UPDATED: Cleared for Publication – Uri Lupoliansky In Custody


6:45PM IL: [UPDATE BELOW] The gag order has been lifted, permitting the release of the arrest of former Jerusalem Mayor R’ Uri Lupoliansky, who has been remanded and ordered held over for an additional five days in the Holyland investigation.

According to the information released by officials, the former mayor held numerous positions in Jerusalem City Hall from 1993-2003, then assuming the role of acting mayor following the departure of Ehud Olmert from the post. Lupoliansky was then successful in his mayoral bid.

The state alleges that Lupoliansky accepts millions of NIS in bribe funds, some of which were funneled through his Yad Sarah organization, laundered as donations to the tax-exempt charitable organization.

The former mayor faces charges including breach of trust, bribery, fraud, tax evasion, conspiracy to commit a crime and money laundering. According to the allegations, the former mayor accepted NIS 3 million in bribery funds in the Holyland case, some of which was allegedly laundered via his son’s kollel in addition to Yad Sarah.

Additional arrests in the case are expected.

UPDATE 7:50PM IL: According to investigators, Lupoliansky accepted funds illegally during his tenure as the head of the Jerusalem Planning Board, not during his tenure as mayor. The former city official allegedly accepted bribery funds via a mediator, a third party – not directly, having received NIS 1.5 million by 1999, and an additional NIS 1.4 million by 2006. There is also mention of an additional $30,000; money accepted for his ‘personal use’, funds that were used to his assist his Jerusalem mayoral campaign. There is mention of yet an additional $100,000 which was channeled through his son’s kollel.

It is alleged that in return for the funds, Lupoliansky used his position and influence to advance the agenda of the Holyland developers.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)


  1. At the risk of exposing my ignorance of basic halachah, I would like to pose the following question: If one information is public it is no longer loshon ho’ra to spread it, why does the Holy Chofetz Chaim, and the numerous sources he quotes, prohibit reading loshon ha’ra in newspapers? Presumably, once it is published, the information is well known. Please clarify with halachic sources.

    Isn’t it amazing that as Mr. Olmert and others are being sought, once again, and as his bleak and grim future gets bleaker and grimmer, their dear friends, and the friends of the government, all of a sudden are having fingers pointed at them?

  2. To Tina: You said it much better than I did. I would only ad that you are also not allowed to believe it. There is no reason to. There is no justification to.

  3. To anyone who has ever seen the unbelievably ugly Holyland Towers development it was obvious that people must have been bribed to permit something so tall. The blocks are a real blight on the Yerushalayim skyline.

  4. From the facts as stated in the press, the charge is that a developer donated to tsadakah (something that the powers that be in Israel disapprove of, especially yeshivos), and Lupoliansky was favorably disposed to the developer. Under American law, the prosecutor would have to prove that Lupoliansky took money from the charities for personal use (a crime in itself) AND that the developer received favor due to having sent money to Lupoliansky via the charities. American law requires a “quid pro quo” (you gave something in order to get something).

    Based on past practice in Israel, given that Lupoliansky is a member of a group that the judicial system considers to be an enemy of the state, the mere fact that the developer gave money to tsadakah (something considered inherently wasteful by Israeli judges), and that Lupoliansky approved a project the judges disapprove of (if Lupoliansky approved it, it must be a bad idea, from their perspective) is enough to convict.

  5. I do not understand – what part of this is so hard to believe and I should add – where are you from (as that may make a difference)?

  6. Ki HaShoichad YiAver Einei Chachamim…………..

    On one hand, I have no evidence to acquit or convict Lupolianski in my mind, beyond what is being reported by YWN.

    But, as a frum public official, it was Lupolianski’s duty to refrain from doing anything, even if 100% innocent, if it looks – LOOKS – like it could be misconstrued.

    At best, he’s guilty of poor judgment.

  7. akuperma,

    At least in New York State (could be you were refering to Federal law and I’m not sure what the rules are there), no quid pro quo is required, just a gift of more than nominal value that would create the appearance of an attempt to gain influence. See for instance the recent issues with Governor Paterson and his tickets to the World Series. No one had suggested that he actually offered the Yankees any favors in return.

  8. Ostriches in self-righteous denial. B’klal, not enough of you seem really perturbed that frum people really do unethical and “bad” things. Issues of loshon hora, alleged anti-semetic or frei conspiracies is all you ever cry about. Or the crook did just so much for for tzedakah – In the meantime, there really is an ethical plague in our communities. Yuch

  9. it’s interesting that when olmert was being charged no one mentioned it might be “loshon ha’ra” but when a frum person might have done something wrong we are all up in arms. let’s stop with the double standard

  10. Akuperma – don’t mix apples and oranges. Israel is not America so American law is totally irrelevant here. From what is happening to Rubashkin it doesn’t seem that US justice is so favorable to frum Yidden either.

  11. Based on the track record of Israeli govt officials-chareidi and non-chareidi- you can assume that those charged with crimes are guilty until proven innocent.

    The corruption matches (or beats) any other government in the world. If you don’t believe this you are not paying attention….

  12. #14 said it all.

    While I certainly have no way of knowing if he’s guilty or not and have no reason to assume so, the knee-jerk reactions are very predictable and very telling. One of us? Not possible! Lashon Hara! Evil chilonim! Israeli conspiracy! etc, etc.

  13. 1. Patterson’s baseball tickets are for personal use (as opposed to being auctioned off for a charity). There are laws restricting gratuities that government employees can accept (that’s why Presidents either have to pay for presents they get from foreign visitors, or leave them behind when they leave office). If they show that Lupoliansky took money from, let’s say, Yad Sarah
    and used the money for personal needs, that would be scandalous. To elevate receipt of an illegal gratuity to a bribe, one needs a quid pro quo. Of course, if they prove he was stealing for tsadakah, that would be a scandal – but I’m skeptical.

    2. If an American developer, knowing the mayor loved art, made liberal donations to art museums in order to win the mayor’s favor, that would not be considered a crime. If an Israeli developer, knowing the mayor loves Torah, makes liberal donations to yeshivos, that is a crime????

    3. Those who say Hareidim are considered guilty until proven innocent are optimists. “Even if” might be a more accurate phrase for how the hilonim see things.

  14. Uri L. is considered one of the straightes persons around. Why not wait and see what happens…

    Anyway, in the past approx 5 yrs so many govt and local officials have been put in trial and a very high percentage of them have not come out as guilty, This is true of Frum and non-Frum.

  15. akuperma,

    I was referring to the and in your original statement. Proving that the bribe was for personal use would be sufficient under American law, even without the quid pro quo.

    I didn’t say this originally, but I would guess that the reverse, that a charitable donation made as part of a quid pro quo would be illegal even if there was no tangible benefit to the public official, is also true (I think those are the facts the Don Seligman case in Alabama, which was prosecuted under Federal law).

  16. Please everyone, take upon yourselves to study two halachos of shemiras halashon per day. The ignorance of many posters is so sad. This should not have been publicized in the first place, but once it was, yes, there IS a mitzva to judge a Torah observant Jew favorably as opposed to one “shelo oseh ma’aseh amcha” so when comparing UL to EO, it is halachically correct and NOT double standard to scream loshon hara about UL and not about EO. As is well known, lashon hara is forbidden even if it is true so if it is a knee jerk reaction to judge someone known to be a yarei shamayim favorably and scream lashon hara even if the accusation might be true, that is a positive statement about klal Yisrael. Yes, it is incumbent upon us to be straight and honest in our private and public lives, and each person must make his or her own cheshbon hanefesh, but it is NOT for a public forum to make any else’s. After 120, each of us will stand in the beis din shel ma’ala all alone with only our deeds to defend or accuse us. Middah k’negged middah – if we choose to judge others favorably then that’s the way we will be judged, taking mitigating circumstances into account. But if we are harsh in our judgements, don’t expect better for ourselves when it’s our turn. If someone made mega-donations to Lupolianski’s pet tzedakas in exchange for help to push a project in the donor’s favor, that is not kosher, but one can understand the temptation and it is certainly not the same as pocketing money for oneself. You can probably come up with other mitigating circumstances without undo difficulty if you are so inclined. Just about every other polition throughout the world has done similar things, playing favors for friends – jobs, promoting businesses, etc. And how many have done it for peronsal benefit, not mainly for the benefit of tzedaka? Bribing government officials for personal benefit has been pervasive throughout the generations. One would hope that religious Jews would have the strength to rise above the temptation, but it is very challenging, especially when the main beneficiaries are tzedaka organizations. That doesn’t make it right, but it doesn’t make one politician more of a villian than another whose tzitzis were not examined. It is not by accident that Deri sat and Benizri sits in jail while many other politicians who were accused in State Comptrollers’ reports did not end up behind bars. There IS a double standard in Israel.

  17. For ladler (#26) – Rationalizing and making excuses – bet you wouldn’t do that for a “romantic” impropriety

    True, violating loshon hora restrictions is not to be taken lightly. Also, I learned long ago that a woman’s hair showing, or a hem line that is too short is just as bad – a real tsk tsk tsk chareidishe felony – but . . . hiding stolen money under that same skirt . . cheating on Section 8 . . . failing to report income . . . asking a government official (me!)to allow frum program applicants to “avoid” legal requirements . . . taking and offering bribes . . . all are merely the results of understandable temptations.