(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
After coming under heavy pressure from donors, Rabbi Haim Druckman has issued a statement expressing the importance of standing up against sex offenders and predators, and on the side of those harmed by such people.
Two donors to institutions connected with the rabbi
Druckman has been strongly criticized for his failure to publicly condemn Rabbi Moti Elon and to apologize for having publicly supported him after he was convicted of sex offenses against a minor in 2013.
have cut off their funding due to his failure to publicly distance himself from Elon.
Druckman made his comments in a letter to the heads of hesder yeshivas on Tuesday. They are due to meet in coming weeks on the subject of sexual abuse in educational frameworks and the national-religious community more broadly.
“This is an opportunity for me to express my position regarding our full obligation to deal with sexual abuse and to stand on the side of those who are harmed, and to stand against those who do such harm, without a hint of hushing or covering it up,” Druckman wrote.
“Unfortunately, I acknowledge that part of my activities in this realm gave a different and wrong impression because the steps I took were not properly understood.”
“I am very saddened by this and especially if there are people who were offended by this,” he continued. He finished by saying that he very much appreciates those who work in the field of combating sexual abuse and helping those affected by it, saying that he felt a responsibility to give back to those working against abuse.
Elon was convicted in 2013 of two counts of sexual assault against a minor. Druckman, however, publicly criticized the conviction, and invited Elon to lecture at his yeshiva in Merkaz Shapira.
After several years, Elon returned to public life, giving lessons and receiving students and youths in private.
In December 2018, new allegations of sexual misconduct
were made against Elon, alleged to have occurred over the previous 12 months.
The alleged victim brought audio and video evidence of Elon’s sexual abuse to Druckman, as well as to rabbis Yaakov Ariel and Shmuel Eliyahu.
On the basis of the evidence, the three rabbis instructed Elon to stop teaching and all public activity, and to stop receiving youths in private.
Despite calls for Druckman to publicly acknowledge he had erred in criticizing Elon’s conviction in 2013 and to apologize for the error, the rabbi has until now refused to do so.
The letter published on Tuesday is the first real acknowledgment that he may have made mistakes in the way he dealt with Elon.
Manny Waks, founder and director of the Kol V'Oz campaign group, rejected Druckman's statement as insufficient however and described it as 'a non-apology."
Waks notes that Elon is "a convicted child molester," and that Druckman publicly defended him and invited him to teach at his institutions.
"Druckman has effectively publicly endorsed Elon as a teacher and a leader. Druckman was very clear: the court wrongly convicted Moti Elon, said Waks.
"It's now clear Druckman was wrong, very wrong. And not for the first time, when he covered up for convicted pedophile Ze'ev Kopolovich," he added in reference to Druckman's failure to report the sexual abuse of students at the Nativ Meir yeshiva high school by then dean Kopolovich.
"Druckman must publicly and unequivocally apologise, and must take responsibility for his actions," concluded Waks.
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