(photo credit: INIMAGE)
The name of Rabbi Ezra Scheinberg, a much respected yeshiva dean who was considered by some to be a mystic, has been released for publication as the rabbi from northern Israel accused of rape and other sexual offenses.
So far 10 separate complaints have been filed against the rabbi who was arrested July 2 at Ben-Gurion Airport and has been held in detention since. He is scheduled to be released to house arrest on Tuesday.
Scheinberg, 46, is married and has eight children. He is the founder of the Orot HaAri yeshiva in Safed, which he established in 1999, and was a respected and prominent figure in the national-religious community, lauded as a particularly spiritual rabbi with even preternatural abilities to see into the future and give advice on that basis.
According to a report on the Kipa national-religious news website, his students threw books he has authored into the garbage when the allegations against him were made public.
The actual identity of the “suspected rabbi from the north,” as he became known due to the gag order on the publication of his name that was lifted late Thursday night, was well known throughout the national religious public almost from the moment the allegations were made.
The community and its leaders reacted with shock and dismay that such a highly regarded rabbi could be implicated in what are very serious allegations of sexual misconduct.
The national religious community was similarly shocked by the downfall of another of its preeminent stars, Rabbi Moti Elon, a hugely popular and much loved figure against whom several allegations of indecent behavior toward male students were made. He was convicted in 2013 of two counts of indecent assault against one plaintiff who was a minor when the incidents occurred.
In recent weeks, concerns over ongoing, allegedly systematic abuse by Scheinberg were brought to the attention of senior rabbis in the city, including Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu.
The alleged incidents are thought to have taken place after women from the rabbi’s community approached him for advice on fertility and spirituality.
Because of the reports, Scheinberg, at the request of a panel of Safed rabbis, agreed to suspend himself from his duties as head of the Orot HaAri yeshiva.
While his name was still under a gag order, Scheinberg last week denied the charges to the press and said he will “meet these women in court and they will look me in the eye and we will examine every matter thoroughly. It’s all nonsense.”
Several of the women who have come forward with allegations against him responded in a letter.
“We read what you told the press that you don’t know who we are... the truth is you’re right, you don’t know us, you just know our bodies. You didn’t see that we have souls, a husband, children. You crushed us.”