The new chief rabbi is the great-grandson of the Moroccan Rabbi Chaim Pinto.
Rabat – Representatives from the Moroccan government attended the swearing in ceremony of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, who has been appointed as the chief rabbinical judge for the Jewish community living in Morocco.
International news outlets reported that leaders of the Jewish community and the governor of the Casablanca-Settat region, Said Ahmidouch, attended the special ceremony in Casablanca.
Police and military members also attended the ceremony at the Beth-El Synagogue in Casablanca.
Morocco, according to the Jerusalem Post, has become the first Muslim country in the modern world to recognize a “Jewish rabbinic authority.”
“I would like to thank the Gaon Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, who has accomplished this venerable project,” said the special Moroccan royal emissary to the event, Serge Bardugo.
Bardugo also quoted King Mohammed VI as saying, “the Moroccan Kingdom has never ceased to pursue the love and adoration which exists between the sons of Abraham, an affinity which unites them all.”
Expressing satisfaction with his appointment, the rabbi also thanked King Mohammed VI, his family, and the Jewish community in Morocco.
Pinto, who is a great-grandson of the renowned Moroccan-born Rabbi Baba Sali, is one of the wealthiest rabbis in the world.
In 2017, Pinto was released from Israeli prison after serving a one-year sentence for bribing a police officer.
The rabbi started serving his jail term in February 2016. The rabbi appealed his sentence to the High Court, which rejected his request on account “of his health situation,” according to the Times of Israel.
The rabbi, who pleaded guilty in a plea bargain, also paid a fine of $260,000.
The news outlet said that the rabbi has been the subject of investigations from both Israeli security forces and the FBI since 2011.
The 45-year-old rabbi also leads a global organization called Mosdot Shuva Israel.
A total of 6.6 million Jews live in Israel, while 8.1 million live outside Israel.
Morocco, which had about 250,000 Jews in the early part of the 1900s, is home to only 2,000 Jews currently, according to an Israeli expert on Jewish demography, Sergio Della Pergola, in 2018.
Jewish communities have lived in Morocco since Roman days. After the Spanish Edict of Expulsion in 1492, some 20,000 Jews emigrated from Granada to Morocco. At their peak before Israel became a state in 1948, Jews in Morocco numbered over 200,000.