Rabbi Sheinberg in court
Rabbi Sheinberg in courtBasel Awidat/Flash90

The Nazareth District Court on Wednesday convicted Ezra Sheinberg, a former head of the Orot ha-Ari yeshiva in Tzfat, of sexual offenses against eight women.

The original indictment against the former yeshiva head included a long list of serious offenses, including rape, sodomy, indecent acts, disruption of proceedings, and fraud.

Sheinberg was arrested after senior rabbis in the city of Tzfat, led by Chief Rabbi of Tzfat Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, dismissed him from the yeshiva he headed, claiming that he had sexually abused women from his community as well as other women.

At first, Sheinberg rejected the charges against him, asserting that they were part of a deliberate plot against him. "The claims are dissipating one by one," he said in one of the remand hearings. "Complainant after complainant asserts that she said things she was forced to say. Things will become clear later."

However, in the end, Sheinberg was convicted of actions to which he confessed. This was part of a plea bargain which stipulated that the prosecution would seek to sentence him to eight years and nine months in prison.