How the Chief Rabbinate of Israel Earns its Unfavorable Reputation


icrThere has been much criticism against the Chief Rabbinate of Israel is many areas, including marking exam papers for people seeking certification as mashgichim, rabbonim, dayanim and more.

When the last class took one of the exams in Choshen Mishpat towards dayanus certification in Kislev 5773, they were promised the results “Within 120 days”. Now, a year later, the hundreds of applicants still await the results of that exam.

The sad reality is there is no one to complain to for when this type of news hits the media, there is always an explanation with a promise to correct the situation in an expeditious fashion. Kikar Shabbat adds that not only haven’t the rabbonim received their exams back, it has learned the dayanim responsible for grading the papers have not bothered to even begin.

Making things worse for talmidim seeking certification, the same exam that was scheduled for last week was cancelled – why, because the papers from last year have to be graded before the new exam can be given.

One avreich told the press that a dayan involved in the grading process told him “we are not willing to examine the tests because our salary is too low. They take too much income tax from out monthly salary”.

Last month, about 200 hundred of the avreichim who tested a year ago met with Rabbi Nissim Ben-Shimon, one of those dayanim responsible for grading the exams. Amazingly, after the public responses [see above and below], officials in the Prime Minister’s Office remain silent. No one seems to question why the rav and others are paid when they unilaterally decide their job is too overwhelming, preventing them from fulfilling their duties.

The Knesset Audit Committee back in 2010 addressed the inexcusable and unexplainable “foot-dragging” in the Chief Rabbinate, which appears to be alive and well today, in 2013.

Some Additional Responses:

Rabbi Rafael Mizrachi, who is in charge of testing for the Chief Rabbinate:

“It is a terrible injustice. It is wrong. We did not keep our promise to return the exam within four months.” He went on to place the blame on the accounting department in the Prime Minister’s Office “which did not permit us to review the exams for legal and budgetary reasons.”

Chief Rabbi David Lau’s Office:

In recent years Baruch Hashem there has been a significant increase in the number of people testing, which has tripled. Nevertheless, the number of people in the testing unit has not increased due to budgetary limitations set by the Prime Minister’s Office. (The Chief Rabbinate functions under the PM’s Office). Employees are trying very hard to keep up but the load is too great.

YWN-ISRAEL points out the Knesset Audit Committee addressed the same issue back in 2010, when the number of people taking the exam was not “tripled”.

Deputy Minister of Religious Services Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan’s Office:

“The deputy minister is working on announcing a tender for an agency to manage the exams towards optimizing the system that exists today towards preventing such situations.”

YWN-ISRAEL notes that Rabbi Ben-Dahan announced he was doing this back in August 2013 but to date, nothing has been done.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


  1. The chief rabbinate is a government agency chosen to advance the government’s purposes. The only way a chief rabbi can ever earn a favorable reputation would be by going against the government, in which case he wouldn’t be employed by the government any more.

    Note that Shomer Mitsvos Jews look to their own gedolim for leadership (whether the gadol be Ashkenazi or Sefardi, Hareidi or Zionist, etc.) – not to the government.

  2. Akuperma you are missing the point entirely. It is a well known fact that many gedolim were and still are “part of the system”. For example, Rav Eliyashav ZT”L was a Dayan on the official Rabbanut Bais Din and was, in fact, very close to Rav Herzog, the chief rabbi at the time. There are many others

  3. Once you take a job working for Mr. Peres, and Mr. Lapid, and Mr. Netanyahu – you have no credibility. That fact that you claim to be the “Chief” rabbi knowing full well that most Shomer Mitsvos consider someone else to be their gadol furthers undermines credibility. The fact that most Israelis reject Torah makes the position of being the government’s rabbi into a joke (e.g. most secular Israelis are willing to go thorugh what looks like a Jewish wedding to make the medinah happy, but don’t accept the halacha- one not enacted into Israeli law – on exclusivisity in marriage leading to either their children being safek mamzerim or having to conclude the whole rabbinate marriage was a sham).

    As recent events have shown, the hareidi rabbanim (meaning those who reject government money, as preserve their intellectual independence) have been right, and those that took jobs for the medinah now look silly as their medinah is cutting off funds for those yeshivos that had been supporting the medinah.