Proposal: Chief Rabbis Can Continue for a Second Term

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It appears that some officials in the Chief Rabbinate of Israel are testing the waters, speaking with lawmakers to elicit their response to the idea of permitting the chief rabbis of Israel to serve a second term. To date, this was not the case.

Officials are holding discreet meetings with chareidi, dati leumi and non-frum MKs, seeking to probe the possibility of moving ahead with such a proposal. If such a move is approved, it would permit one or both of the current chief rabbis to continue in his post for an additional term of 5 or 10 years. At present, the chief rabbis serve one ten-year term.

At that time, when Rabbi Shlomo Goren zt”l and Maran HaRav Ovadia Yosef Shlita were serving; the law was amended to extend the term from 5 to 10 years, where it remains today. The law however does not permit a second term.

An attempt to extend their terms failed, and Rabbi Avraham Kahane Shapira zt”l and Maran HaRav Mordechai Eliyahu Shlita were elected in their places. The now-defunct National Religious Party tired to amend the law, wishing to permit Rav Shapira to remain in office, but Shas, which was in a position of power, prevented the move, the weekly BaKehilla reports.

Today, officials in the Chief Rabbinate feel the climate has changed and the HaBayit HaYehudi Party (the former NRP) and Shas are possibly more inclined to support such an amendment to the law. It appears Shas would be quite pleased to have HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Moshe Amar Shlita continue, while the dati leumi camp may prefer another term for HaGaon HaRav Yonah Metzger Shlita rather than risk a more chareidi-aligned ashkenazi chief rabbi.

Another possibility being weighed is permitting Rav Amar to continue serving as av beis din over the Supreme Rabbinical Court, until age 75, as with other civil servants, and only a new ashkenazi chief rabbi would be selected. Such a proposal may enjoy the support of Yisrael Beitenu and other like-minded parties since Rav Amar seems sympathetic or closer to Yisrael Beitenu’s view regarding giyur. Just recently, Rav Amar announced that dayanim are no longer permitted to address questions of giyur and if the need for such a situation arises, it may only be done by a special beis din arranged by his office. The Rav was relating to recent cases in which state-authorized giyur was questioned and even invalidated.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)