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Mordechai Elon

Mordechai Elon

Israeli rabbi and educator
The basics
Quick Facts
Occupations Rabbi
Countries Israel
A.K.A. Motti Elon, Moti Elon
Gender male
Birth December 9, 1959
Family
Father: Menachem Elon
Siblings: Binyamin ElonYoseph ElonAri Elon
The details
Biography

Mordechai (Motti) Elon (Hebrew: מרדכי (מוטי) אֵלון‎; born 9 December 1959) is an Israeli Religious Zionist rabbi. He has headed several Orthodox Jewish social organizations and institutions, most notably as Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat HaKotel in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem from 2002 to 2006. He has also hosted television and radio shows.
In 2010, Elon was investigated for sexual misconduct as a result of revelations made by Takana, a religious forum dealing with allegations of sexual harassment in the Religious Zionist community. On 7 August 2013, he was convicted by the Jerusalem Magistrates Court on two counts of forcible sexual assault against a male minor. Elon, an outspoken opponent of homosexuality, has denied the charges.

Life and career

Elon was born in Jerusalem, Israel, to his father, former Israel Supreme Court Justice Menachem Elon, and his mother Ruth, née Buchsbaum, one of five children. He received his high-school education at Yeshivat Yerushalayim LeTzeirim, and his higher education at the Hesder Yeshivas Or Etzion and Kiryat Shmona. In his twenties, he began teaching religious studies at the Horev Yeshiva High School in Jerusalem, and became its Rosh Yeshiva in 1987. He left Horev in 2002 to become the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat HaKotel in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, a post he left in 2006. After leaving, many of his students would continue to travel to visit him in Migdal, northern Israel.

Elon gave a weekly lecture on the Torah portion at the Yeshurun Synagogue in Jerusalem. Hundreds of people came to hear him, and the lectures were aired on a public Israeli radio station. He also hosted a weekly television show on the same topic, and lead a bible group at the residence of the President of Israel.

Elon established and headed a Jewish socio-religious organization called "MiBereshit". The organization works with the Israeli Ministry of Education and Israeli schools in order to bring Jewish children and teens closer to their roots, and to the Land of Israel.

Family

Elon is married, and has eleven children. After resigning from Yeshivat HaKotel, he went to live in Migdal, northern Israel. He is the brother of former Moledet Knesset Member and Minister of Tourism Benny Elon, Be'er Sheva District Court Judge Josef Elon, and writer and bible scholar Ari Elon.

Sexual misconduct

In February 2010, Takana, a rabbinical forum set up to prevent sexual abuse in the national religious community, issued a statement claiming that it had received complaints against Elon dealing with allegations of "a long-term relationship that was clearly of a sexual nature" since shortly after its founding in 2003. During investigation, "the committee lost faith in statements by the rabbi, who concealed his acts during deliberation on the first complaint," according to the statement. A year later, Takana received "another complaint more severe than the first", which allegedly took place a year earlier, and was concealed by Elon in his talks with the forum. Coming to the conclusion that it was no longer fitting for him to work as a religious teacher or counselor, they asked him to leave his post as head of Yeshivat Hakotel, and cancel a number of public appearances and community roles. Takana claims that although at the time Elon agreed to their demands, namely leaving his position at Yeshivat Hakotel and moving to Migdal in northern Israel, he did not fulfill completely the obligations he agreed to, specifically the requirement to stay away from intimate, personal, and private meetings with people seeking his advice or religious counsel.

Takana had decided to go public with these allegations because they "had become increasingly concerned that [they] had no other way to protect the public from the possibility of more harm". Elon, however, publicly denied the allegations.

In August 2010, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein instructed the police to conduct a criminal investigation of alleged sexual offenses committed against two minors. The police found sufficient evidence to submit the case to the Jerusalem District Prosecutor's office. In January 2011, the Jerusalem District Prosecution recommended to Weinstein that Elon be indicted. In February 2011, it summoned Elon to a pre-indictment hearing, and in November 2011 he was formally indicted.

In January 2012, Elon asserted in his response to the courts that he often hugged or kissed students as a display of camaraderie, something common in certain segments of Israeli society. He said that in one instance, he attempted to console the accuser, who at the time had a parent die in a car accident, and that the action had been misinterpreted and blown out of proportion. Elon refused to enter into a plea bargain, and maintained his innocence.

In February 2013, the Jerusalem Magistrates Court dropped one of the charges following the refusal of a witness to testify. On 7 August 2013, Elon was convicted of sexually assaulting a male minor. Elon, an outspoken opponent of homosexuality, denied the charges, and was expected to appeal the verdict.

In December 2013, Elon was given a 15-month suspended prison term, sentenced to six months of community service, and ordered to pay his victim 10,000 NIS ($2,850) in compensation. In February 2014, he decided not to appeal his guilty verdict.

Writings

  • Tekhelet Mordechai Sichot on the Weekly Torah Portion, Sifriyat Bet-El Publishing Ltd.
  • The Tekhelet Mordekhai Haggadah, Sifriyat Bet-El Publishing Ltd., June 2007

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