The telephone call came through to Lev L'Achim's anti-
missionary/anti-cult division in early June. The caller was
employed at a kosher food processing plant in the northern
Israeli town of Shlomi. His request could be summed up in one
According to the factory worker, the manager of the plant,
Chanon Zoglobek, was pressuring the workers to become
adherents of Scientology, a cult "religion" that has been
discredited in dozens of countries. The manager was also
trying to force the worker to join in the cult's activities.
Could Lev L'Achim help?
Moshe Shtigleitz, head of Lev L'Achim's anti-missionary/anti-
cult division, didn't waste any time. He confirmed the
caller's tale by speaking to four other factory workers.
Within weeks the Rabbinate, the Ministry of Labor and Social
Affairs, the Histadrut, and the secular media were all
involved, and they all shared the same belief. What was going
on at the factory, some of whose products have a Badatz
hechsher, was strictly treif -- in every sense
of the word.
FEARING FOR THEIR JOBS--AND THEIR SOULS
In the small town of Shlomi, a job at the Zoglobek food
processing plant, which produces kosher hot dogs, schnitzels
and the like under the brand name of Kol Tuv Teva, is
considered a good source of income.
Shoshana, one of the workers, wasn't at all unhappy when one
day management announced that employees would be expected to
start attending special seminars during work hours.
But after one of these seminars Shoshana began to worry --
and with good reason.
Scientology is a cult that ensnares unsuspecting people
through a kind of mind control that has been called
psychological terrorism. Although the cult promises that its
adherents will vastly improve their ability to enjoy life,
and improve their careers and personal relationships through
better communication, the truth is that the person is
brainwashed and loses the ability to think for himself. Once
members are under the cult's control, they are persuaded to
donate large sums of money to the organization, and/or billed
very large sums of money for the cult's courses and books.
Some of the cult's victims, who found themselves unable to
escape its greedy clutches, have ended their lives.
Scientology was founded in the United States during the
1950s, and in the decades that followed it quickly spread
throughout the western world. It reached Eretz Yisroel in the
1970s, and Chanon Zoglobek was one of the first attendees of
the cult's seminars.
But Zoglobek was not content to practice his new "religion"
in private. According to several people employed at his
Shlomi factory, Zoglobek forced his workers to attend
Scientology lectures. For those who dared to refuse, Zoglobek
had a simple solution: he fired them.
INVITATIONS AND INTIMIDATIONS
Yehoshua Ohrmland was employed at the Zoglobek factory for 11
years. He started out as a member of the security team, but
he worked his way up to manager of the department. Despite
the long hours he had to work at the factory, and the
additional hours he had to put in -- without pay -- at
Zoglobek's home on Shabbos and Yom Tov, Ohrmland didn't mind.
His dedication was rewarded in 1994 when his salary doubled
and he was given use of a company car.
But all that changed when Ohrmland decided that he had enough
of the Scientology meetings and lectures he was forced to
attend. Within one year of that fateful decision, he was
According to Ohrmland, a person's willingness to participate
in the cult lectures was the determining factor in
guaranteeing his employment at the factory.
It all began, he said, during the hiring process. Job
applicants were given a special test during their interviews
that revealed their emotional state. Zoglobek was looking for
people who were emotionally vulnerable and easy to
Then, the factory worker's first encounter with Scientology
would come during a private meeting in Zoglobek's office.
Next he would be required to take a "communications" course,
where he would sit for hours with a cult professional who
asked the worker a series of personal questions. A report was
written up about the worker and then passed on to
If the worker got a good evaluation from the Scientology
professional, the worker was moved up to the next level,
which involved having to attend lectures twice a week in the
factory's lecture hall. The next step was an invitation to
the boss' home, where the worker would attend even more
But if the worker was "uncooperative," a very different
"It happened more than once," said Ohrmland, "that workers
left Chanon's office in tears and quit their jobs because of
his brutal and aggressive treatment of them and others."
Zoglobek apparently used intimidation often to influence his
workers. According to Shoshana, who asked that her last name
not be used, he always tried to make the workers feel guilty
about their actions.
Zoglobek would also try to get his workers' spouses involved
with Scientology, and it was over this issue that Shoshana
had her run-in. Shoshana's husband was sick, and he was in no
shape to attend the lectures.
"When I protested about my husband participating in the
seminars," Shoshana said, "Zoglobek reacted angrily."
Shoshana also tried to convince her fellow workers that
Scientology was nonsense, which didn't help put her in her
boss' good graces. She, too, was eventually fired.
Neither Shoshana nor Ohrmland have been able to find new
jobs, and they are struggling to make ends meet. But
according to Lev L'Achim, help is on the way.
THROWING THE BOOK AT THE CULT
Under Israeli law it is absolutely forbidden to use the
workplace to attempt to change a person's religious beliefs.
And needless to say, halacha also forbids such practices.
Once Lev L'Achim had confirmed the first caller's story, its
anti-missionary/anti-cult division sprang into action. It
began by coming to the aid of the helpless employees. The
organization prepared and distributed materials to the
workers that explained the dangers of Scientology, and it
offered its services to those who had questions or wanted
Meanwhile, the secular Israeli newspaper Yediot Achronot
was tipped off about the story, and it ran a large
article that was highly sympathetic to the plight of the
workers in its June 8 edition. The story was then picked up
by several other Israeli newspapers.
The Histadrut, Israel's national labor union, was also
informed of the situation, as was the Ministry of Labor and
Social Affairs, which requested an immediate
Lev L'Achim then worked with the Badatz to draft a letter
stating the conditions that the owners of the factory would
have to meet to maintain the hechsher.
The letter began by demanding that Chanon Zoglobek have no
further contact with present and past employees, and that a
new manager be selected to run the factory -- someone who had
no connection with the Scientology activities held there.
Next, management had to announce to all employees that all
Scientology activities have been stopped and that promotions
and benefits will no longer be affected by attendance at such
An inquiry committee will also be established, with the
participation of the Rabbinate, to see what methods were used
to influence workers to join this or other cults. Management
must agree that workers will be guaranteed immunity if they
testify, and Chanon Zoglobek will be required to submit a
list of all present and past workers who participated in the
Another special committee will be formed, headed by
representatives from the factory workers' committee and the
Histadrut, to conduct an inquiry into the reasons for the
dismissal of workers during the past two years. If the
dismissals were due to the workers' refusal to participate in
seminars promoting Scientology or any other cult, management
will have to agree to reinstate the workers in their previous
Representatives from the Rabbinate and Lev L'Achim will be
allowed to continue their inquiries into the company's
activities to ensure that no further cult activities are
being conducted, and management must agree to abide by all
the conditions of this agreement for the next two years.
Once it does so, Lev L'Achim will notify the public and the
Israeli press, and the company will be allowed to keep its
A FAMILY BUSINESS
The Zoglobek food processing plant is a privately owned,
family business that earns $100 million a year. It was
founded in 1937 by Raymond Zoglobek and his wife, Yonah, who
were refugees from Nazi Germany. The first factory was
established in Nahariya, and later a newer factory was built
The ownership of the family business was evenly divided
between Chanon Zoglobek, his brother Amram, their brother-in-
law Reuven Maschit, and their sister Yael.
The other family members have been less than pleased by the
discovery of cult activities being held at their factory and
by the negative publicity that is threatening to jeopardize
the financial health of the business.
In effort to keep the business afloat, Chanon Zoglobek did
respond to the allegations by sending a letter to Rabbi
Yeshaya Mittler, Chief Rabbi of Nahariya, on June 15. He
said, "There were not, are not, and will not be Scientology
activities or those of any other cult [at the factory]."
He went on to insist that the lectures held at his factory
were designed to improve his workers' skills and had no
missionary content whatsoever. He also agreed to have a
mashgiach check the factory.
In an interview with Yated Ne'eman, Chanon Zoglobek
did admit that "personally Scientology helped me healthwise."
However, he insisted, "in the factory it did not exist." All
there was in the factory was a "seminar about communication
and nothing more. . . I state again that there was never any
Scientology activity in the factory."
However, the experts of Lev L'Achim said that these
statements confirm the suspicions. This is exactly the way
that Scientology operates. "They invite you for a harmless-
looking course in communication, and then they spin their
nets, and whoever finds himself entangled has a hard time
According to a company spokesman, Chanon Zoglobek has left
his position as manager of the Shlomi factory, and he and his
brother Amram are now pursuing business opportunities in the
field of electronic communications.
Lev L'Achim confirms that the company is beginning to comply
with the conditions that were outlined in the letter.
But even when all the conditions are met, it will still take
a long time for all the damage to be repaired.
"Many of the Zoglobek employees are traditional Jews," says
Lev L'Achim's Shtigleitz, "and what was going on at that
factory has shaken them to the very core."