The truth behind Yad Lachim and The Israeli Center for Cult Victims

For several years now, various figures within the Haredi society have pointed out a clear connection between the ICVC and the radical organization Yad Lachim. In light of the investigative report published on this subject on Channel 2 (one of the major news channels in Israel), we found it appropriate to publish on this blog the findings of our private investigation. We found a direct connection between activists of the ICVC, its director, Rachel Lichtenstein, businessman Aaron Appelbaum, and Yad L’Achim.

Yad Lachim and Jack Teitel

Yad Lachim – Some major facts:

  • The Israeli Center for Cult Victims was founded in 2006 by Rami Feller, a fact that the Center has been concealing to this day.
  • During the first two years of its existence, the ICVC received more than 2 million NIS from Feller or from the “Ministry of Charity” (Feller was its sole donor) – an amount which makes more than 97% of the ICVC income.
  • The coordinator of the Center’s activities and later its CEO was Rachel Lichtenstein, who had previously worked for Yad La’Achim Warfare Department, alongside Binyamin Kluger, a Yad L’Achim activist who was mentioned earlier as a consultant to the Chinese government on the persecution of the Falun Gong movement. In 2010, an article was published on “Walla” website, referring to Yad L’Achim as an organization that supports terrorism.

The first director of the center, Ayelet Kedem, whose experience in the field is summed up in the most toxic article about a group called Silken Tiger, which operated in the early 2000s in Israel. In her letters to government officials, Kedem emphasizes that the center is a “secular body” and as such seeks to advise Knesset members and the government of Israel on how to deal with the phenomenon of cults in Israel.

After less than a year, Ayelet Kedem left the center for unclear reasons, and was replaced by Ms. Danit Keren, a student of Bar Ilan University and a former member of the Messianic Jewish movement.

In 2011, the Goel Ratzon affair exploded in the media and the ICVC won the spotlight. During the same period, Keren was frequently interviewed in the media with and made extreme statements about new religious movements, which ultimately led to libel lawsuits by the Central Committee for the acceptance of Rav Laitman (who forced the ICVC to publish an apology) and from another movement that, due to the secrecy of the compromise agreement, its name cannot be mentioned in this document.

However, the Goel Ratzon affair was a fly in the ointment: despite the great publicity about Goel Ratzon and his polygamous family, and despite religious and mystical references to Goel Ratzon himself, the similarity between this case and international movements such as Harrah Krishna and Scientology was mild. The activists of the ICVC (including Dr. Gabi Zohar, who was rejuvenated in the Israeli media following the Goel Ratzon affair, as well as Dr. David Green, interviewed by Ms. Keren on television) felt the need to emphasize, The other sects are just as bad, and they insisted on the existence of a brainwashing technique that is common to Gual Ratzon and new religious movements.

After a short time, Danit Keren has also left the ICVC, and Rachel Lichtenstein, who remained the coordinator of the activity, became CEO.

On March 2011, 7 Days (the supplement of Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper) exposed Rami Feller as the founder and main sponsor of the ICVC. One of the results of this exposure is that the funding on Rami Feller’s part has decreased significantly. It can be assumed that the ICVC, which found itself in financial difficulties, began to look for additional sources of funding, and finally initiated an appeal to the government.

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