Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yonah Yechiel Metzger has sent an urgent letter to Minister of Religious Services (Shas) Yaakov Margi calling upon him to intervene on behalf of the rabbonim who will be compelled to step down from office as civil servants in October.
As a result of a court ruling, civil service rabbonim nationwide, those serving as neighborhood and city rabbonim will have to retire at the age of 67. Realizing the yomim tovim are upon us, the court granted a special dispensation to delay the retirement until after the Tishrei yomim tovim, until October.
When asked how many rabbonim will be impacted by the new regulation in October, Rav Metzger stated “I am not an expert but we are dealing with dozens” he told Kol Chai Radio.
The rav explained the situation nationwide has deteriorated considerably, and “due to ongoing state efforts to implement reform, we cannot appoint younger rabbonim to be trained to take over, and this will simply leave a vacuum and a sharp deterioration in religious services”.
The rav added that when he served as rav in Tel Aviv, there were 50 neighborhood rabbonim in the city, whereas today there are nine or ten. He admits that he fears mayors may simply state “we have managed for this long with fewer rabbonim, so who needs them”, compelling Rabbi Metzger to call upon the minister to petition the court to delay implementation of the October decision until such time there are young rabbonim prepared to assume their positions.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)