The ongoing feud between Deputy Religious Services Minister Eli Ben-Dahan and the two chief rabbis over the position of director of the Chief Rabbinate has resulted in the temporary appointment to the position of Elhanan Glat, the current director of the Religious Services Ministry.
Glat will serve for a three-month period, after which his term could be extended if a permanent appointment is not made. He will continue to serve as ministry director.
The dispute over the position has been carrying on for close to a year, with the ministry seeking to retain influence in the inner workings of the Chief Rabbinate and the chief rabbis attempting to resist it.
The director of the Chief Rabbinate is a professional appointment made by a selection committee comprised of representatives of the relevant government agencies and the Chief Rabbinate.
As reported last month by The Jerusalem Post, chief rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef wrote to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in January in an attempt to turn the position into a political appointment, so as to circumvent the need for an appointments committee.
The chief rabbis argued at the time, and still insist, that the committee composition is unfairly weighted against them and will lead to the effective imposition of a director on the Chief Rabbinate.
The position of director carries significant influence and plays a major role in running a large government bureaucracy.
In the case of Chief Rabbinate, the director has leverage with regard to the internal politics of the body and its relationship with the Religious Services Ministry.
The installation of Glat, who is close to Ben-Dahan, is an unwelcome development for the Chief Rabbinate, but it is unclear how effectively he will be able to operate as temporary director.
In order to resolve the larger impasse, Ben-Dahan recently proposed that the five-member selection committee be composed of: the ministry director, Glat, who will be the committee chairman; the head of the Civil Service; a representative chosen by Chief Rabbi Lau; a representative chosen by Glat in consultation with Chief Rabbi Yosef; and a representative to be appointed by the head of the Civil Service in consultation with Glat.
However, sources in the Chief Rabbinate told the Post that the new proposal is the same as the last, and that the member to be chosen by Glat in consultation with Yosef would effectively be a selection by Glat himself, since Yosef would not have a veto over the selection.
The source said that this would give the ministry undue influence over the selection committee, and that since the chief rabbis have to work in close contact with the director every day, it was important that they have greater say on the appointment.