Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, who was elected Wednesday to the position of Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi, promised to be "the chief rabbi of everyone."
Speaking at a press conference in the home of his father, Shas's spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Rabbi Yitzhak promised that he would continue in his father's footsteps.
"I will not stray from the path of the Torah,” he promised, then recited the Shehecheyanu blessing.
Following the press conference, Rabbi Yitzhak went to pray at the Western Wall, accompanied by his close associates and other activists.
Also in Wednesday’s election for the Chief Rabbinate, Rabbi David Lau was elected Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi. He too has pledged to be everybody’s rabbi, telling Arutz Sheva would seek to create in Israel a society that will cherish Judaism and whose members will know to respect one another.
Shas leader MK Aryeh Deri reacted to the results of the election and said on Wednesday evening, "The Chief Rabbinate has experienced many jolts, but we were blessed to have elected two rabbis who received the backing of all the great men of Israel, who understood that this role requires rabbis who will gain the public’s confidence in this valuable institution.”
"The Chief Rabbinate should be a magnet for the general public,” said Deri. “The election of Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, a moderate man, a genius in Torah and a pleasant man, alongside Rabbi David Lau who is a descendant of a dynasty of great rabbis, will undoubtedly answer this need.”
The results of Wednesday’s election are viewed as a victory for the hareidi-religious stream.
The two victorious candidates had reached a deal, according to which the supporters of each would vote for the other. Candidates from the religious Zionist stream failed in both the Ashkenazi and Sephardic races.
Deputy Religions Minister, Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan (Bayit Yehudi), voiced his disappointment with the failure of religious Zionist candidates to be elected to the posts of chief rabbis.
"As a member of the Bayit Yehudi I am certainly disappointed that we failed in the mission to at least have one rabbi from the religious Zionist camp elected,” he said. “We put in the maximal effort possible but regrettably, it failed.”
The rabbi added that he hopes the secular public will not “give a kick to the institution of the Rabbinate” out of disappointment with the hareidi candidates elected. “They need to understand that the importance of the institution of the Rabbinate is much more important than the chief rabbis.”