The Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avoda lobbying group filed a petition to the High Court of Justice on Monday requesting an injunction to force the Religious Services Ministry to suspend Rabbi Avraham Yosef, the municipal chief rabbi of Holon, until the criminal proceedings against him on breach of trust charges is over.
Yosef, the son of the late Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, was indicted in the Tel Aviv District Court in December on two counts of breach of trust.
According to the indictment, Yosef allegedly exploited his position as municipal chief rabbi of Holon to force food businesses to use meat approved by the kashrut licensing authority belonging to his family, Badatz Beit Yosef, and specifically forbade them from using products and produce approved by contending authorities.
Municipal chief rabbis and the local religious councils are the recognized authorities for granting kashrut license to restaurants and food businesses in their municipal jurisdiction.
Following the indictment, NTA sent letters to Chief Rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef, Avraham’s brother, as well as the Religious Services Ministry, calling on the two bodies to suspend Yosef until the legal proceedings against him are completed.
The organization said that in its letter to the chief rabbis it had specifically asked them to convene the Council of the Chief Rabbinate to appoint an interim rabbi responsible for granting kashrut licenses in Holon.
Neither the ministry or the chief rabbinate responded to the letter.
In light of this and the fact that Yosef continues to serve in his capacity as municipal chief rabbi of Holon and continues to approve or deny kashrut licenses, NTA said it decided to file its petition demanding that the ministry suspend him.
“The continued service of Rabbi Yosef, a member of the Council of the Chief Rabbinate, undermines public trust in religious services and the state kashrut system, whether relating to Rabbi Yosef’s flagrant intervention for the benefit of his family regarding issues with a direct connection to the heart of his authority as a municipal chief rabbi, or the public consequences of a rabbi who acted to turn the state kashrut system into a framework to promote haredi kashrut bodies,” NTA said.
The Religious Services Ministry declined to comment on the petition.