JERUSALEM (VINnews) — In a painfully candid interview aired on Israel’s Kan 11 state television channel, a young woman (whose voice was dubbed and face blurred) described the severe abuse she suffered at the hands of the rabbi of her school and subsequently the harassment she endured at her Ulpana, or girls high school.
The young woman, a member of a prominent religious Zionist family, said that she had been sent to an “extremely religious school” where modesty was at a premium and no allowance was made for exposure to technology.
During the 8th grade, girls were vying to be accepted to an exclusive high school, with the yardstick being based not only on grades but also on their level of religiousity. The school’s rabbi was involved in the admission process as he was acquainted with the high school and could provide references on each girl. The rabbi spoke to the girls about the dangers of Facebook and warned them not to be involved in it. After the rabbi discovered that the young woman had Facebook, he asked her if her parents knew of this. She answered in the negative but realized that he now had information which he could use against her.
From this point on, the woman revealed that the rabbi had exploited her and abused her on many occasions at a building near the school. She described the abuse as “aggressive, humiliating and continuous.” She felt that she was the guilty party and also did not understand what was happening, but since the rabbi was the person responsible for her possible future schooling, she kept silent, suffering through her ordeals without any respite.
The woman said that despite all the warning signs and deterioration in her physical and emotional health, nobody took note of the signs. At one point the 13-year-old girl wrote a pornographic story about a girl who had been raped and read it out in class. When the staff heard about the story, they took her to task for “badly influencing the other girls”. None of the staff and even the school counsellor did not question whether she herself had been abused, they simply wished to prevent her from influencing others.
The woman says that despite the fact that she was crying out for help, nobody was listening. She wrote mails to friends saying that she wants to murder the rabbi and wrote the story of her rape in her own words. She says that “today I know that I was not the only victim of this rabbi and this was not something which occurred only in my neighborhood.”
The woman later described her ordeals in the high school with the rabbi, who insisted on having private conversations with her, asked her very intimate questions and stood very close to her, sometimes brushing her as he went past. She hated going to school and hated most the silencing of any complaints about abuse which she feels is still a major problem in the religious Zionist world.
The interview is the first of a 3-part expose on issues of abuse in the Ulpanot. The next part, due to be aired this week, contains girls who appear in person in front of the camera and describe harassment they suffered.