Breaking out of Scientology's iron grip - 2015-06-14
Last month the controversial Church of Scientology opened its lavish, multimillion-dollar new center in Israel, and some 1,000 members and guests flooded into what used to be the famed Alhambra Cinema in Jaffa to celebrate the occasion.
There were men wearing skullcaps and women wearing traditional Muslim head covering. There were Ethiopians with decorative tattoos on their foreheads, and whole families of Russian speakers. All of them wore little round stickers with the Scientology logo affixed to their clothing, identifying them and granting them entrance to the meticulously restored 1930s Art Deco building on Jerusalem Boulevard.
Two long blocks of Jaffa's busy main thoroughfare were closed off. Private security guards in black jeans and t-shirts kept order outside the building, and gold and silver confetti was blown into the crowds that gathered in the street. Colorful balloons were released into the air, endless welcome speeches were made, and later, mini-pitas were served along with lemonade up on the fourth floor.