Mordechai Elon

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Mordechai Elon

Mordechai (Moti) Elon (Hebrew: מרדכי (מוטי) אֵלון; born 9 December 1959) is an Israeli Religious Zionist rabbi. He has headed several Orthodox Jewish social organizations and institutions, most notably as Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat HaKotel in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem from 2002 to 2006. He has also hosted television and radio shows.

In 2010, Elon, an outspoken public opponent of homosexuality,[1] was investigated for sexual misconduct[2] as a result of revelations made by Takana, a religious forum dealing with allegations of sexual harassment in the Religious Zionist community. On 7 August 2013, he was convicted by the Jerusalem Magistrates Court on two counts of forcible sexual assault against a male minor.[3] In addition, in December 2018 additional accusations of sexual misconduct on the part of Elon came to light.[4]

Life and career[edit]

Elon was born in Jerusalem, Israel, to Menachem Elon, a former Israel Supreme Court Justice, and Ruth, née Buchsbaum, one of five children. He received his high-school education at Yeshivat Yerushalayim LeTzeirim, and his higher education at the Hesder Yeshivas Or Etzion and 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 in 2002 to become the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat HaKotel in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, a post he left in 2006.[5] After leaving, many of his students would continue to travel to visit him in Migdal, northern Israel.

Elon gave a 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 the same topic,[6] and led a bible group at the residence of the President of Israel.[7]

Elon established and headed a Jewish socio-religious organization called "MiBereshit".[8] The organization works with the Israeli Ministry of Education and Israeli schools in order to bring Jewish children and teens closer to their roots, and to the Land of Israel.[9]

Family[edit]

Elon is married, and has eleven children.[10] After resigning from Yeshivat HaKotel, he went to live in Migdal, 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.[11]

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 was 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 although at the time Elon agreed to their demands, namely leaving his position at Yeshivat Hakotel and moving to Migdal in northern Israel, he did not fulfill completely the obligations he agreed to, specifically the requirement to stay away from intimate, personal, and private meetings with people seeking his advice or religious counsel.[citation needed]

Takana had decided to go public with these allegations because they "had become increasingly concerned that [they] had no other way to protect the public from the possibility of more harm". Elon, however, publicly denied the allegations.[12] In the aftermath, an associate of Elon reportedly threatened Takana forum member and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion, Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, telling him that "he would hurt me in any way he could."[13]

In August 2010, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein instructed the police to conduct a criminal investigation of alleged sexual offenses committed against two minors.[2] In January 2012, 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 accident, and that the action had been misinterpreted and blown out of proportion. Elon refused to enter into a plea bargain, and maintained his innocence.[14]

In February 2013, the Jerusalem Magistrates Court dropped one of the charges following the refusal of a witness to testify.[5] On 7 August 2013, Elon was convicted of sexually assaulting a male minor.[15][16] 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.[17] In February 2014, he decided not to appeal his guilty verdict.[18]

In December 2018, it was reported that the Takana forum had received new complaints against Rabbi Elon about sexually inappropriate behaviour. A young man had turned to Elon for counsel, but their meetings had turned sexual in nature. The young man recorded some of their meetings and decided against filing a police complaint, instead taking the evidence to Takana. The Rabbis of Takana confronted Elon, who admitted to his actions, and agreed to stop all public activity to seek treatment[19][20].

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. ^ J.J. Goldberg (19 February 2010). "Rabbinic Abuse Claims: In Israel, the Fallout Continues". The Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  2. ^ a b Tomer Zarchin (4 August 2010). "Police launch criminal probe into rabbi suspected of molesting boys". Haaretz. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  3. ^ Nir Hasson (7 August 2013). "Religious Zionist leader Rabbi Moti Elon convicted of sexually assaulting minors". Haaretz. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  4. ^ "גם תלמידי הרב מוטי אלון הבינו: "כנראה הפעם אין מנוס מלהאמין"". וואלה! חדשות (in Hebrew). 6 December 2018. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  5. ^ a b Asher Zeiger; Aaron Kalman (27 February 2013). "Witness refuses to testify against popular rabbi". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  6. ^ Israel Democracy Institute web site Archived 8 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Horev Yeshiva High-School website Archived 21 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Mibereshit website Archived 27 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ משה רונן, "שושלת אלון", Yedioth Achronoth, 23 February 2010
  11. ^ Yair Ettinger; Chaim Levinson (16 February 2010). "Top Zionist rabbi slams 'blood libel' accusing him of sex crimes". Haaretz. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  12. ^ Yair Ettinger (18 February 2010). "Rabbi Elon accused of 'long-term' sexual relationship with student". Haaretz. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  13. ^ Nahshoni, Kobi (10 February 2010). "Takana forum member says got death threat". ynetnews. Retrieved 3 December 2017.
  14. ^ Aviad Glickman (22 January 2012). "Rabbi Elon: If I hugged teens, it wasn't for sexual gratification". Ynetnews. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  15. ^ Aviel Magnezi (7 August 2013). "Rabbi Moti Elon found guilty of indecent acts". Ynetnews. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  16. ^ Gil Ronen (7 August 2013). "Rabbi Moti Elon Guilty of Indecent Act". Arutz 7. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  17. ^ Spencer Ho (18 December 2013). "Noted rabbi gets community service for molesting minor". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  18. ^ Aviel Magnezi (2 February 2014). "Rabbi Elon will not appeal sex offense conviction". Ynetnews. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  19. ^ "Rabbi Convicted of Sex Crimes Said to Confess to New Misconduct". The Times of Israel. 4 December 2018. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  20. ^ Ilana Dayan (4 December 2018). ""עובדה" חושפת: תלונה חדשה בפורום "תקנה" נגד הרב מוטי אלון". Mako/Channel 12. Retrieved 17 December 2018.

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