Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has appointed Avi Lerner to handle affairs towards electing chief rabbis to the capital, Yediot Achronot reports. Lerner is affiliated with the dati leumi community. He ran the mayor’s campaign for the dati leumi community, a job he performed with overwhelming success.
Barkat expects Lerner to act as his go-between regarding the city’s rabbonim and admorim as he wishes to move ahead to elect a Zionist Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim.
In addition to his election campaign agreement with the dati leumi community, the mayor has stated repeatedly that he will support the election of a “Zionist rabbi” for he feels it is appropriate to have such a chief rabbi of the city.
It appears Lerner will be heading to work with the understanding the next Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem will be dati leumi and he will try to reach an understanding regarding the Sephardi rav. The mayor would like to see a Zionist Sephardi Chief Rabbi too, with his sights set on Tzfas Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, realizing Rav Eliyahu is controversial due to his statements against selling and renting homes in Tzfas to Arabs.
Reports signal that Bayit Yehudi officials have been holding meetings to select a new candidate. Rabbi Aryeh Stern, who was believed to be the leading dati leumi candidate for Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi is not the favored candidate of the dati leumi party at this time. Bayit Yehudi officials fear strong chareidi opposition to Stern and this may result in a loss so the party is seeking a less controversial candidate. The unofficial word is they are waiting for Rabbi Stern to reach 70, at which time he will no longer be eligible to run.
However, prominent dati leumi posek Rabbi Chaim Druckman is moving ahead. It was Rabbi Druckman who first pushed for Stern’s candidacy and Rabbi Druckman has been holding meetings to advance the process to get Stern elected in the near future. One recent meeting held was between R’ Druckman and Mayor Barkat. No one is speaking about what was discussed.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)