'Shas party dictated who would be the city's rabbi'

Tiberias residents say Shas party forced Shas rabbi on them, promise to remain loyal to beloved yet unofficial city rabbi.

Benny Tucker ,

Gathering in support of Rabbi Shlomo Didi
Gathering in support of Rabbi Shlomo Didi
Rafael Tarblasi

Earlier this week, after several months of arguments, Rabbi Moshe Bochbot was chosen as Tiberias' chief rabbi. Running against Rabbi Bochbot was Rabbi Yitzhak Shlush, the son-in-law of the city's former chief rabbi.

A senior rabbi who was disqualified is Rabbi Shlomo Didi. Rabbi Didi served as the city's unofficial rabbi over the past several years, replacing Rabbi David Peretz, who died last year. However, Rabbi Didi's candidacy was rejected by the election committee.

Tiberias City Council Member Rafael Tarblasi said he hopes the Supreme Court will order the city to hold new elections.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Tarblasi said the election process was not handled properly, and there was significant pressure from Shas to choose their preferred candidate.

"The city's residents wanted Rabbi Shlomo Didi, since he is a rabbi from Tiberias and served as the Jordan Valley's chief rabbi and Tiberias' unofficial rabbi for the past several years," Tarblasi said.

"The Shas party's politics prevented Rabbi Didi from winning the elections, even though he is the city's choice. Unfortunately, it was decided that his certificates are not good enough and they were not approved by the Chief Rabbinate. This, despite the fact that we have a legal opinion that his certificates are excellent, and despite the fact that he serves as the official rabbi in a city in the Jordan Valley. And yet they disqualified him in order to push the Shas candidate forward."

Tarblasi also spoke about the residents' protest of Rabbi Bochbot's appointment.

"Two weeks ago, we submitted an appeal to the Supreme Court," he explained. "The election committee was political and intended to push a certain agenda, despite the fact that the residents did not agree. Last Saturday night, thousands of people protested, insisting Rabbi Didi be appointed as the city's rabbi. Unfortunately, our mayor gave in to political pressure. It didn't help that our Interior Minister, Aryeh Deri, is himself a Shas politician. The Shas party dictated the results of this election."

"Tiberias' residents posted on social media that they don't want to rely on the city rabbinate's kashrut (kosher) certification anymore, and they'll request certification from the Jordan Valley. This whole issue severely harms the rabbinate.

"From our perspective, Rabbi Shlomo Didi doesn't need titles and honor - he's the rabbi, and we see him as the city's rabbi, and that's how it's going to continue. If he hadn't been disqualified, everyone in the city would have voted for him."