Cocaine rabbi avoids prison term

By Jonathan Kalmus, December 23, 2009

A rabbi convicted of cocaine possession has been ordered to attend narcotics rehabilitation within the Jewish community, avoiding a jail term.

At his trial in November, Rabbi Baruch Chalomish pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of high-quality cocaine after falling into heavy addiction. Last January police raided a city centre apartment in which Rabbi Chalomish was found after what was said to be a five-day long drug binge.

Sentencing at Manchester Crown Court last Thursday, 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 spirituality, 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: 1:16pm, December 24 2009