Jerusalem Rabbi suspected of leading a cult and sexually abuse boys

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Rabbi Menachem Yaveh, 51, was arrested this week on suspicion of leading a cult in Jerusalem and sexually abusing boys who were part of the cult. Yaveh is a student of Rabbi Eliezer Berland and father of 17 children. At least four of Yaveh’s former students filed police complaints against him.One of the witnesses said, “Yaveh was allowed to do anything, including the most despicable acts written in the Torah. It could have gone on for nights and I wouldn’t eat or drink.” The student pointed to the old apartments where the acts took place in Jerusalem, and said, “The cover story was to open a yeshiva, but he wanted workers to serve him.”Mordechai (alias) claimed that Rabbi Yaveh sexually assaulted him. “He kept warning me, ‘You know you mustn’t tell this to anyone in your life because something could happen to you. This is something I did purely with you and for you, something that I don’t do with anyone.'”He said that Yaveh brought him into the room while sitting, closed all the doors and told him that his grandfather was “in very, very low places in heaven because you sin.” The student said that he was frightened and felt that he was “going to die” from shame. After that, Yaveh told him that he would make sure that nothing happened to him. Yaveh then started hugging him and kissing him on the lips. “It was such intimate affection, he gave me the feeling that I don’t need anything in the world, that I only needed him. And that’s where my life’s worst journey began.”Mordechai said that the sexual offenses were committed “in the name of our holy Torah”, and Yaveh used verses from the Torah to justify his actions. According to Mordechai, “He constantly gave me the feeling that I need someone to support me and depend on someone. He simply took my innocence and exploited it for about four years.”Mordechai said that 80% of the acts were done to him in the same room which was “small, dark, and frightening to be in.” He added, “I didn’t understand anything about sex and all these things, he just took me and said to me, ‘Tell me what other things you like, what other things you want.’ I told him, ‘We’ve already done everything,’ and he asked, ‘What else do you want me to do?'”Mordechai added: “Menachem, let it be known that you hurt my soul and ruined my life and my family’s life. The evil you did to me destroyed my life and trampled on it. You ruined my life on the day I realized that you were not righteous and used me purely for your personal interest. I know more people who went through it.”Another witness, Tzachi Zeitlin, gave up his anonymity and said he studied at a Hasidic yeshiva in Mea She’arim. According to him, Yaveh used to hang around the Hasidic Breslav synagogue and crown himself as the “true student” of Rabbi Berland. He claimed to have been brainwashed by Yaveh with “long hours of endless talking that creates dependency”. Zeitlin said, “Yaveh used to start with the most serious sexual assaults, in every form and way.” He described. “My family figured out there was a problem in this relationship and they broke us apart with great effort.”Moshe, who also chose to forego his anonymity, said “once I entered the room with him and he asked, ‘Do you feel that I love you?’ Then he started kissing me on the cheek, and it turned into kisses on the lips. He talked to me about intimate issues which I had no idea about. I was not supposed to be exposed to this as a 14-year-old Ultra-Orthodox boy.”According to Moshe, “He told me several times that if I get him innocent guys who don’t ask questions, he will pay me NIS 2,000 for each guy. At some point I ask myself, ‘Is this the rabbi who is supposed to guide you?'”Nathan (alias) said that the rabbi used to look for 13-year-old guys because “at that age, they don’t have any opinions. He used to say it directly that he was looking for guys like that, without any sense.” In another testimony, it was claimed that “he cut the boys off completely from their parents and their surroundings, slowly marrying them off and building an entire community around him.”Another witness, Hodaya (alias), described that Yaveh would give his students huge pictures of himself as a gift after they got married. “The goal was to look at him and think about him all the time, so that the children would come out righteous like him. That he would be constantly in your thoughts,” she said. The police stated: “This is an ongoing investigation. We will continue to investigate the suspicions with the required professionalism.” During the investigation, Yaveh continued to lead the yeshiva. The rabbi refused to comment on the investigation, but his wife claimed “he is a righteous man who is being slandered.”

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