Credentials challenged, Rabbi Alan Abrams, accused of stealing wheelchair, takes leave


(JTA) — A rabbi who was working as a chaplain when he was accused of stealing a 96-year-old’s wheelchair, and whose rabbinical credentials have been questioned, said he was taking leave from the rabbinate.

Alan Abrams announced the decision Thursday on his blog. That came just hours after the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles had written an in-depth article about him, the paper reported.

Abrams, 50, was accused of taking a motorized wheelchair from a resident of Windsor Terrace, a skilled nursing facility in Van Nuys, Calif.

Abrams, according to the Journal, began calling himself a rabbi in 2009. He told the paper he was ordained in Jerusalem, but provided no evidence. He said he has a certificate of ordination from The Rabbinical Seminary International, a New York-based distance learning program for nondenominational rabbis. The head of that school told the paper that Abrams had stolen the certificate, after paying his tuition with a $5,000 check that bounced.

In 1993, Abrams’ pled no contest to charges of practicing veterinary medicine without a license in Los Angeles. He was sentenced to six months in jail for that offense, the Journal reported.

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