State Comptroller on Civil Service Rabbonim

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One of the chapters in the latest state comptroller’s report addresses civil service rabbonim, rabbis hired to serve as heads of neighborhoods. The comptroller cites that in too many cases, rabbonim are not required to give an accounting for their time and actions or inactions, and some hold additional jobs, part time and full time. There are over 200 rabbis serving in various neighborhoods around the country, under the office of the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

According to the director-general of the ministry, Avigdor Ochana, the ministry has already begun addressing this matter, even before the report, redefining operational regulations and responsibilities, agreeing with the findings of the report. “There are things that must be corrected” he added, citing the historic collective agreement signed between the rabbis and the Histadrut Labor Federation in the 1980s is no longer suited for today’s realities in which people want more of a reckoning for one’s time and activities. This must be revamped but it must be done in cooperation with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. The draft has already been prepared and forwarded to the Chief Rabbinate, and the ministry is awaiting feedback.

Ochana adds that it is simply unacceptable for these rabbonim to hold down additional jobs, citing an example such as a mashgiach for a private kashrus entity. This he explains must and will come to an end and rabbonim unwilling to accept the new policy guidelines will have the option of stepping down and clearing the way for someone else to fill their slot.

That said, he added the overwhelming number of neighborhood rabbonim are indeed committed and do their jobs with total dedication.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)