Amsterdam Rabbi tied to violent New York divorce squad

Torah_Reading_Sephardic_custom
A Jewish man and boy reading the Torah (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Sagie Maoz). (A Jewish man and boy reading the Torah (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Sagie Maoz))

The chief rabbi of the Orthodox Jewish community in Amsterdam, Aryeh Ralbag, has been linked to a case in the United States against four rabbis who allegedly kidnapped and beat Jewish men to force them to agree to a divorce. One of the victims has accused Ralbag of beating him, but Ralbag denies this accusation. 

The Volkskrant reports that Ralbag will testify as a witness in this case in exchange for immunity. The four accused rabbis kidnapped, threatened and assaulted at least four men in order to obtain a "get". Under Jewish law, a marriage can only be dissolved if the husband gives permission in the form of a "get". The main suspect, Rabbi Mendel Epstein, was caught in an FBI trap. An undercover agent approached the rabbi, told him that she wants a divorce and recorded their conversation. "We abduct a man for a few hours, we beat him up and we torture him until we get the get."

One of the victims, Menachem Teitelbaum, accused Ralbag of threatening and beating him. He stated in his testimony that Ralbag received between 25 thousand and 30 thousand dollars for his help in obtaining the get. Ralbag denied this to the court, stating that he is unpopular because he helps women. He also has an alibi - according to him, he was with family when the assault occurred.

According to the Nieuw Israelietisch Weekblad, Ragblad is also in trouble in Amsterdam. A part of the church's Supervisory Board wants to get rid of the spiritual leader, partly because of a conflict with the Jewish community's ritual slaughterer. This conflict escalated in January when Ragblad was in the Netherlands, and got so out of hand that the slaughterer called in sick rather than face the rabbi. This case will soon appear in court. Ralbag was also suspended for two months in 2012 for signing a declaration that called homosexuality a curable disease.

Last week most of Ralbag's tasks were taken over by the rabbinate. He remains the Chief Rabbi in name, but will be less present in Amsterdam than before. Ralbag has a contract in Amsterdam until the end of 2017. He spends the majority of his time in Brooklyn, where he s a rabbi, Chief Justice of the rabbinical court and head of a family business that certifies kosher foods.

Tags: