Ezra Sheinberg
Ezra Sheinberg Basel Awidat/Flash90

The Prison Review Board of the Israel Prisons Service has decided to approve the early release of Ezra Sheinberg, after the prisoner completed two-thirds of his sentence.

Sheinberg is the former dean of the Orot Ha’ari yeshiva in the northern city of Tzfat. He was accused of sexual assault by eight women six years ago, and agreed to a plea bargain, following which he was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison. Although at one point he confessed to certain deeds (to Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of Tzfat), he later retracted his words and denied any wrongdoing.

The full decision of the Review Board has been blocked from publication. Reports indicate that upon his release, Sheinberg and his family will settle in the northern town of Katzrin.

Sheinberg’s release is being delayed by seven days due to the request of the Attorney General, Dr. Avichai Mandelblit.

Speaking on Reshet Bet on Tuesday, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu attacked the decision to approve Sheinberg’s release.

“This is absolutely wrong, and must be protested with full force,” he emphasized. “There were additional women who were too afraid to come forward. The courts have been far too lenient – a person like that should be locked up for life. He has never apologized and never shown remorse. From the standpoint of halakha [Jewish law], what he did was murder.”

Also responding to the news was MK Bezalel Smotrich, head of the Religious Zionism party, who said, “The decision of the Prison Review Board to shorten the sentence of Ezra Sheinberg is utterly shameful and constitutes a stab in the backs of his victims.”

“Having one’s sentence cut short by a third is not an integral right of any prisoner, and certainly not in Sheinberg’s case, as he has never taken responsibility for his actions. In fact, his original sentence was far too lenient, and releasing him early only compounds the injustice. I call on the State Prosecution Service to appeal this decision.”