Rabbi Haim Druckman 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Deliberations and discussions are continuing within the Bayit Yehudi party over
the party’s choice of candidate for the post of Ashkenazi chief rabbi, but there
is still no agreement within the faction.
Bayit Yehudi MKs gathered in
the Knesset on Monday for the party’s faction meeting and were joined by leading
national religious rabbi Haim Druckman as well as Rabbi Avichai Rontzki, a
former IDF chief rabbi.
On behalf of party leader Naftali Bennett and
Deputy-Minister for Religious Affairs Eli Ben-Dahan, Druckman has been
coordinating the party’s efforts on the issue of the chief rabbinate with the
national-religious rabbinic leadership.
The rabbi has been trying to
formulate a deal with Shas, which wields significant influence on the chief
rabbi election committee, to support Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan Yaakov Ariel for
Ashkenazi chief rabbi, in return for which Bayit Yehudi would enable the passage
of legislation allowing current Sephardi Chief Rabbi and Shas affiliate Shlomo
Amar to serve a second term.
Ariel would need legislation himself to
stand as a candidate, since he is 79, and candidates must be under the age of
Yisrael Beytenu and Yesh Atid would likely oppose such legislation,
as both have publicly endorsed Rabbi David Stav, chairman of the Tzohar
rabbinical association and a more liberally inclined candidate. Yisrael Beytenu
MK David Rotem told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that the party would not
backtrack on its support for Stav.
Within Bayit Yehudi, it is understood
that Bennett is more inclined to back Stav, but more conservative elements in
the party, backed by national-religious rabbis of the same mindset, are not in
Meanwhile, haredi website Kikar Hashabbat reported on Monday that
sources close to Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef were of the opinion
that Yosef would not endorse any national-religious candidate.
still said to be furious over Bayit Yehudi’s alliance with Yesh Atid instead of
Shas during the coalition negotiations, and so is refusing to take part in the
mooted deal, even if it means forgoing Amar’s continued tenure as chief
A source in Bayit Yehudi said on Monday that any deal with Shas
would require public backing from the highest echelons of the party for the
national-religious candidate, in order to prevent any backsliding in the secret
He added that Shas was generally amenable to political deals, and
that an agreement with the haredi party was still possible.
suggestion that has been raised by Bayit Yehudi, and which was discussed in
Monday’s faction meeting, is a proposal to enlarge the electoral committee from
150 to 310 members, including all 120 members of Knesset.
This would in
theory help dilute the power of Shas on the electoral committee and thereby
obviate the necessity for Bayit Yehudi to gain Shas’s backing for the
On Sunday night, Channel 2 brought to light
a previous comment from a past interview with Rabbi Ariel, in which he expressed
opposition to women taking senior government positions.
In an interview
with Ma’ariv, Ariel said that demanding jobs were not fitting for women of
childbearing age, and subsequently explained that intensive jobs would
negatively impact a woman’s role as a mother.
Some party sources
expressed concern with the timing and provenance of the report.