Rabbi Haim Druckman.
(photo credit: WIKIPEDIA)
A major philanthropist who has contributed millions of dollars to Bnei Akiva and its various institutions has frozen donations to the organization, because of the expected participation of Rabbi Haim Druckman at the movement’s upcoming world conference, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Druckman, chairman of Bnei Akiva yeshivas and seminaries – and perhaps the most influential rabbi in the National-Religious sector – has been heavily criticized for having publicly backed Rabbi Moti Elon after he was convicted of sexual molestation in 2013, stating that the judge was wrong to convict him, and inviting Elon to lecture at his Ohr Etzion Yeshiva in Merkaz Shapira.
Druckman has faced further criticism in recent week for failing to apologize or express regret for that support, after evidence arose several weeks ago of new incidents of sexual abuse by Elon over the last 12 months.
The philanthropist, who wishes to remain anonymous at this time, stated in an email obtained by the Post that he was “dismayed” at Druckman’s refusal to publicly condemn Elon, saying that he was even more upset that Druckman would be a attending Bnei Akiva’s 14th World Conference next week.
On Thursday evening, Hadashot News quoted a letter sent recently by Druckman to a third party who had ostensibly written to him about their disappointment in his actions.
Hadashot quoted Druckman’s reply where he said: “I feel your true pain over my silence regarding the new information that emerged about Rabbi Mordechai Elon,” adding that he had also been pained by the criticism directed at himself.
He said, however, that “I thought that from the perspective of truth I needed to act and not necessarily speak.”
Druckman said that as soon as the information reached him, he together with other rabbis instructed Elon to stop delivering lessons, halt all public activities and to stop holding personal meetings with youths. He added that anyone who had been harmed by Elon could approach him for help.
In December, the Uvda investigative reporting program revealed that allegedly Elon had sexually molested a youth
in a private meeting with him. The youth had audio and video evidence which he presented to Druckman, and to rabbis Yaakov Ariel and Shmuel Eliyahu.
The three rabbis subsequently told Elon to cease all public activity, as Druckman related in his letter.
On Thursday, former Bnei Akiva chairman Daniel Goldman said he was boycotting the upcoming world conference because Druckman was also going to participate.
Goldman said he could not “in all conscience” attend “alongside Rav Druckman, until he is prepared to accept responsibility for his decisions with respect to Rav [Mordechai] Elon.”
Earlier this week, the Post reported on another alleged victim of Elon who said he was molested by the rabbi in 2002 when he was the dean of the prestigious Horev Yeshiva high school.
Rabbi Druckman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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