Rabbi Druckman
Rabbi Druckman Screenshot

The Chief Rabbinate “has no right to use its power to extend community rabbis' contracts for purposes other than extending those contracts,” said Rabbi Haim Druckman, a long time advocate for easing the conversion process and a senior Religious Zionist rabbinical leader. “The only thing they need to decide in the case of Rabbi Riskin is whether or not he is capable of doing his job, despite the fact that he has passed the general retirement age of 75.”

Rabbi Druckman made the comments to Arutz Sheva in wake of the possibility that the Rabbinate would not renew Rabbi Riskin's contract. The Rabbinate has been under heavy pressure not to renew the contract, apparently due to Rabbi Riskin's stance on conversion, and his apparent plan to establish a court for conversion together with other local community rabbis. Speaking to Arutz Sheva earlier, Rabbi Riskin said that solving the conversion issue was a key matter for Israeli society. “There are half a million Jews here, who were borne of Jewish mothers,” he said. “We could easily set up courts to convert them properly. Those courts could and should be more accepting, but they would operate properly under Jewish law.”

Speaking Wednesday, a Rabbinate source said that heavy pressure had been placed on the organization not to renew the contract. Declining to name the source of the tension, the source said that “the harsh and bullying language being used on this matter against the Rabbinate, the Chief Rabbis, and rabbis in communities, are a very serious matter. This is not the way of our Torah,” the source said. Regarding the renewal of Rabbi Riskin's position, the source said that the Rabbinate intends to follow procedure. “We are not a 'rubber stamp' and we do not automatically extend the term of a local rabbi,” the source said.

Rabbi Druckman said he hoped the Rabbinate would act properly on the matter, “otherwise they will damage they will hurt the way people see them. They do not have to agree with Rabbi Riskin on everything, but to prevent him from maintaining his post because of an ostensibly procedural matter regarding age is ridiculous and unacceptable.”