Rabbi Pinto 'Most Persecuted in this Generation'

Controversial Rabbi returns to Israel to testify in corruption case, claims he is the victim of injustice.

Tova Dvorin ,

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto
Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto

The controversial figure Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto made a return visit to his Ashdod yeshiva [Torah academy] on Thursday, speaking for the first time to his hundreds of students after fleeing to the US several months ago over a corruption scandal. 

"They have thrust all the evil in the world upon us," he said. "We don't know if there is anyone in this generation who has been treated as poorly as we have." 

"But we forgive all of them," he added, while fervently maintaining his innocence. 

"Anyone who thought we harmed another person is making a grave mistake," he said. "But we won't speak about it. Why talk about it? What is there to explain? This is the way it is, the Master of the Universe wants it to be this way. One day, everyone will know the truth." 

The Attorney General's Office stated it would file an indictment against Rabbi Pinto, who is being tried for corruption. Pinto allegedly attempted to bribe senior police officer Ephraim Bracha with $200,000 for information about a pending police investigation into the Hazon Yeshaya charity organization, which Pinto was allegedly closely involved with. 

Bracha immediately reported the incident to his superiors, prompting a separate investigation against Rabbi Pinto himself. 

That investigation revealed that Pinto allegedly tried to bribe several other officers for information about the case against Hazon Yeshaya. The charity, which was supposed to have provided millions of dollars to Holocaust survivors and ran a popular soup kitchen and volunteer network in Jerusalem, closed in 2012 under allegations of fraud.

The allegations claim that several members of the charity - including Pinto - stole much of the food donated to the kitchen and sold it for "tens of millions of dollars," according to a 2012 Ha'aretz article. As such, Pinto will also be indicted for other charges, including obstruction of justice and money laundering relating to the case.