Eine Frage der Macht?
Konversion und Korruption
By Nicole Krau, haAretz
The police will turn over a
file against three rabbis, David Einhorn, Shlomo Klein and Menachem Klein
(no relation) to the Tel Aviv District Court in the coming days. The three
are suspected of receiving bribes, forging documents and fraud, and, in
Menachem Klein's case, of coaxing bribes out of prospective converts to
The move is the latest step in a
four-year-old saga of the deceit and exploitation of several German women,
which only came to light when "A.", a 45-year-old Tel Aviv resident, filed a
complaint against Einhorn to the police's fraud division in April 1999. She
told the story of several German citizens who had been hurt by Einhorn, but
requested that any investigation of the case be put off until her conversion
to Judaism was completed. She and her husband, an Israeli whom she had met
in Frankfurt in August 1997 when she lived among the city's Jewish
community, explained that they were afraid that Einhorn might attempt to put
obstacles in the way of her conversion.
According to the woman, she had turned to the rabbi of the Frankfurt
community, Menachem Klein, and requested to convert at the end of 1995, but
he told her that a German conversion wouldn't be recognized by Orthodox
institutions in Israel. He advised her to go to Israel, and referred her to
Rabbi Einhorn, the secretary of the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court. Through an
exchange of letters Einhorn told her that she would have to begin to learn
Judaism with Rabbi Klein, and that, when Klein thought she was ready,
Einhorn promised to try to help her. A. was joined by Sandra Gross, 25,
another prospective convert.
In May 1996, Klein wrote the two a letter of reference and they came to
Israel, where they were told that they would have to be "tested" by Einhorn
and have converts' files opened for them at the Rabbinate. Einhorn did
indeed test them - despite the fact that he is neither a "Dayan" (rabbinical
judge) nor authorized to make such assessments - and then assisted them in
filling out the necessary forms to open such a file. Einhorn instructed them
to write a fictive Be'er Sheva address as their place of residence, and,
according to police suspicions, he was assisted in his efforts by the chief
secretary of the Be'er Sheva Rabbinical Court, Shlomo Klein.
Earlier in May, before the two came to Israel, Einhorn had told the two that
they would each have to pay $2,500, because, he claimed, only persons living
in Israel for at least six months could open up a convert's file, and the
money was needed to have their registered residence changed.When the women
returned to Israel again Einhorn is alleged to have taken them to a Be'er
Sheva mikveh on October 6 and made them immerse themselves, naked, under the
gaze of Einhorn and two other rabbis. Several days later Einhorn produced
two documents allowing the women to officially convert at the Ministry of
Religious Affairs offices. The documents bore the forged signature of former
Be'er Sheva Rabbinical Court Head, Michel Dahan, who had retired in March
1995. The document was dated in 1994. Police suspect Rabbi Shlomo Klein of
having perpetrated the forgeries.
During the course of their investigation, Captain Aryeh Idelman and Chief
Inspector Aviad Dor-Chai discovered that another Frankfurt woman had a
similar experience with Einhorn and Menachem Klein. The woman, Alona
Kaminer, a mother of two who married a Jewish man, recently arrived in
Israel with her husband to give testimony to the police against Einhorn.
Kaminer claimed that she was "tested" by Einhorn in June 1996, and was taken
to a mikveh in August. The couple claim that they were asked to pay $10,000
in exchange for her and her two children's conversion. Because she and her
husband couldn't afford the sum, they turned to Rabbi Menachem Klein, who
refused to discuss the sum, and only wanted to know the percentage which
they could pay. The couple said 50 percent, but Einhorn eventually agreed
only to a 25 percent reduction in the price, something to which they agreed
In all three cases the women believed at the time that they were undergoing
a legitimate conversion process. Only when, after marrying her husband and
immigrating to Israel with him, A. applied to the Interior Ministry for
marriage certificate did the scam come to light. Ministry officials
immediately discerned the disagreement in the dates of residence and
conversion, and the request was rejected. The police investigation has
revealed that none of the women were in Israel on the dates marked on the
certificates given them by Einhorn.
When A. returned to Einhorn, requesting that he change the dates to 1996, he
claimed he wasn't able and tried to convince her to tell the ministry that
she was in Israel in 1994, and that the error was theirs. She refused, and
eventually went to the Shapira Center to begin the conversion process anew.
In April 1999 she turned to the police with her complaint, and supplied the
names of two other prospective converts with similar experiences.
Both Einhorn and Shlomo Klein were arrested on Sunday after teams raided the
Rabbinical Courts in Tel Aviv and Be'er Sheva in order to seize the five
conversion files in question. None were found, although the information was
found on computer files.
Both rabbis have denied all the accusations against them.