Major foundation defunds Druckman program over sexual abuse scandal

Freidberg Foundation is second major donor to halt funds to Rabbi Druckman’s institutions because of his stance over sex offender Elon

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January 15, 2019 20:18
2 minute read.
Rabbi Haim Druckman

Rabbi Haim Druckman 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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The Freidberg Family Foundation, known in Israel as Yedidut Toronto, a major philanthropic organization that donates to many Israeli institutions, has frozen funding for the Ami conversion programs headed by Rabbi Haim Druckman, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The foundation has adopted its position due to Druckman’s refusal to apologize for having backed convicted sex offender Rabbi Moti Elon in 2013.

Druckman is perhaps the most senior and influential rabbinic leader in the national-religious community.

Promoting conversion, particularly among the community of Israeli citizens who are descendants of Jews from the former Soviet Union, has been one of Druckman’s most important achievements.

Ami has some 17 conversion programs around the country run in conjunction with the state’s conversion program, and was established 10 years ago.

In 2013 after Elon was convicted, Druckman publicly backed him telling the media that the judge had made a mistake in convicting the rabbi.

The rabbi said that Elon should not be invalidated as a teacher and invited him 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.

In December, it emerged that Elon, who never served prison time and returned to public activity several years after his conviction, had sexually molested a youth in a private meeting with him in the last 12 months.

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, but Druckman has steadfastly refused to acknowledge in public that he made a mistake backing Elon or apologize.

The Freidberg Family Foundation said it had no comment on the story.

Druckman did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Last week, a major philanthropist who has contributed millions of dollars to Bnei Akiva and its various institutions but who wishes to remain anonymous, froze donations to the organization because of Druckman’s expected participation at the movement’s upcoming world conference starting Wednesday evening.

The philanthropist, a member of a major Jewish philanthropic family, 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 attending Bnei Akiva’s 14th World Conference next week.

Earlier that week, former World Bnei Akiva chairman Daniel Goldman said he was boycotting the upcoming world conference because Druckman was going to be an honorary guest, saying that 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.”

Druckman is yet to respond to any of this criticism.

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