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Mordechai Elon had sex with his students
February 18, 2010, 11:06 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

HAARETZ: Takana, the group that published allegations against Rabbi Mordechai Elon of sexually exploiting his students, said it did so because of “a long-term relationship that was clearly of a sexual nature.”

Elon Wednesday began to form a defense team to deal with the allegations and the possibility of criminal proceedings resulting from them.

Rabbi Elon with supporters. (Photo: Gili Eliyahu)

Meanwhile, Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, a leading figure in religious Zionist circles, and a member of Takana, a group that seeks to root out sexual exploitation by authority figures in the Orthodox community, said a relative of Elon’s had threatened his life.

Lichtenstein told his students at Har Etzion Yeshiva in the Gush Etzion town of Alon Shvut, that the person “said he would hurt me in every way he could.”

Takana Wednesday released a position paper with more information in the form of questions and answers, following queries to its members about their conduct in the matter.

“The affair was made public now because we had become increasingly concerned that we had no other way to protect the public from the possibility of more harm,” the document states. The rabbis said they had to go public because “Rabbi Elon did not follow the restrictions imposed on him, particularly in the area of personal relationships.”

The group said that when the first claims of sexual exploitation by the rabbi came to light, they included “the most serious acts that cannot be interpreted any other way.” However, the forum’s decision to force Elon to retire from public and educational life and impose restrictions on him came after the members realized, a year later, there was “another complaint more severe than the first.” The committee dealing with the matter said it was shocked to discover the second complaint was made while it was deliberating the first one.

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My attachment to such a turbine of charisma filled me with energies that almost wiped out my own identity, which had barely begun to emerge, and set me on paths that – with hindsight – I regretted. I did not reflect on who I really am.

We complain today about the lack of role models in the Israeli education system.

A dark side

But there is also a dark side to charisma and admiration, especially when they suffocate the natural rebellion of youth and individualism. This problem isn’t only in yeshivas. From reading biographies, I know that the youth of the old kibbutz movement, pupils in Catholic schools worldwide and the boys sent to public school in Victorian England experienced the same magnetism of strong charismatic figures.

Very often there followed painful disappointment and awakening.

A high incidence of sexual abuse is just one result of life in such a closed and intense environment. But the issue of generations of young men (women are more resilient) with uniform views and personalities, who only much later, if at all, begin to form their own identity and inner spiritual world, is a less recognized but no less painful part of it.

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