The Supreme Court cleared the publication of the name of a prominent northern rabbi accused of sexual abuse overnight Thursday, revealing his identity to the press as Rabbi Ezra Sheinberg, Rosh Yeshiva (dean) of Yeshivat (Torah academy) Orot Ha'Ari in Tzfat (Safed).
Ten women have accused the rabbi of sexual abuse, up from earlier estimates of eight in Israeli media.
Since the scandal broke, Rabbi Sheinberg has been distanced from his yeshiva and from the Tzfat community for the sake of public safety.
During the hearing late Thursday, Justice Ari Shaham rejected claims that revealing the rabbi's name would cause undue damage to his reputation and personal safety.
"I have not found that this damage…tips the balance towards preventing publication of the name," the judge ruled. "The damage which the applicant indicates, does not differ from the risks to any person subject to criminal investigation into suspicion of serious acts."
"The identity of a person suspected of sexual offenses may incentivize further complainants, who asked not to be exposed so far, to testify as to what happened to them at the hands of the suspect," he continued, adding that public safety is paramount.
Rabbi Sheinberg was arrested while trying to flee Israel at Ben-Gurion Airport earlier this month. He was due to be identified by the press following a decision by the Nazareth District Court that revealing his identity was "in the public interest," but that decision had been frozen pending an appeal by his defense team.
Last Friday, Arutz Sheva exposed several damning details about the case, including the fact that Sheinberg allegedly admitted his offenses to Tzfat Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu – but since then has claimed over and over again that the allegations are "nonsense." Sheinberg's defense attorney also accused the women of lying, stating at one point, "who remembers this stuff 13 years later?"
The rabbi met with three of the complainants on Tuesday night, Channel 2 reported – the first time since the affair broke. The conflict evolved into a loud dispute between the parties as the complainants spared no words for the accused. The confrontation followed the publication of an emotional open letter to Sheinberg from one of his alleged victims on Monday night.
In the hours before his name was revealed to the press, Sheinberg's detention was extended until Thursday, July 23, and the presiding judge in that hearing revealed that damning physical evidence had been added to the case files.