Allegations of ‘cronyism’ in Bayit Yehudi over rabbinical appointment process

Bayit Yehudi MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli is strongly lobbying for a candidate who is the brother of her parliamentary aide.

May 5, 2016 22:42
2 minute read.
The nine members of the Appointments Committee for Rabbinical Judges convenes in Jerusalem

The nine members of the Appointments Committee for Rabbinical Judges convenes in Jerusalem. (photo credit: COURTESY OFFICE OF MK REVITAL SWID)


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Sources in the rabbinical judges appointments committee have expressed concern that Bayit Yehudi MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli is strongly lobbying for a candidate who is the brother of her parliamentary aide.

The appointments process is badly encumbered by heavy politicking from United Torah Judaism, Shas and Bayit Yehudi, although it is the latter’s candidates for the regional rabbinical courts and the Supreme Rabbinical Court which are facing the most difficulties.

A four-member voting bloc comprised of liberal and national-religious committee members represents a plurality on the nine-member committee, which had initially committed to voting together.

External pressure now seems to be eroding the unity of this bloc.

Two sources close to the committee told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that Moalem-Refaeli has been lobbying for Rabbi Yaakov Sharabi, 41, an educator and teacher who has served as a yeshiva dean, and is a candidate for one of the four open seats on the 12 regional rabbinical courts, and whose brother is the MK’s senior aide.

A well-placed source within Bayit Yehudi also confirmed Moalem-Refaeli’s role in promoting Sharabi’s candidacy.

One source close to the appointments committee, who declined to be named, told the Post that unlike other candidates, Sharabi was not particularly well qualified, and has no record of scholarly writings on Jewish law, which other candidates have presented as part of their candidacy.

The criteria for rabbinical judges appointments specifically state that priority should be given to candidates who have published or written scholarly opinions on Jewish law in relevant publications, and also gives priority to those who have obtained a general education or served in the IDF, neither of which Sharabi has done.

He has served on a small, private rabbinical court for property in the Western Binyamin region of the West Bank where he lives, although many of the other candidates have also served on such courts.

“It appears that the Bayit Yehudi may be no better than the hareidi [ultra-Orthodox] parties in its manner of appointing rabbinical judges – choosing candidates out of cronyism or nepotism and not according to their qualifications,” said the source.

“The three leading liberal candidates for the regional court positions fulfill all the requirements listed in the Regulations for the Appointment of Rabbinical Judges, each in an outstanding manner, with other religious Zionist candidates lagging far behind.

“No other candidates fill all the qualifications as these three do. Each one earned an academic master’s degree with excellence, served in the IDF, speaks a foreign language, authored tens of halachic treatises and articles, has years of experience as a rabbinic judge in Conversion Court or resolving financial disputes and is literally beloved by Jews from all walks of life.”

The office of appointments committee member and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who is coordinating Bayit Yehudi’s position on rabbinical appointments, confirmed that Sharabi is under consideration as a candidate for the regional courts.

Moalem-Refaeli said in response: “It is a shame to find political elements from other parties which are trying to put thrust a wrench into the works, and torpedo the important work I and my colleagues in Bayit Yehudi are doing in order to appoint worthy rabbinical judges. Just as I worked towards the appointment of [the national-religious] Rabbi Eliezer Igra [appointed to the Supreme Rabbinical Court earlier this week], I hope that in short order I will succeed in bringing to the rabbinical courts sensitive and humane judges which will strengthen the current forces”

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