Rabbis Lau and Yosef
Rabbis Lau and YosefFlash 90

The elections of two hareidi-religious rabbis as the new Chief Rabbis of Israel reflects a deep split within religious-Zionist society, reports Sarah Eliash, who sat on the 150-member board that elected the rabbis.

It was not only hareidi-religious board members who supported hareidi candidates over religious-Zionist candidates, she explained in an interview with Arutz Sheva. “Our people crossed [party] lines,” she said.

“There are those who didn’t vote for religious-Zionist parties in the elections, either,” she noted.

There was particular opposition to Rabbi David Stav, she said. “They accused him of all that’s wrong with the world,” she said in frustration.

Prior to the elections some rabbis called for Rabbi Stav to drop out of the race in order to add pressure on the government to allow Rabbi Yaakov Ariel to run, despite him being over the age limit of 70.

According to Eliash, that would not have helped. “I definitely think Rabbi Druckman recognized how problematic it was and wanted to unify the camp [by running Rabbi Ariel], but it was clear that if they ran Rabbi Ariel, then Rabbi Lau the father would have run, and he would have won,” she explained.

The results of the elections should lead to serious thought, she warned. “The religious-Zionist community was divided from within. That raises questions about our ability to keep working together,” she said.

“Our inability to put forth a candidate who would be accepted by the entire community reveals a deep rift within us. I hope that the Bayit Yehudi, which is just starting out, will learn from what happened and will work together,” she continued.

“If not,” she warned, “we will continue to lose.”