Rabbi to Be Charged With Rape, Allegedly Targeted Newly Religious Women for Years

10 women from his community have filed complaints against Rabbi Moshe Yazdi who is suspected of obtaining their 'consent' to his sexual assaults by telling them these were religious acts

Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz
Rabbi Moshe Yazdi in Jerusalem, last month.
Rabbi Moshe Yazdi in Jerusalem, last month.Credit: Noam Rivkin Penton
Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz

A community rabbi from Jerusalem will be indicted on Thursday for repeated sexual crimes against newly religious women.

Rabbi Moshe Yazdi is suspected of raping, sexually assaulting and sodomizing the women while fraudulently obtaining their “consent” by telling them these were religious acts and therefore they had to submit to his demands. He is also suspected of exploiting them financially.

So far, 10 women from his community have filed complaints against him. Police found that he presented himself to them as one of the 36 righteous people who, according to Jewish tradition, ensure the world’s continued existence at any given moment. He then told them the sexual acts were a form of spiritual rectification. Some of the crimes were committed against brides on their wedding day, police said.

At a court hearing on Tuesday, a police officer said the evidence revealed “a man who controlled his victims highhandedly and with an iron fist, separating them from their families and even demanding that they separate from their spouses.”

Yazdi provided various justifications for having sex with them, including by saying “the sexual acts were meant to save Jewish lives and even prevent terror attacks,” the officer said. “It’s impossible to call his actions and character anything but pure evil.”

The crimes continued for years, police said, with some committed more than 10 years ago and the most recent a year and a half ago.

Yazdi’s attorney, David Halevi, said the police were “demonizing” his client. He noted that the statute of limitations on some of the alleged crimes has already expired and accused the complainants of being motivated by “financial interests.”

    Nevertheless, Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Judge Amir Shaked refused to release Yazdi on bail, ordering him held for another three days.

    The first police compliant against Yazdi was filed in 2007. Three years earlier, evidence of his sexual behavior had reached a rabbinical court, which responded by barring him from meeting with, advising or teaching women. Nevertheless, the crimes continued, according to police.

    In 2016, Yazdi was convicted of misdemeanor charges under a plea bargain for trying to flee the country despite an order by the bailiff’s office barring him from leaving. He did this by buying a ticket from a student who went through passport control for him and then gave the rabbi the slip showing that passport control had approved his exit. He was given a suspended sentence and a fine.

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