Jerusalem comptroller probes religious council members for alleged wrongdoing

The plan was to modernize the marriage registration system and enable the process to be conducted almost entirely via the Internet.

January 1, 2016 03:53
2 minute read.
Chief rabbis of Jerusalem, Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Rabbi Arye Stern

Chief rabbis of Jerusalem, Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Rabbi Arye Stern . (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)


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In the latest of a series of concerns regarding the Jerusalem Religious Council, the city comptroller is examining claims of breach of trust and conflict of interest violations by council personnel.

In 2013, then-religious services minister and Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett announced a series of reforms to the provision of religious services, including the marriage registration process.

The plan was to modernize the marriage registration system and enable the process to be conducted almost entirely via the Internet.

This required local religious councils responsible for religious services in cities and municipal jurisdictions to upload the details of every marriage registration certificate in their records to an online database. This would benefit marriage registrars with quick and easy access to these records to approve marriage registration requests.

The Religious Services Ministry issued a public tender to find a provider to carry out the work required to computerize the marriage records information, but did not insist that all local religious councils use the provider that won the tender.

The Jerusalem Religious Council was allegedly one such council that elected not to make use of the provider found by the Religious Services Ministry.

The Jerusalem Post has learned that the Jerusalem city comptroller is currently examining irregularities in appointments made by the Jerusalem Religious Council to carry out the computerization of the marriage registration records.

It is believed that a daughter of Jerusalem Religious Council chairman Yehoshua Yishai was appointed to carry out the work, as was allegedly a son and son-in-law of Rabbi David Banino, director of the Department of Marriages in the council.

In addition, it is alleged that no tender was published to find a provider for the required work, in contravention of regulations.

The appointment of immediate members of family by senior council staff could constitute breach of trust and conflict of interest. The Post has learned that the city comptroller is investigating these allegations, as well as other possible violations by the Jerusalem Religious Council.

In October, allegations of corruption in the provision of kashrut services by the Jerusalem Religious Council were examined by the police. In addition, the legal adviser to the Religious Services Ministry is examining a possible breach of trust following the appointment to the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court for Property Claims of the Jerusalem Religious Council of Rabbi Eliyahu Amar, the son of Sephardi Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar.

Noting in response that the city comptroller is looking into the matter, Yishai and said that it is inappropriate for the press to deal with the issue while a state body is already examining the information.

“Is it reasonable that on one hand the city comptroller is looking into this and on the other a newspaper begins to write about it when the newspaper doesn’t have all the information on the matter?” Yishai asked.

The Jerusalem Municipal Council said that “in accordance with its annual program, the comptroller is carrying out a planned examination in the Jerusalem Religious Council,” and that a draft copy of the comptroller’s report will be given to the relevant parties when the examination is completed.

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