Jerusalem District Court judge Rafi Carmel ruled Sunday in a case involving a violent clash between a criminal kingpin-turned-rabbi and an escaped convict who assaulted his students. The rabbi, Rabbi Menachem (Manny) Edry, was sentenced to 5 years in prison, and his friend and accomplice Yitzchak Zohar was sentenced to 4.5 years.
Rabbi Edry was once a well-known figure in the world of organized crime. After serving time in prison he turned his life around, becoming an observant Jew and ultimately earning the title of “rabbi” and opening his own yeshiva, Ben Ish Chai.
His yeshiva was known for welcoming students with a criminal past who were attempting to change their ways.
In early 2010, a man who was on the run from the law came to learn at the yeshiva. The would-be student was expelled after a fellow student informed Rabbi Edry that he was still involved in crime.
The escaped criminal was outraged by his expulsion, and returned to the yeshiva along with friends with the goal of hurting the student who had revealed his criminal activity. While there, he violently attacked other students who he encountered.
Several days later, Rabbi Edry called the expelled student to the yeshiva for a meeting. When he arrived, Rabbi Edry and Yitzchak Zohar were waiting for him on a motorcycle, armed with a gun.
The three exchanged harsh words, and the incident ended with Rabbi Edry firing at the former student’s legs, injuring him. He then hit the man multiple times and threatened him.
Rabbi Edry and Zohar both denied involvement in the shooting, and said they never met with the student as he reported. However, the court found their alibis faulty and convicted them of the shooting. They were convicted of conspiracy to commit a crime, assault with aggravating circumstances, illegal weapons possession, and firing a gun in a residential area.