Accusation: Shas leaders ‘taking over rabbinate’

Charges of ‘cronyism’ in appointments leveled by close relative of Ovadia Yosef.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Shas leaders have been accused of cronyism and “border-line criminal” behavior by a close relative of Shas spiritual leader and revered halachic authority Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
According to a report in Yediot Aharonot published on Friday, a “close family member” of Yosef sent a document to MK Eitan Cabel (Labor), who then passed it on to State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, accusing senior Shas figures of “attempts to take control of the rabbinate though improper ways, bordering on the criminal.”
The document alleges that Religious Services Minister Ya’acov Margi was appointed in order to promote the candidacy of family members of Yosef and associates of senior Shas officials to senior positions in rabbinates around the country.
According to the document, the man behind these appointments is Rabbi Moshe Yosef, the youngest son of Ovadia Yosef and an influential member of the Shas movement. Moshe Yosef, with the help of Margi, allegedly exerted pressure to have one of Ovadia Yosef’s sons-in-law, Yaakov Chicotai, appointed as chief rabbi of Modi’in-Maccabim-Reut.
A close associate of Ovadia Yosef said in response to the Yediot Aharonot report that the rabbi lives with Moshe, who helps his father with great dedication. “Rabbi Moshe Yosef does not intervene in matters but acts only as the emissary of his father,” the source said.
The material passed to the State Comptroller also claims that Shas leaders exerted pressure to have Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, another of Ovadia’s sons, appointed as chief rabbi of Jerusalem. It is claimed that Ovadia Yosef and Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar have been pressuring members of the selection committee, and that Margi promised one of the key figures on the committee that he would appoint his son as head of the local religious council in Hadera.
On Sunday, MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) called on the State Comptroller to open up an investigation into the allegations made by the document, saying that the public positions referred to by the document are appointments for which the public good should be the only consideration.
“The rabbinate, despite all its problems, is not the private business of one man, and it is not acceptable that it is managed in a ‘Sicilian’ style according to the interests of one family or another,” Horowitz said in a statement to the media.