Five men are suspected of fraud and impersonation after attempting to take a rabbinic qualification exam instead of their classmates on Wednesday. They admitted they were paid thousands of shekels by Yeshiva students to take the exam in their place, since they were not properly prepared. Following the complaint, the police suspects a larger network of fraudulent Yeshiva students is behind the scenes.
The fraud was discovered during a Halacha exam for 2,500 students. Test supervisors noticed suspicious identification cards and after questioning the students they confessed to the fraud and signed affidavits declaring they were paid between 3,000-6,000 NIS for their services. One of the students said this is the second exam he is taking in place of the same Yeshiva student.
A senior official at the Chief Rabbinate said he never encountered such a phenomenon, and expressed his disappointment. However he stressed that this is not a recurring incident, and that the suspects come from two different places, which could imply that they are not associated with a single network.
"We filed a complaint with the police, to handle it with all necessary severity," said the official. "This is a criminal act, and can't be concluded with disciplinary punishment."
Officials in the Chief Rabbinate said that all those involved in the affair will probably be barred from taking the exam in the future. "It is unacceptable that an Israeli Rabbi should be ordained by fraud. We expect more from our rabbis. They must be excellent students but also god-fearing and men of truth. Trust is essential."
A second official in the rabbinate said that it is possible there is a network of fraud since the method was similar in all five suspects, and so was the payment. "It is important that this not be handled in-house," said the official, "this is why we immediately approached the police. The reaction was immediate and strong in order to deter anyone from doing the same in the future".
The exams to ordain rabbis can be carried out through three different tracks, each demand the student successfully pass a series of exams. The National Authority for Religious Services recognizes the first two tracks as equivalent to a bachelor's degree, and the third as an equivalent to a doctorate degree.
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop