Mordechai Elon

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Mordechai Elon

Mordechai (Moti) Elon (Hebrew: מרדכי (מוטי) אֵלון‎; born 9 December 1959, Jerusalem, Israel) is a Zionist Israeli rabbi. He has headed several Jewish religious and social organizations and institutions including as Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat HaKotel in the Old City of Jerusalem from 2002 to 2006, and has hosted television and radio shows.

In 2010 he was investigated for sexual misconduct,[1] in response to revelations by Takana, a religious forum dealing with allegations of sexual harassment in the religious Zionist community. On 7 August 2013 the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court convicted him on two counts of forcible sexual assault against a male minor.[2] Elon who is an outspoken opponent of homosexuality,[3] has denied the charges.

Life and career[edit]

Elon was born in Jerusalem one of five children of former Israel Supreme Court Justice Menachem Elon and his wife Ruth née Buchsbaum. He received his high-school education at Yeshivat Yerushalayim Latzeirim. After graduating he went on to learn further religious studies at the Hesder Yeshiva Yeshivat Or Etzion and at the Hesder Yeshiva of Kiryat Shmona.[citation needed] In his twenties he began teaching religious studies at the Horev Yeshiva High-School in Jerusalem and became its Rosh Yeshiva in 1987. He left Horev Yeshiva High-School in 2002 to become the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat HaKotel in the Old City of Jerusalem, a post he left in 2006.[4]

Elon had a regular weekly lecture on the Torah portion at the Yeshurun synagogue in Jerusalem. Hundreds of people came to hear him and the lectures were aired on a public Israeli radio station. He also hosted a weekly television show on which he spoke about the week's Torah portion,[5] and headed a bible group held at the residence of the President of Israel.[6]

Elon established and headed a Jewish social and religious organization called "Mibereshit".[7] The organization works with the Israeli education ministry and Israeli schools in order to bring Jewish children and teens to feel closer to their Jewish roots and to the land of Israel.[8]

Family[edit]

Elon is married and has eleven children.[9] After resigning from Yeshivat HaKotel he went to live in Migdal in northern Israel. He is the brother of former Moledet Knesset Member and Minister of Tourism Benny Elon, Be'er Sheva District Court Judge Josef Elon, and writer and bible scholar Ari Elon.[10]

Sexual misconduct[edit]

In February 2010 Takana, a rabbinical forum set up to prevent sexual abuse in the national religious community, issued a statement claiming that it had received complaints against Elon dealing with allegations of "a long-term relationship that was clearly of a sexual nature" since shortly after its founding in 2003. During investigation, "the committee lost faith in statements by the rabbi, who concealed his acts during deliberation on the first complaint," according to the statement. A year later, Takana received "another complaint more severe than the first", which allegedly took place a year earlier and were concealed by Elon in his talks with the forum. Coming to the conclusion that it was no longer fitting for him to work as a religious teacher or counselor, they asked him to leave his post as head of Yeshivat Hakotel and cancel a number of public appearances and community roles. Takana claims that at the time Elon agreed to their demands. He left his position at Yeshivat Hakotel and moved to Migdal in northern Israel, but did not fulfill the obligations he agreed to, in particular the requirement to stay away from intimate, personal and private meetings with people seeking his advice or religious counsel, according to Takana, which decided to go public with the allegations because they "had become increasingly concerned that [they] had no other way to protect the public from the possibility of more harm". Elon denied the allegations in public.[11]

In August 2010, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein instructed the police to conduct a criminal investigation of alleged sexual offenses committed against two minors.[1] The police found sufficient evidence to submit the case to the Jerusalem District Prosecutor's office.[12] In January 2011, the Jerusalem District Prosecution recommended to Weinstein that Elon be indicted and in February 2011, it summoned Elon to a pre-indictment hearing.[13] In November 2011 he was indicted.[14] In January 2012, according to Ynetnews, Elon asserted in his response to the courts that he often hugged or kissed students as a display of camaraderie, something common in certain segments of Israeli society. He said that in one instance, he attempted to console the accuser, who, at the time, had a parent die in a car crash and that the action could have been misinterpreted and blown out of proportion. Elon refused to enter a plea bargain and maintained his innocence.[15]

In February 2013, the Jerusalem Magistrates Court dropped one of the charges following the refusal of a witness to testify.[4] On 7 August 2013 Elon was convicted of sexually assaulting a male minor.[16] The sentencing was scheduled for October 2013.[17] An outspoken opponent of homosexuality, he denies the charges,[3] and was expected to appeal the verdict.[17]

In December 2013, Elon was given a 15-month suspended prison term, sentenced to six months of community service, and ordered to pay his victim 10,000 NIS ($2,850) in compensation.[18] In February 2014, he decided not to appeal his guilty verdict.[19]

Writings[edit]

  • Tekhelet Mordechai Sichot on the Weekly Torah Portion, Sifriyat Bet-El Publishing Ltd.
  • The Tekhelet Mordekhai Haggadah, Sifriyat Bet-El Publishing Ltd., June 2007

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Tomer Zarchin (4 August 2010). "Police launch criminal probe into rabbi suspected of molesting boys". Haaretz. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  2. ^ Nir Hasson (7 August 2013). "Religious Zionist leader Rabbi Moti Elon convicted of sexually assaulting minors". Haaretz. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  3. ^ a b J.J. Goldberg (19 February 2010). "Rabbinic Abuse Claims: In Israel, the Fallout Continues". The Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved 8 August 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Asher Zeiger; Aaron Kalman (27 February 2013). "Witness refuses to testify against popular rabbi". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  5. ^ Israel Democracy Institute web site[dead link]
  6. ^ Horev Yeshiva High-School website[dead link]
  7. ^ Mibereshit website][dead link]
  8. ^ Or Kashti; Yael Gaaton (11 March 2011). אינדוקטרינציה דתית במקום מסע ישראלי [Religious indoctrination rather than an Israeli campaign]. Haaretz (in Hebrew). Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  9. ^ משה רונן, "שושלת אלון", Yedioth Achronoth, 23 February 2010
  10. ^ Yair Ettinger; Chaim Levinson (16 February 2010). "Top Zionist rabbi slams 'blood libel' accusing him of sex crimes". Haaretz. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  11. ^ Yair Ettinger (18 February 2010). "Rabbi Elon accused of 'long-term' sexual relationship with student". Haaretz. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  12. ^ Ben Hartman (8 August 2010). "Evidence supports Elon abuse case". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  13. ^ Ofra Edelman (10 February 2011). "Rabbi Moti Elon to be indicted for sexual offenses". Haaretz. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  14. ^ Tomer Zarchin; Oz Rosenberg (2 November 2011). "Prominent Zionist rabbi indicted on two counts of sexual assault of minors". Haaretz. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  15. ^ Aviad Glickman (22 January 2012). "Rabbi Elon: If I hugged teens, it wasn't for sexual gratification". Ynetnews. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  16. ^ Aviel Magnezi (7 August 2013). "Rabbi Moti Elon found guilty of indecent acts". Ynetnews. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  17. ^ a b Gil Ronen (7 August 2013). "Rabbi Moti Elon Guilty of Indecent Act". Arutz 7. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  18. ^ Spencer Ho (18 December 2013). "Noted rabbi gets community service for molesting minor". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  19. ^ Aviel Magnezi (2 February 2014). "Rabbi Elon will not appeal sex offense conviction". Ynetnews. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 

External links[edit]