|Former chief Sephardic rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron 370 (R).(Photo by: reuters)|
State indicts former chief rabbi Bakshi-Doron
By YONAH JEREMY BOB, JEREMY SHARON AND MICHAEL OME
Indictment alleges the rabbi issued fraudulent rabbinical certifications to IDF officers so they could receive pay raises.
The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office filed an indictment against former
Sephardi chief rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi- Doron on Monday, for allegedly fraudulently
ordaining IDF and police officers while he held the chief rabbi post.
IDF and police officers who were fraudulently ordained went on to receive
unlawful pay increases totaling hundreds of millions of shekels, the indictment
Head state prosecutor Moshe Lador decided to indict Bakshi-Doron
after consulting with Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein, and after rejecting
arguments that the former chief rabbi’s attorneys made at a special
Bakshi-Doron was indicted for receiving payment
of various sorts under aggravated circumstances for his alleged central role in
the affair, according to the indictment.
Attorneys Aviad Hacohen, Yaakov
Weinroth and Yaron Kostalitz, who are representing Bakshi-Doron, said they were
“certain that the truth will come out and that it will become clear that the
indictment is completely unfounded and without any factual or legal basis
The attorneys’ statement accused the State Attorney’s Office
of wasting resources on investigating Bakshi-Doron, who “according to the State
Attorney’s Office did not receive any personal benefit.”
also pointed out that the original investigation opened into the former chief
rabbi’s involvement was closed without charging him.
Va’Avodah, a national-religious lobbying organization, said the case once again
proves the necessity of separating the rabbinate from the political
“The system is broken,” said Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah
chairman Shmuel Shetah.
“The connections that exist between the political
establishment and the rabbinate are at the root of the problem.”
November 2007, 10 indictments were handed down over the incident, in which more than 1,000 members of the IDF and police force received false
certificates of rabbinic ordination entitling them to an extra NIS 2,000 to NIS
4,000 a month in wages.
Those indicted included the head of the
rabbinate’s division for administering exams as well as teachers running
specially established educational facilities, set up at the time to train
security personnel as rabbis.
Students at these schools were ordained by
the Chief Rabbinate, making them eligible for the salary benefits.
seminaries where the studies took place received registration fees for the
classes, and the security personnel studied for five to 10 hours a week for a
period of one to two-and-a-half years at most, but received certification that
they had taken a five-year yeshiva program, enabling them to receive the pay
The earlier case is still ongoing.
Initially it was decided
that there was insufficient evidence against Bakshi-Doron, and he even appeared
in the other case as a witness.
However, during the course of
Bakshi-Doron’s testimony, the indictment alleges that he contradicted his
earlier account to police on the events surrounding the case.
to the indictment, Bakshi-Doron admitted in his testimony that he had directed
administrative officials to “look the other way” and issue ordinations even if
the candidates did not meet the standard criterion.
This testimony led to
Bakshi- Doron being repeatedly re-questioned regarding his involvement in the
The indictment states that he later disavowed his court
testimony, returning to the original story he had told police.
says he knew about the specific forged and altered text being used in the
fraudulently issued ordinations.
Next, Bakshi-Doron’s new round of
questioning revealed he knew that official statements about the level of
knowledge attained by those being ordained were fraudulent, said the
The allegations against Bakshi-Doron relate to his activities
during his tenure as Sephardi chief rabbi from 1998 to 2003.
indictment says that Bakshi-Doron ended up taking a central role in the scheme,
in an attempt to stay in good stead with other parts of the rabbinate who
supported the programs, issuing the ordinations through his right-hand man Rabbi
Besides the above cases, a statement from the Justice
Ministry also indicated that dozens of police officers who were involved in the
program as students are under internal criminal investigation for having
knowingly participated in the fraud.