Metzger suspending himself of some chief rabbi duties during probe

The Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger in his Jerusalem office, April  2011.(Yoav Ari Dudkevitch / Flash90)

The Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger in his Jerusalem office, April 2011.(Yoav Ari Dudkevitch / Flash90)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Yona Metzger, has suspended himself from some of his duties following his arrest on corruption charges.

Metzger said Sunday that he will suspend himself from the presidency of the  Chief Rabbinate Council and will not attend its meetings, as well as his position as a Rabbinical High Court judge.

The suspensions are for the duration of the investigation, he said in his announcement from his lawyers to Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Religious Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett.

“The rabbi understands that suspending himself is the right thing to do from a public perspective,” his attorneys said while emphasizing that Metzger maintains his innocence.

Investigators from the National Fraud Squad raided Metzger’s home and offices last week as part of a bribery, fraud, money-laundering and breach-of-trust case. Police suspect Metzger pocketed donations, which Metzger denies.

Metzger is forbidden to make contact with either of the other suspects in the case — Haim Nissan Eisenshtat, who worked for years as Metzger’s driver and personal assistant, and Simcha Karkovsky, the manager of the Beit Hatavshil charity in Bnei Brak.

Following a months-long undercover investigation, officers went public on June 20, arresting the three suspects and seizing documents, computers and other materials from Metzger’s home and office.

Metzger was released to five days of house arrest after being questioned for 10 hours. His term as Ashekenazi chief rabbi ends in the coming months.

 

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