Sir, – Regarding “The Elon lesson” (Editorial, December 22),
when determining appropriate criminal sentences, courts must take into account
punishment for harm caused, prevention of repeat offenses by the same person,
deterring others from committing similar crimes, and reinforcement of societal
norms against intolerable conduct. If the conviction of Rabbi Mordechai Elon was
correct, then his sentence fails on all of these.
One doubts whether Elon
will be sufficiently punished for actions that may well negatively impact his
victims for years to come. Certainly, there is no guarantee that he will not
commit them again. An evaluation presented in court concluded that he was a
“low-to-medium risk to society.”
Why must we accept a “medium risk” that other
children might be assaulted? The relatively lenient sentence – community service
with no jail time – is unlikely to deter others with similar
Instead, it demonstrates that the court (and, by
extension, society) does not view this as a serious crime.
Elon’s role as
a religious leader only exacerbated the crime.
Charges involving a second
minor were dropped because the victim refused to testify. This suggests the
possibility that the victim might have been subjected to outside
Until we are willing to punish wrong-doers adequately, no
matter what their status, many more crimes of this type will be committed, and
defenseless victims will be afraid to come forward.EFRAIM A. COHEN
Sir, – For years I remarked that Israel was unique because a
charismatic rabbi like Mordechai Elon, who hugs and kisses tens of thousands of
men, would have a short rabbinic existence in the United States. The odds would
have a few of those individuals complain about such actions. The truth is, such
a reaction was inevitable even in Israel.
Nevertheless, having known
Rabbi Elon for 25 years I can attest to the fact that he was an exceptional high
school teacher and principal, and used his charisma to the benefit of thousands
of young men and their families.
Having said that, I also believe that
the court had more information available to it than any of us were privy to. If
it decided that community service rather than hard time would be his punishment,
then obviously the judges realized that such service would entail (supervised)
All the articles and all the politicians protesting the verdict
will not (and should not) change the sound judgment of the court.
question becomes how much of a cause celebre they will create out of this
Sir, – Rabbi Mordechai Elon said he
“happily” accepted the sentence of community service after being convicted on
two counts of indecent assault by force against a minor (“Convicted Rabbi Elon
sentenced to community service instead of prison,” December 19).
abhors homosexuality yet he was convicted of homosexual acts. He violated a
basic principle articulated by our sage Hillel: “What is hateful to you, do not
do to your neighbor.”
It seems he uses a unique Torah to guide him. I
pray he embraces the one from God.JUDY BAMBERGER
O’Connor, Australia Doing the math
Sir, – In “State, Abutbul, Cohen file final pleadings on Beit
Shemesh election fraud claims ahead of court decision” (December 19), two
statements do not add up. The first is that “Abutbul won the race by a
razor-thin margin of 956 votes.”
The second is that the “number of votes
for altering the mayoral election... was already established at 956.”
the difference in the voting outcome was 956, then the number needed to alter
the result is only 479 votes, or half the difference plus one. It’s a much lower
number and easier to prove.DAVID LUBOWITZ
Karmiel Off the map
Regarding “Israel renews flights to Turkey” (Business & Finance, December
19), I flew Turkish Airlines last year from South Africa to Tel Aviv and noted
on the airline’s flight map that Israel does not appear. It shows Gaza and then
I emailed the company twice in this regard but have had no
I flew Turkish for the price but have gone back to flying El Al,
as I refuse to fly with an airline where Israel does not exist on a flight
BEBE FELDMAN Netanya Probing preparedness Sir, – Forget the probe
(“Lawmakers begin probe of way gov’t responded to snowstorm,” December 18). It
will provide politicians and the media with a great opportunity to indulge in
Bibi-bashing and anti-government rhetoric. Yet storm preparedness is not the
most pressing problem on the national agenda.
The magnitude of the storm
that hit Israel was way off the charts. Nothing similar had been experienced for
over a century.
Given the state of preparedness, the authorities
responded in full force, and functioning was restored for the majority of the
population. The loss of life was tragic, but given the circumstances it was kept
to a minimum due to the tireless efforts of rescue workers. The population also
exhibited amazing fortitude.
Nobody asked for this to happen, but it did,
and instead of an expensive national postmortem, the various authorities should
examine their own actions and seek solutions to rectify the shortcomings.
Furthermore, home owners should have alternative energy sources available in
case of need.
Although we cannot predict when the next mega-storm will
hit, we can predict when the next fatal road accident will occur. It will be
today. And if not, then tomorrow or the day after. This is because driving in
Israel is akin to an extreme sport.
The problem is confounded by an
abysmal lack of supervision on the roads and the attendant leniency of the
courts insofar as penalties are concerned.
Not only is there an
exorbitant amount of deaths, but injuries put further stress on an overburdened
health care system.
In my opinion, it is incumbent upon the government to
prioritize catastrophe spending and target areas where prevention is
LINDA WOLFF Sha’arei Tikva Sir, – The Jerusalem Municipality
should send some of its officials to New York to learn how they deal with snow
It should also invite New York officials to get some advice
on how to better deal with it here.
Notwithstanding that snow storms like
this don’t come along often enough for us to spend and fully gear up like they
do in the US and Europe, we could certainly do better. A few pointers from the
pros couldn’t hurt.
SAUL LEVY Jerusalem Serving his country Sir, – In the
course of over three decades in which I have served as a volunteer with the
Israel Police’s Traffic Division, I have had my share of memorable moments, some
satisfying and others tragic. However, I wish to share with your readership a
most rewarding moment that, to my mind, exemplifies the unique spirit of our
wonderful youth who serve in the IDF.
Assigned recently to keep the
intersection of Jerusalem’s Jaffa Road and Nordau Street free of gridlock caused
by uncaring and undisciplined drivers, I happened to notice a young soldier,
obviously heading home for Shabbat from a combat unit. He was dressed in short
sleeves and walking apace despite his burden of a knapsack and other gear, in
addition to his assault rifle slung over a shoulder.
crossing the intersection, he switched direction and approached me and offered
to bring me a cup of hot coffee. What can one say other than toda raba and kol
hakavod! JOEL KUTNER Jerusalem