(photo credit: INIMAGE)
The Supreme Court on Sunday rejected the appeals of six former rabbinate officials who were convicted in 2014 of aggravated fraud, use of forged documents, money laundering and bribery.
Among the six men involved were Rabbi Meir Rosenthal, who served as former chief rabbi Yona Metzger’s chief of staff, and Rabbi Yitzhak Ohana, who served as the director of the examinations and ordination department of the Chief Rabbinate, and as chief of staff to former chief rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau before that.
The scheme, which took place between 1999 and 2003, involved helping hundreds of IDF, police and prison service officers fraudulently obtain certificates from the Chief Rabbinate regarding the completion advanced religious studies, entitling them to monthly salary bonuses of between NIS 2,000 to NIS 4,000 each, while the coordinators themselves received millions of shekels for their part in the scam.
Obtaining the certificate legally requires graduating from a five-year program in a yeshiva licensed to ordained rabbis, but security services personnel who were given the certificates completed only a fraction of the required courses.
More than 1,000 officers obtained these certificates, leading to some NIS 300 million in costs to the state.
Justice Daphna Barak said that the scandal had demonstrated an acceptance of claims that “everyone does such things,” a state of lawlessness with the use public funds, a culture of half truths and lies and a willingness to turn a blind eye to corruption.
“This scandal became known as the ‘rabbis scandal’ and this should arouse additional indignation, since part of the essence of this matter was that many who received these certificates of ordination to the rabbinate were not at all fitting for it, and crassly trampled the rule of law and the dignity of the Torah,” Barak wrote in her rejection of the appeals.