Former Chief Rabbi to Testify for the State in Forged Smicha Case


Former Rishon L’Tzion Rabbi Bakshi Doron Shlita will be giving testimony on Monday in the state’s case alleged rabbinical ordination was sold for profit, costing the state hundreds of millions of shekels.

When Rabbi Doron was informed that he must appear in court and testify MK (Shas) Rav Chaim Amsellem went into action, beginning to pressure the relevant officials and agencies, insisting it is not to compel a former chief rabbi to appear in court. Minister of Religious Services (Shas) Yitzchak Cohen also began working to assist the Rav, leading to a decision that he will give written testimony from his office, avoiding the embarrassment of a court appearance. MK (Kadima) David Rotem, who chairs the Knesset Law Committee, was called upon to assist, which he did.

One of the rabbonim targeted in the state investigation is Rabbi Meir Rosenthal, who is Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yonah Metzger’s bureau chief. Other suspects in the case include Yitzchak Ochana, a relative of the former Rishon L’Tzion, who served as the bureau chief of former Chief Rabbi and current Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau Shlita, and Israel Police Deputy Chief Rabbi Aaron Gudstiner as well as a number of others who allegedly ran rabbinical ordination classes in Beit Shean, Tzfat and Haifa.

According to the state prosecutor, the suspects sold rabbinical degrees to hundreds of recipients, persons employed in the IDF, Israel Police, and Israel Prison Authority, and their rabbinical academic degree earned them a NIS 2,000-4,000 monthly salary increase. The state maintains the recipients of the degrees were to have studied in a yeshiva gvoha for five years, when they learned 1 to 2 ½ years at best. The fraud perpetrated on the state agencies cost the treasury NIS hundreds of millions the prosecution maintains.

It appears that pressure was exerted on the former Rishon L’Tzion, leading to his testimony, in which he is expected to state that he laid out the criteria for the five-year ordination program. The rabbi nevertheless recommended that two of the schools operate a fast track for members of security agencies, but the Chief Rabbinate, which Rabbi Doron headed, opposed the move.

The daily Maariv reports the indictments include hundreds of counts, including fraud, submitting fraudulent documentation, conspiracy to defraud the state and much more.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)