Israeli Orthodox singer Yonatan Razel has backed out of a Yud-Tet Kislev event meant to commemorate the release of the first Chabad Rebbe, Shneur Zalman of Liady, from Tzarist prison – and, apparently, Rabbi Mordechai Elon's no-prison sweetheart sentence for sex abuse.
Above: Rabbi Mordechai Elon drunk and passed out at the grave of the late Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson in late January 2011
Convicted Non-Hasidic Sex Offender Rabbi Mordechai Elon To Hold Public Hasidic Holiday Commemoration, Sparking Controvery
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Israeli Orthodox singer Yonatan Razel has backed out of a Yud-Tet Kislev event meant to commemorate the release of the first Chabad Rebbe, Shneur Zalman of Liady, from Tzarist prison.
Shneur Zalman was imprisoned in 1798 for allegedly supporting Russia’s enemy, the Ottoman Empire, after being slandered to the government by a Jewish rabbinic opponent of the new hasidic movement. Shneur Zalman was the chief fundraiser for the nascent hasidic community in the Land of Israel, which was then under Ottoman rule, and his fundraising activities to support that community formed the basis for the slander against him.
Schneur Zalman was imprisoned for 53-days and faced what could have been a death penalty. He was released on Tuesday November 27, 1798 – which was the 19th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev. This year, the 19th of Kislev falls on Thursday, December 11.
The 19th of Kislev is also the date Rabbi Dov Ber ben Avraham of Mezeritch, better known as the Maggid of Mezritch, died in 1772. Dov Ber emerged as the leader of the hasidic movement close to a decade after the passing of the movement purported founder, Yisroel ben Eliezer, better known as the Ba’al Shem Tov (Besht). While some hasidim, especially the Chabad movement, describe the Maggid as the leader of the second generation of hasidim, he was in fact more accurately the leader of the third generation of hasidim, with several people, including the Besht’s daughter Eidel, assuming leadership before him.
Shneur Zalman was the youngest disciple of the Maggid.
Because the Shneur Zalman was freed on the yartzeit of the Maggid, the day became known as the “Rosh Hashana” of the hasidic movement and is celebrated to some extent by almost all hasidic groups.
It was at one of these celebrations singer Yonatan Razel was scheduled to perform at.
So why did Razel cancel?
Because the event turned out to be organized by the students of Zionist Orthodox Rabbi Mordechai Elon, a convicted molester, and Elon was the keynote speaker.
According a report in Ma’ariv, news of the event and Razel’s scheduled and heavily promoted appearance at it caused a major stir on Israeli social media, and that prompted Razel to cancel.
The event itself is promoted as being in honor of Yud-Tet Kislev, the “Rosh Hashana” of hasidim and “the release from prison of the Alter Rebbe of Chabad, the author of the Tanya,” even though it does not appear to be sponsored or endorsed by Chabad.
In a statement, Yonatan Razel’s management said that Razel’s "name is used without the Yonatan’s approval and Yonatan will not be part of this evening. It is not yet determined how this mistake was made."
The politically-connected and powerful Elon was convicted last year of indecent assault against a minor. He was later sentenced to six months community service and a 15-month suspended prison sentence, in part because a second victim dropped out of the case after being threatened by Elon’s supporters. Police and prosecutors did nothing of note to protect that victim or stop the threats anbd harassment.
Elon was also also mandated to pay $2,850 in compensation to his victim as part of the sentence. The low amount has much more to with the power of Elon's politically-connected family and how lightly the Israeli justice system takes sex abuse than how much psychological damage Elon did to his victim.
In February, Elon decided not to appeal the sentence.
Despite the conviction and a previous finding of guilt by the Takana Forum, a Zionist Orthodox and Modern Orthodox group which handles allegations of sexual and other abuse against rabbinic leaders, and a statement by a leading Zionist Orthodox rabbi that there were even more allegations of sexual abuse against Elon that were very credible and even more serious than what Takana found him guilty of, Elon was still honored by the Zionist Orthodox community. But those more serious allegations were not heard by Takana because Elon accepted the verdict against him and Takana’s sentence: that Elon stop teaching entirely and resign from the flagship Yeshivat Hakotel in Jerusalem’s Old City that he headed.
Elon resigned and moved away from Jerusalem. But within a few months, Elon was teaching publicly again in violation of his agreement with Takana. This led to renewed criminal complaints being filed against him, and his arrest, eventual prosecution and conviction.
During the criminal investigation against and prosecution of Elon, the most senior Zionist Orthodox rabbi in Israel, Israel Prize winner Chaim Druckman, had Elon teach a regular weekly class in Druckman’s state-funded Zionist Orthodox yeshiva. Druckman also verbally attacked victims and allegedly encouraged their harassment.
After Elon was convicted, Druckman – who has a history of protecting and enabling pedophiles – ridiculed the court’s verdict and refused to bar Elon from teaching. (And here.)
Before his trial, Elon traveled to New York to go to the grave of the late Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, to whom he allegedly attributes, at least in part, his no-prison sentence.