Jerusalem Chief Rabbinate Elections – An Unlikely Event in the Coming Months


While there have been recent events signaling the possibility of elections for the chief rabbis of Yerushalayim, it is unlikely that this election will be held anytime soon.

While it has been well over a decade since there have been chief rabbis in the capital, the inability of the parties involved to get along for a common goal, to place qualified rabbonim in position to safeguard the kedusha of the Holy Capital has resulted in today’s vacuum. One may draw an analogy from the disgraceful mayoral elections in the capital, when the sinas chinam prevailed, to the point that the lone chareidi candidate lost to today’s non-frum mayor simply because of kovod and an unwillingness to see the big picture. Today, these same chareidi ‘askanim’ cry and shout over the chilul Hashem in the capital as more stores are opening on shabbos each week in addition to viewing the painful increase in unacceptable city-sponsored cultural activities – all sponsored indirectly by the chareidi community and the ongoing in-fighting. For Mayor Nir Barkat, he is simply fulfilling his campaign promises, nothing more.

The political realities surrounding the Jerusalem Rabbinical race have resulted in countless delays, and as the field appeared clear two more surprises were announced on Monday, 23 Elul 5772. Attorneys Ra’anan Bar Zohar and Eyal Nun sent a letter to the election committee, explaining why the election will not be taking place anytime soon. A copy of the letter was sent to the State Comptroller’s Office. They explain the back-room dealings taking place are unacceptable, and they are sounding the warning signal that the elections must be postponed yet again. There is also another track, petitions to the High Court of Justice.

Their letter compels Election Committee Chair Rav Nissim Ben-Shimon to probe the allegations and elections may not be held for as long as there are allegations of wrongdoing. Realizing a copy was sent to the state comptroller will ensure no attempt is made to sweep the allegations under the carpet.

Bar Zohar lists alleged wrongdoing and violations, as well as citing that misinformation was given to election committee members to influence their decision and while the committee ignores Ministry of Justice guidelines. One of the issues to be addressed is why a number of shuls have been excluded from the committee representation, including the Belz Beis Medrash, Chanichei Yeshivos in Givat Shaul, and Musyiof. If these are added it will significantly increase the odds of the next chief rabbis of the city being chareidi, not dati leumi, as their inclusion gives more voting power to the chareidi tzibur.

According to most involved, whatever the case will be it appears the Sephardi Chief Rabbi will be HaGaon HaRav Yitzchak Yosef, the author of the Yalkut Yosef. The question remains who will hold the post of Ashkenazi chief rabbi, a member of the dati leumi or chareidi tzibur.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)