Israel Rabbinate Body Charged with Falsification of Documents

Gideon Hausner, Israel’s Attorney General, charged today at a hearing before the Israel Supreme Court that official documents of the Chief Rabbinate Council submitted to him in the dispute over elections of new Chief Rabbis had been falsified. Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim responded to the charge with a demand to the Attorney General for a retraction.

The Supreme Court interrupted its summer recess to hear two complaints against the validity of nominations for the board which is to elect new Ashkenazic and Sephardic Chief Rabbis. Rabbi Nissim is a candidate to succeed himself. The elections have been delayed for months due to conflict between the Chief Rabbinate Council and Rabbi Yaacov Toledano, Israel’s Minister of Religious Affairs. The two cases were joined as one for the hearing because the arguments were identical.

The Attorney General appeared on behalf of the Ministry of Religious Affairs after the court had rejected a request from the Chief Rabbinate Council that Rabbi Toledano appear personally to answer the complaints of alleged irregularities In his efforts to constitute a nominations board.

After Hausner made the charge of falsification, Chief Justice Cohen interrupted to point out the “extreme gravity” of the accusation. The Attorney General replied that he had proof to back the charge. He cited what he termed evidence that an original handwritten protocol had noted that certain members of the Council had voted against revoking the accreditation of the Council’s representative, Rabbi Amram Aburavia, but that in a typewritten copy submitted to him, changes allegedly had been made to record those members as abstaining.

He also cited the record on Rabbi Obadia Hadayah as being listed in the handwritten copy with a negative vote and in the typewritten version as having abstained. In his letter demanding a retraction, Rabbi Nissim wrote that several typewritten copies had been made of the protocol which was originally taken down in longhand and that one of the typewritten copies had been signed by Rabbi Hadayah.

The post of Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi has been vacant since the death last year of Rabbi Isaac Halevi Herzog.

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