Mayor Barkat at the Kotel
Mayor Barkat at the KotelIsrael news photo: (file)

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat told the Supreme Court on Wednesday he suports a lawsuit filed by the Ne'emanei Torah Va'Avodah movement against a committee that selects rabbis in Jerusalem, charging that it is biased in favor of the hareidi-religious.

Barkat said that hareidi-religious rabbis have been given too much power within the city rabbinate and that the time has come to turn more positions over to religious-Zionist rabbis.

To support his argument, Barkat brought demographic data from recent Jerusalem surveys. Roughly one-third of Jerusalem's Jewish population identifies as hareidi-religious, he said, while two-thirds identify as secular, traditionally observant, or religious-Zionist.

Therefore, he argued, hareidi-religious rabbis should account for no more than 40 percent of those with the power to vote for the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem. The fact that 60 percent of the rabbis charged with voting in a new Chief Rabbi are currently members of the hareidi-religious community is proof that the current situation is unjust, he argued.

Barkat argued that religious-Zionist rabbis would be more qualified than hareidi-religious rabbis to express the will of the secular public, which also is largely Zionist.

The lack of proper representation of Zionist rabbis is a violation of the spirit of the Rabbinate's regulations, Barkat said. He expressed concern that if the court did not interfere, the council might select a Chief Rabbi whose views do not reflect those of the general Jewish population of Jerusalem.