Rabbi Pinto Arrives at Prison to Begin Year-long Jail Sentence

Kabbalist rabbi, convicted in 2015 of bribing senior police officer, showed up to prison an previously established deadline coordinated with the Israel Prison Services.

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, center, in the Supreme Court in November, 2015. His appeal for a reduced sentence was turned down and he will start his one-year term next month.
Olivier Fitoussi

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto arrived at the medical center of Nitzan Prison, Ramle on Tuesday afternoon to officially begin his year-long prison term for his bribery conviction, an hour-and-a-half after the previously established deadline coordinated with the Israel Prison Services. Pinto checked himself into a hospital for medical treatment earlier Tuesday, an hour before the deadline. Due to health concerns, he will serve his sentence in the medical center of Nitzan Prison, Ramle.

The Israel Prison Services said that Pinto did not update them on his hospitalization, but emphasized that he is not obliged to update them, since he technically has until midnight to report to prison. If Pinto does not appear at Nitzan Prison at this time, he will be defined as a prisoner who has escaped from custody. IPS said that they turn to the police and the court in such instances.

The kabbalist rabbi was convicted last May of bribing a senior police officer and other corruption offenses, after pleading guilty in a plea bargain. His appeal to reduce his sentence to six months’ community service, given his deteriorating medical condition, was denied by the Supreme Court last month.

Pinto, 42, delivered a Torah lecture to his adherents on Monday and conveyed a calming message. “They are not breaking our spirit,” he said, referring to himself. “We’ve gotten through serious illnesses, and we did not fear or worry for a moment. We meant every word we said in our classes. That’s why it’s easy for us, it’s comfortable for us – all told we feel like we’re just turning a page. The way of God will be our true victory.”

He added, “All the widows and all the yeshiva students needn’t worry, they should be happy. Worries are for when there are problems, now there are good things; you don’t know how many good things will come of this. Tomorrow, God is giving us a gift, that’s how we feel. Why do we feel that way? I don’t know, we all know that we are realistic. We are as happy as if we’ve been given a gift.”