Today: hand kissing, why, when, where, who, and, most important: what the heck?
Former minister of Social Affairs and former Minister of Communications Moshe Kachlon (on the right, kissing) was the Sephardi poster child of the former Likud government. He was a star, who introduced real competition among cell phone providers that brought down rates in a significant way. Now he’s no longer a star, in fact, he’s been a bit on the forgotten side.
Rabbi Zion Boaron (being kissed) is candidate for the position for chief Sephardi rabbi, in a crowded field. He has the backing of the current chief rabbi, Rav Amar, for the position. It’s understandable that he would also want on his side someone as popular as Kachlon. In short, looks like a match made in heaven. So what’s the problem?
The problem is that Rabbi Boaron is not the kind of modern, moderate, open minded rabbi one would expect someone like Moshe Kachlon to back. I’m not saying he shouldn’t back him, I’m just saying there’s a whiff of political posturing here, in fact, more than a whiff, almost an odor.
Rabbi Boaron’s positions are complex.
Rabbi Boaron, who serves as a rabbinic judge on the Rabbinic Supreme Court, opposes unisex work places, the Haredi draft, women’s organizations, and Haredi women suing their husbands for divorce in rabbinic courts. Mind you, he has well founded, even logical reasons for each one of his positions, and they all make sense. But moderate and modern they ain’t.
On the other hand, Rabbi Boaron has received open letters of support from women’s organizations such as Yad Laisha and Mavoi Satum for his “tireless effort” in working to help women receive their ‘gets’ (Jewish bills of divorce), as well as his halachic rulings on the matter that have helped women break free of their Agunot status. His actions included flying around to remote corners of the world to personally track down and convince recalcitrant husbands to divorce their wives.
In the area of conversion, he declared the “Bnei Menashe” to be of Jewish descent, which helped them finally immigrate to Israel. His approach to conversion is halachic, but with a moderate approach, in order to try to reduce intermarriage and assimilation.
He will probably also support the Heter Mechira leniency in the upcoming Shmittah year.
And unlike many other Sephardic Rabbis, Rabbi Boaron does not see himself as subordinate to Rav Ovadiah Yosef, and rejected Shas’s request that he drop out of the race.
Like we said, complex.
So, why the sudden shidduch? I believe we’ll find out soon enough.