Saturday, December 10, 2005

The "Bigger" The Rabbi, The Bigger The Filthy Rotten Thief

Buy a rabbi

By Haaretz Editorial

UOJ comments at the end of this shameful article

This weekend's Haaretz magazine exposes a major corruption scandal that could be called the "Latvia 2 affair." Hundreds of policemen, army officers and noncommissioned officers are suspected of having received fictitious certification as rabbis from important yeshivas. This gave them salary increases of up to NIS 2,000 a month, equivalent to the increase granted to those with academic degrees. For the yeshivas, it was worthwhile due to the tuition they collected for the few hours of study each week. But the treasury annually suffered millions of shekels of damages.

This scam, which has been going on for three years already, involved senior members of the rabbinic establishment: former Sephardi chief rabbi Mordechai Eliahu, former Sephardi chief rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron, and members of the Chief Rabbinate Council, including Haifa Chief Rabbi She'ar Yeshuv Hacohen, Be'er Sheva Chief Rabbi Yehuda Deri, and Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliahu.

Employers ought to encourage their workers to pursue an education in their line of business and reward them with pay increases. But in recent years, Israel has witnessed a growing phenomenon of "pseudo-education" solely for the purpose of salary increases, which turns the issue of professional education into a laughingstock and is liable to injure those who truly deserve such raises.

The Latvia affair involved people who obtained academic degrees without studying at all. Sources involved in the investigation in the current affair reported that some of those certified as rabbis were not even familiar with basic Jewish concepts. Particularly grave was the fact that policemen, including senior police officers, behaved as if the law did not apply to them.

The religious world attaches great importance to the term hillul hashem (desecration of God's name), meaning acts that are not only undesirable and even forbidden, but that sow contempt for religion. The rabbinic certification affair is a desecration of God's name on a grand scale. The Chief Rabbinate is striving to preserve its monopoly over the rabbinic establishment and prevent state recognition of Reform and Conservative rabbis. Therefore, one would have expected Chief Rabbinate Council members to demonstrate greater responsibility when certifying people as rabbis, instead of cutting off the branch on which they are sitting.

The investigation, which is being conducted by the Justice Ministry's Department for Investigating Policemen, the National Fraud Squad, and the Military Police, has been under way for three years already. Such a drawn-out process is liable to create the impression that the police have no interest in completing a probe involving the force itself.

Claims made by Chief Rabbinate officials that the police pressed to have the certificates issued to policemen quickly must be investigated. The police's deputy chief rabbi, Chief Superintendent Aharon Gotsdiner, has resigned, but the public deserves to know whether the police's chief rabbi, Ya'akov Gross, also was involved in the affair. The policemen involved in the affair are complaining about the lengthy investigation, saying it has impeded their promotions. Therefore, it is necessary to complete the probe and bring this affair to an end expeditiously.

There is absolutely no doubt that the above named "chief rabbis" knew exactly what their underlings were doing, and approved of their behavior.
This is more than just stealing, lying, forgery, cheating and fraud, this is a pure and unadulterated desecration of the process that leads one to become a LEADER of the Jewish nation.

How low can people go? At least with prostitutes they make no claim to ethical behavior. These rabbis are worse than the pimps and prostitutes that frequent the streets of Tel-Aviv. MUCH WORSE.

My anger is so deep, I find it difficult to express myself properly.Is this what Judaism has come down to; EVERYTHING IS FOR SALE? Even S'micha from the Rabbanut?

We know who the gangsters of New York and New Jersey are, we either choose to participate in their fraud or we don't.The chief rabbis of Israel are suppose to represent world Judaism with their morals and ethics.

I say the Israeli government should suspend ALL funding to the Charedi institutions and offer a reward for the information leading to the masterminds of this theft and all theft and fraud within the Charedi organizations.


By Esti Ahronovitz and Shahar Ilan

Last Update: 11/12/2005 12:14

M.'s turn came this past August. Like 580 other policemen around the country, he knew that in the end, the Police Investigation (PI) personnel - from the unit that investigates suspected wrongdoing within the police force - would get to him, too. M., who is with the Afula police, got entangled in what the police are calling "Latvia Affair 2" (referring to the dubious degrees awarded by the local branch of the University of Latvia to senior officials?). Again there are dubious titles that translate into hefty salary boosts, but this time it's not just a matter of an academic degree. This time the police under investigation received the title of rabbi. They have become rabbicops.

"Someone on the force decided that policemen should be a little more intelligent," M. said this week. "We were sent to study Judaism and get a degree that would increase our salary by NIS 2,000 a month, gross. People went. I was one of three or four groups that studied in a beit midrash [religious school] in Beit She'an - I don't even remember what it was called. Tuition was NIS 15,000, and we had classes twice a week. We studied for two years. We did three or four external exams. In some cases our teachers were soldiers. We were supposed to study for 24 months, but after 20 months you could already get the salary hike. The diplomas were sent from National Headquarters and we received the extra pay four months before the end of the studies. My diploma says that I was ordained as a rabbi for salary purposes only."

Senior police sources confirmed this week that three parallel investigations are under way. One, by the National Unit for Fraud Investigations, is dealing with the institutions that issued the rabbinical titles; a second, by PI, is investigating the 700 or so police graduates of these studies; and the third, being conducted by Military Police Investigations, is concerned with 600 personnel from the career army, on similar suspicions. PI has so far questioned 400 of the approximately 700 rabbicops; according to sources involved in the investigation, it will continue for many more months.

The investigations have led to dozens of rabbis and religious teachers, including some of Israel's preeminent rabbis. Those who have been questioned and have given testimony included Rabbi Yitzhak Ohana, former director of the unit for examinations and ordination in the Chief Rabbinate and now the bureau chief of Rabbi Yisrael Lau, the chief rabbi of Tel Aviv; Yaacov Gross, the chief rabbi of the Israel Police, and his deputy Aharon Gottesdiener, who took early pension in the wake of the investigation; Meir Rosenthal, from the staff of Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger; Yosef Eliahu, the son of former chief rabbi Mordechai Eliahu, from the Darkei Hora'ah educational institution; Rabbi She'ar Yishuv Hacohen, the chief rabbi of Haifa and head of the Ariel network of institutions; Rabbi Benayahu Bruner, head of the Safed hesder yeshiva (combining religious studies with military service); and individuals close to the chief rabbi of Be?er Sheva, Rabbi Yehuda Deri, who organized study groups in his school, Kol Yehuda, in return for payment.

Bring money, get diploma
The case of the rabbicops was discovered by chance. In 2002, a Border Policeman was facing a disciplinary hearing on domestic violence charges. A senior officer in the disciplinary unit at police National Headquarters who went over the Border Policeman's file noticed something odd: the man's salary slip stated that he was getting an increment because he had a degree. And not just any degree, either, but a rabbinical degree. The senior officer, not understanding how a secular person could be a rabbi, sent a memo about the matter to Avi Werzberger, who was then a senior member of PI. Commander Werzberger began to look into the affair. He discovered that 580 such rabbis were listed in the Israel Police, most of them secular.

At first it sounded like a joke. The PI personnel could hardly believe their findings: hundreds of policemen, the majority holding junior posts as patrolmen, warehouse staff and even mess hall workers, many of whom did not even have 10 years of schooling, were ordained rabbis. They were serving in the north and south of the country and in Jerusalem. Werzberger ordered an intensive investigation, which is now being conducted by his successor, Commander Alex Or.

PI discovered that between 2000 and 2002, about 600 Israel Police personnel had registered to study Judaism. The studies were held in a number of institutions for fees ranging from NIS 10,000 to NIS 15,000, which each person paid out of his own pocket. At the conclusion of the studies, the policemen received a diploma signed by Rabbi Yitzhak Ohana, then a senior official in the Chief Rabbinate, stating, "Rabbi [name] studied for five years in high yeshivas and passed examinations as required. By the directive of [Sephardi] Chief Rabbi Eliahu Bakshi Doron, shalita [may he live long and happily], the above rabbi is eligible for a diploma as the possessor of high Torah education." The document adds, "This diploma does not constitute qualification for serving in the
rabbinate in practice."

When PI personnel asked how it was possible to squeeze the five years of study cited on the diploma into two years, they were told that the policemen had studied for 35 hours a week, which was the equivalent of five years of study. In practice, the rabbis who were questioned and the policemen themselves did not hide the fact that none of them had attended so many weekly classes. "At most," says a source who is involved in the investigation, "they studied four hours a week, eight hours a week, and in some cases not even that much."

Sources close to the investigation said this week that not only were most of the rabbicops secular, they also showed great ignorance about the subjects that were taught. Asked basic questions about the content of the subjects they studied, they replied that they could not remember. Some of them could not identify photographs of the city rabbis who were supposed to have examined them orally.

The police believe that the various colleges and other institutions involved raked in hundreds of thousands of shekels from the studies by the policemen and the soldiers. To illustrate, the annual revenues of the yeshiva run by Rabbi Bruner, in Safed, plummeted by NIS 179,000 in 2003. The audit issued on behalf of the Registrar of Associations states that according to the yeshiva's director general, the shortfall is due to the fact that "in 2002 the association gave a course for members of the security forces. That course was not given in 2003." This represents almost a quarter of the yeshiva's revenues from tuition for that year. Bruner and members of the yeshiva's administrative staff were questioned in the case. According to informed sources, about 80 policemen from the north and 40 career army personnel studied at the yeshiva. ("I was not involved in that program," Rabbi Bruner said this week. "We taught policemen Torah subjects in our center and they received ordination not from us, but from the Chief Rabbinate.")

The investigators have receipts for the tuition fee paid by the policemen - who covered the expense through the extra monthly salary, which also goes toward their pension. By a rough estimate, this amounts to millions of shekels from the state coffers. "It was pure commerce," a senior police officer sums up. "You brought money, and after two years you got a diploma and everyone was happy."

Sources in the State Prosecutor's Office take a grave view of the affair. Two meetings were held there in the past year, with the attendance of the ranking personnel in the department and in PI, to "formulate strategy." "It was decided to deprive the policemen of the money and the benefits, because not one of them actually studied," says a prosecution source who is involved in the investigation. "In contrast to the Latvia affair, which was extremely complicated, things in this case were straightforward. Either you attended the 35 hours of classes or you didn't. And they didn't. In practice, not one of the policemen was able to show that he did the 35 weekly hours. And anyway, these are secular people. What kind of rabbis?"

Sources in the state prosecution note that they are now preparing for a situation in which policemen who will not receive the extra salary and other rights for the studies will turn to the High Court of Justice.

Everyone wanted a slice
The whole affair started back in 1998 and was marked by struggles and intrigues among some of Israel?s leading rabbis. "This is a story
involving high emotions within the rabbinate," says Rabbi Ohana. Underlying it is the old rivalry between Shas party spiritual mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef - Rabbi Bakshi Doron is from his camp - and former chief rabbi Mordechai Eliahu, who is considered the spiritual leader of the national-religious right in Israel.

According to Ohana, "The story started when Rabbi Bakshi Doron authorized a course for a group from the yeshiva of Rabbi David Yosef." A source in the Chief Rabbinate relates that "Yosef came with a proposal that there were policemen who wanted to take courses, that this would advance their career." Sources in Shas say that Yosef's course was coordinated with the public security minister at the time, Avigdor Kahalani, and with a few senior police personnel.

However, Rabbi Eliahu's institutions soon realized the potential and sought authorization to give their own courses. Rabbi Bakshi Doron and Rabbi Eliahu sparred over these courses - even the attorney general at the time, Elyakim Rubinstein, intervened in Eliahu's favor - and in the end the Chief Rabbinate Council authorized it, sources say.

The impression is that there was great eagerness to be involved in this. What is the interest in regard to policemen and career soldiers?
Ohana: "They made money from it. They had schools. They made money. What are you talking about?"

According to a member of the Chief Rabbinate Council, the initial demand was for the students to pass exams of the Chief Rabbinate even for the partial title. However, "afterward they started to bypass that." The legal adviser of the Chief Rabbinate at the time, attorney Menachem Yanovsky, says that there were "allegations that some of the students were secular and that the courses had become money machines."

Even though the problematic nature of the courses was clear to the Chief Rabbinate - or maybe precisely because of that - its officials are quick to impute responsibility to the Israel Police. "Who came up with the idea for the courses?" Ohana asks, and replies, "The police - the initiative came from them. Period. The police are feigning innocence here. They came to Rabbi Bakshi Doron in 1998 and said, 'Let's set up a school to train students.' The p-o-l-i-c-e. Rabbi Bakshi Doron tried to stop the plan but they pressured him and pressured him. It was imposed on the rabbinate. That is what happened. That was a time of peace, when the police had a surplus budget. Not like today, when there is a shortfall. They looked for a way to give the police a bonus. And from that, all this Latvia and all these bad troubles began. Those ills all began from that."

So what you are saying is that the police started it and now is investigating itself?
"Without a doubt, without a doubt. Incidentally, the police are investigating because PI coerced them. You have to understand - top people in the police were involved in this in one way or another, in the studies, in the schools, in the lectures .... Why did the police authorize it? Does a policeman in rabbinical studies become a better policeman? There are police documents: 'Please hurry, please speed things up.' They expected that the policemen would complete the studies within a year. They wanted everything done fast, fast - for them to complete the studies and get the titles within a year."

Why did you sign diplomas stating that they studied for five years? They studied for two years, and only a few hours a week.
"That is not the point. It's not that. That is less important. They brought documents that they would complete the studies and some of them did study for five years. That did not interest the police. It did not interest them whether they studied for a minute or an hour. It didn't interest the army, either, and there are documents about that. Everyone is now telling you half-stories, because the police are already fiddling with this for years. It is transferred from one [investigative] team to another and they are looking for where the mistake was made and where the flaw is. Everyone is now looking for others to blame. Every six months they wake up and call you and ask, 'Why was it like this? And why was it like that? And who said what?' And they go around splitting the hairs of hairs."

What did you tell the interrogators?
"I gave them the details. Why it was so and why it was like that, who did what. Because it was all documented, you know. What am I, after all? I am an official who received orders. There are hundreds of people who were involved in one way or another, and millions of witnesses. It is not something that was done in secret. After all, who was all the paperwork about the rabbinical training sent to? To the police. Let's not make people out to be all that stupid."

Rabbi Eliahu Bakshi Doron, former Sephardi Chief Rabbi: "I was against authorizing these courses. There was a majority in favor in the Chief Rabbinate Council. A committee that the council appointed set criteria according to which only a person who had been a chief rabbi could give the courses."

Oded Wiener, director general of the Chief Rabbinate: "The Chief Rabbinate holds ordination examinations for the rabbinate which are known for their quality and strictness. Anyone who does not pass them cannot serve as a rabbi." The members of the security forces, of course, did not pass the rabbinate examinations. Even though Wiener has held his post since 2000, he maintains that the events under investigation occurred before he became director general.

Ask the Chief Rabbinate
One of the best-known bodies whose staff was questioned in the rabbicops case is Darkei Hora'ah, under the aegis of Rabbi Mordechai Eliahu, a former Sephardi chief rabbi. Among those questioned was his son, Rabbi Yosef Eliahu, who is in charge of the rabbinical courses of the institution and serves the head of its kolel (yeshiva for married men).

Also questioned was Rabbi Meir Rosenthal, who is described as the organization person of the institution's rabbinical training courses and is now the bureau chief of Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Metzger. Rosenthal said this week that he will not comment until the investigation is concluded and emphasized that the investigation is dealing with a period before Rabbi Metzger became chief rabbi.

"The investigation has been proceeding lethargically for three years and so far has not produced anything incriminating against my clients," says attorney Zion Amir on behalf of Darkei Hora'ah. "My clients have undergone a serious and uncalled-for perversion of justice." He added, "The Darkei Hora'ah institutions held a study program that was approved by the authoritative bodies. My clients cooperated in the investigation, responded to questions and did all they were asked in order to help advance it." According to Amir, the fact that the investigation has been leaked to the newspaper has about it "the smell of a political investigation that was born against the background of the forthcoming elections."

The investigation that led to Darkei Hora'ah started in a religious school in Beit She'an where Rabbi Meir Ruyemi taught about 100 policemen. "We taught for two years according to the authorizations," Ruyemi said this week. "We are being bothered for no reason. And we also took token payments."

Did the policemen really come to study with you?
"They studied for two years. I teach in Darkei Hora'ah, I am a branch of Rabbi Eliahu's Darkei Hora'ah. All the responsible individuals are in Jerusalem. In Rabbi Eliahu's kolel. Talk to Rosenthal."

What kind of diploma did the policemen get?
"It is a diploma of two years of study. In the Chief Rabbinate it is compatible with the title of rabbi, but without ordination. The person will not be able to be a rabbi or a mashgiah [supervisor of kosher food] tomorrow. They studied for a salary increment.

"The police asked why we did not teach for five years, like in law school. They asked me why the Rabbinate wrote that they studied five years and we stated that we taught for only two years. I told them, 'Why are you asking me? Go to the Rabbinate.' Our directive was to teach the policemen for two years, and the army, too. The Rabbinate told us that the diploma is as though compatible with a rabbi who completed five years. As though."

Counting hours in the synagogue
Another well-known religious network whose staff was questioned is Ariel - Centers for Torah and Judaism. Its head is Rabbi Hacohen, the chief rabbi of Haifa, who was visited in his office by PI personnel to take testimony. The deputy rabbi of the police, Chief Superintendent Aharon Gottesdiener, was also connected with the Ariel institutions.

Gottesdiener was arrested in March 2003 on suspicion of bribe-taking; namely, that while he was a rabbi in the police Northern District he taught at Ariel and urged policemen to study at the institution. His son received a scholarship at the time, and police sources say that his daughter also worked there. Gottesdiener took early retirement from the police a year ago. People close to him said this week that when the investigation began, he realized that his career had come to an end. He was given the option of suspension until the investigation ended, or retirement; he chose the latter.

One of his confidants said this week the rabbi had shown the investigators that the students in the college studied 35 hours a week, as required. "He brought directives of the Rabbinate showing that the studies include hours of self-learning in the synagogue and he showed that the students also counted hours of learning on their own in the synagogue - exactly according to the Rabbinate directives."

Gottesdiener himself chose not to comment for this article. His lawyer, Shuki Stein, said that he will be pleased to respond to the allegations after the police investigation concludes.

Gottesdiener's boss, Aharon Gross, the police chief rabbi, has also been questioned several times by PI. It was Gross who by his signature authorized the salary increment for the policemen "rabbis." He was the one who forwarded to the payroll unit the document on which he signed that the person in question was entitled to a quasi-academic rank and to the commensurate salary. A source involved in the investigation describes Gross as the person who shut his eyes in this story.

The police spokesman stated in connection with Rabbi Gross' interrogation: "In regard to Rabbi Gross, the investigation is still ongoing in PI. No material was ever received by the police concerning Gross which would make it necessary to consider disciplinary measures against him."

Rabbi She'ar Yishuv Hacohen, who heads the Ariel network, also gave testimony. "There were no cases in which people received a degree without studying and passing a test," he said this week. Hacohen says he opened the courses in order "to help the members of the security forces." For the institutions, he says, "There was more outlay than income. We charged a low price." All the students, he says, arrived at the recommendation of an army or police chaplain and were required to participate in three classes week, and the school was strict about attendance. Some, he said, finished after one year, but it took most of them two years. All the graduates, Rabbi Cohen says, were examined by three rabbis, of whom two were chief rabbis of cities. To reach the five years cited in the diploma, he says, ?previous years of study were added on. In general we accepted people who had studied in a yeshiva or taken a course of a local rabbi."

The chief rabbi refused to sign
Yet another well-known figure in the case is Rabbi Yehuda Deri, the chief rabbi of Be'er Sheva and a brother of former Shas chairman Aryeh Deri. PI personnel visited his school, Kol Yehuda, where dozens of army and police personnel studied. Their studies were coordinated by Rabbi Ofer Ohana, who was questioned half a year ago. That investigation was launched by PI, but the material was also made available to the Military Police, as most of the students involved were from the army.

"I set up a network of Torah studies throughout the city," Rabbi Deri said this week. "Within that framework I was approached by Rabbi Ofer Ohana, who told me, 'Your honor, there is a serious group in the city who would like us to arrange Torah lessons for them so they can learn what is permitted and what is forbidden.' These are studies for which it would be appropriate to receive a diploma. I told him, 'If we have good enrollment, why not?' In the first course we had about 60 guys from the army. They studied for three years, twice a week. Serious studies, with exams. In regard to payment, I told Ohana that with me they will not pay. Anyone who wants can donate a token amount directly to the yeshiva. Maybe a third donated. After that we started more courses."

Rabbi Deri says he has not been questioned, though Rabbi Ofer Ohana was summoned for questioning six months ago. "He brought them all the personal files of the students. It seems to me that they came away with a positive impression," Rabbi Deri says.

"We said all the time that the studies are not for a degree, but purely for Judaism studies" Ofer Ohana explains. "We said we are not a college and we do not issue diplomas. We give Torah lessons. With us it is known that studies are solely for the sake of Torah."

However Boaz Tairi, who teaches in the beit midrash, has a somewhat different account. "I taught there," he says. "The class I taught was the last one that was able to get in, most of them policemen and a few soldiers. They came because they knew that until a certain date it was still possible to study Judaism for a degree. After that the army and the police no longer recognized the studies. I taught every Monday and Thursday, each lesson four hours, in the evenings. A course like that
lasted three years."

What kind of diploma did they get in the end?
"All told they received the subject of 'prohibited and permitted' and a 'yoreh yoreh' diploma after being examined and succeeding in the studies. There is a concept that a person who studies halakha [Jewish religious law] and afterward is tested on it and succeeds can teach in that subject, and that is called 'yoreh yoreh.' They were tested and succeeded."

Haaretz is in possession of a diploma that was given to a senior NCO in the Israel Defense Forces which is signed by Yitzhak Ohana and lists Rabbi Yehuda Deri as one of the examiners.

A senior IDF officer said this week that the Military Rabbinate has conveyed to the Military Police all the files of those who received a rabbinical degree for salary purposes. According to the IDF, the Military Police can investigate only those who received degrees but not the institutions that trained the rabbi-NCOs. "On that subject we are dependent on the civilian police."

Since 2000, the chief army chaplain, Brigadier General Yisrael Weiss, has refused to sign the diplomas of the graduates of the rabbinate courses. According to IDF sources, when he took over as chief chaplain he stated that he would refuse to sign, because "a rabbi is someone who serves as a rabbi and not an NCO in a workshop or in the personnel administration. They are not rabbis." It was decided in 2000, at Rabbi Weiss' initiative, that rabbinical studies would be recognized only for those who serve as army chaplains. But the implementation of this decision ran into snags. Many of those who took the courses had study authorizations from the army and the degree could not be denied to them. As a result, the decision was not implemented until March 2001.

The army set tough criteria for recognizing the rabbinical studies, insisting on three authorizations: a study authorization from the personnel unit, an authorization from the institution and a certificate from the Chief Rabbinate. Rabbi Weiss still refused to sign, even for those who met the criteria, and the head of the Personnel Directorate appointed another officer to sign in his place.

Today, according to an IDF source, the phenomenon of rabbinical studies for salary purposes "no longer exists." Nevertheless, and despite the
investigation, those who were recognized are continuing to receive the salary increment.

The IDF Spokesperson's Office stated in response: "The Military Police is conducting an investigation into the matter of the rabbinical titles. When it is concluded, the findings will be transferred to the Military Advocate General?s Office."

We were wronged
The rabbicops affair is deeply embarrassing to the Israel Police. The rabbicops themselves are especially angry. They and their colleagues say that it was clear to everyone from the outset that the studies were solely for the purpose of a salary increment. The view in PI is that the policemen involved will face only disciplinary proceedings, but in the meantime their promotion has been frozen, they are being investigated and the significant hike in their monthly pay is liable to be slashed.
"I think we have been wronged," says a policeman who works in the mess hall of a station in the north and obtained a rabbinical degree. "Our whole class in the course was interrogated."

"We are talking about hundreds of policemen who studied and now are suspected of committing a criminal offense," says the chief of a police station in the north, whose men are under investigation. "I do not say that they are guilty, heaven forbid. PI says that the policemen knew they were doing something wrong, that they knew it wasn't really a degree. My policemen are now coming to me and saying, 'No way: we were told to go twice a week for two years and that it is worth a degree.' Someone did not tell them the truth about these studies."

"Suddenly, after two years, they came to everyone who studied with the allegation that we should have studied for five years and not two," M., from the Afula station, relates. "I was summoned to an interrogation and questioned for 45 minutes. They showed me documents connected to the college in Haifa. I didn't know what they wanted from me. If I had known, I would not have invested so much money and time. During the interrogation I struck up a conversation with the interrogator. I told him, 'I am a cop and you are a cop. You know how much effort we put into the studies. You know how much a cop makes. A rookie policeman gets NIS 4,000. So what's the deal?'"

A., from the Beit She'an station, adds, "A few months ago I was summoned to a PI interrogation. Another 10 from the station were questioned with me. I can tell you one thing: whoever went to study got an authorization from the police saying it was all right. Everyone knew what it was all about, that it is a rabbinical title only for salary purposes. I have no authority when it comes to kosher food or marrying people. None of us really thought of becoming a rabbi. They came and told me that I should have studied five years for the degree. 'What five years,' I told them, ' could have studied medicine in five years.'"

The Justice Ministry response: "The investigation is now being conducted and we are unable to provide details."


Anonymous Boog said...


Don't take waht I'm about to ask the wrong way: Haaretz is a left-wing virulent anti-Chareidi paper.

Have you confirmed this from other sources?

Saturday, December 10, 2005 7:43:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...


I have known about this scandal for a long time and had it verified by a politico friend of mine in Israel.

Saturday, December 10, 2005 8:36:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...


Boog brings up a interesting point that I would like to address.

Haaretz had this story up Thursday, American time, (Friday's Paper.)

I refused to post it, knowing that other bloggers may post it first.

I checked with my very trusted friend in the know in Israeli politics, ( a Frum Yid) and he verfied the accuracy of the reports.

Saturday, December 10, 2005 8:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i wish my policeman could be a rabbi.

How much is UOJ"s smicha worth? Not as much as he thinks...

The standards of the rabbanut have always been lax.

Denying money to all charedi organizations? Why not give to United Way?

Saturday, December 10, 2005 9:27:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

"Suspending" money to the B.S. organizations until they get to the bottom of this scandal.

You'll have ALL the GEDOLIM on line willing to spill their guts.

Saturday, December 10, 2005 9:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Christian said...

Chief rabbis selling phony degrees,how would you guys respond if the Pope were to sell phony clergy degrees in Rome?

Saturday, December 10, 2005 9:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Boog said...

So why didn't the ehrliche Rabbonim blow the whistle? This screws up alot of things big-time.

Saturday, December 10, 2005 9:47:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

Because when it comes to theft, especially from the GOYISHER Israeli government, it becomes a mitzvah.

Saturday, December 10, 2005 9:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Boog said...

From Haaretz Friday Magazine:

Friday Magazine

Rabbis in blue

By Esti Ahronovitz and Shahar Ilan
They paid thousands of shekels to a yeshiva, studied Torah a few hours a week and after two years, hundreds of policemen earned the title of rabbi - and got a salary increase. Most of these "rabbis" are actually secular and many don't even have 10 years of schooling. Some of the country's best known rabbis have been implicated in the affair, now being probed by the Police Investigation unit.

Saturday, December 10, 2005 9:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Boog said...

Mama Mia!

Imagine the residents of Gush Katif were expelled by ordained "Rabbi's".

How sick is this?

Saturday, December 10, 2005 10:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how much to become a rov or a rebbe? not just an ordinary rabbi.
who can we trust these days.ita a
shame. what do we tell our kids?
the al---mighty dollar at work or should we say shekel.it does not matter any more.the only direction we can go now is up, we've hit rock bottom.

Saturday, December 10, 2005 10:44:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

We have been bottom dwelling for such a long time, it's considered routine behavior.

The yeshivas in America are of the same mind-set."Better we "take" the gelt, than let the Goyim get it."

Saturday, December 10, 2005 10:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Boog said...

We are in deep shit.

I've got a feeling this investigation will be put on "hold" until after the March elections. Sharon will look to "buy" Charidi Rabbi support in exchange for massaging this probe.

Saturday, December 10, 2005 10:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Cardinal Lustiger said...

Boruch Hashem I am not a Jew anymore.

Saturday, December 10, 2005 11:51:00 PM  
Anonymous sechel said...

This is terrible.But why Charedi?the Rabbis you mentioned are not specifically charedi.Is the 'yeshiva' charedi?

Sunday, December 11, 2005 7:22:00 AM  
Blogger David Kelsey said...


Ha'aretz is as reliable newspaper as there is in Israel in terms of stories, fact checking, etc. It is the real newspaper of Israel. Tthough analysis and editorials are a different thing, as it is in all great newspapers, and sure, they are secularists, though not radical ones.

But they wouldn't slander former chief Rabbis unless they had some evidence. Which isn't to say they are definetely guilty because they are in Haaretz, but there issome serious smoke billowing out of the Rabbinate.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Here's a link to the hebrew version of this story:

and a sample of one of these fake "degrees":

There's no question this is out and out fraud and theft.

These degrees state that the holder studied 5 years in a yeshiva when they only studied 2 years part time. Any real academic institution that would do something like this would be out of business.

The problem is that this is the Chief Rabbanut of Israel. The one all our Mordechai Tendler friends claim is the most honest and trustworthy in world.

Clearly that is not the case. This is an organization that has conspired to make money by charging tuition and producing false degrees so others could get higher salaries based on false credentials. So we have an organization of gnavim. So what are their rulings worth?

An interesting question, now that we have hundreds on non-religious, non-shomer shabbos, non-shomer mitzvos, secular rabbis with these rabbinical degrees, how long before some of them end up with pulpit positions chuz l'aretz with these "credentials". Have any already?

Sunday, December 11, 2005 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Here’s a good example of the Chief Rabbanut in Israel putting out letters/psaks based on false information to smear someone in the Kashrut industry.

The Rabbi in this case just wanted to provide the poor in his community kosher meat for the Pesach seder. Look at what the “kashrut establishment” tried to do to him and his efforts.

1) http://www.cjnews.com/viewarticle.asp?id=6390
1a) Google translation:
2) http://www.cjnews.com/viewarticle.asp?id=6572
3) http://www.cjnews.com/viewarticle.asp?id=6838
3a) Google translation:

Sunday, December 11, 2005 11:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Boog said...

I hear you DK, valid point. Just wanted to give UO a heads-up and make sure that this was legit.

Bottom line, unfortunately, is that everything is for sale.

We are in deep doo-doo.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 12:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Boog said...

Read the complte article in Haaretz:

The link is here:


Sunday, December 11, 2005 12:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Boog said...

Describing this as scandalous is being charitable.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 12:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have no mercy for the secular anti Jewish anti G-d governments in Israel be they right or left wingers.They are pour enemies.Make no mistake about it.We should milk them dry in any which way just as we should do to the Germans as well.The Israeli government murdered over a million Jewish babies through abortions,is causing a holocaust to the million Jewish kids in their public schools by not teaching them yiddishkeit,and keeps importing goyim to dilute the religious atmoshpere of the country.Hasve no mercy on these atheistic savages.We religious Jews should fight them tooth and nail.No orthodox Jew should join the army as it only causes ypoung Jews to slip from their levels of Torah Judaism.Let the goyim be in the army.As it is 30 per cent of Israels army is made up of non Jews.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 1:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Boog said...

anon 1:39 PM

Take your meds.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 2:05:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

Anon, 1:39,

OK, you hate the Israeli government, they are not a bunch of nice guys.
Therefore what???? Steal from them??? Sell phony S'michas?????

Your hate of secular Jews is getting in the way of reason, yashrus, halacha and the understanding of the fundamentals of Judaism.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 3:12:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...


Absolutely right!!!
Any p'sak coming out of the Rabbanut is meaningless and a sham!!!

Sunday, December 11, 2005 3:17:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

True Story,

I'm sitting in the restaraunt in the Dan Tel-Aviv having breakfast.
The mashgiach, long beard and payos, comes over to shmooze.

He tells me if I'm a shomer Torah U'mitzvos it's forbidden to have even a glass of water in the hotel.

I ask him what he's doing there, people see him and rely on him.
He says that he has 14 kids, and has no choice.

So much for relying on the teudat hechsher from the Rabbanut.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 3:23:00 PM  
Blogger David Kelsey said...

I realize that the offical Rabbinate is problematic, and that many Haredim feel it is not the business of a secular government to decide who is a "cheif Rabbi," and I accept that.

But if you take the position, you are still in a symbolic in the eyes of many secular and traditional Jews who do NOT hate Judaism, as well as symbolic to the world. This is such a horrible chillul Hashem, and hurts the reputation of all Jews. Becuase of the level of the scam It mocks not just the Rabbinate, but the job of Rabbi itself.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 3:35:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

Rabbis or people in leadership positions are expected, at the very least, to be able to distinguish right from wrong.

We are not talking about a close call, or a borderline issue, this is about outright thievery!!!

Sunday, December 11, 2005 3:42:00 PM  
Blogger David Kelsey said...

Israel has always bucked pressure by the Conservative Movement to have official non-Orthodox chief Rabbis.

Look what Israel gets for her loyalty to the Orthodox.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 3:46:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

The Orthodox Rabbinate has sold their souls!

Sunday, December 11, 2005 3:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Boog said...


Good move to publish this article in full.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 4:50:00 PM  
Blogger David Kelsey said...

I just want to point something out. The secular nature of the average Israeli is frequently exaggerated by the Haredim. They are all portrayed as ideologically similair in their attitudes towards Judaism as the most vehement Hashome HaTzair Kibbutznik, and it is simply untrue.

Whatever you think about Sharon, he is hardly an athiest. I believe, correct me if I am wrong, that he had a relationship with the great Tzaddik Rabbi Areye Levin. All the more so for Begin, who was pretty darn traditional. And even many in Labor, while secular and Left, are not radical secularists like Shinui. Haaretz had a deep respect for Rabbi Schach, as do many in elite of the Center-Left camp for brilliant leaders in the Lithuanian Tamludic tradition. Go here: http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=90211&contrassID=3&subContrassID=0&sbSubContrassID=0

Many secular Israelis I know have a respect, or at least, an ambivalence (very different than rejection), and loyalty to Judaism, and it affects their lives, identity, and morality much more than Charedim want to give them credit for. Instead, they note the radicals, and pretend it's all of them. It is the worst motzei Shame rah, and just BS propoganda.

I am quite sure that there are plenty of young, secular Israeli children and teenagers who are taught by their parents that the Chief Rabbis are to be respected. That is the tragedy of a Rabbinate that is corrupt. It disappoints the secular Jews who are looking for greatness from their Rabbis who are supposed to be looking out for their interests.

It is a political position, to be sure, but so what? Look at President Katsav - his power is mostly symbolic, but look how he is respected the world over! Even Iranian and Syrian leaders greet him with respect. It's incredible, and to his credit, that he has made this position so valuable to Israel. What a Kiddush Hashem this guy is!

I therefore want to consider the following:

One of the problems is that the Chief Rabbis is divided between an Askenazi Chief Rabbi and a Sephardic one, and therefore the "system" is often blamed, not the head of it, because their is no one head of it.

We anyway have to get past this whole Sephardi/Ashkenzi divide on a national level. It made realistic sense in 1950, but enough. Most Jews are ready to accept that we are truly the same people, with cultural nuances.

Let's have one Chief Rabbi of Israel. Sometimes Sephardi, sometimes Ashkenazi. It remains merely a political position, but at least it can be a positive one. Give him the power to reform the Rabbinate, and rid it of corruption. All I ask for is that the Chief Rabbi is as positive a force and as respected as it's current president.

What do you guys think?

Sunday, December 11, 2005 5:54:00 PM  
Blogger David Kelsey said...

This is a better link, as it has a slew of Haaretz stories on R. Schach. Please read all of them, Boog. This is not to demonstrate any agreement on my part with Rabbi Schach, but to ilustrate that Haaretz as a paper that hates the religious is at best, simplistic.


Sunday, December 11, 2005 6:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Boog said...


Read the articles. Straight reporting with no slant. See your point and appreciate the link, and I stand corrected.

I agree with you that there should be one Chief Rabbi and concur on Katsav. A Mentsch and credit to Israel. Too bad he wields no power. On the other hand, power might corrupt him as it has virtually all of the Knesset members.

See the stunt Mofo, I mean Mofaz pulled off today by joining Kadima and dissing the Likud. Money talks.

One of the traits of Am Yisroel is that we are Baiyshonim; these Politicos have none and thus bring shame upon themselves and all of us.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 6:36:00 PM  
Blogger David Kelsey said...

Not sure I agree with you on Mofaz. He is reputedly a brilliant strategist, and a loyal to Sharon. If he is the former, it would explain the latter. They may have waited together before having him bolt the Likud, in order to demonstrate that Kadima was constantly gaining ground, or in the off chance that he won the Likud leadership, Mofaz would then not only have been able to aid his mentor, but emerged as the next Likud candidate for prime minister. But Bibi proved too popular.

Keep in mind that I am one of those who believes Sharon is absolutely brilliant, even if one doesn't like him, or agree with his politics.

I hope we can agree to disagree.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 7:34:00 PM  
Anonymous seeker said...

I thought i would put in my 2 cents
into this whole affair. However,you might not like what i have to say. I m the first to fight against fraud and hypocrisy, but i think we are jumping the gun here. This is all about nothing.
From my own personal experience in the real world. Let me explain:
(1) non of these certificates were smicha in any manner, thats clear.
(2) The police dept before giving out promotions should have privided the officers with a listing of accreditated and suitible courses. Like any contiuing education program in many professions there are lists of courses that are accredited.This was the police dept fault, not the rabbaniut.
(3) The rabbanut just provided classes for a fee. It doesn't seem like the rabbanut were makings millions from these police officers.It seems it was a way a yeshiva could make some extra money by providing a class in basic judaism. These were not Rabbinical students. When you finish the course and showed up , you got a certificate. Its like any other contiuing education class.Befor dishing out money the police dept are responsible to check out the certificates, not the rabbanut. The rabbanut just provided a service. Its not the rabbnuts resposibilty to make sure the police accepts their certificate or not.So to blame the rabbunut is outrageous.
(4) every college, even the better ones,and especially contiuing ed. work has some bogus courses. Its the nature of the business. We have all taken them to get our degree.
This is all the police dept negligence, and we want to blame the rabbunut for it. The rabbunut provided classes, yet the police dept should have accredited the course work.Its that simple.
(5) the cops themselves should have realized that these were basic courses. But they wanted the easy way out themselves so they went along with the game. The cops are to blame if they don't get any promotion. And it seems like they themselves wanted to scam the govt for the extra cash.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 7:38:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...


Absolutely the most eloquent post I have seen in a long while. Wow!!
I'm impressed big time.

I happen to agree with just about everything you said except I don't have the faith in Sharon you have.

The jury is out, but the future will tell how brilliant he really is and was as a politician.

I sense he has gone over the top with his unilateral moves, and predict Israel will eventually have to go to war to take back strategic Gaza, if for only as a buffer zone.

As to Sharon's respect for Orthodox Jews, I believe only to the extent that he needs them for his political purposes.

He was an active participant in the secular "constitution" of the state to the detriment of religious ideology.
Any give & take was strictly politics.

Once again, wonderful post.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 8:18:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...


Thanks! Hey, David gets a big yasher koach, agree?

Sunday, December 11, 2005 8:30:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...


C'mon, you are being naive.
The currency they traded in was barter, shekel for s'micha yoreh, yoreh.
These were NOT "stam" courses in Judaism, come on...

Sunday, December 11, 2005 8:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so, did you enjoy the breakfast more?

mayim genuvim yimtaku...

uoj belongs at the central hotel.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 9:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Boog said...


I disagree.

Mofaz is "brilliant" enough to realize that were he stay in Likud and lose the upcoming primary, he is toast. None of the other candidates, and certainly not Bibi or Feiglin will give him the Defense Portfolio. The man has shown himself to be a back-stabber and loose canon.

His only hope of continuing in Govt is to align himself with Sharon. Read today's Haaretz account of his Press Conference announcing his move to Kadima. Quite funny. Reminded me of a Chevy Chase or Steve Martin skit.

Agree with you OU; these "diplomas" cannot be equated with that of a Continuing Education course. The title "Rabbi" carries with it a connotation and gravitas unlike any other academic designation. This was done purely for the Gelt.

Insofar as Sharon's proclivities and "feelings" towards the Chareidi and Orthodox segment, IMO, it's all motivated by the Gelt and Votes...nothing more, nothing less.

Yes, Sharon is brilliant. So is Bibi; look at his resuscitation of the Israeli economy in three short years, using Reaganesque supply-side economics.

What separates Arik from Bibi and just about every other Israeli politician is that Arik has steel beitzim and can take a punch without crying "Mama". Not so Bibi, who wimps out at the slightest pressure. Remember the Wye Plantation accords when he gave back Chevron (when he said for the longest time that he wouldn't, had Clinton against the wall and with a little more pressure could have gotten Clinton to release Pollard,
saying that he was going to pack his bags and go home without signing but then caved at the very last minute.

The fact of the matter is that the last Israeli politicians that had any intestinal fortitude and Jewish pride were Begin and Shamir; The Last of The Mohicans. Today Israeli Foreign Policy is being run and orchestrated by Condi Rice.

Poor Malcolm Hoenline. He doesn't know which tuchis to stick his big honker up first. But Malcolm is for another blog.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 9:20:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...


Agree with you on Mofaz, he's nothing more than a "putyourfingerinthewind" type of guy.
Hoenlin is a gofer and ass-kisser for the Sharon government, he means NOTHING to anyone but himself.

I'm no fan of Bibi, he gives "political whore" a whole new meaning.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 9:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Boog said...

If Bibi wins, though, many of the Kollel benk qvetchers will have to seek work.

The Belzer guys have already been served notice by their Rabbi. One year and out.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 9:38:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

The Belzer and the Gerrer are protecting their own asses.
Their game is up, and the "Moshiach any minute" promise does not put food on the table.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 9:48:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

Mark my words, the ONLY way Bibi wins is either Sharon dies or he goes to jail.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 9:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Boog said...

Heh,heh. So who wins? Peretz? Wouldn't that be a kick in de tuchis!

Sunday, December 11, 2005 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

Can you imagine that shtik drek becoming the P.M.?

Sunday, December 11, 2005 10:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Boog said...

Anything is possible.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 10:54:00 PM  
Blogger David Kelsey said...

No way. Sharon has played everybody; as usual, he was moves ahead.

A very interesting things to note: Bibi used really nasty language towards the Left in his campaign to become Prime Minister, while Sharon refrained from doing so.

Now he managed to get Peres to abandon his party and all but ensure a serious vote from the more hawkish Laborites who will feel more comfortable backing Sharon if Peres has made the jump.

I am not disputing that Peres is motivated by his own political desire to stay in power, however, this would not have been possible if Sharon had demonized him throughout the years instead of maintaining a friendly and respectable relationship with his rivals, something not traditionally done by either the Left,Right, or Charedi camp.

I am taking this as personal mussar, because I see the rewards that Sharon has reaped through menschkeit, even though he was surely and sorely frustrated with Peres many times over the decades.

Additionally, I would note that Bibi's shouting threats publicly at Iran helped them to make their nuclear arms a conflict perceived more between Iran and Israel, rather than the International community and Iran, giving the Iranians the opportunity to exploit that opening, which as we know, they did quite successfully. Thus, Bibi endangered the Jewish state in his choice to promote himself as the tough hawk over the security interests of Israel.

He has made other mistakes like this, such as insisting on that botched assasination attmept in Jordan even though the Mossad reputedly resisted his orders, because it was too risky.

Sharon doesn't make stupid mistakes like this. He's not a guy who worries about his own ego. Bibi is a pretty boy compared to Sharon, and I don't mean physically. I don't mean to say Bibi is a terrible fellow, or without talents. But he's not in the same league as Sharon.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 11:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

david kelsey should move to israel and run for office.

brilliant eloquent post.

Sunday, December 11, 2005 11:47:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

The ONLY reason Peres moved over to Kadima, is because he hopes Sharon dies before him, and then lucky us, we get Shimon Peres as prime minister again.

Hey, who lives longer, Peres or Kaduri???

Sunday, December 11, 2005 11:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the most eloquent post, un.

Monday, December 12, 2005 7:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Lipa Marguilis said...

hey...somebody told me I could come here for some free porn..so whatssup??

Monday, December 12, 2005 5:31:00 PM  
Anonymous anonymous said...

Like so many other issues rightly raised on this site, the problem is not the religion, not the Torah, but the corruption of the so called leaders.

Te Rabanut did not merely provide courses for a fee. If they gave certificates of semicha to mechalalei shabbes, or even to shomrei shabbes who did not learn the material required for semicha and did not take semicha exams, then they simple sold bogus semichas. This is merely one more area showing the corruption of the chief rabbinate in Israel.

I do not go into the issue of the cops ripping off money for having bogus semichas, because the Israeli police and the current Israeli government are both enemies of the Jewish people and it doesn't matter so much. the real theft occurs when the government takes taxes from the people who earned the money. Dina d'malchutah dina does not apply in Israel.

Corruption is there in all phases of the rabbanut, including kashrus, giur, beis din, gittin etc.

Don't depend on or use corrupt rabbis. If you can't find a noncorrupt rabbi, become one yourself.

Monday, May 15, 2006 7:51:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home