Bayit Yehudi Pulls the Rav Amsellem Card


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amsnWell, if you are among those who believe all deal-making possibilities surrounding the election of new chief rabbis in Israel election have been played, here is yet another.

After publishing that Maran HaGaon HaRav Ovadia Yosef Shlita will not permit supporting the Druckman initiative, the plan presented by HaRav Chaim Druckman Shlita seeking Shas’ support for the Ariel bill, there is a new spin.

As a reminder, the Ariel Bill intends to lift the 70-year-old maximum age ceiling for candidates for the post. This would permit the dati leumi community to run Ramat Gan Chief Rabbi Yaakov Ariel Shlita for the post of Ashkenazi chief rabbi and in turn, Bayit Yehudi will support the Amar Bill to permit HaGaon Harav Shlomo Moshe Amar Shlita to serve a second term, with the latter presented by Shas.

According to a Srugim report, Bayit Yehudi has sent a message to Shas, that if the party does not give the green light for the Ariel Bill, the dati leumi party will run its own candidate for Sephardi chief rabbi. Bayit Yehudi want Shas to know that if it fails to cooperate, Holon Chief Rabbi Avraham Yosef Shlita will not have clear sailing in a bid for the Sephardi chief rabbi post. The latter, a son of Chacham Ovadia, is Shas choice if Rav Amar cannot serve a second term. Bayit Yehudi however has hinted it will support Rabbi Chaim Amsellem.

Not supporting Shas would be bad enough but running with R’ Amsellem, the Shas Party rebel, adds insult to injury.

Rav Amsellem is certified and has the credentials, having served as a rav in a number of communities in Eretz Yisrael as well as in Geneva, Switzerland.

On the Shas side of the equation, under the present reality Shas has the strongest voting representation in the body selecting the chief rabbis. This is a primary reason there are so many calls to change today’s voting body. Yesh Atid and The Movement parties are supporting efforts to change the electoral body share one goal, to dilute Shas’ influence. If Bayit Yehudi wishes to run with Rav Amsellem, it too will have to support the change in the electoral body.

Complicating this however is the fact that Tekuma faction rabbonim on Wednesday 21 Iyar 5773 sent a letter to Bennett. The rabbonim expressed their adamant opposition to supporting efforts to amend the electoral board to include more women and others, increasing the voting body from 150 to 200 voters.

Aides to Rav Amsellem in response to the report signal they are unaware of any such deal in the works.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)