Holon's Chief Rabbi Investigated Over Breach of Trust

Rabbi Avraham Yosef, son of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, is suspected of a conflict of interest in granting kashrut certificates, which could jeopardize his bid for the chief rabbinate.

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Rabbi Avraham Yosef, a leading candidate for the office of Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi, was questioned Tuesday on suspicion of breach of trust with regard to his position as chief municipal rabbi of Holon, police said.

Yosef, who is the son of Shas spiritual leader and former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, is suspected of a conflict of interest in granting kashrut certificates of the strict Lemehadrin type.

Yosef was questioned for eight hours in the offices of the police’s crime-fighting umbrella unit Lahav 433, after which he was sent home under restrictions.

In addition to the support of his father, Avraham Yosef is also supported in his bid for chief rabbi by his brother, Moshe Yosef, a dominant figure in Shas. Moshe Yosef owns a private, flourishing kashrut-supervision service, known as Badatz Beit Yosef.

Shas has not yet officially come out in favor of a particular candidate for chief rabbi. However, the fact that the police questioned Avraham Yosef so close to the time Shas is to make its decision, is said to improve the chance that Avraham’s brother, Yitzhak Yosef, will win their father’s approval as candidate for chief rabbi.

Investigative reports in recent years have revealed that Avraham Yosef has been promoting his brother’s privately owned and operated kashrut organization among food businesses in Holon. In 2008, Avraham Yosef dismissed one of his employees because he said the man had supported Agudat Yisrael, another ultra-Orthodox party, which was running against Shas in Holon’s municipal elections. The labor court ruled that Yosef had acted improperly in that case.

Less than a month ago, the incumbent Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Yona Metzger, was questioned under warning on suspicion of bribery, fraud and money-laundering. Three days later, Metzger took a leave of absence from some of his duties, including his position as judge in the Rabbinical Court.

Rabbi Avraham Yosef in a Raanana synagogue, September 13, 2012.Credit: Nir Kafri

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