(photo credit: PR)
Several senior national-religious rabbis who sit on the Takana Forum, which fights against sexual abuse in the community, issued a letter on Sunday giving public backing for the work of Yehudit Shilat, who founded Takana in 2003.
The most high-profile case Takana has dealt with concerned national-religious superstar Rabbi Moti Elon, who was convicted on two counts of indecent assault by force against a minor by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court in 2013.
During the legal process against Elon, close associates and devotees of the rabbi sought to discredit Takana and Shilat. Her campaign team has alleged that her current candidacy for a spot on the Bayit Yehudi electoral list has reawakened those same voices.
Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, one of the most senior rabbis in the national-religious world and president of the Takana Forum, signed a letter together with forum members Rabbi Yehoshua Shapira, Rabbi Elyakim Levanon and Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, as well as Prof. Yedidya Stern of the Israel Democracy Institute, saying that Shilat’s work for Takana had been carried out professionally and with their backing.
“Without taking a position regarding the Bayit Yehudi primaries and simply to prevent slander, we hereby announce everything that Mrs. Yehudit Shilat did in the Takana Forum was done in accordance with our views,” they wrote. “Every decision that was made in the forum was taken after deep consideration and in accordance with all the rabbis and professional members of the forum.”
Shilat responded by saying she was “happy” with the forum’s activities.
“There were some very hard decisions to be made within the framework of the organization, but they were necessary and important, and I know I did the right thing,” she said.
“All decisions that were taken were with the knowledge of the senior rabbis and professionals [in the field],” she continued. “There were decisions that caused me and members of the forum, including senior national-religious rabbis, pain and great anguish. However, I know that every other possibility would have caused harm to many people, and the Takana Forum will continue to operate with responsibility and the obligation to help people whose voice is not heard and whose distress is exploited.”
In addition to her work for Takana, Shilat served as an adviser to the late National Religious Party head Zvulun Hammer when he served as minister of religious services in the 1980s, and was part of the process that opened up the field of rabbinical court advocates to women, a profession that previously had been open only to men.
She said recently that she was against any agreement with the Palestinians that would involve Israel ceding land.
“I am opposed to any statement or idea that includes ‘concessions’ over territory of the Land of Israel,” she told the national-religious news website Srugim. “Our [Bayit Yehudi] party line is preserving the completeness of the land. This is the platform we are bringing to the public; this is the line of the party head, party members and the line I believe in.”
Shilat opposes civil marriage, but told The Jerusalem Post
she would support some form of civil union as a solution for people who cannot marry in accordance with Jewish law in Israel.
She also went on record recently as opposing samesex marriage, saying publicly that “there is no such thing.”