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July 3, 2015 / 16 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Chief Rabbinate’

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin to ‘Stay On No Matter What’ Says Efrat Mayor

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

Efrat Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin is planning take his case to the Supreme Court of Israel if necessary, and Efrat Mayor Oded Ravivi says he is adamant Riskin must stay on, “regardless of what the Chief Rabbinate of Israel says.”

Ravivi warned that he would not tolerate political interference from the country’s rabbinical council officials when there is a “clear consensus that Rabbi Riskin is performing his duties faithfully.”

In an interview Tuesday with the Hebew-language “Kipa” website, Ravivi slammed the threat by the Chief Rabbinate not to extend Riskin’s term of office in his city.

“I watch this process in wonder and amazement,” Ravivi said. “Overall there is a consensus here that Rabbi Riskin is doing his job exceptionally well.

The parliament understands that the rabbi must respond to the definition of “creating for yourself a rabbinic authority” – someone to whom one can turn in time of spiritual and moral need – half of these voters who support the rabbi are city council members, 25 percent are synagogue members and 25 percent are simply those who are spiritual followers.

“Rabbi Riskin is one of the founders of this community,” the mayor continued. “Is there anyone who is a more integral part of this city? He is part of the infrastructure and the living spirit of this place.

“The Rabbinate decides not to reappoint him – so does that mean he will no longer bless celebrations here? People will no longer consult him? I would bet that the reality will not change, even if the Chief Rabbinate does decide not to extend his appointment,” the mayor said.

Meanwhile, Riskin himself has said that he will appeal the issue to the nation’s Supreme Court. In addition to serving as the Chief Rabbi of Efrat, Riskin also heads the Ohr Torah Stone institutions as well.

“I read the newspapers and hear that the matter is about conversions and the fact that I was supposed to set up a conversion court along with other town rabbis,” Riskin explains.

“I wanted to open the gates for people from the former Soviet Union who live here in Israel, born to Jewish fathers. There is an issue here that must be resolved, and that can be resolved, if conversion courts will become more embracing,yet 100 percent according to Jewish law.”

Report: Rabbinate May Be Plotting to Dump Rabbi Riskin of Efrat

Monday, May 25th, 2015

The Chief Rabbinate met in Jerusalem on Monday to discuss whether to extend the term of Efrat’s Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, but it postponed a decision until he appears personally for another hearing.

An extension of Rabbi Riskin’s term requires a special meeting because he is now 75 years old, but the Kipa website reported, “Senior officials in the Rabbinate plan to hold a discussion on his term of office and not automatically renew it in order to block his re-appointment because of his opinions. If there will be another discussion of the entire Rabbinate, a majority will vote against Rabbi Riskin.”

Rabbi Riskin supports establishing more religious courts to oversee conversions, a move that is stiffly opposed by the Hareidi establishment. He also has been active in promoting women’s rights in the Orthodox world, another move that the Hareidi establishment considers near blasphemy.

Rabbi Riskin’s office told The Jewish Press that it was not aware of the report by Kipa, but previous rabbis over the age of 70 have been asked to retire, regardless of their opinions. The spokesman for the Rabbinate told The Jewish Press that there have been cases where the term of a rabbi over the age of 70 has been extended, depending on his health.

Nevertheless, Monday’s discussion raises several questions to which the spokesman for the Chief Rabbinate said, “I don’t know.”

He said that Rabbis Riskin will be asked to appear personally, probably in the next several weeks, to answer questions about his health.

If that is the case, why didn’t the Chief Rabbinate ask for his medical records?

I don’t know.

Why didn’t the Rabbinate invite Rabbi Riskin today?

I don’t know.

Will Rabbi Riskin’s views on conversion be discussed in the upcoming hearing?

I don’t know.

However, the spokesman did confirm that the issue of conversion was not discussed today.

A decision to retire Rabbi Riskin, the founding rabbi of Lincoln Square Synagogue on the Upper West Side of New York City, without any other basis than opposition to his views could spur a legal battle in the Supreme Court. The Religious Affairs Ministry is now under the control of the Shas party, which may influence the Rabbinate’s decision in favor of ousting Rabbi Riskin.

Shas party leader Aryeh Deri is close to Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, son of the late Rav Ovadia Yosef who founded the Shas party and was its spiritual leader until his death less than two years ago.

Hopefully, this report by The Jewish Press.com will arouse public opinion, influence the Rabbinate, and pave the way for the distinguished rabbis to extend Rabbi Riskin’s term.

Read: TZOHAR’s statement on the upcoming hearing.

Rabbis Allow XMas Trees in Kosher Israeli Hotels

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Hotels in Israel will now be able to place Christmas trees in the lobby, film movies on the premises during the Sabbath and violate other Jewish laws but hold a “kosher” status.

In the past, the Israel’s Chief Rabbinate required hotels to maintain basic compliance with Torah law in order be certified kosher.

However, a petition to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein by the “Hiddush” Freedom of Religion for Israel non-governmental organization (NGO) has forced the Chief Rabbinate to change its rules.

Hiddush CEO Uri Regev, a reform rabbi, argued the Rabbinate’s regulations violated Israel’s kashruth law, which in the past the High Court of Justice has determined are restricted solely to the issue of food, and not Sabbath observance, modesty or other points.

Regev threatened to turn to the High Court if Weinstein did not put an end to “legal infractions” committed by the Chief Rabbinate in the field of kashruth – that is, conditioning kashruth certification on general Sabbath observance and not using Christian symbols.

In response, the Chief Rabbinate announced a list of changes last Thursday, removing its ban on nearly anything that would differentiate an observant Jewish establishment from one that is not.

Regev proclaimed the move a “victory.

“First, it will finally give the numerous Jewish and non-Jewish groups that visit Israel the freedom and respect which has been denied them by the Rabbinate’s extortionist demands,” he said, according to Religion News Service. “Second, it is an important lesson in the development of the rule of law in Israel, which emphasizes that the Chief Rabbinate is bound by Israeli law and is not above it.”

That last is an issue that observant Jews are well warned to take notice of, since it is now clear – if it has not been prior to this – that supervision and certification by the Chief Rabbinate – may not longer be reliable, due to circumstances beyond the control of well-meaning rabbonim at the Rabbinate.

For example:

The ban on symbols of Christian holidays such as Christmas trees has been lifted.

The Chief Rabbinate revoked its ban on using audio, video and music equipment at hotel events on the Sabbath except when food is served.

The ban on Jews accepting payments from guests has also been canceled, except in connection to ordering and paying for food.

Perhaps most disturbing, a requirement for hotels to have a Sabbath elevator has also been lifted, with the exception of a Sabbath elevator for the delivery of food.

Rabbi Metzger to be Indicted for Bribery

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Former Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger will be indicted for allegedly stuffing into his pockets nearly $2 million from bribes, he was told Tuesday by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.

Rabbi Metzger denies all charges.

Police investigations concluded with several charges for bribery, fraud, breach of public trust, money laundering and cheating on taxes while he was serving as the leading light for the Jewish people.

In Israel, not everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but the country is chock full of apparently airtight cases against public officials who eventually are not convicted, often because the police are even more guilty for sloppy work.

A public official, especially a rabbi, must be above suspicion. Barring the possibility, not to be dismissed,  that Rabbi Metzger is squeaky clean and the police have been on another witch hunt, the case is a black stain on the Chief Rabbinate.

The rabbi allegedly helped himself to princely sums of money to help convert people  to Judaism. Rabbi Metzger is from the Haredi community that frowns on conversions of national religious rabbis, who so far have a record of being among the cleanest of public officials.

The indictments cite several examples of Rabbi Metzger’s alleged contributions to his bank account under the guise of increasing the ranks of Jews. One case involved a wealthy Russian businessman who allegedly paid Rabbi Metzger $360,000 to convert his son and daughter.

Supposedly, he taught them the basic laws of the Torah, such as the prohibitions against stealing and not to place an obstacle in the path of the blind, the basis for prohibitions against being a con artist.

The Israeli public never was thrilled with the appointment of Rabbi Metzger as Chief Rabbi from the day he was suggested for the post.

His appointment as Chief Rabbi was rare if not unprecedented because he never had served as a religious judge.

His predecessor was Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, arguably the most popular Chief Rabbi in generations, one who managed to draw praise and respect from all sectors of Israel, including secular and Sephardi Jews.

His shoes were impossible to fill, but Rabbi Metzger was not even a midget compared to Rabbi Lau.

Rabbi Metzger was only 50 years old when appointed in 2003. He had a national religious background but clearly was in the Haredi court.

To Rabbi Metzger’s credit, he initiated a prayer for Jonathan Pollard, one which has been adopted by thousands of synagogues.

During his tenure, he was very active in approving relations between Jews and other religions.

He also announced his disapproval of attempts to separate men and women on buses.

If Rabbi Metzger is acquitted, he will have moral grounds to sue the police and the government for incredible recklessness.

If he is pronounced guilty, whatever punishment he will serve will not correct the loss of faith of Jews in rabbis.

Proposed Conversion Bill, Change in Local Rabbinate Power Nixed by Netanyahu

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

A bill that would allow any chief rabbi of any city to create his own religious court for conversion has finally stopped at the prime minister’s desk.

The bill would effectively neutralize the authority of the nation’s Chief Rabbinate over the conversion process in Israel.

It is one that has been fought bitterly by observant Jewish parties across the spectrum.

And now the proposed Conversion Bill advanced by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua party has gotten the axe by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

According to a report Monday by Channel 2 investigative journalist Amit Segal, the prime minister announced that he supports the hareidi position regarding conversions.

Netanyahu made the statement following months of skirmishes behind the scenes and quiet wrangling by both chief rabbis and hareidi political parties as well as members of the more moderate Bayit Yehudi party.

The prime minister allegedly also told heads of coalition factions that he will make sure the bill does not pass if it comes up for a vote, even if it is privately sponsored.

Because Livni’s credibility as a party chief may ride on this issue, however, the issue may be a deal breaker for her presence in the coalition.

Israeli Chief Rabbinate Working to Lower Kashrut Costs

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate is hoping to lower the cost of kashrut by approving more foreign kashrut certification organizations. The initiative comes in context of a general move by the Finance Ministry to lower the cost of living in the Jewish State.

In addition, it was announced Tuesday that the Chief Rabbinate will create a committee to explore new ways to supervise the kashrut and quality foreign dairies. The agency said itis hoping to use enhanced technology to reduce the price of dairy imports while improving competition in the field.

Data presented at a ministerial meeting on Tuesday indicated a wide disparity between the price of imported dairy products and those produced in Israel.

Chief Rabbinate Tests Female Kashrut Supervisors

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel today (Wednesday) administered the first official certification exam for women who wish to become kashrut supervisors (mashgichot).

The test, which took place at the International Convention Center (Binyanei Ha’Uma) in Jerusalem, was administered only to those who had first passed a special course approved by the Chief Rabbinate.

In the Gush Etzion city of Efrat, located barely ten minutes away from Jerusalem, female kashrut supervisors have already been employed in some establishments for some time.

The women taking the test on Wednesday have studied materials and undergone a training program that was designed to meet the standards of supervision by the Chief Rabbinate.

Israel Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Landau said at the time the course was designed that he saw no reason why women could not serve as kashrut supervisors.

Those women who pass the test on Wednesday will be awarded a certificate enabling them to seek employment as kashrut supervisors.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/chief-rabbinate-tests-female-kashrut-supervisors/2014/05/08/

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