Senior ultra-Orthodox educator accused of sexual abuse

Tzvia Rotenberg, who is now principal of a prestigious girls' school in Jerusalem, is accused by former students, who were underage at the time of the alleged abuse.

Israel Hayom/February 17, 2022

By  Yifat Erlich

Ultra-Orthodox educator Tzvia Rotenberg has been accused this week of sexual abuse by former students whom she taught while working at the Beit Yaakov Beit Yisrael girls' school in Jerusalem.

According to the alleged victims, Rotenberg would invite them to her home under the guise of Torah learning and instead kiss them and touch them inappropriately.

Rotenberg, 66, is a mother of four. She was born in Jerusalem in an influential family. Her uncle, the late Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, was a renowned scholar of Jewish law and head of the Kol Torah yeshiva, also located in the capital.

She is currently the principal of the prestigious Maalot Beit Yaakov girls' seminary in Ramat Shlomo, a Jerusalem neighborhood named after her uncle.

"Almost every week, I showed up at Tzvia Rotenberg's home in the Ezrat Torah neighborhood in Jerusalem," M., who was 14 at the time and is now 39, told Israel Hayom. "The official purpose of my visit was to strengthen my faith because I had questions. Most of the time, I was with her completely alone at home. At first, we were just studying and talking, but then she started to stroke me, then also hug me, and kiss me on the mouth, with the tongue.

"I was a completely innocent girl, without the slightest understanding of sexuality, and she was a grown woman, already forty years old, a sought-after educator that everyone wanted to be close to."

Another alleged victim said the trauma she experienced from being sexually abused by Rotenberg continues to haunt her to this day.

"She brought her face close to mine, put her hands on my legs, close to the groin, and stroked my neck," R. told Israel Hayom. "She moved in even closer, and her head was between my shoulder and my neck. She started panting for several long minutes. I was very uncomfortable, and I was shaking all over. She was so close to me. I tried to shield my body with my hands, but she pressed her chest to my hands."

R. continued, "It went on like this for many meetings. The situation was very strange to me. I realized that something was wrong, but I couldn't call it by name. I was very innocent. All I wanted was for her not to be angry with me. I struggle greatly with physical closeness, because of the flashbacks that I have from her breath on my neck. I can't take it when someone gets too close to me. It hurts my relationship to this day."

Rotenberg has denied all allegations and remains the principal of Maalot Beit Yaakov.

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