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Police launch investigation of Rabbi Zvi Tau after second woman accuses him of rape

Identified only as ‘Dorit,’ latest alleged victim describes being assaulted by far-right spiritual leader 40 years ago, when she was a new immigrant and ‘all alone’ in Israel

Rabbi Zvi Tau attends a march in Jerusalem against reforms to conversion and kosher supervision, January 30, 2022 in Jerusalem. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Rabbi Zvi Tau attends a march in Jerusalem against reforms to conversion and kosher supervision, January 30, 2022 in Jerusalem. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

A special investigative team has been established to probe sexual abuse allegations against Rabbi Zvi Tau, the Israel Police said Sunday.

Multiple women have accused Tau of sexual abuse and rape dating back decades, with two going public so far.

One woman, Nechama Te’ena, went public in August, but her allegations were largely ignored at the time by the police and the media. In recent weeks, she has staged small protests outside the Knesset, accusing Tau of raping her and others and demanding to know why the Israel Police have refused to investigate.

Tau, 85, is the head of the influential Har Hamor Yeshiva in Jerusalem as well as the spiritual leader of the anti-LGBT Noam political party, which won a single seat in the next Knesset as part of the far-right Religious Zionism slate.

According to police, Te’ena is currently the only accuser who has filed an official police complaint. Others have spoken anonymously to the media or spoken to rabbinic officials about their accusations.

On Thursday, another woman accused Tau of assaulting her in a video testimony recorded in her home. After viewing the video, several prominent rabbis then called for Tau to be investigated.

Nechama Te’ena, who has accused prominent Rabbi Zvi Tau of sexual assault, speaks during an interview with Channel 12, October 10, 2022. (Channel 12)

The woman, identified in media only as “Dorit,” spoke with Kan news on Sunday.

“I don’t call him a rabbi,” she said, describing her encounter with Tau about 40 years ago when she was 26 years old.

“I was a new immigrant, my parents were abroad, I was all alone,” she said, explaining that she met the Taus through social gatherings and friends. She became close with Tau’s first wife, Channa Tau, and practically became part of the family, according to her testimony.

“One day I was in the kitchen, putting things away when he came in and closed the door behind him. He grabbed me, pulled my underwear down, and undressed,” she recollected.

“At one point, I woke up, I realized what was happening and kicked him in the groin. I ran to the balcony because he had closed the door and managed to escape without my underwear,” she said.

“I got home and just froze. I think I stayed like that for two days,” she said.

Rabbi Zvi Tau in 2018. (Screenshot)

Dorit said the incident caused her to be fearful of men, which interfered with her efforts to marry, as she was always wary of men exercising power over her. She described sharing what she had gone through with potential suitors, who would then leave after hearing the story.

She did eventually get married but had three failed pregnancies because she was by then older. She blames her late marriage on the fear Tau caused her to have of men.

“He ruined my entire life. In five minutes of gratification, he ruined my life,” she said. “You can’t fix what he destroyed. He destroyed my life.”

Dorit claimed that the rabbi’s wife knew about the incident and that the matter was taken to Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, a leading figure in the religious Zionist movement until his death in 1982.

She said Kook prohibited Tau from giving lessons for some time because of the incident. She indicated that there are other senior rabbis who knew about her complaints, including some who have known her for many years, but would not give details.

Asked what made her share her story 40 years later, she said hearing of Te’ena convinced her it was the right thing to do.

While Dorit’s case is too old and won’t be investigated by police, a prosecution source told Kan that her testimony could add weight to that of Te’ena.

Rabbi Tau has not yet responded to the allegations against him.

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