Rabbi Yaakov Ariel may be named as a new candidate for the post of chief rabbi in an attempt to reach religious-Zionist consensus, Yisrael Hayom reports. Rabbi Chaim Druckman is reportedly behind the plan to nominate Rabbi Ariel.
Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, is the chief rabbi of the city of Ramat Gan. In order for him to be eligible as a candidate the current law would need to be changed to allow candidates over the age of 70. Rabbi Ariel is 75 years old and lost the previous election when he ran for the position against Rabbi Yonah Metzger.
Three religious-Zionist rabbis are currently in the race: Rabbi David Stav of Tzohar Organization, Rabbi Yaakov Shapira dean of Merkaz Harav Yeshiva and Rabbinical Court Judge Rabbi Eliezer Igra.
Rabbi Druckman reportedly fears that since there is no general agreement to support one of the three over the others, split support will mean the post goes to the hareidi-religious candidate.
The three current religious-Zionist candidates have reported been informed of the search for a fourth nominee.
Rabbi Druckman has been holding meetings with several leading religious and political figures, including Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Deputy Minister of Religious Services Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, and aides to Economic Minister Naftali Bennett.
Ben-Dahan was quoted as saying, “A single, agreed-upon religious-Zionist candidate would increase the odds that for the first time in years a religious-Zionist chief rabbi would be chosen. We are working on it.”
Rabbi Ben-Dahan belongs to the religious-Zionist Jewish Home (Bayit Yehudi) party, which has announced plans to shake up the rabbinate and other state religious institutions by bringing in more religious-Zionist staff and creating an atmosphere and approach that is more accessible to secular Jews and potential converts.