The activity of New Religious and spiritual Movements (NRMs) in Israel, groups often referred to as "cults", has given rise to a considerable amount of public debate throughout the years, involving journalists, clergy, public figures, members of the movements themselves and their families, as well as various state institutions. The public discourse regarding NRMs has often been based on partial or misguided information, and fueled by prejudice, unfounded theories or rumors.
NRMs are salient and influential phenomena, on both the public level and within the private lives of many. We therefore felt a pressing need to found an objective and reliable information center on NRMs, obligated to standard methods of scientific research in collecting and presenting data. The data, made available to the public in form of research papers, is intended to assist scholars and various government agencies (e.g., welfare, education, law enforcement), as well as individuals who are considering joining a new religious movement, those who are already members and their families or acquaintances.
The Israeli NRM Information center ("Meida", in Hebrew) has been operating since 2014 under the auspices of the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, holding academic events and conventions and employing qualified researchers who collect information and create informative research papers. The center has good working relations with leading international scholars of NRMs and enjoys their cooperation in collecting information regarding different groups.
The Center is led by three researchers: Prof. Boaz Huss from Ben-Gurion University, Dr. Rachel Werczberger from Holon Institute of Technology, and Dr. Adam Klin-Oron from the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. The Center's advisory council includes some of the most prominent researches of religion and spirituality in Israel, including Prof. Nurit Zaidman from Ben-Gurion University, Dr. Tomer Persico from Tel-Aviv University, and Dr. Marianna Ruah-Midbar from the Zefat Academic College.
As the Center will serve, at least initially, mostly Israeli audiences and communities, the website is currently available in Hebrew only.
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