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October 27, 2016 / 25 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Chief Rabbinate’

High Court Sides with Rabbinate, Rejects AG Push for ‘Alternative’ Kosher Certificates

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Israel’s Supreme Court on Monday embraced the position of the Chief Rabbinate on the Law prohibiting kashrut fraud, that a business may not present itself in writing as kosher, with or without the use of the word Kosher, unless it receives a kashrut certification from the only legally authorized body — the chief rabbinate, Walla reported. The decision dealt a severe blow to alternative kashrut certification services which have been operating in several Israeli cities, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, as well as food service businesses that keep kosher but do not carry a certification.

The appeal to the Supreme Court came from the Reform movement’s Israel Religious Action Center, in the name of two Jerusalem restaurant owners, Shai Gini and Yonatan Vadi, who argued that the food they serve is kosher despite the fact that they do not carry a kashrut certification from their local rabbinate. According to the appellants, there’s no problem with their presenting their food as kosher because it is. They appealed to the high court after their local Rabbinate levied fines on them based on the common interpretation of the kashrut fraud law, namely that only Rabbinate-certified food is accepted as being kosher.

The former AG, Yehuda Weinstein, reinterpreted the law following the appeal, ruling that the state may no longer fine restaurant owners who present kosher certificates from private kashrut services, and must cancel the fines that have already been issued. The AG only required that the restaurants in question not claim that the alternative certifications for their businesses had been issued by the Rabbinate.

In a rare exception, the Supreme Court permitted the Chief Rabbinate to present its case separately from the AG, and eventually accepted its position in a two to one ruling that the Rabbinate is the only statewide accepted authority on kashrut. The two justices in the majority were Noam Sohlberg and Elyakim Rubinstein. Justice Uri Shoham sided with the AG.

The Justices decided to limit their ruling to the next two years, subject to a system-wide change the court is demanding of the Chief Rabbinate, to reexamine the relationship between the certifying kashrut supervisor and the business he is auditing, so that they do not depend financially on the business they are expected to monitor. Justice Rubinstein suggested that “should this not be resolved in a significant and serious way, the entire subject may be reopened.”

Both Chief Rabbis commended the court’s decision; Rabbi David Lau said that a decision to permit alternative certificates, some of which are fictitious, would have led to a serious misleading of the public; Rabbi Yizhak Yosef said that the Chief Rabbinate regularly goes out of its way to make the kaashrut maintenance easier and cheaper for food service businesses.

MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) said it was “refreshing to see a conservative approach on the part of the Supreme Court,” and praised the majority justices on overcoming their tendency for activism. The MK said he yearns for a time of “more balance in the relationship between the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government.”


Rivlin Embraces Reform and Conservative Jews as Part of ‘One Family’

Saturday, December 12th, 2015

President Reuven Rivlin embraced the Reform and Conservative movements in a speech to the New York UJA-Federation on Friday during his visit to the United States.

Rivlin, like his predecessor Shimon Peres, is a full-fledged secular Israeli and is silently uncomfortable with the authority of the Orthodox Rabbinate in Israel.

Two days after lighting the Hanukkah Menorah at the White House, Rivlin stated at the meeting, which included Orthodox Jewish leaders:

It is important for the State of Israel to show full respect and sensitivity to all American Jews. It is important that we remember, not only on Hanukkah that we are all one family.”

All communities represented here today share the love of Israel and a deep commitment to the future of the Jewish people and to the positive image of the State of Israel.

We must never forget that even the major differences between us are an honest expression of concern shared by all of us, whether we are Orthodox, Reform or Conservative.

No one questions his generalities, but when it comes down to specifics, Orthodox Judaism inherently cannot accept American “Jews” who are converted under non-Orthodox rabbis who do not accept traditional Jewish law.

It could be compared with the idea that the American Medical Association would accept alternative medical practitioners as “doctors” even though they have not studied in recognized medical schools.

President Rivlin tried to reach out to the common interests of all Jews, such as the nearly universal Jewish celebration of Hanukkah and the solidarity for victims of terror “in Israel and all over the world.”

Conservative Jewish Rabbi Steven Wernick complained that we “can’t do marriage, can’t do divorces [and] can’t do conversions” in Israel.

President Rivlin did not dip into the dangerous political waters of explicitly promoting the Reform and Conservative agenda for “equality in Israel, but he made it a point to call Wernick a “rav,” Hebrew for rabbi.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Rabbi Riskin Hopes the Rabbinate Will Climb Down From Their Tree [audio]

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Rabbi Riskin said he hopes the Rabbinate will climb down from their tree, in an interview he gave on Galei Yisrael Radio on Tuesday, as reported by Kipa.

The extension of Rabbi Riskin’s tenure as Chief Rabbi of the town of Efrat is under evaluation by the Israeli Rabbinate because he has reached the retirement age of 75. Only, it appears that the consideration as to whether to extend the Rabbi’s term is based on Rabbi Riskin’s legal/halachic positions, which places him in direct opposition to the Chareidi/Shas controlled Rabbinate.

Rabbi Riskin said, “I don’t want to believe that because of the halachic issue of conversion, which is such an important issue in the State of Israel today, that they [the Rabbinate] would want to terminate my services in the Rabbinate, but so it appears.”

Rabbi Riskin made it clear that he respects the Rabbinate and believes it serves an important role, but he thinks “the Rabbinate should accept opinions that are important, halachic pluralism, when of course it is within the halachic consensus. I don’t do anything that is outside the halachic consensus to open the gates of conversion…”

Rabbi Riskin continued, “I support the establishment and the institution of the Rabbinate, I believe it is important, but it must be a Rabbinate that talks to all of the nation of Israel, and halachically it must be prepared to accept halachic opinions that are not exactly Ultra-Orthodox views.”

“I hope… they’ll come down from their tree. I honestly don’t understand them… if this is true.” he finished off.

Jewish Press News Briefs

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.”

Hana Levi Julian

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.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

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.

Hana Levi Julian

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.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/rabbi-metzger-to-be-indicted-for-bribery/2015/02/10/

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