J'lem DA closes file on Haifa chief rabbi corruption case

She’ar-Yashuv Cohen announces he will step down from all public positions.

By JONAH MANDEL, RON FRIEDMAN
May 2, 2011 05:47
1 minute read.
J'lem DA closes file on Haifa chief rabbi corruption case

shear yashuv cohen. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office informed Haifa’s Chief Rabbi She’ar- Yashuv Cohen on Sunday that they were closing the file against him, after the rabbi announced that he would cease from holding a public position.

Three years ago, 83-year-old Cohen was summoned for a hearing by the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office after been suspected of involvement in a corruption ring, in which thousands of police, Prisons Service and IDF soldiers allegedly received wage increases based on falsified documents that certified them as rabbis.

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Police were investigating claims that rabbis approved certificates stating that students had attended five years of yeshiva study, when in fact they only spent a few hours a week over two years, in unrecognized colleges.

Those certificates, once approved by the Chief Rabbinate, earned their bearers monthly wage increases of up to NIS 4,000 for nearly half a decade, robbing the state of hundreds of millions of shekels.

The prosecution has filed indictments against several dozen police officers and other security personnel. A special committee was set up in the IDF to recover the money from the fake rabbis.

According to the Justice Ministry, suspicions against Cohen dealt with a secondary case having to do with goings on that took place at the Ariel Institute, which Cohen directed.

Charges against Cohen, the chief rabbi of Haifa since 1975 and a candidate for chief Ashkenazi rabbi of Israel in 1983 and 1993, were dropped a year and a half ago, despite the prosecution’s assertion that it had sufficient evidence to indict him. At that time, Cohen said he would remove himself from his post and no longer hold public positions.

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A few months ago, however, the DA’s office learned that despite his commitment, Cohen continued to serve as Haifa’s chief rabbi and in other public positions.

In February he was summoned for a hearing, ahead of which he announced he was no longer filling public positions. The rabbi also noted that he realized that if he continued in his public capacity, he would be liable to face legal action. Following the hearing and Cohen’s statement, the DA’s office decided to close the case against him.

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