Police are investigating the leaders of a Jewish women’s seminary in Jerusalem this week, after receiving a complaint that five young women were actively recruited to work for free for the couple running it and told to sever ties with their families and friends.
While police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said he could not disclose details of the case on Tuesday pending the ongoing investigation, an Army Radio report said the seminary’s unidentified rabbi and his wife had enlisted the women to live and study there.
According to the report, the families have alleged that the girls were made to work at a series of jobs, hand over their earnings to the couple to fund the seminary, and cut ties with their parents and other close relatives and friends.
Only one of the women has since left the seminary, the report said.
“An official complaint was filed with the Jerusalem Police over the past couple days, and as a result an investigation has been opened,” said Rosenfeld.
“This is standard procedure whenever a complaint is filed.”
After hearing the testimonies of several of the girls’ parents on Tuesday morning, MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid), who chairs the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women and Gender Equality, issued a statement that there were justified concerns for the young women’s safety.
Although Lavie did not state that they were being held against their will, she said the parents had informed her that the girls were living in unsanitary conditions. The MK said imminent action would be taken in coordination with the municipality’s Child Welfare Services to determine whether the girls were indeed in danger.