That Israel’s rabbinical dynasties run profitable business is hardly news: According to various estimates, the rabbi industry bankrolls over NIS 1 billion a year.
But even among spiritual leaders rolling in the dough, one man stands apart, according to a new list of the country’s richest rabbis by Forbes Israel: Rabbi Pinchas Abuhatzeira.
Abuhatzeira, the great-grandson of the Baba Sali, has an estimated fortune of NIS 1.3 billion, nearly double the second-richest rabbi, David Abuhatzeira. (A third member of the dynasty, Rabbi Baruch Abuhatzeira, is worth NIS 50 million.)
While rabbis report over NIS 1 billion in business a year, their activities are difficult to monitor and not always reported to the Tax Authority. This has given rise to much higher estimates.
Most of the income comes from donations by businesspeople, yet many of the rabbis are successful businessmen known for their fiscal acumen in their own right.
Another contributing factor is many of the rabbi’s abilities to foment an air of celebrity around themselves, such as Rabbi Yeshayahu Pinto (No. 7 with NIS 75 million net worth), who has become the de facto rabbi to the country’s elite.
With money does not always come influence, though, as borne out by the absence from the list of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, who has a fervent following among politicians and the masses alike, but not enough clams to make the top 10.
Here are Israel’s 10 wealthiest rabbis:
1. Rabbi Pinchas Abuhatzeira – NIS 1,300,000,000
2. Rabbi David Abuhatzeira – NIS 750,000,000
3. Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Alter – NIS 350,000,000
4. Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeaḥ – NIS 180,000,000
5. Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi – NIS 100,000,000
6. Rabbi Yaakov Ifargin – NIS 75,000,000
7. Rabbi Yeshayahu Pinto – NIS 75,000,000
8. Rabbi Baruch Abuhatzeira – NIS 50,000,000
9. Rabbi Reuven Elbaz – NIS 40,000,000
10. Rabbi Yoram Abargil – NIS 35,000,000