Chief Rabbi Accused Of
Sexually Harassing 4 Males

By Baruch Kra
Haaretz Correspondent and Haaretz Service

According to a report published in the Ma'ariv daily on Friday, recently elected chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger allegedly sexually harassed four men of various ages and from various sectors of society.
The men said that Metzger touched their bodies and fondled them. The report goes on to say that two of the men successfully passed a polygraph test, at the request of the paper. Metzger denied the allegations against him and said that that they were an attempt to sully his name.
The paper received the first account of sexual harassment some three weeks before the elections for chief rabbi which took place on April 14. According to the account, given to the paper by a secular man named David, the rabbi allegedly touched him at wedding celebration in the late 80's. According to David, Metzger touched him on the chest and arm and slipped his hand under David's shirt while the two were talking.
At the beginning of April, a religious man told the paper that he recently had met Metzger, during which the rabbi asked him to remove his shirt and then allegedly proceeded to grope his arm and chest. An investigation led to another man with a similar complaint against the rabbi.
According to the report, the third case, which took place in 1998 when Metzger was the Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, came to the attention of Chief Israeli Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron. Bakshi-Doron confirmed the incident.
Metzger's office told Haaretz on Friday that, "Only a police investigation into the mercenaries trying to slander the Rabbi will shed light on the truth reveal who stands behind those filing the complaints."
Metzger's Deal On Tel Aviv Rabbi Job Paved Way To Chief Rabbinate
The selection of Metzger as Ashkenazi chief rabbi earlier this month is causing former Sephardi Chief Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron grief not only because he does not value Metzger as a rabbi. Bakshi-Doron is probably overwhelmed with guilt, because despite his active opposition to Metzger's appointment as the chief rabbi of Tel Aviv in 1998, in effect, Bakshi-Doron had assisted the whitewashing of allegations that were made at the time against Metzger. It was thanks to this whitewashing that Metzger was able to circumvent the most serious stumbling-block in his career and move on to be appointed Israel's chief rabbi.
Documents obtained by Haaretz attest to the unrelenting campaign that Rabbi Bakshi-Doron and other rabbis had waged against Metzger, but also include "the whitewash paper," which paved the way for Metzger to become Israel's Ashkenazi chief rabbi. The troubling suspicions have never been cleared up.
Metzger was suspected of forging the signature of his driver as a witness on various ketubot - Jewish wedding contracts. Allegedly, the object was to enable Metzger to conduct as many wedding ceremonies as possible in a single evening. Allegations have also been made that Metzger had demanded payment from couples he had wed, in violation of the law.
In December 1998 Metzger got the document that saved him. He had to withdraw from the race for the post of the chief rabbi of Tel Aviv, but in hindsight it seems he made the right move.
Metzger's permit to serve as a chief rabbi of a major city was taken away a few months before, in the wake of suspicions that he had violated Jewish and Israeli law on various occasions. Eventually three of Israel's senior rabbis - Rabbi Bakshi-Doron, Rabbi Shear Yashuv Hacohen and Rabbi Simha Hacohen Kook were appointed by the Chief Rabbinate to decide whether to give him back his permit.
"Rabbi Yona Metzger appeared before us," the three rabbis wrote in their report, "and said he accepted the ruling of the rabbinical court in Tel Aviv regarding the elections for the post of the city's chief rabbi." This meant that Metzger would not petition the High Court of Justice - the secular legal authority - with a request to hold the elections as scheduled, and that in effect, he had withdrawn from the race.
"Since the responses we heard from Rabbi Metzger about his conduct at the wedding ceremonies and about the signing of the ketubot are sufficient to dismiss the complaints, and since even without any further inquiries his responses give rise to doubt, in order to prevent any further grievance and damage and help conclude the affair, we have decided not to investigate further in the case," the rabbis' document continued.
The deal was as follows: Metzger would not be Tel Aviv's chief rabbi, he would get his permit back, and Rabbi Bakshi-Doron and his colleagues would not carry on with the investigation.
Rabbi Bakshi-Doron had a very negative view of Metzger's ethics. This is evident from the report he compiled about the hearing in September 1998, before the final hearing described above. One of the other panelists, who held similar views to those of Bakshi-Doron, was none other than Rabbi Shlomo Amar - who was just appointed Sephardi chief rabbi alongside Metzger.
"Sadly, it is the committee's impression that Rabbi Metzger's accounts are inconsistent and seem implausible. The committee has the grim impression that Rabbi Metzger sees the election as chief rabbi of Tel Aviv as an end that justifies disobeying the rulings of the teachers of this generation. Rabbi Metzger has presented a decisive position that attempts to justify his behavior, which contradicts the opinions of the greatest halakhic rulers and the Chief Rabbinate, and is unbecoming of a rabbi," the report said. "Testimonies were made regarding acts that indicate that Rabbi Metzger is unfit to serve as a rabbi. Rabbi Metzger was asked general questions on these matters, and provided insufficient answers. While the committee refrained from getting into specifics in order not to offend any third parties who may not even be aware of these acts, if indeed it transpires that Rabbi Metzger was responsible, there will be no choice but to find him unfit to serve as a rabbi," it continued.
Metzger also evaded Rabbi Bakshi-Doron's questions about other suspicions, concerning indecent behavior. However, the whitewash paper compiled a few weeks later allowed Metzger to keep his rabbinical title and even become Israel's chief rabbi.
Metzger attended the hearing in September 1998 with his attorney, Prof. David Libai. The Chief Rabbinate commissioned a graphology test of the driver's signatures, which indicated that the signatures had indeed been forged. However, another graphology test, commissioner by Metzger, supported his version, according to which the signatures were genuine.
When Bakshi-Doron asked Metzger about the alleged forgeries, Libai instructed his client not to answer.
One of the complaints against Metzger was filed by a senior Tel Aviv prosecutor. She recalled that the rabbi was given an envelope with NIS 360 at a wedding. "After the ceremony, a few minutes after the rabbi had received the envelope, he came to the parents of the bride and groom and complained that the amount was insufficient. This created a disturbance and a bad atmosphere ... To end the disgrace, the bride's father took money out of his pocket and doubled the amount ... The couple sent a letter to the honorable Rabbi Lau, who was then the chief rabbi of Tel Aviv. After that, Rabbi Metzger returned the extra amount."
Aide: Fired Driver Seeks Revenge
"Two people have been running a noisy campaign against the rabbi for many years. One of them (his former driver) was fired by the rabbi 13 years ago," Rabbi Yona Metzger's media adviser, Benny Cohen, said.
To prove his point, Cohen provided the following excerpt from the statement submitted to Metzger's attorney, David Libai, in which the driver said: "I'll be waiting for this Rabbi Metzger at every turn, and I'll trash him whatever way I can. Even with lies and inventions. As long as I can take revenge. As long as I can pull him down, to get back at him for firing me."
The allegations against the rabbi are all untrue, Cohen said; a graphology test has already proven this.
"As for the Tel Aviv elections, the rabbi never withdrew his candidacy. These elections were canceled under orders of the religious affairs minister at the time, Eli Suissa, and eventually took place a year ago. Rabbi Metzger's opponents are unwilling to accept the electors' decision, so they have chosen to use the media to try and get at the rabbi.
"Rabbi Metzger has been a public figure for more than 25 years now, he is pleasant man and has therefore won the support of both the religious and the secular communities. Rabbi Metzger will answer his foes by bringing the people of Israel together," Cohen stated.



This Site Served by TheHostPros