A school identified with the Scientology movement that was booted out of Holon last year is moving to a new location – Yehud, says anti-missionary organization Yad L'achim – to the consternation of religious and secular Jews in the town. A fracas broke out last week during a special meeting of the Yehud City Council on whether or not to allow the school to settle in town, with dozens of residents very loudly making their objections clear, Yad L'achim said.
Even worse, say opponents, the Atid school, organized several years ago by parents from the Tel Aviv Scientology community to provide education to their children based on the teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, has now been recognized by the Education Ministry. The school is now considered an “unofficial recognized school,” meaning that it is eligible for government funding and can award diplomas.
Previously, the school had conducted classes at the Mikve Yisrael Agricultural School complex, a religious institution that houses dozens of religious families. Yad L'achim, together with administrators and residents, waged a successful campaign to banish the school in 2010, but with the opening of the new school year, Yehud residents found themselves faced with the prospect of hosting the school in their town. Yad L'achim, together with religious and secular residents of Yehud, have been contacting officials in the local and national government to prevent the school from opening – so far, to no avail. Holon parents complained that the school tried to recruit students in Holon, and Yehud residents said they feared the same would happen in their time. At the meeting, the principal of the school said that she visited Scientology centers “frequently.”
Scientology is described by many as a cult that financially defrauds and abuses its members, charging exorbitant fees for its spiritual services, and has consistently used litigation against critics; its aggressiveness in pursuing its foes has been condemned as harassment. Yad L'achim has records of dozens of Israelis who have in recent years left the group, complaining of harassment and psychological damage.
In its complaint to the Education Ministry, Yad L'achim wrote that the Atid school, by using Scientology-produced material, was violating Ministry rules. In response, the Ministry said that if Yad L'achim provided appropriate evidence of its charges, “appropriate steps” would be taken.