On August 21, national and city dignitaries as well as religious leaders joined Scientologists from Israel and 27 nations to celebrate the opening of the new Center of Scientology in Tel Aviv. The Center is the first Ideal Scientology Organization (Ideal Org) in the Middle East and designed to both serve the growing membership and provide Scientology-sponsored humanitarian programs throughout the region.
Located on Jerusalem Boulevard in Tel Aviv’s ancient port city of Jaffa, the Center’s new home is the historic Alhambra Theater. Originally constructed in 1937, the landmark is remembered by generations as the premier venue for the greatest names in Arab and Israeli music and theater. In the 1980s, the building was converted into a commercial center and by the first decade of the 21st century, its glory had faded.
The Center of Scientology acquired the Alhambra and meticulously restored the landmark, to both preserve a site of cultural significance for Israel and provide a center for the entire community. In addition to presenting all Scientology services, it serves as a meeting place for members of all faiths to unite on humanitarian initiatives. To that end, the famed Alhambra auditorium once again stands as a centerpiece for this city.
The watershed grand opening was distinguished by the presence of Mr. David Miscavige, Chairman of the Board Religious Technology Center and ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion, who personally dedicated the new Center. Addressing the Scientologists in attendance, Mr. Miscavige said: “This center is a gift from the International Association of Scientologists to Israel. As such, it represents our recognition that all religions hold central truths in common and thus may work together to achieve the common dream of universal brotherhood. So from this day hence, it becomes your mission and destiny to extend our help across this legendary land. Let it be done in the spirit of Scientology so that your help is freely given, because it is all about freedom. And let it be done with supreme dedication, because only in that way we will realize the Aims of Scientology and thus a world without insanity, without criminality, without war—a world where the able can prosper, where honest beings have rights and all are free to rise to greater heights.”
Welcoming Scientologists to their new home were civic and religious leaders from across Tel Aviv-Jaffa, including Tel Aviv City Council Member Meital Lehavi; Office of the Prime Minister Director for the Bedouin Sector Mohammad Kaabia; Office of The Prime Minister Senior Coordinator on the Status of Minority Women Rania Pharyra; Biblical scholar and author Dr. Rimon Kasher; Jaffa Arab Christian Community Chairman Peter Habash; and historical preservation architect Eyal Ziv.
In her salutatory address, Tel Aviv City Council Member Meital Lehavi welcomed the Scientology Center to Jaffa: “The story of this house of yours suits the story of Jaffa. It is a house for everyone, accepting everyone. And it is my great hope this house connects, integrates, welcomes and advances the hopes that exist in Jaffa. I am confident that by sitting together, thinking together and working together we keep Jaffa the home for everyone. Your new Center will have an important part in leading the way.”
Office of the Prime Minister Director for the Bedouin Sector Mohammad Kaabia spoke of Scientology’s many humanitarian programs: “When it comes to all we strive for—for freedom, to be included and embraced by one’s fellow man—there is no group that better bears these marks than Scientology. You teach man his rights, you prevent drugs in schools, you take care to build up the individual and you inspire kindness toward one another. I believe we must introduce these programs into all Arab and Bedouin sectors across Israel.”
Rania Pharyra, Senior Coordinator on the Status of Minority Women, Office of The Prime Minister, spoke of the need for the Center’s outreach with The Way to Happiness, a non-religious guide to living: “The Way to Happiness is a new way to understand the purpose of humanity—my purpose, your purpose. We have this tool to spread to the minds and hearts of people not politics, but something that touches the heart of children, youth, adults, all genders, all religions, all races. We can defeat racism, hatred and fear. We can bring a change. We will build the bridge to our greatest dreams.”
Biblical scholar and author Dr. Rimon Kasher spoke of the Center’s vital importance to the region: “I believe Scientology is the only religion that can create a connection or even affinity between the different faiths and the only one that can relieve the tension between religions. It is my hope that with your Ideal Org, you will accomplish your aims. In so doing you will mark a turning point for not just the entire Israeli society, but for all of the Middle East.”
Peter Habash, chairman of the Arab Christian Community of Jaffa, welcomed the volunteer work of the Center: “You have built this amazing Scientology Center to help the Arab Community and all communities of Jaffa. And we believe your Center serves the same goals as we do. When I see your active volunteers, youth and adults, their work makes me feel that you can make a difference here. I see that you are a part of us and a part of Jaffa.”
Historic preservation architect for Jaffa, Eyal Ziv, who directed the restoration of the Alhambra Theater, proclaimed: “Your respect and care for this building is astounding. You created a perfect example of preserving the past for all of Tel Aviv-Jaffa. And so I want to thank you and all associated with the Center of Scientology for bringing new life to this Jaffa jewel.”
The 60,000-square-foot Center of Scientology Tel Aviv is open to all wishing an introduction to Dianetics and Scientology. Visitors are invited to take a self-guided tour of the expansive Public Information Center, presenting informational and documentary films on the beliefs and practices of Dianetics and Scientology, as well as the life and legacy of Founder L. Ron Hubbard. The Information Center also provides an overview of the many Scientology-sponsored humanitarian programs, including a worldwide human rights initiative; an equally far-ranging drug education, prevention and rehabilitation program; a global network of literacy and learning centers; and the Scientology Volunteer Minister program now comprising the world’s largest independent relief force. In full, the Center’s multimedia displays present more than 500 films, available at the touch of a button. The Center is open morning to night and visitors are welcome to return as often as they wish.
In addition to services conducted in the restored Alhambra auditorium, the new Center of Scientology further includes seminar rooms and classrooms for study, along with dozens of rooms for Scientology auditing (spiritual counseling).
To commemorate the Alhambra’s rich heritage, the second floor mezzanine houses a permanent exhibition open to the public, so the building’s history may be treasured for generations to come.
Among the many distinctive features magnificently restored throughout the landmark are the mezzanine’s glass-faced clock overlooking Jerusalem Boulevard and the Auditorium’s intricately molded oval ceiling. The International Style and Art Deco façade has also been returned to its original splendor, from the color block windows and ornamental grilles to the prominent “Alhambra” sign that graces the iconic tower.
The Center further includes a rooftop terrace and café. Framed by an oval colonnade, it provides expansive views of the historic hub of Jaffa.
The opening of the Center of Scientology Tel Aviv follows a series of new Scientology Ideal Organizations opened so far in 2012, including Los Gatos, California on July 28; Buffalo, New York, on June 30; Phoenix, Arizona, on June 23; Denver, Colorado, on June 16; Stevens Creek of San Jose, California, on June 9; and Orange County, California, on June 2. Further opened this year are Greater Cincinnati, Ohio, on February 25; Sacramento, California, on January 28; and Hamburg, Germany, on January 21.
Ideal Orgs reflect the fulfillment of Founder L. Ron Hubbard’s vision for the religion. They not only provide the ideal facilities to service Scientologists on their ascent to greater states of spiritual awareness and freedom, they are also designed to serve as a home for the entire community and a meeting ground of cooperative effort to uplift citizens of all denominations.
Other new Ideal Orgs opened in recent years include London, Moscow, Brussels, Berlin, Madrid and Rome in Europe; Melbourne, Australia; Johannesburg, South Africa; New York, New York; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles, Inglewood, Pasadena and San Francisco, California; Tampa, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; Seattle, Washington; Dallas, Texas; Quebec City, Canada; and Mexico City, Mexico.
Five more Ideal Orgs are further scheduled to open in 2012.
For a complete list of new Ideal Orgs of Scientology, visit Scientology.org.
The Scientology religion was founded by author and philosopher L. Ron Hubbard. The first Scientology organization was formed in the United States in 1952 and the religion has expanded to more than 10,000 Organizations, Missions and affiliated groups, with millions of members in 167 countries.