On a blog catering to young Syrian Jews in Brooklyn (where almost everyone has a blog), one comment seemed to crystallize the mix of puzzlement and dark humor emerging in some parts of their community on Friday, the day after the F.B.I. arrested five Sephardic rabbis on money-laundering charges.
The five were netted in an investigation that relied heavily on the work of a confidential informer, reputed to be a prominent Sephardic Jewish businessman who — as everyone in the tight-knit enclave knew since the F.B.I. arrested him in 2006 — faced a long prison term for financial fraud.
“Who deals with a guy that the feds are already watching?” the contributor wrote on an inconspicuous blog, whose name and Internet address the blog’s administrators asked a reporter not to identify, saying that the protection of contributors’ and readers’ identities was crucial in a religious community where violations of communal privacy codes were not tolerated.
It was a question repeated Friday in many forms: Some asked it to point out that the rabbis clearly considered their actions legal. Others raised it as evidence of the rabbis’ naïveté in the ways of the world: How else to explain the lack of suspicion with which they were said to have dealt with the reputed informer, Solomon Dwek?