Rabbi Riskin: We Need A Plural Chief Rabbinate

Chief Rabbi of Efrat puzzles over dismissal rumors, notes that Rabbinate is important - but must address non-haredi communities.

Tova Dvorin ,

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin
Chaim Snow

Chief Rabbi of Efrat Rabbi Shlomo Riskin spoke for the first time publicly Tuesday morning about reports that he will be deposed, stating to Army Radio his disbelief that he would be relieved of his post for his views on conversion and other issues. 

"I do not want to believe that because of the conversion issue, which is a very important issue today in Israel, they want to terminate my service the rabbinate," Rabbi Riskin said. 

Rabbi Riskin said that he "respects" the Rabbinate, but notes that he believes that it should broaden its approach toward Jews. At the moment, the Rabbinate leans very heavily toward a strict haredi interpretation of Jewish law, as evidenced by Monday's refusal to change the wording on the Temple Mount sign. 

"I do not do anything outside the halakhic [Jewish law - ed.] consensus to open the gates of conversion," he noted. 

Rabbi Riskin said that he supports the existence of the Chief Rabbinate itself, despite differences of opinion over their views.

"I am in favor of the establishment and institution of the Chief Rabbinate," he clarified. "[But] I think it is also important that the Chief Rabbinate speaks to all the people of Israel and are willing to accept other halakhic opinions, not just haredi opinions." 

"I hope they (the Chief Rabbinate) get down off their high tree [a Hebrew phrase equivalent to 'come down from their high horse' - ed.]," he lamented. "I really do not understand them." 

The American-born Riskin has been Efrat's Chief Rabbi since the community in the Judean Mountains was founded in 1983.