2 Feb 2011

Rehabilitation continues for survivors one year after Israeli cult leader charged with rape, incest, and enslavement

The Jerusalem Post - January 12, 2011

Authorities handling fallout of breaking up polygamist cult

A year after police raided TA headquarters of suspected cult that involved some 40 children 20 women, welfare authorities say they are still dealing with rehabilitation process of cult members


One year after police raided the Tel Aviv headquarters of a suspected polygamist cult that involved some 40 children and 20 women, welfare authorities say they are still dealing intensely with the fallout and rehabilitation process of the cult members as they return to live a normative life.

According to information published Tuesday by the Welfare and Social Services Ministry, the 20 wives and 40 children of the yet-to-be convicted cult leader Goel Ratzon continue to receive a wide range of welfare services, including constant psychological monitoring.

“The Goel Ratzon affair is a clear sign that we have a policy of zero tolerance to cults and other groups that prey on vulnerable women and children,” Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog said in a statement Tuesday.

“It also raises awareness to the dangers of belonging to such cults.”

The minister said that in the coming months a specially formed committee to look into the phenomenon of cults and their long-term effects on members would present its findings and hopefully improve the rehabilitation process for those involved.

A spokeswoman for the ministry told The Jerusalem Post that the prosecution is still gathering evidence on Ratzon, who could be convicted of sexual abuse and rape of a minor.

The information released Tuesday regarding the fallout of this unique case showed that in addition to standard social welfare assistance, the women and their children are being given help in finding public housing and employment, access to legal aid and intensive therapy to reconnect with their extended families.

Former cult members have also received financial support to repay debts accrued while in the cult and funds to pay for the removal of the cult’s signature tattoo, which depicts their grey-haired leader and was inked in very visible places on most of the women’s bodies.

Social workers have also helped the children to acclimatize to the mainstream education system and financed psychological treatments for them.

“The role of the social services did not end with the rescue operation last year, but rather, that is when the hard work began,” stated the information published by the ministry, which described the work of a special team of social workers who have been continually examining the needs of each woman and following their progress in order to provide them with proper treatment and solutions for their complicated situation.

“We will continue to assist and rehabilitate the women and children for as long as they need and provide financial and professional resources for them,” said ministry director-general Nahum Itzkowitz.

In an interview last year with the Post, the ministry’s deputy director-general Menachem Wagshal, who worked for six months before the raid to make sure that breaking up the cult would not have an adverse effect on those involved, said that nothing like this had ever happened before in Israel.

“We looked at other similar cases from around the world,” said Wagshal in that interview. “We prepared for all the possible outcomes because there was a fear that the mothers could hurt their children the minute we entered their homes.”

At the time, there was also a concern that Ratzon had dictated a suicide pact to the women. The ministry assembled a team of 150 professionals to deal with the immediate fallout.

In Tuesday’s statement, the ministry said that most of the women and children had started to re-integrate into the community and had improved relations with their families.

“Most of the women have already left battered women’s shelters and are in various stages of integration in the community; some women have received grants for permanent housing and others have already purchased apartments,” said the ministry’s spokeswoman. “All women and children who need psychological treatment continue to receive it.”

This article was found at:



Israeli government task force recommends legislation to protect citizens from cults

Woman whose escape from Israeli cult led to rape, incest, enslavement charges against leader says state has abandoned her

'Wives' and children of Israeli cult leader begin recovery from abuse with help from specialists and family members

Exposed: Tel Aviv man has 32 women and 89 children

Israeli polygamist cult leader arrested on suspicion of rape, enslavement and indecent assault of minors

Israeli messianic cult leader charged with sexual assault, rape, incest, sodomy and enslavement

Prosecuting Israeli cult case reveals difficulty of protecting children from religion-related abuse

Messianic Israeli cult leader accused of enslavement, rape and incest speaks in court, asserts innocence

Israel's Knesset Committee for the Rights of the Child holds emergency meeting on cult case

Add Israeli polygamist to long list of 'messiahs' who sexually exploit their cult followers

Israeli politicians and women's advocates call for immediate change to polygamy law to protect rights of women and children

Israel issues international warrant against sect leader suspected of child abuse

Fugitive leader of Jerusalem sect is suspected of orchestrating the worst case of systematic child abuse in Israel's history

Jerusalem mother in child abuse ring signs plea bargain, turns state's witness

Brazil denies asylum to Israeli sect leader suspected of child abuse

Violent ultra-Orthodox exorcist extradited from Brazil to Israel to face charges of child abuse

Sect leader extradited to Israel from Brazil faces 8 charges related to torture of follower's children

Israeli cult leader's lawyer charged with obstructing court and harassing witnesses


  1. Tel Aviv cult leader Goel Ratzon convicted of sex crime charges

    The 64-year-old polygamist, first indicted in 2010, was found guilty of aggravated rape and other sexual offenses, but was acquitted of enslavement charges.

    By Revital Hovel | Haaretz September 8, 2014

    The Tel Aviv District Court on Monday convicted Israeli polygamist and cult leader Goel Ratzon of numerous sex offenses, including rape and committing sexual against family members, some four and a half years after he was first indicted.

    The 2010 indictment outlined Ratzon's lifestyle in a way "that will rattle the mind, the imagination and question human morality," according to the document filed at the Tel Aviv District Court four years ago. "The suspect enslaved and appropriated his 21 wives for many years, in acts which contradict social norms, in a way which was common during the darkest times of human history," the indictment read.

    On Monday, the 64-year-old was convicted of carrying out sexual offenses against six of the seven victims who testified against him, some of whom were his daughters, and most of whom were minors. He was found guilty of aggravated rape, sexual offenses against family members, sodomy and indecent assault.

    The court however acquitted him of the precedent-setting charge of enslavement. The verdict was delivered by a closed-door panel of judges headed by Nurit Achituv, Miriam Diskin and Raanan Ben Yosef.

    Maayan, one of Ratzon's wives, levelled harsh criticism at the court and the fact that Ratzon was acquitted on the slavery charge. "There is no law and there is no judge in the State of Israel. I was in complete slavery. If the State of Israel had not released me, I would have been serving a life sentence," she said.

    Ratzon was accused of subjecting his family of 21 'wives' and 38 children to strict disciplinary measures, but claimed that the women and children lived with him on their own accord.

    Some of the measures Ratzon imposed on his family were found in a rule book that included:

    1. No women shall marry nor shall any woman attack another, either verbally or physically. Fine: NIS 2,000, to be paid into the family kitty.

    2. No woman shall question another about her whereabouts. Fine: NIS 100.

    3. No conversation is permitted in rooms other than the living room. It is forbidden to talk nonsense. Fine: NIS 200.

    Police began investigating Ratzon in June 2009 after receiving a complaint about abuse from one of the women. He was considered by his companions to be the savior (Goel in Hebrew) of the universe, and was attributed godly and supernatural abilities. Many of the women had his name and portrait tattooed on several parts of their bodies.


  2. Head of polygamist cult Ratzon sentenced to 30 years in prison

    By YONAH JEREMY BOB, Jerusalem Post October 28, 2014

    Prior to his January 2010 arrest, Ratzon had 21 "wives" and over 40 children from those wives who were part of his cult over a period of around 30 years.

    Cult-leader Goel Ratzon was sentenced on Tuesday to 30 years in prison on his convictions for sex crimes and financial fraud.

    He will serve 25 years from Tuesday's sentencing after already having been in prison for more than four years already while his trial proceeded.

    In September, Ratzon was convicted of most of the sex crimes he was accused of and financial fraud, but acquitted of enslaving people by the Tel Aviv District Court regarding several wives and children.

    Prior to his January 2010 arrest, Ratzon had 21 "wives" and over 40 children from those wives who were part of his cult over a period of about 30 years.

    Ratzon was indicted in the Tel Aviv District Court in February 2010 on a litany of charges, including multiple counts of rape, sodomy, molestation of minors, fraud and the unusual charge of spiritual enslavement.

    The decision was handed down by a three judge panel, including Nurit Ahituv, Miriam Diskin and Ra'anan Ben-Yosef - though it was issued several hours late when the Israel Prisons Service bizarrely forgot to bring him to court from his Beersheba prison cell.

    The fraud charges against Ratzon described him as defrauding his wives out of their money and manipulating them into serving as his slaves.

    While Ratzon's conviction had been likely to lead to significant jail time from which he, at 64, may not emerge while still alive, some of his ex-wives were disturbed that he was acquitted on the spiritual enslavement charge.

    Opposition leader Isaac Herzog praised the conviction for sex crimes, adding, "this is an important step toward uprooting the phenomenon of exploiting women at its roots" and that the state had sent a message that "the bodies and souls of women are not a free for all."

    MK Michal Rozen (Meretz) said too many cults still exist in Israel which abuse women and children and that the Knesset must pass new legislation to fully tackle the phenomenon.

    continued below

  3. The indictment said Razon’s 21 wives were made to feel they were “required to serve [him] and fulfill all of his demands,” allegedly including sexual acts. It accuses Ratzon of using his standing and the women’s adulation to demand that some of them perform sexual acts on him.

    The indictment describes a chilling account of Ratzon’s alleged deeds, including one instance where he allegedly forcibly inserted his fingers into a 17-year-old girl, and when she protested, told her “don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.”

    The indictment also details Ratzon’s abuse of a girl he allegedly molested almost daily for two years, starting when she was 15.

    Soon after his arrest in 2010, Ratzon had said he did not understand why he was under arrest since “stroking” minors did not constitute rape.

    He also maintained throughout that all actions he undertook were with the consent of his wives and that they were permitted to leave his cult at anytime.

    The indictment repeated threats Ratzon allegedly made to his wives in which he threatened to harm their health or that of their children if they did not obey his wishes.

    “I have the power to save and the power to destroy. If you do things that I forbid then I will make sure you and your children are stricken with serious illnesses,” the indictment quotes one witness as saying Ratzon told her.

    Ratzon was also accused in the indictment of using different methods to strip the women of their personal identities, including forcing them to tattoo his name and image on their bodies, and requiring them to change their given names to ones of his choosing.

    The women were then reportedly required to break off all ties with their families and friends, and were not allowed to have any social life or connections whatsoever outside of the communal house.

    They were also allegedly subject to repeated verbal abuse and humiliation by Ratzon, in order to strip them of their self-respect and independence.

    Ratzon also allegedly wielded absolute control over the women’s movements, allowing them to leave the house only with his approval and requiring them to report to him all excursions, except to their workplace. He also reportedly forbade them from wearing sunglasses when outside with him, so that he could follow their gaze at all times.

    The women were allegedly forced to dress modestly, were not allowed to use television or Internet without his approval, and were forced to attend to Ratzon at all hours of the night whenever he desired.

    The indictment also states that Ratzon required the children to line up and kiss his feet every time he entered the house, allegedly to reaffirm his superiority.

    Ratzon is accused of demanding the women hand over their money to him, which the indictment alleges brought a number of the women to bankruptcy, including one who ran up a debt of NIS 400,000 funneling money to Ratzon.

    The women were allegedly required to hand over their paychecks and their national insurance child allotments into a communal account that Ratzon exercised “absolute” control over.

    Ben Hartman contributed to this report.