ISRAEL
Beginning with the Balfour Declaration of November 2,
1917, there was a great influx of Jewish immigrants into Palestine,
and this migration was intensified with the establishment
of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948. Refugees from persecutions
and the aftermath of two world wars brought the rich folklore
of Europe into the new homeland. Stories of the Hasidim—the
miracle-working mystical rabbis and their
followers—existed side by side with legends of the Angel of
Death, or the golem created by Rabbi Loew of Prague. As in the
United States, mystical groups in Israel have kept alive the
study of Kabbalah. The 1990s showed a resurgence of the study
of Jewish mysticism, when celebrities such as Madonna and
Roseanne announced their studies publicly.
Beyond the legends of miracles and occult phenomena that
have a basically mystical purpose, speculation on the afterlife
is alien to the general trend of Judaism and there has been little
basis for studies of Spiritualism and psychical research. Since
the 1960s, however, there has been a growing interest in parapsychology
in Israel, given added topical interest by the furious
controversies over the phenomena of Uri Geller, who encountered
great opposition from scientists and psychologists who
were convinced that he was a fraud. More information on Uri
Geller’s current activity can be found at his website http
www.uri-geller.com.
Enlightened scientific interest in parapsychology in Israel
owes much to Professor H. S. Bergman, who was a great friend
of the famous psychic Eileen Garrett, founder of the Parapsychology
Foundation in the United States. With the cooperation
of Bergman, F. S. Rothschild, Heinz C. Berendt and others,
the Israel Parapsychology Society was formed. In 1965,
Garrett visited the group in Jerusalem for the opening of the
Parapsychology Foundation Library. Berendt published the
first Hebrew-language book on parapsychology, Parapsychology—The
World Beyond (Jerusalem, 1966).
In 1968 the Israel Society for Parapsychology was founded
in Tel Aviv under the chairmanship of Margot Klausner. The
society has organized lectures and courses on a wide range of
subjects, such as clairvoyance, telepathy, reincarnation, dowsing,
spiritual healing, meditation, and astrology. It also publishes
a journal, Mysterious Worlds, and maintains a library of
more than 1,200 volumes. The last known address of Israel
Parapsychology Society is co Mr. Gilad Livneh, 28 Hapalmach
St., 92542 Jerusalem, Israel.
In response to the explosion of interest of parapsychology
and in opposition of extreme religious activism, beginning with
the assassination of Israel’s Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin, the Israeli
Atheists Society was founded on November 7, 1996. This
organization views atheism as the only way for Israel to reach
humanistic civilization and to survive as a nation.
Sources
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York Paragon
House, 1991.
The Israeli Atheists Society Introduction. http
atheism.org.ilenglish.htm. June 20, 2000.