This week, the secretive and controversial American religious order planted a foothold in Israel with the opening of a Center for Scientology in the Jewish city of Tel Aviv - the first Ideal Scientology Organization in the Middle East, according to a press release from Scientology.org.
The center, which inhabits a theater built in the 1930s, will function as a place of worship for Scientologists in one of the Middle East's most popular international destinations. It will also "provide Scientology-sponsored humanitarian programs" around Tel Aviv, the release reads. The new church follows a series of Ideal Organization openings this year in the San Francisco Bay Area, Phoenix, Denver, Cincinnati as well as in Orange County, Calif., Buffalo, N.Y., and Hamburg, Germany.
David Miscavige, Scientology's leader, spoke at the opening, calling the center "a gift" to Israel is his dedication speech.
Extending Scientology across the Middle East, Miscavige said, will help "realize the aims of Scientology and thus a world without insanity, without criminality, without war - a world where the able can prosper, where honest being have rights and all are free to rise to greater heights."