(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The Association of Communal Rabbis will convene a conference in Jerusalem on Sunday to deal with the ramifications of the allegations of severe sexual abuse against Rabbi Ezra Scheinberg from Safed within the religious community.
The conference at the Ganei Yerushalayim hotel will be attended by Chief Rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef, Efrat Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, director of ACR Rabbi Amichai Eliyahu and Rabbi Menachem Borshtein, director of the PUAH Institute for fertility, among others.
Scheinberg, a renowned national-religious rosh yeshiva from Safed, was indicted in July on 12 charges of sexual offenses including rape, sodomy and indecent assault.
The rabbi, 48, who is married and has eight children, founded Yeshivat Orot HaAri in Safed in 1999. He was a respected and prominent figure in the national-religious community, and lauded as a particularly spiritual rabbi with preternatural abilities to see into the future and give advice.
It is believed that his victims first sought his guidance on issues of fertility and spirituality.
Using what he called his “relaxation” treatment, Scheinberg would gradually increase the severity of his actions in his ongoing “treatment” sessions, initially telling the women to undress, and then in subsequent sessions performing progressively greater forms of sexual abuse on them The purpose of the conference, said Amichai Eliyahu, is to prevent similar cases from happening in the future and to help communities deal with such incidents should such abuses arise in their midst.
Alongside the 200 rabbinical figures at the conference, there will be addresses from police officers, child psychologists, and educational experts, while numerous organizations from the haredi and national-religious community will also be participating.
“After the scandal involving of ‘the rabbi of the North’ [Scheinberg] we have decided to raise this issue with the chief rabbis and organizations in the national-religious community due to the understanding that the rabbis are the most senior authorities and guides in these communities,” said Eliyahu.
“We need to create tools for dealing with similar cases and to build a mechanism for working with the legal authorities on issues of such sensitivity for families and the national-religious community.”