Israel Mulls Indictment of Former Chief Rabbi in Corruption Case

Eliahu Bakshi-Doron suspected of approving the ordaining of unqualified security forces officers as rabbis so that they could qualify for a state pay raise.

Former chief Sephardi Rabbi Eliahu Bakshi-Doron may be indicated for his part in the "rabbis' file" scandal, in which hundreds of security forces officers were ordained as rabbis in order to qualify for a pay raise, the State Prosecutor's Office announced on Thursday.

According to a 2007 indictment, the "rabbis' files" affair, which took place between 1999-2003, involved the ordaining of about 1,500 in private tutoring classes, despite the fact that many of those who took the classes did not qualify for the position.

Consequently, the indecent claims, hundreds of millions of shekels in public funds were paid to cover the pay increase given to those officially recognizing as officiating army, police and prison service rabbis.

Eliahu Bakshi-Doron - Lior Mizrahi
Lior Mizrahi

According to the SPO's announcement on Thursday, hundreds of police officers, mostly in lower positions such as patrol cops and warehouse workers, stationed in the north, south, and in Jerusalem were ordained as rabbis.

In response to a request submitted by several of the classes participants, Bakshi-Doron, who was chief rabbi at the time, instructed the testing and ordaining division of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to award the program's graduates with a higher education religious studies diploma, which grants a pay raise equivalent to an academic degree.

Moreover, Bakshi-Doron, according to the SPO, did so despite his hesitance to grant the diploma to those he knew were not qualified for it, and that the motivation behind its acquiring was financial.

The renewed probe of Bakshi-Doron's conduct in the affair was launched after a recent court testimony by the former chief rabbi's contradicted what he had told police during his investigation.

It is on the basis on evidence collected on the matter and his statements in court that the SPO is considering an indictment against Bakshi-Doron.