(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Rabbinical supervision is often requested in the realm of kashrut, conversion, and other facets of Jewish life. But Chief Rabbi David Lau went one further on Monday, saying that the government of Israel could also do with some rabbinical supervision.
Speaking at a conference of the Israel Bar Association in Eilat, the chief rabbi suggested that a law be passed requiring the government to consult with the Chief Rabbinate on all proposed legislation that is placed before it for consideration for passage to the Knesset.
Lau was speaking in a joint panel with Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein, and Israel Police Insp.- Gen. Yohanan Danino, and made the suggestion to Shaked, in light of her chairmanship, as justice minister, of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.
The powerful committee deliberates on whether the government coalition will support legislation brought to the Knesset floor, and thus determines the likelihood of the specific legislation successfully passing into law.
The chairman of the committee controls the agenda and thus the likely fate of the majority of proposed legislation.
During the panel, Lau observed that “Israel is both a Jewish and democratic state, and these expressions do not contradict each other but combine together,” he said.
Addressing Shaked specifically, the chief rabbi called on her to pass a law stipulating that the Chief Rabbinate act as consultative body for the government, so that all proposed legislation deliberated upon by the government would require an official position statement from the Chief Rabbinate, as is required from relevant government ministries.
In this way the Chief Rabbinate would “present the stance of Judaism and the tradition regarding proposed legislation.”
Shaked did not directly respond to the proposal, but the Free Israel secularist movement objected vigorously to the idea.
“It is saddening to see that the Chief Rabbinate continues to act as a monopolistic and aggressive body that wants to coercively impose its world view on Israeli citizens,” said Mickey Gitzin, the director of Free Israel and a member of the Tel Aviv Municipal Council for Meretz.
“I am certain that the justice minister understands the absurdity of the proposal and will not approve the rabbi’s request.”