LOS ANGELES (Mar. 11)
Declaring the Los Angeles Jewish community is “in a very real sense” in a “war,” with the stake being “our survival as a people,” the chairman of the Jewish Federation Council Community Relations Committee’s. Task Force on Cults and Missionary Efforts outlined a major expansion of the Task Force battle against the cults and missionary groups operating here.
Rabbi Stephen Robbins told more than 100 people attending a community meeting that outreach efforts were planned for all religious and public schools and institutions. He also indicated that the Task Force hopes to work with legislative and law enforcement officials on changes both in the letter and the interpretation of laws relating to such groups.
He said the problem had become acute and represented a serious threat to the Jewish community, adding that the problem “is only just beginning to become visible in a way that people respond to it as a problem.”
“In a very real sense we are in a war, ” Robbins said. “The disputed territory is the minds of our young and at stake is our survival as a people. Our best weapon is the truth and our army is anyone sharing concern for the survival of the Jewish people.”
OUTLINES SUPPORT PROGRAMS
He also said that the Task Force plans “to provide emotional and legal support for families and individuals who have suffered from cult efforts. We will gather, collate and distribute information about these groups and act as a sort of clearing house with facts, for anyone with questions about a particular organization and its methods of operation.”
Robbins said the Task Force has been fighting the cults for more than three years. One program in operation is a cult clinic, run in cooperation with the Jewish Family Service, a Federation agency.
Meeting twice a month, the clinic calls on the volunteer services of social workers, psychologists, rabbis, attorneys, and parents of present and former cult members. The clinic service is free and non-sectarian, Robbins said.
The newest program, he said, is a religious outreach project of Los Angeles Hillel which employs a full-time counselor at the University of California here to help prevent Jews from being lured into cult groups.
PLANNED PROJECTS CITED
Robbins said planned projects include outreach on more college and high school campuses; a legal project to initiate and modify legislation and provide aid to those being sued by cults; a speakers bureau coalition building between Jews and non-Jews to counter cult efforts; seminars for teachers, principals of Jewish and public schools, including the creation of a curriculum on cults; and establishment of media contacts to get the anti-cult message out to the public.
He reported that cooperating agencies include local units of the American Jewish Committee; the American Jewish Congress; the Jewish Labor Committee; and the Southern California Board of Rabbis. Also assisting are the Bureau of Jewish Education; the Federation youth department; the Hillel Council; the Jewish Family Service, and Bet Tzedek Legal Services. The Task Force announcement did not indicate the number of local young Jews who have joined area cults.