Former chief rabbi released on bail

Yona Metzger, suspected of stealing donation money, will remain under house arrest and is prohibited from talking to media

Former Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger in Jerusalem, on July 17, 2013. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Former Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger in Jerusalem, on July 17, 2013. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court released former chief rabbi Yona Metzger from jail Tuesday on a NIS 1.5 million ($423,000) bond with restrictive conditions.

Metzger will remain under house arrest and is forbidden from talking to the media, leaving the country for the next six months or contacting others involved in the case. He is also required to appear before investigators when he is summoned.

Police arrested the former chief rabbi last week on charges that included fraud, bribery, money laundering, breach of trust, obstruction of justice and witness tampering, after a months-long covert investigation involving its corruption and organized crime department, Unit 433, along with the tax authorities and the Jerusalem district attorney.

According to the allegations, various nonprofit organizations connected with the rabbi during his term in office received millions of shekels in donations, some of which Metzger allegedly siphoned off for his own personal use.

In addition, he is suspected of receiving bribes to sway his opinion on matters he attended to in his capacity as chief rabbi.

Police reportedly continued to monitor Metzger following his initial house arrest earlier this year, during which time he allegedly tried to obstruct the investigation against him and tamper with witnesses.

According to an Israel Radio report Thursday, Metzger was recorded offering an unnamed colleague — who has become a state’s witness in the case against the rabbi — cash and an apartment if he did not testify.

The investigation became public in June 2013 when Metzger, who was at the time still the Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel, was placed under house arrest. While proclaiming his innocence, Metzger, whose 10-year term as chief rabbi was months away from its conclusion, resigned his position.

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