Bukharian Rabbi Fights To Keep Post

Itzhak Yehoshua Confidently Battles Dizzying Array of Charges

Sukkah Star: Itzhak Yehoshua refuses to step down as Bukharian chief rabbi, despite being accused of a dizzying string of misdeeds.
paul berger
Sukkah Star: Itzhak Yehoshua refuses to step down as Bukharian chief rabbi, despite being accused of a dizzying string of misdeeds.

By Paul Berger

Published October 22, 2012, issue of October 26, 2012.
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Alishaev, who is president of the community center, said he did not want to say whether Yehoshua had done anything wrong. But, he added, Yehoshua “does not have [the] right to speak on behalf of… the community center or the community at all.”

Several Bukharian rabbis declined to comment on Yehoshua’s removal. One insider described the episode as a “black eye” for the community.

Even those who believe the allegations against Yehoshua say — with a sigh — that he is a talented rabbi who, by guiding its initial establishment and growth, achieved great things for the community. One person said he “cried tears” over Yehoshua’s downfall.

“He’s a very great guy,” said Yehoshua supporter Arthur Shakarov, managing partner of King David, a kosher Bukharian restaurant. “I don’t know why people are telling about him so much bad stories.”

Rumors in the community circulate that Yehoshua accepted money for easy conversions. But people are vague on details.

When asked about the beit din rulings, Yehoshua would say only that he was accused of allowing a ritual slaughterer to continue practicing after he ought to have retired.

Rabbi Peretz Steinberg, one of the five rabbis from the Queens Beit Din that ruled in the matter, initially declined to give any details. Later, he said that Yehoshua performed a number of conversions that “were not proper.”

There were “other things, as well,” Steinberg added, but “we didn’t get involved in the thievery and the dishonesty.”

Yehoshua refused to attend the beit din hearings.

Instead, he went to Israel, where he persuaded former Sephardic chief rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron to investigate the Queens Beit Din ruling. In a ruling, posted on Yehoshua’s website in January Bakshi-Doron declared the Queens beit din judgment “completely illegal.”

Yehoshua “is a respectful and peaceful man and not the bloodthirsty savage whom he was wrongfully claimed to be,” Bakshi-Doron wrote.

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