Sunday, May 1, 2016

Why Is Anaheim Synagogue Promoting Scientology?

In this information age there is no excuse for ignorance when it comes to the cult Scientology.  Yes, I realize the Internal Revenue Service officially recognized Scientology as a "religion" in 1993; however, many scholarly people and organizations do refer to it as a cult.  After becoming educated myself over the years about Scientology, I too have started referring to it as a cult.


No matter what one calls it, the fact remains that Scientology is responsible for the destruction of thousands of individuals and families physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually.  They are also clearly responsible for the deaths of some members, according to lawsuits, testimonials, books, and general public knowledge.

With that in mind, I was shocked to recently learn that my childhood temple in Anaheim, California is hosting a so-called "Principles of Scientology" class at Temple Beth Emet (TBE), 1770 W Cerritos Ave, Anaheim, California.

(Temple Contact Information: Tel: (714) 772-4720; Executive Director Mary Ann Malkoff e-mail: tbeanaheimshul@gmail.com; Rabbi Joel Berman e-mail: tbe.rabjab@gmail.com).

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.

When my mother recently received the temple newsletter ("Tidings") in the mail, she called out my name so loudly that I thought she needed medical attention. She handed me the newsletter, pointed to the Scientology class announcement, and asked me, "What is this all about?"

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).

My research also reveals that The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) in New York, which Temple Beth Emet is affiliated with, passed a resolution in 1993, which states, in part, that Scientology poses a danger "to unaware Jewish people." The full text of their "Missionaries and Cults" resolution is available via their website link.

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.

Call for action!

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!

Full disclosure: I have publicly defended Scientology in the past as well as Tom Cruise for fighting for Scientology when Germany wanted to ban it.  Now that I have become educated, my love affair with Tom is long over and I have come to realize this issue has nothing to do with rights or religious freedom, but everything to do with a very dangerous and destructive cult!