While many believe Rabbi Aryeh Stern has sufficient backing to become the next Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim, Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett is not taking chances, wishing to secure the post for the dati leumi rav as much as possible.
While chareidim are doing what they can to delay the election, Bayit Yehudi and the dati leumi community are anxious to move ahead with the election, confident they will succeed in having Rabbi Stern elected. However, seeking additional insurance, Bennett is trying to reach a deal with Shas leader Aryeh Deri that will result in Shas backing Rabbi Stern in exchange for Bayit Yehudi backing Deri’s candidate for Sephardi Chief Rabbi of the capital.
The chareidim, who do not want to see Stern in the post are trying to buy time. They are aware that in a few months Rabbi Stern will be 70 and then he will no longer be eligible to run as 70 is the maximum cut off age. This is one of the reasons Bennett is working to expedite the election.
Deri is interested in blocking former Rishon L’Tzion Rabbi Shlomo Amar or Tzfas Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu from becoming the next Sephardi Chief Rabbi of the capital, hence the willingness to cooperate with Bennett.
The deal in the works also includes a provision that the chareidim must agree to the appointment of the next director-general of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel as the current director-general, Oded Viner, is stepping down in about six weeks. The deal would not compel appointing a chareidi director-general, but it would compel appointing a candidate that meets with the approval of the chareidim.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)