Five men are suspected for fraud and impersonation after attempting to take a rabbinic qualification exam in the name yeshiva students. The five men admitted they were paid thousands of shekels by yeshiva students to take the exam in their place, because the yeshiva students were not properly prepared to pass it themselves. Police suspect a larger network of fraudulent semicha test takers has been operating and that many more rabbis fraudulently obtained ordination this way.
Fraud in rabbinic ordination tests
Five Yeshiva students paid impostors to take rabbinic qualification exam in their place. Rabbinate senior official: 'We expect mor from them'
Kobi Nahshoni • Ynet
Five men are suspected for 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 concentrated Halacha exam to 2,500 students. Test supervisors noticed suspected 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 service. 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 phenomenon, and expressed his disappointment. However he stressed that this is not a recurrent incident, and that the suspects that come from two different places, don’t necessarily represent a complete 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 a disciplinary punishment."
Officials in the Chief Rabbinate said that all those involved in the affair will probably be refused to take the exam in the future. "It is unacceptable that an Israeli Rabbi will be ordained by fraud. We expect more from our rabbis. They must be excellent students but also god-fearing and men of truth. There must be confidence."
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 we are not handling this 'inside the family'," said the official, "this is why we immediately turned to the police. The reaction was immediate and strong in order to deter anyone who attempts to do the same".
The exams to ordinates to the rabbinate are done in three different tracks, each demand the student to successfully pass a series of exams. The National Authority for Religious Services recognizes the first two tracks as equivalent to bachelor's degree, and the third as equal to a doctorate degree.
The Rabbinute's semicha (ordination) exams are considered to be the hardest in the world. By comparison, Chabad's is riculously easy in most cases. Yeshiva University's is probably the closest to the Rabbinute's in terms of difficulty and thoroughness.Most haredi semichas are more difficult than Chabad but much easier than YU's.
I think the three "tracks" the article refers to are: basic semicha (yoreh yoreh), rav ha'ir (rabbi of a city), and dayanut.
While the article does not say it, it is likely the majority of the cheating yeshiva students are haredi. Many haredi yeshivas don't prepare their students to take the Rabbinute semicha tests, and a large number of haredi students panic when they realize how difficult the tests are.
On the other hand, Zionist Orthodox yeshivot are more likely to prepare students to take these tests, and they often have more resources available for those who choose to take them.
But time will tell.