My Mideast Punchlines: Oh God, wherefore art thou?

A former chief rabbi of Israel was convicted of fraud on Monday for his part in a bonus-scam that allegedly swindled hundreds of millions of shekels from the government in civil servants’ wages.

The Jerusalem District Court found Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron guilty of fraud offences including fraud in aggravated circumstances, falsifying documents, and breach of trust.

He is the second former chief rabbi to be convicted of fraud this year after former Ashkenazi chief rabbi Yona Metzger pleaded guilty to fraud, theft, conspiracy, breach of trust, money laundering, tax offences and accepting bribes involving some NIS 10 million ($2.6 million) under a plea bargain.

Metzger is currently serving a 3.5-year prison sentence at Ma’asiyahu Prison in the central Israeli town of Ramle.


There’s no fraud like a religious fraud. Canonised saints apart, the Catholic religion has been full of them since Paul of Tarsas. The trade in relics kept the monasteries afloat for centuries. The ayatollahs of Iran sit on vast fortunes. Yet we always seem more shocked when rabbis pray to Mammon.

As far as Bakshi is concerned, his surname is a clue. It is not that far removed from baksheesh. God help us.


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