Former Chief Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron testified in the Jerusalem District Court on Monday regarding a case involving
security forces personnel who received forged religious education certificates.
Some 2,000 police officers, soldiers and cadets attended various religious colleges for a number of hours a week but were granted diplomas for completing five years of studies. The certificates enabled the individuals to receive pay raises from the State.
The Jerusalem District Prosecutor's Office filed an indictment against over 10 rabbis who were allegedly involved in issuing the fake certificates.
Rabbi Bakshi-Doron, who was interrogated in the affair and was not charged for lack of evidence, testified regarding his part in the affair on Monday. By the end of the hearing the prosecution motioned to submit his testimony as evidence due to a gap between his police statement and his testimony in court.
During his police interrogation, Bakshi-Doron maintained he had no part in the affair and that his right-hand man Rabbi Yitzhak Ohana was the one who ordered the certificates. However, testifying in court the rabbi gave a slightly different version.
During the court hearing the Attorney Erez Padan of the prosecution said that according to Rabbi Ohana's testimony Bakshi-Doron had instructed the former to compile a list of institutes attended by the security elements in order to issue them higher religious education certificates.
The attorney noted that Bakshi-Doron was the one who ordered which institutes were to be included. The rabbi then responded, "I didn’t know the numbers. I told Rabbi Ohama to seal the deal. I only thought it was a matter of another 100 students and not the extent I later learned about."
He further added, "I remember telling Rabbi Ohana in general to seal the deal. We never discussed people, or institutes or study hours, I had no knowledge of the extent of the matter."
The rabbi also noted he tried to maintain the Rabbinate's honor and after learning that some of the soldiers didn’t maintain a religious lifestyle and were seeking benefits, called the Defense Ministry director-general. "I tried to stop it at any cost because the Rabbinate's honor was important to me."