honour these heroic and courageous children. A gathering of this magnitude can have the power to diminish the volatile gap between Israeli and Arab communities to help the people recognise that love is stronger than hate and peace is the focus for the future."

15/09/2004 17:14