Source: Ventura County Star
On July 12, 2003 the Ventura County Star reported that "Arnold Pomerantz was once a vice president and division director for Payless Shoesource. Now retired, he and about two dozen other core members of an interfaith community in West Hollywood devote themselves to the teachings of Bhagavati and explain to outsiders why they shouldn't be viewed as a cult... Described by her students as a loud, effusive woman who comes from a Jewish family in Brooklyn, Bhagavati founded the community known as Kashi nearly 30 years ago. It melds Hinduism with other faiths, as illustrated by a prayer room filled with statues of gods like Ganesha but also represen-tations of Our Lady of Guadalupe... Known simply as Ma, Bhagavati leads more than 500 students and associates across the country from a Kashi ashram on Florida's Atlantic coast, making conference calls once a month... Though she has been accused by former members of controlling her students' lives and abusing her authority psychologically and financially, Pomerantz and others say they are free to sever the connection at any time. They stay, in part, because of their teacher's emphasis on providing care for people with AIDS, giving food to people on the street and finding other ways to serve."