Three weeks ago, Rabbi David Yosef, son of former Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef who died in 2013, compared Reform Jews to ‘the wicked son’ found in the Passover Haggadah’s story of four sons.
On Sunday, his own brother, Rabbi Avraham Yosef, was convicted of violating public trust for allegedly using his position as chief rabbi of Holon to further the interests of a family-run kashrut (kosher) oversight organization.
Avraham Yosef has served as Holon ’s chief rabbi since 1998, and is on trial for demanding that business owners purchase meat with a kashrut certification by Beit Yosef, exclusively. Beit Yosef is a kosher food supervision service owned by Avraham Yosef’s brother, Moshe.
The ruling applied to breaches which took place in Holon, as well as the city of Or Yehuda, where he was acting chief rabbi.
What a family. Who’s the ‘wicked son’ now, David Yosef?
Though in the truest form Avraham Yosef is a rabbi, a teacher, to all Jews. Today he teaches by example that both the kashrut supervision industry, and so-called “Cheif Rabbis,” are untrustworthy.
Times of Israel has further details and history on the case:
Holon Chief Rabbi Avraham Yosef, the son of late Shas party spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, was convicted on Sunday of breach of trust.
Yosef, who has served as the coastal city’s chief rabbi since 1998, was found guilty in the Tel Aviv District Court on two counts of breach of trust for forcefully demanding that business owners only purchase meat products with a kashrut certificate issued by Beit Yosef, a kosher food supervision service owned by Yosef’s brother, Moshe Yosef.
Yosef, who from 2008 to 2011 served as the head of the kashrut department in Or Akiva as well, allegedly threatened to revoke kashrut certificates if business owners in either city failed to comply with his demands.
After an investigation which began in 2013 Yosef was indicted in December 2015.
Yosef’s brother, Yitzhak Yosef, has served as Israel’s chief Sephardic rabbi since 2013. Their father Ovadia Yosef served as Sephardic chief rabbi from 1973 to 1983 and was also the founder and longtime spiritual leader of the ultra-orthodox Shas party.
Avraham Yosef gives popular classes in Jewish law on a religious radio station. In 2013, Ovadia Yosef declared that Avraham was his favorite candidate to become the country’s chief rabbi, but subsequently transferred his support to younger brother Yitzhak, in part due to the investigation. [Ed. – bold]
Ovadia Yosef died in October 2013 at the age of 93. His funeral in Jerusalem drew some 800,000 mourners, according to some reports, the largest in Israeli history. At his death he was considered the preeminent religious leader of the Sephardic ultra-Orthodox community in Israel.
Below is an account of the judge’s decision (via Arutz Sheva)
“The actions of the defendant led to the promotion of one body in which he has an interest, and the prevention of free competition in the cities in question, and thus harmed both the other private [kashrut supervision] bodies, the business owners, and the consumers who observe kashrut. This injury occurred in practice,” Justice Uziel wrote in his decision.
The judge added, “In these circumstances, it is clear that these are actions which, by definition, are harmful to the public, including to their trust in proper administration and integrity [in rabbinic supervision], and they are actions which are incompatible with the important values of equality, freedom of occupation and freedom of choice.”
Justice Uziel emphasized the severity of the offenses and wrote: “In addition to the aforesaid, the fact that the policy was implemented for a number of years and in two cities (as opposed to a one-time or a specific incident) is a major factor [against him], since the law has given him wide discretion in the field of kashrut.”