The new allegations against former National-Religious rabbinic superstar and convicted sex offender Rabbi Moti Elon have once again brought up the conversation regarding how sexual abuse in the community is handled.
But the revelations have led to new allegations and a new complainant against Elon.
Amitai Dan, 34, was a pupil in the prestigious Horev high school yeshiva in Jerusalem where Elon served as dean from 1987 to 2002, studying there for just one year in 2002 during grade 11.
Dan alleges that during a private meeting he had with Elon in the dean’s office to discuss personal issues, Elon touched him, stroked him, and embraced him in an inappropriately sexual manner and sought to touch his genitals, which Dan resisted.
He said that when Elon was touching him in this way he asked explicitly if such touching was permitted in Jewish law and that the rabbi told him it was.
Dan was shocked and traumatized by the incident. At first he had trouble even reconciling the fact that his yeshiva dean who he respected had acted in this way, and then tried to dismiss the incident altogether and push it out of his memory.
During the 16 years that passed, including the period of Elon’s trial and conviction for two counts of indecent assault by force against a minor, Dan says that he did not come forward with his complaints because it was hard to break the societal taboo of stating in public that he had been sexually molested and that the incident and other events in his life had presented him with challenges that he needed to overcome.
The latest allegations against Elon are that he sexually molested another young man after his 2013 conviction when he was trying to rehabilitate his public image and had begun teaching again and receiving people in private for consultation.
Dan says that this was the final straw for him as he saw those who had refused to condemn, censure and cast out Elon as having failed in their duty to protect the community.
One such figure was Rabbi Haim Druckman, perhaps the most senior and influential rabbinic figure in the National-Religious community, who publicly backed Elon after his conviction, telling the media that the judge had made a mistake in convicting the rabbi.
Druckman said that Elon should not be invalidated as a teacher and invited Elon to deliver lectures at his flagship yeshiva Ohr Etzion in Merkaz Shapira, close to Ashdod, where Druckman lives and serves as rabbi of the town.
The most recent complainant revealed audio and video footage of the assault to three rabbis, including Druckman, and the three instructed Elon to cease his public activities and seek professional help.
Druckman has yet to make any public comment on the affair or apologize for having publicly supported Elon after his conviction in 2013.
“There are rabbis who think they know everything, and rabbis who make mistakes,” Dan told The Jerusalem Post.
“But someone who doesn’t apologize even now? He has no more right [to be a rabbi]. He has acted against Jewish law because Jewish law says you cannot have sexual relations with another man.
“And Jewish law also says that saving a life comes above everything. If you’re a rabbi and say this didn’t happen? Resign! Stop teaching! You’re not fit for your students.”
Druckman refused a request for comment by the Post and is still yet to comment publicly in any form on his previous support for Elon.
Dan has now embarked on a concerted campaign against Elon, and says he will not rest until the rabbi is in prison and his ordination is revoked by the Chief Rabbinate.
THREE WEEKS ago he filed a formal complaint against the rabbi to the Jerusalem Police, and also had his attorney file a formal request with the Chief Rabbinate requesting that it defrock Elon.
In addition, he says he is going to sue the Horev Yeshiva, arguing that they have responsibility for what happened on their campus just like they would if he would have been physically injured there.
“Horev Yeshiva hasn’t said anything to the press until today. They haven’t apologized, they haven’t said anything. People need to know what may have happened to their children if they sent their children to Horev while Elon was teaching there,” he says. “Who are they to be silent?”
“Horev has not done any internal reckoning, so we can’t rely on these people. Do you want to send your children to some elite school where children have been sexually attacked?” he asks.
Yeshiva dean Rabbi Yitzhak Dor relayed through an official at Horev, “Things have changed at Horev. We have no connection to these events,” but he and the yeshiva refused to comment further.
Dor took up his position in 2002.
Dan says that the National-Religious sector needs to undergo a process of “societal reform,” where rabbis as public personas are not held in awe by the community.
“Why aren’t there any protests in the street? I want protests! Everyone needs to know and protest until this man is put in jail.
“We need to ignore rabbis. We need to return to Judaism and forget rabbis. Don’t build Judaism on rabbis. [The Talmudic dictum] ‘Make for yourself a rabbi’ should mean your friend is your rabbi, not someone who you think is a great rabbi,” he says.
“It’s fiction. National-religious people have made a lot rabbis for themselves who they think don’t sin, but this is a mistake. They are making gods out of these people. This is not acceptable.”
Attorney Asher Ohayon who represented Elon during his trial – although he is not currently retained by the rabbi – told the Post in response to Dan’s allegations that Elon has never committed a criminal act. Instead he claimed that the conviction in the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court was a mistake but that Elon did not appeal due to “family reasons.”
Ohayon said there should be “many question marks” about the lengthy delay in Dan’s complaint and said it was “very surprising” that he was coming forward now after so much time and publicity about Elon’s legal travails have passed.
The Chief Rabbinate said merely that a request by Dan that its disciplinary committee revoke Elon’s rabbinic ordination had been received and would be dealt with accordingly.
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