June 7, 2012

Just hours after an in-depth Jewish Journal article about Alan Abrams, a rabbi-for-hire who was working as a chaplain when accused of stealing a 96-year-old’s wheelchair, was posted online on June 6, Abrams announced on his blog that he was “tak[ing] leave from the Rabbinate for an unspecified time.”

Abrams, whose extensive history of criminal and civil actions against him was reported by The Journal, explained on his blog that his decision to suspend his rabbinic practice was inspired by a desire to spend more time with his family.

“[F]ulfilling my lifelong dream of serving G-d and the Community as a Rabbi took me away from [my family], if not physically (which it did), but certainly spiritually and emotionally,” Abrams wrote in a post on June 6. The text was also posted on Abrams’ professional website, RabbiAbrams.org.

Abrams, 50, first began calling himself a rabbi in 2009, while he was living in Phoenix, Ariz. He claims to have been ordained privately in Jerusalem, but did not provide the Journal with evidence of this.

Abrams did offer evidence of a certificate of ordination from The Rabbinical Seminary International, a New York-based distance learning program for nondenominational rabbis. The head of that school said Abrams had stolen the certificate, after paying his tuition with a check for $5,000 that bounced.

In 1993, Abrams’ pled no contest to charges of practicing veterinary medicine without a license in Los Angeles and was sentenced to six months in jail. A 2009 case of passing bad checks in Arizona remains open.

As of this morning, Abrams’ website for Mobile Rabbinical Chaplaincy Services, the nonprofit he started in 2011 to support his work with patients and residents in hospitals, nursing homes and other locations, was still accessible online.

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