MK Bennett and Rabbi Druckman
MK Bennett and Rabbi Druckman Israel news photo: Flash 90

There have been signs of displeasure in some parts of the religious-Zionist world over Rabbi David Stav’s continuing candidacy in the race for Chief Rabbi of Israel. Some have hinted that Rabbi Stav should bow out of the race now that so many mainbstream rabbinic community leaders have agreed on Rabbi Yaakov Ariel as the favored candidate.

The hints became explicit urging Sunday with the publication of an appeal to Rabbi Stav to leave the race. The appeal was signed by many well-known rabbis.

The rabbis met Saturday night in the home of Rabbi Chaim Druckman, venerable head of Or Etzion hesder yeshiva, former NRP MK and head of the hesder yeshiva network as well as the Conversion Authority, who has led the initiative to get Rabbi Yaakov Ariel into the race.

Those who signed the appeal fear that if Rabbi Stav remains in the race, it will mean that Rabbi Ariel cannot submit his candidacy. Rabbi Ariel will be allowed to run only if the government passes a law increasing the maximum age for candidacy, which currently stands at 70.

They fear that Rabbi Stav’s candidacy will mean the government will not see a need to open the race to Rabbi Ariel, and so will reject the proposed change to the law.

The rabbis also issued a call to Minister of Industry and Trade Naftali Bennett, head of the Bayit Yehudi party, which took the place of the National Religious Party (NRP) to support the proposed law and work for its passing.

Among the rabbis who signed were central Torah leaders of religious Zionism: Rabbi Eliezer Igra, Rabbi Hananel Etrog, Rabbi Elchanan Ben-Nun, Rabbi Micha Halevy, Rabbi Shimon Cohen, Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, Rabbi Yehuda Amichai, Rabbi Moshe Klein, Rabbi Yigal Kaminetzky, Rabbi Yehosha Shapira, and Rabbi Yaakov Shapira.

Rabbinic Court Judge Rabbi Eliezer Igra and Rabbi Yaakov Shapira, head of the religious Zionsit flagship Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva, have each withdrawn their candidacy in order to support Rabbi Ariel.