A district in Tel Aviv on Thursday morning sentenced to 26 years in jail a Breslaw Chassid who headed the “Jerusalem Cult,” after his convictions for sexual abuse and holding women and minors in slavery conditions in the Jerusalem and Tiberias areas. One of his “helpers” was sentenced to six year in jail. The judge also ordered the cult leader to pay some $30 thousand as compensation to his victims, but it isn’t clear how they would go about collecting, since his victims continue to give him their full support.
The story was first exposed in August, 2011, and the police said it was one of the most severe abuse cases ever. Testimonies from the women who had been taken to temporary shelters, and journals that had been kept by the women and children, provided much support to the police case. Various hospitals also provided documentation of many injuries inflicted on the children.
In September, the court convicted the cult leader of 18 out of the 20 counts with which he was charged, including keeping people in slavery conditions, abusing minors, false imprisonment, and serious violations using sex and violence.
Nine suspects were involved in the case, although it is often difficult to separate the perpetrators from the victims. The “leader” had two male assistants, who carried out the punishments he issued. The crimes were, most often, “forbidden thoughts.” The remaining six suspects were the leaders “wives,” who were themselves being abused.
The obsession with “forbidden thoughts” is at the root of a lot of craziness, unfortunately. Together with the obsession with “forbidden sights” and “forbidden sounds” it is the force that turns religiosity into a hellish exercise in fear and loathing.
Then there was the “extended family,” that included dozens of children who were raped, sexually abused, tied up, caned, and shocked.
The court sentence reads like something out of the exploits of the Marquis de Sade, including public sex and sexual punishments. Shmaria will most likely be celebrating this one, so, if you seek hard core content, by all means, go visit.
Over here, we are overwhelmed by what appears to be the bestial outcome of a movement’s obsession with the “evils of sexuality.” We should rightly identify those obsessions as belonging with the school of de Sade, and not, l’havdil, Chassidism.