Court hears arguments in ‘mesira’ contempt case

A federal court heard arguments in the case of a Hasidic Jew who will not testify because he says it would violate “mesira,” the injunction against turning Jews over to non-Jews.

Judge Margaret Morrow said Wednesday she would rule in the case against Rabbi Moshe Zigelman at a later date, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Prosecutors want Morrow, of the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, to imprison Rabbi Moshe Zigelman for contempt unless he testifies against others in an alleged tax fraud scheme that involved his Spinka sect.

Zigelman, an executive assistant to the sect’s leader, has already served a 2-year sentence for his role in the scheme, which involved soliciting large tax-deductible donations and then secretly funneling most of the money back to the donors.

Zigelman, 64, says his testimony would violate “mesira” although most modern scholars say it applies only in regimes that oppress Jews.