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Moti Elon gives up city rabbi certification over sex crimes

Disgraced religious leader can no longer serve in significant rabbinical positions; High Court petitioners had sought to strip him of ‘rabbi’ title entirely

Mordechai Elon attends the funeral of Rabbi Haim Yishayahu Hedri, in Sanhedria, Jerusalem, on April 25, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Mordechai Elon attends the funeral of Rabbi Haim Yishayahu Hedri, in Sanhedria, Jerusalem, on April 25, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A rabbi convicted of sexual assault on Thursday accepted a Supreme Court suggestion he waive his certification of eligibility to serve as a city rabbi, offered in response to a petition demanding the court strip him of his “rabbi” title.

In taking the offer to return his certification, Mordechai “Moti” Elon will be prevented from serving in any significant rabbinical positions, including becoming a rabbi of a city or local council.

The petition was filed after the Chief Rabbinate decided to allow Elon to keep his title, citing his willingness to commit to not serve as a rabbi in any community role for a period of 10 years from the date of his conviction.

“As a result of today’s [High Court] hearing in response to our petition (with others), at the recommendation of the panel of judges, Elon agreed to return his [rabbinate certificate], the document that essentially allows him to continue his role as rabbi,” Manny Waks, who runs the Voices Against Child Sex Abuse (VoiCSA) organization, said in a statement.

Illustrative: Supreme Court justices arrive for a court hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on February 24, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Criticizing the Chief Rabbinate, Waks said that Elon “has never accepted guilt. There are many additional credible allegations against him. You’d think that, in response, the Israeli Rabbinate would rush to take steps to ensure that Elon could no longer serve as a rabbi and spiritual leader in any capacity, thereby limiting his opportunities to continue to sexually assault underage boys. They steadfastly refused to do so.”

“This matter is now closed,” he added.

Elon was convicted in 2013 of committing an indecent act against a minor on two occasions. He was sentenced to six months of community service, as well as a 15-month suspended prison term. Elon, once a celebrated mentor of Israel’s religious Zionist movement, was also ordered to pay the victim NIS 10,000 ($2,850) in compensation.

In 2015 police looked into new allegations against Elon, after a one-time student published a Facebook post saying that the rabbi had harassed him on two occasions. Those claims did not lead to new legal action, but the accuser’s post garnered wide publicity, making waves in a religious Zionist community already forced to come to terms with Elon’s behavior the fact that he had some rabbinical support.

Rabbi Mordechai Elon arrives at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court to hear his sentence, Wednesday, December 18, 2013 (photo credit: Meital Cohen/Flash90)

In December 2018 a Channel 12 investigative program reported that Elon had admitted to further sexually inappropriate behavior toward a young man.

According to the “Uvda” investigative report, the man appealed to a number of leading rabbis and told them that he had reached out to Elon over the preceding year for assistance in difficulties he was facing. But the meetings quickly took on a sexual nature and involved unspecified alleged offenses.

The man was advised to file a complaint with the police but said he preferred that the matter be handled by rabbinic authorities.

A panel of three leading rabbis in the religious Zionist movement summoned Elon and he, confronted with evidence that included recordings made by the alleged victim during their meetings, admitted to the undisclosed offenses. A source told “Uvda” that Elon “did not deny it and took certain responsibility for the actions.”

Elon agreed to stop all public activity including teaching, as well as private meetings. and to seek treatment, the report said.

Jacob Magid contributed to this report.

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