Prominent national-religious leader Rabbi Moti Elon, who was convicted in August
on two counts of indecent assault by force against a minor, will not serve time
in prison, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled on Wednesday.
the state attorney had requested Elon be sentenced to between eight and 18
months in prison, he was given a six month commuted sentence to be served in
community service. He also was given three years probation and ordered to pay
the complainant NIS 10,000.
The sentencing documents included a summary
of an evaluation as to the possible danger the rabbi posed to society,
concluding that he was a low to medium risk but that community service was a
The document also noted that Elon had established
a security framework for himself by only receiving people in the living room of
his home and has greatly reduced his former custom of hugging people who turn to
him for advice.
The opinion of the evaluator was further explained in the
document saying that “the concrete steps which the convicted has undertaken, as
well as the legal process, is a positive supervisory factor.”
evaluator noted however that it was impossible to know how long such measures
would remain in place after the criminal process was concluded and the issue had
left the public eye.
Character witnesses for Elon were brought to
buttress his defense’s request for community service, including that of Rabbi
Yitzhak David Grossman, the renowned and respected founder of the Migdal Or
social guidance and educational network who lives in the town of Migdal where
Elon also resides. Grossman noted the help Elon had provided him in his
assistance with Grossman’s educational and social work and
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky also gave favorable
testimony about Elon and his work with families bereaved by terrorist
Speaking outside the courtroom, Elon said once again that his
conviction was “fundamentally mistaken and a false libel,” and that the entire
process was “dismal.”
He also called for “everyone” to examine how such
processes were conducted.
“What are the influences, how are things
influenced, how do things work, these things will be come clear in the way that
they do,” he commented obliquely.
As to the sentence itself, Elon said
that he “happily” accepted the punishment of community service.
been involved in community service for 40 years and I’m happy to continue such
service until the age of 120. If this is in a formal manner for the state then
for sure it’s good,” he said.
He added that he would act in accordance with Da’at Torah, a concept meaning
that one asks a rabbi before making major decisions, in reference to any
possible appeal against the conviction and sentence.
“As for myself, I’m
good, really, my family is good, thank God, we are all good. I thank God truly
and with happiness... I think good and I know things will be
Elon’s lawyer, Asher Ohayoun, said after the hearing that the
sentence was “measured” and one which they had expected.
He added however
that Elon and the defense team was still extremely disappointed with the
Ohayoun said that the conviction should be reviewed
judicially as it was “fundamentally flawed,” saying that there were many errors
in the ruling but noted that the court had only allowed partial details of the
case to be published due to its sensitivity as it pertains to sexual
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Ohayoun said it was his
legal opinion that an appeal was justified and that it would be “worthwhile”
He noted however that Elon would turn to rabbis he himself
consults with before making a decision to appeal or not.
sentencing, Sagi Ofir of the Jerusalem State Attorney’s Office said that he
hoped the sentence will serve to deter future sex crimes.
He did not say
if the state intends to appeal the sentence but explicitly did not rule it out
in a radio interview later in the day.
MK Aliza Lavie criticized the
sentence saying that it was too light and was not sufficient to deal with the
difficulties experienced within the national religious community in dealing with
“This is a sad day for Religious Zionism, but also an
important day that represents a significant milestone,” said Lavie. “It must be
remembered that the incident [relating to] Rabbi Elon although it has aroused
broad public interest, is just one among many such incidents that have been
referred to the Takana Forum since it was established,” she continued in
reference to the internal body within the national religious community that
first brought the issue to light.
“If a few years ago the prevailing
assumption in the national religious community was ‘with us this doesn’t
happen,’ today it is clear that the phenomenon of sexual harassment exists in
the religious community as it does in any other sector and that it can happen to
Meretz chairwoman Zahava Gal-On said that the court had been
“merciful to the cruel,” with the sentence of community service.
punishment does not in anyway fit the severity of the crime, and does not convey
an appropriate message to warn against sexual abuse of minors,” she
Gal-On called on the state attorney’s office to appeal the
sentence “as long as he is not behind bars.”
According to the conviction
in August, during a private meeting in 2005 with a 17-year-old boy, known as
“Alef,” Elon stroked his face and different parts of his body on top of his
clothes; sat the boy on his lap; and kissed him on the face for a prolonged
In a separate incident, Elon met Alef in Hakotel Yeshiva where
the rabbi served as yeshiva dean. He took him to his office, closed the door and
sat down next to the youth on a couch. He then brought Alef towards him, sat him
on his knees and, while clothed, rubbed his genitals against Alef’s body while
both were fully dressed.
Charges regarding a second complainant were
dropped in February when the victim refused to testify in court.
vigorously denied the allegations and his supporters have argued that he was
accustomed to giving warm hugs to many of his students.
They claim that
the incidents for which he was convicted were misinterpreted. Supporters also
claimed that he was the victim of a conspiracy to besmirch his name by opponents
of the rabbi.
Elon had been one of the predominant figures in the
national religious world before allegations of misconduct arose and was dean of
the renowned Hakotel Yeshiva.
His Torah lessons were broadcast on
national radio, he had a television slot and enjoyed a large and devoted public