In the wake of a series of recent cases of rabbinic sex abuse, most prominently the case of leading Zionist Orthodox Rabbi Ezra Sheinberg, who headed a yeshiva and several other institutions in Sefat, Zionist Orthodox rabbis are holding a one-day conference today in Jerusalem on rabbinic sex abuse, how to recognize it, and how to combat it.
Above: Rabbi Ezra Sheinberg
Israeli Orthodox Rabbis Hold Conference On Rabbinic Sex Abuse
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
In the wake of a series of recent cases of rabbinic sex abuse, most prominently the case of leading Zionist Orthodox Rabbi Ezra Sheinberg, who headed a yeshiva and several other institutions in Sefat, Zionist Orthodox rabbis are holding a one-day conference today in Jerusalem on rabbinic sex abuse, how to recognize it, and how to combat it, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Both of Israel’s haredi chief rabbis, David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef, are slated to attend as are prominent Zionist Orthodox rabbis, including Chief Rabbi of Sefat Shmuel Eliyahu, who also heads the Efrat organization; director of ACR Rabbi Amichai Eliyahu; and Rabbi Menachem Borshtein, director of the PUAH fertility institute.
(The Post's report is not clear about this, but it appears the Modern Orthodox Takana Forum, which was established about a decade ago to deal with allegations of rabbinic misconduct, has not been included. Takana's work, though flawed, resulted in part in exposing Rabbi Motti Elon, a top Zionist Orthodox rabbi. Elon was allegedly sexually abusing multiple yeshiva students but was only convicted on one count of abuse at trial after a second victim withdrew from the case after intense harassment and threats from Elon's supporters. Takana has been involved in other similar cases, as well, and has at times been opposed by Shmuel Eliyahu, who himself has been known to harass abuse victims while protecting the alleged rabbinic perpetrator who is his friend. Although this is public knowledge and has been reported in the Israeli media in the past, the Post mentions none of it now. Sheinberg was seen by some as Eliyahu's competition, although Eliyahu claims he and Sheinberg were friends until the sex abuse scandal happened.)
Sheinberg, who billed himself as a kabbalist, was indicted in July on multiple charges including rape, sodomy and indecent assault and has at least 12 known victims, all young women who came to him for marriage counseling and/or spiritual advice.
In his sessions with the women, many of whom were having trouble conceiving children, Sheinberg would allegedly groom and then sexually abuse the women during what he called said “relaxation” therapy sessions. Sheinberg would first gain a woman’s trust. Then he would have her undress, but wouldn’t molest her or rape her. In subsequent therapy sessions Sheinberg would gradually begin sexually abusing the woman and would increase the severity of the abuse over time until it culminated in rape.
About 200 Orthodox rabbis are expected at the conference.
Police officers, child psychologists, and educational experts will present information to the rabbis and many organizations from the both the Zionist Orthodox and haredi communities are also participating.
“After the scandal involving of ‘the rabbi of the North [i.e., Sheinberg]’ we have decided to raise this issue with the chief rabbis and organizations in the Zionist Orthodox community due to the understanding that the rabbis are the most senior authorities and guides in these communities,” Shmuel Eliyahu told the Post. “We need to create tools for dealing with similar cases and to build a mechanism for working with the legal authorities on issues of such sensitivity for families and the Zionist Orthodox community.”