Police officials on Sunday recommended prosecuting Holon chief rabbi Avraham Yosef, the son of late Shas party spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef, on suspicion of extortion, fraud and breach of trust.
Yosef, who has served as the Tel Aviv suburb’s chief rabbi since 1998, is suspected of forcefully demanding that business owners only purchase meat products with a kashrut certificate issued by Beit Yosef, a kosher food supervision service owned by Yosef’s brother, Moshe Yosef.
Another Yosef brother, Yitzhak Yosef, serves as the country’s chief Sephardic rabbi.
Avraham Yosef, who from 2008 to 2011 served as the head of the kashrut department in Or Akiva as well, allegedly threatened to revoke kashrut certificates if business owners in either city failed to comply with his demands. According to the police, Yosef also did not provide businesses with an alternative option to achieve kosher status as required by law.
Yosef’s case was transferred to the District Attorney’s office in Tel Aviv for further examination, Globes reported.
Last year, Yosef was questioned by police for over eight hours on suspicion of illegally firing a kashrut supervisor in Holon suburb five years ago.
Police said that the supervisor was dismissed over his opposition to the Shas party and the Beit Yosef kosher food supervision service. The supervisor instead supported Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox party United Torah Judaism, according to a Haaretz report.
Following the incident, a Labor Court found the Holon rabbi guilty of a non-criminal offense and ordered him to pay compensation to the supervisor. However, police launched a renewed investigation of the case, apparently after new evidence was discovered.
The ongoing investigation forced Yosef to withdraw from the elections for the position of Sephardi chief rabbi several months ago.