Israeli town tries to oust Scientology school

Sunday, October 02, 2011 |  Ryan Jones

Residents of the central Israel town of Yehud are concerned after a school affiliated with the Church of Scientology opened in their Tel Aviv suburb with the start of the new school year.

Locals had tried to block the opening of the new Atid School, but their protests were apparently registered too late. But that won't stop them and the anti-missionary group Yad L'Achim from continuing their efforts to remove the school.

The Atid School previously operated in the central town of Holon. It was started so that Israeli members of the Church of Scientology would have a place to send their children to be taught in line with their religion. But after Holon residents complained that the school was actively trying to "recruit" local children, it was forced to shut down and find a new home.

Despite the backlash, Israel's Ministry of Education has officially recognized the Atid School, meaning it is eligible for government funding, and can issue diplomas to Israeli students.

It should be noted that Yad L'Achim targets Messianic Jews with the same or greater vigor that it goes after adherents of Scientology. Only in the case of Messianics, Yad L'Achim has had greater success, but also greater setbacks.

Many Messianic Jews wishing to immigrate to Israel are blocked, at least temporarily, because of Yad L'Achim pressure on the government. Israel's only Messianic day school, Makor HaTikvah, is still struggling to gain academic recognition because of similar pressure.

At the same time, the Israeli media has enthusiastically covered the assault on local Messianics, creating a wave of sympathy from average Israelis and increasing interest in the faith of their Messianic brethren.

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