The religious-Zionist camp’s candidate for the important position of Jerusalem’s Chief Ashkenazic Rabbi will be chosen from a field of seven right after Rosh Chodesh Av, in the course of the “Nine Days” that end on Tisha B’Av.

The candidate will be selected by a special committee that has been in charge of the matter for some time, under the leadership and guidance of Rabbis Chaim Druckman, Yaakov Ariel and Aharon Lichtenstein.

The committee was formed after Deputy Jerusalem Mayor David Hadari, the religious-Zionist representative in the municipality, warned that if there is more than one Zionist candidate running for Chief Ashkenazic Jerusalem Rabbi, the near-certain result will be that none of them will be selected.

Mayor Nir Barkat supported Hadari and promised that he would assist in selecting a Zionist Chief Rabbi for the city in accordance with the decision by the committee of rabbis.

The committee of Zionist rabbis put together a long list of candidates and then narrowed them down to seven. These have all committed themselves not to run for the position independently if the committee does not select them.

The candidates are:

  • Rabbi Eitan Eisenman, Rabbi of Kehillat Yisrael HaTzair at Kiryat Moshe and Head of Educational Networks Tzviya and Noam.
  • Rabbi Yosef Carmel, Head of the Eretz Chemda Institute.
  • Rabbi David Levanon, Rabbi of Kehillat Noam at Givat Shaul and Av Beit Din (Head of a Rabbinical Court) in Jerusalem.
  • Rabbi Yeshaya Steinberger, Rabbi of Ramat Sharet neighborhood and Rabbi/Educator at Yeshivat HaKotel.
  • Rabbi Nachum Nerya, formerly Rabbi/Educator at Yeshivat HaKotel.
  • Rabbi Isser Klonsky, Rabbi of Givat Mordechai Neighborhood.
  • Rabbi Aryeh Stern, Head of Halacha Berura Institute.

Next week, the committee of religious-Zionist rabbis will convene 60 rabbis from all streams of the religious-Zionist world to meet with the candidates. These rabbis will serve as electors and participate in a secret ballot vote that will decide the candidate.

The names of the 60 electors will remain secret for as long as possible, in order to prevent undue pressure on them.

Hadari said that all seven candidates are worthy ones. He opined that the appointment of a Zionist rabbi is an important one for both Jerusalem’s religious Zionist and secular Zionist residents because the position directly affects their lives in matters such as marriage registration, mikvehs and more. The hareidi population does not trust the Rabbinate anyways, he said, and has its own independent rabbinical authorities.

Mayor Barkat said that “a Chief Rabbi from the Zionist stream is a must in a city in which 70 percent of the Jewish population is not hareidi and has unique needs of its own.”

Deal with Shas?

The two posts of Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem – one Ashkenazic and one Sephardic – have been empty since 2003, after the two last rabbis, rabbi Shalom Mashash and Rabbi Yitzchak Kulitz, passed away.

There are reports that Barkat has sealed a deal with Shas according to which he will support their candidate for Chief Sephardic Rabbi, Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef – the son of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef – and Shas will support a religious-Zionist for the Ashkenazic post.