Tzohar Rabbinical Council
Tzohar Rabbinical CouncilTzohar Rabbinical Organization

In a public address, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (grandson of the former Israeli Chief Rabbi of the same name), allegedy falsely stated that the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization performs non-halakhic conversions in return for payments of 25,000 shekel and without requiring the intended converts to accept “the yoke of Torah observance,” as is required of converts.

In response, the organization has sued the rabbi saying that the statements “are blatantly false and without any basis, yet said with full understanding and intention of the damage it could cause to the organization.”

The statements by the rabbi, head of the “Tifferet Ohel Moshe” kollel in Beit Shemesh were reportedly made during a weekly Torah session in the “Nezer Aharon” synagogue. In his address the rabbi stated, “It’s all professional black market dealings. Everyone goes to Tzohar and they perform a conversion for 25,000 shekel. It doesn’t matter if the person accepts the mitzvot. No, they say it’s not necessary.”

Even when asked whether he is certain of his claims, the rabbi allegedy responded: “100 percent that is the price. I think it’s shekel and not dollars. 100 percent. After they sign, the Rabbinate signs after them and that’s the end of the story.”

As a result of the public remarks which were placed online on You Tube, Tzohar issued a libel suit against the rabbi in the amount of 161,923. In the suit the organization stated, “The Tzohar Rabbinical Organization does not, nor never has, maintained a conversion court and is not involved in the conversion process. The statements are blatantly false, abhorrent and without any basis, yet said with full knowledge and intent that they would damage the reputation of Tzohar.”

Tzohar also said they reject any suggestion that the rabbi simply misspoke because of the fact that he restated the false assertions multiple times and even answered questions where he again stressed the same false assertions.

“The intent of the rabbi was to damage the reputation of Tzohar which operates with full transparency and integrity and an unwavering commitment to halakha. The rabbi’s intent was to discredit Tzohar with falsehoods and present the organization not only as one which operates outside of the boundaries of halacha, but as morally and legally corrupt. Such a statement cannot be defended by claims of free speech, but are forbidden displays of incitement and lying with the intent to damage the organization’s reputation.”

The suit was prepared by Adv. Asaf Benmelech and presented before the Jerusalem Magistrate Court.