Adelaide Rabbi facing serious fraud charges

June 17, 2009 by J-Wire
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An orthodox Rabbi is facing fraud charges alleging he and his wife received funds for a Jewish school which did not exist.Rabbi Yosef Engel and his wife Chana will face court on July 30 on 38 charges of falsifying accounts in order to obtain grants from the State and the Commonwealth for the Spirit of David School…which has never existed.

Engel ceased employment with the Adelaide Hebrew Congregation in 2006, but still maintains a religious presence in the South Australia capital.

Norman Schueler, president of the Jewish Community Council of South Australia, told J-Wire: “He is operating under the name of Chabad but Chabad is officially part of the Adelaide Hebrew Congregation where he used to work. He has split the orthodox community although the number following him is very small.”

The Adelaide Hebrew Congregation is under the spirititual leadership of Rabbi Abram Gutnick. Schueler added: “He will be leaving Adelaide at the end of the year and more is the pity. He has worked cohesively with our congregation and Beth Shalom, the Progressive Synagogue. On the other hand, Rabbi Engel has done everything a rabbi should not do. He has almost destroyed our community.”

According to Schueler, the Progressive congregation’s figures have increased over the last few years and the congregation has been more appealing to newcomers to Adelaide.

But Norman Schueler remains confident that the 160-year-old Adelaide Hebrew Congregation will survive.

He said: “We need a modern Orthodox rabbi who can work together with the Progressives’ Rabbi Kaminsky for the betterment of the entire Adelaide Jewish community. Rabbi Engel came close to destroying the Jewish spirit here.”

Rabbi and Rebbitzen  Engel will face a prosecution who will allege that the Spirit of David School never existed and that more than half of the students for whom they were applying for grant had no connection to them.

His contract was terminated by the Adelaide Hebrew Congregation in 2006 and the following year Rabbi Engel lost a court battle to be reinstated in Adelaide’s Supreme Court.

That matter is now before the Beth Din in London.

Adelaide’s Jewish community is believed to number around 1500.

J-Wire contacted Rabbi Engel who told us to speak to his legal representative.


6 Responses to “Adelaide Rabbi facing serious fraud charges”
  1. Lazer Lazaroff says:

    All charges have now been dismissed after three and a half years.

  2. Eliyahoo William Dwek says:

    Any man who chooses to be a ‘rabbi’ (‘true teacher’ of Torah) or a ‘dayan’ (‘judge’), or a ‘mekubal’ (‘kabbalist’) should be doing so Voluntarily. Out of his pure love for Hashem and the Torah. And his Ahavat Yisrael.

    If he refuses to do community work voluntarily, and wants and accepts payment for everything he does, such a man should not be heading a community. He should get a job and earn a living. He can collect milk bottles or clean the windows. That is what is called ‘earning a living’.

    Torah is learned, studied and taught: out of Love. Voluntarily. But the ‘rabbis’ have turned the Torah into their ‘Profession’, from which they earn money.

    We are commanded in the Shema to:

    ‘LOVE Hashem, your G-d, WITH ALL YOUR HEART, and with all your soul and with all your might.’

    ‘VE’AHAVTA et Hashem Elokecha BECHOL LEVAVECHA uvechol nafshecha uvechol meodecha.’ (Devarim, Vaethanan, 6:4-5)

    Is the ordinary man or woman PAID to pray to Hashem, or to say some words of Torah? No. Has veshalom! But the rabbis are. These men can give ‘lovely’ shiurim that they have rehearsed. But they would not give a shiur without being paid for it.

    The true hachamim and rabbis of old, all actually worked at proper jobs and professions.

    Wake up! Even a little child could have worked this out. These salaried men can never truly stand for the Torah, because in a case of conflict between a correct course of action according to the Torah, and the rabbi or rav’s pocket – his pocket and position will always prevail.

    Pirkei Avot: (2:2)

    “Raban Gamliel beno shel Rabi Yehuda HaNassi omer: yafeh talmud Torah im derech eretz, sheyegiat shenaihem mashkachat avon. Vechol Torah she’ein imah melacha sofa betailah ve’goreret avon. Vechol haoskim im hatzibbur yiheyu imahem leShem Shamayim……”

    “Rabban Gamliel, the son of Rabi Yehuda HaNassi, said: It is good to combine Torah study with a worldly occupation, for working at them both drives sin from the mind. All Torah without an occupation will in the end fail and lead to sin. And let all who work for the community do so for the sake of Heaven………”

  3. Eliyahoo William Dwek says:

    When ‘dayanim’, ‘rabbis’ and false ‘mekubalim’ use the Torah for their own power and commercial profit, this behaviour is abhorrent.

    No other ‘rabbi’ will ever act against another ‘rabbi’ – even when he knows his colleague is clearly desecrating the Torah. Each rabbi is only worried about losing his own position.

    Therefore, the ‘rabbi’, ‘dayyan’ or false ‘mekubal’ (‘kabbalist’) will never effect justice. And he will never truly stand for the Torah or the Honour of Hashem. His pocket will always prevail.

    The Torah must never be used for commercial gain and profit. Amm israel can only be lead by those who have the necessary love and respect of Hashem and the Torah.

  4. Former adelaide boy says:

    The despicable report of the Australian Jewish News has upset many in teh religious community and has spaked at least one lively new blog which is really socking it to the AJN.
    Worthwhile having a look at it

  5. Solomon says:

    Naftoli (9.06pm, above) – What has he got to do with anything? This is about Rabbi Engel.

    Rabbi Engel has indeed a lot of explanining to do, but this time its to the Courts through the DPP. No one can claim its baseless – I don’t think the Police like to go around having cases that they know they can’t win.

    I say we just wait for the Courts to decide and let this be the end of this saga. Enough is enough. Go home Engel.

  6. Naftoli says:

    While what Rabbi Engel has done needs a lot of explanation it is well known that Norman Schueler has no love for Orthodox Judaism and especially Rabbi Engel.
    The success of Rabbi Abraham Gutnick during the last few years in Adelaide have formed a solid basis for a new permanent Rabbi to take over. Despite what people like Schueler may wish for the Adelaide Hebrew Congregation was never in any danger of not surviving.

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