Former officials in chief rabbinate convicted in major 300 million shekel fraud

In fraud scheme, rabbis awarded rabbinic ordination to security service officials who received higher salaries as a result.

Jerusalem Chief Rabbinate 300 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Jerusalem Chief Rabbinate 300
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Judge Amnon Cohen of the Jerusalem District Court convicted seven people on Wednesday for involvement in the awarding of rabbinic ordination to members of the security services who has not obtained the necessary qualifications.
The indictments were handed down in November 2007 and related to activities carried out between 1998 and 2003.
At the time, “advanced religious studies,” accompanied by a rabbi’s ordination certificate, entitled IDF and police personnel to monthly salary bonuses of between NIS 2,000 to NIS 4,000 each.
Among those convicted on Wednesday were Rabbi Meir Rosenthal, who served as 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 before that as chief of staff to chief rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau.
Former chief rabbi Bakshi Doron has also been indicted on charges relating to the case, but the legal proceedings for his case have not yet been completed.
Those convicted on Wednesday were found of guilty of charges including aggravated fraud, use of forged documents, money laundering, bribery and fraud.
To operate the scheme, the convicted figures formed colleges where the security services personnel attended religious studies classes. With the cooperation of Ohana, Rosenthal and others, the IDF and police officers received false documents stating they graduated a five-year program in a yeshiva licensed to ordain rabbis, although in reality they completed only a fraction of the required course.
Those convicted of coordinating and directing the scam received millions of shekels for their part in the scheme.
According to Wednesdays verdicts, Rosenthal, who was involved in issuing and distributing the fraudulent certificates to the recipients, earned NIS 2 million from the plot.
The costs to the state of the rabbinic ordinations fraudulently handed out totaled some NIS 300m.