The Israel police arrested Monday a senior member of the Chief Rabbinate over suspicion that he received a bribe from food importers in return for expediting the process of obtaining kosher certificates for products.
At this stage, the police do not suspect that the official approved the kashrut certificates for products that were not actually kosher. In addition to the senior Rabbinate member, the police arrested four people and detained another eight on suspicion of bribery, fraudulence and breach of trust.
The Rabbinate is in charge of certifiying products, including foreign imported products as kosher. Strict standards imposed by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate when it comes to recognition of food as kosher (meaning that it complies with Jewish dietary practice) are considered a major obstacle to the importing of cheaper food.
Although there are food retailers in Israel that sell non-kosher food, the major supermarket chains sell only kosher food for the convenience of Israelis who observe Jewish dietary laws.
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Among other things, the police suspect that the senior Rabbinate member, a rabbi, received various benefits other than money in return for advancing Rabbinate proceedings. The police are expected to bring him and other suspects to a remand extension at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court. In addition, police announced that they had found hundreds of thousands of shekels in the suspects' houses.
The police said that it "will continue to investigate and expose such corruption offenses, which threaten the routine of law-abiding citizens and will continue to strive to reach the truth wherever there is a suspicion of public corruption."