The Kennedys of the Religious Zionist Camp

Top Rabbi Menachem Elon, suspected of sexual abuse, is just another straw in the fall of a grand family.

The Elon family, a member of the religious Zionist elite, is entrenched in the world of law, politics and halakha (Jewish religious law). The roots of the dynasty are in Dusseldorf, Germany. A year before the Nazi rise to power, the family fled to the Netherlands and from there to Israel.

Menachem Elon studied at the Hebron Yeshiva, one of the most prestigious ultra-Orthodox yeshivas, and then studied law. His career was characterized by a combination of halakha and law, and he came to be known as an expert in Jewish law. He established chairs for the study of Jewish law and published extensively in the field. In 1977 he was appointed to the Supreme Court, without having any previous experience as a judge. A decade later, he was promoted to the position of deputy Supreme Court president, under Meir Shamgar, and eventually retired after 16 years as a justice. In 1983, he was a candidate for the post of president of Israel, but lost out to Chaim Herzog.

Each of Justice Elon's four sons excelled in his field. Joseph ("Sefi") followed his father's path in law, serving as district judge in Be'er Sheva, and was a recent candidate for the Supreme Court. Elements in the right campaigned against his selection due to his rulings during the disengagement.

Binyamin ("Benny") Elon became a politician and served as chairman of the Moledet party after the murder of Rehavam Ze'evi, taking over the post of Tourism Minister. He later became chairman of the National Union-National Religious Party faction in the Knesset. He has retired from politics and is now busy fundraising among evangelicals in the United States. His son, Ari, is secular and a popular lecturer on the Bible.

Even compared to his brothers' success, Mordechai ("Moti") is undoubtedly the most popular. During the 1990s, he rose to head the Horev Yeshiva in Jerusalem. At the same time he both headed another yeshiva, Hakotel, and presented a program on the weekly parasha (or section of the Torah read on the Sabbath in synagogues) on Channel 1. He also headed Mi'Bereshit, an organization promoting mutual understanding and education.

During the 2006 elections, Moti was pressured to head a joint list of candidates for the National Union-National Religious Party, under the assumption that only a popular figure like him could unify the religious Zionist community, divided by the disengagement.

Moti Elon retired to Migdal in 2006, with members of the religious Zionist community saying the pressure and the work caused his collapse.