'Corruption entered the rabbinical establishment'

The Supreme Court rejected appeal over fictitious rabbinical certificates issued to security personnel by Chief Rabbinate.

Yoel Domb ,

Judge Neil Hendel
Judge Neil Hendel
The Court's website

The Supreme Court submitted its ruling on the "Rabbis Affair" in which the Chief Rabbinate issued fictitious certificates of higher Torah scholarship to security personnel from the IDF, police and the Prison Authority.

In 1999-2003, the Chief Rabbinate issued thousands of certificates of Higher Torah Scholarship to security personnel from the IDF, police and the Prison Authority. The students studied halachic topics in special frameworks set up for them in various places in the country in order to obtain the Higher Torah Scholarship certificates which gave them a significant addition to their publicly funded wages.

The Jerusalem District Court, headed by judge Amnon Cohen, ruled that the study frameworks opened around the country had not been officially authorized by the Chief Rabbinate, the Education Ministry and the security establishment and did not meet the base standard required for receiving wage benefits. In order to meet the requirements and obtain the benefits, certain documents were forged and false reports were issued to present a facade of a study program which meets requirements.

The certificates were issued despite the fact that those who received them did not even meet the minimal requirements of the authoritative bodies and were not eligible for wage benefits. This caused significant losses to the public. The accused in this case were party to acts of deception in issuing these fictitious certificates.

Judges Neil Hendel, Yitzhak Amit and Dafna Barak-Erez all rejected the appeal against the conviction of senior members of the Rabbinate, stating that " public corruption has entered places we would never have dreamt of. In this case it entered the rabbinical establishment, the IDF and the police."

Hendel stressed the obligation to maintain administrative rules and emphasized that these should not be violated even when the result would be advantageous, since "breaking rules, even when done carefully and with calculation, can cause a loss of control and lead to unforeseen results, as in this case." He also emphasized that the main responsibility of public servants was towards the public and stated that "they cannot commercialize their values, even to obtain important goals, since this may lead to shortcuts and attempts to buy with money and favors things which are priceless."

Amit criticized the "academization of security forces" adding sarcastically that "the IDF, police and Prison Authority decided that Torah scholars are analogous to engineers or other academics in the social sciences and their Torah scholarship should receive recognition even when it has no application to the functions they are fulfilling."

Barak-Erez criticized the "half-truths and lies, turning a blind eye to corruption" and also stated that the affair harmed the "honor of the Torah", since those who received rabbinic certification were not worthy of such certification.