Rabbi Who Enslaved 30 Women In "House Of Horrors" Pleads Guilty In Exchange For Lax Sentence

A Jerusalem Rabbi who enslaved 30 women in his home, dubbed the "house of horrors," has pleaded guilty in exchange for only nine months of community service and cash compensation to his victims.

By Nicole Dominique2 min read

Jerusalem Rabbi Aharon Ramati got off too easy for his crimes against women.

Ramati, who was charged with enslavement, minor assault, and obstruction of justice, agreed to plea guilty for "holding people in conditions akin to slavery," as reported by YNetNews. The case has been referred to as the "house of horrors."

His "punishment?" Nine months of community service and a payment of around $34,000 in compensation to the victims. 

What Did Ramati Do?

Ramati assembled a group of young women from religious families or those who were "exploring faith" in 2008. He housed them in a facility known as "Be'er Miriam Seminary," located on the top floor of his residence from 2009 to 2015.

The victims attended daily spiritual and religious classes that Ramati led. Twelve women lived in his home, but the number eventually grew to 30. Ramati moved to a house nearby. The abused women lived in cramped and neglected conditions, only having three bedrooms for all of them. The building had leaks and remained damp – as a result, the women slept on moldy mattresses. Hot water was nonexistent. They paid $220 a month for a bed or $170 a month for a spot on a mattress. They worked every morning and had to maintain the apartment.

Ramati persuaded women to believe he was a "sanctified individual with exclusive knowledge of the true path" via "relentless indoctrination." His damaging ideology painted personal desires as sinful, and that secular enjoyment would have "dire consequences" in the afterlife. Ramati successfully barred the women from the outside world by keeping them in a "cult-like" environment.

His charges highlighted his lectures, which often pressured women to relinquish their own desires and the "complete renouncement of bodily needs to prioritize spiritual obligations," as written by YNetNews. Ramati even denounced the entire ultra-Orthodox community for their "misguided practices, foretelling a doomed end for the world in hellfire, with salvation reserved solely for his loyal adherents."

Ramati instilled fear of doom and eternal damnation, as well as catastrophes like car accidents, severe ailments, and other violent incidents, should his victims defy him or contemplate leaving the house of horrors. The women were not allowed to speak with men or their relatives and were instead encouraged to isolate themselves. He would go as far as to advocate for legal orders to prevent parents from contacting their daughters.

A victim who ran away recalled a time when Ramati was angered after she questioned him. "One day, he took me and another girl for a car ride, and the whole way, he was warning us about men and how we should stay away from them,” she said. “We asked him 'So why is it okay for us to be with you?' He started arguing with us and scared us, the whole situation was weird and unsettling. There was brainwashing, unequivocally."

In a 2020 hearing, a police official said, “What happened at the seminar was not Torah-learning. The girls learned to obey the cult leader. They invited women to Shabbat meals. The rabbi knows how to talk to women. Slowly, they scared them and separated them from their families. Part of the money that came from the girls was used to buy a car for the cult leader.”

Ramati was accused of promoting physical punishment for children – specifically inserting hot peppers into their mouths, which was alleged to have taken place in a childcare facility run by him. 

Eleven victims chose not to testify against him because it was too distressing for them to face their abuser. 

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