6 teachers at ultra-Orthodox school indicted for alleged student abuse

Main suspect accused of indecent acts against minors at Tel Aviv institution; 22 victims allegedly abused over decade

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative photo of an empty school classroom. (Mendy Hechtman/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of an empty school classroom. (Mendy Hechtman/Flash90)

Indictments were filed Tuesday against six teachers at an ultra-Orthodox school in Tel Aviv for alleged severe physical abuse of pupils. One of the suspects is also accused of serious sexual abuse.

Suspects Avraham Rosenfeld, 49; Yisrael Haim Shapira, 65; Haim Fishgrund, 69; Moshe Hirsch, 39; Menachem Alberstein, 62; and Avraham Pinhas Deitish, 53, were indicted at Tel Aviv District Court for abuse of and attacks on minors in their care.

An additional an indictment was filed against Rosenfeld on multiple incidents of sexually assaulting a minor below the age of 16, indecent acts, extortion under threats, and making threats.

The incidents all happened at the Talmud Torah Machzikei Hadass School of the Belz Hasidic sect between the years 2000 and 2011. Some 22 pupils are suspected of having suffered abuse during that time, beginning when they were aged 3-4 years, and continuing on until sixth grade, when they were around 10-11 years old.

Rosenfeld allegedly ordered individual pupils to go alone with him into a room, offering candies as an incentive, Channel 2 reported. He would then allegedly sexually abuse the children, according to the indictments. Afterwards, he would give the children candies and release them.

He is also accused of punishing pupils by making them put a spoonful of pepper or soap into their mouths, and of refusing to let pupils take bathroom breaks, leading some children to soil themselves.

Rosenfeld also faces charges of extortion and threats against his own wife.

The other suspects are accused of beating students, including hitting them on the hand with rulers or sticks. On one occasion, one of the accused allegedly poured a hot tea on a student.

The indictments also state that the accused inflicted daily and systematic violence on the children, which was “characterized by cruelty, humiliation, and threats.”

Prosecutors asked that Rosenfeld be held in custody until the end of proceedings, with the other five released under certain restrictions.

The suspects were all arrested two weeks ago after a month-long undercover investigation and interviews with dozens of children and their parents, as well as welfare workers and psychologists.

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