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.Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu