Unlicensed Scientology kindergartens operating in Tel Aviv

YNet News, Israel/March 21, 2008

At least three kindergartens spread out through Israeli urban sprawl offer children educational teachings of controversial cultist movement. Only one institute received municipal approval, but failed to note its religious leanings.

Any kindergarten in Israel with more than 10 children requires the approval of the Education Ministry, but three kindergartens offering children the education teaching of the controversial Scientology movement are operating in Tel Aviv these days without the ministry being aware of their principles.

One of these kindergartens, in the Nahalat Yitzhak neighborhood has about 90 children. Although it received the Education Ministry's approval, it failed to note its religious leanings.

The ministry has never even heard of the other two Scientology kindergartens, one in the Yad Eliyahu neighborhood and the other on Keren Kayemet Street in northern Tel Aviv.

The Scientology cultist movement was materialized in the United States in the 1950s. Its principles were developed from author L. Ron Hubbard's set of ideas and practices regarding the relationship between the spirit, mind and body presented in the book "Dianetics".

In the book, Hubbard developed ideas in regards to ways humans can release themselves from mental elements preventing them from studying, developing and reaching a deeper understanding of the world.

One of the issues characterizing education according to the Scientology ideas is teaching respect, human rights and friendship expressed in addressing children at eye level. When a teacher speaks to one of his or her pupils, he or she will bend down in order to prevent significant height differences.

It should be noted that a visit to one of the three kindergartens did not reveal any strange or severe issues in the teachers' treatment of the children, and yet these kindergartens are operating without a license and without being supervised by the Education Ministry.

Avi Katzover, an Education Ministry spokesman for the Tel Aviv District, said in response that "the kindergarten (in Nahalat Yitzhak) was granted an operating license after it was made clear that it has no security or health risks. The license is temporary until the end of the school year.

"The pedagogical aspect will be examined this year and we will then make a final decision whether to grant it a permanent license for the coming years as well.

"As for the Scientology issue, the Education Ministry is unaware of such principles being taught in the kindergarten. The supervisor examined the kindergarten's education contents and did not spot any Scientology content. The teacher also denied any involvement in the cult."

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