Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Chief Rabbi of the northern city of Tzfat and member of the Chief Rabbinate Council, on Wednesday said that he had removed all of Chaim Walder's books from his home - and called on others to do the same.
Walder, a haredi author and publicist, was recently accused of raping several women when they were teens. In response, a Brooklyn bookstore removed his books from their shelves and Israeli haredi media outlets suspended him. On Thursday morning it was announced that Walder has decided to take a break from public duties.
When asked many times what those who had purchased Walder's books should do with them. Rabbi Eliyahu said that there is no doubt of "a very heavy cloud of suspicion of rape."
"The issue has not yet reached the court, and we did not hear both sides, and therefore there is a doubt as to whether he is guilty," Rabbi Eliyahu said. "On the other hand, there is no doubt that there is a very heavy cloud of suspicion of rape and sexual harassment, at high levels, of many women over the course of many years."
"The Torah wants us to treat rape with the greatest severity, and tells us that rape is similar to murder," Rabbi Eliyahu wrote. "This is even more so regarding a person suspected of raping many women, young and old. There is a question as to whether this person is a mass murderer."
"Because of this terrible doubt, I do not have his books in my home, even though they have many praiseworthy qualities. I do not burn them, but for someone for whom this is difficult, I suggest placing them in storage until the facts become clearer."
Rabbi Eliyahu added: "We must not keep in our homes books written by someone who is suspected of sexually abusing so many women. This teaches children and those around us that we are lax when it comes to this horrendous abomination. The fact that a child reads a book by someone suspected of rape turns the author into a legitimate figure, and that is an educational disaster. We must call out, loudly: There is no compromise on the war on this abomination."
"We must explain to our children and those around us that this phenomenon has no shred of legitimacy. They need to understand that if the suspicions are true, this is an abomination. I hope for his sake that it becomes clear that the suspicions are not true. In the meantime, there are dozens of women who are testifying that he hurt them in a crass way, and we cannot ignore their cries."