Hundreds Pray for Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto

Followers of the Shuvu Yisrael sect gather in Bulgaria to pray for positive verdict in corruption case.

Meir Sela ,

הרב יאשיהו פינטו
הרב יאשיהו פינטו
מאיר סלע

Hundreds of followers of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, head of the "Shuvu Yisrael" sect and the prime suspect in a major corruption scandal, arrived Wednesday afternoon to the grave of the Pele Yoetz in Bulgaria for the Rabbi's welfare. 

Before the prayer, Pinto addressed the plea bargain he signed with the state, by which he admitted to bribery and obstruction of justice in the deal with former senior police official Menashe Arbiv, in exchange for leniency in the ruling. 

"King Yoshiyahu's whole body stabbed with swords, and so they have stabbed us - but we thank Hashem for each and every moment," Pinto said.

"Remember, one day - not far from now - shame and suffering will befall everyone," he added. "Six years of such suffering - whoever could be more cruel, was more cruel." 

"We were killed with a million knives but we thank Hashem for each and every moment," Pinto continued. "We are not afraid - like [Biblical] Avraham - he was not afraid of anything and we are not afraid of anyone." 

"We lowered our heads to God, the commandments and the community and act wisely," he concluded.

Earlier this year, 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.