Safed rabbi indicted on 12 charges of sexual offenses including rape

The rabbi is also charged with interfering with a criminal investigation against him, coercing testimony sexual harassment and fraud.

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July 27, 2015 19:20
3 minute read.
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Rabbi Ezra Sheinberg, a renowned rosh yeshiva from Safed, was indicted on Monday on 12 charges of sexual offenses including rape, sodomy, and indecent assault. The rabbi was also charged with interfering with a criminal investigation against him, coercing testimony, sexual harassment and fraud.

Sheinberg, 48, who is married and has eight children, is the founder of Yeshivat Orot HaAri in Safed, which he established 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.

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According to the indictment issued by the northern branch of the State Attorney’s Office, the alleged offenses were made against 12 women over a period of 10 years, while Sheinberg was serving as head of Yeshivat Orot HaAri.

An attorney for Sheinberg called the indictment “inflated.”

“From what I have seen some of it is also unfounded but we will deal with it in court,” he said Monday.

The indictment explained that women from the community would come to the rabbi for advice regarding medical or other problems and he “took advantage of the fact that he was seen as a righteous person with [mystical] powers.”

It is believed that women would often seek his guidance on spiritual and fertility issues, and, the indictment alleges, the rabbi used his respected status in order to abuse the women who came to him for advice.



The indictment says Sheinberg acted in an established pattern with his different victims who were young, religious women – most of whom were married to his students – who saw the rabbi as an authoritative figure.

The rabbi would make his victims believe they needed him, and that only he could provide an answer to their problems through what he called his “relaxation” treatment, according to the indictment.

“Under this definition the rabbi would obtain, through deceit, the agreement of his victims to his actions which were actually sexual assault,” the indictment says.

The rabbi would allegedly acquire the trust of the victims step by step, and gradually increase the severity of his actions, first instructing the victims how to treat themselves and afterwards going to their houses for “treatment” sessions where he would tell them to undress.

“The rabbi would fraudulently obtain their consent for him to touch them intimately and perform various sexual acts,” according to the indictment. “At a more advanced stage, Sheinberg would propose to some of his victims to have sexual relations with him, and had full sexual intercourse with one of his victims.”

He also demanded they take pictures and videos of themselves and send them to him, and that they hold video calls with him, during which they were instructed to undress and perform sexual acts, the indictment said.

“All of this was conducted while the rabbi would tell his victims they were in need of him for healing and rehabilitation,” it continued. “He would tell them they were lacking in ‘light,’ in ‘defense,’ and ‘encompassing light,’” and that through their deeds with him he was granting them spiritual abundance which they needed for healing purposes.

Sheinberg would also tell his victims that these actions were permitted according to Jewish law and that he had received the approval of mystic rabbis for such actions.

He forbade his alleged victims from telling anyone about what he did and demanded they erase their correspondence with him. He told them that exposing his actions would negate the “blessing” inherent in his “treatments” which would stop working and even cause damage to them and their families if they were revealed.

Last month, several reports were made to rabbis in Safed about Sheinberg’s alleged abuse and he was called for a hearing in front of Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu.

Sheinberg subsequently contacted two of his victims and instructed them not to reveal his actions and gave them false accounts to repeat to investigators, the indictment states.

The rabbi was arrested on July 2 at Ben-Gurion Airport in what the State-Attorney’s Office described as an attempt to flee the country after he was made aware of the complaints against him.

He has been incarcerated since his arrest, and the State-Attorney’s Office has requested he remain in prison until the end of the legal proceedings against him. A hearing on this request is scheduled to take place on August 2.

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