The Knesset on Monday voted to approve on its first reading a law that would unify the office of the Chief Rabbi. Instead of two Chief Rabbis, one to serve the Sephardic community and one for the Ashkenazic community, there would be a single Chief Rabbi for all.
Currently, one Chief Rabbi serves as the President of the Great Rabbinical Court, whereas the other serves as Vice President. The bill would have existing rabbinical judges (dayanim) from the Great Rabbinical Court appointed as President and Vice President, similarly to the way civilian Supreme Court judges are selected to head the Supreme Court.
The bill was proposed via the collaboration of two religiously and politically opposed ministers: Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) and Economics Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home).
The bill now goes back to the Knesset's InteriorCommitee for further discussion, and for preparation for its second and third reading. The bill is expected to pass into law easily.
The bill will have a lasting impact on world Jewry as well. Not only have the Ashkenazi and Sephardic communities effectively been combined in the legal sense in Israel -- a treaty signed by American and European Rabbis in November declared the Rabbinate the leading authority of the Jewish world. Therefore, its unification will affect all Jewish communities.