Accountability and transparency within our institutions and leadership.
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1)http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/546745.htmlWed., March 02, 2005 Adar1 21, 5765Court upholds rabbi's bribery conviction By Shahar Ilan Last Sunday saw the end of a very unsavory affair in the history of the religious establishment. The Tel Aviv District Court rejected the appeal by the former Sephardi chief rabbi of Ramat Gan, Yitzhak Barda, and upheld his conviction for accepting a bribe in return for conversion. In 2003 Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court Judge Daniel Beeri convicted Barda on three counts of taking a bribe from women who wanted to convert. The offenses dated from the beginning of the 1990s, when Barda headed a special religious court for conversion. Two of the women paid $2,000 each, and the money was handed over through a go-between, Ava Tsror. Barda's punishment was relatively light for bribery: six months in prison and another year on probation. The judge took into account the fact that the indictment had been submitted five years after the investigation had been completed and nine years after the offenses were committed, as well as of the fact that Barda had resigned from his position. Barda appealed to the District Court through his attorney, David Libai. The appeal was based on the argument that although the Magistrate's Court had determined that Ava Tsror's testimony was not reliable, it had based itself on that testimony in the conviction. The appeal also argued that the court should have examined the details of each of the cases individually and had not done so. The vice president of the Tel Aviv District Court, Judge Dvora Berliner, who write the District Court ruling, related extensively to Barda's statements to the police: "I fell into Ava Tsror's net and I was not happy about that," and, "The personal responsibility and the distress for having accepted the money were disgusting and difficult." She also quotes from Barda's expression of remorse for "this terrible failure, the damage of which in retrospect is awful and hideous both in the realm of the desecration of the Holy Name and in the realm of all my relationships ...."According to Berliner, "There is, in this statement, what there is: remarks that indicate an admission that the appellant accepted bribes from converts, with Ava's mediation." However, wrote Berliner, "There is, in the statement, also what there is not: There is not a loud and bitter outcry of a rabbi in Israel, to whom an ugly, humiliating and by all accounts serious offense is attributed, especially in the Jewish worldview ... that these things never happened .... The absence of the outcry speaks for itself." According to the judge, the detailed examination of all the instances creates "a solid chain" of evidence, "a firm evidentiary fabric that leaves no room for doubt."Barda joins three senior rabbis who were convicted of grave offenses during the past decade: The head of the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court, Rabbi Haim Pardess, who committed indecent acts; the rabbi of Afula, Rabbi Peretz Zioni, who was convicted of taking a bribe for a kashrut certificate; and the rabbi of Beit She'an, Rabbi Eliyahu Cohen, who accepted a bribe to turn a blind eye to the marketing of unkosher meat. Zioni, incidentally, is still serving in his position, and only some of his authority was taken away from him.2)Former Israeli rabbi guilty in cash-for-certificates scandal. November 23, 2003Agence France PresseThe former senior rabbi of the Israeli town of Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv was found guilty Sunday of receiving cash in exchange for certificates showing that people had converted to Judaism, judicial sources said. Rabbi Yitzhak Barda was to be sentenced at a later date after a tribunal heard how he had taken part in a scam under which applicants wrote to another rabbi in France in order to receive a certificate which should enable them to become Israeli citizens. Under Israeli law, any certified Jew is entitled to Israeli citizenship. The court rejected Barda's argument that the money he received was to be used for "religious institutions". The sums involved were not known.
http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/364187.html November 24, 2003Former Chief Rabbi Found Guilty Of Bribe-TakingBy Zvi HarelHaaretz Correspondent and Haaretz ServiceThe former chief rabbi of Ramat Gan, Yitzhak Barda, was found guilty on Sunday of accepting bribes. Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court Judge Daniel Be'eri found the rabbi guilty of taking thousands of dollars in bribes from people who wished to convert to Judaism. In exchange, Barda referred the conversion candidates to a rabbi in France. The ruling states that the conversion candidates were referred to Barda by a woman named Eva Tzror. The defendant claimed during the trial that Tzror never passed on the full amount, paying him smaller amounts of NIS 400-500 to distribute to employees at the mikveh (ritual purification bath) who worked odd hours. The judge however ruled that Barda's version of events was not credible. Barda did admit that he had sent 20-30 converts to a rabbi in Paris to speed along their conversion process, taking $2,500-3,000 from them as a "handling charge" and as payment to the French rabbi.
Rabbi Haim Pardess former president of the Tel Aviv District Rabbinical Court1)RABBI CHARGED WITH INDECENT BEHAVIOR October 24, 1990The Jerusalem Post TEL AVIV - Attorney-General Yosef Harish has submitted a charge sheet against Rabbi Haim Pardess, who was president of the Tel Aviv District Rabbinical Court, for two obscene acts and three cases of fraud. The charge sheet, submitted to the Tel Aviv District Court, claims, among other things, that Pardess spoke on personal and intimate matters to a woman who had come to him for advice after her husband had disappeared and she was declared an aguna, an abandoned wife. At one of their meetings, the rabbi committed indecent acts on the woman, the charge sheet says. 2)POLICE INTERROGATE RABBINICAL COURT JUDGE ABOUT SEX-BRIBE ALLEGATIONS By ANDY GOLDBERG December 5, 1989The Jerusalem Post The rabbinical court judge at the centre of a sex-for-divorce scandal was interrogated for seven hours yesterday by officers of the Jaffa-based National Fraud Division. Rabbi Haim Pardess, 54, was released on his own recognizance after the interrogation and praised his investigators for "their fair and correct treatment." The police are investigating allegations that Pardess solicited sexual favours from women in return for speeding up treatment of their divorce proceedings. One woman told officers last month that Pardess had been dealing with her divorce case for about seven years when he suggested that they meet alone in a room he had at his disposal at a local synagogue. In return for such a meeting, he promised to expedite the court's handling of her divorce. The woman apparently recorded her conversations with Pardess and afterwards used the tape to force him to expedite her case and to blackmail him for NIS 20,000. Officers have already questioned several persons connected with the allegations against Pardess. Pardess's attorney, Dr. Ya'acov Weinroth, told The Jerusalem Post that his client had cooperated fully with the police. He did not know whether Pardess would be summoned for further questioning. He said that the police did not have in their possession any tape recording that incriminated Pardess. Rabbinical court judges have the legal standing of district court judges, whose interrogation is permitted only with the approval of the attorney-general. Yosef Harish granted this approval in Pardess's case on Sunday. "I am very happy that I have had the opportunity to give my version of events and explode the baseless allegations against me," Pardess told Kol Yisrael radio after his interrogation. He was highly critical of the press for publishing the story and his identity before he had been charged. He told reporters that he planned to continue working as usual despite the allegations and said he hoped that "with God's help the truth will out."
Current rabbi of Afula, Rabbi Peretz Zioni.1)News in brief by Dan IzenbergJuly 247, 1998The Jerusalem Post A-G files petition to fire Afula rabbi Attorney-General Elyakim Rubinstein yesterday petitioned the High Court of Justice against a decision by the Afula rabbinical disciplinary court not to fire the city's rabbi, Peretz Zioni. Zioni was convicted on charges of theft by a public servant, fraud and breach of trust. The disciplinary court took away some of Zioni's powers, but did not dismiss him. Rubinstein said the gravity of the charges for which he was convicted made it imperative to fire Zioni.2)Chief Rabbi of Afula sentenced for fraud, bribe-taking and breach of trust Itim October 12, 1995The Jerusalem Post THE Nazareth District Court yesterday sentenced the chief rabbi of Afula to six months' community service, a two-year suspended sentence, and a NIS 150,000 fine for bribe-taking, fraud, and breach of trust. Rabbi Peretz Zioni, 49, was convicted in July following a years-long dispute with the Afula Religious Council. During the dispute he moved his office to his home, where he provided religious services and collected fees for them instead of transferring the funds to the council. Zioni claimed the funds he collected were used to maintain his office; however, he did not report how the money was spent. He was also convicted of pocketing money given in return for issuing kashrut certificates to a number of Galilee kibbutzim. Chief Rabbi Yisrael Lau called on Zioni to step down after he was indicted. Zioni was elected Afula chief rabbi in 1975. Judge Gideon Ginat was asked by the prosecutor to impose a jail sentence on Zioni, but said this would be inappropriate, citing a prosecution statement that the system was to blame for encouraging Zioni's misdeeds. The judge noted that the Religious Affairs Ministry, the Chief Rabbinate, and the Afula Religious Council were aware of what Zioni was doing at his home office and had in fact approved the arrangement. He said these authorities had failed to monitor the rabbi's financial activities and had thereby set up a situation that was ripe for criminal violations. 3)AFULA RABBI CAN'T WORK FROM HOME Itim March 22, 1994The Jerusalem Post Rabbi Peretz Zioni, of Afula, has been ordered by the Nazareth District Court to stop giving religious services from his house. The Afula religious council filed a suit against Zioni in 1991, claiming he had begun taking money for religious services he gave from his house, instead of doing so through the council's offices. It said he had pocketed marriage and kashrut certificate fees from work carried out at home. The council said it asked for a full account of the fees, but only received part of the money and an inexact account. Since 1991, the council said it had received no fee money from Zioni.
Rabbi Eliyahu Cohen former Chief Rabbi Beit She'an1) INDICTED RABBIS ASKED TO STEP DOWN January 21, 1994The Jerusalem Post Chief Rabbis Yisrael Lau and Eliahu Bakshi-Doron yesterday asked the chief rabbis of Afula and Beit She'an to take leaves of absence until legal proceedings against them are concluded. Beit She'an Chief Rabbi Eliahu Cohen is accused of accepting bribes for the issuing of kashrut certificates, while Afula Chief Rabbi Peretz Tzioni has been charged on various counts of fraud, theft, and bribery. 2)RABBI TO BE ASKED TO TAKE LEAVE OF ABSENCE January 19, 1994The Jerusalem Post The State Attorney's Office yesterday recommended that the Chief Rabbinate suspend Beit She'an Chief Rabbi Eliahu Cohen until the end of legal proceedings against him for allegedly taking bribes. Cohen is accused of accepting bribes for the granting of kashrut certificates. The chief rabbis are expected to direct Cohen to take a leave of office until the end of the proceedings.
Rabbi Peretz Tzioni, former chief rabbi of Afula1)Afula chief rabbi convicted of fraud ItimJune 19, 1995The Jerusalem Post THE chief rabbi of Afula was convicted yesterday of fraud, bribe-taking, and breach of trust by the Nazareth District Court. Rabbi Peretz Tzioni, 49, did not transfer to the religious council payments made by residents for religious services. Judge Gideon Ginat also cited him for failing to report how money was spent on maintaining his office. Tzioni was also convicted of pocketing money given in return for kashrut certification by a number of Galilee kibbutzim. However, he was found innocent of taking gifts from factories in return for certification. Sentencing is scheduled for the end of July. 2)Prosecutors demand jail term for Afula rabbi Itim July 31, 1995The Jerusalem Post Prosecutors asked the Nazareth District Court to sentence Afula Chief Rabbi Peretz Tzioni to a jail term and to impose a heavy fine on him, following his conviction on fraud, breach of trust, and bribery charges. During the sentencing hearing, the prosecutor said that only a serious punishment would be appropriate when such crimes are committed by a person in such a position of trust. Tzioni's defense attorney asked for a light sentence, saying that his client's "failings" resulted from not having been properly supervised. He also brought several character witnesses to testify on Tzioni's behalf.
David Libai was R. Metzger's attorney during the extortion procedings at the Rabbinute. He's also R. Barda's attorney.
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