In a closed-door meeting this week, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar decried current realities, pointing out that in many major cities and important neighborhoods in Eretz Yisrael there is no chief rabbi. He explained that if a rav is niftar or retires, the position in recent years has remained vacant in most cases. He questioned why a law is not passed that would demand the vacancy be filled within 90 days.
Towards achieving this goal, Rav Amar is seeking to establish an organization which would include hundreds of rabbonim, hoping to use the new body to facilitate the appointment of rabbonim and fill the vacancies. This body will be a rabbinical lobby and profession support organization.
Rav Amar pointed out that today, no one or organization stands behind the rabbonim, and if a government clerk or body decides to target a rabbi, he will usually be able to do so, and quite easily, enlisting the support of the media which usually does not wish to miss such an opportunity. The Rav plans to enlist top media consultants to train and assist rabbonim regarding how to conduct themselves with the media, a sphere in which most are lacking. He also wants to promote activities that will permit the rabbis to begin maintaining a higher profile and enjoy greater positive media exposure.
Rav Yosef Lasri, the chief rabbi of Bet Shean, envisions an organization that will provide support for the rabbis, spiritually and otherwise. “Today, I and my colleagues have no where to turn if a mayor wishes to target us, our position or our authority. Rabbis around the country must unite and fight towards maintaining religious life in his place of residence.”
In conclusion, the organization’s secretary, Rav Eliyahu Malka summed up by saying if a rabbi is in trouble, fighting for salary or pension rights, “we will come to his aid by providing logistical and legal assistance…”
Rav Malka stressed the rabbonim are civil servants and as such, must stand up for their rights and receive treatment commensurate with their positions, as do other civil servants.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)