Barkat Threatens to Involve High Court in Rabbanut Election


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nb.jpgJerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat sent a sharply-worded letter to Minister of Religious Services (Shas) Yaakov Margi, partially due to a number of behind the scene changes made by Margi, undoing the actions of his predecessor as he continues working to set the stage towards HaRav HaGaon Yitzchak Yosef serving as Jerusalem’s next sephardi chief rabbi.

The mayor is angry after the “Vaad of Five” met for a sixth time, but the representation of the voting body for the city’s chief rabbis still does not reflect demographic realities, with the mayor explaining the chareidim in the capital represent one-third of the population, while the dati leumi and secularists represent the two-thirds majority, and he insists the voting body reflect the same representation. The mayor remains committed to working towards electing a dati leumi chief rabbi as per his pre-election agreement with dati leumi supporters, who assisted his mayoral bid against R’ Meir Porush.

The behind the scenes deal according to the report focus on Shas efforts to have HaRav HaGaon Yitzchak Yosef appointed as the chief sephardi rabbi of the capital, and in return, Shas is going to support a dati leumi candidate for the ashkenazi chief rabbi post, Rabbi Yosef Carmel. A report appearing in the weekend BaKehilla, affiliated with Belz, states officials in the mayor’s office are willing to close the deal, thereby fulfilling Barkat’s commitment to the dati leumi community. The mayor would like nothing better than to be done with the city’s chief rabbinate election.

Seeking to disqualify chareidi candidates from the post, the dati leumi community set forth its qualifications; someone who completed army service, who is involved in Zionist mosdot; and one who recites Hallel on Yom HaAtzma’ut.

Truthfully, the dati leumi camp remains divided, with Zevulun Orlev pushing for Rav Zafrani, who is extremely close with Rishon L’Tzion HaRav Mordechai Eliyahu Shlita. Other names considered include the Chief Rabbi of Givat Mordechai Rabbi Klonsky, Rav Aryeh Stern, who is affiliated with Merkaz HaRav, and Rav Yosef Carmel, Rosh Kollel Eretz Chemda. Of the names mentioned, only Rav Carmel fills the main criteria set forth by dati leumi community, and he enjoys widespread support.

On the flip side, what Shas is lacking is the stamp of approval from Maran HaGaon HaRav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv Shlita, who may be pushing for rabbonim of a different caliber as they are described by some, including Migdal Ha’emek Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman, Rav Yosef Efrati, or Rav Moshe Chaim Lau.

It appears that Shas has realized it cannot announce its support for an ashkenazi candidate without first hearing who Rav Elyashiv supports, but also states if the Rav’s candidate will not enjoy the support required on the committee, it will move with the dati leumi deal, against Rav Elyashiv, reminding those involved that Rav Elyashiv refused to support the candidacy of Holon Chief Rabbi HaGaon HaRav Avraham Yosef in his bid for a seat on the Chief Rabbinate Council.

This was because of Maran Rav Ovadia’s Shlita support for the heter mechira for the masses during shmitah year. Rav Elyashiv’s refusal to back the rav pushed Shas to work with the dati leumi camp and they both emerged the winners at the expense of the chareidi ashkenazi candidates.

If the situation in Jerusalem continues, Shas may once again move with the dati leumi camp at the expense of the chareidi ashkenazi community.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)


  1. Yerushalaim is NOT 2/3 dati leumi and secularists. It is 1/3 Chareidi, 1/3 dati leumi and secularists and 1/3 Arab. Since the Arabs are irrelevant to the issue of Chief Rabbi, the Chareidim are at least 1/2 of the Jewish population.

  2. As #1 says.

    And for children, 55% are chareidi.

    Besides, what do seculars need a Chief Rabbi for?! It’s the most illogical thing I ever heard.

  3. Why not, the Rabbanut is a government agency, which was created toserve the needs of the state, and to count the influence of the “rabbanim” (meaning the gedolim, recognized by the frum populations). The function of the state rabbinut is to control us, not to help us.