Vanquishing Israel’s Corrupt Rabbinic Hegemony – Former Chief Rabbi Lau Takes Illegal Payments

For years, Israelis have rightly complained about the corruption of Israel’s haredi-controlled Rabbinute, and about corruption associated with haredim in general. But what irks most Israelis more than the simple corruption and arrogance is the unwanted rabbinic intrusion in their lives.

Israelis are forced to marry in religious ceremonies. Jews must marry through the Rabbinute, non-Jews through various church and mosque organizations. This gives rabbis draconian power over Jews, which rabbis have used brutally. There are hundreds of cases of Jews, people whose parents converted in Orthodox conversions or who themselves have done so, who have been denied marriage permits and had their Jewish status "revoked" by rabbinic clerks too ignorant to recognize the errors they routinely make and too unfeeling to care about their effects. Jews are abused, humiliated and driven away by ignoramuses with shabby beards and dirty hats. And there is more. Much more.

Avigdor Lieberman, the right wing but secular politician whose party, Yisrael Beteinu just joined the coalition, aims to do something about this. He joined Olmert’s coalition only after being promised what Israelis have longed for – a secular alternative to the Rabbinute.  Israelis will now be able to choose between a religious marriage or a secular ceremony, like a justice of the peace in the US. If Lieberman gets what he was promised, Jews will finally be able to deal the rabbis out.

The Rabbinute, recognizing that its ship is sinking, is trying an end around – secular marriage for anyone not affiliated with a religion or registered as a Jew. This will help many non-Jewish Russians, but it will do nothing for the rest of us. If Lieberman sticks to his guns, and if the Labor Party can somehow manage to cooperate on a bill they endorse, the Rabbinute’s ploy will fail, and Jews will finally be free of these criminals.

How corrupt is the Rabbinute? Very. Israel’s former chief rabbi, Yisrael Meir Lau, took payments for weddings (and speeches, and more) when he was chief rabbi. These payments were illegal. He was warned and agreed – after being outed in Ha’aretz – to stop taking these illegal payments. But Lau lied, and continued to take money, and does so even now as he serves as chief rabbi of Tel Aviv. Even though Lau’s henchmen claim most, the "lion’s share" of the money went to charity, the payments are illegal and Lau knows it. Further, the charities supported are primarily Lau’s own, and employ his henchmen and cronies. Lau is a leading candidate for president, backed by Mr. Corruption himself, Ehud Olmert.

This is only one of many such cases of corruption in Israel’s haredi-dominated religious Establishment. One could say that absolute rabbinic power corrupts absolutely, and that is true. But it is also true that the system itself is corrupt. Its leaders, its employees, its rank and file are all laced with corruption and cronyism. They’re criminals, and they need to be defrocked and stripped of all power immediately. Let’s hope Lieberman succeeds. If he does, he’ll be the next prime minister.

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4 Comments

Filed under Crime, Haredim, Israel

4 responses to “Vanquishing Israel’s Corrupt Rabbinic Hegemony – Former Chief Rabbi Lau Takes Illegal Payments

  1. Neo-Conservaguy

    “Israelis will now be able to choose between a religious marriage or a secular ceremony, like a justice of the peace in the US.”

    Not exactly: they would be able to choose between an Orthodox religious marriage or a secular ceremony. Still left out in the cold would be religious ceremonies from any Jewish group other than Orthodoxy – as if there was anything hard about making a kosher marriage ritual. It’s funny, in a strange way: the religious marriage has as a fundamental part a “secular” legal document – the ketubah – which eventually was the onus for a rabbinic “sunset clause” to end the Sota ritual, a Torah-given “right” for married men. So, in one sort of thought, the path for Israeli civil marriage was paved two thousand years ago by Shimon ben Shetah, the creator of the ketubah.

    I’d much rather, however, that more rational religious approaches to marriage were made available to Jews in Israel. It’s more than a little bizarre that a shomer Shabbat, shomer Kashrut masorti (Israeli conservative/conservadox) Jew can’t celebrate such a life event at their own shul!

  2. PishPosh

    Ah, my favorite subject back in the news. Lets face it. Rabbinic Judaism is not the Torah of Israel. Its just the longerst running expression of “”Etz Laasot Lahashem.” Drastic times in post 70 C.E. called for some drastic measures and accomodations to keep us united outside of the land. But now the foundation has been cracking for over a couple of centuries little by little.
    I understand clearly what Shmuel Hanavi meant when he warned the people of what woes a King could bring on their head. Today its the Malchut of the Rabbanut that Shmuel would warn us about.

    And how bout our favorite warriors the Chashmonaim?? Isnt it taught that the reason they came to a bad end was because they sought the Malchut on top of their already illustrious lineage of Cohens??? Isnt this exactly what the Rabbunut has sought to do? From being respected Zkaynim to a bunch of powermongers like the earlier Hashmonaim, who instead facilitating the restoration of a true Israelite nation they do everything in their power to stop or slow it lest things get back to the good old days when a non israelite could say
    “your people are my people” and be welcomed right away into our family and even sire one of our most beloved kings Daveed. Dam if they wouldnt have driven Ruth off the way they 3rd degree everyone in todays beit din.

  3. Yochanan Lavie

    Well said, Pish Posh. But rabbinic Judaism is pretty much the only game in town. Rather than throw out the baby with the bathwater it needs to be modified, so it’s more humane and truer to Tanach at the same time.

  4. Jath

    rabbi lau, a very talented speaker, seems to be also teflon coated.
    he survived several accusations of improriety in collecting fees where he shouldn’t have been, and in matters beino lebeina -of the katzav type.

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