Rabbi Elon Accused of 'Long-term' Sexual Relationship With Student

Relative of Elon accused of threatening leading figure in group that published the allegations against him.

Takana, the group that published allegations against Rabbi Mordechai Elon of sexually exploiting his students, said it did so because of "a long-term relationship that was clearly of a sexual nature."

Elon Wednesday began to form a defense team to deal with the allegations and the possibility of criminal proceedings resulting from them.

Meanwhile, Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, a leading figure in religious Zionist circles, and a member of Takana, a group that seeks to root out sexual exploitation by authority figures in the Orthodox community, said a relative of Elon's had threatened his life.

Lichtenstein told his students at Har Etzion Yeshiva in the Gush Etzion town of Alon Shvut, that the person "said he would hurt me in every way he could."

Takana Wednesday released a position paper with more information in the form of questions and answers, following queries to its members about their conduct in the matter.

"The affair was made public now because we had become increasingly concerned that we had no other way to protect the public from the possibility of more harm," the document states. The rabbis said they had to go public because "Rabbi Elon did not follow the restrictions imposed on him, particularly in the area of personal relationships."

The group said that when the first claims of sexual exploitation by the rabbi came to light, they included "the most serious acts that cannot be interpreted any other way." However, the forum's decision to force Elon to retire from public and educational life and impose restrictions on him came after the members realized, a year later, there was "another complaint more severe than the first." The committee dealing with the matter said it was shocked to discover the second complaint was made while it was deliberating the first one.

The committee also presented details of the restrictions imposed on Elon: Immediately after receiving the first complaint, Elon was asked not to be alone with a man. However, "the committee lost faith in statements by the rabbi, who concealed his acts during deliberation on the first complaint," and further restrictions were therefore imposed "that would distance him from the possibility of hurting anyone else in the future." He was forced to step down as head of Yeshivat Hakotel in Jerusalem and from other public positions. The forum said his move to the north was not "on its initiative."

In contrast to Takana's statement, Elon says he refused the committee's demand that he sign a document. He told Haaretz through an associate that he had only given the committee a letter in which he explained that he was stepping down from his posts because he had been "compelled" to do so.

Wednesday, the day after Elon said he accepted "the torments with love," his associates limited their public statements after an attorney was hired following Elon's consultations with relatives, including his two brothers, former MK Binyamin Elon and Judge Yosef Elon.