Long fight between Ministry of Religious Services and chief rabbinate due to end

The ministry is currently controlled by Bayit Yehudi and run by Deputy Minister Eli Ben-Dahan.

October 7, 2014 17:56
2 minute read.
Eli Ben-Dahan

Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

A long-running battle between the Religious Services Ministry and the Chief Rabbinate over who will fill the position of rabbinate director is set to come to an end soon, following a cabinet decision that imposed a deadline for hopefuls to submit their candidacy.

The director of the Chief Rabbinate, which is a professional office, holds significant influence and plays a major role in running what is essentially a large government bureaucracy, as well as having leverage in the body’s internal politics and its relationship with the Religious Services Ministry.

Oded Weiner, the rabbinate’s most recent director, left in May, but the ministry and the two chief rabbis could not agree on the composition of the five-member selection committee that would determine his replacement. Each side claimed the other was seeking to skew the panel in order to install an ally.

The ministry is currently controlled by Bayit Yehudi and run by Deputy Minister Eli Ben-Dahan.

As The Jerusalem Post reported earlier this year, the dispute became rancorous. At one point, the chief rabbis wrote to the prime minister and asked him to change the position from one requiring an appointments committee to one open to political appointment, in order to circumvent the ministry.

However, the request was not approved, and since Weiner’s departure, the position has been temporarily filled by Elhanan Glatt, who also serves as the permanent director of the Religious Services Ministry.

On Tuesday, it was announced that the cabinet had imposed a deadline for final submission of candidacy by November 16, and it is understood that both sides have now agreed to nominate their respective delegates to the selection committee.

According to the agreement, Glatt – or his representative – will chair the panel. The additional four members will include a civil service representative; a public delegate chosen by Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau; a public delegate or senior civil service employee who is not from the Religious Services Ministry, to be appointed by the ministry’s director in consultation with Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef; and a public delegate or senior civil service employee, also not from the ministry, whom the head of the civil service will select in consultation with the two chief rabbis.

At least two of the five committee members will be women.

One leading candidate whom Ben-Dahan favors is believed to be attorney Tomer Moskowitz, the director of the Mishab construction company.

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