A Shaken Syrian-Jewish NY Community

The WSJ says: …"The Community"—a little-known enclave of more than 75,000 Jews from Syria and other Arab lands, many of whom have prospered in America while sustaining strong ties to the cultural traditions of homelands that today are inhospitable to Jews.

That community has been reeling since the July arrests of three of its major rabbis on charges of money-laundering, following a sting using a federal government informant. Among those caught in the dragnet was Saul Kassin, the 88-year-old Chief Rabbi, a revered figure to Sephardic Jews for decades. Rabbi Kassin and two other rabbis—Eliahu Ben Haim and Edmund Nahum—are alleged to have laundered a total of more than $1.7 million, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office for the district of New Jersey. The funds allegedly were laundered through charities and religious institutions they controlled in Brooklyn and Deal, N.J., the seaside resort where many Syrian Jews summer. Rabbi Kassin, through his lawyer, emphatically denied the allegations, as did Rabbi Nahum and his lawyer. Rabbi Ben Haim’s lawyer, Lawrence Lustberg, said he was reviewing the evidence in the case and declined to comment further for this story.

The corruption case involved a government informant who purported, among other cover stories, to be dealing in fake Prada and Gucci handbags and wore a wire for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He allegedly recorded the three rabbis agreeing to help him launder funds through their charities and take a percentage, according to a federal complaint. To the dismay and shock of the community, the informant was widely reported to be Solomon Dwek, one of their own, the son of another major local rabbi.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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