Do you know anything about the Beit Din of Rabbi Hafuta/Da’at Torah in Pico?

Many people of color and ex-Kabbalah Centre folks convert to Orthodox Judaism through this Beit Din. The conversion is reasonably priced, even free for some. It’s an intriguing collection of people who pass through its doors. They add vibrancy and excitement to 90035. One troubled woman is on her fourth attempt to convert to Orthodox Judaism and this is her best shot. She’s very impressed by how Rabbi Moshe Hafuta’s conversion class apparently revolves around the Zohar and Kabbalah.

Sam*: “I think I know some of the people you’re referring to. More of the bnai conversos who think they’re Jews by birth because they have the same last name as someone killed in the 1500s Inquisition. They have made their way all over California from LA. I’ve seen them but don’t talk to them, they’re like their own nation.”

R. Moshe Hafuta is one of ten children. He has a sister married to Rabbi Pinto. His father R. Avraham Hafuta, was controversial in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Moshe Hafutah’s uncle was arrested for repeatedly raping a girl:


The Central District Court ruled today that David Ben-Haham Hafuta, the Netanya rabbi charged with using mystical threats to make a 13-year-old girl have sex with him, will remain in custody throughout the court proceedings against him.

The state had requested Hafuta remain in custody, rather than being released to house arrest, claiming that the rabbi posed a threat to the public.

Hafuta, a 63-year-old community rabbi from Netanya, was arrested in May and charged with forcing a 13-yearold into having sex with him, by exploiting his authority and using “mystical threats” to intimidate her.

According to the charge sheet, Hafuta is accused of performing sexual acts on three occasions with the girl.

Between July and August 2010, the defendant picked up the girl at a Netanya intersection and drove her to a local beach.

He had sex with the girl after telling her she had to “repair her sins” and that she would be “the mother of the messiah.”

“The defendant used sayings and threats which were apparently based on mystical foundations in order to intimidate and enchant the minor, and convince her to hold sexual relations with him,” said the charge sheet.

He then held a “marriage ceremony” with the girl, and swore her to secrecy.

“He told her on several occasions that she has destructive forces that could cause the deaths of people, and that she must control those forces by having sex with him. He also warned that her mother ‘had to go’ and that she had to save her,” state prosecutors said.

Some Los Orthodox rabbis use this same approach.

From YNET:

Rabbi charged with raping 12-year-old girl
Netanya rabbi tells minor she’s fated to be ‘messiah’s mother,’ must have sex with him to atone for sins

A Netanya rabbi was charged on Monday with raping a 12-year-old girl. David Hafuta, 64, who prayed at the same synagogue as the minor, allegedly assaulted her on several occasions between July 2010 and May of this year.

According to the indictment, the girl asked Hafuta questions about religious matters. In response, he told her that he wants to “reveal her purpose in the world,” and for that she has to meet him.

Last July, the defendant asked the victim to wait for him early in morning at a Netanya intersection. He picked her up in his car and drove her to the beach. There he told her that she is fated “to become the messiah’s mother,” and that she must “atone for all the bad deeds that she has done so far” by having sexual relations with him.

He then conducted a marriage ceremony with the girl while still in the car, and swore her to secrecy. At one point he asked her to take her clothes off, and assaulted her.

The rabbi told the girl on several occasions that she possesses “destructive forces that might erupt and cause people to die,” and that in order to control these “forces” she must have intercourse with him. He also said that she would save her mother by having sex with him. He reportedly assaulted her at several locations, including his office.

Moreover, the rabbi asked the girl to bring friends to him, and so she lead two other girls to his office. He told each one that “the war of Gog and Magog (Armageddon) is near,” and that she is fated to “become the mother of the messiah and save the people of Israel.”

The Central District Prosecutor’s Office has motioned to extend his remand until the completion of the legal proceedings. “As a neighborhood rabbi and a familiar figure with a reputation in the field, the rabbi abused the girl’s trust to have his way with her on several occasions,” the attorney said.

Rabbi Hafuta is discussed in this interview with his son-in-law:

Another situation, no less serious is when a Cohen marries a convert woman and every week fights to get called up to the Torah. As far as he’s concerned he’s correct; he wants to partake of this special mitzvah like the rest of his fellow Cohanim. But from a Jewish law perspective it’s very problematic. My father in law dealt with this question in a book he authored called “Siftei Daat”. He wrote how to permit it in order to prevent strife between congregants.”

“Thought, caution and sensitivity are paramount in this position. You must use great wisdom to get to the hearts of people and influence them in a way that brings them closer so that they will want to strive for more of their own volition. For example, a family would come to pray Friday night by car. What do you do in this situation? At times it’s better to wait for the right moment to broach the subject even if it seems you should not under any circumstances compromise. This method is tried and proven; the family that drove to synagogue one day decided to give up their creature comforts in their home far from synagogue and moved to a much smaller house so they could be next to the synagogue.

R* emails:

Hi Luke in regards to your blog:
First and foremost I know the rabbi personally and assist the community.
Our great rabbi Moshe Haftua Shlita, arbiter of Jewish halacha well known in Israel, he and his many books are well known.
Rabbi Moshe Hafuta Former Rosh Yeshivat Baba-Sali in Netivot in Erez Israel, Rosh Yeshivat Ozar Hatorah for 10 years.
The Head Rabbis in Yerushalim know the rabbi and respect him and accepts his judgments.
Unfortunately, we live in troubled times when we face ignorance still exists by many so-called self-proclaimed rabbis.
Lately, i-was personally involved to pass on a get, that was requested by the bet-dean in Netanya, Israel and the get was accepted by every bet-dean in Israel.
I attach a document one of many letters that our Rabbi Moshe Hafuta Shlita received by that the head Rabbi Rishon Lezion, that hopefully, you heard of named as Yitzchak Yoseph and well known as Hara’v Av Bet Dean in Israel.

From the Los Angeles Times, May 9, 2003:

5th Site Identified as Arson Target

Rabbi Moshe Hafuta of the Da’at synagogue said he grew accustomed to such problems while living in Israel. But the Tuesday attack was the first major act of intolerance he has experienced since moving to the United States two years ago.

It is also the first attack on the temple, which he started 14 months ago to serve a small group of Israeli, American and Persian Jews, who attend services and Torah classes in a clean, bright space that once housed a concert ticket business.

On Thursday, Hafuta showed visitors the plywood board that covered the synagogue’s smashed-out side window.

He said he was a bit scared, “even though I am not showing it. But when something like this happens, it’s not going to stop us. The synagogue, the studies — that’s our power.”

From the Los Angeles Times, May 10, 2003:

About a day before the first fire, someone used lamp fluid to start a blaze at a home in the 5100 block of Balboa Boulevard. Tehrani and his relatives had rented out the apartment a few months earlier to Moshe Hafuta, rabbi at the Da’at temple. An official close to the case, who asked not to be named, said Tehrani is a suspect in that fire.

Hafuta said Friday that before he and his wife moved out, he and the Tehrani family had a disagreement about inoperative appliances and faulty water service.

Hafuta said he withheld some of his rent money while waiting for promised repairs that never materialized.

“I don’t know if I owe them anything — it could be they owe me money,” the rabbi said. “But this is crazy. It is not a reason to attack a synagogue.”

He said he is surprised that Tehrani, who once came to pray at the temple, is a suspect in any of the fires.

“He is very quiet, somebody you cannot read,” Hafuta said. “It is difficult to be in touch with him.”

Tehrani’s sister could not believe her brother had been arrested.

“There is no way, no way, no way,” said Sheena Tehrani. “There has to be some mistake. My brother is not that type of person.”

Tehrani came to the United States from Tehran about 16 years ago, his sister said, and has devoted his life to his family: his mother, father and two younger sisters, she said.

From, May, 2020:

In 2017, economic circumstances improved and the Hernandez family moved into the Jewish neighborhood. They immediately began the conversion process with the Beit Din of Rabbi Moshe Hafuta, driving every Sunday to Los Angeles for classes. (The two older sons opted not to convert.)

In the spring of 2018, a few days before Passover, they drove up to Los Angeles for a final meeting with the Beit Din. They answered a round of questions and dunked in the mikveh. Hernandez was now Ezra, his wife was now Chana Leah… and Yehudah was the rare Jewish convert who didn’t need a new name.

From MyJewishLearning: “After meeting with many different rabbis in Los Angeles. I found my home at Daat Torah with Rabbi Moshe Hafuta. The conversion process to Orthodox Judaism was very difficult taking close to two years to complete. The process of conversion was more than just learning about Judaism, as it was more about transforming the way I lived, the way I saw the world, the way I saw myself in the world.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
This entry was posted in Conversion, Pico/Robertson. Bookmark the permalink.