Rabbis jailed for selling ordinations
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Rabbis jailed for selling ordinations

Some of those who bribed officials for credentials were secular or not religiously observant

The Jerusalem District Court in Jerusalem on September 20, 2012. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
The Jerusalem District Court in Jerusalem on September 20, 2012. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

TEL AVIV — Two rabbis from Israel’s Chief Rabbinate were sentenced to prison terms for selling rabbinic ordination diplomas to Israeli security personnel.

Rabbi Meir Rosenthal on Monday was sentenced by the Jerusalem District Court to seven years in prison and a $135,000 fine for handing out more than 1,000 fake ordinations to soldiers, police officers and intelligence officials from 1993 to 2008. Those who received the ordinations paid Rosenthal approximately $540,000 in bribes.

“We should not forget that he granted certificates that ordained someone to the rabbinate and gave the title of rabbi to people who were secular and did not observe Shabbat,” Judge Amnon Cohen wrote in his decision. “In these deeds, he deviated cardinally from the norms of behavior expected of a public servant.”

The scam, known as “the rabbis’ case,” which included the issuing of false rabbinic credentials to police and security services employees. The extra honorific entitled them to wage bonuses of NIS 2,000-4,000 ($530-$1060) a month.

As a result the government paid out hundreds of million of additional shekels to the civil servants.

An accomplice to the crime, Rabbi Yitzchak Ochana, received a 10-month prison term. Ochana was the personal assistant to former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron, who is being tried separately on the offense.

Rosenthal and Ochana, as well as Meir Roimi and Aharon Gutsdiner, were convicted of aggravated fraud in the case in April. Gutsdiner and Roimi also received prison sentences.

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