Israeli Ethiopians Conned By Rabbis

Rabbi Lev Brackman writes for YNETNEWS:

The phenomenon, as it turned out, is not unique: Yedioth Ahronoth received testimonies from other Ethiopian couples who encountered a similar experience; shortly before the wedding, and after having made all the arrangements, Rabbi Yosef Hadana, chief rabbi of the Ethiopian community in Israel, informed them there was a problem with the Jewish status of one of them, meaning the wedding could not be officiated on the appointed date.

After causing the couples such severe distress, Rabbi Hadana then referred to acquire a speedy conversion, simultaneously telling them to seek Rabbi Shalom Tsadok, of the local council Bnei Ayish. Tsadok on his part offered the couple a quick fix: A fake wedding attended by an authentic rabbi, so that at least the guests believe they are witnessing a real Jewish wedding.

He also referrered the couples to a rabbi who officiates such ceremonies – Rabbi Shilo Tsadok, a rabbi from Kiryat Ata, also known as “Rabbi Shaul” or “Rabbi Shauli” – who just happens to be his son.

“Three and a half months before the wedding, I came to Rabbi Hadana who told me everything was in place and that I should return just before the wedding,” said D., one of the grooms “wedded” by Rabbi Tsadok.

Having no choice, A. returned to Rabbi Hadana who then referred him to Rabbi Tsadok, who in turn sent him to Rabbi Shilo. “A wedding with a rabbi has a price,” Rabbi Tsadok told him. The final price paid for the wedding was NIS 3,000 (about $900.)

Rabbi Hadana told the “problematic” couples that after the sham-wedding and proper conversion are over, he will hold another ceremony in his office for an additional fee.

A Yedioth Ahronoth reporter approached Rabbi Shalom Tsadok with a “similar case,” in a bid to verify the couples’ complaints.

When asked by the reporter whether he could ask Rabbi Hadana about Rabbi Shilo, or tell him that the wedding was not a real one, Rabbi Tsadok said: “You can, but no one should know it was make-believe… Rabbi Hadana probably knows everything…it’s for your own good.”

The Rabbinate, added Rabbi Tsadok, will not recognize the marriage. The reporter than asked the rabbi whether NIS 3,000 ($900) would be enough. “He will only want cash,” said Rabbi Tsadok. The wedding, explained the rabbi, is invalid: "It doesn’t count, just a make-believe… Rabbi Shalom Tsadok said that "we are doing the Ethiopian community a favor and I intend to stop it. The Chief Rabbinate said that following the information presented by Yedioth Ahronoth it will summon Rabbi Shilo Tsadok to a hearing before the wedding officiators’ committee, and is considering revoking their officiators’ permits.

About Luke Ford

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