An Anaheim synagogue uninvited a Scientology Volunteer Minister from speaking at the temple earlier this month after I waged a one-man crusade denouncing the May 9th event: "Principles of Scientology."
Why Is Anaheim Synagogue Promoting Scientology?
According to the temple's executive director, Mary Ann Malkoff, "The Ezra Center is a senior program that provides exercise, educational classes, kosher meals, socialization and games that serves Jewish seniors on Mondays and Thursdays," she wrote in an email to a reliable source close to Crusader's Corner.
After I learned about the scheduled class in the temple newsletter, I immediately started contacting temple board members, the rabbi, and the temple president, but was not happy with their immediate responses.
At that point, I waged a one-man campaign to encourage the temple to immediately cancel the class due to the well-documented abuses perpetrated by the Church of Scientology (actual leadership, not the religion itself).
I filed numerous complaints about the class, including one with Jewish Federation & Family Services, Orange County, which supports the Ezra Center with an "Impact Grant." Ironically, Temple Beth Emet president, Doris Jacobson, happens to be employed by the Federation.
To date, the Federation has not responded to my concerns; however, Ms. Jacobson recently sent me an email stating the Scientology minister speaker had been canceled at that the rabbi and executive director made a presentation of some sort instead.
I also filed complaints about the original class with Anti-Defamation League, Orange County/Long Beach Chapter; Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) (Alabama); The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) (New York); and various rabbis in the United States.
Two rabbis I happen to be familiar with were kind enough to be sympathetic to my crusade and one even offered suggestions I should make to the temple as an alternative to having the Scientology minister speak.
Thought He Was "a Christian Reverend"
What remains disturbing, however, is the response from the temple executive director to a source close to Crusader's Corner. She told my source on the telephone and via email that she thought the original speaker was "a Christian reverend. My mistake -- the speaker is a reverend of Scientology!!! Yikes! Not acceptable..."
Are the folks responsible for coordinating these "educational" programs at Temple Beth Emet really that gullible? If so, how easy would it be for a reverend associated with the Ku Klux Klan or other white supremacist group to book a "class" at the temple for a primarily senior citizen audience? This sends chills down my spine!
ADL Very Weak re Scientology!
Another disturbing response to my concerns was from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an organization with a huge reputation for fighting anti-Semitism, racism, and even opposing hate against LGBT communities!
My original call to their Orange County/Long Beach office was never returned. Days later, I tried putting my complaint on their chapter website; however, the online form was out of order and nothing could be submitted! Finally, I posted my complaint on their national website, but still no response!
Finally, prior to the temple cIass taking place, I called the chapter phone number once again and left a detailed message. About 20 minutes later, I did get a return call from an unidentified female who stated she is responsible for the Orange County/Long Beach chapter, but the caller ID showed a New York phone number.
At some point during the phone call, the unidentified woman said, and I am paraphrasing, "It's not our place to interfere with religious beliefs; First Amendment and all." When I asked, "You mean the ADL actually recognizes Scientology as a 'religion'?" she said, "Let's not go down that road."
Then I started my talking points about the anti-psychiatry museum Scientology has in Los Angeles that includes an anti-Semitic exhibit claiming Hitler and the Holocaust were created by psychiatrists. Her response to that was more promising. She said that is something the ADL "could look into" (by going to the museum) and I plan on following up with them on that in the future.
I then gave her my other citations, including the 1993 Missionaries and Cults Resolution from The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism which talks about "the dangers" Scientology (and others) "pose to unaware Jewish people."
She still hemmed and hawed, said, "What would you like us to do" and then she suggested, "Why don't I make an inquiry of the temple to find out what their thinking was for scheduling a Scientology minister?"
I told her that would be great, but I have no clue if she ever actually contacted the temple.
I am hoping this was a good teaching moment for Temple Beth Emet and anyone else in the Jewish community who happens to find a need to address the issue of Scientology in the future.
Friday, May 13, 2016
Sunday, May 1, 2016
(Temple Contact Information: Tel: (714) 772-4720; Executive Director Mary Ann Malkoff e-mail: email@example.com; Rabbi Joel Berman e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Scientology class is scheduled for Monday, May 9, 2016 at the Ezra Center, which has programs geared toward the senior citizen community but anyone may attend. Ironically, Ezra Center is supported by an Impact Grant from Jewish Federation & Family Services, Orange County and the temple president, Doris Jacobson, happens to be employed by the Federation.
Although my family has not been members for several years, we did find solace there after my father passed away in October 2014 and we were welcomed there with open arms.
After my father passed, I accompanied my mother to a Sisterhood luncheon where she was honoured with other past presidents, and we both attended a luncheon not long ago honouring the former day camp director and Eagle Scout troop leader.
When we were members, the entire family was very involved with this temple and we all have mostly fond memories and can say that our lives were positively impacted as a result of our involvement.
I read the description and said, "Wow! This is unbelievable. Let me research it and I will keep you posted."
So my quest for truth and justice began. I wanted to know about the so-called "Reverend" Ed Dearborn, who was said to be presenting the class.
Dearborn (from his own admission on his business marketing website, Dearborn Media Group) states that he was the CEO of Church of Scientology of Orange County for more than two decades and currently is a Scientology Volunteer Minister.
His marketing Orange County company takes credit for developing brochures for a controversial Scientology-owned-and-operated drug/alcohol rehab facility, Narconon, which has been described as "medically unsafe," "quackery," and "medical fraud" (See this Wikipedia entry).
Also, it is public knowledge that the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam years ago "joined forces with Scientology," which speaks volumes as to why a Jewish temple should in no way, shape or form hold a class presented by an active Scientologist. (See 2011 Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) Hatewatch article).
But wait, there's more! Scientology is said to have an exhibit in their Los Angeles anti-psychiatric museum which promotes the theory that psychiatrists are somehow responsible for Hitler and the Holocaust. So again, with that public admission by this so-called "religion," a Jewish temple promoting Scientology (or even the appearance of promoting it) is simply preposterous!
When I shared this research with my mother, she was just speechless. She could not understand how a synagogue that our family was so involved with and contributed money and time to could even consider holding such an event at the temple, let alone schedule such an event. She was, to put it mildly, dumbfounded.
Temple leaders didn't know about class
What came next was even worse, in many respects. I started contacting people I knew at the temple, including a very educated person who has known my parents before I was even born 55 years ago! When I called her, she told me that she had no clue the class was taking place, admitted she knew little about Scientology, asked me what their beliefs were, and said she would look into it.
The next day I sent a lengthy email to her, her husband (also active with the temple), and to the executive director, requesting that the class be canceled immediately. I included lots of credible sources (with online links for them and articles attached in PDF format) to support my concerns.
The next day, having heard nothing back from our longtime friend, I called the rabbi at the temple who my mother and I had conversed with several times, but we honestly do not know him well.
I was shocked when he told me (paraphrasing), "Well, Ezra Center sets up their own programs and just because the class is at the temple doesn't mean we condone it." All told I was not happy with our conversation and am very disappointed he did not take a more aggressive stand by condemning Scientology outright and agreeing that the class should be canceled.
He asked that I forward the email to him I sent to our friend, which I did, and several hours later he sent me an email reply simply stating, "Thank you."
The day after that, still in no way convinced the temple would take quick action on the matter, I telephoned the temple president, who goes way back with our family. She was very gracious when I called, but I was disturbed to hear her echo what our other friend said, "I knew nothing about such a class taking place at the temple."
"A few old ladies might attend"
While her voice did inflect concern, like the others, she was relatively passive and tried to downplay the entire situation by stating (paraphrasing), "To set your mind at ease, those classes are attended by a few old ladies who won't understand what's going on anyhow."
She, too, asked that I forward the original email to her and said she would forward it to the executive director. After I forwarded the email to her, she did respond via email right away, thanked me and said she was curious to know how all this was scheduled in the first place, so that was a small step forward. However, like my feelings about the rabbi's response, I don't understand why she didn't express outrage about the scheduled class altogether!
"The Scientology class is not synagogue-wide"
The day after that, the original friend I contacted by phone and email sent me an email saying she was hopeful everything would be resolved "appropriately" once the executive director returns from vacation. But disturbingly, her email also included attempts to downplay the situation, stating only "15 to 25 people attend" these events and that it is not "synagogue-wide," like that should make it any less atrocious.
She basically echoed what the president and rabbi told me, that Ezra Center basically has free reign to do as they please (even though the events are clearly under the auspices of the temple), go figure!
I responded to our longtime friend that my mother and I were still deeply disturbed about the entire ordeal and suggested that perhaps in the future the Ezra Center clearly needs much oversight prior to any type of event being scheduled. I also included a link to the USCJ resolution condemning Scientology. To date, she has not replied to that email.
Today I sent emails to prominent rabbis as well as Jewish-related and non-Jewish-related organizations asking them to please join me in encouraging Temple Beth Emet to cancel the class immediately. I ask anyone reading this blog to also take action immediately (See Contact Information early in article).
For the temple to do anything less is a disgrace to anyone ever involved with them, to the Jewish community at large, and to anyone who cares about human rights!