Rabbi Moti Elon remained calm in the face of an angry outburst at a lecture Wednesday evening. Nahum Pachenik, a long time community activist and founder of the Mashiv HaRuach magazine confronted Rabi Elon due to his as-yet-unappealed guilty verdict for abuse. Pachenik demanded that Rabbi Elon confess, accusing him of sexual abuse. His students in the small Beit Midrash study room remained calm as well, some starting to sing and clap to try and deflect Pachenik's rant.
Pachenik was eventually escorted out of the room as photographers snapped away and the incident was recorded on video and later broadcast on the news.
Following the incident Rabbi Elon stated, "I do not know that man, but it's the month of Elul, the month of mercy and forgiveness." Rabbi Elon's response was in line with statements outside the courthouse in which he simply thanked G-d and recited Psalms.
Rabbi Elon is a celebrated rabbi and community leader from an influential family. His gregarious and outgoing style made him popular with young students, but also resulted in two harassment charges. Two anonymous underage students stated that in 2003 and 2005, Rabbi Elon hugged and kissed them in an inappropriate, unwanted and overbearing manner. The charges of one of the accusers were dropped. On Wednesday, he was convicted of indecent acts after a lengthy trial. Rabbi Elon maintained his innocence throughout the trial stating he always hugs people in a friendly manner and the incident must have been misinterpreted.
Pachenik, a resident of Kiryat Arba, is the founder of the Eretz Shalom peace movement, a descendent of an important Hassidic Rebbe and a graduate of a prestigious school and army unit. He told Rabbi Elon, "I want to tell you that you are a great man, but you need to find the courage to say ‘I have sinned’." Pachenik claimed that he was sexually abused by a rabbi in 1993 whom he refused to name. The video was reposted on Arutz Sheva's Hebrew language news service.