A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.
JERUSALEM – Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Israel’s current Sephardi chief rabbi whose 10-year term is set to expire in the coming months, and Ramat Gan Chief Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, a leading Ashkenazi rabbi, announced their intention to force a legal change in the chief rabbinate selection process.
The proposed alteration, which has the support of Shas spiritual head and former Sephardi chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef and Rabbi Chaim Druckman, the Bnei Akiva Youth Movement head and influential force in the HaBayit HaYehudi faction, would extend Rabbi Amar’s tenure and permit Rabbi Ariel to run for the position of Ashkenazi chief rabbi. He would succeed current Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, who has also served for 10 years. The plan, if successful, would derail the candidacies of Shoham Chief Rabbi David Stav (Ashkenazi) and Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu (Sephardi).
This new development comes as the election process for chief rabbis seemed to be nearing a conclusion after HaBayit HaYehudi head Naftali Bennett and MK Rabbi Shai Piron of Yesh Atid agreed to back the candidacies of Rabbi Stav and Rabbi Eliyahu.
During the past two months, Bennett and Rabbi Piron have waged behind-the-scenes battles with haredi political factions, including Shas, and even within HaBayit HaYehudi itself. Their goal is to promote moderate religious Zionist candidates for the positions of chief rabbi.
After HaBayit HaYehudi received the Religious Services Ministry portfolio in the new coalition government, Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, a Sephardic graduate of Jerusalem’s Mercaz HaRav yeshiva who was forced out less than three years ago as director general of the chief rabbinate-influenced Rabbinical Court System, became the deputy minister of religious affairs. Rabbi Ben-Dahan, fourth on HaBayit HaYehudi’s faction list, promised in the campaign to overhaul the fossilized Rabbinical Court System and the ministry, which was controlled by the haredi United Torah Judaism and Shas parties for years. He also vowed to promote a balance of religious Zionist, haredi and Sephardic dayanim within the courts, and help Bennett find qualified religious Zionist candidates for the chief rabbi’s post.
While Rabbi Stav has actively promoted himself for the chief rabbi’s position, many leading rabbinical luminaries in Litvish and chassidic circles have campaigned against his election, claiming that his religious policies are too liberal. Rabbi Stav is one of the founding members and current chairman of the Tzohar Modern Orthodox rabbinical faction, which has challenged some of the incumbent chief rabbis’ requirements for religious and non-religious Jews who wish to marry in Israel, along with parts of the conversion process.
On the latter issue, Rabbi Stav previously told The Jewish Press, “A huge number of converts would absolutely adhere to religious tradition over the long term if they did not have to deal with the current before, during and after process that the Rabbinical Court System has placed in front of them. The idea is to convert the ger – not to torture them.”
Because of the controversy surrounding Rabbi Stav’s alleged liberal halachic positions, a faction within HaBayit HaYehudi tried to promote Rabbi Ariel, who is accepted by most of the haredi establishment, as an alternative candidate. But at 76, Rabbi Ariel is currently barred from serving as chief rabbi due to the law that only those under the age of 70 at the outset of the 10-year term may serve.
According to Israel Hayom and The Jerusalem Post, Bennett was pressured by some in his party to change the law in order to accommodate Rabbi Ariel’s candidacy. But he could not convince Rabbi Yosef to support the new bill in exchange for extending Rabbi Amar’s tenure. Rabbi Yosef is reportedly angry with Bennett due to his alliance with Yesh Atid, which prevented Shas from joining the coalition.
The 150-person Special Election Committee, which includes municipal rabbis, religious judges, mayors, council heads, the IDF chief rabbi, and several Knesset members, is believed to be under the Shas Party’s influence. Thus, Bennett and Rabbi Piron are trying to write and sponsor a bill that would add at least another 50 members to the committee. The additional members would include a more diverse group of people, and could tilt the balance in Rabbi Stav and Rabbi Eliyahu’s favor.
For his part, Rabbi Eliyahu has been criticized by liberal groups for his support of so-called state-sanctioned revenge against Arabs and his support for some Safed residents’ refusal to rent apartments to local Arabs.
Other well-known rabbis still interested in running for the Ashkenazi chief rabbi’s post include Modiin Chief Rabbi David Lau, former chief rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau’s son, and Rabbi Yaakov Shapira, head of the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva.
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The Kotel Plaza, the stairs, the Kotel entrance, the roads, everything was packed for Birkat Cohanim – the Priestly Blessing of the People – now imagine if this had been held on top of Har HaBayit, the Temple Mount!
Four Israeli citizens were hurt Thursday in a road terror attack near Tekoa in Gush Etzion.
Israel Police closed access to the Temple Mount to Jews and other non-Muslims on Thursday due to Arab violence.
U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East Martin Indyk is on his way back to the region to revive talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Hebron is proving to be a popular family tourist site during the Passover Holiday.
Hundreds attended the funeral of Police Chief Superintendent Baruch Mizrachi, who was slain by terrorists on Passover eve.
A local Jewish merchant was stabbed Monday on the island of Djerba.
The Israeli hi-tech company Matrix has announced it is opening a “massive training center” in Nanjing, China.
Rabbis have been busy with preparations for the traditional Birkat Kohanim, Priestly Blessing, set for Thursday.
The suspect charged in the pre-Passover shooting deaths of three people outside two Kansas Jewish centers is a known white supremacist.
More than 400 people sat down at the first seder this year at the Chabad House of Bangkok, Thailand.
The following is President Obama’s statement on Passover (April 14, 2014). As he has in the past, the President held an official Passover Seder at the White House. Michelle and I send our warmest greetings to all those celebrating Passover in the United States, in Israel, and around the world. On Tuesday, just as we […]
PM Binyamin Netanyahu blamed Palestinian Authority incitement for the terrorist murder of a police officer on Passover eve.
Some reactions in response to the latest terror attack.
Kerry reportedly admitted that he had “made a mistake.”
Before returning to Washington, Abbas reiterated to Kerry in a face-to-face meeting in Ramallah that the PA and the Arab League would never recognize the existence of a Jewish state in Israel.
Dechner admitted funneling significant amounts of money to the defendants in order to move the Holyland project forward.
On Tuesday, the London Daily Telegraph reported that an intelligence source involved with the secretive investigation into the plane’s disappearance claimed that the incident might have been part of a deliberate suicide mission by one of the pilots or someone on board the aircraft. International aviation experts, including Israeli officials, believe that someone deliberately punched in a computer rerouting code shortly after takeoff.
According to Arab and Israeli media sources, Abbas steadfastly demanded that the White House prod Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into releasing convicted killers Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Sa’adat. He also reportedly insisted that Israel freeze all settlement construction activities in exchange for extending the peace talks until the end of the year.
JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the international community on Monday for turning a blind eye to Iran’s continued attempts to foment global terrorism.
Despite Obama’s threat of military force against Assad unless he relinquishes his chemical weapons cache, Assad has repeatedly failed to meet UN deadlines to deliver his deadly arsenal to a special arms disposal unit.
IAF jets and advanced drones have been aggressively monitoring the transfer of advanced Russian and Iranian made weaponry from Syria to Hizbullah bases in Lebanon.
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