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
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.
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.