27 thoughts on “Israel’s Orthodox Rabbis Worship God of Mammon, Collect $250-Million Yearly, Largely Off-Books – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. In your headline you write that Israel’s orthodox rabbis “Collect $250-Million Off-Books Yearly” – but this figure is not supported by the content of the article. Nowhere is any claim made that orthodox rabbis earn $250 million tax-free.

    Instead, the article states that the nature of the industry and the fact that income is not always reported to the Israeli tax authority makes it difficult to determine the exact amount of money earned.

    The relevant paragraph you cited suggests that the amount, while estimated at a billion shekels a year ($250 million) is actually unknown due to the aforementioned reasons, not that $250 million is collected off the books as your headline and tweet claim.

    The amount could be more, could be less, but it is not asserted one way or the other in this article, so I think it might be a good idea to change the headline of this piece for the sake of accuracy and reputation.

    1. Not quite. The article says that the amount the rabbis collect is likely to be much higher than $250-million because much of their wealth is accumulated off the books, not reported to the Israeli tax authorities, etc. In another part of the article, they call this $250-million “black money” as in the “black economy.” This leads me to feel confidence that much, if not all of the money received in Israel is not properly accounted for.

      Failed Messiah, who knows far more about how the Orthodox community including this aspect works is far harsher than I & calls the entire system absolutely corrupt. He says many rabbis have settled tax disputes for millions of shekels & that the Israeli government is frightened of prosecuting these people because of their political clout.

      If you can think of an equally hard hitting title that you think is more accurate, be my guest. Let me know.

      1. You write: ‘“black money” as in the “black market.”’

        ‘“black money” as in the “black economy.”’ would be more appropriately accurate.

  2. All I can say is that these are the equivalent of the Jim Bakkers, John Hagees and Osama bin Ladens of the Jewish people.

    John Hagee would qualify as a religous leader, and so would theseRabbi’s as they do have formal qualifications and are recognised as religous leaders.

    Osama bin Laden was not a religious leader, he had no formal education in Islam. He was basically, a self styled quack, propped up by Americans to use against Russia, then dumped. He then directed his rage at the Americans. True he used religious overtures to gain recruits, but they were distortions, no major Sunni or Shia school of thought legitimised Bin Ladens teachings.

    A better example would have been the Aga Khan. A billionaire who like the Rabbi’s above is not above gambling, hoarding of wealth, avarice, though admittedly he does do good works, but there is plenty of change left over to abuse.

  3. Mamon Rav cannot mean “Money Rabbi” in Hebrew. What are we to make of the fact that you consistently butcher Hebrew translation into English?

    1. It is a play on words and as such it carries the connotation of “Money Rabbi” (since Mamon means money and rav means rabbi. Of course, you wouldn’t say Mamon Rav in contemporary Hebrew, that’s why it’s a play on words and not meant as a literal, but rather figurative statement. What are we to think of the fact that you consistently butcher literary and rhetorical allusions & devices? Have you ever heard of the term “play on words?” Do you know what it means? Of course you don’t, unless the particular play on words involves right wing Israeli politics. Then you’re right on it, right?

      Knock off the petty snark or you’ll be toast here.

  4. The Gerrer Rebbe’s father was an asute real estate investor before he became Rebbe and earned his wealth through his investments. None of it was from his Hassidim.

    I see no mention here of Rabbi Elyashiv wjo raised his 10 children in a 2 room hovel in Meah Shearim.

    Shame on you for this one sided and slanted post. A libel more fitting for anti-semites than promoters of so called ‘Tikun Olam’.

    1. I didn’t write the Forbes article, nor the Jewish Press article, nor the Globes article, nor the Failed Messiah post. Take it up with them, knucklehead.

      And if you’ll notice (since you didn’t) I explictly wrote that not all Orthodox rabbis are characteristic of these charlatan rabbis. But alas, too many are.

      1. A few things:
        -power corrupts
        -there are MANY fine and poor Orthodox leaders
        -many of the gedolim live in abject poverty, that is why Israel produces almost all of the first rate Torah scholars

  5. An extremely important article, Richard. The corruption among the orthodox and ultra-orthodox is a poison that threatens the entire edifice of Judaism itself – and is one of several such ill potions that mutated under the cover of the great zionist enterprise. The more light is shined, the better.

    Btw, one of the most shocking exposes I read about a year ago in Haaretz is of the Kashrut certifying industry in Israel. It is a protectorate where monopoly battles are fought as if they were about mafia turf. If I find the link in my files, I’ll attach.

  6. Dana,

    Are you saying the Conservative and Reform have no corrupt Rabbis?

    and is one of several such ill potions that mutated under the cover of the great zionist enterprise.

    I thought a lot of the the ultra orthodox are anti Zionist? The nationalist religious aside, that is..j

    Just curious.

    If these Rabbis were pro Zionist, why do the settlers rely on American donors to prop up the settlements?

    1. There are certainly no rabbis who are corrupt on this scale who are non-Orthodox. Conservative and Reform rabbis tend to engage in sins like adultery and sexual abuse when they stray. They haven’t developed financial rackets like the ones described here.

    2. Chayma, agree with Richard about the non-orthodox rabbis – may be we ‘ve seen less corruption from that direction because their congregations are less insular and it’s harder to keep things under the table (corruption thrives in places where the sunlight doesn’t reach so well). Plus Israel, which is where the greater listed outrages were taking place, allows only very limited presence for reform and conservative, so if they were there and someone sought to enrich themselves surreptitiously, there would be a more limited circle of willing enablers to keep it under wraps. of course, there is the possibility that more reform and conservative take their concepts of right and wrong more seriously, but it is not for me to make a judgement about that.

      As to your question on the zionism of the ultra-orthodox – it is true that once upon a time many ultra-orthodox (Haredi etc) were not very keen on zionism, but that has all changed. Now there are only a few sects that are still non-zionist like Neturei Karta (by no means the largest haredi sect). Just look at Chabad – from once staunchly anti- or non-zionist it now has only a trickle of non-zionist leaning congregations. Most have gone full-throat zionist.

      And that is precisely what I intended to point out – as zionism made its way into the most insular of Jewish haredi sects, it corrupted them from within. Once you give up one set of beliefs (that it’d take a messiah to reach the true jerusalem) it becomes easier to compromise other beliefs too. Like the stone that is ground by the persistent flow of water, it takes a while, but in due course, the Judaism espoused by many religious groups (both orthodox and ultra-orthodox now) will be but an empty shell – another me-first cult, adorned with allusions to antiquity, and infinite number of excuses for a present that gives the lie too many of the original core beliefs.

      As to your last question on where the donor money comes from, it is a non-sequiteur and requires no answer in this context.

    3. The Rabbis listed above are Sephardic “haredim” who wouldn’t be classified as Zionist although Jews of Arab countries are typically right-leaning and “pro-Zionist.” A better term would be “lovers of Zion” or chebat-Tsion.

  7. What is your take on the Failed Messiah blog? In this article, you’ve quoted from it liberally. Is it fair to assume that you are a fan of that site? I don’t see it listed on your blog list. Would you recommend it? The comments section seems a bit contentious.

  8. “All I can say is that these are the equivalent of the Jim Bakkers, John Hagees and Osama bin Ladens of the Jewish people.”

    Cheers, Richard. We believe strongly that this is going to be your call of duty for the next few years more so than ever before. The recognition that Judaism has an “Al-Qaeda” will shine the light on those who are committing massive criminal acts for land capture, wealth accumulation, and power.

    It is important to understand that the actions of individuals do not represent groups nor vice-versa, lest there is a mutual acceptance or ratification of the joinder.

    However, it is also important to recognize the truth — that much of this wealth (and that beyond the rabbis) serves extremist right-wing Zionist interests. You called them the “Israel’s Rothschild- rabbis”. The Rothschilds are historically a banking family, perhaps the richest ever, with considerable evidenced stakes in the Federal Reserves of New York and the Bank of England. Bankers, historically, pull the strings of economy to cause boom and bust.

    In America, we want to put these bankers in jail. Because many of these bankers are Jewish by their own identification (not by any qualitative measure, like whether they actually act in line with Judaic values or something else more political), many call protest movements for such accountability, like the Occupy Wall Street movement, anti-Semitic acts. However, the cause and effect of the complaint has nothing to do with religion.

    It’s important that “the real Jews stand up” rather than herd with the bad apples. The inevitable fallout of all of this criminality without accountability is going to be a predictable sweep of the same historical repeat, especially considering the recent confirmations within military and intelligence ranks over long-held believes that a certain tipping point for Americans in the early 2000s was a huge insurance scam.

  9. The Sages say, “Anyone who is accustomed to lashon ha-ra has no part in the next world.” This post, as well as the article on which it is based, is entirely lashon ha-ra. Yehudim yekorim, think of your souls!

    1. Isn’t this just a case of YOUR rabbinical ox being gored and you don’t like it? If it was me featured in Forbes Israel as a near billionaire due to ill-gotten gains, I’d venture to say your reaction would be quite different.

      Instead of carping about lashon hara, you might want to praise those rabbis who model a truly moral, humble life for their followers, unlike these charlatans.

      1. Richard, I’d like to point out that Rabbi Yehuda ha-Nasi (the compiler of the Mishna) was extremely wealthy and had a close relationship with the Romans. Wealth doesn’t exclude someone from being righteous just as poverty isn’t a virture. In fact, Abraham himself was quite wealthy.

          1. No, I am simply saying that wealth/poverty isn’t a measure of one’s virtue.

  10. Shari Arison is Ted Arison’s daughter not his wife.

    There is a mystification of Rabbi’s since i don’t know when. people keep describing them as miracle workers. i don’t know what makes big business man so insecure of their own abilities that they don’t make any decision before consulting a Rabbi. there is sense of awe Jewish people (even secular) have for religious authority figures and it’s been indoctrinated in them for hundred of years and it’s so deep now that i don’t think it could ever be rooted out.

  11. For so many us, outside the “box” ( who, don’t speak Hebrew or read Israeli newspapers), thank you for your vigilant reporting on very important subjects the ordinary American (and others) never hear of.
    After a while, the bits and pieces fall and fit together. It doesn’t matter all the red herrings – “religious” or otherwise – or counter attacks … wrong is wrong, right is right.
    Fraud is fraud. Theft is theft.
    Right now, I am concerned about bill S881, regarding new Iran sanctions. Is there anything free from corrupt money and racketeering?

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