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3 Nisan 5774 - April 3, 2014 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Contributing to Charity Might be Construed as Bribery

By Yechiel Sever

A ruling of a regional court determined among other things that Yad Sarah received donations for the sick and needy as a form of bribery to the former Jerusalem Mayor, Rabbi Uri Lupoliansky, chairman and founder of the famous relief organization Yad Sarah, in exchange for aid in promoting the Holyland project.

According to the decision, it was charged that Rabbi Lupoliansky was aware of the donations "in view of the exalted goal of the institutions, and visualized Yad Sarah before his mind's eye all the while." His defense lawyers argued that in contrast to all the other suspects in this affair, Rabbi Lupoliansky is the only one who did not personally benefit from the sums of money at all which was a basic form of support to the sick and weak who, sadly enough, were being neglected by the government. The allegations during the trial were that donations made to Yad Sarah were bribes to Rabbi Lupoliansky, even though there is no evidence that he did anything improper. The entire case is just constituted from the fact that donations were made to Yad Sarah by people who had a financial interest in various decisions made by municipal bodies.

Rabbi Lupoliansky's lawyers added that it was clear that there was no connection whatsoever to the donations made to Yad Sarah and the plans for the building project, and it was proven that the claims of the judge referred only to the general issue, so that while certain bodies did accept money, in this case, their money did not go for welfare purposes.

"The judge stressed that Lupoliansky did not put any money into his own pocket. The court uses the term `righteousness' with regards to him and this must be borne in mind. We do not think that this is the last word in the matter."

In addition, his defense claimed that the construction project had no significance with regards to the National Committee of Planning and Construction, to which as mayor had no connection. "The judge refused to relate to this subject but only to the degree in which money changed hands, saying that in this case, it had no relevance because it referred to charitable donations." In light of this statement, it is assumed that in the appeal to be made to high court, it will be determined that there are no grounds for incrimination and that there is no case to accuse Rabbi Lupoliansky of any legal infraction.

Rabbi Lupoliansky said, "It is inconceivable that a person who gives a donation to charitable organizations should have to think twice lest in the future this might be considered a form of bribery. The Rambam writes that there is no Jewish committee without its charity fund and subsequently, it is unthinkable that such a ruling be established threatening future donations to worthy causes."


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