Cocaine rabbi escapes jail sentence

By Jonathan Kalmus, December 17, 2009
Rabbi Baruch Chalomish has been sentenced after being convicted of cocaine possession

Rabbi Baruch Chalomish has been sentenced after being convicted of cocaine possession

The rabbi convicted of cocaine possession has received an order to attend narcotics rehabilitation within the Jewish community, escaping a jail term.

At his trial in November, Rabbi Chalomish had pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of high-quality cocaine after falling into heavy addiction. The jury found him guilty of possessing 100g of cocaine, but unanimously cleared him on two counts of the more severe charge of intent to supply the drug.

Giving the sentence at Manchester Crown Court today, Judge Michael Henshell said the rabbi’s age and good character, as well as his “intensive” work to combat a heavy drug addiction, made a rehabilitation order appropriate. He told Rabbi Chalomish he had been respected for his sprituality, learning and large charitable donations.

“However, you had a secret life, as it was referred to, but that secret life has been exposed to the glare of publicity and I’m quite certain it’s brought upon you a degree of recrimination from the public and from members of your community. You will have found the publicity this case attracted, quite rightly, has brought a degree of contempt upon you from people who knew you.”

The Rabbi’s barrister, Jonathan Goldberg QC said: “Rabbi Chalomish is very grateful to the judge for his understanding and compassion.”

The 55-year-old will attend a five-week residential rehabilitation programme called Lifeworks, while being supervised on probation for six months. He will also pay court costs of £3,899.

Co-defendant Nasir Abbas, who was convicted as the drug dealer in the case, was earlier sentenced to six years in prison. He remains on the run with a warrant for his arrest.

Last updated: 4:48pm, December 17 2009