Shas officials have been working over recent months to have the term of Rishon L’Tzion HaGaon HaRav Moshe Shlomo Amar extended for an additional 10 years, permitting him to continue serving as Israel’s Chief Sephardi Rabbi. The bill amending the law to permit the chief rabbi to serve a second term was addressed by the Knesset Law Committee last Adar. It has yet to pass in Knesset and it will most likely be addressed in the coming weeks. The term of the current chief rabbis was extended for three months to push off dealing with the matter until the new coalition is established and settles into place.
It now appears that the issue is pressing for Shas and Maran HaGaon HaRav Ovadia Yosef Shlita, and this will be among Shas’ demands if a coalition agreement is drafted with Likud/Beitenu, demanding their support for a second term for Rav Amar if the bill passes into law. Rav Amar commented a number of months ago that he prefers to step down due to the demands of the job, preferring to learn and write seforim, but he would continue if instructed to do so by Maran Rav Ovadia.
Adding to Shas concerns is that in the event Rav Amar does not continue, it is extremely likely that a rav who today heads a city in Israel will be tapped for the post. This will create a vacancy in a major city, and Shas wants to be certain that the slot is not filled by someone backed by Bayit HaYehudi. Shas is working hard to keep a dati leumi rav from taking such a post.
A leading candidate to replace Rav Amar would be Beersheva Chief Sephardi Rabbi Yehuda Deri Shlita, a brother of Aryeh Deri. Another top contender is Rav Avraham Yosef Shlita, Chief Rabbi of Holon and a son of Maran.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)