Chen witness: It was like the Holocaust

Mother of children in Israel's worst child abuse case tells of the horrors her sons were subjected to.

abuse mother chen 248.88 ariel (photo credit: Ariel Jerozlimski [file])
abuse mother chen 248.88 ariel
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozlimski [file])
Details of one of the most gruesome and tragic child abuse cases in Israeli history were revealed on Sunday when testimony of the victims' mother was released to the public. The mother, whose complicity allowed a number of her children to be tortured by 'Rabbi' Elior Chen and his followers, turned state witness, and has since offered the authorities a glimpse into the horrors which were perpetrated against her offspring for months. The abuse lasted until her youngest son lost consciousness in March 2008 and the case was exposed. "I thought many times that it's like the Holocaust, that surely this was how it was then, but I simply thought that these tribulations would be fixed, that through the suffering, pain, and sadness, the children would become saintly," she told investigators. Previously it had been reported that Chen and his followers severely abused two children, aged 3 and 4, who were savagely and systematically beaten with hammers, knives and other instruments. The mother said that those were just some of the crimes, describing how her children were also force-fed, sleep deprived, and made to drink hard liquor. "I remember that afterwards he threw up a lot," she said about her three-year-old son after he was given large quantities of Arak. "I changed his clothes. I never saw a small child so drunk, and I was terribly worried…I was sorry, but I told myself 'be strong, be strong, [the perpetrator] is only trying to help him and make him a good boy.'" She provided investigators with a more complete picture of the physical abuse sustained by the kids. "He punched, slapped, and pushed [my son]," she said. "My child simply stood there next to me and I began to think that this must be how the Nazis acted. I had never been in that kind of situation and I didn't know how to react. It wasn't a normal situation, it's simply not normal to watch a person throw murderous punches." In another incident, one of the followers forced her son to eat massive quantities of food. "He would force-feed him amounts which were not normal," the mother recalled. "Supposedly this was a method of teaching - you'll eat what I tell you to eat. He would push the food into him, and hit him to make him eat it." The children were also purposely burned, she said. When one of her sons started to cry, the perpetrator asked, "Why is he crying? If he was a normal child this wouldn't happen to you." In one particularly gruesome case, the mother described how the followers closed one of her children in a suitcase. "He was truly like a ball," she said. "They tied his arms and legs together like a chicken, and shoved a kippah in his mouth in order to stop him from screaming." The torture was simply routine, she explained. In one case a follower punched her son right in the face, shattering his tooth and filling his mouth with blood. When she asked why her son was being beaten, the man responded, "He was annoying me. Besides, I owed him one." Chen, 29, fled the country after the story erupted. He is currently fighting extradition from Brazil.