Young rabbi-wannabe struggles for recognition

Moshe Raziel Sharify, 14, wants to be ordained, but rabbinate has disqualified his exam.

August 12, 2010 03:30
1 minute read.

MOSHE RAZIEL SHARIFY 311. (photo credit: Rhonda Spivak)


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At the tender age of 14, Moshe Raziel Sharify has managed to stir up a righteous controversy inside the Chief Rabbinate.

Sharify, considered by many to be a child prodigy, desperately wants to become a rabbi and doesn’t see the need to wait another eight years to reach the minimum age set by the Chief Rabbinate for a man to take the ordination exam.

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In an exclusive article to be published in Friday’s Magazine, Jerusalem Post contributor Rhonda Spivak brings the story of a truly gifted Netanya teenager who has the backing of some dozen serious rabbinical figures for his bid to become Israel’s – and possibly the world’s – youngest rabbi.

Over the past year, Sharify has undergone 10 thorough examinations, all of which were given by well-respected rabbis who were unanimously impressed by Sharify’s intellectual capabilities. Even Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger initially supported Sharify’s bid to take the ordination exam, but Metzger was overruled by Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar.

The Post has learned that several years ago, the rabbinate, in an informal and unofficial internal ruling, decided to set 22 as the minimum age for a candidate to take the ordination exam.

This, however, did not stop the rabbinate from inviting the 14-year-old Sharify to take the exam in Jerusalem after receiving the boy’s application, which included his date of birth.

Last month, Sharify arrived at the city’s International Convention Center early and took the test. He’s convinced he aced it.


But the rabbinate refuses to mark his examination, saying his taking the test “was a mistake” in the first place. Now Sharify’s father is threatening to take the Chief Rabbinate to court if his son’s exam is not marked like all other rabbinic candidates’.

At age 10, Sharify entered and won the Netanya Bible Quiz. The following year, he entered and won first place in the Central Region Bible Quiz.

Until the turmoil surrounding Sharify is resolved, he will continue to study in the Yishuv Hadassah Yeshiva in Tel Aviv, and play soccer with his friends.

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