Michael J. Salamon

Rabbi Druckman – Rethink Moti Elon

Rabbi Moti Elon has been a convicted sex offender for several months. The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court found him guilty of indecent acts against a minor about five months ago. Still Rabbi Chaim Druckman, the head of the Bnei Akiva Yeshiva, Or Etzion believes that it is fair to retain Elon as a lecturer at the Yeshiva. Rabbi Druckman’s argument for retaining Elon which he stated in a radio interview is unfortunately simplistic, naive and misleading. Rabbi Druckman said, “we’re talking about an incident in which two people were in the room…Who says the claim is true? No one knows what happened in the room and no one can know. This is why the ruling is a mistake.”

I have just a few points that I would like to share with Rabbi Druckman. The first is that he would benefit from looking into the Jerry Sandusky situation at Penn State. In brief, the assistant football coach at Penn State, Sandusky was allowed to stay on at the school, using their facilities even while the administration heard reports and suspected that he was abusing young boys. Ultimately Sandusky was convicted and the University administrators are now being charged for not reporting him to the proper authorities and covering up his offenses. Had they done the correct thing, reported and removed him from the possibility of being in an environment where he could continue to abuse he would not have traumatized others. By letting him stay on Penn State administrators gave Sandusky the impression that they discreetly approved his abusive behaviors, and he took advantage of it. I trust Rabbi Druckman does not approve of abusing children but inadvertently permitting others to do so is in itself a crime.

Rabbi Druckman should also be aware that virtually all abusers deny the fact that they abuse – Elon is no different. Denial is part of the abusers modus operandi. For Rabbi Druckman to deny the report of the person abused is to perpetuate a myth that children randomly report abuse. Quite the opposite is true. In the overwhelming majority of situations and in the absence of cases where reports of abuse are related to divorce and custody, children who report abuse are accurate and should be believed. But beyond that point, an investigation done by competent professionals found that Elon was in fact a predator. That fact alone should alert Rabbi Druckman to the very real possibility that denial is Elon’s only defense and it is just a smokescreen. Elon has a magnetic personality and many of his students remain strong supporters but none of that negates the fact that he was convicted of heinous acts. Being allowed to remain in an environment where he has access to people that he can groom and prey on is allowing the fox to guard the hens.

I would not be so bold as to attempt to teach Rabbi Druckman a section of Talmud but there is one that I feel must be brought to his attention given its relevance to his support for Elon. In Moed Katan, 17a, the Gemara talks about a talented and beloved educator who was involved in indecent acts (see Ritva). Rebbi Yehuda excommunicated him, banning him from his Yeshiva. A few years later when Rebbi Yehuda was ill the excommunicated teacher came to visit him. Rebbi Yehuda would not overturn the excommunication. After Rebbi Yehuda passed a debate arose as to whether the educator should be allowed back to his teaching position. Again the excommunication remained in place.

A convicted abuser is a dangerous individual who must be kept away from others he may find to abuse. There is really no good justification to allow Moti Elon to remain as a lecturer, only bad rationalizations.

About the Author
Dr. Michael Salamon ,a fellow of the American Psychological Association, is an APA Presidential Citation Awardee for his 'transformative work in raising awareness of the prevention and treatment of childhood sexual abuse". He is the founder and director of ADC Psychological Services in New York and Netanya, the author of numerous articles, several psychological tests and books including "The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures" (Urim Publications), "Every Pot Has a Cover" (University Press of America) and "Abuse in the Jewish Community: Religious and Communal Factors that Undermine the Apprehension of Offenders and the Treatment of Victims."