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.