Rabbi Motti Elon: "Inappropriate Behaviour" - Updated





[Update on this report is given below the article]

The dati leumi (National Religious) anti sex-abuse forum "Takana" has published a statement about the erstwhile rabbinical 'star' Rabbi Motti Elon.

The statement discloses that Rabbi Elon had been accused of "inappropriate behaviour", and that the forum had found basis for these complaints.

Furthermore, the forum had imposed a behavioral code on Rabbi Elon (apparently four years ago), which included him moving from Jerusalem to the small village of Migdal in the North of Israel, and no longer conducting certain educational and one-on-one counseling activities.

The Forum has stressed that the investigation of complaints they had received about Rabbi Elon and the containment plan arranged with Rabbi Elon was all done in accordance with legislation and in cooperation with Menni Mazuz, then the Attorney General.

I understand that " Takana" was initiated (in 2003) as a response to a scandalous and horrific child abuse case at Netiv Meir school several years ago. Prevention, education and handling complaints of sexual misconduct and is all within their perview.

The members of the Takanah forum include: Rav Yaakov Ariel, Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, Rav Yehoshuah Shapira, Rav Elyakim Levanon, Rav Avi Gissar, and the legal expert, Professor Yedidya Stern (Deputy President of the Israel Institute for Democracy).

Rabbi Motti Elon is well known to the public in Israel, including for his regular TV and radio appearances and a hugely popular live broadcast weekly lesson on the Torah portion. Rabbi Elon was Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Hakotel until 2007.

The reason given for " Takana" revealing this now to the public is that Rabbi Elon has apparently not kept to the terms of the agreement that "Takanah" made with Rabi Elon; according to the statement, this now placed the public at risk.
         
There are many details missing from this one-page announcement by " Takana".

What was the nature of the alleged offenses? Were they "immoral" (such as extramarital consensual relationships) or criminal (such as abusing children)?

That the Attorney General apparently gave his approval for the process, is important, but if the law required a police report (such as under child protection laws), then was that law implemented?

Why was the case not publicized four years ago, in order that other complaints could be lodged by other alleged victims who (perhaps) were not aware of the investigation?

What is clear, is that abuse and misconduct are pervasive, and every community is confronted by this. "Takana" is an interesting model for a community's reponse, within the framework of the law, for dealing with sex abuse and misconduct. 

Given the media stir, more details will come out in the coming days to answer some of the very troubling questions about the handling Rabbi Elon's case.

Update: 17th February 2010...

The "Takana" Forum met last night, and issued a statement, which explains more background to their previous statement (see above) regarding Rabbi Motti Elon, and reveals more information.

The statement is in question & answer (which I will summarize) style.

Takana respond to six questions, being

* What is the Takana Forum, and how does it operate?
A group consisting of rabbis, professionals and public figures. They are backed by many National Religious educational and other organizations.
The purpose of the Forum is to prevent and deal with cases of sexual misconduct and abuse by people in public position or authority.
The Forum does not replace the national authorities, but supplements them in situations that the law does not operate, such as people who complain to Takana but do not wish to lodge formal complaints with the police; immoral acts which are not illegal; etc.  
The Forum operates in total confidence, and allocates a sub-committee to handle each complaint received.

*  Why didn't you go to the police?
The Forum consulted the Attorney General; due to the unwillingness of those bringing complaints to Takana to also report them to the police, which meant that the police would be unable to open a file, Takana was permitted to deal with the case without referring it to the police.

* What is one able to publicize about this?
There were two complaints against R.Motti Elon.
The first was investigated by a sub-committee. R.Elon explained to the committee that it was a one-off event, and that he had now controlled his problem.
As a result of that complaint, R.Elon agreed to keep "yichud" (avoid meeting privately) also with boys.
The second complaint, which was even more severe than the first, reported events which had taken place during the same time period as the sub-committeee had been investigating the first complaint.
As a result of this second complaint, Takana enforced a new code of conduct on R.Elon, including requiring him to resign as head of Yeshivat Hakotel, and his other public duties and positions.
Of his own choice, R.Elon moved to Migdal in the North of Israel.  

* Why didn't you publicize this initially?
In order to protect those who had brought complaints.

* Why did you publicize this now?
After it became clear that R.Elon was not keeping to his agreed restrictions on behaviour, in spite of warnings, Takana then regretfully publicised the case in order to protect the public.

* What is the current situation?
More complaints have surfaced since the publication; these have not yet been substantiated.

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Comments

  1. I wonder, as someone who seems to have experience with these issues, if this is relevant:

    My husband is a chorev graduate from the time these accusations were made. He says there were never any "shmuot" of a sexual nature about the rav. No one knew or said anything remotely related to misconduct.

    He had a friend at Netiv Meir at the same time. Everyone knew to stay away from the Rosh Yeshiva, he had his "special students" and you didn't want to be one of them.

    ReplyDelete
  2. As much as this is a blight on the face of the DL I still say Kol Hakavod to them.

    At least their rabbonim seek to do something about this plague of abuse on our midst.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Takana sound like a sensible and practical approach to child abuse and sexual misconduct within a community.

    It is light years ahead of the Modesty Patrols, which are the favoured response of the Hareidim.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anyone who knows HaRav Elon; Anyone who has asked him she'elot (sought his advice); Anyone who has been to his shiurim (lectures); Anyone who has heard him lead prayers on the Yomim No'Roim (Hew Year and Day of Atonement); will instinctively say that the accusations are baseless. Rav Elon is the personification of all that is good and Holy in this world.
    References in your blog averring to any fault in HaRav, say "special students," should be deleted as baseless malicious gossip. ~ Harry "Hershy" Orenstein, Elazar, Gush Etzion

    ReplyDelete
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