Crucial step taken in appointments process for Supreme Rabbinical Court

There are currently seven empty seats on the Supreme Rabbinical Court which has a massive backlog of cases due to the death of rabbinical judges on the court.

October 28, 2015 11:20
2 minute read.
Tel Aviv rabinate

Tel Aviv rabinate David Hamelech Boulevard. (photo credit: ORI~/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)


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A significant breakthrough in the process to appoint new rabbinical judges to the Supreme Rabbinical Court has been made in recent days, with the appointment of Rabbi Uriel Lavie to be the head of the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court.

Lavie, formerly the head of the Safed rabbinical court, was appointed by Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef to the position last week, despite the deep aversion of the haredi rabbinical leadership to Lavie owing to a groundbreaking but controversial ruling he made last year releasing a woman from her marriage to her husband who had been in a coma for seven years.

The Rabbinical Judges Appointments Committee convened in September and appointed 22 new rabbinical judges to the 12 regional rabbinical courts, but held no discussions on appointments to the Supreme Rabbinical Court to which no permanent appointees have been made in several years.

There are currently seven empty seats on the Supreme Rabbinical Court which has a massive backlog of cases due to the dearth of rabbinical judges on the court, although temporary appointments have helped ease this burden.

Lavie was strongly backed by liberal and national-religious members of the ten man Rabbinical Judges Appointments Committee to be appointed to the Supreme Rabbinical Court, and a bloc of four women on the committee were threatening to veto any appointments if Lavie was not appointed to the Supreme Rabbinical Court.

The haredi rabbinic leadership and the haredi members of the appointments committee were however totally opposed to the appointment of Lavie to the Supreme Rabbinical Court.

It appears that Yosef appointed Lavie as head of the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court, a prestigious and influential posting in its own right, in order to prevent a war over appointing him to the Supreme Rabbinical Court which would have stymied all other appointments to that court.

Rabbi Shimon Yaakobi, director of the Rabbinical Courts Administration confirmed to The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday morning that Lavie had indeed been appointed to head the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court.

He added that the Rabbinical Judges Appointments Committee is now likely to convene by the end of November in order to deliberate on, and possibly appoint, candidates for the Supreme Rabbinical Court.

Dr. Rachel Levmore, a rabbinical courts advocate and a member of the appointments committee, was highly critical of the situation in which Lavie was ruled out of consideration for the Supreme Rabbinical Court by the haredi members.

“Rabbi Uriel Lavie was originally a front runner for the appointment to the High Rabbinical Court due to recognition of his talent in the utilization of his breadth of Torah knowledge in a creative manner to resolve difficult cases of get-refusal and classic agunot,” she told the Post.

“The inability of the haredi world to come to terms with the need to confront today's reality, as Rabbi Lavie does, brought forth the use of political power to wage a battle against his appointment.

“It is unfortunate for the citizens of Israel - and indeed world Jewry - that a rabbinical judge with proven potential to return the path of halachic (Jewish law) rulings to their original humane approach, was transformed into a pawn of political maneuvering by the ultra-Orthodox parties in a position of power and thus shunted aside.”

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