Jerusalem – The abuse of 22 children, ages 3 to 10, enrolled in a Belz Cheder in Tel Aviv, has come to light after 11 years with the indictment of six teachers on various charges of extortion, sodomy of minors, indecent assault, and abuse and assault of minors.
Beginning in 2000 until 2011, the 22 children were taught by the defendants named in the indictments, and were subjected to “daily physical and emotional violence,” according to a report by YNet News (http://bit.ly/2aypMWr).
The victims referred to the school as “Bergen-Belsen,” a nod to the Nazi concentration camp, and called the main defendant, Avraham Mordechai Rosenfeld, “Rosenazi.”
The 49-year-old defendant is charged with the worst of the abusive acts, including beating the students with wooden boards, binding the students to their desks or chairs with cable ties or rope, and forcing them to stand during class with both their feet and hands tied. While they remained bound, Rosenfeld put spoons filled with soap or black pepper in their mouths and prevented them from rinsing their mouths afterward. He also prohibited his victims from using the restroom, forcing them to urinate on themselves while sitting in their chairs.
For his victims, ages 7 to 10, Rosenfeld took them to a special school lounge outfitted with beds where he allegedly sexually assaulted them. The room also contained a closet which held candy confiscated from students. After sexually abusing the students, Rosenfeld waited for them to stop crying, then gave them sweets and sent them away.
Rosenfeld is also facing a charge of animal abuse for his role in beating a cat with an umbrella in front of his students. The cat had wandered into Rosenfeld’s classroom, whereupon Rosenfeld beat the animal and then murdered it by pushing the cat out the window where it fell to its death.
Rosenfeld’s behavior is consistent with the abuse and terror he rained down on his wife and children at home. One of his children alleges he was abused by his father for years before he finally left home. His wife has said Rosenfeld controlled the food in the home, and threatened to divorce her and prevent her from seeing her children if she spoke up about the abuse.
The other five defendants named along with Rosenfeld are Yisrael Haim Shapira, 65, Haim Fishgrond, 69, Moshe Hirsch, 39, Menachem Alberstein, 63, and Avraham Pinchas Deytsch, 53. Many of Rosenfeld’s co-defendants have confessed to some of the “less serious incidents,” but have indicated that they were only meant as a joke. The co-defendants were released from custody with limitations for the remainder of the court proceedings. Rosenfeld is being held in detention.
An attorney for some of the defendants, Zion Amir, said, “Some of the people I represent completely deny the allegations against them. There is going to be a long trial that will acquit whoever needs to be acquitted from this important community.”
Yehuda Fried, the lawyer for Rosenfeld, said, “The acts described in the indictment are exaggerated. Regarding his family, the accusations are completely made up by those seeking to get between him and his wife.”