Former Sephardi Chief Rabbi Eliahu Bakshi-Doron was convicted on Monday of aggravated fraud and other offenses for issuing false rabbinical ordination certificates to civil servants.
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The fictitious certificates enabled the civil servants, primarily members of the security services, to obtain the automatic raises granted to any civil servant who obtains an educational credential, and thereby defrauded the state of millions of shekels.
Bakshi-Doron, who served as Israel’s Sephardi chief rabbi from 1993 to 2003, was the final defendant in the case, in which several other former officials had been convicted previously.
The Jerusalem District Court found that Bakshi-Doron had instructed Rabbi Yitzhak Ohana, a rabbinate employee, in issuing the fake certificates, and also told him to turn a blind eye if the criteria for obtaining the certificate weren’t actually met.
“The defendant knew the certificates were false,” wrote Judge Zvi Segal in his ruling. “There’s no doubt that giving wage benefits worth millions of shekels from the state treasury to people who aren’t entitled to them harms the public.”
But unlike former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, who recently began serving a prison sentence for corruption, Bakshi-Doron isn’t accused of personally enriching himself.
The court had refused the defense’s request to pull the indictment due to Bakshi-Doron’s poor health.