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Chief Israeli Rabbi Suspends Himself After Arrest on Corruption Charges

Israel’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Yona Metzger, has suspended himself from some of his duties following his arrest on corruption charges.

Metzger said he will suspend himself from his position as president of the Chief Rabbinate Council and will not attend its meetings, and from, his position as a Rabbinical High Court judge.

Metzger made the announcement that he would suspend himself from his duties for the duration of the investigation on Sunday morning in a message from his lawyers to Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Religious Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett.

“The rabbi understands that suspending himself is the right thing to do from a public perspective,” his attorneys said, while also emphasizing that Metzger maintains his innocence.

Investigators from the National Fraud Squad raided Metzger’s home and offices last week as part of a bribery, fraud, money-laundering and breach-of-trust case. Police suspect Metzger pocketed donations, which Metzger denies.

Metzger is forbidden to make contact with either of the other suspects in the case, including Haim Nissan Eisenshtat, who worked for years as Metzger’s driver and personal assistant, and Simcha Karkovsky, the manager of the Beit Hatavshil charity in Bnei Brak.

Following a months-long undercover investigation, officers went public on June 20, arresting the three suspects and seizing documents, computers and other materials from Metzger’s home and office.

Metzger was released to five days of house arrest after being interrogated under warning for 10 hours.

His term as Ashekenazi chief rabbi ends in the coming months.

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