The national-religious group Tzohar announced on Thursday that Yisrael Beytenu would be supporting the organization’s chairman, Rabbi David Stav, in the upcoming election for Ashkenazi chief rabbi.

In a statement to the press, Yisrael Beytenu MK Faina Kirshenbaum declared that “through responsibility for the future of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, through the belief that the Chief Rabbinate is an important institution in safeguarding the Jewish identity of the state, and through a desire to see the Chief Rabbinate as a body that serves Israeli citizens in religious and Jewish matters, we will work toward the election of Rabbi David Stav as Israel’s chief rabbi.”

The 10-year terms of current chief rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar are due to expire later this year, and elections to fill the posts are slated for June.

There are several other possible candidates for the position of Ashkenazi chief rabbi, including two other national-religious rabbis – Eliezer Igra, a rabbinical judge on the Supreme Rabbinical Court, and Ya’acov Shapira, dean of the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva.

Respected haredi (ultra- Orthodox) figure Rabbi Yitzhak David Grossman has also been named as a possible candidate, as has Modi’in Chief Rabbi David Lau.

A 150-member panel consisting of municipal chief rabbis, mayors and politicians is tasked with electing the chief rabbis through a secret ballot.

Political support is vital because of the politicized nature of the election.

Whichever party takes control of the Religious Services Ministry in the next government will have a strong influence on the outcome of the vote, since the religious services minister appoints 20 members of the selection committee.

Bayit Yehudi has set up an internal committee to decide which national-religious candidate the party will be backing, although it is not expected to make a decision until after the formation of a new government.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger