Israel’s Newly Elected State Comptroller Meets With Convicted Rabbi to Be Blessed

Matanyahu Englman, who was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s candidate, met with a former chief rabbi who was convicted of fraud

Josh Breiner
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Matanyahu Englman after being elected as state comptroller, Jerusalem, July 1, 2019.
Matanyahu Englman after being elected as state comptroller, Jerusalem, July 1, 2019. Credit: Emil Salman
Josh Breiner

Newly-elected State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nominee – met on Tuesday to be blessed by a former chief rabbi, one who was convicted on corruption charged two years ago.

Former Sephardi Chief Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron was convicted on charges including aggravated fraud and providing falsified documents. The documents went to members of the police and prison service with the goal of getting their salaries increased.

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Englman, who was voted in on Monday by a large majority in the Knesset, met with Bakshi-Doron in the rabbi’s office. After Englman’s 67-to-48 victory, Netanyahu phoned him and told him: “People were impressed by your integrity and professionalism.”

In convicting Bakshi-Doron, Jerusalem District Court Judge Zvi Segal ruled that the rabbi had instructed a senior member of the Chief Rabbinate on how to issue the false documents, which falsely claimed that the holders had completed higher Torah studies. Hundreds of such documents were issued.

“The defendant strayed from the path and betrayed the trust invested in him by the public,” Segal said. A plea bargain led to a one-year suspended sentence, based on the defendant’s age and health, as well as a fine of 250,000 shekels ($69,000).

On Tuesday, Englman also met with the head of the rabbinical council of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, Rabbi Shlomo Cohen. Englman associates said that the meeting was a private one, and that the two have been acquainted for many years.