Israeli Rabbi, on Trial for Kidnaping of Youth, Denies Guilt in Court

Testifying in his own defense, Rabbi Binyamin Mendelsohn of Kommemiut settlement, who with three others, is on trial for alleged complicity in the abduction of Yossele Schumacher, denied today that he had anything to do with the kidnaping of the nine-year-old boy who was taken from his parents because of fears that he would not receive an Orthodox education.

In a dramatic statement occasionally interrupted by choking tears, Rabbi Mendelsohn told the court that he had no knowledge of Yossele’s whereabouts and had nothing to do with the abduction. He expressed sorrow that those hiding him did not heed the call of the rabbis urging his return.

Rabbi Mendelsohn branded as a malicious lie, all the stories told by an earlier witness about an alleged meeting of rabbis at which it was decided to abduct Yossele and declared that such a fabrication was reminiscent of the “black libels” of which Jews in the Diaspora were accused, many years ago. “It is a terrible libel,” Rabbi Mendelsohn declared, “and woe to me that I have heard such a lie told by a Jewish witness under oath.” He concluded his statement by dramatically reciting the “Shema.”

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