Israel – Tzohar Rabbis To Run For Chief Rabbi Positions

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    Israel – The national-religious rabbinical association Tzohar fired off a new round in its war with the Chief Rabbinate by announcing that it was beginning a process to present candidates from the organization to stand in elections for the two chief rabbi positions.

    The elections will take place in six months.

    Tzohar has frequently taken issue with the rabbinate’s approach to the general public and founded its flagship free-of-charge marriage program to provide an alternative to what it describes as “Israel’s strict rabbinic bureaucracy.”

    “Tzohar has long been trying to influence the Israeli mindset and explain that the Chief Rabbinate is a crucial junction for all Jews, secular and religious alike, and so seeks to influence the character of the institution,” the organization said on Thursday.

    Having seemingly given up on its efforts to change the Chief Rabbinate from the outside, Tzohar sent a letter to hundreds of its member rabbis around the country inviting them to present their candidacy to represent Tzohar in the elections for the chief rabbis and the Council of the Chief Rabbinate.

    “In order to advance our principles, Tzohar must present its own candidates,” the letter read.

    An internal selection panel will examine the applicants and choose two candidates for the roles of Sephardi and Ashkenazi chief rabbis.

    The chief rabbi positions have been filled by haredi rabbis for many years. The last chief rabbis to be considered national-religious were Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu and Rabbis Avraham Shapira, who left office in 1993.

    Until the appointment of Rabbi Michael Levy as chief rabbi of Petah Tikva earlier this year, the last national-religious rabbi elected to a municipal position was Tzohar chairman Rabbi David Stav in 1998 as chief rabbi of Shoham.

    “The Chief Rabbinate is possibly one of the most significant government entities in Israel and has a direct impact on the lives of every man and woman in Israel from the day they’re born to the day they die,” said Tzohar executive vice president Nachman Rosenberg on Thursday.

    “It is no less important to have a Chief Rabbinate which represents inclusive Zionist values than it is to have a Zionist IDF chief of staff who believes in the state.”

    The chances that a Tzohar-affiliated candidate will succeed in getting appointed as chief rabbi are slim however, since the majority of the 150-member selection panel that elects the chief rabbis – comprised of representatives from the government, the Knesset and regional religious council – are haredi.

    The chief rabbis’ term is 10 years and only one term may be served.

    Last Friday, Tzohar launched a campaign designed to “encourage” the Chief Rabbinate to adopt “a new approach to religious leadership.”

    The new campaign features bus and newspaper advertisements and argues that the Chief Rabbinate “has become increasingly aligned with anti-Zionist sectors within Israel,” and that it has alienated nonreligious and even national-religious people from the religious establishment.

    Content is provided courtesy of the Jerusalem Post

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    11 COMMENTS

    1. “It is no less important to have a Chief Rabbinate which represents inclusive Zionist values than it is to have a Zionist IDF chief of staff who believes in the state.”

      This shows his cluelessness. If it’s not important for the IDF chief to be religious, why should it be important for the Chief Rabbi to be a Zionist?

    2. Real charedim like myself do not pay one iota of attention to the institution of the Rabbanut anyway, even if there are some individual chief and city rabbonim with whom we may agree at times. Tzohar rabbis will end up just as corrupt as all the others who serve as rabbanim mi-taam, so let them have their day in the sun.

      • Real sonai yisroel and baalai machlokes like you will never miss an opportunity to let the world know which rabbonim do not conform to your twisted ideas of yiddishkeit.

        Tzohar rabbonim are going to end up corrupt? You mean there will soon be a second Ottisville, with the daf yomi shiur given by a yid in a kippah serugah because such a person isn’t frum enough to give the shiur to ehrlicher yiddin?

        • You think there are no dati leumi in Beis Medrash Maasiyahu, which is the EY version of Otisville? Think again. You’ll probably find a few in Shattah and Kfar Yona as well, and those are not batei medrash leavaryonim. And some of them are violent criminals too (no, I don’t mean those who are there because they resisted arrest during political protests or evacuations of settlements, I mean armed robbers and similar scum).

          Power corrupts. Mixing rabbonus with government functions corrupts. The system in EY is rotten to the core.

          There are more bad apples among the tzioini rabbonim in those positions than there are among the charedi rabbonim who take government positions knowing that they’re doing it for parnosso. Some of the latter take these positions so they can put food on the table while they run kiruv and chessed organizations without paying themselves salaries.

        • No, at the end of the day the tzioini rabbonim defer to the Torah-true gedoilim. What the street does, who cares. You can eat the food I buy, but I can’t eat food certified by rabbonim mi-taam except in the few cases where I know the rov is careful and those who work for him as mashgichim are yirei shamayim.

    3. Let me just share something if I can…

      A couple years back I was a witness at the wedding of a friend of mine.
      After the “Harei-At”, the bride looked at the groom and said
      ” I love you with all my heart and will be happy to be your wife for
      the rest of my life”.

      Now, this isn’t standard Orthodox culture. But the truth is, there is
      nothing wrong with that. It makes them both happy, and there
      is no Halachic issue whatsoever. Its my understanding that that
      is the kind of thing that Tzohar was fighting for — the right to
      humanize and personalize things a bit.

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