Ratzon's women speak of their love for 'special' man and caring husband

Haaretz, Israel/January 17, 2010

One of Goel Ratzon's 'wives' claimed yesterday his arrest was motivated by revenge and hostility toward the sect's way of life.

"There are quite a few people who wanted to take revenge, because Goel is a celebrity," she said.

"There are a several people who don't like our way of life and they invent stories, like the rule book - which was only a joke, but everyone now seems to believe it. You'd have to be crazy to believe that women were fined for those things," she added.

She refuted the allegation against Ratzon, saying, "I don't know any of these things; I haven't seen anything in my house or anyone else's to support the accusations."

"The story about the rule book is absurd. People believe that story like 12-year-old girls believe Harry Potter stories. Nobody speaks about how well looked after the children are. If any of the rules had been implemented the children wouldn't have had money to buy them flat-screen televisions, shoes, new school satchels every year or food - not to mention new cars."

The woman said she saw things she had never seen in any other man before. "There's something special about him and I've dated many guys," she said.

"Life here is all about sharing everything; each of us could go to work knowing her children were in good hands. We have never been a burden to the state because we've helped each other," she said.

Another Ratzon's concubines said that, after completing her military service, she discovered Tel Aviv's night life and went clubbing every night. Two years later she started having nightmares and couldn't sleep.

When she was 22, she met a woman who introduced her to Ratzon in the south Tel Aviv neighborhood of Hatikva Quarter. A man with white hair and a long white beard stood at the entrance and asked whether they had raped me."

She said they hadn't, but were trying to.

"He told me, 'I can save you, because as soon as they rape you they'll take your soul'," she said. Eventually she became one of his 17 wives.

Ratzon, who worked at the time as a healer, started looking after her as well. In the course of the treatments they became more deeply attached. During one such treatment, she asked Ratzon "who will be my future husband and where will I find him?"

Ratzon didn't think twice and said, "you'll meet him here in the house."

A few weeks later she said "the penny dropped" and in her parents house she told him: "Goel, I'm in love with you."

Her parents stood stunned and speechless, she said. Ratzon hugged her and was ready to make her his wife at once. At first she lived in a kibbutz and a few weeks later she began to dress in the same religiously modest clothing that his other wives did.

Her parents at first refused to accept the marriage. Their attempts to dissuade her failed. Her father even filed a police complaint in 1997 but nothing was done.

At one point, her mother decided she could not lose her daughter. She went to the apartment her daughter was living and discovered that she was pregnant with Ratzon's baby.

The mother suggested an abortion and offered to pay for it, but her daughter wouldn't hear of it. "If you're not prepared to accept my choice then we will have to go our separate ways," she told her mother. Her mother gave in, but her father did not speak to her for 10 years, she said. She didn't even go to her sister's wedding because of the severance with her father.

A year ago, her father fell seriously ill and she moved to an apartment close to her family, to be with him in his last days, she said. Ratzon visited her and her children often.

Her father died recently and she now lives in her own home, running an independent life.

The woman's family wants to believe that she would break up with Ratzon following his arrest, but at this stage she supports him fully.

Several of Ratzon's wives explain why they found comfort in his arms. One of them said she had a complicated life: at a young age she was very ill and suffered a permanent hair loss. From the age of 10 she has been bald and became a laughing stock at school.

After a few treatments from Ratzon she felt safe in his arms and she fell in love with him.

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