Haaretz Reporters Win Journalism Prize for Exposé on ultra-Orthodox Leader

Aaron Rabinowitz and Shira Elk win Israel Press Institute annual prize for excellence in journalism for investigation into Israel Prize winner’s decades of sexual abuse

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Shira Alek and Aaron Rabinowitz
Shira Alek and Aaron Rabinowitz
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Haaretz

The Israel Press Institute announced Sunday that Haaretz reporters Aaron Rabinowitz and Shira Elk have been named winners of its annual award for excellence in journalism for their investigation of Yehuda Meshi Zahav, the disgraced former head of the ZAKA emergency forensics teams.

The investigation, published in March, included testimony from numerous people who said Meshi Zahav had assaulted and sexually exploited them as children, teenage boys and girls, and women.

The sexual abuse scandal blowing up the Haredi world. LISTEN

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Following the report Meshi Zahav's Israel Prize was revoked.

The president of the institute, former Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner, said the investigation is “personally and publicly courageous, and succeeded in ending a prolonged conspiracy of silence regarding repressed and silenced sexual violence in ultra-Orthodox society, and even in leading to an initial change in the ultra-Orthodox leadership’s approach to dealing with the problem.”

The 2021 award committee members wrote, “The investigation examined in depth the rumors that had spread for years about Meshi Zahav, which nobody bothered to examine thoroughly. Or even worse – they preferred to ignore them and to continue maintaining and reinforcing the story that many in the secular media preferred to see in Meshi Zahav – ‘a bridge connecting secular and Haredi society in acts of true charity.’”

Dorner headed the committee, whose members include Carmela Menashe, military affairs commentator for the Kan public broadcasting channel; attorney Dr. Zohar Kadmon, former chairwoman of Channel 10 News and deputy director and legal adviser for the Keshet TV franchise; Efrat Dror, co-CEO of Herzliya Studios; and Tami Litani, former assistant editor at Haaretz and an editor at Keter publications.

The Israel Press Institute was established in February, and is expected to grant an annual 50,000-shekel ($15,700) award for journalistic excellence.

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