Monday, March 28, 2011


What a sad day in history for our people when - as reported by the Wall Street Journal - an 89 old year respected rabbi who is apparently the spiritual leader of the Syrian Jewish community in the United States enters a guilty plea in a Trenton, New Jersey federal courtroom in a massive federal corruption case.

It was for one count of unauthorized money transmitting. I’m sure there are many of his supporters that will say that he is innocent of any wrong doing and that he simply chose a wise path in entering a guilty plea in light of what has happened to those who insisted on going to trial to prove their innocence. Shalom Rubashkin tried that and he ended up with 27 years - a virtual life sentence in prison.

I recall when this story broke he was vigorously defended by his community as someone of unimpeachable integrity. A man who has spent a lifetime serving his people. No doubt he did. But just as certain is the fact that there is enough evidence of guilt to have persuaded his attorney to not take a chance on entering a not guilty plea and then going to trial.

I don’t know exactly what transpired in this case for him to be arrested and then plead guilty. I’m sure he otherwise is an honorable person. One does not become a respected leader of an entire community without being honorable. But at the same time if he were truly innocent he would not have been victim of the trap set for him by informant Solomon Dwek and there would be no evidence for him to take a chance on.

I’m sure that that this rabbi’s part in the money laundering scheme was minimal – perhaps even incidental. Maybe those who were deeply involved in the money laundering somehow duped the 89 year old rabbi to get involved in some peripheral yet damning level, I don’t know.

My hope is that he gets no jail time. The shame and embarrassment that a man like this must feel is probably a far greater punishment than any time he might spend in prison. It’s too bad that he didn’t think of that before getting involved with those who created and organized and carried out this massive scam.

This is one case where instead of being angry, I am sad for this man. It is the others I’m angry at. They ought to get the book thrown at them!