Chief Rabbi of Holon Indicted for Breach of Trust

Rabbi Avraham Yosef charged with forcing businesses to work with kashrut supervisors from his family business.

Nir Kafri

The chief rabbi of the city of Holon, Rabbi Avraham Yosef, was indicted Sunday on two counts of breach of trust. The indictment, filed in Tel Aviv District Court, charges Yosef, the son of former Chief Rabbi and Shas spiritual mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, of abusing his position to force businesses to work with the kashrut supervision agencies owned by his family. He is also accused of a conflict of interest and having prevented other kashrut supervision services from working in Holon and Or Yehuda.

The agencies involved provide a “stricter” level of kashrut requirements, known as L’mehadrin (Glatt), for butchers and other businesses. The indictment accuses Yosef of advancing the interests of the private Badatz Beit Yosef organization, a for-profit company that provides kashrut certification owned by the Yosef family. Badatz refers to private kashrut organizations not affiliated with the Chief Rabbinate, usually appealing to the Haredi population.

Yosef was afforded a hearing with the state prosecutor before it was decided to file the indictment, but in the end his claims were rejected and he is accused of “preventing free competition in meat sales in Holon and Or Yehuda,” which harmed businesses financially.

Yosef has been the chief rabbi of Holon since 1998, and since 2008 has served as the acting rabbi of Or Yehuda after the previous rabbi passed away.

The prosecution says that from the beginning of his tenure through 2013, Yosef ordered his subordinates, in writing and orally, to require businesses that sell meat in Holon and want a L’mehadrin kashrut certificate to use one of only three Badatz organizations. Two of the three were Ashkenazi and considerably more expensive than Beit Yosef, so in practice, because most of the customers were Sephardi, the businesses were forced to use Beit Yosef.