Yona Metzger, Israel's haredi Ashkenazi chief rabbi, has "temporarily suspended" himself. Metzger – who is currently on house arrest – is likely to be indicted in a fraud and money laundering investigation that has already seen three of his cronies arrested and his own home and office each raided by police.
Israel's Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger on Sunday temporarily suspended himself from some of his duties, three days after he was questioned under caution by the police on suspicion of bribery, fraud, embezzlement, breach of trust and money laundering.
Metzger's attorneys informed Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Religious Affairs Minister Nafatali Bennett that he was taking leave from his position as a justice on the Rabbinical Court, and that he would not participate in meetings of the Chief Rabbinical Council or of the Rabbinical Judicial Appointments Committee pending the end of the investigation against him.
He will, however, continue to sign certificates conferring senior rabbinic titles and kashrut certificates.
Metzger is not relinquishing his ability to influence the upcoming election for the new chief rabbis; he has already named his five representatives to the 150-member assembly that will choose his successor.
When questioned by police last week, Metzger denied and continues to deny the allegations against him and expressed hope that the investigation would end quickly.
"The rabbi understands that suspending himself is the right thing to do from a public perspective,” his attorneys said.
Livni welcomed Metzger’s decision, calling it, “the right and proper thing under the circumstances. I respect the rabbi’s decision, and even though there is only a short time until he ends his term, there is great importance in protecting the institution of the rabbinic judiciary.”…