Arye Deri at the President's residence 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The Shas party and its chairman Arye Deri appear to be increasingly concerned
with the candidacy for Sephardi chief rabbi of Rabbi Tzion Boaron, a rabbinical
judge on the Supreme Rabbinical Court for over 30 years.
have been circulated directly to reporters in the past few days about Boaron,
seemingly disseminated by sources close to the Shas leadership, suggesting that
the rabbi intends to quit the race for various reasons.
But on Tuesday,
Boaron released an audio recording in which he declares directly that he will be
not be withdrawing his candidacy under any circumstances.
highly respected as an authority in Jewish law and commands substantial support
within the 150-member electoral committee that selects the chief
It appears that the extent of Boaron’s support is deeply worrying
Deri and the Shas leadership, which is now doing its utmost to get Boaron to
A source connected with the upcoming elections for the Chief
Rabbinate said that the attempts to spread rumors about Boaron indicated that
Shas chairman Deri and the party leadership were beginning to panic over the
chances of a candidate endorsed by Shas to be elected to the position of
Sephardi chief rabbi, in the face of Boaron’s candidacy.
It is believed
that Deri is backing either Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, son of Shas spiritual leader
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, or his own brother – Rabbi Yehuda Deri, who is chief rabbi
Boaron is backed by current Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo
Amar, who was prevented from running for reelection when Shas withdrew its
support for legislation allowing a serving chief rabbi to stand for a second
Accusations have been made by numerous sources blaming Deri for
pulling Shas’s support for the bill.
On Tuesday, haredi journalist Moshe
Glasner claimed during an interview on ultra-Orthodox radio station Radio Kol
Hai that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef had asked Amar to instruct Boaron to withdraw his
candidacy, and that Amar had said he would “use his influence” only if Yehuda
Deri withdraws his candidacy.
Although not responding directly to the
report, Boaron said – in a recording of a statement made on Tuesday and released
by his office – that he would be standing for Sephardi chief rabbi no matter
“If anyone hears anything else, like that I have any intention of
standing down, or my candidacy is a form of protest, such claims have no
foundation,” said Boaron.
“I am giving my clear opinion, and no one else
can speak in my name on such matters,” he added.
Last week, reporters
were provided with a separate rumor, again seemingly originating from sources
close to the Shas leadership, that Boaron would quit in return for being
appointed to a government office of one kind or another, while on Monday
reporters also were provided with another rumor claiming that Boaron had agreed
to some kind of deal for mutual support with Rabbi David Stav, a candidate for
Ashkenazi chief rabbi.
Stav is widely loathed by the haredi rabbinical
and political leadership, so associating Boaron with the Ashkenazi chief rabbi
candidate could potentially damage Boaron’s support among haredi members of the
In response to the rumors provided to religious affairs
reporters, Boaron’s office issued a statement to the press saying, “This
evening, interested parties began to brief media outlets about a supposed deal
between the staff of Rabbi Boaron and the staff of Rabbi Stav.
report is as reliable as the attempt to sell you the spin last week on [Rabbi
Boaron’s] possible withdrawal from the race in order to receive some job. We are
saying in the clearest manner that there is no deal and that the staff is
focused on working with the members of the electoral committee.”