The Nazareth District Court has ruled that Ezra Sheinberg, the disgraced former head of the Orot Ha’Ari yeshiva in the northern city of Tzfat, is to pay NIS 470,000 to one of his victims, in compensation.
Justice Irit Hod wrote in her ruling that, “During 2013, the defendant was in contact with the plaintiff and her husband, with the defendant claiming that he could help and guide the plaintiff. They were in contact via email and the defendant ordered the plaintiff to do what he described as ‘relaxation massage,’” which turned out to be a form of indecent assault.
The judge described the faith the plaintiff had in the defendant, who abused her trust in someone she viewed as a reliable religious authority in order to perpetrate his crimes, under the guise of “spiritual correction.”
“This heightened the damage done to the plaintiff,” the judge noted, “and damaged her self-confidence and her ability to trust other people. Although the plaintiff was not left with physical scars, she was definitely emotionally scarred by her experiences.”
Sheinberg was convicted and pled guilty to two counts of attempted rape, six counts of indecent assault, and other related offenses, as well as subverting the course of justice.
In August of this year, it was announced that Sheinberg, sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison following a plea bargain, would be released early due to “good conduct” while behind bars. The State Prosecution Service has appealed the decision.
Responding to the decision of the Prosecution Service to appeal Sheinberg’s early release, Michal Hacohen, one of his victims, told Reshet Bet, “Finally, finally, the Prosecution is listening to us. The public pressure has done its work. I’m happy that my friends in the north will still have some peace of mind, and I hope that he pays the full price of his crimes.”