By Raphael Aron
I am presenting this document as a professional report on the US-based organization Call of the Shofar.
I am writing this report in my capacity as Director of Cult Consulting Australia situated in Melbourne, Australia. Cult Consulting Australia offers assistance to families who have been affected by cults and missionary groups. The organization also conducts research into issues of thought reform and mind control and acts as an advisor to government authorities and the media.
I am the author of “Cults: Too Good to Be True” (Harper Collins, 1999) and “Cults, Terror and Mind Control (Bayside Publishing 2009.) I am also the author of “Spirituality and Intimacy” (Devora Publications, October 2008,) “Believe – From Addiction to Redemption” (Fontaine Press, February 2009) and “Diaries of Addiction (American Publishing company 2010).
Since 1975, I have worked intensely with over 500 families whose lives have been impacted by the involvement of a loved one in what is commonly referred to as the ‘cult phenomena’.
I have lectured extensively on the issue of mind control and thought reform in Australia, the United States, Canada, Israel and China.
I have assisted clients and provided expert evidence to the court and correctional system (the Magistrates and County Courts, The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, the Crimes Compensation Tribunal, the Department of Human Services and The Department of Community Services) in relation to criminal and family matters primarily in Australia but also overseas.
The expert evidence has been provided to assist the courts determine whether a particular organization or establishment is involved in practices of mind control or thought reform.
I have provided expert testimony to the Australian government in relation to the activities of suspect organizations and am the first point of contact for most media outlets in Australia. Details regarding these initiatives appear on Cult Consulting Australia’s website.
This report has been prepared with the understanding that I am qualified and experienced to be able to respond to the issues listed in the Terms of Reference included in this document. The information on this report is based has been sourced from a range of communications. They include:
* Letters from observant women whose husbands have participated in Call of the Shofar weekend retreats and are concerned about the effect of these programs on issues such as standards of Torah observance and Sholom Bayis.
* Letters from Rabbonim and other community leaders concerned about the participation of their staff in Call of the Shofar.
* The responses of educators and Mashpi’im (spiritual mentors) at Oholei Torah whom I addressed at meetings in Crown Height in December 2013.
* Over one hundred emails from people who had participated in Call of the Shofar weekends; some emails expressed concern while others spoke of the benefits of the program.
* Emails from Call of Shofar staff members who were seeking clarification of a range of issues in relation to Call of the Shofar and their roles in the organization.
* Personal interaction with participants of Call of the Shofar and their families regarding their views and any concerns.
+ Call of the Shofar Professional Report – March 2014.