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Bennett Comes Out in Support Of Riskin

riskinBayit Yehudi leader Minister Naftali Bennett has announced that he stands firmly behind Efrat Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin and that he will personally accompany Rabbi Riskin to the hearing with the Chief Rabbinate Council that will determine if his contract is renewed or not.

Rabbi Riskin’s contract is not set for renewal since he is now 75, mandatory retirement age. While this was the case for a number of prominent rabbonim, in this case, the dati leumi community feels the Chief Rabbinate is using Rabbi Riskin’s age as an excuse to get rid of him due to his liberal views that do not jibe with the Chief Rabbinate. Other rabbonim informed they must step down would include the late Chief Rabbi of Kfar Chabad, Rav Ashkenazi ZT”L and Rabbi Chaim Druckman Shlita, who was compelled to step down as the head of the state giyur program. On the other hand, recent exception was granted to Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern, who was elected to the post a month before his retirement birthday.

For the dati leumi community, this is undoubtedly a case of the Rabbinate using the rabbi’s age to compel Rabbi Riskin to step down.

Bennett on Thursday morning 10 Sivan came out strongly in defense of Rabbi Riskin and spoke out against the Chief Rabbinate and the effort to compel Rabbi Riskin to step down.

“Rabbi Riskin established the city in Israel and he has enormous rights and it is unacceptable they he has become a target to eliminate political accounts. There can be differences of opinion, and we cannot tolerate silencing these opinions. Do we want a situation in which public officials, especially rabbonim will be afraid to voice their opinions?”

Bennett concluded “I am turning to the Chief Rabbinate Council to immediately suspend the delay in renewing his tenure. I spoke to the rabbi and I informed him I will accompany him to the hearing to address his age and it will be my honor to do so”.

A Chief Rabbinate official commented that it is most unfortunate the minister is turning this into a political event when it is standard practice when a rav reaches retirement age. He adds Rabbi Riskin is invited to the meeting at the end of June, signaling Bennett will be permitted to take part in the meeting despite the fact the meeting is not political in nature.

The source concluded “It is most unfortunate that Minister Bennett, who served as Minister of Religious Services for two years did not bother to attend even one session of the Chief Rabbinate Council and now, because of political interests, he plans to come in person”.

YWN notes that Chief Rabbi of Efrat Rabbi Shlomo Riskin has previously referred to “J” as a “model Rabbi”, and called him “Rabbi J”. Click link to watch a shocking video.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

19 Responses

  1. I hope the Rabanut will do the right thing and state OPENLY that because of his steep deviations from our tradition won’t be granted special treatment.

  2. I can just imagine Moshe Rabeinu teaching the children of Israel the פרשה of זקן ממרא, how if someone tries to change even a מצוה דרבנן is put to death – and from the crowd pops up the head of Naftali Bennet, who cannot understand “Do we want a situation in which public officials, especially rabbonim will be afraid to voice their opinions?” – –

  3. It is highly unfortunate that since his days as the successful of an upper scale NYC shul Rabbi Riskins halachic views are geared to bringing wealthy influential and proffessional jews under the MO umbrella. That requires a rabbinnic will to find halachic leniences and promote them as acceptable alternatives to more stringing and literal interpretation of the law.rabbi Riskin is an prodigious and assiduos fund raiser for Torah Stone and needs to cater to his clients religious sensibilities and leniences . Much of his opinions are fueled by money and his association with many might and powerful more progressive Jews.

  4. While I’m not a fan of Rabbi Riskin, the fact remains that the community he serves should decide and politics should stay out of it.

  5. Why are you displaying in your article a photo of Rabbi Riskin that must be at least 25 years old. This is subterfuge. “See, he’s 75 years young (see the photo….) and those heartless (Chareidi, of course!) rabbis who are running the rabbanut want him to retire. Isn’t 30 years as rabbi of Efrat long enough?

  6. Perhaps , if indeed this has to do with the rabbinate decision regarding his views on Jesus, he should be publicly asked to clarify his views. I think the tape seems to indicate he feels its a “Machlokes” between Christians and Jews if Moshiach will come once or twice but that Jesus was a “Rabbi”. As a counter missionary I can tell you in the New Testament the “rabbi” says it does not matter if you eat Kosher and has also publicly desecrated the Jewish Sabbath and has declared divorce a sin and has sais he and G-d are “one”. The vast majority of the Christian world also clearly accept Jesus as a god as well, so Rabbi Riskin may be flirting, perhaps, with calling an Avodah Zara a “rabbi”. And can this potentially be bad influence on his many students and members? In Pirkei Avot Chachamim Hizharu Midivraychem. If this is the reason the Rabinnate should be Forth With

  7. BarryLS1 [4],
    If the community wants him then let them pay his salary themselves. We frumies have to fund much of our leaders even though we pay tons of taxes (and don’t let the media tell you we pay less taxes because it’s a lie).

    The Rabbanut, which was legally elected, have a right to set guidelines as to who can be a “Rabbanut” Rav and who cannot.

  8. When any of the self righteous commentators here can even stand anywhere near R’ Riskin’s shoes in terms of what they’ve done for the Kal, I’ll listen. He has been makariv thousands of people who are very normal professionals, and many of whom accompanied him to Efrat. Modern Orthodoxy, while it might not be your cup of tea, and in many ways isn’t mine either, still has its place. And Rabbi Riskin is an important part of that place. Trying to use that somewhat infamous speech to make him look stupid indicates that your reporting is just as biased as CNN, just on a different position.

    Moderators Response: “that somewhat infamous speech to make him look stupid”….. This isn’t about being “stupid”.


    Shalom to all. My name is Shlomo Riskin. I am the Chief rabbi of the City of Efrat…I am an Orthodox Rabbi…and an Orthodox Rabbi who is very profoundly interested in religion in general, in Christianity, and especially in the persona of Jesus in particular…I was truly fascinated by the personality of Jesus, whom to myself I have always referred to as “Rabbi Jesus”….because I think he is indeed a “model Rabbi” in many counts…and he lived the life of a Jewish Rabbi in Israel in a very critical time in our history…..I have constantly come back to the study of his personality and his teachings which are very strongly rooted in Talmudic teachings…..”

  9. There’s nothing Orthodox about Riskin. Gedolei Yisroel have always opposed conferring the honorific “Rabbi” on people such as he. I wonder who gave the psak to YWN that it is ok.

  10. continuing on #8 In the “Gospel” – New Testament it also says he said he wont change an “iota” of the Law but in the book it also says all the laws are now no longer applicable and he says it doesn’t matter what you eat, etc The book also claims his mother while betrothed to Joseph was impregnated by a Deity.

  11. With regard to comment #7., I am appalled that the moderator allowed that comment through with no response (I see for example, that the moderator responded to comment 12, which is simply an opinion and not a repulsive personal comment which reflects poorly on all frum Jews as is comment #7. I hope that it is deleted. If not, it will remain in the comments a very poor reflection on YWN.

  12. MDshweks: The same thing can be said about any community’s Rabbi.

    There is a criteria of qualifications, in Israel, that a community Rabbi must meet. If they do in fact meet them and the community wants that particular Rabbi, they have a right to choose that person, whether we agree with that Rabbi or not.

    Would you say the same thing, if it were a Rabbi that you agreed with and liked, that was in the same situation as Rabbi Riskin?

    Somehow I doubt it, but intellectual honesty demands the same position, if the person is qualified, whether we like him or not.

    Again, I’m not a fan of Rabbi Riskin and doubt that I agree with him on most things, but that should have nothing to do with the issue.

  13. Happy to see so much ahavat Yisrael happening on this wonderful news website.
    Baruch HaShem we have many many sects of Judaism, as חז״ל say ״שבעים פנים לתורה״. Rav Riskin is the leader of many thousands of frum Jews, whether they are modern orthodox or tzioni or not, and hopefully will continue to lead his kehilla with the strength and courage to say what he believes in no matter what as he has over his entire life. For all of those who may or may not be educated, I suggest you all read the book that he authored. It may do you all good.

  14. Plz cut the baloney I personally know of him performing conversions so someone could get married. He’s done plenty of harm so don’t talk about coming to “his shoes”

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