Ezra Sheinberg
Ezra SheinbergPhoto: Basel Awidat/Flash90

Ezra Sheinberg, convicted of sexual offenses against eight women and sentenced to over seven years in prison, will not be welcomed if he moves to the Katzrin region in the Golan Heights. In a letter to residents, Head of the Katzrin Local Council, Dmitri Afratsev, exclaimed, "I say this in the clearest voice possible: I strongly oppose the arrival of sex offender Ezra Sheinberg in Katzrin."

"I am not excited and I do not believe in any 'super abilities' of a charlatan who took advantage of the innocence of many women according to the indictment, according to the sentence of the district court, and according to the judgment of the Supreme Court which rejected his appeal on the severity of the sentence (only seven and a half years of actual imprisonment). Even in the Katzrin community, which embraces its population, there is a limit to our ability to countenance this type of criminal."

"I strengthen the hands of the residents of Katzrin, the activists who organized to lead a legal and legitimate protest against the arrival of the sex offender in Katzrin and against the family of the offender who, under the auspices of the coronavirus crisis, came to the city. I intend to assist the residents' struggle against the arrival of the sex offender Ezra Sheinberg in Katzrin in every legal way possible. Be strong! Be courageous!"

Ezra Sheinberg served as head of the Orot HaAri Yeshiva in Safed and was recognized as a great Kabbalist, scholar, and teacher. He was even regarded as a righteous man with supernatural powers.

Sheinberg sent a letter from Maashiyahu prison to his family and associates on the occasion of Yom Kippur. In his letter, he addressed his family members, his students, the people who consulted him in the past, "and to each and every one who was harmed by my actions, in any way".

"During treatment, I became more and more aware of the strength and depth of the hurt I caused each and every one of you and the great anger that was generated towards me," he wrote in his letter. "I also understood the powerful effect of the terrible blasphemy that I caused when my actions were made public."

"I am ashamed of what I did - I sinned, I transgressed and I committed a crime," he wrote. "I will tell you that part of the treatment procedure I went through was to internalize the extent of the damage my actions caused because unfortunately, my previous position did not allow me to look at the magnitude of the damage. I stand before each and every one of you and ask for your forgiveness from the bottom of my heart."

"You should know that day by day, the distance between my sinful actions and the place where I now stand is growing, I have no intention or desire to return to that place," he added. "Not to gain power as a public figure, nor to belong to the community, etc. I was sorry to hear that my lack of reaching out to my complainants was misinterpreted. I am in the process of internalizing and correcting my behavior in order not to repeat my sins. Unfortunately, I am forbidden from contacting, directly or indirectly, any of the women who were harmed by my actions and complained about it - this is because this would border on being a crime, and I should obey the instructions of the law."

In his words, "The funds intended for compensation have already been seized and are no longer in my possession. The manner of distribution will be carried out if and when the court decides. There is no action taken by lawyers to fight against those who were harmed by my actions, God forbid. I repeat and once again ask for forgiveness from everyone who was hurt by my actions and I pray that my forgiveness will be accepted and I will understand if, God forbid, they are not."