By Emily Amrousi (Israel Hayom)
November 30, 2017
Complainants against Safed Rabbi Ezra Sheinberg are speaking out for the first time.
Sheinberg, a prominent rabbi who previously headed a Jewish community and a network of yeshivas in the northern Israeli city pleaded guilty to eight counts of sexual offenses against eight separate women who had turned to Sheinberg for spiritual guidance, as part of a plea bargain signed in July.
Three of Sheinberg's victims spoke to Israel Hayom about how he used his influence to demand they perform sexual acts on themselves while speaking to him via video chat and later that they meet with him privately.
"The meetings slowly became more physical. In his home and at my home, when my husband was away," one of the victims said. "A medical issue that I had in my body went away, and I was convinced it was due to the 'treatments' he performed on me. It created a sort of dependency on my part. Every time, he would think of a new sickness I had, and I believed the illnesses went away because of him. He said that if I said anything about the 'relaxation treatments,' the blessing would not take effect, and something terrible would happen to my husband or my kids."
Another victim said, "The treatments became more and more humiliating and difficult. I wanted my treatment to be over already. He asked if I would agree to 'receive his spiritual abundance inside my mouth.' He asked me to think of him when I was with my husband. When I asked him how that could be, because he is a righteous man, his answer was, 'I enjoy giving abundance.' He used to say that when he heals, he has no inhibitions. I believed it."
The third complainant described her experience to Israel Hayom as follows:
"When he asked me to strip and put on a blindfold, I refused at first. ... I was ashamed of myself - how irresponsible of me to doubt him. No one knew I was going to him, and he emphasized that the blessing would only take effect if it was hidden from view. One day, he told me, 'Let's do a reverse relaxation. You touch me in the same spots on my body.' He said that if he gives me 'abundance,' then the treatment will end. I told myself; let him do what he needs to do, just so the agony would end. In my body and soul, I felt I was being raped, but I couldn't stop it.
"I would be crying uncontrollably. When I asked to stop meeting with him, he gave me the sense that I had done something wrong. I thought to myself, 'You go to a gynecologist and he pokes you there, so he's also a type of doctor."
Sheinberg's attorney Menachem Rubinstein declined to comment.