Daily Israel Report

Bennett: Next Time, One Chief Rabbi

Wednesday may be the last time Israel gets two new Chief Rabbis, Religious Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett said.
By David Lev
First Publish: 7/24/2013, 1:13 AM

Chief Rabbis Metzger and Amar
Chief Rabbis Metzger and Amar
Flash 90

On the eve of Wednesday's elections for the offices of Ashkenazic and Sephardic Chief Rabbis, Religious Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett, along with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, expressed frustration with the conduct of the election and process in the election. Next time, both say, they intend to ensure that the process runs more smoothly next time – and one way to do that is to elect just one Chief Rabbi for all Israelis.

One reason there are two Chief Rabbis is due to the law that states that one of the Chief Rabbis also function as the head of the High Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem, the supreme Beit Din of the State of Israel. Currently, the head of that court is outgoing Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar. Bennett and Livni intend to change the law to divorce the connection between the two offices, so that only one Chief Rabbi will be needed.

Traditionally, the two Chief Rabbis have shared the position of Rabbinical Court head, switching in the middle of their terms. Rabbi Amar, however, was chairman of the Court throughout his term, as Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger did not wish to take on the job.

In preparation for the changes in the law, Bennett wrote in a joint letter with Livni Tuesday that the two would work to reduce the responsibilities of the Chief Rabbis already in the upcoming term, which will begin after the winners of Wednesday's elections are announced. They did not specify which responsibilities would be cut.