A bill authored by MK Nir Orbach (Yamina) calling for adding representatives from Judea and Samaria to the electorate of the Chief Rabbis will be submitted on Sunday to the Ministerial Committee on Legislation, Srugim reported Wednesday. The bill is part of the move to change the committee to elect Israel’s Chief Rabbis which is being led by Minister of Religious Services Matan Kahana (Yamina).
Back in 2013, when Naftali Bennett (Yamina) served as Minister of Religious Services, he failed to promote Rabbi David Stav, a prominent Religious Zionist, to the post of Chief Rabbi because of a secret collaboration of the Haredim and Stav’s opponents inside the Religious Zionist camp. The result was the election of yet another Haredi rabbi (David Lau) to lead the Chief Rabbinate which is adhered to by very few if any Haredim. Now, Minister Kahana, who has already launched a reform of the kashrut supervision industry, and will soon attempt to reform the Giur (conversion) system in Israel, is putting together a deep, long-term move to put a Zionist at the helm of the Chief Rabbinate. The minister is banking on the settlement rabbis.
Today, according to the Chief Rabbinate Law, the Electoral Assembly consists of 150 members, of whom 80 are rabbis and 70 are public representatives from all the municipalities in Israel, except Judea and Samaria. Talk about taxation without representation.
MK Orbach’s law, which Kahana submitted in the previous Knesset, is expected to be attached later to a comprehensive reform law by the Minister of Religious Services for a broad change in the way chief rabbis are appointed.
If the bill passes the Ministerial Committee, which is chaired by Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar (New Hope) whose Zionist credentials are impeccable, it will almost certainly pass the Knesset plenum.
Minister Kahana continues to promote reforms in the Ministry of Religious Services in favor of religious Zionism and at the expense of the Haredi politicians. About a week ago, he announced that he was initiating a horizontal plan to replace 89 unelected chairmen of the religious councils around the country, most of whom have been in office for many years and are considered political appointments of Shas leader Aryeh Deri. As part of the same plan, Kahana strives to appoint women to religious councils, limit the tenure of religious council members, and raise the threshold for job requirements for candidates.
Matan Kahana, 49, was born in Haifa, but when he was three months old, his family moved to New York, where his father was to study electrical engineering and business administration. When he was three, the family returned to live in Moshav Beit Gamliel, where he still lives with his wife, a clinical psychologist, and their four children. Kahana graduated with a BA in Law at Bar-Ilan University. He served as a fighter in special force Sayeret Matkal for three and a half years. In January 1994, when he finished his mandatory service, he joined a fighter pilot course and served as a fighter pilot in an F-16 Squadron. He participated as a pilot in Operations Cast Lead, Pillar of Defense, and the 2014 Gaza War. He also participated as an F-16 pilot in the Second Lebanon War.