Brazilian rabbi to avoid jail

A Brazilian rabbi charged with shoplifting has worked out an arrangement under which he will avoid jail time. A lawyer for Rabbi Henry Sobel, who was charged March 24 with shoplifting designer neckties in Miami, reached an agreement with a Florida judge that will allow the rabbi to avoid jail if he performs100 hours of community service and seeks psychological help for drug dependency, Sobel’s press spokesman said. Sobel, a Portuguese-born American citizen, returned to Brazil after being released March 24 by the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, where he was arrested and charged with retail theft in multiple locations.Sobel checked into Sao Paulo’s Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital on March 30, a day after asking to be relieved of his duties as head of the Sao Paulo Israeli Congregation (CIP), the largest synagogue in Latin America. A hospital statement said the rabbi had taken large quantities of insomnia drugs that “cause potential states of mental confusion and amnesia.” Sobel still has yet to resume his duties as head of CIP but is expected to soon, his spokesman said. His 100 hours of community service will be spent volunteering at two São Paulo institutions providing food, health, and educational assistance to poor children.”I plan to draw attention to the needs of helping those less favored,” Sobel told Rio de Janeiro’s O Globo newspaper on May 30. “I don’t have words to explain the unexplainable,” he added, referring to the shoplifting charge. “Something happened that will never happen again.”

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