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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A group of religious Zionist rabbis chose Rabbi Aryeh Stern last week as their candidate to become the next chief rabbi of Jerusalem.
Stern, head of the Halacha Brura Institute, a teacher at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva and a rabbi in Jerusalem's Katamon neighborhood, was chosen from four candidates. He beat out Rabbi Yosef Carmel, head of Eretz Hemdah Institute, by a single vote.
"I would like to improve the religious services that Jerusalem's residents - both secular and religious - deserve to get," said Stern in a telephone interview Saturday night. "For too long now there are many neighborhoods in Jerusalem that lack rabbis who are involved with the public, who teach, answer questions and provide guidance. I would also like to improve the kashrut level."
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has said that he would personally support a "Zionist" rabbi to be the next chief Ashkenazi rabbi of Jerusalem. "Zionist," Barkat has said, means that the rabbi served in the IDF and is "open-minded."
Barkat has a deal with Shas that the son of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef will be chosen as the chief Sephardi rabbi of Jerusalem in exchange for Shas backing of a Zionist candidate.
Stern said that for the past 40 years he has been involved with the Halacha Brura Institute, which is involved in clarifying Jewish law by elucidating the process by which practical laws are derived from the Talmud and rabbinic literature.
The institute was created to fulfill the vision of Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook, considered the founding father of religious Zionism.
The Forum of National Religious Rabbis, the voting body appointed to choose a religious Zionist candidate for the next chief rabbi of Jerusalem, has 48 members. However, only 33 rabbis took part in the voting.
A condition for taking part in the vote was to be physically present in Jerusalem, and many of those who did not participate were simply unable to make it.
Stern said that despite the low turnout his candidacy would be backed by the religious Zionist leadership and public in Jerusalem.
Stern received 14 votes while Carmel received 13.
Other candidates included Rabbi Eitan Eiseman, head of the Noam-Tzvia Schools and a community rabbi in Kiryat Moshe; Rabbi David Levanon of Givat Shaul's Noam community and a rabbinical judge; Rabbi Nahum Neria and Rabbi Isser Klonsky.
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