They say that if you repeat a lie over and over again then there is a good chance people will believe it to be true. This is the type of propaganda attributed to many different regimes throughout the last century and this has also been adapted by individuals worldwide who seek to promote their personal agendas.
While these actions are quite disgusting and unacceptable, it also is a reality we have come to live with in the 21st century where fake news can travel from one country to the next in a matter of seconds.
However, if there were one place you would not expect such propaganda to take place, it is in the world of Torah, which is meant to be pure and free of any lies. The Torah is the blueprint of G-d’s creation and one would expect it to be treasured and protected by Rabbis and community members alike. But unfortunately, such propaganda has been plaguing the Jewish world since we became a nation and sadly it is being perpetuated by so called “religious” personalities in our very own Bukharian community.
Approximately six years ago, a young Rabbi named Baruch Babaev arrived from Israel to serve as a Rabbi for the Russian speaking public in the Bukharian Jewish Community Center in Forest Hills.
At the time of his arrival, the Bukharian community of New York was thriving. Yeshiva Sharei Tzion was catering to the religious Sefardic and Bukharian families while yeshiva’s such as JIQ, Be’er Hagolah, and Yeshiva Primary were some of many institutions that offered Jewish education for the traditional Bukharian families. High schools catering to our youth included Ezra Academy, Tiferet Torah, and Lema’an Achai amongst others. Organizations such as Chazaq were doing great work with public school children and teens while Emet outreach were doing life changing work with college students. Scores of Bukharian Synagogues and centers were thriving throughout the New York area and beyond. The community was growing beautifully and Rabbi Babaev was welcomed with open arms to join TOGETHER with the other 40 community Rabbis in taking the community to the next level.
However, while everyone looked for R’ Babaev to join them, it seems like he had a different agenda. R’ Babaev looked to force himself up to the leadership role and to dictate rules and regulations to Rabbi’s who are much greater than him in knowledge and leadership, with some of them serving our community while he was still a little boy in Russia. It took a few years for his agenda to become clear, but once it did, everyone knew it was not a pretty site.
Before we continue, a brief reminder is needed:
As is well known, our community has had some serious issues over the years with drug abuse amongst our youth, high divorce rates and other serious matters. A spiritual leader of great stature was desperately needed to guide all the Rabbi’s in tackling these pressing issues and assist all segments of the Bukharian community; Religious, traditional and secular. Indeed, nearly 3 years ago, in a historic decision, the Chief Rabbinate of the Bukharian Community in America and Canada was created and shortly after, all the leading Bukharian Rabbi’s proudly appointed the great sage, Rav Yitzchak Yisraeli to serve as the Chief Bukharian Rabbi.
Rav Yisraeli had humbly and faithfully served as a leading Rabbinical judge (Dayan) for the Bukharian community for approximately twenty years and gave rabbinical ordination to many Bukharian Rabbi’s in our community. In addition to that, he is a recognized Rabbinical judge in the Sefardic community throughout the Tri State area. His knowledge of Torah, business law and the field of medicine made him the perfect candidate to serve as leader of all the Bukharian Rabbis. It truly was a match made in heaven.
However, a short time after Rav Yisraeli’s appointment, R’ Babaev and his employers decided they wanted to forcefully take control of the community leadership. Their technique was to publicize as much misleading information as possible with the hopes everyone would be confused. Did they succeed in confusing people? They indeed did. Will their lies and propaganda be tolerated any longer? The Chief Bukharian Rabbinate has stated in a clear and precise fashion that they will no longer allow it to happen.
The leading Rabbis of our community have remained silent for nearly two years hoping a resolution can be found but when lies are constantly being spread, the truth must be told.
As such 40 Rabbis of the Bukharian community throughout the United states and Canada signed a proclamation stating they have accepted Rabbi Yitzchak Yisraeli as the Chief Rabbi of the community. Furthermore, they stated that no one has a right to open a Beth Din for the Bukharian community without permission from Chief Bukharian Rabbi Yisraeli and the Av Beth Din Rav Eliyahu Ben Chaim.
In addition, both Rav Yitzchak Yisraeli and Rav Ben Chaim wrote a historical letter on this matter rebuking R’ Babaev for his actions and publicized that a young Rabbi named Shlomo Yishai Rabin from Jersualem, who unfortunately has joined R’ Babaev, may not be trusted for any Rabbinical matters (see attached letters).
Without getting into any details due to its sensitivity, unfortunately Rabin and R’ Babaev have been spreading lies around Israel and fooling sages in order to further their agenda. As such, the Chief Bukharian Rabbincate of the USA and Canada proclaimed that all matters pertaining to our community will only be dealt by the leadership of our community here in America and any letters from Israel supporting R’ Babaev and R’ Rabin are null and void since everything has been done via deception.
In conclusion, the Rabbis of the Bukahrian communities who signed these letters were in great pain over needing to publicize such sensitive matters to the broader public. But they were compelled to do so because the reality is that Judaism is not just a ritual with stories and parables. Rather there are many serious questions in Jewish law pertaining to medical conditions, business disputes, Shabbat observance, weddings, divorce, conversions and many other areas that may not be dealt with by anyone other than by Rabbinical leaders that are honest G-d fearing Jews and experts in the field.
Thus just like you would want to be warned about doctors that are not professional in their fields, so too people must be warned about Rabbis that are not professional in their fields. It is for this reason that these letters are being publicized to the broader public. And it is the hope of the Chief Bukharian Rabbinate that those who can influence R’ Babaev please do so immediately so that everyone can work in unison for the future of our community.
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