MK Moshe Gafni 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Treasury has agreed to a dramatic increase in the salaries of new city rabbis, a senior Finance Ministry official announced Monday during a meeting of the Knesset’s Finance Committee.
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“There are huge gaps between the wages of veteran [city] rabbis and new ones, who earn NIS 6,000. They are not allowed to have additional jobs, and their income must be respectable, while at the same time setting a public example,” Treasury Wage Chief Ilan Levin told members of the committee headed by MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism).
“A new city rabbi will earn approximately 80 percent of what the city’s director general’s salary is,” Levin said.
He added that his ministry will within two weeks present the formula
that would enable the allocation of NIS 2.2 million to that end. Gafni,
who initiated the talks on the topic, asked to ensure that the money
would not come at the expense of other religious services.
Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi (Shas) thanked Gafni for
raising the awareness on the issue. “Following the previous meeting on
the salaries, we met with treasury officials and reached the
understanding that the current situation makes no sense and cannot
continue, and found ways to agreements on how to change things,” Margi
Others were less enthusiastic about the recent development.
MK Haim Amsalem (Shas) said the salary raise is “a small and
insignificant step among the measures needed to improve the status of
city rabbis in Israel.” The renegade lawmaker, who recently announced
the formation of his Am Shalem (Unified People) party, and himself an
ordained rabbi who headed a Sephardi synagogue in Geneva, said
“significant reforms” were needed for rabbis, “beginning with their
appointment processes, which have become increasingly humiliating, ugly
and political, and reaching their roles and authorities.
“A rabbi, serving his community and providing its services, is surely
worthy of an appropriate and respectable salary, as do other public
servants, especially the striking doctors to whom we owe our lives,”
MK Nitzan Horovitz (Meretz) said that “bumping up the rabbis’ wages by hundreds of percent is a robbery of public funds.
“There is no justification, nor can there be, that the rabbi of a tiny
community of 2,500 residents will earn tens of thousands of shekels –
more than the locale’s director general,” Horovitz said.
“Once again it is apparent why the haredi parties insist on holding the
Finance Committee – the funding pipe for a corrupt establishment.”
He added, “The only solution is separating religion from politics.”
The liberal modern Orthodox Ne’emanei Torah Ve’avoda noted that the
question of appointing city rabbis is currently on the table, as part of
a petition to the High Court of Justice, which the movement recently
filed. Rabbis’ salaries is part of the issue.
“It’s interesting to point out that the [new] rabbis at hand are those
appointed after 2006, the very same year Shas received the Religious
Services Ministry and began appointing its people as city rabbis,” they
said in a statement.
“Comparing their salaries to that of the director-general of the local
authority is inappropriate, since a director general is a temporary
appointment, while a city rabbi is a lifelong term.”
The statement said city rabbi appointments are currently frozen, since
it has yet to be decided how to define the nature of the position, and
“it is therefore strange that at this stage it has been decided to
increase their salaries.”
Rabbi Gilad Kariv, head of the Reform Movement in Israel, said, “The
only shameful thing about the city rabbis’ wages is the agreement
between the treasury and Gafni, who is exploiting his position as head
of the Finance Committee for sectorial accomplishments, and continuing
to take money from public funds.”
He said it is positive, however, to see a “renewed awakening of the
broad Israeli public against the conduct of the haredi parties, and
against the rulership and corruption typical of the Israeli rabbinic